Saturday, May 16, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #51

Sliding over to the right side of the Mostly Ghostly shelf, we have unsettling story collections by the wonderful Robert Aickman (1914-1982), followed by modern tale-spinners Kelly Link, Sharma Shields and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (all recommended). Carmen Maria Machado's tremendous Her Body and Other Parties goes here, too, but it was loaned out to Joan when the photo was taken.

There's an incomplete collection of books by J.W. Ocker, who's been mentioned frequently on Papergreat over the years. You can find his great stuff at His newest book, due out this fall, will be Cursed Objects: Strange but True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items. I will have to make room for that one, for sure!

Trade paperback is the exact right format for reading and collecting Ray Bradbury books. Next to Bradbury are two Bart House editions of H.P. Lovecraft books that I've featured: The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror.

Then there's Superstition and the Press, a fun browsing book that I discovered more than 20 years ago. It was published in 1983 and is filled with all of the dubious reporting on In Search Of... level paranormal phenomena that appeared in American newspapers from the 1950s through early 1980s. From the back cover:
"(Author Curtis D. MacDougall) provides a devastating critique of the treatment by the press of claims of supernatural phenomena. ... The author's conclusion is that newspapers, with rare exceptions, treat claims of supernatural experiences and paranormal phenomena without questioning their validity. This is an age of science, contends Professor MacDougall, but not of scientific mindedness."
Chapter titles include Horoscopes, Prophecy, Doomsday, Fortune Telling, Ghosts, Poltergeists and Exorcism, Sea Serpents, Witchcraft, Cults, Gurus, Relics, ESP and UFOs. The good news is that we (the mainstream media) don't cover nearly as much of that stuff today. The bad news is we (the people) still don't put enough belief or trust in science today.

And, finally, there's been another blunder. (The shelfie photgrapher really should be sacked.) Not pictured, but to the right of Superstition and the Press, is 1926's The Psychic in the House by Walter Franklin Prince. (For the entertainment value, of course, not the science value.)

My great-grandmother
in 1933 and 1988

Here are pictures of my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988) that were taken 55 years apart.

First up is this tiny picture (less than 2 inches wide) labeled "1933 Century of Progress."

That's Greta on the left. On the right is my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham, who would have been about 14 when this photograph was taken. (She has a bit of a Claire Danes look going and what appear to be some snazzy sunglasses.) I wrote a little bit about their trip to the "A Century of Progress International Exposition" aka the 1933 Chicago World's Fair in this 2016 post. I should probably try to dig up some more details. There might even be diary entries.

And now we fast-forward more than a half-century to 1988. This is Greta in her bed at the house on Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford.

Indeed that is Cyrano. Greta and Cyrano were pals, because he liked a quiet bed where no one disturbed him and she found him amusing. (Cyrano was featured on March 11 and March 28 of this year.)

This photo is labeled "Summer 1988." Greta died in December of that year at age 94. So this is certainly one of the last photos we have of her.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #50

It turns out that, here on the Mostly Ghostly shelf, there was a small zone of books that were not originally included in either shelfie #49 or shelfie #50. Yours truly became confused during the photography session, but there was a legimate reason for the confusion: There are two books titled Best Ghost Stories. So I mostly missed the volumes between Algernon Blackwood's Best Ghost Stories and Sheridan Le Fanu's Best Ghost Stories.

So here, to the right, is a new photo of the Almost Lost Volumes. We wouldn't want to miss any books along the way, right?

Without the new photo, we might have missed the marvelous M.R. James, one of the most important and influential writers in the history of ghost stories. There is also a book of Algernon Blackwood's John Silence tales. Silence strikes me as a progenitor of Marvel's Doctor Strange. In fact, within the first few pages of the 1908 Dr. John Silence tale "A Psychical Invasion," Blackwood writes that Silence's origin involves "a total disappearance from the world for five years," "a long and severe training, at once physical, mental, and spiritual," and a "strange quest" that transformed him into a "singularly developed doctor" with "special powers." I rest my case.

Also in this shelfie, we have volumes by Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne and one from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that hails from the Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library in Montoursville. And there are three volumes by Tim Prasil, whose wonderful content can be found at There's also a book by Mark Rees, who has this great Twitter profile: "Journalist. Author. Cultural adventurer. Writes about the arts, history and folklore." Finally, looming large and purple in the middle is Stephen King's nonfiction Danse Macabre, which I've been returning to regularly since the early 1980s. (I mentioned it most recently in a rambling March 23 post.)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #49

Now we're at the Mostly Ghostly shelf, which is on the other side of the cabinet-top that also holds the International Culture & History shelf. Can you think of a better group of four guests to have over for dinner than Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Shirley Jackson and Algernon Blackwood?!

The first book has summaries of most of Price's films, and the second is a biography written by his daughter, Victoria Price. Then there's the Lugosi biography that I mentioned in the 2018 "paying it forward" post, followed by Ruth Franklin's recent biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. And that's followed by some of Jackson's iconic novels and short stories, including a volume I picked up for 25¢ at a 2014 yard sale. Then there's some William Hope Hodgson, including that edition of The House on the Borderland that I adore. (Sorry, though, for not inviting William to the dinner party.) And finally some chill-filled Blackwood volumes. I wrote a little about him a long time ago...

Random notes
  • What would be served at the dinner? Would it be best if Lugosi was the host? He was known for hosting extravagant dinners.
  • Victoria Price's website is Daily Practice of Joy, which is something we really need in this moment.
  • Elisabeth Moss is portraying Shirley Jackson in a movie that's set to be released this summer. If we have movies in theaters this summer.
  • Edward Parnell has written about going in search of William Hope Hodgson's house. The tale of that journey appears in Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country (Shelfie #13) and also in an article for the November 2019 issue of Fortean Times.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #48

Hoo boy, this is just an awful photo. Maybe the worst of the lot. I think I'll take this one as the mulligan and instead present this better photograph to document the last of the cardboard-box shelves...

That's better, I think. There are some hardcovers here, including the two volumes of The Manuscript Found in Saragossa that were translated by Elizabeth Abbott in the 1960s: The Saragossa Manuscript and The New Decameron. Out of the Unknown was a post in 2018 and Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents was featured in 2016. And then there are the Scholastic books. Many of these have been featured, with their wonderful and nostalgia-evoking cover art, on Papergreat over the years. Click on the Scholastic books label, with its 40+ posts, to browse back through all of them at your leisure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #47

The third cardboard box from the left on the shelf above my desk is 100% double-shelved with paperbacks, almost entirely from the realms of fantasy and science-fiction. Many of these have been posts over the years. I suspect there are future posts lurking in there, too. Instead of naming names or commenting on any of them — that could take a very long time — I'll just let you roam your eyes over the shelves and pretend you're at your favorite bookstore. (You can click on the photos for larger images, so you don't have to squint.)

Monday, May 11, 2020

How do you spell relief?

This advertisement appears on the inside front cover of the Philadelphia Phillies' 1988 media guide.

The Rolaids Relief Man Award was a well-known baseball award (and savvy marketing tie-in) from 1976 to 2012. Each year, Rolaids honored baseball's two top relief pitchers, one in the National League and one in the American League.

Steve Bedrosian (who had the awesome nickname "Bedrock") was the National League's top reliever in 1987, saving 40 games and earning five wins in relief. Inexplicably — and I say this even as a biased Phillies fan — Bedrosian also won the National League Cy Young Award in 1987. That award, far more prestigious than the Rolaids Relief Man Award, goes to the top pitcher, starter or reliever, in the league. It is usually awarded to a starting pitcher.

Using some modern statistical terminology, it's hard to see how Bedrock, a guy who only pitched 89 innings, had a 2.83 ERA, a 1.202 WHIP and 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, was remotely worthy of the Cy Young Award.

To be fair, there weren't many standout starting pitchers in the National League that season. Rick Sutcliffe won 18 games and finished second to Bedrosian in the voting. Offspeed artist Rick Reuschel, at age 38, who split his season between Pittsburgh and San Francisco, might have been most worthy, with his 3.09 ERA, 12 complete games and four shutouts over 227 innings pitched. But his mere 13 wins and 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings weren't enough to wow voters. Poor guy. All he did was get people out.

The most intriguing choice of all might have been the Houston Astros' 40-year-old Nolan Ryan, who had one of the greatest bad-luck seasons of all time. He led the league in ERA (2.76) and strikeouts (270), but had a win-loss record of 8-16. Suffice to say that assessing pitchers based on wins and losses is pretty stupid. Nolan Ryan was the best National League pitcher of 1987.

Stay-at-home shelfie #46

It's The Three Investigators!

I've mentioned my extreme fondness for this series in several posts, so I'll send you on tour of links related to Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw, Bob Andrews, and, in the best versions of these books, Alfred Hitchcock.

And, as always, Seth T. Smolinske's website is the place to go to learn all about this series. He's also on Facebook.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Book cover plus some bonuses:
"The Oak Island Quest"

Speaking of conspiracy theories...

  • Title: The Oak Island Quest
  • Cover questions: "What is the the real truth behind the Oak Island mystery? Were pirates really ever involved?"
  • Additional cover text: "An Engineer/Surveyor investigates Oak Island and speculative theories link the mystery with an ancient civilization and the UFO phenomenon."
  • Getting the word "UFO" on the cover is clutch: Agreed.
  • Author: William S. Crooker (1934-2005)
  • Publisher: Lancelot Press (Hantsport, Nova Scotia)
  • Cover price: None
  • Year: Fifth printing, January 1985 (first published in 1978)
  • Pages: 194
  • Format: Paperback
  • Dedication: "To my wife, Joan, who made this book possible through her encouragement and untiring secretarial assistance."
  • First sentence: "The Oak Island Quest is unlike any book ever before written about Oak Island in that it tears down certain misconceptions about the mystery and introduces new speculations based on modern theories about prehistoric times and certain unexplained phenomena."
  • Fourth sentence: "This book is not primarily about UFOs per se, but the process of speculation followed ultimately runs into the field of ufology and I make no attempt to avoid the subject."
  • Oh, let's keep going. Fifth sentence: "I am not a UFO buff and I reserve a degree of personal skepticism on the matter but fact cannot be ignored and I must air out the subject as it relates to Oak Island."
  • So, fact cannot be ignored? Correct. That's what the man says.
  • UFO sentence from the middle #1: "It is common knowledge, today, that UFOs are intimately associated with the seas."
  • UFO sentence from the middle #2: "Some writers on the subject of UFOs have taken the Siberian Taiga incident of 1908, when an area of seventy square miles was devastated, as evidence of extra-terrestrial visitors."
  • Last sentence: "Perhaps with a scientific objective, not influenced by the idea of monetary gain, the closing pages of the story of Nova Scotia's legendary treasure island will finally be completed."
  • That was 1978. It's 2020. Have the "closing pages of the story" been told? Not even close.
  • Goodreads review: In 2017, Susan wrote: "Good information about the hunt for treasure over the last 100+ years. This is an older book so some of the theories have changed since the book was written. For example, you no longer hear about UFO's leaving things on the island." ... In addition, there are a pair of five-star reviews on Amazon, if you want to check them out.
  • About the author: It seems many folks just called him Bill Crooker. His biography appears on the back cover (shown above), beneath his extremely wide collar. Crooker went on to write another book on this topic, called Oak Island Gold, which was published in 1993. And he cast his net a bit wider with Tracking Treasure in 1998.

But wait, there's more!

There were some goodies tucked away inside this book. They're presumably circa 1985, given that's when this edition was published.

Shown above is a small postcard for the Best Western Oak Island Inn & Marina. It features "Excellent Cuisine, Heated Indoor Pool, Sauna, Color TV, Two Double Beds in Each Room, (and) Gift Shop."

And this is what appears to be an oversized ticket (4 inches by 6¾ inches) for a Triton Alliance tour of Oak Island, which was a reasonable $3 for adults. Adjusted for inflation from 1985, that's still just $7.21 today, which isn't bad. Although the ticket does note: "Triton Alliance assume no responsibility for any injury or loss of life to visitors to Oak Island." Also, presumably, purchase of a ticket did not guarantee a UFO sighting.

Stay-at-home shelfie #45

First up, a sense of where we are in the room. This photo is from the summer of 2017, but the furniture and layout haven't changed.

We just finished the bookshelf to the left — the dictionary stand. My desk sits in an alcove created by removing the closet doors. (Who needs closets, anyway?) On the wire shelves along the top of the closet, I created a spot for books, mostly mass market paperbacks, by using cardboard boxes. Perhaps not the classiest route, but it allows for a lot of books to go up there, especially when they're double-shelved.

There has been much change — pruning, adding, reordering — among the books along the top shelf since the summer of 2017. There has even been change since I snapped all the shelfies on March 29. For the next few days, we'll peer into those cardboard boxes, going from left to right.

(These aren't the greatest photos. It's another dark corner and there is some unavoidable glare.) This box is only partly double-shelved, to accommodate Edward Rutherfurd's historical fiction, which is on my list of aspirational reads.

There are a number of old science fiction and paranormal magazines here (If, Science Fiction Adventures, Amazing Stories, Analog Science Fact, Fate, Mystic, Search Magazine). They have been fodder for a number of fun Papergreat posts: July 2016, January 2017, April 2018, February 2019. I've also been subscribing to some recent UK-based folklore & psychogeography zines: Hellebore, Rituals & Declarations, Weird Walk.

John DeChancie's Castle Perilous books have since departed the shelves. I love the fantastic premise — an impossibly huge castle with 144,000 doors to other universes. But the writing doesn't draw me in at all. Beyond that we have Fritz Leiber paperbacks (the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books) and an interesting trio of trippy books (The Probability Pad, The Unicorn Girl and The Butterfly Kid) that I'll write about some day. Add it to the list.