Hey, kids! Today, we kick off The Middle Of Nowhere Week with entry #99 in our little series!

365 People, Places & Things #99

Starting off this week, we have a lonely phone booth that you might need some day.

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Phone Booth On The Edge Of Forever

Right off, allow me to say that you can only find this phone booth (for those of you who are too young and cell phone oriented to remember phone booths, google it) when you are way out in the middle of nowhere and pretty much hitting rock bottom.

Once you find it, you’ll see that it looks pretty ordinary except for the small neon sign that says “Call anyone, anywhere, anywhen for only a dime!”. There is always at least one dime on the shelf under the phone, which looks and operates just like any phone, except that the dial only had an O and no other numbers or letters.

Once you drop your dime (oh, yes, you must close the door to operate the phone, but that’s ok, because the booth will then reach a nice comfy temperature relative to the outside temperature) an operator will come on and ask you who and when you want to call. Naturally, you must choose a time after the invention of the telephone, but other than that, you can call anyone you care to. Oddly, many people call themselves at an earlier stage of life.

You can make as many calls as you have dimes, but after an hour, the booth will kick you out and disappear. You probably won’t care though, because if you made the right calls, life has gotten a whole lot better.


My Life Among The Teenage Aliens

…who spent most of their time whining and moping about

365 People, Places & Things #98

Our last alt. rock for the week is a quicky, because I’m tired and it’s almost midnight.

Alt. Rocks: Brainstones

Brainstones are a very rare type of mineral tumor found in the brains of various types of giants, most notably the cyclops type. The tumors grow very slowly, but always end up killing the afflicted giant.

Once the brain has decomposed, the tumor is left behind inside the skull. It may occupy as much as 30% of the skulls volume. These brainstones are highly prized by wizards, since they can be used to create bowls and cups that are a necessary part of certain magic rituals. The average brainstone goes for about $200.00 per pound on the open market.

Baked Squeebs In Butter Sauce

…because boiled squeebs are just plain nasty

365 People, Places & Things #97

Beware on those moonlight walks on the beach.

Alt. Rocks: The Sand Woman

She’s not actually made of sand, you know. I reckon she’s made of ectoplasm or somesuch, but she takes up the sand to have a solid form. Under the moonlight, even up close, she looks pretty normal. And beautiful and sad.

Researching the legend (is it still a legend if you know it’s real and true?) was pretty easy. Newspaper office in town has issues on file for every week of the last 133 years. The issue for October 4th, 1885 had her obituary and a full page written about her by her sister. Pretty moving stuff, actually.

Anyway, her name was Josefina Delgado and she was the daughter of the town’s baker and his wife. Middle child of nine and by all accounts a quiet young lass not given to doing anything that might get her in trouble. Leastwise, not until she got up around 17. That’s when she was told by her parents to choose a husband from among several suitors. Problem was, she didn’t want to get married to anybody. She told her folks that she wanted to go to the big city (Los Angeles) and study to be an artist, which she had great talent towards. Her folks shot that down on the grounds that it was unseemly for a young girl to go to school all alone like that, plus they couldn’t afford it so she had better damned well choose a husband.

Well, she shut herself up in the attic of the house for a few days and painted a bunch of pictures, all of them showing her walking on the beach in the moonlight. Wouldn’t eat anything and, according to her sister, kinda went crazy….talking to herself and praying and such.

Finally, after 4 days, she came on down and ate a bit and apologized to everyone and hugged them and such. She told everyone that she would let them know her decision that night, after a walk alone on the beach. They were all pretty glad she had come to her senses, but her younger sister was still concerned about her. She thought something was up, so that evening after dinner, when Josefina went on her walk, Serafina (the younger sister) snuck up to the attic to look around.

What she found was a bunch of paintings, 15 of them, all arranged in a circle. The first was small, only 6” square, and showed Josefina at the top of the trail that lead down to the beach. Each painting in turn got a bit bigger and showed her going farther along the the beach, until the last one, that showed just a section of beach and the moonlight on the water.

As Serafina looked at it, she saw Josefina walk into the painting and then lie down on the sand. As she watched, the painted girl took a small bottle out of her skirt pocket and drank it. Then she just smiled and closed her eyes.

At that point, Serafina knew what was going on and ran screaming down to her parents. It took them a few minutes to calm her down enough to get the full story, but once they had it, everyone headed for the beach. Sure enough, the found Josefina there, dead from poison.

Later on, somebody brought those pictures down from the attic and it was noticed that Josefina was not in any of them. A few days later, all of the paintings just up and disappeared from the room they had been put into. Nobody looked very hard trying to find them.

One year to the day after her death, a young fisherman who had grown up with her saw Josefina walking down the beach. Scared though he was, he spoke to her as she passed, but all she did was smile at him. Since then, hundreds of folks have seen her. She usually makes a couple of trips up and down the two mile stretch of beach every couple of weeks or so. She never speaks and it you try to touch her, she just dissolves into sand. And once every few years, somebody finds a painting down there on the beach. Subject matter is always different, but it’s never a picture of a beach. Some years ago, an art critic came to town and saw them. He said they were the work of a very talented artist.

I reckon Josefina was glad to hear that.

Mashed Potatoes Of Love

…with Danger Gravy

365 People, Places & Things #95

Lots of private investigators can be called hardcase, but this guy is the real deal.

Alt. Rocks: Stoney Flint, Elemental Detective

On the Elemental Plane of existence, no fictional detective was more popular than Stoney Flint, Elemental Detective. First published in 1932 by Hydro & Pyro Press, the series lasted in the pulp magazine format until 1956. In 1969, the first paperback reprints began appearing in the popular double story format. In 1974, the first all new stories began and the series continued monthly for the next 15 years. Most of the original stories were written by prolific pulp author Herman Sulphur, with the remainder by Frank Stream (a Water Elemental later known for creating the comic book hero Blue Mist), but all appeared under the house name of Lance Coal. Paperback originals have been written by a number of authors, but all are published under the Coal byline.

The series was notable for sometimes crossing into other genres than that of straight up detective stories. At various times, Stoney dealt with spies, the supernatural, masked vigilantes and even aliens. During World War Two, Stoney regularly went up against foreign agents or traitorous businessmen.

Stoney Flint was, as described by his secretary, Polly Zephyr, “a half a ton of real man” with “a strong chin, a chipped nose and eyes that could look right through ya”. Stoney had his office on the third floor of the Hydrogen Building (a real place) in Venice, California. His three room bungalow was variously described as either four or two blocks away, but always across from Quartz’s Pool Hall. His car varied over the years, but was always 5 or 6 years old and “almost paid off”. He carried many weapons over the years, but most often favored a revolver.

Many supporting characters appear in the stories. Notable among them are his best friend, Captain Smokey La Flame of the LAPD Homicide Division, Rocco Quartz (owner of Quartz’s Pool Hall, Mac Liquido (his Water mechanic and sometimes backup) and his ex-wife, Augusta “Gussie” Flint (assistant to the Mayor of Los Angeles). The only supporting character to appear in every story was Polly Zephyr, who also narrated the 15 stories not told by Stoney himself. Polly was different from the classic P.I. Secretary in that she did not carry a torch for her boss and was happily married. She was also far from helpless and on more that one occasion pulled Stoney’s fat from the fryer.

The stories also featured several recurring villains, most prominently Vic Magma, the half Fire/half Earth crime boss who ruled the Mob in L.A. Stoney crossed paths with him 44 times before Magma met his death in the 1986 story “The Lonely Photographer Case”.

Other recurring criminals included Colonel Kurt Storm (Nazi spy master), Mr. Tsunami (Japanese scientist and spy), Lydia Snow (master thief and old flame), Zangar Deathdealer (a supernatural being called a “human”, who was a serial killer) and Nick & Nora Charcoal (a husband and wife team of grifters).

In 1935, the NBC Blue channel began airing The Adventures of Stoney Flint over the radio. The series was an instant hit and went from an initial set of 16 half hour episodes straight into one hour episodes that ran until 1953. Until 1948, Stoney was voiced by famed character actor Bob Iron. After Iron retired, the role was taken over by Paul Diamond until the series ended.

On television, Stoney Flint ran from 1957 until 1971, but was later revived as a series of television movies on HBO between 1986 and 2003. In the original series, Stoney was portrayed by Dan Copper. In the HBO movies, he was played by James Sand.

Many Stoney Flint feature films were made between 1937 and 1952 by ROK Studios. Various actors played the part of Stoney. All of these films are now available on DVD.

Devil Gerbils From Hell

…as opposed to other gerbils from hell

365 People, Places & Things #94

Who would have thought that gravel would become so valuable?

Alt. Rocks: Floaty Gravel

Ahem! If you will open your textbooks to page 112, we shall discuss that most important discovery of this century, Gravity Negating Granite, or as I’m quite sure all of you call it, “Floaty Gravel”.

This wondrous mineral was first discovered in the American state of Nevada in 1872 by the miners Archibald Banks and his partner Vulcan Moore. The discovery came about when they saw that after a lightning strike, an entire dry lake bed full of gravel rose 5 feet into the air and floated there for a full 4 minutes. Mr. Banks estimated that it had to be about 20 tons or more of generally pea sized gravel. When Mr. Moore examined it more closely (without touching it) he noticed this form of granite was slightly different from any other he had ever seen. In addition, it seemed to be glowing faintly.

When the effect of the lightning subsided, the whole mass of gravel dropped straight down with a loud noise and, as Mr. Banks put it, “a hell of a cloud of dust”. Knowing that they had discovered something amazing, the two miners gathered up a few pounds of it and headed off to Carson City. From there, they traveled on to San Francisco, where they went to see the famous scientist Professor Benjamin Grove.

After several days of experimentation, Grove had discovered that the gravel would float only if it was exposed to an electrical current. The higher the voltage used, the more gravel could be made to float. However, if a set amount of gravel was given an increasing amount of voltage, it would float higher and would actually lift objects placed upon it, assuming one enclosed the gravel so as not to allow it to spread out and float away. At one point, a pound of gravel in a wooden box was given enough voltage to life gravel, box and Professor Groves cat, Hermes, nine feet into the air.

Within a month, Banks, Moore and Grove were back in Nevada and proud owners of not one, but four adjoining dry lake beds, all of which had been purchased at a ridiculously cheap price. These lake beds, students, are the only source of Gravity Negating Gravel and the most heavily guarded mining facility in the world. It is from here that the gravel used in all the great skyships comes.

Once they had made their discovery known to the world, scientists flocked to Nevada and Banks & Moore put them to work experimenting. Inside of a year, the first skyship was built. Two years after that, Banks & Moore were the wealthiest men on the planet. The nations of the world were beating a path to their door and bringing plenty of money with them.

And now, twenty years later, we are told that an expedition to the moon is to be mounted using a specially built type of skyship and some of the latest electrical generators. My, what marvelous times we live in!

Invasion Of The Sausage Men

…old movie titles misheard #1

365 People, Places & Things #93

Today, our alt. rock is walkin’, but not talkin’.

Alt. Rocks: George The Stone Golem

In Fantasy Universe 4, the Godmages were constantly trying to kill one another with everything from exotic poisons (the Liquor of Internal Dissolving) to armies of magical creatures (Cyclopazons) to bizarre weather (the Godmage Elvoon was killed in his nightly bath by a miniature storm of freezing swamp mud). Everybody is looking for the Next Big Deadly Thing.

Enter George, a Stone Golem of amazing proportions and skills. He stood 24 feet tall and seemed to be made of rare Blue Marble. Unlike many stone golems, he was finely detailed and noble looking. Additionally, he was nearly indestructible and able to store up the raw power of most forms of attack, releasing them as a shockwave that can knock a house down.

It was quite unfortunate for George’s creator (the Godmage known as Ilbraan the Superior) that every time he absorbed raw power, it made the golem just a but smarter. After a couple of years, George was smart enough to kill his creator and then escape into the wider world. The common folk were afraid of him at first, but after he did several good deeds, they began to like him.

His status among the common folk really rose when he decided to start killing off the Godmages. Every time he would kill one of the terrible wizards, he would find himself not only smarter, but more resistant to the effects of magic. By the time he crushed the vampire snake hordes of Godmage Yityot, he was pretty much unstoppable. Within two more years, George had killed the last of the Godmages and the common folk loved him for it.

Nowadays, George continues to roam the land and offer help where it is needed. From time to time, he will sit down and think. During these times, which can last several weeks, he does not move at all. Nobody knows what he is thinking about and he has never told anyone.