A Rain of Frogs by rob hunter

A Rain of Frogs

“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.” —Robert Benchley

Howdy, pilgrim

You have stumbled across a writer’s catchall and armamentarium of lost words, a cellar if you will, stocked with last year’s sweet potatoes and next year’s onions plus a hopeful phrase or two―Fortean forays into funky science and other neat stuff. If you are a seeker after Truth, may we suggest you find a spiritual advisor, elsewhere. What I have conflated into these memoirs is real stuff—mulled over, mulched, and nibbled at the edges, but facts of a sort nonetheless. And thanks for dropping in.

Our second compilation of tales is here: Platterland, nine stories and a novella. The current world-wide financial embarrassment has thinned the ranks of publishers—in the case of speculative fiction, never overcrowded. So I’m giving it away. The e-book, that is. At 348 pages in the print version, Platterland sells for $22.50 US or thereabouts. Platterland the trade paperback is available online, meanwhile, here’s a free Kindle download: the whole 366 pages, wrapped up in a Kindle-friendly package. Plays on MobiPocket, too. Wow.

Period Technology—A Writer’s Guide to the 60s

A compendium of not gone, not forgotten, sort of obsolete technology.

The first full-time stereo broadcasters in New York City went on the air in the mid-60s. “Quad stereo” was being toyed with but was never really relevant. The term stereo as used here should be understood as 2-channel audio. Quad stereo was a commercial adventure, designed to sell more and more expensive gear. The entrepreneurs who missed out on the stereo bandwagon of a decade earlier bet heavily on Quad and lost their shirts.  read more >>

The fastest hound dog in the State of Maine

I came from Wytopitlock, where I was living at the time, down to Mattawamkeag on the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad one day to buy myself a hound dog. Up to Wytopitlock we was having a run on long-legged rabbits then, I didn’t want none of these short-legged dogs that can run all day and not move any. I wanted one with rangy pins that could get close enough to a Wytopitlock rabbit so he’d exert himself and know he was chased. The short-legged dogs we’d been using was no good at all, and I says to myself, “The Hell with that!”  read more >>

Nuts Templar—Ayn Rand and the Fountainheads

I knew Ayn Rand. OK, half an hour each week. She recorded a weekly commentary; I was the recording engineer. Rand spoke with a broad, husky comic opera Russian accent not unlike Hans Conried’s Professor Kropotkin on the “My Friend Irma” radio show. Ayn Rand rambled and wrote, working Hollywood and Gotham, perhaps dreaming that she would be the darling of disaffected divorcées with time on their hands in the coming century. And even death—thirty years ago at this writing—would not hold her down.  read more >>

Martha, the Last of the Passenger Pigeons

A lone passenger pigeon, stuffed, returned this (2010) year to Waukesha, Wisconsin, a town where I went to high school oh, so many years ago. Stuffer and stuffee, were they an analog for the buffalo hunters with their stacks of skulls set to bleach on the prairies? Also―a brief from Aldo Leopold. Let’s see how they come together along with―John Herald, angular and introspective, a singer and guitarist, and Martha, another wild bird, likewise gone extinct.  read more >>

Harry and the Mudman

Harry had studied the Mudman’s early recordings, slowing them down to pick up the difficult passages. At the bottom of the grooves, struggling against a tidal surf of record noise, lay genius. These recordings, the Mudman’s grip on history, had been made at an Alabama prison camp in the 20’s. The Mudman had killed someone at a card game. With an axe handle.  read more >>

The diary of an Ohio farm wife

Winter smelled like wet wool, oatmeal and coal oil, and lungs gurgled with persistent coughs. When it snowed, the mud of the dooryard was dotted with great, plashy wet flakes, piling into drifts in a day; the brown mud seeped up as the coal smoke seeped down. Wind-blown snow exposed striations of white, black, and brown eddying in the gritty film that covered all outdoors. Soot clotted on the snow, the walls, the curtains, and in the lungs. Two kitchens and four stoves—the soot and ash filtered into every room of the house.  read more >>

McMuckle makes a Minyan

The singing fish was an amazement.

Ivor McMuckle, a song plugger, has been summoned to Hyperion II, planet of the Last Diaspora, where all faiths mingle in a shared state of abject poverty. He sells off shares in excess of 120 percent of a bad, really bad, pop tune. His client, Maven Lipchutz, a lounge pianist with a dream, is not beyond a little interspecies hanky-panky: the Maven’s light o’ love, Heidi, is a singing fish. Final judgment devolves upon a Higher Power, said Higher Power being among the company of the conned.  read more >>

3 Days with Claudette Colbert

The single rose in the bud vase made everything else look incredibly tacky.

John Malkovich, Meryl Streep, Keir Dullea and Kelly McGillis hadn’t rated this treatment. They had put up with the accumulated crud just like we did. This time we were getting a visit from a real star, from when there were stars. Claudette Colbert.  read more >>

Play it (again), Sam

Murray Burnett, Humphrey Bogart, and the Warren Commisssion

That Casablanca might be available for consultation as a spirit-channel from the Great Hereafter, I did not guess. But, wait! It had in its day been intended as an ad hoc guide to the dilemma of an isolationist America. Lucky Lindy loved the Fuehrer. Errol Flynn loved Hitler by most accounts. But then, no one took Flynn overly seriously―his premier accomplishment was playing "You are My Sunshine" on a piano with his penis, a party stunt.  read more >>

Basil Rathbone and Robert Sheckley

The elegant gentleman in the announce booth finished his reading, stretched, and collated his discarded pages back into an impeccable order. The year was 1966 and they still blew up the Bullwinkle and Underdog balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade two cross-town blocks away along Central Park West. John Lennon yet flourished and Strawberry Fields was still called The Sheep Meadow. The actor looked up, as if for approval. “I wonder what the hell that was all about,” Basil Rathbone said. Well into his seventies his voice had the ring of authority. He kept supple practicing fencing moves in Central Park; it was just that cold reads were not his cup of chamomile. The program being recorded was “Beyond the Green Door,” a radio series written―mostly―by Robert Sheckley.  read more >>

Judge Crater’s First Miracle

Your chastity is safe with me, I am a Democrat.

“‘Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.’ James 4:2,” said the man in the doorway. “The Bible is a almanac of failed good intentions, Sister. You can help me; I am asking. Here, accept this as a further token of my sincerity.” The visitor produced a large fruit basket, beribboned and covered with cellophane, of the kind often left by a well-wisher in a stateroom of a great ocean liner.   read more >>

Miguel Santandrea

Murder, I wrote: a memorial for a street dealer

My old neighborhood, St. Agnes parish, was Crazy Joey Gallo’s turf. You cleaned up after. One piece of litter—a candy wrapper, a cigar butt, and he’d have your guts for garters. Like kiss your ass goodbye. His mother lived over on Wyckoff Street. Not quite Brooklyn Heights, but close. The real estate speculators who hoped to cash in on the “Brooklyn Renaissance” dubbed it Boerum Hill.  read more >>

The Milwaukee Road

The deep winter snows turned Depot Square into an isolated plains village.

Ed Crowley was a retired brakeman from the Soo Line. Not really old as railroaders go, he was in his mid-fifties and waiting out the years to his pension working at an inside job—night telegraph operator. Ed had done some long hauling on the CB&Q—the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, on a transfer crew riding the Northwestern tracks to Ashland, Wisconsin. Ed was crippled with arthritis that twisted his hands and wrists. Thirty years in the yards in all weather had done for Ed as a brakeman. The only parts of his hands that he was still able to articulate were the index and middle fingers before the first joint. With his wrists turned in he would yank at the patch cords and make their weights rattle in the falls, looking like a praying mantis going at its dinner.   read more >>

The Manticore’s Tale

“Level with me. You believe I am a figment when I am only a story that got better with the telling. The telephone syndrome—travelers from the Land of Cathay chat with African merchants who talk to a Turk, the Ottoman natters to a Tatar mujhik who spills the beans to an itinerant Italian who in turn goes home with a marvelous tale of what he expected to see in the first place and tells the homefolk what they already knew. I am an article of faith. This is how legends begin. I might have begun life as a simple giraffe. But I am here with you. Now. Deal with it.”  read more >>

The year we invented rock n roll

Charles Scott King and I leaned on the bar, lost in the wonder of frozen lemonade dished out by Red Margolis, bartender at Martin’s Bar, 59th and Broadway, as a substitute for whiskey sour and collins mixers. At work, across the street, Central Park was spotted with fall reds and slick, sickly silver and gray: native maples and sycamores. The year was 1962 and we all worked at the same radio station. If you accepted as an operating premise that anything west of the Hudson was camping out, the RealLemon Red Margolis concocted his whiskey sours with had made it in stages from the Caribbean to Jersey and thence Manhattan by a kind of reverse osmosis.  read more >>

 

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