Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hanging Up the Ladies

If you ask folks who the first woman hanged in the United States, you'll likely get Mary Surratt, the boarding house operator who helped plot the Lincoln assassination.  But that's not the first woman hung, it's merely the first by the United States Government.  A lady named Hannah Ocuish was hung in Connecticut way back in 1786.  She was a native American and choked a girl to death following a fight over strawberries.  A woman was hung in May of 1865 after poisoning her husband in Illinois. One writer estimates 505 women were hanged in the USA since it was founded. About 200 of those are disputed or at least not verified.  But 306 cases are fairly well documented. Of these 306 verifiable cases, 211 women were put to death for murder, 7 for attempted murder and 2 for conspiracy to murder. 26 were hanged for witchcraft, 17 for arson, and the rest for various other crimes including concealing a birth and burglary in a dwelling house. One woman was hanged for adultery. 

You'll note some women were hung as witches.They didn't always burn them.  Fire wood was probably too precious in winter to waste it burning some witch.  Gradually, authorities started treating woman with more kindness.  Martha Place was electrocuted  in New York in 1895. So, Mary Surratt  most assuredly was not the first woman hanged in the USA.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The gold rush had barely begun when claim jumpers and other no goods started turning up on the mother load.  We don't really know how many citizens juries didn't wait for the law and strung someone up on a tree, as records weren't always kept.  Hangtown became Placerville when it incorporated in 1854.  Until then it was famous for stringing up no goods. But, as more refined folk started turning up in what was then the third biggest town in California, they settled on Placerville.

So, what's the difference if you get a noose around your neck by a "citizen's jury" or the real thing? Well, the obvious answer is rule of law.  But there are also matters like a chance to present a defence and select an impartial jury.  But the most striking difference is the technique.  Citizens  juries, which were really just vigilante groups rarely ever bothered to build a gallows.  A rope was strung around a sturdy tree,the noose placed around the accused neck and then the chair he was standing on or the horse he was sitting on is suddenly and abruptly vacated.

Not so with those convicted by a real jury before a real judge. Those folks got the benefit of hanging at a gallows, where ropes were measured and trap doors inspected before the proceedings.  Might even get a chance to pray with a priest beforehand.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lucky Number 13

Did you ever see a hangman tie a hangknot?
I've seen it many a time and he winds, he winds,

After thirteen times he's got a hangknot      Woody Guthry

As hanging week continues, I'll talk about the hangman's noose.  It's a simple knot, a variant on other slip knots. It's a big knot and has a distinctive look.  It takes a few tries, but it;s not tough to get it to look right.  I used to tie them all the time.

Whilst growing up, we were told by the Boy Scouts the knot was illegal in California. As much as Boy Scouts love knots, they did not like us using that one,  It may have been illegal. All I know is when I grew older and got better at library research I couldn't find any actual law making the knot illegal.  I don't think there is one although you can't entirely rule out some local ordinance someplace. So, get yourself a rope and have at it. Remember, it's 13 coils--no more and no less.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hang 'em High

As hanging week continues, I set out to find out if people poop after being hanged?  There are a few, though not many, articles on this subject.  In most cases, the answer is no.  Although there have been a few instances of people pooping their pants when being hung. Kind of depends on how much food the executee consumed and how long before the event.

Pissing themselves, well that seems a lot more common.  If it was me, well I'd try to talk the hangman into building the gallows with seats for kids below, so they could get a good view. And I'd make sure I ate a hearty last meal.  Those folks would remember that, I'll betya.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I guess we'll have to hang ya!

I've noted recently that executions have ground to a halt as officials can't find any of the stuff for lethal injections without going to drug dealers.  Can't beat a rope. Just string 'em up. It's hanging week on this here blog.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Dazed

Well, one of the things you get to see when you live out in the desert are these things called stars.  They're all over the sky.  If I lived closer into town, the light pollution would make things tougher to see.  But it's pretty dark out where I live.  And they're everywhere.  I'm not sure if it makes much difference, overall.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Happy Bir*day M'fu*er

Well, today is my birthday.  It's the first time in a decade I haven't had to work.  I guess that's because I'm semi-retired now and not due to some altruistic employer giving me a day off.  I kind of like working on my birthday, as it's a shield from getting sickeningly sweet cake or stupid presents I don't want.  "Gotta work, don't have time" has served me nicely over the years.  

So, I really don't need any cake. If you want to send me money by PayPal that's okay.  And I can think of a few things the redhead at the hardware store could do, but for the most part just leave me alone. I'm fine with that.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Well, the new issue of Story Emporium: Purveyors of Steampunk & Weird Western Adventure is about to be released.  The cover appears below.  The cover seems to be attracting a lot of attention.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


There was some discussion about what works in science fiction at a con I went to a few weeks ago.  The general view was white guy or generic guy from Earth as hero.  That's what readers buy.  May be so. Not having the sales I was hoping for on Bonded Agent,  a female insurance adjuster from Mars.  I guess people don't want to read about some insurance company.  

But it's got lizard men!  For god sake, it's got lizard men.   And that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Here are some tidbits about me. I decided not to call them interesting tidbits, because they may not be all that interesting.

My first novel published was the Two Devils.

I drive a Ford.  The car before that was a Ford. The car before that was a Ford.  The car before that was a Ford.  The car before that was a Plymouth.

My first short story published was "The Orb." It appeared in a little publication called Virgin Meat. It has been reprinted elsewhere.

My first fish I ever caught was a rainbow trout at some small lake in Colorado.

My most recent novel is Bonded Agent.  I dearly wish a few thousand people would order a copy.

I live in a manufactured home in Arizona.  I am officially trailer trash.

Although I really like dogs, I have never actually owned one.

I've never been outside of North America.

Favorite pizza topping: pineapple and pepperoni.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.

Favorite movie:  Kill Bill

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Attractions close at 7 pm

I live in what's called a gated community.  There are quite a few of them in Arizona. Whether they truly keep the riff raff out is open to speculation. I guess they make the residents feel more secure. Only it's only partly gated. We have a wide open view of the desert. I was sitting on a bench near the swimming pool last night when somebody let out a shriek. Seems there was a diamondback rattlesnake crawling across the lawn.  There is honest-to-god desert 50 yards from where this snake was.  Snake was likely headed home.  Then the lady's husband said "Get something to kill it."

I got up off the bench and approached them.  "What's going on?"

"There's a rattlesnake."

"I know that," said I.

"We need something to kill it.:"

I drew my 9mm out of its holster.  "A bit loud."  [Yes, I have a concealed carry permit].  I reholstered it.  "Oh, looks like it's getting away."  I went home, just as the snake seemed to be across the lawn. It only had a few feet to go..  

Live out in the desert and get upset when desert creatures are spotted.  Problem is, the snake was the wrong kind of desert creature.  Folks love all the quail we have running around.  The deer caused a stir a few days ago.  But that serpent must be killed.  Not by me.  I would never shoot  a snake because it's crawling across a field.  It wasn't  hurting anyone.   Leave animals alone and they'll leave you alone.  My distraction gave the snake time to escape.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Parallel parking

At least in theory, there may be parallel universes that may resemble our own. This begs the question: in how many universes is Trump running for president in?  Just something to think about as you lie in bed waiting for aliens to come and abduct you tonight.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Corn dogs

I'm new to the Tucson area.  Some store sells corn dogs in their deli.  They're not very good The locals are laughing at me, in all probability.  Sure would like some good corn dogs though.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Some creature recently ate the cable that brings the internet into my house.  The service provider didn't seem to believe me until they actually came out and saw the cable.  It has now been fixed and I am once again free to rattle on about things.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy July 5th

Well, didn't take in any fireworks shows over the 4th.  Kind of quiet.  I used to just love the fourth.  My brother and I set of as many fireworks as we could get our parents to buy us  And fireworks were more fun then--they exploded and flew in the air. None of this safe and insane crap.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lil green men

After living in Colorado for 14 years, my recent move to Arizona has certainly been a change in scenery.  One thing in particular got to me. They have these thorny plants called prickly pears. They're mistakenly called cactus by some folks.  Anyway, they're green and have flat paddles Some of these plants get quite large.  

My father's house, down the road from mine, has a batch of prickly pears that look like little green men from some flying saucer movie. This is especially true at night.  I've looked out in the back yard and had a jolt more than once. I think I'm starting to get used to them.  I guess the solution is to simply not go over there at night. No one else seems to think they look like little green men.