October 3, 2018

Kung Fu (Mace) #1: The Year Of The Tiger

A Big Score of "H" on the High Seas –

but the San Francisco Mafia needed a respectable boat to make the transfer. Ho Li Wing and his fishing vessel Dragonwind were picked. Too bad they didn't realize Wing had a visitor from Hong Kong – his Eurasian nephew, Mace, who was a Kung Fu Master.

When the goons strong-armed Wing, Mace warned them. When they came on strong with Mace, he pulverized them and sent them limping away with a second warning.

Then they came up with an idea they thought couldn't miss! They kidnapped Wing's wife and daughter.

Too bad they didn't understand Kung Fu . . .

Joseph Rosenberger had published six Death Merchant books when The Year of the Tiger appeared in September 1973, under the name "Lee Chang". Rosenberger also debuted another series that year, as Murder Master, hit paperback racks in November.

There are eight books in the Kung Fu series, but Rosenberger wrote only the first five. Len Levinson wrote #6 (also as Lee Chang) and Bruce Cassidy wrote #s 7 and 8 (as C.K. Fong).

Rosenberger uses a similar template to his Death Merchant books. We begin with an action scene before stepping back to lay out the plot of the book (such as it is). There are several more fight scenes before the grand finale. Similar to the DM books, our hero (Victor Mace) has super-human abilities when it comes to fighting and each battle is described in the most intricate detail.

And yet even by those flimsy standards, The Year of the Tiger barely qualifies as a narrative. It's somewhat like a boxing match, with the lengthy fight scenes interrupted by the characters going back to their respective corners and not doing much of anything until the bell rings for the next round.

The San Francisco Mafia is attempting to convince Ho Le Wing, an honest local fisherman, to let them use his boat to make a deal for $2 million in pure heroin (often referred to as simply "H") in international waters. Wing's nephew Victor Mace is visiting from Hong Kong when the goons make their first move. Mace kicks their asses. The Mafia tries another tactic a little later. Mace kicks their asses. The stubborn Mafia tries yet again. Mace kicks their asses. Apparently, Wing is the only man above suspicion with a decent-sized boat in the Bay Area.

Throughout the book, Mace recalls his youth in Hong Kong, and his years of instruction with his master, En Sheng. There are far too many of these flashbacks and they eat up a lot of pages (one even includes a six-page fight scene!).

This is early in Rosenberger's action-adventure writing career, so his sense of humour (intentional and otherwise) is everywhere in this book, in his bizarre descriptions, off-beat analogies, and graphic depictions of violence. He also throws exclamation points around like confetti on New Year's. You might think he was getting paid by the exclamation point! They are everywhere! Even on short, boring sentences! Like this one!

There is not much in the way of social and political rants, but there is some criticism of the United States' gun culture and its simultaneous exploitation of and prudishness about sexuality:
[Mace] stood there thinking of how savage and barbaric the United States was, a truly wild country in which almost any man could purchase a firearm. Such a pity that the United States was still a pioneer nation, a violent nation, a nation still living in brutality, such as existed in its days of the Old West. ...

[A fascination with brute force] seemed to be a large part of American culture and one that frankly puzzled Mace. Most nations honored their intellectuals, their poets and artists, their philosophers and scientists, according them positions of reverence and respect. Not so in the United States, a paradoxical nation where people were honored not for the quality of their minds but for their ability to throw, or kick, or bounce a ball! A childish and immature nation, always preoccupied with the sexual function in a deranged sort of way: while men and women were prominently displayed stark naked in magazines and in motion pictures, "morals squads" still spied and snooped hi public rest rooms to ensure prim and proper sexual behavior!

Poor repressed Americans ... immature and untutored in the virtues of a sane and sensible life .. . not to realize that shame is but nature's hasty conscience ...
At one point, Mace recalls En Sheng telling him that the idea of turning the other cheek is "an unnatural credo put forth by the Western Christians, who have never comprehended the nature of man."

In "An Insider's View to the Death Merchant" that ran in the back pages of some of Pinnacle's other series (The Executioner, The Penetrator), Rosenberger claimed to have "originated the first kung fu fiction books" and to have worked as "an instructor in 'Korean karate'".

Joe Kenney reviewed this book in June 2010 when his Glorious Trash blog was not even three weeks old! He stated that Manor Books was "capitalizing ... on the then-popular Kung-Fu TV series starring David Carradine". Based on the scant information online and my own research, Rosenberger treated the truth as highly elastic when it came to his own background. He almost certainly did not teach "Korean karate".

In a short interview printed in a 1981 fanzine, Rosenberger says he wrote under the name Lee Chang. He may have outed himself as Chang at that time, but I find it next-to-impossible that anyone who was familiar with the Death Merchant series would not immediately recognize Rosenberger's rather unique style.

Early in the book, Joseph Rupert Rosenberger writes that one of the Mafia goons "had the unlikely name of Rupert Rosenbacker!" He did something similar in The Devil's Trashcan (DM #43), when one of Richard Camellion's buddies makes a passing comment about "a joker I know" named Rupt Rosenberger. ... I don't know what to make of this.

Etc.:

"Mace was a man who'd hit himself over the head with a sledge hammer just to keep in practice."

"Both men might as well have tried to stop a rhinoceros with toothpicks!"

"He had all the chance of a crippled turtle trying to outrun a bolt of lightning!"

"... making suki yaki of his face, egg foo yung of his ribs and chop suey of his guts"

"as slick as a puppy's nut"

"... stalked by something gigantic, venomous and incredibly malevolent. Blackness!"

"Uncle will be surprised that we've come to the dock to see him and Jimmy leave. Then again, he might not."

"Confusion is the little brother of misery and the twin of uncertainty; yet all confusion dies before the sword of facts."

"... two moving engines of destruction, two juggernauts of pure King Fu"

"They're dangerous! They're like two cans of nitro!"

"The man went down, gurgling like a waterfall, his brain a pounding kettledrum of approaching death."

"You're so damned bright that you think Sherlock Holmes is a housing development."

"... falling the remaining 15 feet with the speed of a meteor"

Big John Jenessio could barely walk "and when he did shuffle along his battered balls became a tubful of misery".

"... the ultimate aim of Kung Fu ... is to aspire to the high grades where one's understanding and practice of the art provide the entrance to the philosophical plane where the principles of the physical practice are applied to life."

Mace: "They didn't harm you in any way ...?"
Sue: "That man Vance. He even made us a pitcher of lemonade."

"I'll get those killers if it's the last thing I do!"

"There was a quietness about the two vessels that wasn't natural, a kind of waiting malignancy that seemed to be building to an unexpected spring ... waiting ..."

"A nagging fear kept growing in Ho Li's mind, spreading with all the rapidity of a cancer."

"Mace exploded over him with all the ferocity of a spreading cancer!"

"The Pacific Ocean was a friend to no man ..."

"... his malevolent mind trying to sponge up current events"

"... hideous shock ... his think machine did what it had to do! It died!"

"... his lungs wondering where all the air had gone! They stopped wondering a few seconds later."

"The savage burst blasted the body wide open, with all the razor-sharp efficiency of a knife slicing open a hot dog! Bone, blood and grayish ropes of bowel splattered like a spring shower all over the interior of the wheelhouse. The corpse dropped to the floor. It was one helluva way to perform an autopsy!"

"The certainty of what he had to go bloomed in Mace's mind like a large flower, each petal fragrant with honor and justice."

"... multiple-finger thrusts that were constant ripsaws of justice with hatred or retribution without malice"

"... the rugged hole gaped like some metal vagina, a long slit surrounded by curled and buckled plates"

"Their only mistake was that they didn't know the depth of Mace's training! How could they possibly have known that a Kung Fu Master, while whirling and dancing and throwing, is practically superhuman, the Nage seeming to travel along unfamiliar lines of space-time. Such a man becomes pure art, moving easily in the midst of ferocious blows and flying tackles, not by opposing but by joining. He deals with the strongest attack by Nukishomen-uchi, by embracing the attack, by drawing it instantly into a wide circle of concord, which joins him with the essential unity and harmony of the universe."

"... a feeling of sadness turning the turnstiles of his mind"

"Jimmy Wing, his eyes as big and round as two small saucers ..."

Rupe was "as big as a small house"

The ship shuddered "like a sick old man who wanted to be with Jesus, but didn't want to die"

"His left ear, having been half-bitten off in a fight, appeared deformed, and it was."

"Mace's years of training now served him well, his reflexes releasing themselves with a speed that could only be explained, to an average man, as an abstraction beyond infinity."

October 2, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, August 30, 1973: "Suggests A Bible Ban"

Chicago Daily Herald, August 30, 1973:
Suggests A Bible Ban

I was more than just a little amused when I read that the school board of Dist. 96 was considering a policy that would apply censorship to all educational materials used in the district's three schools.

I trust that Big Brother Censors will not forget the Tarzan books, since Tarzan and Jane were never "joined in holy wedlock." Damn it! Tarzan and his broad are living "in sin" – and this is a big no-no!

I also suggest that the Bible be banned, that perennially popular book of fairy tales which is filled with sex and violence. Not only is the Old Testament filled with descriptions of orgies, but even incest, in the form of Lot and his daughters, rears its ugly head, not to mention prostitution and homosexuality.

Tch, tch. Such reading is not good for innocent children.

On the other hand, good Christians and god-hucksters on TV tell us that we should follow the "Good Book" and live accordingly. Since "an eye for an eye" and a "tooth for a tooth" is mentioned in the eternal fairy tale that never grows old (only more boring), I submit that we should toss out our hard-working, over-criticized police and indulge in our own personal, "Christian" brand of justice.

We could also revert to a plurality of wives, some good old fashioned polygamy, since King David and other Biblical characters had more than one wife, not to mention the "in" they had with the Creator.

As I see it, all this would be moral and proper for the good Christians of 1973 because it was all very moral and proper and legal in Biblical days – and if the Bible was the word of God then, isn't it still – right now?

We know all this happened because the Bible says so, stating that "God was with King David and all he did." And old King David was one helluva swinger – and so was King Solomon, who chased teenagers! Whether or not he was "wise" is a moot question.

Shucks, if we followed the Bible, we could even go about beheading those who stray off the path of Christian "morality," since we are told that God bid Moses to "take all heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord against the sun." Well, the daughters of Moab should have behaved themselves and not have been Biblical swingers. On the other hand, what was good enough for Charlton Heston – I mean Moses! – is good enough for me. After all, Moses conned a lot of people. Ask the Israelis! A lot of these dumbbells still think a "Redeemer" is going to come down out of the clouds and save them. So far, their only "Redeemer" has been the United States, with its gun and ammunition!

Yes, if we are to censor books, if we are to ban them, if we are to toss out the sandbags of common sense and soar away to an idiot world on a balloon of stupidity, let's do it right: let's follow the "Good Book," or else ban that mess of pornography!

Naturally the Bible will not be banned because the censors and would-be book burners are bigoted Puritans sick with the illness of smug fundamentalism, sado-masochists who love dwelling on "sin," fools who would condemn to their silly hell anyone who persists in thinking for himself and refuses to conform to their crazy spiritual dictatorship.

Joe Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove, Illinois



















As you might expect, there were several angry replies. (I'm guessing that provoking or offending as many people as possible was Rosenberger's goal.)
She Staunchly Defends Bible

To Joe Rosenberger:

You suggest a Bible ban for various reasons, some of which are: it is filled with sex, violence, incest, homosexuality, etc. You call the "Good Book" an eternal "fairy tale" and cite cases from the Old Testament to make your point, then call this the "Christian" way.

True, the Bible does contain stories filled with the things you mention – and more – which only proves that it is NOT a book of "fairy tales." If it were the stories would be just the opposite – showing the "goodness" of man. But, since it is NOT a book of "fairy tales" it "tells it like it is," showing the true nature of man – not his goodness, but his sinfulness.

Obviously, you have knowledge of "things" contained in the Old Testament, but you do not know the God which is revealed therein – the God who loves us IN SPITE of our sinful nature which results in the things you mention, violence, sex, etc. You do not know the God who came to earth in the person of Jesus the Christ to redeem us from this sinful nature.

You quote from the Old Testament then say this is the "Christian" way, such as "an eye for an eye . . .". It would seem that your knowledge of the New Testament is very limited – possibly non-existent, for most of the Scripture you quote is from the Old Testament.

Here is an example of the "Christian" way: In the book of Matthew, chapter five, Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say . . . if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also . . ." He tells us not to resist evil with evil but to overcome it with love. Hence, the "Christian" way is not violence but love.

A brief reference you do give to New Testament Scripture is "A lot of dumbbells still think a 'Redeemer' is going to come down out of the clouds and save them. So far, their only "Redeemer" has been the United States, with its gun and ammunition!" If, as you say, our only 'Redeemer' is the United States, then truly we ARE lost and without hope – just take a look around you!

The truth, whether a person wants to believe it or not, is that the only Redeemer for mankind has come to earth (Jesus the Christ), is living now (in Heaven), and will return to earth one day! God said it in His written word (the Holy Bible), therefore it is TRUE and man's opinion regarding it will NOT alter this Truth one iota!

Patricia A. Johnson
Palatine
September 7, 1973


Bible 'Misunderstood'

A deplorable situation is created when an individual exercises his right of free speech in blatant ignorance, such as Joe Rosenberger did in his Fence Post letter appearing in this paper on Thursday, August 30. His ironic suggestion that the Bible be banned due to its pornographic content merely reveals his own narrow-mindedness and prejudice.

To be effective, or even credible, a critic must demonstrate that he comprehends the material he criticizes, or at least he must display a working knowledge of the subject matter at hand. Mr. Rosenberger shows us he possesses neither.

His obsession seems to be exposing the horrible sins of Old Testament characters, which, given the consistency of human nature, hardly surprises anyone. Any knowledgeable Bible student who "rightly divides the Word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15) can readily ascertain that the Old Testament was given to us so that we might profit from both the good and bad of our predecessors (II Timothy 3:16). While Mr. Rosenberger is hung up on recounting the sexual delinquency of the human race through biblical history, he entirely overlooks or avoids the pertinent Grace message in the New Testament (primarily conveyed in the Pauline Epistles) which reveals God's present economy involving mankind (Ephesians 2:8 and 9, Titus 2:11 and 12). Omitting perhaps the most significant portion of a work, in writing a critique, is hardly considered equitable to either the work or to the author.

Remember, Mr. Rosenberger, that book, which you apparently deplore so greatly, was one of the foundations upon which the American Democracy was laid, by men who believed firmly in their God and his word, the very same Bible. These men were hardly the type who would "soar away to an idiot world on a balloon of stupidity" or believe firmly in "a mess of pornography" as you have labeled the Bible. And they were quite tolerant of one's "thinking for himself," as evidenced by their foresight in establishing such a system as the one which currently allows both you and I to express our opinions.

Thomas and Paula Moore
Palatine
September 10, 1973


Bible Defended

In reply to Mr. Rosenberger's letter, "Let's Ban the Bible."

No, Mr. Rosenberger, the Bible will not be banned and not because of bigoted Puritans as you stated. By its own weight the Bible will remain in existence. Peter does remind us, "The Word of the Lord endureth forever."

What book down through history has been already burned, banned, ripped and scorned more than the Bible – yet has survived intact? Obviously, it was not only divinely inspired, it has been divinely protected.

Yes, it contains sex and violence, but God does not condone everything He reveals. As the author of truth He must tell all – like it is – and the Bible is full of warnings against human debauchery.

The Bible also contains, love, peace, joy, wisdom, beauty, justice and power. It's unfortunate that so many minds are unaware of its content.

As for Christianity – many people who dismiss the Christians have never personally examined the grounds for the Christian claim. They have never read through the New Testament documents, particularly the Gospels, with an open mind.

Mary M. Wells
Schaumburg
September 13, 1973

August 8, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, August 22, 1973: "Pornography Foes 'Crackpots'"

From The Chicago Daily Herald of August 22, 1973:
Pornography's Foes 'Crackpots'

Mr. William D. North of Arlington Heights is to be congratulated for his brilliant analysis regarding the paradox of "pornography," his dissection of the prevailing situation clearly and concisely giving evidence to the fact that "pornography" is what any particular person might think it is.

Unfortunately, every society in all periods of history and in every nation, has had its Watchers of Morals, those "saintly" morons who try to cram their own brand of Right vs. Wrong down the throat of their neighbors. Today, we see this brand of dictatorship not only in those completely hazy areas regarding "pornography," but in all subjects with which the Know-it-Alls disagree.

Abortion, for example. Completely ignoring the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court said it was any woman's right to decide whether or not she should have an abortion, there are those who are still screaming "sin" and "murder" simply because they do not believe in abortion; and they cannot be wrong in any moral pronouncement! This is another way of saying that they would deny the rest of society the very basic freedom of choice. In short, these damn fools would deny another person the right to his own belief!

It is the same crackpots who, in their frantic effort to make the rest of society conform to their own personal beliefs, are now making a big, useless noise about "pornography," the same breed of Nut who would have the police act as Censors – and who would probably have society read nothing but the Bible. My advice to the police is to ignore these crackpots.

Should censorship ever work, what would be the next logical step? Censorship of the free press, the same free press that exposed Watergate? Or perhaps they would decide how their neighbors should vote, or the religion in which their neighbor should believe. Since they are immune to all logic, they will quickly tell you that their religion is the only "truth faith!"

Medieval Europe saw this very thing happen, and for over 200 years the arts and sciences came to a complete standstill! Why? Because they, in the form of the Pope and other crackpots, decided that all anyone needed to know was contained in the Bible! It was this same believe-as-I-do-or-else that led to the Italian and Spanish Inquisition, in which millions of innocent people – even children – were torn apart with a savagery equalled only by the Nazi sadists in Hitler's Germany.

John F. Kennedy summed it up very well when he said: "Censorship is basically against human rights. The lock on the door of the legislature, the parliament or assembly hall, by order of the King, the Commissar, or the Fuhrer, has historically been followed or preceded by a lock on the door of the printer's, the publisher's or the booksellers."

President Kennedy forgot to mention the local crackpots who watch everyone's morals but their own!

Joe Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

July 4, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, March 20, 1973: "Abortion: Both Sides"

The US Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade was announced on January 22, 1973. Less than two months later, the Chicago Daily Herald printed six letters to the editor regarding abortion. Only two of the six writers supported a woman's right to an abortion. Joseph Rosenberger was one of those two supporters.
I am getting more than a little nauseated at these smug anti-abortionists, who, with their myopic little minds, fail to understand what the entire issue of abortion is about: namely, whether or not the individual woman should have a choice in the matter. Or have they conveniently forgotten?

Deciding on a point of law, not on a point of morals, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is the right of every woman to make up her own mind as to whether she should have an abortion. All this is in stark contrast to Roman Catholics and other religious groups, who have neatly cataloged all the "rights" and "wrongs" of the human race, and who have taken it upon themselves to dictate to American society their own special brand of morality.

Sometimes these know-it-alls, these next-to-God people succeed, and when they do we have explosive situations that exist in Northern Ireland, where "good people" are slaughtering each other (and their brats) because they disagree on the various routes that supposedly lead to that Eternal Social Security Land in the Big Sky; or Ireland proper, where the Church is so powerful that we find censorship of the press, to insure that those who disagree with primitive superstition can't express their views; or Spain and Portugal, considered two of the most backward nations in Europe; or Italy, where, until a few years ago, even divorce was illegal, all of which resulted in millions of couples merely living together "in sin."

Isn't it odd that while anti-abortionists also roar and rave about individual rights in other matters, they would take away those same rights and freedoms from others by imposing their own moral beliefs on all of society, by NOT permitting the individual woman to decide the moral question of abortion for herself!

More paradoxical is the fact that these religious crackpots never even whisper the other moral aspect of the abortion question: that they are free not to have an abortion. Of course, they couldn't anyhow, or they'd go to "hell" and sizzle forever like a piece of bacon in a too hot skillet!

And isn't it odd that while they scream about "religious freedom," they assume it is their "moral" right and duty to impose upon all of society their own special brand of right and wrong.

I suggest it's time for these big mouthed know-it-alls to practice their own beliefs, which is certainly their right, and leave others alone to practice theirs.

Just for the record, lest someone blame the poor Jews for my opinion, because my name is Rosenberger, let me state that I am not Jewish (I've got more sense than believe in "redeemers").

Actually I'm from another planet, doing a survey on the various religious and mythological superstitions of Earth creatures, and find it unique how hypocrites can scream about "religious freedom" when all they do is try to dictate their own framework of organized superstitions to the rest of society.

Perhaps it's the nature of the beast; perhaps it's because even intelligent people insist on clinging to any belief – no matter how ridiculous that belief is – that offers some hope of afterdeath security. Personally, I pity such fools.

Joseph R. Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

June 24, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, October 31, 1972: "Critic Explains Letters Stand ..."

Continuing the discussion from the last Letters post, Joseph Rosenberger wrote:
Critic Explains Letters Stand ...

It would seem that my criticism of the prayer vigil held at St. Joseph The Worker Church has stirred a tornado in a thimble; it has also brought a response which indicates that some people are not too well informed about their own faith, other than believing the official propaganda with which they have been brain-washed. I refer to Mr. Thomas F. Mahoney of Buffalo Grove, who, with typical crystal ball logic, has the "ability" to read hidden meanings in apparently any letter!

What Mr. Mahoney seems to forget is that religious freedom also means the option NOT to believe in "traditional" religion, the freedom to express one's opinion, and the legal and moral right to denounce what one considers ignorance and/or injustice, whether one be a deist, an agnostic, an atheist, a humanist or a rationalist!

If the "community" and one's "neighbors" would deny any person this freedom of choice, then the community and one's neighbors would be indulging in hypocrisy and ignoring the Christian concepts of justice in which they profess to believe.

If I were so narrow as to indulge in Mr. Mahoney's kind of reasoning, I would suggest that he's advocating "when in Rome do as the natives do"! Believe as everybody else believes, don't have an opinion, and for God's sake (no pun intended) don't rock the holy boat! I can only wonder: if Mr. M. had lived in Nazi Germany, would he have bleated "HEIL" with the rest of the sheep, simply to avoid "offending the community"? Would he have advocated the hanging of "witches," had he lived in Salem, Mass. in 1692?

As for my "patent ignorance of the positive emphasis" of Catholic education, I am more than familiar with this so-called emphasis, so much so that, as a professional author, I've written books both on Roman Catholic sexual philosophy and Roman Catholic education – and all from the Catholic viewpoint, too. Writing these books was simply another job, and I was well paid for the task.

I personally fall to find any "positive emphasis" in a moral credo that, among other things, would turn a woman into a baby-making machine by subjecting her to the rhythm system, which is considered a joke among medical men, who refer to it as "Vatican Roulette!" And woe to any RC wife who refuses to play the game. She is excommunicated latae sententiae – Canon Law 2350. This is the kind of "positive" teaching that evolved and was updated from the same "wisdom" that once taught, in the Middle Ages the craziness that a male fetus acquired a soul in 40 days and a female fetus in 80 days. St. Augustine said so, and this dictum was followed by the Church for three centuries. I can also assure the "community" that this is fact, since Jesuit friends of mine, teaching at Louis University, a Catholic institution, have told me so. Needless to say, they also considered it a joke!

Mr. Mahoney also indulges in the old fashioned Christian tactic used by Apologists: That of the false analogy. In this case, since I disagree with him, there must be something wrong with me. I must have a "peculiar problem." I would suggest Mr. M. acquire a good college logic (and a Roman Catholic Encyclopedia). Then again, perhaps he has read a few lay books on psychology and fancies himself a kind of "expert" in human nature. . .

Sorry, Mr. Mahoney, but I don't have any "peculiar problem" – financially, emotionally, or otherwise. In fact, I'm quite content and happy. I don't even have the problem of being bothered by narrow-minded people who don't even know the facts about their own religious heritage. But I don't complain, anymore than I become annoyed because a baboon has no appreciation of beauty, or because an aborigine is not conversant with the finer shades of courtesy or self-sacrifice. On the galactic scale, the human race is still young, and the limitations of the contending religious systems may be but the growing pains of humanity on its spiritual pilgrimage.

Joseph Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
On the same date – October 31, 1972 – two letters in opposition to Rosenberger's original letter were published:
... And A Catholic Criticizes Him

I am offering my rebuttal to Mr. Joseph R. Rosenberger's article entitled: "Catholic Sex Ed Needed" in our Catholic schools. I really pity your bigotry, especially since it comes from one of the "chosen people." I'm sure you don't speak for the rest.

Yes, Mr. Rosenberger, Roman Catholic authorities and Roman Catholic parents should be allowed to teach the Catholic faith to members of our church and to our children, and without any interference from an outsider. No, Mr. Rosenberger, we are not "demanding public funds to teach our faith." It's amazing how one reads into each debate on this issue only what one chooses to. Of the hundreds of subjects taught in parochial schools, whether that school be Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, religion is ONE subject. We only appeal for aid on busing, which the public school children have; we request aid for the purchase of secular, I repeat SECULAR, books, which public school children have; we request aid for the purchase of secular science and lab materials, secular gym equipment, etc. etc., which public school children enjoy.

How can you call our church "ostrich-headed" in its attitudes on modern sex education. You have no idea whatever what goes on in our private schools. Our sex education program can match any similar program put out by the public schools. If you wish your children to know everything there is to know and then some, go ahead and teach them; no one is stopping you. You think you're qualified in so many other facets, you certainly should be capable of teaching them the facts of life. I suggest you pull YOUR HEAD out of the sand, stop over at St. Mary's, speak to Father Duffy. He will be more than happy to give you the material we use from grades 1 through 8, relating to sex education. Then, after you have read this material. see if you still call us "ostrich-headed."

Soon our schools will be in danger of over-educating our children in matters of sex and drugs. Soon our schools, both public and private, will employ so many techniques, in over-education, that our country will lead the world in unmarried pregnant girls; we will lead the world in hard-line narcotic users. Education along these lines is of great benefit WHEN applied wisely. Certain ages and levels of maturity are capable of learning in certain stages. The parents, not the schools, know which of our children are capable of learning what things. But it sounds like you wish to push the pendulum so far the other way we will over educate. And Mr. Rosenberger, there is such a thing as OVER EDUCATION. Don't show the child the dangers of drugs, but even show them how to prepare an injection of heroin on film, so in case that child wasn't sure how to do it, after the film he will be! So the children who had no interest in drugs before the film, now had the interest perked up.

Mr. Rosenberger, the GREAT AUTHORITY on prayer! You must know something beyond us. How are you so sure prayer is a joke and does NOT help. Prayer and faith have sustained countless of generations before you were born, and it will continue to sustain countless of generations long after your passing. Don't sell the power of prayer so short! It is people such as you who make fun of prayer, that are the first ones to invoke God's name during a tragedy.

Then, your "prayer" is usually the old "gimme-and-I'll-give-ya" type, such as "Oh God, if you let Billy pull through, I'll do such and such." This "prayer" is invoked in the emotion of the moment, and the barter is usually broken as soon as Bill pulls through. I'm not saying that this type of prayer is wrong. Sometimes it takes tragedy for us to find our way to God again. But I am saying that prayer can also be: "Thank you God for my life; thank you God for my parents; thank you God for my health; thank you God for my children; thank you God for this beautiful earth." And a prayer for you, Mr. Rosenberger, "thank you, God, for the ability to be in a free nation that allows me the right to write in a newspaper expounding my bigotry."

You remind me of the little boy standing outside the candy store window, wishing he were inside with the rest of us. Well, Mr. Rosenberger, come on in – we won't charge you.

Alice Wiles
Arlington Heights

P.S. What a giant step backward you and I have token from ecumenical goats. Shame on us!
And:
Sex Ed Letter
'Unfair Comment'

I would like to support Thomas Mahoney in his reply to Mr. Rosenberger's letter on sex education, and go one step further.

Should the Rosenberger letter have been printed in the first place? This is the second time in recent weeks that the Fence Post has published letters that had no other apparent purpose than to hold the beliefs and practices of a particular religious group (interestingly in both cases, Catholics) up to scorn and ridicule. That was the case in Mr. Rosenberger's letter and that a few weeks ago, quoting scripture texts out of context to question what the author believed were Catholic practices, which he objected to.

This is hardly fair comment on current events!

In these days when concerned people everywhere are trying to build bridges, letters which tend to divide or accent differences, particularly religious differences are out of order, especially on the editorial page of your (our) newspaper.

Harry J. Walsh
Buffalo Grove
Rosenberger's letter of October 31, 1972, prompted two more replies, which appeared on November 10. The first, from the aforementioned Thomas Mahoney:
Rosenberger's Stand Is Assailed

Mr. Joseph Rosenberger of Buffalo Grove apparently discerns in my criticism of his attack upon Catholic moral teachings implications of a constitutional dimension. In no sense, however, do I question his legal right to expound his ideas, however puerile. Rather, I point only to his lack of civility. The question is one merely of manners, not of First Amendment freedoms.

Mr. Rosenberger conjectures regarding my conduct had I been In Nazi Germany. Not having been there, I cannot satisfy his curiosity. In posing the question, however, Mr. Rosenberger appears to be suggesting an equation between his own potty-spirited attack upon a prayer vigil at St. Joseph the Worker Church and high-minded resistance to Nazi tyranny. Which nonsense suggests that Walter Mitty is alive and well, and living in Buffalo Grove.

I accept at face value Mr. Rosenberger's assertion that he has written at length on the subject of Catholic moral teaching. The fact remains nonetheless that his letters on the topic disclose only gross ignorance, both social and theological. In this field, as in others, writing varies considerably in quality. It is possible that bits and snatches of Mr. Rosenberger's prose rise above incompetence and achieve mediocrity; but I doubt it. Nor is it very important; the real point at issue here is Mr. Rosenberger's bad taste.

Mr. Rosenberger describes himself as a "professional author." How then explain his reliance upon infantile invective in lieu of reasoned discourse? The answer lies perhaps in the very looseness of the phrase, encompassing as it does root only skilled craftsmen but also hacks who churn out junk ranging from third rate advertising copy to pornographic novels. In any event a more precise appellation for Mr. Rosenberger is at hand. He states he has been "well paid" for advocating a philosophical point of view, which he personally deems detrimental to the intellectual development of his audience. This by definition is literary prostitution.

Charity, as I have previously indicated, compels sympathy for such a man. Surely we can rejoice with him, not only that he has learned acquaintances in academia, but that – and more importantly, since it clearly occupies such an exalted place in his personal hierarchy of values – he has been financially successful in life. But most importantly, in the aforementioned spirit of charity, we ought, like Gypo Nolan, to tell him we are sorry for his troubles.

Thomas F. Mahoney
Buffalo Grove
Gypo Nolan is the title character of Liam O'Flaherty's 1925 novel, The Informer, which was also made into a movie by John Ford in 1935.

Joyce McCabe adds her thoughts:
Local Sex Ed Controversy Continues

I am writing in response to Mr. Joseph R. Rosenberger's letter regarding the need for sex education in the Catholic school. As long as Mr. Rosenberger is liberal enough to believe that Roman Catholic authorities can teach the Catholic faith, it's a shame Mr. Rosenberger does not take advantage of the open house at St. Mary's once a year. If he did he would be aware of how advanced St. Mary's is. He would also be aware that not only do we teach sex education but also the responsibility which goes along with sex.

Mr. Rosenberger makes the statement, "How can two priests who never had children or had to worry about paying bills impart any advice regarding the sexual function." I can speak only for our priests who have 765 children, 1,300 families and more bills in a month than Mr. Rosenberger sees in a year. If this qualifies one to impart os [?] the sexual function, then our priests are qualified.

Mr. Rosenberger also feels that prayer will not produce a normal healthy sexual urge. I think that these children who are being taught sex education along with prayer and Christian life will put a much higher price and respect for the human body than those taught strictly just the physical function of the human body.

It appears Mr. Rosenberger speaks from ignorance when he states that the church neglects the needy. He should know the functions of Catholic Charities, Bishop's Relief Fund and individual needs churches provide for needy people. It has always been the policy of the Catholic schools never to deny a child a Catholic education because of lack of funds.

Maybe Mr. Rosenberger should accept people for what they are instead of a label. We do not wish to impose our religion on anyone.

Joyce McCabe
Buffalo Grove

June 11, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, October 12, 1972: "Catholic Sex Ed Needed"

Joseph Rosenberger writes a Letter to the Editor:
Catholic Sex Ed Needed

It was with a combination of pity and amusement that I read of the "Prayer Vigil," regarding chastity, to be held at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Wheeling, Oct. 13.

While believing that Roman Catholic authorities should be allowed to teach the Catholic faith to members of the Church (provided they don't demand public funds to do it), I should think that more progress could be made – both with young people and adults – if the Church would cease its ostrich-headed attitude and permit a program of modern sex education in its schools, instead of depending on pious platitudes formulated in the Middle Ages, during the days when certain Popes could "prove" the earth was "flat" . . . platitudes that were built around the premise that all sex, even between married couples, was – is – somehow frowned upon by the Creator of the universe!

Personally, I fail to see how two Franciscan Friars, who have never had to worry about paying bills, or children, or family or anything else in the every day world of making a living, can impart ANY advice regarding the sexual function. Nor do I feel that "prayer" will chain the normal and healthy sexual urges of a teenage boy or girl!

I trust these Friars, educated as they are in Church History, Catholic philosophy, homiletics, etc., will inform their listeners that modern sociological thought does not attach the exceptional value that a superficial, limited, and unscientific religious ethic sets upon it.

Most psychiatrists (and other professionals connected with the public welfare) consider absolute chastity a form of ignorance, their feeling (based on medical evidence) being that even partial chastity constitutes a blind denial of the legitimacy of the sexual acts and is nothing more than a vestige of the ancestral taboo that certain religions persist in teaching without producing any scientific or logical reason to justify it. As to those misinformed people who point to the Bible . , well, on that basis we should legalize polygamy, since many a prophet and king in the Old Testament had more than one wife. (Actually modern society does have a form of progressive polygamy, only we call it "divorce and remarriage!")

Of course, if people prefer to believe superstition and ignore modern science – that's their business. However, they should keep in mind that "prayer" has not helped any family that finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy because of too many mouths to feed. They should also realize that while the Church is a Santa Claus when it comes to giving advice, it's a miser that would put Scrooge to shame when it comes to shelling out hard cash to ANY needy family, or even permitting that family's children to attend parochial school without paying the necessary tuition.

Joseph R. Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove
Roselle Register, October 12, 1972
Six days later:
Sex Ed Letter Hit

Many people, I would suspect, are likely embarrassed for Mr. Joseph Rosenberger of Buffalo Grove, whose letter in the Fence Post (October 12) suggests that increasing sexual permissiveness is somehow the key to better mental health. Quite apart from the inanity of his thesis (and his patent ignorance of the positive emphasis Catholic education today places upon the sexual aspect of man's nature), Mr. Rosenberger's tirade against the religiously-based moral values of many of his neighbors is a deplorable exercise in bad taste.

It is a mark of the maturity of a community that its residents respect the religious convictions of one another, and in that regard Buffalo Grove is truly a fine place to live. Friendships easily and often cross religious lines, and inter-faith cooperation is frequently evidenced. Few people, fortunately, share Mr. Rosenberger's predilection for attacking the traditional moral teachings of any particular religious faith; and few also, I would hope, are so devoid of charitable sentiment that they would fail to sympathize with Mr. Rosenberger's own peculiar problem – whatever it may be.

Thomas F. Mahoney
Buffalo Grove
Roselle Register, October 18, 1972
This was not the end of the conversation ....

June 9, 2018

An Insider's View Of The Death Merchant

This "insider's view" of the Death Merchant—written by series author Joseph Rosenberger—appeared in the back of several Pinnacle paperbacks, including The Executioner #36 (August 1979) and The Penetrator #40 (January 1981). It covered six pages.

Rosenberger does not tell us how he came to create the Death Merchant series and although he includes a short bio of himself, much of what he claims may not be true. (I sent this to Joe Kenney and he posted it at Glorious Trash on October 16, 2017.)

***

An insider's view of the Death Merchant — A master of disguise, deception, and destruction . . . and his job is death.

DEATH MERCHANT
by Joseph Rosenberger

One of Pinnacle's best-selling action series is the Death Merchant, which tells the story of an unusual man who is a master of disguise and an expert in exotic and unusual firearms: Richard Camellion. Dedicated to eliminating injustice from the world, whether on a personal, national, or international level, possessed of a coldly logical mind, totally fearless, he has become over the years an unofficial, unrecognized, but absolutely essential arm of the CIA. He takes on the dirty jobs, the impossible missions, the operations that cannot be handled by the legal or extralegal forces of this or other sympathetic countries. He is a man without a face, without a single identifying characteristic. He is known as the master of the three Ds—Death, Destruction, and Disguise. He is, in fact and in theory, the Death Merchant.

The conception of the "Death Merchant" did not involve any instant parthenogenesis, but a parentage whose partnership is more ancient than recorded history. The father of Richard Camellion was Logic. The mother, Realism.

Logic involved the realization that people who read fiction want to be entertained and that real-life truth is often stranger and more fantastic than the most imaginative kind of fiction. Realism embraced the truth that any human being, having both emotional and physical weaknesses, is prone to mistakes and can accomplish only so much in any given situation.

We are born into a world in which we find ourselves surrounded by physical objects. There seems to be still another—a subjective—world within us, capable of receiving and retaining impressions from the outside world. Each one is a world of its own, with a relation to space different from that of the other. Collectively, these impressions and how they are perceived on the individual level make each human being a distinct person, an entity with his own views and opinions, his own likes and dislikes, his own personal strengths and weaknesses.

As applied to the real world, this means that the average human is actually a complex personality, a bundle of traits that very often are in conflict with each other, traits that are both good and bad. In fiction this means that the writer must show his chief character to be "human," i.e., to give the hero a multiplicity of traits, some good, some bad.

At the same time, Logic demands that in action-adventure the hero cannot be a literal superman and achieve the impossible. Our hero cannot jump into a crowd of fifty villains and flatten them with his bare hands—even if he is the best karate expert in the world! Sheer weight of numbers would bring him to his knees.

Accordingly, the marriage between Logic and Realism had to be, out of necessity, a practical union, one that would have to live in two worlds: the world of actuality and the world of fiction. This partnership would have to take the best from these two worlds to conceive a lead character who, while incredible in his deeds, could have a counterpart in the very real world of the living.

Conception was achieved. The Death Merchant was born in February of 1971, in the first book of the series, Death Merchant.

This genesis was not without the elements that would shape the future accomplishments of Richard J. Camellion. Just as a real human being is the product of his gene-ancestry and, to a certain extent, of his environment during his formative years, so the fictional Richard Camellion also has a history, although one will have to read the entire series to glean his background and training.

There are other continuities and constants within the general structure of the series. For example, it might seem that the Death Merchant tackles the absurd and the inconceivable. He doesn't. He succeeds in his missions because of his training and experience, with emphasis on the former—training in the arts and sciences, particularly in the various disciplines that deal not only with the physical violence and self-defense, but with the various tricks of how to stay alive—self-preservation!

There are many other cornerstones that form the foundation of the general story line:

* Richard Camellion abhors boredom, loves danger and adventure, and feels that he may as well derive a good income from these qualities. The fact that he often has to take a human life does not make him brutal and cruel.

* Richard Camellion works for money; he's a modern mercenary. Nevertheless, he is a man with moral convictions and deeply rooted loyalties. He will not take on any job if its success might harm the United States.

* The Death Merchant usually works for the CIA or some other U.S. government agency. The reason is very simple. Richard Camellion handles only the most dangerous projects and/or the biggest threats. In today's world the biggest battles involve the silent but very real war being waged between the various intelligence communities of the world. This war is basically between freedom and tyranny, between Democracy and Communism.

(The Death Merchant has worked for non-government agencies, but he has seldom worked for individuals because few can pay his opening fee: $100,000. Usually, those individuals who could and would pay his fee, such as members of organized crime, couldn't buy his special talents for ten times that, cash in advance.)

* The Death Merchant is a pragmatic realist. He is not a hypocrite and readily admits that he works mainly for money. In his words, "While money doesn't bring happiness, if you have a lot of the green stuff you can be unhappy in maximum comfort." Yet he has been known to give his entire fee—one hundred grand—to charity!

* Richard Camellion did not originate the title "Death Merchant." He hates the title, considering it both silly and incongruous. But he can't deny it. He does deal in death. The nickname came about because of his deadly proficiency with firearms and other devices of the quick-kill. (All men die, and Camellion knows that it is only a question of when. He has never feared death, "Which is maybe one reason why I have lived as long as I have.")

The weapons and equipment used in the series do exist. (Not only does the author strive for realism and authenticity, but technical advice is constantly being furnished by Lee E. Jurras, the noted ballistician and author.)

Another support of the general plot is that Camellion is a master of disguise and makeup, and a superb actor as well.

It can be said that Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant, is the heart of the series; but action—fast-paced, violent, often bloody—is the life's blood that keeps the heart pumping. This is not merely a conceptual device of the author; it is based on realistic considerations. The real world is violent. Evil does exist. The world of adventure and of espionage is especially violent.

The Death Merchant of 1971 is not necessarily the same Death Merchant of 1978. In organizing the series, we did use various concepts in constructing the background and the character of Richard Camellion.

Have any of these concepts changed?

The only way to answer the question is to say that while these concepts are still there and have not changed as such, many of them have not matured and are still in the limbo of "adolescence." For example:

We have not elaborated on several phases of his early background, or given any reasons why Camellion decided to follow a life of danger. He loves danger? An oversimplification. Who first called him the Death Merchant? What kind of training did he have? At times he will murmur, "Dominus Lucis vobiscum." What do the words "The Lord of Life be with you" mean to Camellion?

All the answers, and more, will be found in future books in the series.

Camellion's role is obvious. He's the "good guy" fighting on the side of justice. He's a man of action who is very sure of himself in anything he undertakes; a ruthless, cold-blooded cynic who doesn't care if he lives or dies; an expert killing machine whose mind runs in only one groove: getting the job done. One thing is certain: he is not a Knight on a White Horse! He has all the flaws and faults that any human being can have.

Camellion is a firm believer in law, order, and justice, but he doesn't think twice about bending any law and, if necessary, breaking it. He's an individualist, honest in his beliefs, a nonconformist.

He also seems to be a health nut. He doesn't smoke, indulges very lightly in alcohol, is forever munching on "natural" snacks (raisins, nuts, etc.), and uses Yoga methods of breathing and exercise.

Richard Camellion is not the average champion/hero. He never makes a move unless the odds are on his side. He may seem reckless, but he isn't.

Richard Camellion wouldn't turn down a relationship with a woman, but he doesn't go out of his way to find one. The great love of his life is weapons, particularly his precious Auto Mags.

As a whole, readers' reactions are very favorable to the series. It is they who keep Richard Camellion alive and healthy.

The real father and mother of Richard Camellion is Joseph Rosenberger. A professional writer since the age of 21, when he sold an article, he worked at various jobs before turning to fulltime writing in 1961. Rosenberger is the author of almost 2,000 published short stories and articles and 150 books, both fiction and nonfiction, writing in his own name and several pseudonyms. He originated the first kung fu fiction books, under the name of "Lee Chang." Among other things, he has been a circus pitchman, an instructor in "Korean karate," a private detective, and a free-lance journalist.

Unlike the Death Merchant, the author is not interested in firearms, and does not like to travel. He is the father of a 23-year-old daughter, lives and writes in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and is currently hard at work on the latest adventure of Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant.

***

Note: Rosenberger wrote: "All the answers, and more, will be found in future books in the series." Nothing about Camellion's "early background" or "training" was revealed in the subsequent books.