Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, December 19, 2014


Susan Boyle.


Quick Fixes:  Tales of Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson (2011)

Not a forgotten book, but not a commonly available one either.  Quick Fixes is a collection of nine stories that F. Paul Wilson assembled as an e-Book and made available as a print on demand book from CreateSpace.  This is a book for completists who want to read all the short stories Wilson wrote about Repairman Jack.

Some may ask, "Who is Repairman Jack?"

Well, Repairman Jack is an urban mercenary who was the focus of the second volume of Wilson's Adversary series, The Tomb, and was a character in the sixth and concluding book in that series, Nightworld.  As Wilson explains in the forward to this book, he was working on his fourth medical thriller and was becoming bored with it.  He had an idea for a techothriller and decided to rework the book and to use Jack as the main character.  To please the publisher, he made Jack's client a doctor so the book could sorta qualify as a medical history.  That was when Jack took over Wilson's life.

There are fifteen books in the Repairman Jack series, including The Tomb but not including two separate versions of Nightworld (Wilson had to rewrite Nightworld to smooth out inconsistencies between the Repairman Jack series and the Adversary series since Repairman Jack was substantially a subset of the other series.)  There is also a trilogy about Jack as a young teen and another trilogy that spanned the gap in Jack's life between teenager and urban mercenary.  Sometime in the future, I understand, there may be some Repairman Jack graphic novels.

Over the length of the saga, Jack becomes first a pawn, then a major player, in a cosmic war in which Earth is an insignificant prize.  The War is between two entities, one of which is entirely evil and the other is basically apathetic about the fate of this world.  Very little of the Adversary saga is present in these stories, though;  here Jack is facing mostly mundane threats as he "fixes" situations for his clients.

But Jack is anything but mundane.  He is a completely off-the-grid white knight, with a small group of friends and an urge to set things right.  Jack is also a Libertarian's ideal.  (Wilson is a staunch Libertarian; if you're not, don't let that worry you;  you can easily love this series while disagreeing with its Libertarian underpinnings.  I did and do.)

The stories:

- A Day in the Life (1989, from Stalkers, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg)
- The Last Rakosh (1990, from the 1990 World Fantasy convention Program Book; the story was incorporated into the Repairman Jack novel All the Rage)
- Home Repairs (1991, from Cold Blood, edited by Richard Chizmar; the story was incorporated into the Repairman Jack novel Conspiracies)
- The Long Way Home (1992, from Dark at Heart, edited by Joe and Karen Lansdale)
- The Wringer (1996, from Night Screams, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg; the story was incorporated into the Repairman Jack novel Fatal Error)
- Interlude at Duane's (2006, from Thriller, edited by James Patterson)
- Do-Gooder (2006, from a one-page broadsheet issued by Lavendier Books)
- Recalled (2009, from the Richard Matheson tribute anthology He Is Legend, edited by Christopher Conlon)
- Piney Power (2010, from the young-adult thriller anthology Fear:  13 Stories of Suspense and Horror, edited by R. L. Stine)

Repairman Jack fans, rejoice!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Beggars Mantle.  A classic!


So last week we got two kittens as a result of my youngest's evil idea.  The evil idea was that Pop needs a cat for Christmas.  I have always been a cat person (and, yes, I still love my dog Declan) but the house has been cat-less for several years.  So Christina and her daughter Erin and Kitty bundled me off to the animal shelter to get me a Christmas cat.

Well, in one cage they had two black kittens -- identical sisters.  And they were cute and playful and cuddly and all things kittens should be.  How could I pick up just one and split up a beautiful pair?  So I got two kittens.  Kitty named them Bridget and Colleen (black Irish cats, I guess) and we got a blue collar for Bridget and a purple collar for Colleen and we were in business.  (Christina and Erin also ended up with two kittens -- something Christina vowed she would not do, but Christina already had three dogs, three goats, three reptiles, three kids, and just one cat, so things just balanced out.)

Within a day Declan became acclimated to these strange furry things.  They run to his food dish (not theirs) when I fill it up and Declan gracefully allows them to eat from his dish before he digs in.  The Christmas tree has been knocked over three times, the dining room curtains torn down I don't know how many times, Christmas decorations have mysteriously appeared in my shoes, one of my hearing aids went walkabout several times (appearing in various strange places), I found Bridget proudly scanning her empire from the top of a wreath hanging on our living room wall, and now we have a doubly fine layer of cat hair added to the already fine layer of dog hair that has permeated our house.

That's okay, they are sweet animals and I forgive them.


Yesterday, Kitty got up from the computer without shutting it off.  Suddenly the warm keyboard sprouted cats as if they were magic beans.  They pressed all sorts of warm keys and rolled their tiny little bodies all over the keyboard.  How they did it, I don't know, but suddenly all screen images and the cursor were upside down.  Moving an upside down cursor over an upside down screen is a talent that we severely lack.  But we tried.  Understand, also, that we are technological Luddites and it is a miracle every time we are able to turn the computer on.  But we tried to fix it.  We pushed buttons and awkwardly moved the upside down cursor and clicked and cursed (actually, I cursed; Kitty doesn't) to no avail.

So we were computer-less for over twenty-four hours until son-in-law Walt (he of great computer knowledge and many initials after his name) showed up.  We showed him our problem and he laughed and said, "Well, that's something I've never seen before."  While wondering what the cats did to cause this, Walt pressed a few buttons and fixed the d*mned thing in less than a minute.

Bridget and Colleen, you are forgiven!

We're back, baby!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys.