Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, June 24, 2019


Fleetwood Mac.


Openers:  There is a sort of legend abut Corporal George Orbach.  More than one man of his outfit has summed him up as the only person he ever met who didn't know what fear was.  They have a good many pat explanations, the way men will when they have nothing to do between patrols but pin labels on one another.  "A born killer" is a favorite.  A lieutenant called it "a suicidal complex."  This particular phrase did not take with the men.  A handful of sleeping pills, a loaded .32, they figure, and he could die in bed without scurvy, without frostbite, and without Migs.

-- "Born Killer" by Dorothy Salisbury Davis (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, November 1953)


  • J. L. Bourne, Day by Day Armageddon.  Zombie novel, the first of four novels in the series.  "Sporadic news reports indicate chaos and violence spreading throughout U.S. cities.  an unknown evil is sweeping the planet.  The dead are rising to claim the Earth as the new dominant species in the food chain."  From small press publisher Permuted Press.
  • Jon Ajvide Lindqvist, Handling the Undead.  Zombie novel.  "The power grid has gone crazy.  Electric appliances won't stay switched off, and everyone has a blinding headache.  Then the shocking news beaks -- in the morgue and cemeteries, the newly dead are waking up.  What deadly price will grieving families have to pay for the chance to see their loved ones just one more time?"  Lindqvist previously put a new spin on vampires with Let the Right One In; now he does the same with zombies.  Translated by Ebba Segerberg.
  • David Moody, Autumn:  Purification.  Zombie novel.  Noticing a trend here?  The final book in the Autumn trilogy even though three additional books in the series have been published.  "Trapped between the military and the dead, the survivors carve out a fragile and uncertain existence.  In a moment of madness their safety and security is jeapordised.  Surrounded by relentless hordes of bodies they run blindly through a harsh and lifeless world."  From small press publisher Infected Books.
  • Alan Moore, Voice of the Fire.  Moore's first novel.  From Wikipedia:  "The story follows the lives of twelve people who lived in the same area of England over a period of 6000 years, and how their lives link to one another.  Each chapter carries the reader forward in time, but circles around the center of Northhampton, drawing in historical events and touchstones, before seguing into metafictional narrative in the closing chapter, as the author himself directly comments upon the previous chapter's ambiguous closing line, before relating a personal (;possibly fictional) anecdote about Northhampton which relates a personal experience of local myth, and features a personal appearance by his daughter and son-in-law, the writers Leah Moore and John Reppion. Throughout, the image of fire sparks resonate between the tales, while Moore finds a different voice for each character -- though most are inherently duplicitous in some manner, leading to a further commentary on the disparity between myth and reality, and which is more likely to endure over time."   The edition I have includes fourteen full color plates by Jose Villarrubia.  Moore is best known for his graphic novels V for Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Batman:  The Killing Joke, and Lost Girls.  He marches to the beat of a different drummer.
  • Z. A. Recht, Thunder and Ashes.  Yet another zombie novel, the second in the Morningstar Strain trilogy.  "A lot can change in three months:  wars can be decided, nations can be forged,,,or entire species can be brought to the brink of annihilation.  The Morningstar Virus, an incredibly virulent disease, has swept the face of the planer, infecting billions.  Its hosts rampage, attacking anything that remains uninfected.  Even death can't stop the virus -- its victims as cannibalistic shamblers."  Another book from small press publisher Permuted Press.  The author died (at age 26) the year after this book was published; the final book in the trilogy was published three year after the author's death -- it may have been completed by Thom Brannon, who is listed as co-author on the French edition, though not on the American edition.  

A Trump Tent:  Over the past weeks, a Trump tent has appeared sporadically on the site of a closed gas station a couple of blocks from where I live.  The tent is festooned with flags and large banners proclaiming "Trump 2020."  There are t-shirts and (presumably) other paraphernalia.  Noticeably lacking on all the banners and t-shirts is the name "Pence."  I suppose they are just covering their bases.  Pence, who believes that God has singled him out to one day be president, appears to be in a shaky position vis-a-vis 2020.  It's interesting to note that here in the middle of solid Trump Country there has been absolutely no traffic stopping at the Trump tent.   Compare that to the long lines of vendors of Trump merchandise outside the Pensacola Bay Center whenever Trump has a campaign rally there -- something that he has done frequently.

In the meantime, Trump's antics and criminal behavior seems to be catching up with him.  The Iran crisis...the horrid treatment of minors at the border...the stonewalling of his people before the House Judiciary Committee...the lies...the corruption...and the even more lies.  Impeachment seems to be closer.  When it does come, I hope enough evidence has been compiled that it is a slam dunk and even the Senate Republicans will be hard-pressed to defend him.

Speaking of Senate Republicans:  Is there anyone who has abused his position more than Mitch McConnell?  He appears to have met his match in Jon Stewart, who passionately pleaded for the 9-11 first responders.  McConnell made the mistake of poo-pooing Stewart's remarks and Stewart tore him a new one.  Good show, Jon.

And the Flood Gates Opened:  Seventy-two years ago today Kenneth Arnold made the first widely reported UFO sighting.  Arnold, a businessman and an experienced pilot, claimed he saw nine unusual objects flying in tandem in the skies near Ranier, Washington.  The objects "shaped like a pie plate" had an odd motion "like a fish flipping in the sun."  The press soon dubbed these objects "flying saucers;" Arnold said that one of the objects resembled a crescent or flying wing.  Soon there were sightings all over the place and the saucer craze had begun.

Arnold wrote several articles on at least one book (THE COMING OF THE SAUCERS, 1952, with Raymond Palmer, the SF wunderkind who never met a conspiracy he did not like) and several articles, one of which (from Palmer's Fate magazine, Spring 1948) is here:

They're Here?:  A former manager of the DOD Threat Assessment Program says the UFOs are real:

Pardon me while I leave the room to scoff.

Another Conspiracy Theory Smashed:  Despite popular opinion, Walter Cronkite was not the second highest mountain in the Andes.

Today's Poem:
A Bit of Science

What!  Photograph in colors?  'Tis a dream
And he who dreams it is not overwise,
If colors are vibration they but seem,
And have no being.  But if Tyndall lies,
Why, come,  then -- photograph my lady's eyes.
Nay, friend, you can't.  the splendor of their blue,
As on my own beclouded orbs they rest,
To naught by vibratory's motion due,
As heart, head, limbs, and all I am attest.
How could her eyes, at rest themselves, be making
In me so uncontrollable a shaking?

-- Ambrose Bierce

Sunday, June 23, 2019


The legendary science fiction author and editor of Astounding/Analog in a fascinating interview by 17-year-old Fred Lerner.

This half-hour interview was archived by the FANAC Fan History Project.

Enjoy this interview with the man who helped shape science fiction for decades.


The Chuck Wagon Gang.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Ray Bradbury would have been 99 today.  Rachel Bloom honors (?) the writer in this 2010 video.  Supposedly, when shown this on his 90th birthday, Bradbury "was charmed by the whole thing."

Bloom, a former intern for Seth Myers, won a Golden Globe and a Critics' Choice Award for her work on the television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend This video was nominated for a Hugo for Best Dramatic presentation.



The Black Terror was, to cite don Markstein, one of the "1940's long underwear guys," clad in black with gold trim and with a skull and crossbones emblazoned on his chest.  The costume resembles that of the much later Punisher from Marvel Comics, except The Black Terror had a cape and a teeny tiny mask that did nothing to hide his face; in true Clark Kent style, when The Black Terror took off his glasses no one recognized him.  Because he first appeared in May 1942 (in Exciting Comics #9), this superhero was white  -- a 2011 version of him, dubbed "The Blackest Terror," had him African-American.

The Black Terror was created by Richard E. Hughes and was originally drawn by D. (for either David or Don, toss a coin) Gabrielson.  Later artists included Sheldon Moldoff, George Tuska, and the team of Jerry Robinson and Mort Meskin.  Later writers are not know, save for Patricia Highsmith, who penned some episodes before she began writing novels.  (Sorry, I don't know which episodes Highsmith wrote.)

The Black Terror's secret iden tity was Bob Benton, a pharmacist who invented something called "formic ethers" while he was trying to develop a pick-me-up.  The formic ethers gave him superpowers of strength and limited invulnerabilty.  One supposes he adopted the name The Black Terror because no one would buy a comic book titled Bob Benton, Pharmacist.  Benton's assistant at the pharmacy became his costumed kid side-kick Tim.  Often lurking around the pharmacy was Benton's love interest, the pretty Jean Starr, the secretary to the town's mayor. The Black Terror and Tim (collectively known as the "Terror Twins") fought spies, saboteurs, and crooks with equal vigor.  They were featured in three of Better Publications comic:  Exciting Comics, The Black Terror, and America's Best Comics.  All three titles were cancelled in 1949 and Better Publications (and the many companies that were under its umbrella) bit the dust a few years later.

The Black Terror went into public domain and has since been revived/revisited/reimagined by fifteen different companies since 1983.

In Exciting Comics #50, The Black Terror takes the lead story as he investigates the supposed death of a well-known hypnotist.  Witnesses and suspects have been hypnotized by a huge pair of disembodied eyes.  Gangsters are trying to stop anyone from looking into the hypnotist's so-called death.  A helicopter is used to knock The Black terror out.  (You had to have been there.)  Things reach a peak when a bridge is blown up, sending The Black Terror and Tim's car hurtling through the air only to crash through the roof of the gang's hideout.

One perhaps prophetic take from this story takes place on the tale's fifth page, as the Terror goes after two gunmen:

Bad guy:  WOW!  HE IS FAST!   The Black Terror (delivering a knock-out punch):  FAST AND FURIOUS, THUG!

The Black terror isn't the only one to be featured in this issue.  There are also stories about Crash Carter, Air Cadet, The Crime Crushers, The American Eagle, and Sergeant Bill King, along with three text stories, one of which is signed by prolific pulpster Donald Bayne Hobart.  And there's neat cover art by Alex Schomburg!