Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 22, 2019


Openers:  White-robed and dusky-faced, the ayah hurried with trembling footsteps along the narrow path that threaded tortuously the tangled underbrush of that arid thicket.  Her feet and ankles were bare to the knee, and the fine gray dust that covered them deep with its clinging powder bore witness eloquently to the distance she had already carried her precious burden -- a pretty, sleeping, two-year-old baby.  It was not her own, but a white man's daughter; and the white man was a great English sahib.  At every rustle of the bushes in the jungle by her side, the woman shrank back with terrible earnestness -- shrank, and pressed the sleeping baby tight to her bosom; for tigers lurked among the tangled brake, and the cobra might at any moment cross her path with his deadly hood erect and hissing.  But still she hurried along, alone and breathless, one solitary Hindu figure, tall and graceful in her snowy robes, with the unconscious white child strained against her breast, and her heart leaping wildly a at every step the bangles clanked together on her brown ankles.  The fierce hot sun poured down upon her head mercilessly from above, and the little green lizards darted away with lithe and sinuous motion at the fall of her naked dusky foot upon the staring grey line of the path behind them.

-- Kalee's Shrine by Grant Allen and May Cotes (1886) [Note that some editions do not credit May Cotes as co-author.  Cotes was a young woman who came up with the story's plot.  She contacted author and folklorist Andrew Lang, who suggested she collaborate with Grant Allen, a popular writer of the time.  The actual contribution Cotes made to the book -- beyond the original idea -- is unknown.]

Chick-fil-A:  This Youtube video showed up yesterday on the wonderful Bits & Pieces blog. *  I had to share:

*  The blog name is oh-so similar to this regular Monday blog post.  Pure coincidence.  I took the title from an old newspaper column I used to write in the early Seventies.   I'm sure you'll find the Bits & Pieces blog, begun in 2002, far more entertaining than my Monday posts.  Besides, I have never been to St. Louis.


Cassie Bernall
Steve Curnow
Corey DePooter
Kelly Fleming
Matt Kechter
Daniel Mauser
Daniel Rohrbough
Rachel Scott
Isaiah Shoels
John Tomlin
Lauren Townsend
Kyle Velasquez

The Teacher:

Coach Dave Sanders

The Shooters:

Eric Harris
Dylan Klebold

Fifteen names.  Fifteen dead people.  Thirteen victims, fifteen if you consider the shooters to also be victims and, perhaps, they should be.  Columbine High School, April 20, 1999.  This list does not count the other victims:  the wounded, family, friends, schoolmates, educators, workmates, responders, and more...people left with physical or mental anguish.  Since that day two decades ago there have been many more senseless tragedies with lasting consequences.  Two former Parkland high school students recently committed suicide, as did the father of one of the young victim at Sandy Hook Elementary.

We can be a better country than this.  

When will we learn?

Four Years and One Day Earlier:  April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  168 dead...171, if you count the unborn children as some are likely to do.  168 persons, too many to list by name here, snuffed out in a single act of terror -- the worst this country had seen until September 11, 2001.

Remember these victim also.

On a Happier Note:  Today is the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day and the third anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement to fight global warming.  Despite the braying and delaying of the current administration, most people are recognizing their duties as stewards of the Earth.  that's a good -- and hopeful -- sign.

Florida Man:  Our favorite internet meme has been a busy beaver lately.  Here are some of the headlines:
  • Florida man commits murder over imaginary girlfriend
  • Florida man gropes technician who was fingerprinting him for disorderly conduct charge
  • Florida man pretended to be an officer, then tried to pull over an undercover cop
  • Florida man foils police speed trap by putting up a handmade sign warning drivers*
  • Florida man arrested for wrestling a fake alligator at a shopping mall
  • Naked Florida man wanted for burglarizing concession stand
  • Police:  Florida man thought he was stealing drugs, not laxatives
  • Florida man misspells school on crosswalk**
  • Huge alligator captured by 80-year old Florida Man:  "That thing tugged me all over"
  • Florida woman (Florida great-grandma) fends off 300-pound burglar with baseball bat
  • Florida man charged over threats to Democrats that mentioned Ilhan Omar
  • Florida man charged in racist threats to against Cory Booker and Rashida Talib
  • Florida man busted for singing dirty song to neighbor
  • Florida man accused of trying to set American flag on fire at Miami Beach church
  • Florida man fights the police with a cucumber up his ass***
* The cops thanked him
*** Say what?

Today's Poem:
Sea Turtle

There's a wide green map 
on Sea Turtle's back.
Currents?  She knows
their flows, never slows,
needn't stop for directions
wherever she goes,
flapping her elegant
paddle-shaped toes.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Since today is Hugh O'Brien's birthday...

(When I was a kid, we would sing, "Quiet burp.  Quiet burp.  Grave, outrageous and old..."  I suspect some of you did the same.)

CURLY KAYOE #2 (1946)

Once upon a time there was a comic strip named Joe's Garage, created by Vic Forsythe and there was no Curly Kayoe.

Once upon a later time Joe's Garage changed its name to Joe Jinks and there was no Curly Kayoe.

Once upon a time in the late 1920s Joe Jinks became a fight promoter and there still was no Curly Kayoe.

Then, in September 1944, Joe Jinks hooked up with Curly Kayoe, a fresh-faced powerhouse boxer and the rest is history.  Vic Forsythe had left the strip which was then taken over by the Brothers Neff.   Sam Neff did the writing while his brother Mo did the artwork. 

Sam signed the strips while Mo remained anonymous, mainly because Mo was penciling Joe Palooka for Ham Fischer at the time and Curly Kayoe looked suspiciously like Joe Palooka.

By 1945 Curly had become so popular that the strip's name was changed to Curly Kayoe.  By 1947 Joe headed west and ws dropped completely from the comic book roster.

Things went well for curly for quite a while, then history repeated itself as a secondary character became more popular than the title character and the strip was renamed Davy Jones in 1961 and the strip continued until 1971, but without Curly.

From 1946 to 1950, United Feature Syndicate produced eight issues of a Curly Kayoe comic book.  Later, in 1958, Dell would produce a single issue of the title.  Curly fared much better in Australia where 56 issues of a Curly Kayoe  comic book were issued through 1955 by New Century Press Pty. Ltd.

Recapping the first issue, we learn "Curly Kayoe, son of boxing immortal, the late 'Killer' Kayoe, has won his first fight.  On his way home, Curly met 'Times Square" Tessie and offered her a home.  Curly's manager, Joe Jinks, has lined up his next bout..."  And so we segue to issue #2.

The fight is scheduled for Madison Square Garden against Phil Zablo, a good fighter with a powerful right.  Curly and Zablo are scheduled to go on right after the main bout, after most of the crowd has gone home.  The sports reporters, who were scheduled to leave at the same time to write up the main bout, lingered when they saw the impressive Kayoe-Zablo fight had begun; the also suddenly realized that the powerful blond kid was the son of the famous "Killer" Kayoe.  The battle lasted only three rounds with Curly getting a knockout. 

The next morning, the newspapers were proclaiming a new boxing star on the horizon.  (In one panel, we see clips of three different news reports, one of which was by-lined Oscar Fraley, the real-life sportswriter who made Eliot Ness famous with his book The Untouchables.) 

Curly and Zablo were scheduled for a rematch at a benefit event, but Zablo's doctor convinced him to retire from the game for his health.  With the benefit match about to be cancelled, contender Charlie Tann offered to take Zablo's place.  Charlie is a nasty piece of work who insults Time Square Tessie, which angers Curly.  By the time they meet up in the ring, Curly is so mad he begins to make mistakes.  Is Curly's boxing career over?  (I think not.  After all, he does go on in the strips and the comic books for quite a while.  But you'll have to read this issue to see if I'm right.)


Friday, April 19, 2019


Dar Williams.


The Vanguard of Venus by Landell Bartlett (1928)

Landell Bartlett (1897-1972) was a Colorado-born accountant, editor, columnist, local historian, and  poet.  He published three science fiction stories and was said to have been a friend of Robert A. Heinlein.  He was a member of the Colorado science fiction fan community up to at least the 1950s.

The Vanguard of Venus was issued as a free promotional item from Amazing Stories, given to anyone who wrote in and requested a copy.  One did not have to be a subscriber to the magazine.  Eidtor/publisher Hugo Gernsback's aim seems to have been to compile a list of where the magazine readers were from, something that helped him later on when he published Air Wonder Stories and Science Wonder Stories.

Bartlett's story never appeared in print in Amazing Stories and the original pamphlet has become a prized collector's item.  The tale was reprinted the fan magazine The Gorgon (2 parts, July and September 1947), put out by fellow Colorado Springs native Stanley Mullen.  It was later added as a fill-in story to meet page requirements at the end of Ancient Sorceries, a reprint by Ken Krueger's Fantasy House (as Fantasy Classic #4) of the Algernon Blackwood's classic John Silence story.  The original pamphlet has recently become available on Internet Archive, which is where I read it.

Barlett's only other SF tales were also printed in The Gorgon:  "Operation Venus" (a sequel to The Vanguard of Venus) in the March-April 1948 issue and "Coma Berenices" in the final, twelfth issue (Vol. 2 #4, 1948).

What about the story?  Well, it's published by Gernsback so it's a decidedly clunky tale, but not as clunky as it could be.  It's only 24 pages long and I am calling it a book as a courtesy because it was first released as a single publication.

Stanley Murdock is a geologist working in the southwest United States.  He quit his well-paying job in 1923 and moved to India to write this document, placing copies in banks in Bombay and Madrid, with instruction that they be mailed to him, if still alive, on June 21, 1931.  If he had died before that date, his executors were given permission to retrieve the documents.  Murdock was killed in a train wreck in India in February 1927.  His executor, believing the document to be a work of fiction, sent it to his cousin, a publisher, to do with what he wished.  The story, therefore, has been published as a work of fiction.

In January 1923, Murdock and his assistant were exploring desolate parts of New Mexico for Murdock's employers.  Camping out one night, Murdock is awakened at one in the morning by something, a sound, perhaps, or a premonition.  Their horses are acting nervously and, as Murdock goes to calm them, he notices a large rock that had not been there when he went to sleep earlier.  Suddenly the rock opens up, large hands grab him from behind, and he is knocked unconscious by something sweet, like chloroform.

He wakes up in a large chamber in complete darkness.  Although he is free to move around, there appears to be no escape.  Then he hears someone coming toward him.  An unseen being who claims to be a Venusian named Oomlag-Tharnar-Illnag.  It seems Venusians had come to Earth a century before and have been living in New Mexican caves ever since.  They are preparing a conquest of Earth as well as the eventual eradication of humans.  (Once that's done, they will move on to Mars and obliterate life there.  Not because they have any use for the Red Planet like they have for Earth, but just because they can.)

The Venusians are technologically superior and cannot be stopped, according to Oomlag.  They do, however, need Murdock for some unexplained reason, so he will be held underground for several years.  While showing Murdock his new digs, Oomlag can't help boasting about Venusian science, showing Murdock many of the wonders they used to reach Earth, as well as the weapons they will use to destroy Earth's cities.  This gives Oomlag a chance to spout the scientific mumbo-jumbo that allowed Gernsback to claim the stories he published were based on real science.  The Venusians came to this planet by ships powered by radio waves.  they selected a landing spot by use of an atomic telescope.  They communicate with a portable wireless apparatus the uses "Venusite," an indispensable element with not yet discovered by humans.  Venusite guns will also be used to send power waves to destroy the planet's cities on August 21, 1931.  (Why that specific date, who knows?) And so on and so on.

Then the author ran out of steam.  The Venusians decided they did not need Murdock after all, (and remember that we have no idea why they needed him in the first place.), so they are going to release him because it's much easier to that than to kill him.  Besides, no one will believe Murdock's story anyway.

Rather than immediately trying to warn earth, Murdock decides he cannot take eight years worth of humiliation and disbelief until the August 1931 deadline of doom.  He writes this document, ensuring its release two months before the invasion so that he will endure only two months of humiliation and disbelief before we are conquered and destroyed.  He knows eight years worth of lead time will not work, but in the two months before Venusians strike he will be able to warn the world properly.  wht the hell?

Anyway, that's the story and I am sorry for all the spoilers.

But I did say, the story was not as clunky as it seems.  Bartlett's description of the New Mexico desert are pretty good.  So there!

As for the rest of the story, here's his description of the Field General, the Venusian in charge of this century-old invasion plan.  He "was a terrible thing to look upon.  A tall figure, well over seven feet, with unbelievably long, skinny arms and legs, a torso like a pouter-pigeon, and above it, set on a short, thick neck, a head shaped like an ostrich egg.  The head was entirely bald, covered with skin like parchment and of a most revolting ochre yellow color.  The ears tapered almost to a point; the eyes, small and set close together, burned like those of a cat in the dark, the nose was very wide and flat, almost pig-like; and the mouth, thick-lipped and exceedingly wide, was doubly hideous due to the total absence of chin.  In conversation he later revealed his teeth, the front four evidently filed to a point and the rest flat; all of a dark gray color.  He was clothed in some sort of tight-fitting dull green garment which, together with a brick-red jacket or vest over his huge, round chest, gave him the appearance of a grotesque turnip."

One particular sentence had me scratching my head.  On entering the dining hall of the Venusian lair, we find  "a chamber about a hundred feet square and about fifteen feet high, containing a dozen large, round tables of smooth rock, with smaller stools, also of rock, serving as chairs."  Now I know that in 2019 a hundred square feet corresponds to a ten-foot by ten-foot area, or even a five-foot by twenty-foot area.  Geometry may have been different in 1923, but I really, truly, deeply doubt it.  I can only Murdock was a pretty stupid geologist or that the author's knowledge of math was severely limited only to accounting.

This story is just a curiosity and can only be recommended for the curious.