Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 2, 2018


Openers:  The glare of the lights terrified and blinded me.  I crouched there, in a corner of the room, looking at the empty bed, and seeing, in the corridor beyond, women in nurse's uniforms passing from room to room.
          I tried to fly, and discovered that my left wing was injured.  I could only crouch there, shaking with terror, in spite of my frantic desire to fly round and round the walls of the little room, in search of some refuge beyond the reach of earth-bound creatures.
          -- "Lew Merrill" (Avigdor Rousseau Emanuel), "Bat Man," from Spicy Mystery Stories, February 1936

March Incoming:

  • Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1979.  Nine stories in this issue.
  • Richard Appignanesi, Manga Shakespeare:  King Lear.  Yes, Shakespeare being done manga-style, one of at least ten Shakespearean manga plays from this publisher.  King Lear has long been my favorite by the Bard so I'm eager to read this one, especially since the author has moved the setting to the French and Indian War!  The artwork is signed by someone called "Ilya"  -- not Kuryakin, I'm sure.  Any ideas who is behind this pseudonym?
  • Tim Callahan, Timmy & Susie & The Bootlegger's Revenge.  YA adventure novel, the fifth in the Kentucky Summer series from a religious publisher.  Signed by the author.
  • Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card, with Zina Margaret Card, Laddertop, Books 1-2.  Graphic novel omnibus.
  • Loren D. Estleman, White Desert.  A Page Murdock western.  I love this series.
  • Pauline Rush Evans, editor, Best Book of Mystery Stories.  YA anthology with 16 short stories.
  • Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot.  Fantasy/mystery novel in the Thursday Next series.
  • Randy Henderson, Finn Fancy Necromancy.  Fantasy.  A first novel and the first in the series.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, Under the Black Ensign.  Adventure novella.
  • Kazuo Koike & Gosaki Kochma, Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume 7:  Dragon Wind Tiger and Volume 8:  Chains of Death.  Graphic novels.
  • Nancy Kress, Flash Point.  YA science fiction novel.
  • Robbie Macauley & George Lanning, Techniques in Fiction.  Non-fiction writing advice from the editors of The Kenyon Review.  Macauley went on to become the fiction editor of Playboy, then to be a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin; Lanning's novel The Pedestal was nominated for a Best First Novel Edgar.
  • Robert Mankoff, editor, The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.  A giant, doorstop book with over 20,000 cartoons and a 2-CD set of all 68,647 cartoons published in the magazine from February 21, 1925 to February 23, 2004.  Time for an update, maybe?
  • Michael Moorcock, The Life and Times of Jerry Cornelius.  Eleven SF stories about Moorcock's New Age anti-hero and avatar of The Eternal Champion.
  • Jill M. Morgan, editor, Creature Cozies.  Mystery anthology.  The copyright also acknowledges Ed Gorman and Tekno Books (Martin H. Greenberg's company).
  • Lillian O'Donnell, The Phone Calls.  The first entry in the Norah Mulcahaney series.  Mulcahaney was the first female police detective as the lead character in a book series.
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Golden Beast, The Man Without Nerves (also published as The Bank Manager), Prodigals of Monte Carlo, and Up the Ladder of Gold.  Four standalone thrillers from one of the best-selling authors from the first half of the twentieth century.
  • Sydney J. Van Scyoc, Cloudcry.  SF novel.
  • Philip Wylie, Crunch and Des:  Stories of Florida Fishing.  The fourth of eight books containing the 69 stories in the popular series about Captain Crunch Adams, master of the charter boat Poseidon, and his partner Des "Desperate" Smith.  The series, most of which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, spawned a short-lived 1956 syndicated television series starring Forrest Tucker and Sandy Kenyon.  (I watched at least one episode when I was a kid but remember nothing about it.)
I've Been Reading:  Not much.  Gordon R. Dickson's Spacial Delivery, my FFB this week.  A 1960 Ace paperback about a race of rustic giant ursine-like creatures and political chicanery.  Good.  Ms. Marvel, Volume 3:  Crushed, a graphic novel written by G. Willow Wilson with artwork by Elmo Bondoc and Takeshi Miyazawea.  Wilson's Ms. Marvel is a Muslim Pakistani-American high school student from a strictly religious family.  Her good friend Bruno is in love with her but romance is out of the question because he's a Catholic.  In this volume, she crosses swords with Loki, stumbles upon some evil inhumans, has a brief romantic encounter with a Muslim boy who is more than what he seems, and meets the school lunch from Hell.  Great stuff.

I've Been Plugging Along:  The rest of this week's reading have been me flitting around from book to book, not landing on anywhere for long.  Everything is all bright and shiny and I just can't find the wherewithall to to finish one before going to the next.  I'm near the end of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, a great psychological thriller, that for some reason, I can only read in small chunks.  Ditto Donald E. Westlake's The Comedy is Finished.  I started Bill Pronzini's Carpenter and Quincannon mystery The Bag of Tricks Affair, then misplaced it, then found it and will get back to it very soon.  I've also been dipping into Isaac Asimov's The Road to Infinity, a collection of his F&SF essays.  I'm also reading the first year (1947) of Milt Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strip, the super-sized doorstop of The New Yorker cartoons (mentioned above), and the Manga Shakespeare version of Shakespeare's King Lear, re-imagined as taking place during the French and Indian War (also see above).  Sooner or late I will finish them all, along with Joe R. Lansdale's Jackrabbit Smile, which just came in from the library.

Jelly Beans:  Saturday morning.  We picked grandson Mark up at 6:45 and drove him to a church in Pensacola so he could run in the first annual Jelly Bean 5K.  The weather was beautiful.  Over 150 people had registered to run.  Well, some to walk or to jog along pushing carriages.  The participants and the spectators covered all age groups.  Coffee and homemade breakfast burritos were available at a food booth which also gave out free yogurt parfaits to the runners.  A local sports medicine clinic had a booth in case any of the runners had problems.  A neighbor across the street had set up a booth to gather signatures for an upcoming election.  Some people brought their dogs -- all of which were well-behaved and sweet.  The PA system played some rocking oldies and toddlers broke out into spontaneous dancing.  The church ladies (bless them) had been baking and each of the top male and female runners in various age categories would go home with a homemade cake. Following the 5K there was a Fun Race for the little kids:  a 50 yard dash to a man wearing pale blue rabbit ears and costume and 50 yards back; the prize was chocolate.  The Easter bunny guy spent most of the morning hopping -- literally hopping.  Stamina thy name is a guy in an Easter bunny costume.  There was a guess-the-number-of-jelly-beans jar.  (I guessed 1970 -- the year Kitty and I were married -- and lost.  There were one thousand, five hundred thirty-something beans; the winning guess came within two numbers of the actual count.)  It was just a fine, friendly way to start a gorgeous day.
     And Mark?  He came in third overall and first in his age group (15 to 19) and, yes, he got a cake.  Mark had injured his knee earlier this year and had been slowly getting back to running.  He was satisfied with his time of 19:20.  Not his best time but pretty good, all things considered. 
     As the older (and slower) runners came in, people ran out to help them cross the finish line.  One of the last runners in was a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller while holding the hand of her two-year-old daughter for the entire 5K.  a pretty neat mother if you ask me.

Waves for Water:  The Jelly Bean 5K was a fundraiser for Waves for Water, a non-profit, non-denominational group which provides water filtration systems for villages in Central and South America.  Volunteers undergo a three-week training session before they are are paired with a targeted community with which they work closely on the project.  Water-borne disease is a killer in many rural communities throughout the world, most often targeting children.  Helping to provide clean water is  humanitarian mission of the first order.  The church in Pensacola raised enough money to send six people to training.  (The eventual cost for each volunteer is about $25,000, which covers all expenses related to the project, including the water filtration equipment.)  A check with Charity Navigator shows that Waves for Water has not yet been rated; only five of the 310 clean water charities listed have been rated.  If you wish to support a clean water charity, you have a lot to choose from.

Getting Their Kicks:  After the Jelly Bean 5K, Kitty and headed to the Green Gators first soccer game of the season.  The Green Gators are Jack's soccer team -- all five- and six-year-olds.  Because there was no one else available, daughter Christina is their coach (sometimes aided by Mark).  In this age group, the word soccer translates to "It's fun to kick the ball.  who cares where it's going?"  There are six kids on the Green Gators.  Two of them are somewhat good players, two are just plum pitiful, and two range in the middle.  Four kids are on the field at any given time -- well, that's the plan, but at this age, they are basically free-ranging -- and Christina tries to have only one good player and one plum pitiful player on the field at any given time.  The kids run and trip and fall and have great fun.  There's orange slices and grapes at half time and juice boxes and cookies after the game.  What more could they want?  Because of the disorganized chaos, I have no idea who won nor what the score was, nor did anyone else.  And does it really matter.  Each team got at least three goals, including those when the ball was kicked into the wrong goal.  No matter.  The kids had a great time.  And Christina has great patience.

I Did Not Wear an Easter Bonnet:  So my thinning pate was sprayed with SPF-40zillion yesterday as the entire family went for an Easter outing at Blackwater (no relation to Erik Prince or Betsy DeVos) River State Park.  There was hiking (which I did not participate in), swimming (which I did not participate in, and eating (which I did).  It was a great relaxing time, full of laughter and stories, in a beautiful setting.  Despite the warning signs, there were no alligators to be seen.

The Two Continent Problem:  A giant rift opening up in Africa has spurred questions on whether Africa is splitting in two, to be divided by a new ocean some fifty million years from now.  Property values for those eventually to become seaside lots have not begun to rise, though.  Many Africans are taking a wait-because-I'll-never-see stance on the situation.

Organ Music to My Ears:  Scientists have identified a new organ in the human body called the interstitium, a complex network of protective cells.  The interstitium has been there all along but no one seems to have paid attention to it.  (Kind of like your family with the Nazi uncle at Thanksgiving.)  Expect new medical advances now.

Does It Matter?:  Galaxy NGC 1952-DF2 evidently has no (or very little) dark matter -- something sciensts has thought was impossible.  Dark matter is a mysterious and invisible thing that makes up about a quarter of the universe.  We can't see it and we don't now what it is, but we know it's there.  It had been theorized that dark matter was essential in the formation of galaxies.  Well, back to the drawing boards, fellas.

Marching Into History:  Last month was crazy.  We are living in interesting times and the Huffpost gives us this day by day rundown:

Yum:  Here's a delicious way to celebrate April with thirty delicious springtime recipes;

And the Winner Is...:  This week's Waste of Protoplasm Award goes to...(drum roll,please)...Ted Nugent!

Ah, Spring!:  There are many versions of this spring poem out there.  I like this one:

As I awoke one morning, when all sweet things are born
A robin perched upon my sill to greet the coming morn
His song was cheerful, bright and gay
And then a hush, a moment's lull
I gently closed the window
And crushed his !@#$ing skull.

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