Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, May 21, 2018


Openers:  "Hold it, horse!"

Jim Hatfield snapped the command as Goldie, his great golden sorrel, shied so violently as to almost unseat his tall rider.  He glanced down, saw the raised body and head of a sidewinder that had almost fanged the horse with his vicious lateral strike.  -- Trigger Law by "Jackson Cole" (Pyramid Books, 1952)

[Cole was a house pseudonym used for the Jim Hatfield (and other) stories in Texas Rangers magazine; among the writers using this name were Tom Curry, Peter Germano, A. Leslie Scott, and Walter A. Tompkins.  A search through titles of the Jim Hatfield stories in Texas Rangers show none with the title "Trigger Law."  The story may have been retitled for book publication, or it may have been an original novel using the Hatfield character.  If the latter, the author could be D. B. Newton, who had written four Jim Hatfield magazine stories in the early fifties.  I have nothing to back up that theory, but Newton had been published by Pyramid Books around that time and he wrote the first original mass market paperback novel, Range War, Pocket Books, 1949.  Mea Culpa Update (5/22/18):   It looks I guessed wrong.  According to Worldcat, the author is Oscar Schisgall, who wrote some 4000 short stories and articles (including some pulp) and ended his career as a corporate historian, writing books about Proctor & Gamble, Xerox, Greyhound Bus Lines, and others.]

I've Been Reading:  I finished Dean Koontz's The Crooked Staircase, the third volume in his Jane Hawk series.  (The fourth book, The Forbidden Door, will be published later this year.)  As I have mentioned before, Koontz is addictive despite his faults.  This series takes a major plot point that Koontz has before, in the stand-alone Night Chills (1976); the premise remains disturbing more than 40 years later.  My FFB this week was C.M. Kornbluth's Not This August, and SF novel that predates Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle.  Kornbluth's early death robbed us of a major writer.  I also read Ace Atkins' Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic, the latest continuation in the Spenser saga.  Atkins does Spenser better than Parker did and this fictional take on the Elizabeth Stewart Gardner Museum art heist (twenty-eight years old now) makes for fascinating reading.  (I may be prejudiced because Kitty and I toured the Gardner about a month before the robbery and the painting that most impressed me -- Rembrandt's "Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee" -- was one of the artworks stolen.)

On top of Mount TBR are Lee Goldberg's latest, a Bentley Little horror novel, Patti Abbott's latest (and most magnificent, based on what I have read so far) collection, John Connolly's Laurel and Hardy novel, and a Nameless collection from Bill Pronzini.  Happy reading days ahead, for sure.

They're Married Now:  So can we just let Harry and Meghan get on with their lives?

The Week in Trump:  More corruption, more lies, more dissembling, more crises, more ineptitude, more bloated ego.  In other words, more of the same.  I realize that both political parties have behaved badly in the past, especially when in power.  This, however, is ugliness on steroids.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan remain culpable for their cheerful dancing to Trump's tune.  The motto 'In God We Trust" should be replaced by "Party Over People."  Ptah!  And, Mr. President, please learn your wife's name.

And If I Wasn't Disgusted Enough:  Sweet Jesus, another school shooting!  When will we ever learn?

A Sign of the End Times?:  Beyonce bought herself a church.  To be more acccurate, she bought herself a building; the 100+ year-old New Orleans building has not been used for religious services for a while.  Jay-Z may be inspired to some preaching, though.  This follows a "Beyonce Mass" held at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco earlier this month.

Lest You Think I'm a Downer:  There was some feel-good news this week:
  • Four-year-old Lio Ortega, who suffers from brain cancer, threw out the first pitch at the Air Force Academy-University of New Mexico game this weekend.  Lio also hit a home run!  Kudos to the college athletes who made Lio's dreams come true.
  • A simple act of kindness has attracted a lot of attention.  Louis Jordan, a Houston teenager, was picking his mother up from work when he noticed a woman in a wheelchair sitting in the blazing heat at a bus top.  Remembering he had an umbrella in the trunk of his car, he retrieved it an used it to shade the lady -- for an hour and a quarter until her ride finally showed up.  This has started a great friendship.  Whenever Louis sees the woman, Michelle, at the bus stop, he and his umbrella spent time with her.  "Come to find out, she likes pork chops," Louis said of his new friend.
  • An Ohio teacher has donated a kidney to a ten-year-old student in her school.  Sometimes the best things taught are not in textbooks.
  • Anaya Ellick, a nine-year-old from Virginia, has won a national penmanship contest.  Anaya was born with no hands.  To write, she must balance between her forearms.
  • Roland Martineau, a 95-year-old decorated World War II vet, will soon be walking the stage at Leominster (MA) High School to receive his high school diploma.  Martineau always wanted to go back to earn his diploma after leaving the navy but was never able to find an opportunity to do so.
Happy Birthday: To Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986), the gentleman from Chapel Hill.  If I had silver strings on my guitar, and if I had a guitar, I'd strum an Appalachian folk song for him, assuming I had enough musical talent to do so, which I don't.  **sigh**

A Poem to Remember:


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset shores shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridge harbor that twin-cities frame.
"Keep, oh ancient lands, your storied pomp," cries she
With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me,
I lift my lamp before the golden door!"

     -- Emma Lazurus


  1. Those Koontz titles could have been Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew titles...

  2. "Fake news poetry...the worst. Believe me."

    Oscar Schisgall...I must've read his work in READERS DIGEST and perhaps elsewhere, since that name sticks in the memory and I have no idea why.