Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 7, 2019


Openers:  "Talking of railway accidents --"
     "But we weren't," interrupted the prig.
     "-- and of narrow escapes," continued Mr. Popkins, ignoring the contradiction and looking like an offended parrot with its head on one side, "reminds me of one."

--"The Story Mr. Popkins Told" by Algernon Blackwood, from Westminster Gazette, December 24, 1908

Club stories can be best explained as "assemblages of tales told within an enabling frame-story to a group of companions in a sheltered venue," according to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.  Although the term itself came into common usage in the nineteenth century, th concept harks back as far as Homer and can be traced through Bocaccio and Chaucer to Irving, Hawthorne, Dickens, and P. G. Wodehouse.  In more recent times club stories have been popularized by such genre writers as Lord Dunsany, Arthur C. Clarke, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, Isaac Asimov, Spider Robinson, and Larry Niven.   A lot of club stories are excuses to tell the tallest tales possible and a good number of them allow the author to broach serious territory.  No matter what the subject or what the mood, I have love club stories since junior high school when I encountered Clarke's Tales from the White Hart.  I'm a sucker for that stuff.

Do you have a favorite sereis of club tales?

Incoming:  Just one lonely book this week:

  • Roger Zelazny, The Dead Man's Brother.  A "found" manuscript published after Zelazny's death, propbably written in the early 70s.  "Once an art smuggler, now a respectable art dealer, Ovid Wiley awoke to find his former partner stabbed to death on his gallery floor.  That was strange enough -- but when a CIA agent showed up to spring him from NYPD custody, things got a lot stranger.  Now the CIA is offering to clear up the murder charge, but only in return for a favor:  they want Ovid to fly to Vatican City and trace the trail of a renegade p[riest who has gone missing with millions in church funds.  What's the connection?  The priest's lover. a woman Ovid knew in his smuggling days..."  Although best known for his fantasy and science fiction, Zelazny had a magic with words with everything he wrote.

A Modest Proposal:  First off, let's admit that shooting "illegal aliens" (code for Mexicans, who are the worst Mexicans because they are murderers and rapists who want to come into this country to rape, kill, and pillage and take seasonal fruit-picking jobs from decent Americans who just want to send their kids to college without having to donate a multi-million dollar  building) in the legs is just wrong.  First, because you could hit a femoral artery and kill the beaner "illegal alien" (still code for...well, you know); and second, you may cripple said "illegal alien," which could hamper their value as future "employees" of Mar-a-Lago.  So let's go to the fallback position of a border moat filled with snakes and alligators.  (Fun fact:  Trump's original plan was to fill the moat with Chutes and Ladders, but Stephen Miller -- in an attempt to get his relatives jobs, no doubt --  felt snakes and alligators would be more fun.)  Sadly, the cost of filling a two thousand mile moat with snakes and alligators was proving to be prohibitive:  Petco places a premium price on constricting and/or poisonous snakes and the upkeep for alligators (which would have been harvested from the New York sewers near Trump Tower) would be astronomical --- the costs of nail trimming alone would be sky high. So, what to do?  What to do?

So here's my solution.  Instead of filling the moat with snakes and alligators, we fill it with...Danny Trejo!  And we give him a machete.  I mean, who would go against Danny Trejo and a machete?  And Danny Trejo is an AMERICAN!


He's Mexican-American?  Well, damn.

Scratch that idea.

Besides, Trejo can always get a job as a hospitality worker at Mar-a-Lago.

Updates on Florida Man:
  • A Florida man shot and killed his son-in-law.  Chris Bergan arrived in Florida this past week to surprise his wife's father, Richard Dennis. on his birthday.  Bergan jumped out of the bushes for his surprise when Dennis shot him.  The Santa Rosa County sheriff said that Dennis will not face charges because, you know,,,Florida.  This does not make me comfortable  because I happen to live in Gulf Breeze, where the shooting occurred.  I, for one, am avoiding bushes.
  • Pasco County authorities arrested Keith Mounts, 46, who got upset when a homeowner told him to flush the toilet after using it and brandished a machete (shades of Danny Trejo!) and threatened the homeowner.  In Mounts' written statement for investigators he put the stiuation succinctly, "S@#$ happened."
  • In an oldie but goodie that I have not mentioned before, when Cody Blake Hession was arrested for car theft, he could not use drug addiction as an excuse.  Hession did not have a monkey on his back when arrested.  Instead, he had a monkey on his front, clinging to his pink polo chirt.  The monkey's name is (fittingly and unoriginally) is Monk.  Hession ended up in  jail and monk ended up at a primate sanctuary.  As with the previous story, this happened in Pasco County.
  • In Broward County, Todd Beavers spotted a nifty wheelbarrow in a trash pile while he was jogging and decided to claim it.  Curtis Miller also wanted the wheelbarrow but evidently Beavers got it first and wheeled it home while jogging behind it.  Miller followed him and drew out a samarai-stylr katana sword and attacked.  No one was hurt and Miller left the scene quickly when he realized he was being filmed on a home security camera.  Miller was identified and is held on unrelated charges.
  • Is there something about live alligators that excites Florida Woman?  (That's alligators not in a border moat, mind you.)  Ariel Michelle Marchan-Le Quire, 26, was arrested in August after a routine Punta Gorda traffic stop with a foot-long alligator in her yoga pants.  (She also had 42 turtles in her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack.)  
  • Florida Man Todd Barket, 59, of Brandon, applied for a job as a certified nursing assistant.  One requirement was to undergo a fingerprint search.  Barker evidently did not relize he had left his fingerprints behind some 30 years before when he stabbed and beat to death Sondra Bettor in 1988.  Barket is now under arrested.  In addition to his fingerprints, police found a match with Barket's DNA.  Officials have no idea for the motive of the decades-old murder, not that it matters much -- they finally got their man.

And Now for the Good News:

Today's Poem:

The beautiful, the fair, the elegant,
Is that which pleases us, says Kant,
Without a thought of interest or advantage

I used to watch men when they spoke of beauty
And measure their enthusiasm.  One
An old man, seeing a () setting sun,
Praised it () a certain sense of duty
To a calm evening and his time of life.
I know another man that never says a
But of a horse; ()

Men seldom speak of beauty, beauty as such,
Not even lovers think about it much.
Women of course consider it for hours
In mirrors; ()

A shrapnel ball --
Just where the wet skin glistened when he swam --
Like a fully-opened sea-anemone.
We both said, "What a beauty!  What a beauty, lad"
I knew that in that flower he saw a hope
Of living on, and seeing again the roses of his home.
Beauty is that which pleases and delights,
Not bringing personal advantage -- Kant.
But later on I heard
A canker worked into that crinsom flower
And that he sank with it
And laid it with the anemones off Dover.

-- Wilfred Owen


  1. What you call club stories, I call bar stories, and I have been gathering some paperbacks to read a few and post on same. Soon. Very soon.

  2. Never heard the term "club stories" before. Now, I am interested.