Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 28, 2019



           The curtain rises, morning light fades in on the Sheriff's office.  WINSTON, a deputy sheriff               inclined to matter-of-fact laziness, sits at the desk, speaking on the telephone.  On the desk are             an intercom, radio apparatus, sheafs of papers, and so forth.  The wall-clock reads 8:10.

WINSTON: [Plaintively]  Baby...didn't I just tell you?  I can't leave till Bard gets here.  [He listens]         Listen, baby -- this night shift gets my goat as much as it does yours.  You think I wouldn't like to       be in that nice warm bed?  [There is a buzz on the intercom on the desk]  Hold it.  [He speaks into       the intercom]  Yeah, Dutch?
DUTCH'S VOICE:  Winston...Bard's going to want those Terre Haute reports right away.
WINSTON:  [Irascibly, into the intercom]  What do you think I'm gonna do with ' 'em for            breakfast?  [He flips off the intercom, returns to the phone]  Hello, baby...[Listens]  Yeah, that's            what I said, isn't it?  In that nice warm bed with you.  Who'd you think I...[Listens]  Okay, okay,          baby...go back to sleep and wait for papa.  [Hangs up, shakes head, pleased; speaks with gusto]          Give me a jealous woman every time!

-- Joseph Hayes, The Desperate Hours (1954), a three-act play based on Hayes' novel of the same title.  First produced at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York, on February 10, 1955, ran for 220 performances, winning a Tony as the outstanding play of the season; an additional Tony went to the play's director, Robert Montgomery.  The play featured such talent as James Gregory, Karl Malden, Paul Newman, and George Grizzard.  The book on which the play was based was a major bestseller and a major book club selection.  Hayes gained a hat trick with his story, writing the screenplay for the 1955 movie adaptation, which won an Edgar Award for best motion picture.  The film had a solid cast of leading and character actors:  Humphrey Bogart, Frederick March, Arthur Kennedy, Gig Young, Martha Scott, Whit Bissell, Ray Collins, Simon Oakland, Bert Mustin, and Joe Flynn.  The story was later turned into a regrettable television film in 1967, about the less said the better.  A 1990 film remake by Michael Cimino starring Mickey Rourke was also a dud, despite the fact that Joseph Hayes contributed to the screenplay -- or, perhaps, because Hayes did not have complete control of the script as he had in the 1954 play and 1955 film.  If you have not read the original book, seen the play, or seen the 1955 film, consider that all three should be on your bucket list.  All three are that good.

  • [Anonymous editor], Beyond the Stars:  Tales of Adventure in Time and Space.  YA SF anthology with ten stories and seven excerpts.  "Seventeen stories from the exciting world of science fiction, including Star Wars and Doctor Who and tales by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.  this spectacular collection is illustrated throughout with specially commissioned drawings."  A very minor (and somewhat overblown) collection.
  • Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother.  Collection of nine fantasy stories and one poem cycle from 1981 to 2009.  "The nine extraordinary stories in Peter S. Beagle's new fantasy collection are profound explorations of love, death, transformation, and the choices that define just who we are and what we are.  Ranging from an artist' loft in 1950s New York to the lacquered hallways of a feudal Japanese castle, each is a singular world of the imagination, told with wit and timeless wisdom.  - A modern-day angel of death moonlights as an anchorman on the network news; - King Peles the Sure, short-sighted ruler of a gentle realm, betrays his kingdom by dreaming of a manageable war; - An American librarian discovers -- much to his surprise, and to his wife's sadness -- that he has become the last living Frenchman; - Bitter rivals in a supernatural battle over love and real-estate forgo pistols at dawn in favor of dramatic recitations of dreadful poetry."  Beagle is the real thing.
  • Carole Bugge, The Star of India.  Pastiche.  "Holmes and Watson find themselves caught up in a complex chess board of a problem, involving a clandestine love affair and the disappearance of a priceless sapphire.  Professor James Moriarty is back to tease and torment, leading the duo on a chase through the dark and dangerous back streets of London and beyond."  This is from "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series by various authors from Titan Books.  Some of the reprints in this series are wonderful additions to the Holmes legend, so I thought I'd give this one a try in spite of its lackluster back cover blurb.
  • Andrea Camilleri, Excursion to Tindari.  An Inspector Montalbano mystery.  "A young Don Juan is found murdered in front of his apartment building early one morning, and an elderly couple is reported missing after an excursion to the ancient site of Tindari --- two seemingly unrelated cases for Inspector Montalbano to solve among the daily complications of life at Vigta police headquarters.  But when Montalbano discovers the couple and the murdered young man lived in the same building, his investigation stumbles onto Sicily's brutal 'New Mafia,' which leads him down a path more evil and far-reaching than any he has been on before."  This is the fifth of (so far) twenty-seven books in the Montalbano series.  It was a finalist for the CWA's 2006 International Dagger Award.  Translated by Stephen Sartarelli from La gita a Tindari.
  • Jck Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Beyond Flesh.  SF anthology with ten stories from 1957 to 2001.  "In the future, the human race will no longer evolve.  It will upgrade...Welcome to an existence without boundaries, where the rules of humanity no longer apply, a future time when consciousness is no longer restricted to the prison of the flesh.  In this astonishing anthology, a host of the world's most expert dreamers are taking you there.  So open up, gain access to the heretofore unexplored regions of the body and the mind, and check all limitations at the door."  Authors include Poul Anderson, Greg Egan, Michael Swanwick, Ian R. MacLeod, and Stephen Baxter.
  • John Lutz, Frenzy.  A Frank Quinn thriller.  "Pretty Maids all in a row -- Six dead women in a hotel room.  Five of them students, still in their teens.  tied up.  tortured,  The NYPD recognizes the suspect's signature -- three bloody initils carved into each victim's forehead.  Ex-cop Frank Quinn has faced this madman before.  Both bear scars from their last encounter.  Killer and cop, hunter and prey..In a deadly game of matched wits, only one can prevail.  It's not just about who gets killed.  It's about who will survive..."  This book includes a bonus story:  the e-short "Switch."  For the past twenty years or so, Lutz has had a profitable career turning out paperback original page-turners, ten of them featuring Frank Quinn.  Does anyone else miss the earlier novels Lutz wrote about Alo Nudger and about Fred Carver?
  • Chris Robertson, editor, Adventure, Vol. 1.  Anthology of 17 stories with pulp sensibilities.  "The first volume of an annual anthology of original fiction in the spirit of early 20th-century pulp fiction magazines.  this inaugural edition features stories from all genres, promising both literary sophistication and pulse-pounding action."  There was no second volume.  As for the stories:  "ICEBOUND SURVIVAL ON AN ALIEN WORLD...BOXING TOE-TO-TOE WITH FLESH-EATING GHOSTS...A SUPERHERO'S LAST STAND...A GUNSLINGER IN WONDERLAND...THESE AND MORE IN ADVENTURE."
  • Thomas E. Sniegoski, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse.  Fantasy novel, the first in the Remy Chandler series.  "Boston PI Remy chandler has a life any man would envy, with friendship, a job he's good at -- and love.  But Remy is no ordinary.  He's an angel who chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth.  so he's able to will himself invisible, hear thoughts, and speak and understand any language -- of man or beast.  Talents that will become invaluable to him when his angelic past returns to haunt him...The Angel of Death has gone missing, and Remy's former colleagues have come to him for help.  But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more -- a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.  And only Remy Chandler can stop it..."  A popular series I have not gotten into yet.  I find it interesting that the back cover blurb writer did not capitalize "heaven" but did capitalize "Earth."  Don't know why I find it interesting, but I do, and a quick scan of the book shows that Heaven is capitalized in the text.

The Florida Man Bandwagon:  Seth Meyer has hopped aboard:

Killing bin laden Al-Baghdadi:  I couldn't stand more than a minute or two of Trumps' press conference announcing the death of the ISIS leader.  Any minute I expected Trump to chortle and rub his hands in glee.  He was like a kid reliving the most exciting movie he had ever seen, something that may not be far from the truth since he watched the in-progress raid live.  (I wonder if he had his own box of popcorn.)  Finally, here was an accomplishment for his administration to match one of the signature ones of the previous administration.  The photograph from the Situation Room shows the president and his advisers posing sternly around a table and is meant to show (I assume) America's resolve in the fight against terrorism.  Compared to the photo released after bin Liden was killed, the one released today appears to be pure PR.   We all know that Trump single-handedly has defeated ISIS because he has told us so enough times, but sometimes those pesky facts get in the way.  The operation that killed Al-Baghdadi was accomplished in spite of the president and not because of him, although Trump did give the go-ahead order.  The chaos of Trump's lack of a coherent foreign agenda and of his disruptive and uncertain policies had worked -- and may still work -- in ISIS's favor.  The president's grand-standing announcement may possibly embolden ISIS further; there are still many powerful ISIS leaders tasked with operational duties still out there.

Make no mistake about it.  I'm glad Al-Baghdadi is dead.  He was an evil man and the world is much better off without him.  I am sorrowful that be took three children with him.  I doubt that his followers will consider his death the act of cowardice that Trump proclaimed.  Instead he may be considered a martyr who refused to be humiliated by being captured.  Trump's raging narcissism distorts his view of reality; in his black-and-white, living-in-a-John-Wayne world there is no room for nuanced considerations -- something that has allowed him to blunder through the world stage without thinking.

There are time when I wish our president would keep his mouth shut, or at least temper his remarks.  Trump has called this a good day for the United States, and it is.  He then went on to say it was a good day for Turkey and Russia.  Jesus.

383 Years Ago; or, My, How Time Flies:  On this date long ago, the Massachusetts Bay colony voted to establish a theological college, which would eventually become Harvard University, which, in turn, allowed this to exist:

Halloween:  I love it.  It's my favorite holiday.

On the Good News Front:

Today's Poem:
The Night Wind

Have you ever heard the night wind go "Yooooo"?
'T is a pitiful sound to hear!
It seems to chill you through and through
With a strange and speechless fear.
'T is the voice of the night that broods outside
When folks should be asleep,
And many and many's the time I've cried
To the darkness brooding far and wide
Over the land and the deep:
"Whom do you want, O lonely night,
That you wail the long hours through?"
And the night would say in its ghostly way:

-- Eugene Field

Have a great Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. I stayed away from the TV all day, hoping to avoid him.
    Always meant to read Peter Beagle.