Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, January 27, 2020


Openers:  Flight Officer Robert Craig surrendered the tube containing his service record tapes and stood waiting while the bored process clerk examined the seal.

"Your clearance," said the clerk.

Craig handed him a battered punch card and watched the man insert it into the reproducer.  He felt anxiety as the much-handled card refused for a time to match the instrument's metal contact points.  The line of men behind Craig fidgeted.

-- Frank Quattrocchi, "Sea Legs"  (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1951)

Here's a great example of extrapolating the future and getting it wrong.  Who was to know that computer punch cards would become passe?   And a reproducer with metal compact point?  Just what is that?   An attempt to visualize what might have become a scanner?  A tube containing service record tapes -- how does that work?

It all sounds very futuristic and it all was made meaningless in a few year's time.  Yet, kudos for trying to make a future where such things might be commonplace.

I can't tell you much about the author.  There is  no listing for him at The Enclopedia of Science Fiction.   A cursory look online yielded no information about him other than he had eight short stories published in the science fiction magazines from 1951 to 1955.  Only two of his stories were anthologized.  One of his stories* was made into a mediocre British SF/horror film, 1966's The Projected Man (one reviewer on ISFDb called it "77 minutes of nothing"); the flick was skewered in one of the better episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  (Wikipedia calls Frank Quattrocchi a Hollywood screen writer, but IMDb's only listing for him is as the source for The Projected Man,) The story above, "Sea Legs," was adapted for the radio show X Minus 1 in 1951.

A lot of writers enter the science fiction field, publish a handful of stories, and then vanish, whether from disappointment, life changes, or for greener pastures.  Some of these writers make a splash, some don't.

If anyone has any further information about Quattrocchi, I would be interested to hear it.

For those interested, here's a ;list of Frank Quattrocchi's stories:

  • "Assignment in the Unknown," Astounding Science Fiction, February 1951; Astounding Science Fiction (UK). August 1951
  • "Sea Legs," Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1951; Galaxie (1ere serie) #45, August 1957 [French translation]; Project Gutenburg, 2016; adapted for X Minus 1, May 1, 1956
  • "Brother," Marvel Science Fiction, May 1952; Skyworlds, February 1978
  • "Gramp and His Dog," Astounding Science Fiction, July 1952
  • ""The Sword," If, March 1953; Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #35, July 1953, as "The Sword in the Sky"; If (UK), November 1953; Project Gutenberg, 2010; reprinted in The Spear of Mars. edited by Reginald Bretner, 1980
  • "Kid's Game," Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #41, January 1954
  • "Addict," Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #44. April 1954
  • "He Had a Big Heart," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1955; reprinted in An ABC of Science Fiction, edited by Tom Boardman, Jr., 1966
All of the above are available for viewing online at Internet Archive or Luminist Archives.

  • Isaac Asimov, The Birth of the United States  1763-1816.  Nonfiction, the second of Dr. Asimov's survey of United States history, following The Shaping of North America.  "Most of us are familiar with the events of these years, but with Dr. Asimov as a genial, insightful guide, mew perspectives emerge.  For here, as always he brings to his subject his remarkable lucidity, his ability to clarify without over-simplification, and his rich store of anecdotes that renders human beings of the fuzzy figures of history."
  • Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death.  Historical mystery novel, winner of the Ellis peters Historical Dagger Award.  "In Cambridge, four children have been murdered.  Wrongly accused of the crimes, a small community of Jews threatened by Catholic mobs is given sanctuary by Henry II.  To assist in proving their innocence, he summons an expert in the science of deduction and the art of death.  She id Adelia, a prodigy from the Medical School of Salerno, and an anomaly in a medieval world., who is forced to conceal her identity and her purpose from England's grave superstitions and condemnation.  One man is willing to work with her is Sir Rodney Picot.  His personal stake in the investigation makes him an invaluable ally -- and in Adelia's eyes, a suspect as well.  From navigating Cambridge's perilous river to penetrating the dark shadows of the Church, Adelia's investigation will not only reveal the secrets of the dead, but in time, the far more dangerous ones buried by the living."
  • Graham Masterton, The Devil in Gray.  Horror novel.  "A young woman is brutally hacked to poeces in her Virginia home -- with a weapon over a hundred years old.  A retired Army officer butchered -- by an invisible attacker.  A young man blinded in his bathtub -- then boiled alive.  What do all these victims have in common?  What madness stalked them?  He is not dead, but not truly living.  He cannot be killed, only trapped.  and for years he was trapped, buried alive in a desperate attempt to end the terror.  But now he is free again, free to complete his ghastly mission -- free to slaughter the unsuspecting.  Was he ever human?  What is...the devil in gray?"
  • Gail Simone and others, The NEW 52!  Bargirl, Volume 3:  Death in the Family.  Graphic novel with art with art by Daniel Sampere and others.Three years ago, the Joker took everhything from Barbara Gordon.  Now he wants more.  Returning to Gotham City after a long absence, the Clown Prince of Crime is out to free Batman from his closest allies -- his 'family."  He targets Batgirl, putting Barbara face-to-face with her worst nightmare:  the man who put her in a wheelchair.  But the attack on her and her fellow Bat-heroes is only the beginning of Batgirl's family problems.   Her mother -- newly returned after more than a decade of estrangement -- has been captured.  Her father has been poisoned.  And her brother, a psychopathic Arkham Asylum escapee, may actually be working with the Joker."

Dirt:  I was struck by news that actress Salma Hayek recently apologized for praising the book American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.  The book is about a Mexican woman whose husband and other family members have been murdered by a Mexican drug cartel.  I haven't read the book but it has evidently been praised by Stephen King, Ann Patchett, and others.  It is currently on the best-seller list and has been selected for Oprah's Book Club -- both of which have absolutely no relevancy to the quality of the book.  And Selma Hayek praised it.  Then some critics slammed the book "for being a poorly informed narrative about Mexico that reinforces stereotypes."  And Selma backpedaled.  Again I have not read the book.  I knew little about it until this story broke and the story says more about the critics and Hayek than it does about the book's worth.

R.I.P. Kobe:  I am not an avid follower of sports but even I have heard of Kobe Bryant.  His death saddens me, as does the death of everyone else involved in the accident.  I was especially stricken to hear that his thirteen-year-old daughter was also killed in the crash.  Whenever someone that young dies I feel diminished.  All that potential vanished from the world.  So sad.

Trumplestilskin:  As the impeachment trial continues we are getting more and more collaboration of Trump's misdeeds from outside sources.  Yet the likelihood that the Republican-controlled senate will not approve either documents or witnesses is strong.  These jamokes are doing -- and have been doing all along -- a disservice to both the country and to their oaths of office.  Trump will probably be acquitted -- at least if McConnell has anything to say about it, and he does -- and will go on destroying the economy, the environment, and America's reputation as he continues to foolishly dismantle the country.  Vote every one of the evil, selfish, greedy bastards out.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day:  It's today.  Never forget.

A Bit of History:  Seven hundred eighteen years ago, Dante Alighieri was exiled from his home city of Florence.  He never returned.  To do so would mean burning on the stake.  Politics, religion, and Dante's temper all played a part in this.  During the 12th and 13th centuries Italy was embroiled in the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict.  The Guelphs supported the Papacy and the Ghibellines The Holy Roman Empire.  Dante was a Guelph and fought against the Ghibellines in the Battle of Campaldino.  The Guelphs were the eventual victors in the conflict but soon began to quarrel among themselves and dividing into two camps -- the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs, in which the Whites wanted less papal interference in the affairs of Florence and the Blacks supporting the Pope.  Dante was a White Guelph and the Whites took power and expelled the Blacks.  Pope Boniface VIII began planning a military invasion  of Florence to give the power back to the Blacks.  At the same time, Dante was part of a delegation sent to Rome to determine the Pope's intentions.  The Pope sent the delegation back but had Dante remain in Rome.  While he remained in Rome, the Blacks invaded Florence and, over a period of six days, slaughtered many of the Whites.  Dante (who was still in rome) and his family were exiled for a period of two years and ordered to pay a huge fine.  Boniface suggested that Dante remain in Rome.  Dante refused to pay the fine, either because he was innocent or because all his money was back in Florence.  To add to Dante's woes the Blacks accused him of corruption during the two months that he held a city position.  Because Dante stayed in Rome, the Blacks accused him of absconding and permanently exiled him.  If Dante ever returned without paying the fine, he would be executed.

Dante got his revenge, of sorts.  During his exile he conceived and wrote The Divine Comedy, placing many of his enemies in Hell.

He's Still at It:  By "he" I mean Florida Man, naturally.

  • A Florida man was waken from his sleep by a stranger sucking his toes.  When asked what he was doing, the toe-sucking Florida Man replied that he was sucking the man's toes.  He then grabbed to victim by the genitals before the victim could go for a gun (of course there's a gun; this is Florida).  The victim managed to force the toe-sucker away.  Said toe-sucker smashed an window and then destroyed the windshield on the man's car before escaping.  The police pulled DNA from the victim's toes and brought in a police dog to no avail.  Florida toe-sucking Man is still at large.  Just another typical day in Bradenton.
  • Florida Woman Nancy Goins, 32, was arrested for breaking into a house.  She told police that she was from the Special Victims Unit of the CIA and that Donald Trump was her handler.  So her story was pretty believable up to then, but then she also claimed that the Clintons were here parents.  O, and JFK was also her father and he was still alive.  Needless to say, the 'Special victims unit" of the CIA did not comment, nor did the Clintons or JFK.  Donald Trump may have commented but I doubt it -- he would leave that job to Rudy.
  • In High Springs, Florida Man Donald Watts was hiding from police under a mobile home.  Unable to get Watts to come by persuasion, and then by stun guns, police sent police dog Casper after Watts, who responded by biting Casper in the ear, to which Casper responded by  biting Watts in the head.  I believe this is the first man-bites-dog story of the year and it had to happen in Florida.
  • Florida Woman Qualisha Williams, 22, an Ocala prison guard, was caught on video putting bleach in an inmate's cup after the two argued.  In her defense, it might have been better than standard prison food.
  • Florida Man Antoine McDonald hed become a online sensation after a video of him in a bunny costume fighting another man went viral was arrested this week after a hit and run.  Police said he tried to elude arrest by once again wearing the bunny costume.  Just another typical day in Orlando.
  • In St. Petersburg Florida Man Kristoff King was arrested for kicking a friend to death in an attack that went on for 79 minutes, which must be a record, even for Florida.
  • The five Florida Men who make up the current Florida Supreme Court (there are two vacancies) have reversed a previous decision requiring that a jury be unanimous in voting for the death sentence, throwing 100 to 150 cases into legal limbo.  The state Supreme Court said that it had made a mistake with the previous decision.  Whoopsie.

And the Good Stuff:

Today's Poem:

Hope Is the Thing with Feathers

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --
And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash a little bird
That kept so many warm --
I've heard it in the chillest land --
And on the strangest sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.

-- Emily Dickinson


  1. Replies
    1. Sometimes poems pop up just when you need them, Patti.

  2. Frank Quattrocchi might be sone sort of distant I'm a matrilineal Rocchi. Though Four Rocchis is a Lot of Rocchi.