Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, May 11, 2020


Openers:  In the midst of a parched summer worse than any in memory, the streets of Amarillo were deserted and silent, not a sinister shadow cast by the buildings that lined them.  Not a dog barked, nor a child played, not a face was to be seen in any of the shop windows.  Houses squatted like beaten men under burning whips, troughs were empty, fences peeled, and grass turned brittle.  The infernal heat, ten days and ten nights without rsepite or promise, without a cloud in the white-hot sky, had finally driven everyone indoors, had sapped life and color from signs and gardens, had baked wood and brick and crumbling adobe until they were fierce to the touch.

Only a dust devil danced danced in the alley by the stable.

Oddly enough, there was no wind.

-- "Lionel Fenn" (Charles L. Grant), By the Time I Get to Nashville (1994)

Chalres L. Grant (1942-2006) is probably best known for his horror writing and for his editing the eleven-volume Shadows series of anthologies.  As Lionel Fenn, he allowed himself to let loose his sense of humor in twelve science fiction/fantasy books, comprising three series and one stand-alone.  By the Time I Get to Nashville was the second in a trilogy about Diego, a time-traveling gunslinger. preceded by Once Upon a Time in the East and followed by Time: The Semi-Final Frontier.  Also as Fenn he wrote a series of five books about Kent Montana, a failed actor whose adventures involve paradies of Hollywood icons, men's action heroes, and more.  (The fifth and final book in the series had what I consider one of the best titles ever:  668: The Neighbor of the Beast.)  "Lionel Fenn" also wrote the "Quest for the White Duck" trilogy and the stand-alone The Seven Spears of the W'dch'ck (which is sometimes listed as part of the "Quest for the White Duck" saga, but if my faded memory serves -- I read it 32 years ago -- it is a stand-alone; feel free to correct me if I misremembered.)

Among Grant's other pseudonyms were Geoffrey Marsh, Timothy Boggs, Simon Lake, and Mark Rivers -- notice a pattern here?  As Marsh, Grant wrote a four-book series about Lincoln Blackthorne, an Indiana Jones-type adventurer, as well as a pitiful novelization of the Bruce Willis movie Hudson Hawk; Grant described this last as the painful project of his career.  Timothy Boggs penned three tie-in novels to the Hercules television show.  Simon Lake wrote the four-volume horror series Midnight Place, while Mark Rivers produced the produced the four-volume Taggard Point series.

Chalres L. Grant had a few other pseudonymns.  "Stephen Charles" was responsible for the six-volume YA horror series Private Academy; "Deborah Lewis" wrote five gothic horror novels; and "Felicia Andrews" did seven paperback original romance novels.  (The Felicia Andrews books far outsold anything else Grant had written for quite some time, while the hard-to-find Deborah Lewis books continue to command high prices on the used market.)

Perhaps the biggest sellers the Grant wrote were two tie-in novels to The X-Files television series -- Goblins and Whirlwind.  One additional tie-in novel was Watcher, part of the World of Darkness gaming universe.

His major contribution to the horror field was his series of books that took place in the quiet (?) suburb of Oxrun Station -- 34 novels and short stories that helped promote Grant's vision of "quiet horror; this included three books each based upon a Universal Studios movie monster.  Grnt also published at least twelve stand-lone horror novels horror, two story collections, the four-volume Mellennium Quartet and five volumes of a planned ten-book series Black Oak in his lifetime.  He also published five science fiction novels early in his career.

As an editor Grant's Shadows series provided a highly respectable market for original "quiet horror" stories; there was also an anthology of the best of the first ten volumes.  Grant also created the shared universe of Graystone Bay for a series of four anthologies.  For Dark Harvest publishing he edited original spotlight collection Night Visions 2 and was rumored (probably falsely) of anonymously editing Night Visions 4.  With Wendy Webb, he edited original anthology Gothic Ghosts.  He also edited seven reprint anthologies, including The Dodd, Mead Gallery of Horror.

While serving as secretary of the Science Fiction Writers of America (he served eight years, Grant edited the indispensable-at-the-time Writing and Selling Science Fiction, which stills remains an important guide.  He later served a term as the president of the Horror Writers Association.  He also served ten years on the Board of Directors of the World Fantasy Awards and five years as president of the Board of Trustees for the HWA, and was on the board of advisor to the Burry Man's Writers Center.

Grant won two Nebula Awards and three HWA awards for his editing and writing.  In 1987 he received the British Fantasy Society's Award for Life Achievement and in 2000 he received the HWA Life Achievement Award.

I have read most of Grant's work and -- with the exception of Hudson Hawk -- I wholeheartedly recommend it.  Also recommended, if you can find copies, is his newsletter Haggis, which allowed his humor free rein and had he and his various pseudonymns living in the same house.  Someday, perhaps, someone will published the serial novel Lancelot and Blanche which appeared in those pages.

A Cat-5 Fecal Flurry:  So a lot of places are opening now after weeks of closure, some sparingly, some stupidly.  I don't think any state has opened according to federal guidelines.  But people are getting itchy and are afraid for their own personal economy and El Presidente has relinquished any leadership role he might have had in an alternate universe.  In Florida, the WWE has been designated an "essential" business in part because Trump owes Vince McMahon and our governor is a toady for Trump.  Georgia, whose governor only recently closed the state because he did not know earlier that the virus could be spread by asymptomatic persons (!), is opening up beauty salons and tattoo parlors.  Egged on by the right-wing media, our president, white nationalists, and Second Amendment fascists, protesters are demanding their states reopen, some marching fully armed on to their state capitols.  The latest inane talking point is that people are going to die anyway, so why not open everything up.   That's the approach that Sweden has been taking in an effort to achieve herd immunity at the cost of thousands of lives.  I hope I don't have to explain how stupid that is.  The administration is dismissing scientific advice because it may hurt Trump's chances for re-election.  The Covid-19 Task Force is now shifting its focus, per presidential order, to reopening the country rather than combating the virus.  The grown-ups in the room are being fired or transferred and replaced by Trump flunkies.  Meanwhile, the Republican-led Senate is continuing to destroy the country by blocking funding and by installing federal judges rated incompetent at a rapid pace.

Millions of Americans are confused by all of this.  Others have swallowed the Kool-Aid and are spouting far-right talking points.  "Asking me to stay home is government over-reach."  "The government cannot order me to wear a face mask; I have rights!"  I won't go so far as to label them with Hillary Clinton's 'Deplorables" (although some are), but many of them are easily led and easily brainwashed by Fox News and others.  (Check out how a steady diet of Fox News can alter one's thinking in a negative way.)  And now we're being told that we must sacrifice some people for the good of the economy.   Sweet Jesus, what has America become?

A number of Americans think now that country is opening the danger from Covid-19 is over.   Look at what is happening at many of the country's beaches or at many of our stores.  Despite urging precautions, there are those who no longer bother to follow them and the infection rate grows.  And as this rate grows and grows, the economy will suffer further.  Many believe that a second wave, possibly far worse than the first, will not happen.  Some are pushing to reopen the public schools.  There are reports of violence by those refusing to wear masks and by those insisting that masks be worn.  We are in sincere crazy times.

Several things should be acknowledged.  The economy will tank and we will probably enter a time worse than the Great Depression.  People are going to find themselves suddenly forced from the middle class to poverty.  Companies will fail.  The income gap between the rich and the poor will widen greatly.  More and more people will find themselves unemployed.  Science is being discarded and fear, stoked by many in power, is increasing.  China, Russia, North Korea, and others will exploit this, interfering with our elections and our national standing as leader of the Free World; although the current administration is doing much of the same.  More and more Americans will die needlessly.  This is due, in a great part, by Trump's narcissism and refusal to act as a leader.

Is all lost?  No.  Not if we can regain our country in the next election.  Not if our leadership, our legislature, and our judicial system have the courage to make strong decisions based on principle rather than politics.  Not if we recognize that this country and our daily lives will be significantly different on the other side of this.  Some of our current concepts may have to be changed.  The original definition of conservative boils down to if it work --, fine; if not -- fix it.  It may not be comfortable for some folks, but we can survive and come out better, stronger, and more united.

That's a lot of ifs, but I don't see another choice.

Going Postal:  The Postal Service is in financial trouble.  Democrats and Republicans are sparring over what to do.  Is it a coincidence that this is happening right before an election and may affect the Postal Service's ability to handle write-in ballots that are predicted to favor the Democrats over the Republicans?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Roy Horn:  Mauled by a tiger and now dead from Coronavirus.  Rest in peace, Roy.

Mr. Penniman:  Another fond part of my life is gone with the death this past Saturday of Little Richard at age 87.  Rest in peace.  A-wop-bop-aloo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom

Also This Past Saturday:  The 60th anniversary of the birth control pill, one of the most significant events of the twentieth century.  It helped shape the world we have today.  (But had nothing to do with the coronavirus, I hasten to add.)

Some Bits of Awesome:  Hummingbirds.

Animal Rescue.

Grateful elephant.

Hugs and more:

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Pandemic Will Halt Florida Man Doing His Unpredictable Rounds:

  • Coral Springs sheriff Gregory Tony was caught half-naked and his wife was caught topless in a foursome at a couples swapping party.  Photos were taken and released (I saw them -- gak!).  Tony had no commented and referred questions to his attorney, who said, "I have no !@#$%f@#$%ing comment."  Tony was appointed tot he post in January after the governor suspended elected sheriff Scott Israel, who evidently released the wife swapping photos.  Tony's campaign said, "This is another attempt by Scott Israel to smear Tony's name and reputation."  In 1993 when he was 14, Tony killed 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez in Philadelphia -- an incident for which Tony claimed self-defense.
  • James Ellison, 30, was arrested for stealing alligator, meat, amberjack, tuna steaks, and alaska king crab from a seafood market in Port Orange.  He was arrested because of his unique tattoos, his "Gators" license plate, and his wife's cooperation -- she identified him and also told police he had also stolen lawn equipment and guns.   Police also found stolen knives and fishing reels in Ellison's garage.  Unlucky in love (and in theft) was poor Mr. Ellison.
  • The chuckleheads at Florida company Silvercorp USA recently tried to organize a coup against the Venezuelan government.  Florida Men were involved.  Things did not go well for them.  File under "Inept Attempt."
  • When a 96-year-old woman jumped from the 16th floor of her apartment building to her dead, Florida Man and apartment concierge Ronald Benjamin, 61, mistook the boy for a mannikin and later asked a 16-year-old boy to help him move it to a dumpster.  Even after transporting the body, Benjamin thought it was a mannikin and that the real blood was fake blood.  The owners of the St. Petersburg apartment complex fired him.
  • Florida Man and FCCI Insurance CEO Craig Johnson (absolutely no relation of good guy and Longmire creator Craig Johnson) was arrested for battery on a police officer as he was asked to leave the Wicked Cantina restaurant in Sarasota.  Johnson told the arresting officers that they would "pay" because of his close relationship with the Sarasota sheriff.  He also accused the officers of "responding like they were going to a black neighborhood."  Yes, he went there.  Alcohol was involved.  Also stupidity.
  • Panama City Florida Man Brandon Bingham, 34, was upset with his wife.  And what do you do when you are upset with your wife?  Try to run over a store clerk.  (Remember, this is Florida, where marriage counseling apparently goes off on a completely different track.)  

Some of the Good Stuff:

Today's Poem:  
God Bless Americans

God bless Americans, all of us here
May He keep us and steep us
In the love of the land he reveres

May we prosper, may we flourish
May we all freely strive
God bless Americans
And help us to thrive

From Venezuela
South Korea
or Iraq

God bless Americans
-- with freedom to strive

God bless Americans
-- and help us to thrive

-- Gershon Wolf

written in 2018 in celebration of the centennial anniversary
of the composition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America"

Today would have been Irving Berlin's 132nd birthday


  1. Your analysis is correct but awfully depressing. Back to bed for me.

    1. I don't want to depress you, Patti. Despite the doom and gloom there remains a bright, shining spark of hope that refuses to be extinguished that we will muddle through.