Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, June 1, 2020


Openers:  PFC Guy Gabaldon waited for the dawn of his last day on earth.

He did not think he would live to see the sun go down.

He wasn't sure he wanted to.

-- Edward S. Aarons, Hell to Eternity (1960)

Aarons (1936-1975) was a pulp and paperback mystery and suspense writer whose best-known creation was Sam Durell, a CIA operative for the operations "K" section in 42 novels.  (Six further adventures were published after Edward S. Aaron's death, all by-lined "Will B. Aarons," which was the name of Edward's brother; all six were actually ghosted by Lawrence Hall, adding another level of meaning to the by-line.)  Hell to Eternity is an original novelization of the 1960 war movie starring Jeffrey Hunter, David Jannsen, and Vic Damone.  

Movie tie-ins have been a profitable, quick and easy business for publishers for years.  In the early part of the twentieth century, hardcover editions of stories that had been turned into movies were often released with stills for the movie.  Tie-ins proliferated with the advent of paperbacks, with books re-released with covers promoting the upcoming movies based on the books.  Many tie-ins were, as in the case of Hell to Eternity, were original novels written from movie scripts (often the first draft of the script, sometimes causing a wide discrepancy between the book and the movie).  Television shows also got into the act and almost every popular television show had tie-in books to help promote the show.  Franchises, both movie and television, also had books published with original material that had not previously appeared on the screen or the tube.  The popularity of role-playing games also added a new dimension to the tie-in novel with original novels based on the milieu of the games.  Tie-ins are big business, although seldom renumerative for the authors.

That began to change in 2005 when writers Max Allan Collins and Lee Goldberg formed the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers for authors of media tie-ins and novelizations.  From the original announcement:

"We write science fiction, westerns, mysteries, romance and thrillers and sometimes all of the above.  Our work embraces just about every genre you can think of, from STAR TREK to CSI, from GUNSMOKE to MURDER.SHE WROTE, from DUNE to James Bond, from RESIDENT EVIL tp LIZZIE MCGUIRE.

"Our books are original tie-in novels, comic books and short stories based on existing characters from movie, TV series, books, games, and cartoons or they are novelizations (books based on screenplays for movies and TV shows).

"Tie-ins and novelization are a licensed work, meaning they are written with the permission and supervision of the creators, studios, or other rights-holders of the original characters.

"Well-known tie-in writers include Kingsley Amis, Kevin J. Anderson, Raymond Benson, Gregory Benford, Lawrence Block, David Brin, Greg Bear, Max Brand, Orson Scott Card, Leslie Charteris, Arthur C. Clarke, Max Allan Collins, Peter David, Ian Fleming, Alan Dean Foster, John Gardner, Elizabeth Hand, Stuart Kaminsky, David Morrell, Robert B. Parker, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, and Jim Thompson, to name just a few."

Beginning in 2007, the IAMTW began the Scribe Awards, honoring various types of tie-in writing, including Best Speculative Fiction Novel -- Adapted, Best Speculative Novel -- Original, Best General Fiction Novel -- Adapted, Best General Fiction Novel -- Original, and Best Young Adult Novel -- All Genres.  The first IAMTW Grandmaster Award went to Donald Bain, author of the MURDER, SHE WROTE novels and many others.  The categories have since expanded and in 2019 included Adapted Novel, Audio Drama, Original Novel -- Speculative, Original Novel -- General,  Short Story, and Young Adult/Middle Grade.  Other Grandmasters named over the years are Alan Dean Foster, Keith R.A. DeCandido, William Johnston, Peter David, Kevin J. Anderson, Ann C. Crispin, Diane Duane, Terrance Dicks, and Timothy Zahn; in 2017 the award was renamed the Faust Award and was given to Christie Golden; Greg Cox was given the award in 2018.

Here's a list of Scribe Award winners and nominees:

When I first started reading novels, a lot were tie-ins.  I must have read Gene Autry and the Ghost Riders (a Whitman Book written by Louis B. Pattern) eight times; a few years later I devoured the three Wagon Train tie-ins by Robert Turner at least three times each.  Other books from my earlier years that I remember fondly are The Naked City by Sterling Silliphant, Peter Gunn by Henry Kane, Platinum High School by Irving Shulman, The Line-Up by Frank Kane, and The Couch by Robert Bloch.  Tie-ins have been (and continue to be) a great part of  my reading life.  There is truly something for everyone in tie-ins.  Try one and see.

And Edward S. Aarons?  Beside Hell to Eternity. his other tie-ins include The Defenders (from the television series) and, under his "Edward S. Ronns" pseudonym, Pickup Alley, The Lady Takes a Flyer, The Black Orchid, and But Not for Me.

MAC 'n' Roll:  Mention of Max Allan Collins above allows me to segue ever so briefly to one of his latest novels, Girl Can't Help It, the second in his series about Galena, Iowa, police chief Krista Larson (a highly recommended book; pick it up now!).  {I've made no secret that I am a Max Allan Collins fan-boy; well, fan-geezer, really.)  In addition to having a number of best-selling and award-winning series, Collins has had a long career as a comic strip/book writer (Dick Tracy, Batman, The Road to Perdition), tie-in writer (CSI Bones, Saving Private Ryan), film writer.director (Mommy, Mommy's Day, Eliot Ness:  An Untouchable Life), and cultural historian (The History of Mystery, Men's Adventure Magazines, For the Boys:  The Racy Pin-Ups of World War II).  Collins has also authored trading card sets, video games, mystery jigsaw puzzles, and Lord knows what else.  If all this wasn't enough, he has also been a professional rock and roll musician since 1966.  His bands the Daybreakers and Cruisin' have both been inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.  He also was part of a "comic con band," Seduction of the Innocent, with actors Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer, comics artist Steve Leialoha, and comics fan John Christenson.

Girl Can't Help It is the first novel by Collins that made use of his rock and roll background.  Regional band Hot Rod & the Pistons is inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and murder begins striking the band members.  It's a well-crafted mystery that seamlessly blends a lot of that state's rock and roll history -- something I was not fully aware of until now.

Here's some of Collins' music, beginning with the Daybreakers' regional hit "Psychedelic Siren"

And here's 60's retro band Cruisin' playing "Incense and Peppermints" at the St. Louis Bouchercon:

And here's Seduction of the Innocent doing a set at the 1988 San Diego Comic Con:

An American Tragedy:  Racism is nothing new.  It my be as hardwired into the human race as its cousin, xenophobia, the fear of something alien.  People like myself may have been deceived into thinking we were entering into a post-racial world when Obama was elected, but evidently that was not to be.  Studies have shown that there are two types of people, divided somewhat equally among the population:  those who fear change and those who do not fear it.  Of course, there are gradations among each group, with the most radical in each group being outliers.  It simplifies matters greatly to consider them as liberal versus conservative, blue versus red.  Generally though, people in each group just want to get along with each other, but sometimes one group or another gains the attention of the populace and you have such things as white nationalism, the radical Left of the 60s, the die-hard segregationists of the South, up to and including today's anti-vaxxers.

The desire for political power fuels much of this overreach.  In (semi-) modern times, we've had Joe McCarthy and the communist witch hunt, Richard Nixon and his gang of fixers, conservative religious leaders promulgating distinctly anti-Christian ideals, Lee Atwater and his take-no-prisoners approach to political strategy, Cheney and Rumsfeld and their lot promulgating a radical neo-conservative movement, Mitch McConnell and his openly racist conservative pragmatism, and Donald Trump and his generally clueless band of syncophants.  These examples are from the GOP side, but there are surely others from the other political party.  It's just that Republicans seem to be dominating the crazy nowadays.

The leadership of the country tends to set the tone for many Americans.  When that leadership espouses hatred and political division, many take up those banners.  It pushes people to embrace their xenophobia more, it causes racial tensions and fear, it makes us far less than our ideals.   Many recent racists acts are motivated by the fear and sense of unfairness propagated by the right.  Mexicans are rapists.  America Muslims are trying to destroy to destroy the country and bring about Sharia law.  China is deliberating spreading Covid-19 among Americans.  Transsexuals are trying to molest our kids.  We should fear Blacks because they hate us and are up to no good.  Police are justified in their overreach, "killing while Black" because, well, you know.  Social service programs are being taken advantage of by freeloaders.  Environmentalists are job destroyers.  The deep state is trying to destroy the economy by not letting the country open up.  Other nations are trying to destroy us.  WHO is corrupt.  I have a right to kill someone if I am scared of him.  America first means fuck everyone else.  You can't make me vaccinate because this is a free country.  I want a haircut!  And what the hell is that Black guy doing in my apartment building/gym/neighborhood anyway?

Disgusting.  And all of this stems from a top-down approach from a minority political party that has forgotten its ideals and manages to stay in power just by rigging the system.

It's going to take a long while to get our country back on track but voting in November is a good place to start.

Brandeis:  One hundred four years ago Louis Brandeis became the first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court.  A defender of freedom of speech and the right to privacy, Brandeis was one of the most revered and influential members in the history of the Supreme Court.  Of him, William O. Douglas wrote, "Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be.  He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage.  He was dangerous because he was incorruptible."   Before being name to the Supreme Court Brandeis was known as the "People's Lawyer."  He fought railroad monopolies, defended workplace and labor laws, helped create the Federal Reserve System, helped develop the savings bank insurance system, and influenced the newly-formed Federal Trade Commision.

His nomination to the Supreme Court was heavily opposed by leading politicians (including former President Taft, whom Brandeis one called a "muckraker") and members of the legal profession, decrying his "radicalism."  A hidden but prominent reason for opposing Brandeis was  nothing more than "blatant anti-semitism."  Brandeis was confirmed by a vote of 47-22, with all but one Democrat and three Republicans voting in favor.

In his dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States (1928), a case that involved wiretapping to gain evidence, Brandeis likened the right to be left alone to the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure).  His lengthy and well-reasoned defense slowly gained ground among legal scholars and when Olmstead was finally overturned in 1967, Justice Potter Steward wrote, "A quarter-century after his death, another component of Justice Brandeis's privacy design was enshrines in American law."

In Burnet vs. Coronado Oil & Gas Co. (1932), Brandeis effectively changed the way stare decisis (the use of determining points of law by precedent) was accepted by legal scholars:  "In most cases, it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than it be settled right."

Brandeis initially opposed much of FDR's New Deal, feeling it involved too much overreach.  For Brandeis, principle mattered sometimes more than public interest.

Compare Brandeis's intellect and sense of social responsibility to that of the latest Supreme Court nominations and you will come to one obvious conclusion:  At least Brandeis didn't boof.

Didja Know?:

  • The Goodyear blimp is the official bird of Redondo Beach, California.
  • A fortune cookie company once predicted winning lottery numbers, resulting 110 winners.
  • Bumblebees can fly higher than Mount Everest.  (Who's going to be wiseguy to tell me that Mount Everest can't fly?)
  • The comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi) has a disappearing butt.
  • Someone once tried to sell New Zealand on eBay.  Bidding started at one cent and climbed to $3,00- after 22 bids before eBay realized what was going on and pulled the plug.
  • One quarter of all your bones is found in your feet.
  • A human could swim through a blue whale's veins.  I don't recommend it, though.
  • You are more likely to get a computer virus from visiting religious sites rather than porn sites.  (and who was in charge of that study?)
  • Fredric Baur, the inventor of the Pringle can, is now buried in one.
  • Bubble wrap, invented in 1957, was originally designed as wallpaper.
  • Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, has scoliosis.
  • The white stringy stuff when you peel a banana is called phloem so if you cook a banana you might have phloem on the range.  (Forgive me for this one.)

Irish Blessing:  This is just lovely.  Over 300 churches and Christian organizations have joined together from every county in ireland to sing an ancient Irish blessing.  You don't have to be religious to enjoy this beautiful video.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Matthew Crandall, 21, broke into Miramar High School and spend nearly 24 hours vandalizing the school, causing $100,000 in damages to computers and equipment.  What places him in the Florida Man Hall of Fame was that he did it wearing only a hat and headphones.  Probably the school did not have its air conditioning on during the crime spree.
  • Florida Man Sonny Haas is running for Lee County Commissioner but his campaign may have stumbled when he used a racial slur in a campaign e-mail.  Actually he used the racial epithet several times.  Sony, however, is a true politician and Florida Man -- he both apologized and defended his e-mail.
  • Florida Man James Joseph Lomonaco, 51, of Sebastian, was arrested for battery after his sister did not offer him spaghetti.  Need I say more?
  • And here's a blast from the past:  Florida Woman Jasmine tridevil, who gained notoriety by falsely claiming that she has three breasts, was arrested for DUI in 2015.  Jasmine Tridevil had two weeks before released a NSFW music video in which she "sings, flaunts her [fake] third breast, while wearing with [sic] ram horns, to her song, 'Born to Serve'"  She had posted pictures the previous September of supposed three breasts, claiming she had surgery to appear unattractive to men and in hopes of starring in a reality show.  Actually, she used a pathetic prosthetic.  Pictures [ahem!] at the link:
  • Four prominent Florida Men politicians are eying the 2024 Presidential race.  Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, Senator Rick Scott, and Representative Matt Gaetz are all champing at the bit.  Oh, Florida, what are you trying to gift the country?

And Let Kindness and Reason Prevail:

Today's Poem:
The Tewkesbury Road

It's good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,
Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why,
Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,
Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.

And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink,
Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;
Where the shy-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink
When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.

O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,
Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;
And the blessed green comely meadow are all a-ripple with mirth
At the noise of the lambs at play, and the dear wild cry of the birds.

-- John Masefield

1 comment:

  1. So much work goes into this. You need to collect your pieces in a book, even if you publish it as an ebook. Your kids and grandkids might love to have it later.