Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, May 17, 2021


 Openers:  Click Kendall realized that there was something almost impersonal in the antagonism of the man before him.

"Do I understand you refuse to make any statement?"

That question had been effective with many other tough customer.  But this man answered it with a single explosive word.


Click Kendall played his trump card.  With a happy smile suffusing his features he whipped a notebook from his pocket.

"Then I shal quote you as saying that!" he exclaimed, and wrote meaningless words rapidly.  "I have your permission to quote you as having used those words!  Now your further plans are to --"

But the man at the gate did not weaken.  His black glittering eyes looked directly at Click Kendall, yet seemed focused upon some distant ;point

"You may quote me as having said that you had better withdraw that foot from that gate!"

The words were a monotone of calm irritation.

-- "The Sky's the Limit" by Erle Stanley Gardner (from Argosy, December 7 and December 14, 1929)

Bugle Reporter Click Kendall had been sent by his editor to interview Professor Wagner about whatever he had been working on.  Unable to fulfill his assignment, click heads back,  Rounding a curve, there are two vehicles heading side by side directly toward him,  roadster and a touring car.  Men from the touring car reached out to grab the woman driving the roadster and pull her into their car.  Click managed to avoid the now driverless roadster but crashed into the touring car, which received minor damage.  Then someone began firing a gun at Click.  That made him mad and he rushed the men in the touring car.  In the fight, the girl managed to get away while Click pounded the villains.  Then a below from a wrech knocked him out, but not before he received a minor gunshot wound.  He woke up with a beautiful girl kneeling over him, urging him to get up and hide in the bushes.  The would-be kidnappers were bound to come back in search for her.  Once the coast was clear, the girl noticed Click's wound and offered to take him to her house to dress the injury.  You guessed it:  the girl is the daughter of Professor Wagner.

All well and good for the start of a typical pulp mystery adventure.  But things then take a sharp turn into science fiction territory involving an anti-gravity device, a space ship, a trip to Venus, Venesians, and a small treacherous group of World War I Germans,   This is one of seven science ficyion stories that Gardner wrote for Argosy between 1928 and 1932.

Gardner is best known for his mysteries, especially those about lawyer Perry Mason.  Before Mason, however, he was a prolific contributor to the pulps, creating such characters as Lester Leith, Ed Jenkins, Speed Dash, Bob Zane, Paul Pry, Sidney Zoom, and more than a dozen others.  There was a far greater market for mysteries than for science fiction stories in those days.  Gardner was a bisnessman first and he soon determined the money that could be made from science fiction paled in comparison to mystery stories.  In 1933, Gardner had published the first of his popular Perry Mason books, stories that he could turn out rather rapidly as compared to the few science fiction stories he had written.  Perry Mason was a game changer for Gardner: "Of the 151 mystery novels which appeared on the best-seller lists from 1895 to 1965, Mr. Gardner was responsible for ninety-one."

The seven science fiction stories by Gardner were eventually collected in 1981 by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh as The Human Zero:  The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner.  The science fiction trappings in these stories vary, with "The Sky's the Limit" nbeing the only interplanetary tale.  "The Human Zero" is actually an impossible crime story featuring a weapon that reaches absolute zero, where atoms no longer move.  "Monkey Eyes" is a story of a grotesque experiment within the framework of an adventure tale set in India.  "A Year in a Day" is a riff on H. G. Wells' "The New Accelerator," providing a means of invisibility.  "The Man with Pin-Point Eyes" is a western about reincarnation.  "New Wolrds" depicts a world-wide flood caused by a shift in the Earth's poles.  "Rain Magic" is an African adventure story with fantastic beast; in the introduction to this story Gardner states that it is based on a supposedly true tale related to him by an old desert prospector.  When Gardner checked on the locale, he found that every item told him could be verified,  (Gardner also related the story of the prospector in one of his non-fiction travel books, so there may be some support to his claims.)

Gardner ws a serious pracitioner and student of writing.  He was disdainful that "literary" stories were more important that the fast-paced entertainment he and other pulp writers provided.  He wrote about 600 stories for the pulps, most of which have not been reprinted.    Luckily, some of these stories are preserve online in PDF copies of the original magazine they appeared in.  Sadly, many are not.  Gardner's pulp writing deserved to be preserved in book form.


  • Graham Masterton, Trauma.  Suspense novella.  "Something is happening to Bonnie Winter.  She's a working wife and mother.  Her job is to make domestic crime scenes pretty agin.  She uses only the best upholstery cleaners, disinfectants, deodorizers, and stain removers.  But wshing away a stranger's sins can be quite a chore.  Considering what she sees every day, the stories she's heard, and what she knows about the evil that men do, it must take a lot to disturb a woman like Bonnie Winter.  You can't imagine."  Masterton is one of England's best-selling authors of horror and suspense fiction with well over 80 books books in those genres.  He has also written historical fiction, movie tie-ins.  A one-time editor of the British edition of Penthouse, he is also the author of more than two dozen sex instuction books, including How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed and How to Drive Your Woman Wild in Bed.  (Read those at your own risk.)
  • Tim Waggoner, Night Terrors.  Horror novel, the first book in the Shadow Watch sequence.  "It's Supernatural meets Men in Black in a darkly humorous urban fantasy from the author of Nekropolis.  When you dream you visit the Marlstrom.  Dream long enough and hard enough, and your breaks can break through into the living world.  So, alas, can your nightmares.  And who's there to catch the dreams and nightmares as they fall into reality?  Meet the Shadow Hunters.  Pray you never meet them."  Waggoner is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of nearly five dozen books, with more to come.

'Tis Today:  In this modern world of ours, it seems like anything and everything has a day to be celebrated and/or observed.  Well, perhaps not everything; they don't have a day celebrating veneal warts.  Yet.  But there are many things to celebrate on today, May 17 -- not the least of which is my youngest daughter's birthday.

NATIONAL MUSHROOM HUNTING DAY: brings to mind Wisconsin writer August Derleth, who was a great goumand.   He especially liked overly sweet, sticky-gooey desserts slathered with whipped cream, but he loved morels (large, meaty mushrooms with a distinctly earthy, nutty flavor; their large honeycombed appearance makes them look like alien monsters from a 1950s sci-fi film).  Derleth would drop everything once a year and spend a couple of days in the woods just collecting morels in large wooden baskets.  He would then hang the morels from the rafters of his home to age, so he could feast on these treats for the next year.  I also remember a guy (I think his name was Stan) who would show up at my in-laws' summer cottage to collect mushrooms growing on a tree on their side lawn.  He swore they were good eating.  I love mushrooms but would never go hunting for them.  That's an activity that's too risky for my blood.

Today is also PINO GRIGIO DAY.  I'm not a wine drinker so I had to look up pinot grigio (or pino gris) on the internet.  It's a white wine grape of the species Vita vinefera, and is thought to be a mutant variety (whoops!  I'm having flashbacks to 1950s sci-fi moveis again!) of pinot noir.  Pinot noir is the wine that pretentious people began drinking after watching Paul Giamatti in 2004's Sideways.  Pinot grigio can come in different shades, from deep golden yellow to copper to a pale pink.  "The Alsation style...tend to have moderate to low acidity, higher alcolhol levels and aa almost 'oily' texture."  The flavors can be of ripe tropical fruit notes to some botrytis-influenced flavors.  (Botrytis is evidently a form of grey fungus, also known as "grey rot."  sounds yummy.)  Pinot gris has been known since the Middle Ages.  It started in Burgundy and moved to Switzerland around 1300.  Under the rule of emperor Charles IV (who was a fan), it was transplanted to Hungary by Cistercian monks, where it became known as "grey monk."  The wine became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the grape was difficult to harvest.  In the early 20th century varieties were developed that were easier to harvest.  Pinot gris is an "early to market" wine that can bottled and sold within 4-12 weeks after fermentation.  It is often mixed with pinot noir to enrich and enlighten that wine's flavor.

May 17 is also NATIONAL CHERRY COBBLER DAY.  Cherry cobbler is one of the top ten fruit cobblers out there.  Actually, I love any type of cobbler as long as it is a deep dish fruit dessert with a thick top crust and not a mender of shoes or a clumsy workman (archaic usage).  A cobbler can also be "a tall iced drink consisting of wine, rum, or whiskey and sugar garnished with mint or a slice of lime or orange,"and there's nothing wrong with that, biut we're talking about the dessert here.  Some cherry cobbler recipes call for canned cherry filling, but that's a lily-livered, chicken-hearted, and esy way of doing things.  Here's a recipe (scroll down) that uses fresh cherries:

On This Day:
  • In 1875, Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:37.75.  Compare that to this year's "winner" Medina Spirit, whose time of 2:01.02 was possibly aided by betamethasone, a corticosteroid.  All this led to a statment from Donald Trump, calling the horse a junky.  This caused some confusion as many people did not know if he was talking Medina Spirit or one of his kids.
  • In 1900, L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, beginning a series of children's books that have entertained people for more than a century.  The second book in the series. The Marvelous Land of Oz, introduces Tip, who is perhaps the first transgender character in a popular children's series, not that Baum geve much thought to gender roles.
  • In 1902, the Antikythera mechanism was discovered from a shupwreck off the coast of Greece by archaeologist Valerios Stais.  This device is the oldest example of an analog computer and was used to predict atromonical positions and eclipses decades in advance.  The clockwork mechanism has been variously dated from 87 BC to 205 BC; the shipwreck is thought to have occurred about 70-60 BC.  The knowledge that constructed this machine was then lost in antiquity.  In 2010, hobbyist andy Carol  built a fully fynctioning replica of this mechanism from Legos.
  • In 1954, the U.S. supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing racial segreation in schools.  If only it were that easy.

Your Moment of Zen:  Sometimes you jutshave to sit back and appreciate the fact that we are here, in this  place, in  this time, on this amazing planet, in this wondrous universe -- even if you have to put iup with a few annoying commercials.

An Important Message:  (Again , with some annoying commercials.  **sigh**)

Florida Man:  Thus far, 2021 has been a boon to Florida Man if not to the citizens of the state.  With our governor and Republican-held state legislature launching attacks on everything from voting rights to transgender people and from Covid denial to seriously limiting free speech, your garden variety of Florida still manages to cop more than a few headlines.  While ignoring Florida Man Matt Gaetz and Florida WingMan Joel Greenberg, here are a few Florida Man stories that grabbed my attention.
  • Florida Man Malachi Love-Robinson, a.k.a. "Dr. Love," now 23, made headmlines when he was 18 when he was charged with practicing medicine without a license, grand theft, and fraud as he posed as a doctor, complete with office, lab, coat, and a stethoscope, scamming one patient out of $35,000.  For that he served 21 months in maximum security.  Now he's been arrested again, this time for diverting over $10,000 from the shipping company he was working for to his personal bank account.  He said he's sorry.
  • Florida Man Johnny Edwards Malisham, 60, of Milton (just a couple of towns from where I live), was arrested after sheriff's officers found a woman's body buried under a biurn pit behind his home.  The woman, 60-year-old Cynthis Hoover, had been missing since March 8 and her ransacked car was found on March 10 alongside Intersate 10,  The police were informed by a tip from a woman who had known Malisham for 15 years.  She said that he had asked her help with the body, acting as a watch while he buried the body, whom he said he had killed with a hatchet.  The woman ran to her house and hid.  Leter Malisham called her, told her he had left the dead woman's car on I-10. and asked her for a ride home.  When she refused, he called another woman to pick him up.  Police said this second woman was elderly and did not remember much.
  • Florida Man Mark Anthony Hunt, 55, of County, is accused of stealing horses and attempting to ride them to his house.  He said horses should not be 'caged" -- they were in stalls -- and he just wanted to set them free.  The Lake Cpunty Shrieff's Office Facebook page, in reporting the incident, ended the post with the hashtags #wannabecowboy, #busted, #dontdrinkandtrytorideahorse, and #especiallybareback.
  • A Florida Man and Not Your Best Neighbor, currently unnamed, was caught on video smearing dog poop on his neighbor's yard sings.  One sign was in support of all things un-American, stating, "We Believe Black Lives Matter, Love Is Love, Feminism Is For Everyone, No Human Being Is Illegal, Science Is Real, Be Kind To All."  With such a Commie Pinko Radical Deep State attitude, no wonder the signs were vandalized improved.
  • Florida Woman Lora Beth Seymour, 42, of Summerfield, was found trespassing after she had been warned earlier in the day.  When police checked her car, they found a hat with aluminum foil inside the hatband; inside the aluminum foil was methamphetamine.  Seymour had been arrested last year for entering a woman's property and taking items and throwing them onto the raodway.  When asked to leave the property, Seymour "went beserk," ranted that she owned Google, and threw a bottle of beans at her.  Police determined that drugs were involved.  She spent some jail time for that one.  Seymout had previously been convicted of battery twice.
  • Florida Woman Linda Wildes of of Melbourne has a morning routine that annoys her neighbors.  Every morning at 5:00, she rings a loud bell and shouts profanities relating to politicians.  Police have responding to more than 20 complaints from neighbors over the past two years.  If only she would have her morning coffee at 4:50...

Good News:
  • VAX LIVE concerts raises $304M to provide 26M doses of Covid vaccine doses for the wolrd's most vulnerable
  • Rubber made from dandelions is making tires more sustainable
  • The areas of forests regrown since 2000 cover areas almost the size of France
  • Canadians buy home for man who needs a kidney and had to quit his job (which was helping others)
  • Hero jumps into Maryland bay after car crash flings child's car seat
  • More than 800 baby turtles rescues from New Jersey storm drains

Something to Remember:  "In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit." --Anne Frank

Today's Poem:
God the Artist

God, when you thinkof a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
How did you dream of the Milky Way
To gjuide us from afar.
How did you think of a clean brown pool
Where flecks of shadows are?

God, when you thought of a cobweb,
How did you think of dew?
How did you know a spider's house
Has shingles bright and new?
How did you know the human folk
Would love them like they do? *

God, when you patterned a bird song,
Flung on a silver string,
How did you know the ecstacy
That crystal call would bring?
How did you think of a bubbling throat
And a darling speckled wing?

God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning's hem?

Why did you mate the moonlit night
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know the Madeira bloom
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?

-- Angela Morgan

* Personal Note:  While I recognize the value of spiders in our ecology, I do not love them.  In fact, I hate 'em, hate 'em, hate'em and am fully in favor of having them on the business end of a lit blowtorch.

No comments:

Post a Comment