Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, August 16, 2021


 Openers:  Although the man's back was turned toward me, I was uncomfortably conscious that he was watching me.  How he could possibly be watching me while I stood directly behind him, I did not ask myself; yet, nevertheless, instinct warned me that I was being inspected; that smehow or other the man was staring at me as steadily as though he and I had been face to face, and his faded, sea-green eyes were focussed upon me.

It was an odd sensation which persisted in spite of logic, and of which I could not rid myself.  Yet the little waitress did not seem to share it.  Perhaps she was not under his glassy inspection.  But then, of course, I could not be either.

No doubt the nervous tension incident to the expedition was making me superssensitive and even morbid.

-- "The Third Eye" by Robet W. Chambers (first published in Hearst's Magazine, February 1915; reprinted in Chambers' collection Police !!! that same year)

Our narrator is Percy Smith, a man dedicated to science and the "Chief of the Anthropological Field Survey of the great Bronx Park Zoological Society."  We first meet him as he is about to embark on scientific expedition that he has kept secret for fear of ridicule.   With him are Evelyn Grey, a hotel waitress who was along for scientific purposes only because, as Percy puts it, "Science knows no sex,"  Also along is their guide, Grue -- a rough, unkempt "cracker" whom Percy had found fishing.  It was Grue who gave Percy that uncomfortable feeling.  They are on their way to meet Professor Billy Kemper, the remaining member of the expedition.

Percy has kept the object of the expedition somewhat secret, as I said, for fear of ridicule.  He is in search of a different kind of human being -- one with a third eye.  Evelyn Grey had made friends with Tiger-tail, a Seminole Indian, who claimed that such a race existed.  Besides having a third eye on the back of their skulls, these beings are able to breath through their pores and have a coating of thick, silky hair on their bodies, allowing them to stay under water as long as a turtle could.  Percy is determined to  capture one of these people, cage him, and bring him back to New York for the glory of science and the Bronx Park Zoological Society.  Nothing, not even the attractions of the pretty young waitress, will get in his way.  Perhaps this is just as well because Billy Kemper -- much younger and far more handsome than Percy -- has become smitten with Evelyn.

We all know where this is going, especially when we see Grue leap onto birds and drag them under water until they drowned.  The light eventually dawns on Percy as he realizes that Grue is one of those beings he has been seeking.  Grue manages to escape into the Florida waters and Percy is left without a specimen and without a girl.

Oh well, there's always the next story...Percy  Smith, with his ongoing searches for strange animals, is the main character in six stories by Chambers, all of which were collected to form Police !!!   Chamber had earlier written another six stories about the Bronx Park Zoological Society that features another character, Gilland the Zoologist; these have been apparantly collected in 1905's In Search of the Unknown.

Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) was an artist and a popular writer of romance and historical novels, a number of which became bestsellers.  Some of his earlier books ventured into the supernatural and the fantastic, including what is probably his most remembered book, The King in Yellow, which was an influence on H. P. Lovecraft and many who followed him.  In all, Chambers published at least 82 books, including seven children's books and nine collections of short stories.  Between 1908 and 2001, 28 films were based on his work -- the vast majority of them were made from 1916 to 1924.   As with many popular authors of his time, Chambers'  books remain virtually forgetten today with the exception of The King in Yellow.  In 1974, Marion Zimmer Bradley published an interesting study, The Necessity for Beauty:  Robert W. Chambers & The Romantic Tradition; think what you will of Bradley, but this book has some interesting insights.


  • James Blish, The Star Dwellers.  Science fiction novel, ostensibly a juvenile.  Energy beings, many from the beginning of the universe, are discovered.  As with many of Blish's novels, science, philosophy, and adventure are thrown into an imaginative mix to make a satisfying read. A sequel, Mission to the Heart Stars, was punished several years later.
  • Philip Jose Farmer, The Purple Book.  Science fiction fix-up novel that includes the Hugio-winning short novel "Riders of the Purple Wage," as well as "The Oogenesis of Bird City," "Spiders of the Purple Mage," "The Making of Revelation, Part I," and "The Long Wet Purple Dream of Rip Van Winkle."  An unpredictable novel that occasiolnally veers into profanely purple territory.
  • Donald Goines, White Man's Justice, Black Man's Grief.  Prison novel. "This is the story of Chester Hines. who though he was the baddest man to come down the street.  Behind prison walls, he was nothing more than fresh meat."  Goines became addicted to heroin while serving in the Air Force.  Upon his honorable discharge, he turn to crime to support his habit and was sentenced to prison several times.  While in Michigan's Jackson Penitentiary, Goines -- influenced by Iceberg Slim's Pimp:  The Story of My Life -- he began writing novels of inner city life.  He complete 16 novels in his short life.  On October 21, 1974, Goines and his common-law wife were found murdered in their apartment.  Bothnhad multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and head.  Donald Goines was 37.  His killers were never caught.  One theory has it that basing some of characters on real-life criminals had offended the wrong persons; another, that he was killed over money owed for drugs.
  • Pat Graverson, Stones. Horror novel.  "Ever since Cami's dad died in a plane crash, life hadn't been easy for ther and her mother, Proter.  Noe they had moved into a big old house in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Porter was going to run a rare book store.  It seemed like things were finally going to be okay again.  Then the stones arrived.  They were a strange grayish green, and about the size of robins' eggs.  Dad had collected the stones on that last trip to Turkey, and it had taken all this time to catch up with them.  Cami thought they were weird, but Porter decided to decorate the garden with them, and they did look pretty neat, all in cicles around the bushes.  The only trouble was, every morning the stones were in a different design.  Cami knew her mother thought she was doing it.  But she wasn't.  Cami had a terrible feeling that they had planted something evil in their very own garden.  Especially when she noticed that the stone were moving little by little into a distinct and horrifying pattern..."
  • Mick Herron, Slow Horses.  Spy guy thriller, the first in a series.  "Slough Hlouse is a dumping ground for British intelligence agents who've screwed up a case --  say by leaving a secret file on a train, or blowing a surveillance.  River Cartwright, one such 'slow horse,' is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations.  When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself.  But is the victim who he first appears to be?  And what is the kidnappers' connection with a disgraced journalist?  As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda."  This one was nominated for a Steel Dagger.
  • Edward Loti, Murder by Magic.  A Cranberry Country Mystery, evidently the fifth in a series.  "In the course of her investigations as a self-styled detective, Lena Lombardi has on occasion found herself -- figuratively -- in some arther tight spots.  But this time the deep hole she's fallen into is real.  And there's no one nearby to help her out -- no one except three angry pursuers who, she has reason to believe, are out to kill her.  It started innocently enough:  Lena, trying to help out a friend suspected of jurder.  But was it murder?  Peter Gilbert's body showed no signs of foul play.  He simply froze to death.  If it was murder. it could only have been done by magic.  Or so it seemed.  And then there was the so-called Hickman Secret.  Was that connected with the two deaths?  Yes -- the first death was followed by a second.  And no doubt about it, this one was murder.  So the joke was on Lena.  She was quite sure she knew the identity of the killer.  She even had evidence of sorts.  But wht good would it do her -- or her friend -- if she ended up dead herself, like a rat in a hole?"  I picked this one up, not knowing if it was any good,  because it was set on Cape Cod and the detective was a woman of a certain age.  Time will tell if it was worth my investment.
  • Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden, originally published in 1899 as Le Jardin des supplices.  "One of the strangest tories ever written...Here is a novel that is hot withnthe fever of estatic, prohibited joys, as cruel as a thumbscrew and as luxuriant as an Oriental tapestry.  This exotic story of Clara and her insatiable desire for the perverse and the forbidden has been hailed by the critics:  ' is a thriller and shocker that will cause the blood to creep and the spine to tingle....' Charles Hanson Towne"  A classic novel of its kind, translated by Alvah C. Bessie in 1931.  This is the 1955 Berkley Books paperback edition with a fantasically nifty cover illustration.
  • Alexei Panshin, Rite of Passage.  Science fiction novel, winner of the 1968 Nebukla Award.  "In 2198, after the desperaate wars that destroyed Earth, Man live precariously on a hundred colony worlds and in the seven giant Ships that once ferried man to the stars.  Young Mia Havero has lived a safe and happy childhood aboard one of the great Ships.  But now Mia approached the age of The Trial -- when children are tested against the hostile wilds of a colony world -- to survive or perish!"  Panshin is also the author of the delightful Anthony Villiers series of three novels (the fourth remains unpublished) which brought echoes of Georgette Heyer to the SF field.  He is also a science fiction critic of note.
  • Jack Seabrook, Martians and Misplaced Clues:  The Life & Work of Fredric Brown.  The first full-length study of this noted author of mysteries and science fiction.  A well-detailed and well-research book, as well as an enjoyable read.  A must for anyone who is a fan of Brown's work.  Seabrook currently blogs at bare-bones e-zine, along with Peter Enfintino, John Scolari, and Jose Cruz -- check it out.
  • "Curtis Steele" (Federick C. Davis), Legions of the Death Master.  Pulp novel featuring Jimmy Christopher, also known as Operator 5, agent extraordinary of the U.S. Intelligence Service.  This is #7 in the series, first appearing in Operator 5, October 1934.  "The Nation writhed in the throes of a crisis...torn by treason, fevered with internal discord and mob violence.  Destrcutive forces towered menacingly on every side, while espionage and subversion swarmed within, aided by the well-intenioned and powerfully placed dupes of a sinister conspiracy.  Only Operator 5, top agent of the nation's intelligence network, could hpe to pull this country back from the perilous brink of bloody chaos...and soon it seemed that the very government he strove to rescue had turned viciously on him, threatening his death even as it blundered headlong toward its own!"  Weapons of bacteria, plague, and terrible diseases are aimed at America by a foreign demagogue.  Operator 5 ran for 48 issues, April 1934 to November 1939, each with a new novel about the character.  The first twenty were written by Davis, who left because of the publisher's demand that he think up a new evil super-power trying to destpoy America every issue.  Davis was replaced by Emil Tepperman with issue 21, who solved the problem by writing 13 interconnected novels, beginning with issue #26 that made up "The Purple Invasion" sequence, which is now looked upon as a classic in pulp writing.  Wayne Rogers stepped in to write the last nine novels.
  • "Grant Stockbridge" (Norvell Page), Corpse Cargo.  Pulp novel featuring Richard Wentworth as The Spider, the tenth in the series, first published in The Spider, July 1934.  This is a paperback reprint from Dimedia, Inc., which lists it a #2 in their series (which lasted for three books).  "Thousands die as modern pirates prey the passenger railroads with deadly science.  The S[pider swings into action as he tracks down the blood-thirsty fiends whose credo is 'Dead men tell no tales.' "  I love Page's take on The Spider because of the way the bodies pile up -- usually by the thousands.  I suppose this indicates that there is something very wrong with me.

Today...:   is Joe Miller Joke Day.  Joe Miller was an early 18th century comedian and his birthday is celebrated by telling a stale, tired joke.  From the 1734 edition of Joe Miller's Jests; or, The Wits Vade-Mecum:  "Mr . H---rr---n, one of the Commiffioners of the Revenue in Ireland, being one Night in the Pit, at the PlayHoufe in Dublin, Monoca Gall, the Orange girl, famous for her Wit and her Affurance, friding over his Back, he popp'd his Hands under her Petticoats ;  Nay, Mr. Commiffioner, you'll find no goods there but what have been fairly entered."  I gues you had to have been there.

Today is also National Rum Day, National Bratwurst Day, and National Roller Coaster Day,  For the sake of your stomach, do not celebrate all three at the same time.

Here are a few easy rum cocktail recipes:

And for those of you whose cooking skills go beyond a can opener and a microwave, here are a bunch of nifty recipes using rum:

And if you are truly adventurous, here's how to make your own bratwurst:

As for roller coasters. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, is said to be the world's tallest roller coaster, coming in at 465 feet above the ground.  It goes from 0 to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.  The first peak is at the top of a 90 degree slope.  Let me know how it feels because I'll be on the ground.

Thirty-seven years ago today, Janet Harris was in Selsy, England, setting the world record for eating 7,175 green peas in an hour, one at a time, using chopsticks.  It's hard to believe that this was not an event at the Tokyo Olympics.

And in the "Well, Duh!" category, scientists at the University of Glasgow published their findings validating the "beer goggles" effect 19 years ago today.  In a study of male and female students, they found that those who imbibed a moderate amount of alcohol found those of the opposite sex 25% more attractive than those who remained sober.  

And Happy Birthday to Queen of Poland Anne of Austria (1573-1598), Hugo Gernsback (Luxembourge-American writer. editor. and publisher, 1884-1967), Otto Mesmer (creator of Felix the Cat, 1892-1983), Mae Clarke (actress with grapefruit on her face, 1910-1992), Fess Parker (who was both Davy and Dan'l, 1924-2010), Frank Gifford (1930-2015) and Kathie Lee Gifford (b. 1953, and who would have a hard time forgetting her husband's birthday), Material Girl (or Inmaterial Girl, depending on your tastes) Madonna (b. 1958), and New Zealand director, screenwriter, and actor Tiaka Waititi (b. 1975).

Sadly, this also the anniversary of the deaths of Bluesman Robert Johnson (who perhaps made a deal with the devil at a crossroads, 1911-1938), Sultan of Swat Babe Ruth (1895-1948), Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), Horror icon who lived a tragic life Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), Amanda (Miss Kitty) Blake (1929-1989), and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin (1942-2018).  This is also the day that Elvis (1935-1977) left the building.

Nancy Griffith:  Singer/songwriter and talent extraordinaire Nanmcy Griffth died this weekend at age 68.  She will be missed.

"Llve at the Five and Dime"

"From a Distance"

Flying:  After recently flying on a bargain airline where the seats were designed for someone six inches shorter than I am, I am ready to fly only paper airplanes for the foreseeable future.  And...

Since school has started in many areas of the country, I thought I'd post something that may be of use to all those bored students out there.  

Legal Disclaimer:  My attorneys have asked that I explicitedly warn parents not to let their school-age children see this and tell children not to do this at school or at any home where there are breakable objects.

That being said, here's how to make paper airplanes that can "fly forever."

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Cameron Herrin, 21,  began his 24-year sentence in April for killing a mother and her 21-month-old daughter in a vehicular accident.  At the time of the accident Herrin was 18.  By this July, a world-wide twitter campaign was decrying the severity of his sentence.  By the end of July, there were at least 100,000 such tweets, with a new one coming in every 30 seconds.  Videos relating to Herrin have been viewed 1.7 billion times.  It turns out that most of those tweets came from the Middle East, most likely part of a paid campaign.  Some of the tweets may have been real, but the large amount of tweets, where they were originated from, the similarity of language in some of them and the misspellings in others, point to an organized effort to influence others from fake accounts; one account, for instance, had been used to promote the K-pop music group BTS and switched exclusively to tweeting about Herrin.  It is not known who is responsible for the tweets or what the true motivation is.
  • Florida Man Jack Foraker's brand new Ford Ranger pick-up truck was struck by lightning and the event was caught on his dashboard camera.  "It sounded like a shotgun blast to the back of my truck,"  The truck only had 4000 miles on it.  Foraker, who lost his power steering and power brakes, managed to pull the truck to the side of the road.  He was unhurt but his truck was in intensives care for 40 days at a local garage before Foraker resigned himself to buying a replacement vehicle.
  • Florida Man Charles Harrington went on a spree and stole two trucks, a car, a four-wheeler, and a forklift, according to the Volusia County Sherriff's Office.  Harrington told police that hw was just ouot "swimming" with his "old lady." was looking for a ride to the store. was k ocking on a door to ask for water, and that he "didn't do nothing."  Evidentlyk there were also some shoes that were stolen but the news reports did not go into that.
  • An unidentified Florida Man, in his twenties, has been hospitalized after jumping into the jaguar cage at the Jacksonvill Zoo and Gardens.  He was evidently taunting the jaguar and the jaguar, just as evidently, did not like that.
  • Florida Teen Rafael Woloski, 18, of Vero Beach, has, if not an alibi. at least an explantion as to why he burgled a number of homes in his neighborhood.  He was told to commit the felonies by Satan himself, and to use the ill=gotten gains to pay for college.  Well, in that case, sir...
  • Florida Man PJ Nilaha Patterson will stand trial for beating and torturing an iguana to death.  Patterson will be relying on a "stand your ground" defense.

The Right Stuff:
  •  Boy raises $700K for hosp[ice by camping out for 500 nights after a dying man gave him a tent
  • 10-year-old boy inspires the world to donate half a million books for kids
  • New film tells the inspiring story of the fastest blind man in the world
  • Life saving treatment for heart attacks found in venom of poison spider
  • Wisconsin town falls in love with a wayward beach ball
  • Target is offering debt-free degrees to more than 340,000 Target team workers
  • And Walmart announces plan to pay 100% of college tuition plus nooks for its workers
  • Real-life Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star discovered found
  • Israeli woman donates kidney to 3-year-old Palestinian boy in Gaza
  • And from the August 20, 2021 edition of The Week:  Envirnmental activist Garrett Stuart, known as "Captain Planet." is installing artificial reefs in Sarasota, Florida.  Each reef provides a home for 300 fish and 200 crabs a year and purifies some 30,000 gallons of water a day...and the reef critters fight the bloom of red tide.

Today's Poem:

My dolphin, you guide me by surprise,
a captive as Racine, a man of craft,
drawn through his maze of iron composition
by the incomparable wandering voice of Phadre.
When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body
caught in its hangman's knot of sinking lines,
.the glassy bowing and scraping of my will
I have sat and listened to too many
words of the collaborating muse,
and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,

not avoiding injury to others,
not avoiding injury to myself...
to ask compassion...this book, half fiction,
an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting

My eyes have seen what my hands did

-- Robert Lowell

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