Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, August 21, 2022


Openers:  If you are going to understand this story, you have got to visualize his eyes as I saw them there in that Mexicali dance hall.

I have gazed into the eyes of a swaying rattlesnake.  I have seen the eyes of a mountainn lion reflect a phosphorescent green from the darkness beyond my camp fire.  i have watched the eyes of a killer, crazed with blood lust, his hand clawing for the holstered weapon at his side.

But I have never seen eyes that affected me as did the eyes of the man who sought me out there in that place which is known as "Catina Gold Dollar Bar."

His eyes were gray, but not the gray of the desert.  It was as though his eyes had been washed with aluminum paint.  They glittered with a metallic luster, and they seemed to be all the same color -- if you could call it a color.

When he got closer, I saw that the pupils were little pin-points.  You had to look close  to see them.  And the whites of the eyes had the same metallic luster; the same appearance of having been coated with alluminum paint.

Those eyes gave me the creeps.

-- "The Man with the Pin-Ppint Eyes" by Erle Stanley Gardner (from Argosy, January 10, 1931; reprinted in The Human Zero:  The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner, edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, 1981)

Our narrator is Sidney Rane, a young man who had moved to the Southwest for health reasons years before.  Hr is understood to know more about the desert than any man living.  The man with the pin-point eyes is Emilio Bender, a professional hypnotist with a shaky reputation.  Bender enlists Rane to help him on a search for Spanish gold that had been lost in the desert for 300 years.  It seems Bender had been experimenting with past life regression (although it's never clled that in the story) and hit pay dirt with one subject -- a half-breed Mexican with a "low forehead, black eyes, thick lips," and a surly look.  Under hypnosis the man became Pablo Viscente de Moreno, an arrogant, imperialist, amoral soldier who served under General Diego de Vargas in 1692, who had followed Vargas into the New Mexico desert to conquer the territory for Spain from the native Indians/  Of course, to "conquer" meant to loot and kill.  Vargas and company -- including Moreno -- met their bloody end at the hands of Indians in a hidden, secret cave somewhere in the desert, leaving behind a cache of looted gold.

The Mexican, when his personality was overtaken by the Spanish merccenary, had no concept of time passing and did not realize he had been killed in the battle.  Bender takes him and, guided by Rane, enter the desert to find the lost cave, with each agreeing to split the loot three ways.  (I can't find any real reason why Bender chose to take Rane along on this expedition.  The conquistador personality was easily able to locate the secret cache from landmarks so Rane was never really needed, but logic does not necessarily prevail in pulp adventure stories.)  Bender appears to be motivated strictly by greed, overpowering any common sense -- determined to reach his goal as quickly as possible he pushes his jeep to the limits, overheating and melting the engine, and once inside the cave, he uses his already weak flashlight indiscriminately so that he drains it of power.

Anyway, the find the cave and the Moreno personality finds his old bloody sword, stillin the hands of his centuries-old corpse.  The firt trasure chest they encounter are empty, filled with dust, the gold having been taken some time in the distant past by the native Indians.  Rane had heard of a group of Indians, disctncly separate for other natives of the area and far more primitive, who lived isolated in a "sacred cavern."  The Indians attack, captured the three men, binnd them, and ready them for sacrifice.  Bender uses his hypnotic powers to help the escape, but before they leave the cavern, the Moreno personality revolts, declaring that he will not share "his" treasure with the others.  He attacks Bender and slays him with the conquistador's centuries-old sword.  As Rane and the Mexican leave the cave, the old Spanish personality fades away -- with the death of Bender, the hypnotic spell that had brought the reincarnated personaily to the fore faded and "Pablo Viscente de Moreno" was no more.  The poor Mexican half-breed "woke" up confused and with no memory of his past personality or of what had happened.

Gardner (1889-1970) was one of the world's best-selling authors, best known as the creator of Perry Mason, as well as the author of the Bertha Cool-Donald Lam mysteries and the D.A. Doug Selby series.  Before concentrting on full-length novels, he had been a pulp fiction machine, witing hundreds of popular mystery and adventure stories and creating such characters as Lester Leith, Sydney Zoom, The Phantom Crook Ed Jenkins, The Human Fly Speed Dash, The Patent Leather Kid, Bob Zane, Ken Corning, among others.  In the late 1940s Gardner, working with Argosy magazine, established the "Court of Last Resort," with investigated wrongful criminal convictions.

His seven science fiction stories, included in The Human Zero, were fast-paced pulp adventures written for Argosy from 1928 through 1932 and eist mainly as curiosities.  Several of them are mystery stories with a thin veneer of sience fictional trappings.  One, "Rain Magic," is based on a story that an old prospector told Gardner during one of his desert trips.   Several are adventure stories using a fantastic background to propel the plot, and two are riffs on themes originated by H. G. Wells and others.  Derivative as these tales are, they still make good escapist reading -- the type that was the meat of many pulp magazines.

Incoming:   A fairly long list covering books that came in over the past few months...

  • Isaac Asimov, Of Matters Great and Small.  Npnfiction collection of  sixteen of Asimov's siene essays for F&SF, plus one essay from Science Digest.
  • Lawrence Block, editor (the book's copyright is shared with Martin H. Greenberg's Tekno Books) - Master's Choice.  This is kind of a "twofer" anthology.  Nine of the best writers in the mystery/crime/suspense genre -- Stephen King, Peter Lovesey, Harlan Ellison, Ed Gorman, Joan Hess, John Lutz, Bill Pronzini, Tony Hillerman, and Lawrence Block -- each present a "story I'm proud I wrote," followed immediately by the "story I wish I had written" by a different author; these other authors are Joyce Carol Oates, Donald E. Westlake, Jacques Futrelle. Stephen Crane, Judith Garner, W. H. Harvey, Benjamin Appel. Joe Gores, and John O'Hara.  Some familiar tales mixed in here but there's enough variety and lesser-known stories to keep one happily turning the pages.
  • "Jim Case" (Stephen Mertz), Cody's Army.  The first in the self-titled men's action adventure series that ran to seven books.  '"The sequence was familiar.  Another jet hijackd to Lebanon.  Once again America held hostage by fnatic rebels.  And just to prove they meant business the terrorists dragged two innocent passengers out on the tarma and shot them in cold blood.  That's when John Cody and his men got on the scene,  Their mission was to free the hostages.  But Cody wasn't going to stop there.  This time he had to make sure it didn't happen again.  And there was only one way to do that,  The hard way.  The bloody way."
  • Jack Dann, The Man Who Melted.  Science fiction novel, "the stunning odyssey of a man searching through the glittering, apocalyptic landscape of the next cntury for a woman lost to him in a worldwide outbeak of telepathic fear.  Filled with passionate humanity and writing of the highest order, it is an important and resonant work by an exceptinally talented writer."  A finalist for the 1985 Nebuka Award for Best Novel.
  • Lester del Rey, editor, Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year:  Fifth Annual Collection.  Ten short stories from 1975; authors include Poul Anderson, Clifford D. Simak, Joan D. & Vernor Vinge and Hayford Pierce (twice!).  Following Donald A. Wollhem and Terry Carr's departures from Ace Books, the mantle for the company's best science fiction of the year collection went first to Frederik Pohl (one year), then to Forrest J. Ackerman (one year), then to Lester del Rey (five years), and finally to Gardner Dozois (five years). Over the seventeen years (1965-1981) covered by the Ace Best anthologies, a lot of good tales were printed
  • Samuel R. Delaney, The Bridge of Lost Desire.  A collection of three novellas chronicling the epic of Gorgik the Liberator in Delaney's intricately imagined fantasy world of  Neveryon.
  • David Drake and Bill Fawcett, editors, The Fleet, Book 2:  Counter Attack and The Fleet, Book 4:  Sworn Allies,  Shared world military SF anthologies detailing the was between the Alliance and the ruthless Khalian invaders.Book 2 contains 12 stories from Jody Lynn Nye, Judith R. Conly, Janny Wurts, Robert Sheckley, Shariann Lewitt, Piers Anthony, Mike Resnick, Bill Fawcett, Janet Morris, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and David Drake, with "interludes" by Bill Fawcett/  Book 4 has 10 stories by Poul Anderson, Anne McCaffrey, Bill Fawcett, N. Lee Wood, Larry Niven & David Drake, Janet Morris, Diane Duane & Peter Morwood, Jody Lynn Nye, David Drake, and Christopher Stasheff, again with "interluded" provided by Fawcett.  Often I find this kind of project repetitive but, given the quality of many of the authors, I'm willing to give these a try.
  • Carol Emshwiller, Mister Boots,  YA fantasy.  "Bobby Lassiter has some important secrets -- but it's not as if anyone's payng attention.  It's the middle of the Depression, and while Bobby's mother and older sister knit all day to make money, Bobby explores the California desert around their home.  That's how Bobby finds Boots.  He's under their one half-dead tree, half-dead himself.  Right away he's a secret, too -- a secret to be fed and clothed and taken care of, and even more of a secret because of what he can do.  Sometime Boots is a man.  Sometimes he's (really, truly) a horse.  He and Bobby know something about magic -- and those who read this book will too."
  • Vardis Fisher, The Golden Rooms.  The second (of twelve) novels in Fisher's "Testiment of Man" series, chronicling the spiritual and social history of the human race.  "They walked naked and unashamed.  They sated their lust in sexual orgies.  They drank the blood of their enemies.  This is the brutal story of primitive men and women who lusted and loved, hunted and killed with wild animal abandon and with no sense of shame."  Written in the 40s and  successfuly reprinted in paperback in the 60s, few people remember this best-selling series.  In the late 60s I owned the entire series but the books went walkabout over the years and I never got around to reading them,  That may be just as well; I'll give this one a try soon and see.
  • "George Gilman"  (Terry Harkness), Edge #25:  Violence Trail.  An entry in the over-the-top violent adult western n the cult series that ran to 61 titles.  "Edge begins and incredible trip to the Mexican border in a wagon carrying a slowly dying man, his beautiful daughter, and angry son.  There are just a few obstacles:  their path through the wilderness is on a collision course with the Shoshone nation.  If warring Indians weren't enough there is one other problem:  they're riding in a wagon  containing a fortune in gold.  Though well camouflaged it soon lures the violent and greedy from both sides of the border.  With Edge riding shotgun, the wagon cuts a bloody trail through singing arrows and silent bullets.  A vehicle of violence, a beautiful woman, and death on the backtrail -- Edge is riding again!"
  • Frank Gruber, Peace Marshall.  Western.  "Wild, drunk, gun-toting men, great droves of Texas cattle bawling down the main street, greedy land grabbers from the East, fancy ladies from everywhere, saloons and crooked gambling halls -- that was the town of Broken Lance, astraddle the Chisholm trail, where killings were common as rotgut whiskey.  Broken Lance needed a peace marshall, needed him bad.  But only one man on the great Plains was gunfighter enough to pacify Broken Lance -- John Bonniwell.  And Bonniwell had hung up his guns, sworn never to shoot another man for pay."  Filmed twice, fisrt as The great Missouri Raid (1951) and later that same year as WarpathTown Tamer.  Another western.  "Tom Rosser was a lawman with his gun to hire.  H had worked in the great booms towns, Dodge, Ogllala, cheyene, in murderous days when a man was every hour, on the hour.  But Great Plains was all of them rolled together.  Every gambler, gunfighter, short-card man and thief inthe West was here.  They hired Rosser to keep the peace, but he had a score to even.  Rosser was going to kill a  man -- the man who owned Great Plains."  Filmed in 1965, with Gruber playing a minor role as a hotel clerk.  (And what a cast!  Dana Andrews, Terry Moore, Par O'Brien, Lon Chaney Jr., Bruce Cabot, Richard Arlen, Barton MacLane, Richard Jaeckel, Phil Carey, Sunny Tufts, Coleen Gray, DeForrest Kelley,Jeanne Cagney,  "Red" Barry, Richard Webb, James Brown, and Bob Steele -- watching it now is like every scene is a walk down memory lane.)   
  • Adam Nevill, Banquet for the Damned,  Horror novel.  "Few believed Professor Coldwell could commune with spirits.  But in Scotland's oldest university town somethig has emerged from the shadows and is stalking the streets.  Now the young are being haunted by night terrors and those inflicted are disappearing.  This is certainly not a place for outsiders, especially at night.  So what chance do a rootless musician and a burned-out explorer have at surviving an entanglement with a ruthless, supernatural evil and the secretive cult that serves it?  This chilling occult thriller is both an homage to the great age of British ghost stories and a pacy modern tale of diabolism and witchcreft."
  • Andre Norton, The White Jade Fox.  Fantasy/"gothic" romance; instead of a frightened girl running away from an old house with one lit window on a dark and stormy night, we have her and a white fox carefully treading their way down stone steps away from a pagoda.  "Saranna had heard rumors about Tiensin...the strange old mansion with its oriental treasures.  She had heard it was haunted.  Now with her own eyes she had seen it was true.  The macabre circle of small foxes ringing the dancer in the secret garden, the mysterious robed woman with a fox's face.  Has Saranna really seen them?  Or had she dreamed it?  Saranna had gone to Tiensin under protest.  Her spoiled neie, Honora, had forced her to become a governress for her stepdaughter, Damaris.  Never had Saraana encounted anyone as thoroughly evil as Honora.  She was beautiful, and she could pull the wool over any man's eyes.  But she could not deceive Sanarra.  Or Damaris, whom she was planning to cheat out of a huge inheritance.  Even the handsome and trustworthy Gerrad Fowkes seemed to be taken with the deceitful young stepmother.  Saranna knew now that the future held great danger for her and Damaris.  She needed desperately to talk to someone.  But there was no one.  Except Gerrad Fowkes.  Or was he too enamored of Honora to believe Saranna?"  I really think someone needs a lesson in writing back cover copy.
  • Jerry Pournelle, creator, with the "editorial assistance" of John F. Carr and Roland Green - War World, Volume II:  Death's Head Rebellion.  Another military SF shared world series, following the devastating effects of the War between the First Empire of Man and the Saurian Supermen, the few surviving Saurians head to the planet Haven hoping to eliminate the human inhabitants.  For their part, the humans are pretty stubborn.  Nine stories by Don Hawthorne, Roland Green & John F. Carr, G. C. Edmondson, Larry Niven, John LeValley, James Landau, Martin Tays, Harry Turtledove, and Susan Schwartz, with an uncredited brief coda at the end of the volume.
  • Bill Pronzini, Small Felonies 2.  Mystery collection of 50 short-short stories.  Pronzini is a national treasure for the mystery fan.  Three "Nameless Detective" stories are among this "slumgullion" of short-shorts.  More than 20 of the stories have appeared in previous Pronzini collection, but that should not stop anyone from enjoying this book. Pronzini writes:  "I can't claim to have achieved the level of accomplishment of such masters of the form as Fredric Brown, Gerald Kersh, and Jack Ritchie,,,"  I humbly disagree.  Pronzini is that good.
  • James Reasoner, Texas Wind.  Reasoner's debut novel, considered by many to be one of the best private eye novels ever written.  "When Cody, a Texas private investigator, is hired to look into what should be a straightforward missing person case, he soon realizes that he's taken on more than he bargained for,  The facts surrounding the disappearance of Fort Worth businessman's daughter Mandy Traft, are far from clear.  Did she run off with her boyfriend?  Or has she been kidnapped?  With each step Cody takes, the case beccomes inceasingly dangerous.  Before long, he's been warned off, and bodies are starting to tumble.  He knows he should get out while he still can.  But he can't.  Not until he fnds Mandy/"
  • John Russo, Day Care.  Horror novel.  'He's a good puppet.  He does what they say.  But he's programmed for terror and someone will pay...The Academy.  It's every parent's dream, truning their little darlings into geniuses, superachievers, perfect little children.  And if there's a problem, the Academy fie that too.  It's a simple solution.  Just a little device.  Then a teeny pink car on a tender little skull.  One boy knew the secret.  Now he wants his mind back.  But it is much, much too late.  Too late for anything but the ugly feelings.  The bad feelings.  The messy sexy feelings.  The knife-cold hated, the murderous rage, for total, screaming, blood-drenching revenge."  Russo is a screenwriter, director, and actor, probably best know for co=writing The Night of th Living Dead with George Romaro.  During the mid-Seventies through the Eighties, he published a number of popular paperback horror novels drawing on the modern horror film tradition.
  • Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, editors - Liavek and Liavek:  Wizard's Row.  The the first and the third (of five) in a series of shared-world fantasy anthologies, a la  Asprin and Abbey's Thieves' World  series.  The first book introduces us to Liavek, "City of Luck on the Cat River, cosmopolitan hub of subtle intrique and wild fortune, Liavek is the fantastic capital of art and adventure, caravans and culture, diplomacy...and dark magic!  Come to Liavek.  Gene Wolfe, Steven Brust, Jane Yolen, Patricia C. Wrede and the most exciting new writers in fantasy are here to guide you through humor, horror, and incredible adventures in the vanishing houses of Wizard's Row and the sailors' dives of Two-Copper Bazaar.  Sea trolls, green cats, blue chipmunks -- and demon camels.  Learn secrets of love and hidden fortune.  Meet painted ladies, bejewelled assassins, Scarlet Priests, necromantic critics, a whip-wielding boutique owner -- and wizards.  Come, Liavek awaits."  Ten stories.  In addition to the four mentioned above, the other authors are Emma Bull, Nancy Kress, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean, Megan Lindholm, Will Shetterly, and Barry B. Longyear.  As for the other volume:  "So you want to be a wizard?  Even in Liavek, not everyone can be a wizard.  The training is arduaous.  The risks are high.  But the rewarfds are tremendous for those who can master the wild magics that surge through the streets of Liavek, from the Levar's palace to lowly bakeries, from toyshops to pleasure houses, just remember, aspiring wizards, that magic, once loosened, cannot be recalled..."  Eight stories, and four "songs."  Authors are Megan Lindholm and Steven Brust, John M. Ford, Pamla Dean, Kara Dalkey, Bradley Denton, Caroline Stevermer, Alan Mooer, Nancy Kress, and Jane Yolan.
  • Robert Silverberg, four books from Stark House, all early erotic paperbacks first published from 1959-1965:  Connie/Meg.  First published under the pseudonym "Loren Beauchamp," the first book in this volume tells of teen-age Connie who "has her life all mapped out.  She and John will go steady until she joins him at college.  Then after graduation, they will be married.  John will begin law school, and there will be three children, a pretty little home on Long Island and a trip to europe...but all that changes the night she is kidnapped by a gang of young toughs, taken to an old warehouse, and repeatedly raped.  John is hesitant and unncomfortable with her.  Her parents only want to send her away to live with her grandparents for a while.  With nothing left to lose, Connie decides to start getting even with the world."  The second book was also under the 'Loren Beauchamp" by-line and later republished as All the Best Beds by "Don Elliott".  "The night Meg loses her virginity she sees her Idaho life mapped out for her:  marriage to a farmer, a bunch of kids, old before her time.  But Meg has bigger dreams than that.  She knows the power her body has over men.  So she hops a bus for New York City and discovers a talent agent named Max Bonaventura who is so impressed by her bounteous figure that he decides to throw all his efforts into making her a star.  Sure, she might have to strip in fron of total strangers...she might have to sleep with a few guys to get there...but it'll be worth it.  Meg knows what she's doing, and Meg knows that anything is better than going back to Idaho.  Or is it?"  Killer is from Stark House's Black Gat publishing line, orignally published as Passion Killer by "Don Elliott."  "Howard Gorman has to have Marie all to himself.  She's everything he wants in a woman, and more.  In order to have Marie, he must first get rid of his wife, Ethyl.  So Howard hires a hit man, Lee Floyd, a polished professional, to do the job -- and remove Ethyl.  But Marie has plans of her own, and they don't involve Howard.  He's too fat and old for her.  Marie is only in it for the money.  So when she finds out about the hit man, she decides to get in touch with Lee herself.  After all, if he's been paid to shoot Howard's wife, perhaps he can be persuaded to get rid of Howard as well.."  Gang Girl/Sex Bum contains two novels first published as by "Don Elliott."  The first introduces us to Lora Menotti, "five feet five of concentrated sex, one hundred twenty-five pounds of undiluted viciousness.  She is sixteen.  she is deadly.  Her parentsk now it, and they are afraid of her.  ser older brother knows it, and he tried never to turn his back on her.  The other kids in the gang, the Scarlet Sinners, they know it, too.  They fear her, and because of that they respect her.  In a teen gang, fear equals respect.  There is no other law.  This is Lora's story, a girl who thrills at the thought of death, embraces sex with each new leader of the gang, and who controls her world the only way she can -- by pitting each member against the other, with her body as bait."  In the second book "Johnny Price has big plans.  Only 19, he knows what he wants, and he isn't going to find it delivering groceries in a small town in upstate New York.  So when he gets a chance to help a couple of local gangsters take out the competition, he jumps at the opportunity.  Suddenly he's in, a member of the Syndicate.  Now he's got plenty of money, a new car -- and lots of women.  And that suits him fine, because Johnny knows how to please them all.  But Johnny wants more -- more power, classier ladies -- like the slnk, sophisticated Marie.  But Marie is Rizzo's woman.  To take Marie, he has to go all the way to New York City.  And to get there, he has to betray his own bosses.  Good thing for Johnny he has a plan."  Lust Queen/Lust Victim.  Two more first published under the "Don Elliott" by-line.  The first was also reprinted under the title The Decadent.  "Joey Baldwin's got it made.  He's got a beautiful fiance, Lisa, and now he's got the perfect writer's commission as well.  All he has to do is pack up in New York and head for Los Angeles, where he will spent time with movie star Mona Thorne, who wants him to write her life story.  It's a sweet deal alright.  Mona moves him right into her mansion, and after a few drinks and a dip in the pool, she puts the real moves on him.  Joey's got it made alright.  Mona knows just what she wants, and she sinks her hooks in deep, spitfire temper and all.  Before long Joey doesn't know if he's living the fantsy or studding for love.  His life only gets more interesting when, after weeks of neglect, Lisa decides to visit..."  The second book was originally published under the title No Lust Tonight.  "Dave Lamson had been married for ten years to Moira, ten years of sexual wedded bliss.  Lamson is a lucky man and he knows it.  Then one night a burglar breaks into their house, overpowers Lamson and drags him upstairs to their bedroom, where he ties him up and makes him watch him rape his wife.  Later, after the police have left, Moira is still very fearful and nervous around him.  As the week goes on, her fear quickly turns to sexual frigitiy, and Lamson finds that besides suffering a terrible guilt, that she may even know the rapist.  His desire for Moira soon turns to frustration, and Lamson begins to take notice of the women around the office in a way he never had befoe.  Will Moira be able to overcome her fear, or is Lamson now doomed to a lustless marriage -- and an adulterer's heart?"  Silverberg was just one of many writers who earned their chops writing for the sleaze market before making it big in other areas of writing, including Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, John Jakes, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Bill Pronzini, and maybe-Dean Koontz*..  Other, such as Evan Hunter, entered the field later in their careers because of the quick easy money the market paid.
  • Charles Stross, The Jennifer Morgue.  The second book in the long-running Laundry Files series featuring Bob Howard, "geekish demonology hacker extraordinaire."  This time Bob has to stop a ruthless billionaire from raising an eldritch horror from the sea.  Lovecraft meets James Bond in this justly popular series.
  • Tim Waggoner, Like Death.  Horror novel.  "Scott Raymond is a man haunted by his past and terrorized in the present.  As a young boy, he witnessed the brutl murder of his family, but there is so much of the gruesome tragedy that he simply cannot remember -- including the identity of the killer or why Scott alone was spared.  The memories won't come, but the trauma won't go away.  Scott is an adult now, still emotionally scarred but learning to deal with it.  He has come to Ash Creek to write about a different mystery, a six-year-old girl named Miranda who disappeared in broad daylight one year ago.  Here, Scott meets another girl named Miranda, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the one who's missing -- but this one's a teenager.  She will draw Scott into the bizarre hidden world known as Shadow.  A world where nightmares are very real---and very deadly."
  • Joss Whedon, et al.  - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Volume 1.  Graphic novel compilation of stories that take place before Buffy the Vampire Slayer's first season.  Contains Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Spike & Dru #3, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  The Origin #1-3, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer #51-59.  The stories are scripted by Christohpher Golden, Dan Brereton, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicienza, and Paul Lee; pencils by Eric Powell, Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards, and Paul Lee.  Joss Whedon has been getting a bad rep lately (perhaps deservedly) because of his personal behavior, but that cannot diminish the love I have for Buffy and the Scooby Gang. 
  • Gahan Wilson, Everybody's Favorite Duck.  Pastiche.  "When the Professor (the fiendishly brilliant Napoleon of Crime), the Mandarin (the cruelly diabolical Chinese mastermind), and Spectrobert (the blackheartedly crafty French rogue) are spotted lunching at Manhattan's posh Le Rond-Point, the police department is baffled, the FBI is bewildered, the CIA is entirely up a tree.  What deviltry are they plotting?  Whose fate hangs in the balance?  How can the friends of justice stymie their plans?  Aid to the Forces of Good comes in the form of the formidably brilliant Enoch None (who bears more than a passing resemblance to one of fiction's greatest sleuths) and his irrepresssibly hard-boiled sidekick John Weston (ditto).  But the wily villains do not underestimate their opponents:  Bone and Weston are in short demoniacally booby-trapped kitchens, mutation-filled torture tunnels, and The Flying Purple Cloud of Destruction.  Will the combination of Bone's laser-sharp mind and Weston's quick trigger b8e enough to undo the evildoers?"  Great fun.
* Koonz is now denying that he wrote the several dozen soft-core books credited to him, saying they were written by an unnamed person without his knowledge or permission.  That same unnamed person also gave a number of published interviews as "Koonz."   Koontz claims to know who this person is and will reveal the name when (and if) he publishes his autobiography.  Yeah, right.

Air Raid:  Today marks the anniverary of the first known air raid in history, some 173 years ago.  when Austria launched pilotless balloons aginst the city of Venice in 1849.  Venice had lost its ndependence in 1797 when Napoleon conquered the city in the War of the First Coalition that raged through Europe between 1792 and 1797.  The Jewish population of venice saw Napoleaon as a hero since he removed the gates to the Ghetto and lifted travel restrictions for Jews.  Five months later, Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio, which ceded Venice to the Austrians.  Austria took control of the city the following January, holding it until 1805.  Venice was returned to Austria in 1814 when it became b]art of Austria's Kingdom of Lombardy-Venitia.  A short-lived revolt briefly re-established the Venetian Republic in 1848.

(It is here, in my mind's eye, that I picture Montgomery Burns saying, "Release the balloons, Smithers!")

In any event, the balloons may have worked because Venice was again under Austrian rule later inn 1849.  It remained so until the Third War of Italian Independence in 1866, when the city became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

A Conversation with My 10-Year-Old Grandson:  (In the mornig, just before I drove him to school)

Me:  Jack, what did you learn in school yesterday?

Jack:  Evidently not enough.  I have to go back today.

Ew...  Looking to purchase a "designer vagina"?  It's evidently a new trend but will cost you $4000 and up.  

A bit of clarification.  First, this is something I never expected to report on, but it's making news in some outlets.  Second, to purchase a designer vagina, you forst need to have a non-designer one, so we Y-chromosome dudes are not eligible.  Third, vaginal surgery -- including plastic surgery -- can be a necessary treatment for a number of serious conditions; we're not talking about those here.  Fourth, ew...

Okay.  With that out of the way, it turns out that labiaplasties (operations that shrink the labia minora) are on the rise.  Dr. John Skevofila, a chief surgeon at Signatures clinic in the UK, reported that last year he performed only 50 labiaplasties; this year he has eeeded that number and it's only August.  And plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Swift noted that there has been a significant uptick in the procedure sine 2015.  The culprit?  According to Dr. Swift is "ubiquitous activewear" -- a perhaps medical term meaning tight jeans or yoga pants.  As the fashion for these tight jeans grow, so does so does the number of women who feel discomfort or pain as the clthing rubs against or puts pressure on their private parts.  Add to this a desire to eliminate the appearance of what is termed "camel toe," more and more women are choosing the knife or the laser in the battle of fashion over comfort.

Now here's where it gets a bit personal.  You didn't really thin  we could approach this subject without referring to the Kardashians, did you?  Kim Kadashian's SKIMS brand of body suits were designed with no consideration given to those with "bigger vaginas," according to her sister Khloe, who has joyfully described her own private parts.  In response, "Kim" redesigned  (and if you think she did the design work herself, I've got a bridge -- or at least a MAGA hat -- I want to sell you) the clothing to make the body suit "more suitable for all labia sizes."  Sadly, not all brands are willing to make the same compromise, but to the profit of a number of vaginal plastic surgeons.

Even as I get older, I never cease to wonder at the things I learn from the internet.

NOTE:  2:31 Central Time.  Got a message that Blogger has blocked today's post because it violates their community standands.  Hmm.  Problem is that they do not say what community standards have been violated, only that the offensive part must be corrected before the post is unblocked.  Blogger also relies, in part, on people reporting whether a post is what they deem offensive, which raises a lot of serious questions about the political and social mileau we find ourselves in today.  (For a far more drastic -- and horrifying -- example, see the current issue [Augist 26, 2022] of The Week magazine, which has an article "When the neighbors drive you out," adapted from 'Code Snitching," which was originally punlished in Nashville Scene.  Brr.

Since this section of taday's post is the one most likely to get soneone's panties in  bunch, I'm going to assume this is the anti-ommuniyt standard part of today's post that is deemed offensive.  Inmy defense I can only say that everything covered above came straight from multiple major newsoutlets and I stand by the content and my right to report it.  Perhaps this explanation will be enough for Blogger tolife their ban.  We'll see.

ANOTHER NOTE:  4:30 am.  I just checked and I have been unblocked.  Hmm.  Tempest in a teapot, perhaps?

Pecan Torte     Today is National Pecan Torte Day!  

Pecans are a favorite.  They are great.  They are yummy.  But they ar so dearned expensive!  Which is why it may be wise to hold Pecan Torte Day to merely one day.

Anyway, here are some recipes should you have the desire (and the cooking chops) to celebrate:

Pecan torte with bourbon whiupped cream:

Toasted pecan torte with butterscotch topping:

Strawberry pecan torte:

Chocolate pecan torte:

And for the purists:

Happy Birthday, Shirley Feeney!  You may want to make an extra pecan tort and ent it long to Cindi Williams today for her birthday.  The Laverne and Shirley actress celebrtes her 75th birthday today.

Other virgos sharing today as a birthday include Denis Paipn (the French physicist who developed pressure cooking, born 1647), James Kirke Paulding (writer, poet, and one-time Secretary of the Navy -- see Today's Poem, below, born 1778), Melville Eiljah Stone (founder of the Chicago Daily News, born 1848), Claude Debussy (often viewed as the first impressionist composer, although he rejected that terms\, born 1862), German author and poet "Gorch Fock" (real name Johann Wilhelm Kinau, but the pseudomyn is a much cooler name, don't you think?, born 1880), Krazy Kat creator George Herriman (born 1880), Algonquin Round Table wit Dorothy Parker (born 1893), historian and New England coastal folklorist Edward Rowe Snow (born 1902), cartoonist Jerry Iger (who partnered with Will Eisner to form Eisner & Iger, a major comics packager, born 1903), French photographer and painter Henri Cartier-Bresson (born 1908), Bluesman John Lee Hooker (born 1917), writing legend and boy who never really grew up Ray Bradbury (born 1920), pioneering heart surgeon Denton Colley (born 1920), Pussy Galore and Cathy Gale of The Avengers portrayer Honor Blackman (born 1926), actress Valerie Harper (born 1939), Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski (born 1939) "Big Tuna" Bill Parcells (the only NFL coach to led four difference franchises to the playoffs and three to conference championships (born 1941), actor Colme Feore (born 1958), country singer Collin Rye (born 1960), singer-songwriter Tori Amos (born 1963), actress and comedian Kristin Wiig (born 1973), Carpool Karaoke guy James Cordon (born 1978), and singer-songwriter Dua Lipa (born 1995).

This Is a Joke, I Think:    I'm not good at math.  If I had fifty cents for every time I flunked a math test, I'd have $6.35 now.

And One in Bad Taste:  I called a suicide hotline in Iraq.  They got excited and asked if I could drive a truck.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man and Republican candidate for the House Luis Miguel has been permanently suspended from Twitter for advocating that all  Floridians be able to shoot FBI, IRS, ATFand other federal troops on sight.  Miguel has doubled down on his stance, saying that it is justified because the IRS has been "weaponized by dissident forces."  His call  to violence is evidently still posted on Instagram.  This is not considered a big news story here because Florida, land of Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis.  **sigh**
  • Speaking of DeSantis, his "anti-Woke" campaign is getting pushback in the Courts for the silly reason that it is blatently unconstitutional.
  • And speaking of Gsetz, who is under invetigtion for sex trafficking, was one of twenty Republicans to vote aginst a bill combatting sex trafficking.  Geta also made headlines when he recently targeted a 19-year-old abortions rights advocate online with bullying and body shaming comments.  The teenager than used his remarks against her to raise $50,000 for abortion rights groups.  Gaetz has incurred the wrath of a group labelling themselves "Women Against Matt Gaetz."  The group reently painted Pensacola's famed "Graffitti Bridge" bright pink in protest to Gaetz and have called on Congress to prohibit Gaetz's contact with minors.  Gaetz's main primary opponent, Mark Lombardo (who is no great shakes himself), has consistently challenged Gaetz on moral and ethical issues, and recently aired an ad that implied the Gaetz may have been the "inside mole" behind the FBI's search of Mar-a-Largo. 
  • Ocala Florida Man Corey Jphnson, 29, has been arrested after stealing car in an attempt to access the Patrick Space Force Base..  He said that the president told him, through his mnd, to wardn officials about a battle between aliens and dragons.
  • Not to be outdone, St. Petersburg Florida Man Darryl Eugene McKinney was arrested after he cut off his ankle monitor, which he had to wear following a drug arrest in 2021.  McKinney said that President Biden told him to cut it off.   He also said that his attorney and the judge told him he could remove it (they didn't) and that, as a Seminole Indian, he should not have to wear it anyway.
  • 51-year-old Florida Woman Carla Jefferson has been arrested for calling 911 at least 12,512 times this year (and it's only August).  Jefferson, it is alleged, did not call for police or emergency services but to "to harass, to cuss, and to just plain degrade the call takers."
  • Florida Couple Bret Berland and Jennifer Thompson were evicted from their home in Hialeah for nonpayment of rent.  What to do in that case?  Well, he was arrested for burning down the huse; she, according to officials, is still on the run. 
  • Florida Man Joseph Stekler, 77, is accused of terrorizing multiple neighbors with a gun, hurling racial epithets, and abusing his position as a homeowners association president.   Residentss told police that Steckler had abused his power for years; people who opposed Steckler wer charged with unreasonable fees by the homeowners association and receiving orders to comply with "draconian measures" such as taking down an American flag.
  • The Sarasota Police Department has issued a plea that people not interfer with mating manatees/  It seems a number of lookie-loos believe it is cool to get up close, and even to touch, the manatees in th act.  To which, I can only say, "Only in Florida."  Manatees are listed as "vulnerable" under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Florida Man and Pastor Enginio Dali Muniz-Colon of Kissimmee has been arrsted for msturbating on the patio at a local Starbucks.  Police said he has had arrests on similar charges in the same area.  Muni-Colon teaches an online ministry class.   

Good News:
  • Farmer thrives by growing gluten-free grain needing no water during drought
  • Genetic heart conditions could be cured for the first time by a single jab -- it's a "defining moment"
  • Family is reunited by message in a bottle written by their late son decades ago
  • Snacking on grapes may add four to five years to,lifespans of those eat a high-fat diet
  • 22-year-old man found a baby abandoned in a trash can and decides to become its father
  • 7-year-old Massiah is a hero after rescuing a drowning r-year-old -- all on his own
  • Ukrine photo of nesting storks returning home becomes a symol of hope for the country

Today's Poem:
from The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle

The way was long, though 'twas not cold
But the poor bard was weak and old,
And carried, scor'd upon his front,
Of many a year the long account.
His Fiddle sole remaining pride
Hung dangling down his ragged side,
In faded bag of flannel green,
Through which the well carv'd head was seen
Of gaping lion, yawning wide,
In regal pomp of beastly pride.
The last of all the race was he,
Who charm'd the ear with tweedle dee.
For lack-a-day!  full well I ween
The happy times he once had seen,
When in the merry capering days
Of olden time he tun'd his lays.
'Mong gallant lads, or jolly sailors,
And play'd "the de'el among the tailors,"
Had given place to other glee,
And different strains of harmony.
"The bigots of this iron time
"Had called his harmless art a crime;"
And now, instead of dance and song
Pricking the night's dull pace along,
And sprightly gambols deftly play'd
By rustic lad and gleeful maid,
And all that decks the cheek of toil,
With nature's warm and heartfelt smile,
No sound is heard borne on the gale,
In village lone or rural dale,
But canting, whining, nasal notes,
Twanging through hoarse and froggy throats,
Ascending to the startled sky,
Mocking the ear of deity
With nonsense blasphemous and wild;
While wretches, of their peace beguil'd,
Scare the dull ear of drowsy night,
With screams that boding screech owls fright,
And hollow moans, that seem to flow
From damned souls in shades below.
Love-feasts are held at midnight's hour,
When fancy wields her protest power,
And to the trembling wretch's eyes
Sepulchres ope, and spectres rise,
Gaunt forms, and grisly shapes appear,
And sweet religion turns to fear.
A fiddler now, no wight so poor,
May beg his bread from door to door,
Nor tune to please a peasant's ear,
Thesse notes that blithe King Cole might hear.

-- James Kirke Palding
(the poem in five cantos was published as "supposed to be written by W___ S___. Esq."

1 comment:

  1. If Jack is clever enough to come up with that comment,he may not need to return to school. Have never read a single ESG book. I associated it too much with my mother's reading and scorned it as a child. I should go back and try one.