Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, January 29, 2023


Openers:  Nights on the Cuban blockade were long, at times exciting, often dull.  The men on the small leaping dispatch-boats became as intimate as if they had all been buried in the same coffin.  Correspondents, who in New York, had passed as fairly good fellows sometimes turned out to be perfect rogues of vanity and selfishness, but still more often the conceited chumps of Park Row became the kindly and thoughtful men of the Cuban blockade.  Also each correspondent told all he knew, and sometimes more.  For this gentle tale I am indebted to one of the brightening stars of New York journalism.

"Now, this is how I imagined it happened.  I don't say it happened this way, but this is how I imagine it happened.  and it always struck me as being a very intersting story.  I hadn't been on the paper very long, but just about long enough to get a good show, when the city editor suddenly gave me this sparkoing murder assignment."

-- Stephen Crane, "An Illusion in Red and White"  (a posthumous work, apparently written around 1899 and perhaps completed/revised after his death in 1900 by his mistress/common-law wife Cora Taylor, who deemed herself "Mrs. Stephen Crane"; from Crane's collection The Monster, British edition, 1901 -- which added this and three other stories to the 1899 American edition)

A very short story of murder nd brain-washing by an author who not only represented the Realism tradition, but also the nascent America Naturalism and Impressionism traditions.  Remarkably prolific during his short life (he died at age 28 of pulmopnary disease) Crane is condiered one of the most innovative writers of the 1890s.  His novels The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets are considered classics, as are such stories as "The Open Boat," "The Blue Hotel," and "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" -- all of which are well worth reading.

An Illusion in Red and White was made into a short film in 2014.  Take a look:


  • William Pater Blatty, Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane.  Almost Gothic-like novel.  "ANights grotesque old mansion, a group of seeming madmen, and psychologist Hudson Kane.  The stage is set.  The players have arrived,  But who are the patients and who is the doctor?  And why has a deceased horror star's mansion become a citdel of one of America's most closely guarded secrets?"  Blatty later heavily revised this novel as The Ninth Configuration.
  • Jay Bonansinga, Frozen.  Horror/thriller novel.  "Deep in the Alaskan wilderness. a mummified body is discovered in the ice, the victim of a bizarre ritualistic killing that happened six thousand years ago.  For journalist Maura County, this story is her ticket to the big time -- if she can get the help of the FBI's top criminal profiler.  Special Agent Ulysses Grove is the best of the best -- a born manhunter.  He's also a man on the edge, haunted by both personal tragedy and a recent spate of horrific, unsolved homicides.  Now, in a remote lab, he's about to make a shocking discovery.  Everything about the prehistoric murder -- signature, M.O., the tiniest of details -- matches up with the serial lkiller who has eluded Grove for months.  As past and present collide, County and Grove are plunged into a nightmare journey that will take them into the darkest reaches of the human heart as they try to stop a cycle of evil as eternal and powerful as time tiself."  This is the first of two books featuring Ulysses Grove.
  • Eric Brown, Necropath.  Hard science fiction novel, the second of four in the Bengal Station series.  "Bengal Station:  an exotic spaceport that dominates the ocean between India and Burma.  Jaded telepath Jeff Vaughan is employed by the spaceport authorities to monitor incoming craft for refugees from other worlds.  When he discovers a sinister cult that worships a mysterious alien god. he's drawn into a deadly investigation.  Not only must he attempt to solve the murders, but he has to save himself from the psychopath out to kill him."  (I think the blurb writer for this book could have done much better.)  The copyright page states "Portions of this novel were previously published as Bengal Station," presumably the first book in the series.
  • M. R. Carey, Fellside.  Fantasy novel.  "Fellside is a maximum security prison on the dge of the Yorkshire moors.  It's not the kind of place you want to end up.  But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.  It's a place where even the wlls whisper.  And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.  Will she listen?"  The book jacket hints strngly that this is a sequel to Carey's best-selling The Girl With All the Gifts.  Hinting is all it can do, because the book is not a sequel, nor, as far as I could tell, is it related in any way to that sequence.  **sigh**  As Mike Carey, the author writes the polular Felix Casto series of novels about a free-lance exorcist.  A prolific comic book writer, Carey created the Neil Gaiman spin-off series Lucifer (75 issues, and basis of the television show) and had significant runs writing Hellblazer (40 issues) and X-Men:  Legacy (53 issues, if I counted correctly), among many other titles.
  • Ann Cleeves, The Moth Catcher.  A DI Vera Stanhope mystery, the seventh of ten novels in the series (thus far).  "Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland.  Then a shocking discovery shatters the dream.  The owners of a local country estate have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they're away.  But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane leading into the valley.  DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene with her detectives, Holly and Joe.  When they look around the big house, Vera finds the body of a second man.  All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths -- and with catching these beautiful, intriguing creatures.  The others who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too, and as Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that the secrets trapped here may be deadly..."  This novel was one of those televised for the ITV television show.
  • George Mann, Ghosts of War.  Super-hero, steampunk, occult, thriller with pulpish tendacies, the second in the series featuring The Ghost.  "New York City is being plagued by a pack of ferocious brass raptors -- strange, skeletal creations with batlike wings that swoop out of the sky, attacking people and carrying them away into the night.  The Ghost has been tracking these bizarre machines in an effort to locate their nest and discover the purpose of the abductions, but so far he has found himself foiled at every turn.  Meanwhile, Inspector Donovan of the NYPD thinks he may have stumbled upon a plot to escalate the cold war with the British Empire into a full-blown conflict, a war that would bring utter devastation, not just to Britain, but to the world.  Their efforts to put an end to this conspiracy bring the two men into an uneasy alliance with Peter Rutherford, a British spy who is loose in Manhattan, protecting the interests of his country.  They also have the unlikely assistance of Ginny, the Ghost's drunken ex-lover and sharpshooter, who walks back into his life having disappeared six years earlier under mysterious circumstances.  Suffering from increasingly lucid flashbacks to World War I and subjected to rooftop chases, an encounter with a mechanized madman, and the constant threat of airborne predators, can the Ghost derail the conspiracy and prevent the war with the British from excalating out of control?  The fate of the world is hanging in the balance."
  • One of Jonathan Maberry's most popular series is the Joe Ledger sequence of books, now totalling ten novels and three collections of short stories. Ledger is a former Baltimore cop wha has been recruited for the Department of Military Sciences, a secret organization that combats various types of extreme science threats.  I picked up four of the novels this week.  The Dragon Factory is the second in the series.    Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences "go up against two competing groups of geneticists....One is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using twenty-first-century technology to continue the Nazi master race program begun by Josef Mengele.  Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed and they've drawn first blood.  Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag."  The King of Plagues is the third book in the series.  "Saturday 09:11 Hours:  A blast rocks a London hospital and thousands are dead or injured...10:09 Hours:  Joe Ledger arrives on scene to investigate.  The horror is unlike anything he has ever witnessed.  Compelled by grief and rage, Joe rejoins the DMS and within hours is attacked by a hit team of assassins and sent on a suicide mission into a viral hot zone during an Ebola outbreak.  Soon Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences begin tearing down the veils of deception to uncover a vast and powerful secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt to destablize world economies and profit from the resulting chaos.  Millions will die unless Joe Ledger meets this powerful new enemy on its own terms:  fighting terror with terror."  Assassin's Code is the fourth novel in the series.  "When Joe Ledger and Echo Team rescue a group of American college kids held hostage in Iran, the Iranian government asks them to help find six nuclear bombs planted in the Mideast oil fields.  These stolen WMDs will lead Joe and Echo Team into hidden vaults of forbidden knowledge, mass murder, betrayal, and a brotherhood of genetically engineered killers with a thirst for blood.  Accompanied by the beautiful assassin called Violin, Joe follows a series of clues to find the Book of Shadows, which contains a horrifying truth that threatens to shatter his entire worldview.  They say the truth will set you free....Not this time.  The secrets of the assassin's code could set the world ablaze."  Predator One is the seventh book in the series.  "On opening day of the new baseball season, a small model-kit airplane flies down from the stands and buzzes the mound, where a decorated veteran pilot is about to throw the first ball.  The toy plane is an exact replica of the one flown by the war hero.  Everyone laughs, thinking it's a prank or a publicity stunt.   Until it explodes, killing dozens.  Seconds later, a swarm of killer drones descend upon the panicked crowd, each one carrying a powerful bomb.  All across the country artificial intelligence drive systems in cars, commuter trains, and even fighter planes go out of control.  The death toll soars as the machines we depend upon every day are turned into engines of destruction.  Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences go on the hunt for whomever is controlling these machines, but every step of the way they are met with traps and shocks that strike to the very heart of the DMS.  No one is safe.  Nowhere is safe.  Enemies old and new rise as America burns.  Joe Ledger and his team begin a desperate search for the secret to this new technology and the madmen behind it.  But before they can close in, an enemy virus infects Air Force One.  The president is trapped aboard as the jet heads toward the heart of New York City.  It has becone Predator One."
  • Robert Silverberg, Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg, edited by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle.  In 1958 Robert Silverberg had a secure and lucrative career churning out science fiction stories for the many SF magazines that existed then.  Then, in 1959, the market abruptly died; dozens of magazines suddenly ceased publication and the book market (basically one hardcover and two paperback publishers) was not large enough to support mid-tier writers such as Silverberg.  So Silverberg switched gears.  He wrote for the crime, mystery, and other genre digests, he contribuited to  the various men's magazines, he ghosted some novels, he wrote hundreds of books for the softcore novel and the juvenile nonfiction markets,  Silverberg was a facile writer, producing quick, clean, readable copy geared to his markets.  One of those markets was Exotic Adventures, a short-lived, lower-tier men's adventure magazine, to which he contributed twenty-one articles and short stories for five of the magazines six issues -- pieces with titles such as "Attacked by Monster Crabs,"  "I Watched the Secret Sex Rites of Uganda," and "Tahiti, Lusty Island of Untamed Women," all springing from Silverberg's imagination and made out of whole cloth.  Each of the twenty-one pieces was published under a different pseudonym; some of the first person "true-life" accounts were also published "as told to" another pseudonym; most of these pseudonyms were only used once.  The pseudonymns used were David Challon, Leon Kaiser, Stan Hollis, Donald Gorman, Lloyd Lawrence, Dave Callahan, Norman Reynolds, Malcolm Hunt, Martin Davison, Leonard Colman, Mark Ryan, David F. Killian, Sam Mallory (the only pen name used twice -- once as the author and once as the "as told to" writer), Len Patterson, Lawrence F. Watkins, Lin Charles, Jim Hollister, Karl-Heinz Kirschner, Ronald Bradman, Richard Banham, Mal Ford, Nick Thomas, Martin C. Burkhalter, Anna Lukacs, and Les Fields,  No great literature here, just an interesting snapshot of a market and a time long gone.  Also included are a number of vintage ads and cartoons geared to the magazine's market.  NOTE:  I picked up the hardcover edition; the softcover edition has 26 fewer pages and eliminates four stories.
  • Chris Van Allsburg, The Z Was Zapped.  Children's alphabet art book.  Noted chldren's author and illustrator Van Allsburg (Jumanji, The Polar Express, Zathura) has created "a play in twenty-six acts," each featuring a letter of the alphabet and its eventual fate:  "The A was in an Avalanche.  The B was badly Bitten..." and so on.  The single-page artwork is magnificently done.  It reminds me a little bit of what Edward Gorey might have written.

Spoons:  One of the simplest and most versatile percussion instruments are the spoons.  Just plain old spoons.  Playing the spoons takes talent, stamina, and a stronf sense of rythym.  Here are Chris Rodigues and Abby the Spoon Lady covering a Robert Johnson tune:

Abby the Spoon Lady is 41-year-old Abby Roach, spoonplayer, story teller, and activist.  Her home page is

Douglas McCurdy:  John  Alexander Douglas McCurdy (1886-1961) was a Canadian aviation pioneer who joined Alexander Graham Bell's Aerial Experiment Association in 1907.   The following year he helped fellow AEA member Glenn Curtiss set up the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company.  McCurdy became the first British subject to fly an airplane in the British Empire, using the Silver Dart owned by the AEA; it was the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada.  He was the ninth man ever to fly a mechanized craft after Orville Wright.  In 1910, McCutdy became the first Canadian to be issued a pilot's license.  The following year, he made the first flight from Florida to Cuba and became the first person to fly an airplane out of the sight of land.  His attempts to fly to Cuba were not without difficulty.  

The plan was to fly out of Key West to Cuba, breaking the world record for traveling over water.  The Havana Post and the City of Havana offered McCurdy $8000 (more than $100,000 in today'smoney) to make the journey.  Just in case he did not make it, McCurdy hired a tinsmith to make hollow pontoons to attach to the wings of his plane.  The U.S. Navy lined six torpedo boats along the way, each emitting smoke to help guide McCurdy.  He had planned to take off in mid-January but bad weather stalled his departure.  It was not until seven days later that the weather cleared up enough for McCurdy to make a test fight to see how favorable conditions were.  After his liftoff, though,  a crowd of onlookers swarmed the landing field, making it impossible for him to land, so McCurdy decided to begin the flight to Cuba then and there.  He flew at a height of 1000 feet and at a speed of 48 miles an hour.  He was within sight of Havana's waterfront when his cylinders began to die, soon leaving him without a working engine and forcing him to try a water landing.  The pontoons kept the plane afloat while three 14-foot tiger sharks circled the plane.  Within four-and-a-half minutes, the USS Pauling had reached the downed aviator for the first recorded airplane rescue at sea.  "I didn't even get my feet wet," he said.  This took place on this date 112 years ago.

Even though he did not fully reach his intended target, McCurdy broke several records; the Cuban government promised him the prize money because he had made to Havan's harbor.  At a gala ceremony at Havana's opera house, Cuban President Jose Gomez handed McCurdy an envelope with red and green seals.  When MCCurdy later opened the envelope, he found that it was empty.  A diplomat told him that there was no "easy or political way" to get the money and to forget about it -- which McCurdy did.

He went on to set many Canadian and American records until poor vision basically grounded him in 1916, although at his death he held the world's oldest active pilot's license.  In 1915 McCurdy established the first Canadian flying school, which operated from 1915 to 1918.  He was the first manager of Canada's first airport.  He helped set up Canadian Aeroplanes, Ltd., a manufacturing company that supplied airplanes to the RAF during World War I.  In 1928 McCuirdy created Montreal's Reid Aircraft Company and was its first president -- a position he continued to hold until World War Ii, even  after a merger had created the Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Company.  At the beginning of World War II, he became the Assistant Director General of Aircraft Productrion, a position he held until 1947, when he was named Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia; remained in that position until 1952.

McCurdy was awarded the McKee Trophy from the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute on the 50th  anniversary of the first flight of the Silver Dart.  The Institute of Aircraft Technicians created the McCurdy Award at McGill University in his honor in 1954.  When Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame was created in 1973, McCurdy was one of the first to be inducted.  In 2009. the Sydney Airport was renemd the J. A. Douglas McCurdy Airport.  In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.

For a soft-spoken lad from Braddeck, Nova Scotia, Douglas McCurdy left an indelible mark on the history of aviation.

Big Mistake:  On this date in 1933, Adolph Hitler took office as Chancellor of Germany.

Today:  Today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.  As anyone who has happily whiled away the time popping the bubbles on bubble wrap should knows, this is a significant holiday.  As for anyone who hasn't. are you sure you are my friend?

Today is also National Croissant Day.  Here's 26 ideas for great croissant fillings to make your day even better:     Chocolate?  Check.  Almond past?  Check.  Brie and jam?  Check.  Bacon?  Double and triple check.

Want to have some fun?  Celebrate National Insane Answering Machine Day.  In ow you can come up with some real goodies.

Want to have your neighbors hate you?  It's also Yodel for Your Neighbors Day.  Bwa-ha-ha!

Most importantly, today is School Day for Non-Violence and Peace.  May there never be another Stony Brook, another Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, another Uvalde.  May there never be any more stifling of freedom of thought and expession in our schools.  May there never be any more supression of fact in our schools.  May our elected officials listen to reason and the wishes of the vast majority of the American people.  May all parents learn to act like adlts and set a good example for our kids.

Don't Let Me Down:   54 years ago today, the Beatles held their last public perfromance, an inpromptu session on the rook of Apple Records in London:

Black Holes:  A fascinating concept.  What's inside a black hole?  And what's on the other end of a black hole?  We will probably never now.  The concepts are beyond my imagining but the questio9ns are intriguing.   Here's James Beacham, a particle physicst at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, an interesting talk on black holes as he wonders if our universe is actually inside a black hole.  Worth an hour of your time.

Yeah, I Married Into Clan McDonald:   "Scottish-Americans will tell you that if you want to identify tartans, it's easy -- you simply look under the kilt.  If it's a quarter-pounder, you nnow it's a McDonald's."  -- Billy Connolly

Quote:  "If you do not love too much, you do not love enough."  -- Blaise Pascal

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Stephen Munoz Espinoza, 43, of Delray Beach, is silently thanking the rude person who cut in front of him while in the line to buy a ticket from a lottery machine.  The scratch-off ticket he ended up with won him a $1 million prize.  The guy who cut in front of him got bupkis. 
  • That'll teach them!  Florida Man Obviously Unclear on the Concept Marc Hermann, 53, of Longwood, was upset at his Homeowners Association and decided to teach them a lesson by setting his own apartment on fire.  The fire led to an explosion with injury and damages.  Law enforcement officers and fire and rescue personnel found Hermann sitting on the ground outside the burining buil;ding draped in towels and with a bloody face and hands.  When asked what had happened, Hermann said that the blood had been caused by a gun and that he had shot himself in the neck after startting the fire.  He blamed everything on the management company hired by his homeowner's association.  Three neighboring apartments were also damaged.  Hermann was charged with four counts of arson.
  • 31-year-old Florida Man Devonta Gilmore, a teacher at Union Academy Magnet School in Bartow, was arrested after he was refused entry to a gated communiyt and pulled out a gun, asking, "What?  You want to bump?"  Gilmore told detectives he felt disrespected when refused entry as he tried to pick up his girlfriend's belongings at the gated community.  Gilmore later attempted to return to the community but stopped after seeing law enforcement officers at the gate.  Police later found him hiding in the bushes.
  • 15-year-old Florida Girl Nicole Jackson-Maldonaldo has been sentenced to 20 years of prison time followed by 40 years probation after accepting a plea deal for a 2021 standoff with police officers when she was 14.  Jackson-Maldonaldo was a resident at a children's home in Enterprise where she attacked a worker there and then fled with a 12-year-old boy.  The two broke into a Deltona home. armed themselves with the owner's guns, and vandalized the premises.  When police arrived on the scene they were confronted with gunfire.  Once Jackson-Maldonaldo eventually exited the building, she aimed a shotgun and fired at deputies, who were forced to return fire.  The deputies were able to subdue her without injury to her or to themselves.  She was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.  The 12-year-old boy was sentenced to a maximum risk assessment program to be followed by conditional release not to exceed his 21st birthday.
  • Florida Man Patrick Abbott, 31, was arrested after trying to rob a Publix Suipermarket in Miami with a stapler.  His finely honed criminal plan did not work.
  • 41-year-old Jean Evenel Innocent appears to have been anything but.  Charged with getting a thirteen-year-old girl pregant, Innocent claimed that voodoo was responsible.  When  the girl appeared at a West Plam Beach hospital complaining of severe abdominal pains, tests showed that she was six months pregnant.  Durng a telephone call with the girl Innocent was heard telling her to make up a story about a boy.  Instead the girl told authorities that Innocent had had sexual intercourse with her four times since she had abdominal surgery in 2020, despite her saying "no."  Innocent told police that he could only remember having sex with the girl two times, and that it did not last that long.  Exactly how voodoo fits into the entire affair is anyone's question.

Good News:
  •  "Brave Bessie" gets her likeness on a new Barbie as Mattel honors the first female Black pilot
  • Zoo celebrates the birth of a Przewalski horse foal prviopusly extinct in the wild
  • This toddler is best friends with a frog -- they eat together, watch TV, go on walks
  • Cargo ship flies giant kite to save fuel and cut emissions
  • Once "biologically dead," England's Mersey River is the "best environmental story in Europe"
  • Alabama town shocked to learn that local farmer had secretly paid pharmacy bills for a decade
  • This may be a case of TMI, but a railroad worker has recued a raccoon whose butt hair was frosen to the tracks

Today's Poem, In Honor of the Poet's 157th Birthday:

Purple Cow

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one
But I can you, any how,
I'd rather see than be one.

-- Gelett Butgess


  1. And, of course, the eventual Burgess quatrain that ends with "I'll kill you if you quote it."

    Hey, you teased over at Patti's blog delving into works by Jules Feiffer, Will Eisner and James Tynion IV...the last a new name for me (haven't looked at his or anyone's BATMAN work for some time, nor his more personal projects)...which ones? Forthcoming reviews?

  2. The Feiffer was the second in the KILL MY MOTHER trilogy; the Eisner was FAGIN THE JEW, an alternative look at the Oliver Twist character, and the Tynion was Book 1 of THE NICE HOUSE BY THE LAKE, which won an Eisner Award for Best Series and another for Best Writer; it's also been nominated for a GLADD Media Award for Best Comic and a Harvey Award for Book of the Year. No reviews planned as yet, Todd.

  3. Thanks, then! I haven't read any of these yet.

  4. If all this treasure showed up at my house I'd focus on the Eric Brown (an underrated writer) and George Mann. I just received a new George Mann paperback from AMAZON. A review of it will show up on my blog as soon as I can get to it.