Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, February 5, 2023


Openers:  It is well enough and sufficiently knowne to all the countries of Andaluzia, that I, Domingo Gonsales, was borne of Noble parentage, and that in the renowned City of Sivlll, to wit in the yeare 1552, my Fathers name being Therando Gonsales, (that was neere kinsman by my mothers unto Don Pedro Sanchez that worthy Count of Amenara.) and as for my Mother, she was the daughter of the Reverend and famous Lawyer Otho Perez de Sallaveda, Governour of Barcellona, and Corrigidor of Biscaia; being the youngest of 17 Children they had, I was put to schoole, and intended by them unto the Church.  But our Lord purposing to use my service in matters of farre other nature and quality, inspired with spending some time in the warres.  It was at the time that Don Ferrando, the Noble and thrice renowned Duke D'Alva, was sent into the Low Countries, viz. in the yeare of Grace 1568.  I then followed the current of my foresaid desire, leaving Universitie of Salamanca, (whither my parents had sent mee) without giving knowledge unto any of my dearest friends, got mee through France, unto Antwerp, where in the month of June 1569, I arrived in something poore estate.  For having sold my Bookes and Bedding, with such other stuffe as I had, which happily yeelded me some 30 duckats and borrowed of my Fathers friends some 20 more, I bought me a little nagge with which I travailed more thriftily than young Gentlemen are wont ordinarily to doe:  Until at last arrivingwithin a league of Amtwerp, certaine of the cursed Gueses set upon mee, and bereaved me of horse, monie, and all:  Whereupon I was faine (thropugh want and necessitie) to enter into the service of Marsal Cossey a French Nobleman, whom I served truly in honourable place, although mine enemies gave it out to my disgrace that I was his horse-keepers boy.  But for that matter I shall referre myselfe unto the report of the Count Mansfield, Mounsieur Tavier, and other men of knowne worth and estimation; who have often testified unto many of good credit yet living, the very truth in that behalfe, which indeed is this, that Mounsieue Cossey, who about nthat time had been sent Embassador unto the Duke D'Alva, Govournor of the Low Countries, he I say, understanding the Nobility of my birth, and my late misfortune, thinking it would bee no small honour to him, to have a Spanyard ot that qualitie about him, furnished mee with horse, armour, and whatsoever I wanted, using my service in nothing so much (after once I learned the French tongue) as writing his Letters, because my hand indeed was then very faire.  In time of warre, if upon necessitie I now and then dressed my owne Horse, it ought n ot to be cast in my teeth, seeing I hold it the part of a Gentleman, for setting foward the service to his Prince, to submit himselfe unto the vilest office.

-- The Man in the Moone:  Or A Discourse of a Voyage Hither BY Domiongo GonsalesThe Speedy Messenger, by Francis Godwin writing as "Domingo Gonsales," 1638.

In this early novel of a lunar voyage, Gonsalves harnesses wild swans to fly him about.  While on Tenerife, hostile natives approach, frightening the swans who then fly higher and higher until reaching the moon.  Along the way, he encounters Illusions of Devils and Wicked Spirits who unsuccessfully try to tempt him.  After twelve day, he reaches the moon and meets its inhabitnts, who are joyful Christians (who maintain their Utopia by swapping their delinquent children with children from Earth).  Gonsales leaves the moon with some precious stones that are a gift from the monarch of the moon, and lands in China, where he nis imprisoned as a magician.  He reaches out to some Jesuits, who agree to take a written copy of his aventures back to Spain.

Godwin (1562-1633) was an English bishop and the great-uncle of Jonathan Swift.  The Man in the Moone was written sometime min the 1620s and published posthumously.  Despite its fantastical trappings, the book is grounded in science, espousing n the Copernican system anf the theories mof Kepler and others, as well as the laws of gravity.

This book should not confused with The Man in the Moone telling Strange Fortunes; or, The English Fortune Teller by "W. M." (1609).

Incoming:  Despite vowing to reduce the number of books I own this year, I must admit to weakness, having picked up even more books this week.

  • Nancy Atherton, Aunt Dimity & the Family Tree.  Mystery novel in the long-running Aunt Dimity series.  "After a dizzying time Down Under, Lori Shepherd returns to the quaint village of Finch, where she's in for a big surprise.  Her father-in-law, William Willis, Sr., has just purchased Fairworth House, a splendid ten-acre estate near town.  But a stream of widows and spinsters intent on romance interrupt the wealthy widower's quiet country retirement.  Meanwhile, Lori has her hands full oversdeeing William's too-good-to-be-true new servants and the careful restoration of a painting uncovered during the renovations.   It appears to depict a family tree, but whose?  It all seems managable until the local teashop owner draws William into the greatest act of deception ever perpetrated on the good people of Finch."  The blurb forgets to mention that Aunt Dimity is a ghost.  I read the first book in the series (Aunt Dimity's Death) back when it first came out and thought it mildly enjoyable, but bland.  The series has proven very popular (there are now 24 books in the series), so maybe I'm missing something.  On that slight off-chance, I picked up this one, number 16 in the series.
  • John Ball, Trouble for Tallon.  Mystery novel featuring Jack Tallon, the chief of police in Whitewater, Washington.  The death of a City Counmcilman is the first uinsolved m urder in decades for Whitewater.  Ball, the creator of Virgil Tibbs, is best known for In the Heat of the Night.    
  • Robert Barnard, A Little Local Murder.  Mystery novel.  "When the citizens of Twytching, England learn of a radio broadcast about their tiny village to be braodcast around the world, everybody clamors for a spot on the airwaves.  Who's to select from among the would-be interviewers, each laying claim to some star quality?  The council chairman's wife, Mrs. Withers, takes over the job.  Suddenly she wields formidable power over her enemies -- excepting the chic, aloof Mrs. Mailet, who manages to con her way onto the show.  But she's not a threat for long, because she soon turns up dead!  Inspector Parish quietly enters the scene as a series of crimes unfolds, bringing Twytching more fame than ever dreamed of."  This was Barnard's second book.
  • John  Barth, Giles Goat-Boy.  A literary fantasy,  A book I had picked up shortly after Judith Merril gave it a rave review.  Alas, it went walkabout before I had a chance to read it.  It n ow goes on Mount TBR, along with many others to be read "real soon now."
  • Raymond Benson, The Man with the Red Tattoo.  An original James Bond novel, the last of six authored by Benson, who also wrote three film novelizations, three short stories, and The James Bond Bedside Companion.  "When an important British businessman and his family are killed in Tokyo by a virulent form of West Nile disease, James Bond suspects a mass assassination.  His mission to Japan reunites him with his old friend Tiger Tanaka.  It's been years since they worked together, but the dangers they faced then are nothing compared to what awaits them today.  Teamed with beautiful Japanese agent Reiko Tamura, 007 searches for the killers and the one surviving daughter, Mayumi.  Bond's discoveries lead him to believe that two powerful factions controlled by the mysterious criminal Gato Yoshida are playing God.  Between them they have created the perfect weapon, one small and seemingly insignificant enough to strike anywhere, unnoticed.  With an emergency G8 summit meeting just days away, Bond has his work cut out for him to discover when -- and how -- the next attack will come.  It's a race aginst time as Bond confronts both man and nature in a desperate bid to stop the release of a deadly virus that could destroy the Western world."
  • Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman.  Fantasy, the fourth novel (of six) in the Tales of Alvin Maker series, set in "a magical America that might have been."  "Now a grown man and a journeyman smith, Alvin has returned to his family in the town of Vigor Church.  He will share in their isolation, work as a blacksmith, and try to teach anyone who wishes the knack of being a Maker.  For Alvin has had a vision of the Crystal City he will build, and he knows he cannot build it alone.  But he has left behind in Hatrack River enemies as well as true friends.  His ancient foe, the Unmaker, whose cruel whispers and deadly plots have threatened Alvin's life at every turn, has found new hands to do his work of destruction."  Card can be problematic and, like Elizabeth Linington (below), I have to work to separate the author from the work.
  • Lin Carter, Beyond the Gates of Dream.  Science fiction/fantasy/horror collection with seven stories.  "It is a incredibly beautiful and deadly that only the bravest, most imaginative men dared to enter,,,so enchantingly lovely -- and evil -- that once entering, a man can never gain control over his mind and body.  It is a world...'Beyond the Gates of Dream.' "  Carter was an amazingly prolific fanboy; he never met a writer of the fantastic whom he did not try to emulate.  The result was a gazillion novels -- homages all -- that flooded the market from the Sixties until his death in 1988.  A talented editor, he created the Adult Fantasy line for Ballantine Books, bringing many neglected works of fantasy back in print.  He edited a number of important fantasy anthologies, wrote several critical works about the field, and produced a paperback version of Weird Tales magazine.  With L. Sprague de Camp, he contributed many pastiches to the Conan saga.  Mystery readers would be interested to know that Isaac Asimov's character Mario Gonzalo in the Black Widowers mystery short stories was based on Carter.
  • Scott Cawthorn & Kira Breed-Wrisley, Five Nights at Freddy's:  The Silver Eyes.  YA tie-in novel based on the video game.  "Ten years after the horrific murders at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza that ripped their town apart, Charlie, whose father owned the restaurant, and her childhood friends reunite on the anniversary of the tragedy and find themselves at the old pizza place, which had been locked up and abandoned for years.  After they discover a way inside, they realize that things are not as they used to be.  The four adult-sized animatronic mascots that once entertained patrons have changed.  They now have a dark secret...and a murderous agenda."  Twenty-three books in the series have been scheduled through 2024, along with a number of graphic novels.
  • Stephen R. Donladson, The King's Justice.  A fantasy collection of two novellas.  "In 'The King's Justice,' a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle's Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime.  He even call himself 'Black,' though most certainly that is not his name.  While the desire of the inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands, people find that they have a surprising urge ot cooperate with the stranger.  But this gift will not be enough to protect him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Steele's Crossways.  In 'The Augur's Gambit,' a daring plan is created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemie -- a plan to save his Queen and his country.  Gordian has the gift of reading entrails, and in the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn human infant he sees the same message:  The island nation of Indemie is doomed.  But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is loyal to his Queen -- and to her only daughter."  Donaldson is the author of the classic fantasy sequence The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
  • Carol Nelson Douglas, Dancing with Werewolves.  Fantasy novel, the first of five featuring Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator.  "It was the revelation of the millenium:  witches, werewolves, vampires, and other supernaturals are real.  Fast-forward thirteen years:  TV reporter Delilah Street used to cover the small-town bogeyman beat back in Kansas, but now, in high-octane Las Vegas -- which is run by a werewolf mob -- she finds herself holding back the very gates of Hell.  At least she has a hot new guy and one big bad wolf-hound to help her out..."  At home in several genres, Douglas was the author of the feline PI Midnight Louie and the Irene Adler Sherlockian mystery series.
  • "Lesley Egan" (Elizabeth Linington), Crime for Christmas.  Mystery novel, the twelfth in the Vic Varello series about a California cop.  "It's Christmas, but there isn't much Christmas spirit in the Glandale Police Department.  For Los Angeles, the weather is unusually cold and stormy; Detective Delia Riordan's father has just died, leaving her feeling very lonely; Detective Jim Harvey's family have gone away for the holiday, so he's all by himselfr; Sergeant O'Connor's four-year-old son doesn't believe in Santa Claus; there are power blackouts; and of course there's no let-up on the round of murders, muggings, burglaries and hold-ups. however unseasonable -- old ladies conned, a hit-and-run killing, a triple murder suicide.  Once again Lieutenant Vic Varallo and his squad provide splendid enterftainment."  Linington wrote about 85 mystery novels under her own name and as "Lesley Egan," "Dell Shannon," "Anne Blaisdell," and "Egan O'Neill."  She is credited as being the first woman to write police procedurals.  She was also an arch-Conservative and an active member of the John Birch Society, and I'm trying real hard not to hold that against her.
  • Nicholas Freeling, Flanders Sky.  A Henri Castang mystery novel, the thirteenth of sixteen books..  "The Berlin Wall is falling.  Eastern Europe is in turmoil.  Amid the tumult, Inspector Henri Castang has been exiled to a bureaucratic post in Bruxelles, a city in the eye of the storm.  But the forces of violence are at work even here.  When a colleague's wife is suddenly murdered, Castang sets out to prove his proper English friend's innocence, and scrutinizes the lives being lived around him.  In so doing, he uncovers a shocking tangle of intrigue and guilt in a world where Castang is not the only exile -- and the killer is not the only guilty party..."  Freeling was also noted for his books about Dutch detective Piet van der Valk.  The author, a professional cook. began his first mystery novel while serving a three-week sentence for stealing food.
  • Michael Gilbert, Paint, Gold & Blood.  Crime novel.  "Scorning the usual paths to fame and fortune, earnest, analytical Peter Dolamore and his impulsive, quick-witted friend Stewart Ives have founded Starfax, a mail-order horoscope service whose unorthodox methods -- a little common sense and a lot of snooping on clients' backgrounds -- lead to phenomenally accurate predictions.  While preparing a horoscope for a high-stakes London art dealer, the Starfactors come upon a Renaissance painting whose theft from a French church Peter had witnessed several years earlier.  Having previously uncovered an ingenius embezzlement scheme while roommates at school, the Starfactors fancy themselves amateur sleuths and can't resist getting to the bottom of this odd coincidence.  Their casual investigation traps them in a deadly web of deception, robbery and murder with a sadistic band of pro-Khomeini terrorists at its center."  Few writers have done crime and detection better than Gilbert.
  • Wayne C. Lee, Law of the Prairie.  Western.  "If the county seat were to be moved to Mapleton, it would not only mean a loss to the storekeepers and ranchers of Peaceful Springs -- it would mean that a different lawman would be running things, and it might mean that cetain undesirables would no longer be prosecuted.  So, among certain citizens, there was a concerted effort to affect the issue...using not bullets but the ballot box."  Evidently, this is not a typical western shoot-'em-up.  Lee, who also wrote as "Lee Sheldon," was the author of fifty-four books, 700 short stories, plays, and poems, and over 400 songs.
  • Frances and Richard Lockridge, Murder Is Served.  A Mr. and Mrs. North mystery, the twelfth novel in the series of twenty-six novels and one short story collection..    When one of a psychology professor's students hands in a venomous murder fantasy as her paper, his instincts tell him she may be serious.  Then the sudent's wealthy husband is murdered.   This is a detective Book Club edition, also containing Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution" and "Three Blind Mice," as well as Clifford Knight's Dark Abyss -- "The sudden death of Horace Medbury Hicks before his thirtieth birthday is most inconvenient for his widow, Edith.  Instead of inheriting half a million, she will receive only a few thousand as compensation for seven years of an unhappy marriage."  Knight may be best known for his series of sixteen Golden Age detective novels (all with a title beginning "The Affair of...") featuring his detective Professor Huntoon Rogers.  Following World War II, Knight abandoned Rogers as a character and started a series of stand-alone detective novels, of which this was the first.
  • Rutherford Montgomery, Yellow Eyes.  Young adult anmal novel.  "Yellow Eyes raised and faced about.  His amber eyes shown and his ears were laid back.  In an instant he struck again and sent the leader of the pack hurtling from the cliff.  Against dogs, man, and natural enemies, the fierce American cougar fights to keep his rule supreme in the high mountain country of the West."  Montgomery wrote over 100 books, many of them about the people, landscapes and animals of the American West. including seven books about The Golden Stallion.  From 1941 to 1946, he was a writer for Dick Tracy.  This copy of Yellow Eyes is a Scholastic Book Club edition that I used to own back in 1957.  I picked this one up for nostalgia's sake.  I notice that Rutherford dedicated this book to his friend Davis Dresser, who as "Brett Halliday" created P.I. Michael Shayne. 
  • Joyce Carol Oates, Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense.  Collection of six stories.  "Reveling in the uncanny, this taut collection stands at the crossroads of sex, violence, and longing -- and asks us to interrogate the intersection of these impulses within ourselves."  The title story is a homage to H. P. Lovecraft and contains isolated lines from three of his most famous stories.
  • Lillian O'Donnell, A Good Night to Kill.  A Norh Mulcahaney mystery.  "They are two of Norah Mulcahaney's most baffling cases.  On a freezing December evening, as the city is hit by the worst blizzard on record, a terrified woman cowers on the steps of her brownstone and fires two fatal shots into the body of a man in a ski mask.  The same night, mere blocks away in a glittering penthouse, the beautiful young bride of a notorious Mafia kingpin is found drowned in her rooftop pool by an apparent mugger.  Are these completely unrelated, random acts of violence -- or the work of some cold-blooded, calculating killer?  As Lieutenant Mulcahaney delves into the perverse murders, she goes on TV to defend the rights of crime victims and finds herself drawn deeper into the frightening world of the victims -- and the terrifying underground of organized crime.  The two more brutal slayings are discovered.  And Norah Mulcahaney risks all to learn what really happened on that fateful winter's almost perfect night for murder."  O'Donnell was one of the first to introduce a female police officer as the lead character in a mystery series.
  • __________, The Raggedy Man.  A P.I. Gwenn Ramadge mystery.  "A member of NYPD's elite Narcotics Squad, Detective Jayne Harrow, suspects her partner, Brian Ford, of crooked behavior.  But as a rookie -- and a woman -- she is spurned by the department after she accuses the veteran Ford of corruption.  When a subsequent raid of her home reveals a hidden stash of drugs, Jayne is suspended without pay.  Lonely and alone and falling even deeper into a crippling depression, she spends her days nurturing her taste for alcohol, further complicating her situation.  Ray Dixon, one of Jayne's Police Academy instructors, knows his former student is a good cop, and he remains her staunch supporter.  Concerned for Jaune's welfare and convinced that work will give her the support she needs, he persuades Gwenn Ramadge to give Jayne a second chance, and Gwenn hires her to work a surveillance job in an upscale neighborhood on Long Island's North Shore.  Jayne quickly earns Gwenn's trust and respect, but when Jayne is found dead inside a rental car in Manhattan, the police immediately label her death a suicide.  Forced to investigate the case on her own, Gwenn is determined to prove it was murder.  Ray, too, becomes involved, working the case from an angle even Gwenn can't quite understand.  As they dig, the specter of corruption and its increasing presence on the force looms even larger."  There were four novels in the Gween Ramadge series, and se3venteen in the Norah Mulcahaney series.
  • Wayne D. Overholster, The Durango Stage.  A collection of three western novellas.  Overholster began writing for the western pulps in 1936.  He published nearly ninety westerns and has been recognized as one of the best writers in the field.  He was the recipient of three Spur Awards, including the first ever given.  Several of his books were published as by "Lee Leighton;" he also used the pseudonyms John S. Daniels, Dan J. Stevens, and Joseph Wayne.
  • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Mount Dragon.  Thriller.  "Mount Dragon, an enigmatic research complex hidden in the vast desert of New Mexico.  Guy Carson and Susana Cabeza de Vaca have come to Mount Dragon to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest scientific minds on the planet.  Led by visionary genius Brent Scopes, their secret goal is a medical breakthrough that promises to bring incalculable benefits to the human race.  But while Scopes beieves he is leading the way to a new world order, he may in fact be opening the door to mass human extinction.  And when Guy and Susana attempt to stop him they find themselves locked in a frightening battle with Scopes, his henchmen, and the apocalypotic nightmare that science has unleashed..."
  • __________, The Cabinet of Curiousities.  A Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast thriller, the third in the series of (thus far) twenty-one novels.  "In an ancient tunnel underneath New York City a charnel house is discovered.  Inside are thirty-six bodies -- all murdered and mutilated more than a century ago.  While FBI agent Pendergast investigates the old crimes, identical killings start to terrorize the city.  The nightmare has begun again."
  • __________, Still Life with Crows.  A Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast thriller, the fourth of in the series.  "A small Kansas town has turned into a killing ground.  Is it a serial killer, a man with a need to destroy?  Or is is a darker force, a curse upon the land?  Amid golden cornfields, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers evil in the blood of America's heartland.  NO ONE IS SAFE."
  • __________, Two Graves.  Another Aloysius Pendergast thriller, the twelfth in the series.  "For twelve years, he believed she died in an accident.  Then, he was told she'd been murdered.  Now, FBI Special agent Aloysius Pendergast discovers that his beloved wife, Helen, is alive.  But their reunion is cut short when Helen is brazenly abducted before his eyes.  And Pendergast is forced to embark on a furious cross-country chase to rescue her.  But all this turns ut to be a mere prologue to a far large plot:  one that unleashes a chillingly -- almost supernaturally -- adept serial killer on Ne York City.  And Helen has one more surp[rise in store for Pendergast:  a poiece of their shared past that makes him the one man most suited to hunting down the killer.  The pursuit of the murderer will take Panfergast deep into the trackless forests of Spouth America, to a hidden place where the evil that has bighted both hbis and Helen's   lives lies in wait...where he will learn all too well the truth of the anceint proverb:  Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig ytwo graves."
  • __________, Crimson Shore.  The fifteenth in the Pendergast series.  "A seemingly strightforward private case turns out to be much more complicated -- and sinister -- than special agent A.X.L. Pendergast could ever have anticipated.  Pendergast, together with his ward Constance Greene, travels to the quaint seaside village of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the theft of a priceless wine collection.  But inside the wine cellar, they find something considerably more disturbing:  a bricked-up niche that once held a crumbling skeleton.  Pendergast and Constance soon learn that Exmouth is a town with a very dark and troubled history, and this skeleton may be only the first hint of an ancient transgression, kept secret all these years.  But they will discover that the sins of the past are still very much alive.  Local legends holds that during the 1692 witch trials in Salem, the real witches escaped, fleeing north to Exmouth and settling deep in the surrounding salt marshes,where they continued to practice their wicked arts.  Then, a murdered corpse turns up in the marshes.  The only clue is a series of mysterious carvings.  Could these demonic symbols bear some relation to the ancient witches' colony, long believed to be abandoned?  A terrible evil lurks beneath the surface of this sleepy seaside town -- one with deep roots in Exmouth's grim history.  And it may be that Constance, with her own troubled past, is the only one who truly comprehends the awful danger that she, Pendergast, and the residents of Emouth must face."  The Preston/Child books are automatic bestsellers -- even before they are published.
  • Mike Resnick, Second Contact.  Science fiction novel.  "On board the starship Theodore Roosevelt in deep space:  Commander Wilbur H. Jennings, a career Navy officer in command of the ship, walked out of his cabin one morning and shot two crew members to death.  Then he confined himself to quarters and turned ever command of the Roosevelt to his executive officer, suggesting strongly that the ship return to base immediately.  The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., United States, Earth:  Major Max Becker has been called back from leave and handed the job of defending Jennings at his court-martial.  Becker's supervisors will accept a plea of temporary insanity and even provide witnesses to prove it.  The trial is to be brief, no death penalty will be invoked, and public outcry will be stilled.  Becker isn't happy about what the case will do to his reputtion, but at least it isn't complicated.  There's just one hitch.  Jennings refuses to plead insanity.  He maintains that he was justified in killing the crewmen.  They were not human.  They were alien spies."  In addition to other writing, the incredibly prolific Resnick produced one hundred science fiction novels and collections, eight related nonfiction works, and fifty-three anthologies.  He was the winner of five Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award.  He was the executive editor of the magazine Jim Baen's Universe and the creator and editor of the magazine Galaxy's Edge.
  • "James Rollins" (James Czajkowski), The Last Odyssey.   A Sigma Force novel, the fifteenth of (thus far) sixteen books.  "For eons, the city of Troy -- whose legendary fall was detailed in Homer's Iliad -- was believed to be myth, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century uncovered its ancient walls buried beneath the sands.  If Troy was real, how much of Homer's twin tales of gods and monsters, curses and miracles -- the Iliad and the Odyssey-- could be true and awaiting discovery?  In the frozen tundra of Greenland, a group of modern-day researchers stumble on a shocking find:  a medieval ship buried a half-mile below the ice.  The ship's hold contains a collection of artifacts -- tools of war -- dating back to the Bronze Age.  Inside the captain's cabin is a clockwork gold map with an intricate silver astrolabe embedded in it.  Once activated, the moving map traces the path of Oysseus's famous ship as it sailed away from Troy.  But the route detours as the map opens to reveal a fiery river leading to a hidden realm underneath the Mediterranean Sea -- the subterranean world of Tarturus, the Greek name for Hell.  When word of Tarturus spreads, the phantasmagoric horrors found in Homer's tale are all too real -- and whoever posesses them can use their awesome power to control the future of humanity.  Now to prevent a tyrant from igniting a global war, Sigma Froce must cross the very gates of Hell."  The author also writes as "James Clemens."
  • "Blake Savage" ("John Blaine," a.k.a. Harold Leland Goodwin), Assignment in Space with Rip Foster (also published as Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet and Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet).  Juvenile science fiction novel.  " 'Foster, R.I.P., Lieutenant.  Report to the platform commander.  Show an exhaust.'  High above the earth on the big space platform, Rip Foster, newly-commissioned Planeteer, hurries to obey and wonders what the unexpected call can mean.  He soon finds himself setting out on a confidential and most incredible space mission as the leader of nine men.  Among them are Koa, a good-humored and dependable seven-foot Hawaiian; Santos, a small Filipino with courage far surpassing his size; and the American Kemp, whose ability with a cutting torch proves highly valuable in the adventure ahead.  And adventure it is!  For their strange mission involves not only a battle against space itself, but also against -- Consops.  Here is a live and ruthless enemy!  An enemy with whom the ten Planeteers fight a deadly battle as Rip carries out his dangerous Assignment in Space."  This is the only Rip Foster book Goodwin wrote, aimed at a far younger crowd than his Rick Brant Science Adventure series.
  • "Don Scott" (Lee Hayes), Raker.  Men's adventure novel, the first of a failed, two-book paperback series from Pinnacle Books in the early 80s.  "America the beautiful.  Some poeple are tearing it apart, like children stabbing their mother in the heart.  Raker knows what proud America stands for, and he'll fight for it  Raker works alone, fast, with an eye for crime no one can beat, with nerves so strong his victims don't stand a chance.  He's the man the Company turns to when no one else can handle the job, when they need a man with guts, brains and killing power.  This time cops are being shot down across the country in a strange nightly pattern of gruesome murder.  Call in Raker.  With a man like Raker at the controls you can bet those cop-killers will live only long enough to wish they'd never been born."
  • Daniel Smith, The Sherlock Holmes Companion:  An Elementary Guide.  A coffee table collection of miscellania, with a summary of all the stories.
  • Steven Spruill, My Soul to Take.  Medical thriller.  "Dr. Suzannah Lord is terrified...She glimpsed the horrifying side-effects of a breakthrough medical discovery that lets the blind see:  nightmare visions of the future that could have devastating uses for a dangerous few.  She knows he's watching her...Now, a brilliant artist maimed by this evil human experiment is begging her to relieve his agony, even if it means surgery that will return him forever to a world of darkness.  She knows he's stalking her...But someone doesn't want Suzannah to perform the operation.  Someone who will hunt her down with ruthless efficiency, chasing her into the dark corridors of fear.  What she doesn't know is when he'll strike...  Struggling to umask her cruel tormentor, she runs in terror as a madman closes in.  With no one to help her and no way out, all she can do is pray for her soul."  Just a curious note:  At the back of this St. Martin's Press paperback is an ad for Spruill's forcoming novel, with a blurb by Janet "Evanovick," author of One for the Money; in this world of alternative spelling, could they have meant One for the Monkey?
  • Tom Stoppard, Arcadia, a play and The real Inspector Hound and Other Plays.  The opther plays in the second book are After Magritte, Dirty Linen, New-Found-Land, Dogg's Hamlet, and Cahoot's Macbeth.
  • Duane Swierczynski, Point & Shoot.  A Charlie Hardie novel.  :Having accepted the ultimate punishment for his escape from the world's most secure prison, Charlie Hardie finds himself trapped inside a satellite parked in orbit 500 miles above the Earth...He's got a year's supply of food, air, and water, and no communication back to Earth, and he must complete his twelve months' duty or the evil conglomerate that banished him will make sure his wife and son have an 'accident.'  Then someone all too familiar docks on the satellite and informs Hardie he is sittin gin a veritable zero-G vault containing the world's most dangerous secrets.  Forced to crash-land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hardie must decide whether he's come face-to-face with the partner who can help him save his family -- or with his nemesis.  After years of exile, Hardie's loading up for an epic battle...and heading home to fight."
  • T. H. White, The Once and Future King.  The classic Arthurian fantasy, an omnibus of four novels:  The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind.  I have a list of a dozen or so books that I really should have read long ago that I plan to read in 2023.  This is one of them.  My copy is buried in a box somewhere in a storage shed, so I picked this one up because it was handy.

Playing for Change:  Over the past few weeks as the cold weather has set in, I've been keeping warm bylistening to videos posted by Playing for Change, an organizati0on that seeks to bridge barriers by recording talented musicians from all over the world to make outstanding music.  This is feel-good music presented with an important feel-good message.

Here are a few of their videos.  Enjoy.

The Weight:

Down By the Riverside:

Bring It on Home to Me

Don't Worry, Be Happy:

Sarcasm Becomes It:  You learn something new every day.  Today I learned that there is a critter called the sarcastic fringhead, an aggressive fish that I don't want anywhere near me.

Check it out:

Happy Birthday, Thurl Ravenscroft:  Voice actor and singer Thurl Ravenscroft, would have been 113  today.  He was a man many of us grew up with, although we never realized it.  For over five decades, Ravenscroft was the anonymous voice of Kellogg's Tony the Tiger.  Although he semi-retired in 1999, he continued to voice Tony the Tiger as late as 2004 at age ninety, behing driven by limosine to the recording studio at Kellogg's' expense.  Following his death in May, 2005, Kellogg's took out an ad in Advertising Age, honoring Ravenscroft and his contributions to the company.

Just about every American alive will recognize his booming bass voice on this uncredited classic song:

Beginning in the 1930s, Ravenscroft was a member of The Mellowmen, who recorded backup for such artists as Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, Rosemary Clooney, and Frankie Laine, among others.  He can be heard with the group on a number of Merry Melodies and Loonie Tunes cartoons.  His was the distinctive bass not only on Rosemary Cloney's number 1 hit "This Old House," but also on the nriginal recording of the song by Stuart Hamblen.  He was the bass singer on Bobby Vee's "Devil or Angel," and can be heard on Andy Williams's "Twelve Days of Christmans."  That was his voice you could hear on the Andrews Sisters' cover of Mr. Bass Man.  He sang "No Dogs Allowed" on the animated cartoon Snoopy, Come Home.  As part of the Johnny Mann Singers, he can be heard on 28 of their albums.  On radio, he was part of the Sportmen Quartet who drove Jack Benny crazy on The Jack Benny Program.  On the soundtrack album for the film South Pacific, he sang the Ken Clark part as "Stewpot."  

Beginning in 1940 with The Mellomen, Ravenscroft sang on Walt Disney's Pinocchio, and was the voice of Monstro the Whale.  This led to a long association with Disney.  With The Mellomen he appeared on Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, and Dumbo, as well as on several episodes of Disney's television show. He can be heard on Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmations, Gay Purr-ee, The Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins, The Jungle BookThe Aristocats, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  He voiced Kirby on all three Brave Little Toaster movies.  Ravenscroft lent his voice to a number of attractions at Disney's theme parks, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Country Bear Jamboree, and as the voice of the Disneyland Railroad.  He also sang the opening songs for two of the serials on The Mickey Mouse Club, and sang and narrated on several Disneyland records.

A devout Christian, Ravenscrtoft appeared on a number of religious television shows, and he released an album of hymn that included his narration of how each hymn was written.  It had been his hope to eventually record the entire Bible on tape, but James Earl Jones "beat him out."

In big ways and small, Thurl Ravenscroft was part of the American fabric.

Observances:  There are a number of holidays and observances being celebrated today:
  • A no-brainer is International Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation Day.  I mean, really...
  • I have a hard time getting around this, but today is National Chopsticks day.  the food keeps ending up on my lap and not in my mouth.  I'll keep trying, though.
  • It's also International Frozen Yogurt Day.  Another no-brainer, although no where as urgent as the one above.
  • In a slight to Vermont, it's Canadian Maple Syrup Day.  Yummy.
  • And, yes, you do look marvelous on this Pay a Compliment Day.
  • For those who wish to observe, in California it's Ronald Reagan Day.  (It's his birthday.)
  • Today is also Part of Children's Authors and Illustrators Week.  Long may they influence our kids to read, which will also led them think
  • I know a few who should celebrate this, but most likely won't:  it's Dump your Significant Jerk Week
  • It's National Crime Prention Week (and why this is not scheduled for the week of the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, I have no idea)
  • And it's Women's Heart Week (Ladies:  Be sure you can recognize the warning signs of heart problems in women, and -- as importantly -- be sure your doctor can also)

If we embrace life for all its potential, for all its joy, and for all its responsibilty, the world cannot help but be a better place.

Florida Man:
  • Some Florida Men are not good drivers.  Take , for example, Joseph Crawford, who had stolen a car and, while being fleeing from deputies, carjacked another car (there's nothing the matter with those felonies -- he is a Florida Man, after all, and it can be expected).  What's hard to forgive is his erratic driving.  He rammed three patrol cars before crashing into a school bus carrying students; his stolen car (the second one) then burst into flames.  No one on the bus was injured.  The chase went from Lake County to Orange County.  If you are going to partake in a felony automobile chase, be sure that you know how to drive.  The good name of Florida Man rests upon you.
  • Another who give a bad name -- a very bad name -- to Florida Man is 20-year-old Florida Man Eliezer Josue Ordonez-Valladores of Oscealoa County has confessed to sexually assaulting a young neighbor, first when she was11, then when she was 12.  Ordonez-Valladores has "immigration issues" and was scheduled to be removed later this year.  Osceala County officials said that he will served his prison time before being kicked out of the country.  The vicitm's family also has immigration issues, which can make such crimes difficult to be reported.
  • I'm not sure is this story involves a Florida Woman or not.  Possible Florida Woman and one-time 
    Missouri Woman Kristi Nicole Gilly was wanted for kidnapping her non-custodial children, ages now 11 and 12, from their Clay County. Missouri, home on March 15, 2022.  Deputies in High Springs were doing a routine tag check outside a Winn-Dixie grocery on Gilly's car and discovered there was a warrant out for her.  Gilly and both children -- all three disguised -- were found inside the store.  It is unclear whether Gilly and the two children were now living in Florida or if they were just passing through.
  • 25-year-old Forida Woman and substitute teacher at Champion Elementary School in Daytona Beach Madison Anthony lost her job and now faces possible charges for hitting atudent over the head with a book.  The student had used the book to hit another student when Anthony took the book from him and hit him on the head.  Anthony told the student, "You hit her, I hit you."  Considering Florida's current attitude on what and what is not allowed in schools. it is both surprising and comforting to know that the Volusia County Schools took action.
  • Florida Man Kevin Justin Mayorga, of Cutler Bay, 32, was arrested by the Miami-Dade Police Department after he bit off the head of his girlfriend's pet python during a loud and violent domestic dispute.  Mayorga had attempted to flee and police tased him without effect.  While trying to restrain Mayorga, he began punching at the police, hitting on officer in the eye with the handcuff they had managed to get on one wrist.

Good News:
  •  New mosquito repllant works better tah DEET, is safer, and smells good
  • Human chain formed by florida biologists save stranded dolphin
  • To boost pollination, tiny "fairy robots" cand be priopelled into the wind like seeds
  • Bioengineers discover a way of growing skin in the shape of human hands that can put on l;ike a glove
  • Watch this man race across a 4-lane snowy highway to stop a woman's runaway car
  • Revolutionary structure for cancer-killing vaccines could make treatment three times more effective

Today's Poem:  (You knew I was going to post this one today, didn't you?)

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

You're a mean one
You really are a heel
You're as cuddly as a cactus
You're as charming as an eel
Mr. Grinch, yo're a bad banana
Mr. Grinch, with the greasy black peel

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart's an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders
You've got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch
I wouldn't touch you with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole!

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch
You've got termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile
Given the choice btween the two of you
I'll take the seasicj crocodile!

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch
You're a nasty wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote,
"Stink, stank, stunk!"

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch
You're the king of sinful sots
Your heart's a dead tomato
Splotched with moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch
Your soul is an appalling dumpheap
Overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable
Mangles up in tangled knots!

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch
With a nauseous super "naus"
You're a crooked dirty jocky
And you drive a crooked horse, Mr. Grinch
You're a three-decker sauerkraut
And toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

-- Albert Hague & Theodor S. Geisel


  1. I picked up several at the library in CA but but put them back when I left. My suitcase was already too heavy. Couldn't get through GILES GOAT BOY fifty years ago and doubt I could now. Good luck.

  2. Likewise, I had inherited a copy from my uncle of the R.I.P. Foster novel (a grim handle) with the interesting but goofy spaceship design wraparound cover...not sure if I sold it or if it's lost or still in a storage box. Never could get very far with it, since I was much happier reading the likes of Silverberg's HAWKSBILL STATION from the same stash (the first adult sf novel I read by a living writer). Good hunting and reading!