Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Openers:  The exorcist is dead.

Abby sits in her office and stares at the email, then clicks the blue link.  It takes her to the homepage of the paper she still thinks of as the News and Courier, even though it changed its name fifteen years ago.  There's the exorcist floating in the niddle of her screen, balding and with a ponytail, smiling at the camera in a blurry headshot the size of a postage stamp.  Abby's jaw aches and her throat gets tight.  She doesn't realize she's stoppoed breathing.

The exorcist was driving some luimer up to Lakewood and stopped on I-95 to help a tourist change his tire.  He was tightening the big nuts when a Dodge Caravan swerved onto the shoulder and hit him full-on.  He died before the ambulance arrived.  The woman driving the minivan had three differenr painkillers in her system -- four if you included Bud Light.  She was charged with driving under the influence.

"Highways or dieways," Abby thinks.  "The choice is yours."

-- Grady Hendrix, My Best Friend's Exorcism, 2016

Abby and her best friend Gretchen are high school sophomores.  An evening of skinny-dipping goes horribly wrong and Gretchen is acting strangely.  She's moody and irritable.  Strange things begin to happen whenever she is nearby.  Will their friendship be powerful enough to beat the devil?  "Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My best Friend's Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of '80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller."

Grady Hendrix is the author of the 2014 bestselling novel Horrorstor,, showing what could happen when a big box Ikea-like store goes bad.  The book has been optioned and is currently indevelopment.  My Best Friend's Exorcism was his next book; it was relased as a film in 2022.  This was followed by his nonfiction look at horror paperbacks (with Will Errickson) oin 2017, Paperbacks from Hell, which in turn became the inspiration for an ongoing line paperback reprints from Valancourt Books.  Other best-sellers followed:  We Sold Our Souls, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, The Final Girl Support Group, and most recently, How to Sell a Haunted House.   Hendrix's unique and witty take on horror, friendship, and life make him an author to check ouot.


  • Douglas Borton, Shadow Dance.  Horror novel.  "Little Timothy Cutter woke from a bad dream to find himself in a nightmare of sudden, shattering orphanhood.  He said he knew what happened to his parents.  But no one he told believed him.  Not doctors.  Or police.  Or grandparents.  Or even Rachel Weiss, a lovely and dedicated psychologist determined to free Timothy from his obsessive fear.  But one person did believe Timothy.  A drifter named Robert Thorn, who came after Timothy from a hellhole south of the take the little boy with him beyond the border of sanity to a world of darkness where a fiend in human form killed with a kiss..."  Borton also writes as Michael Prescott, Brian Harper, and (swear to God!) Owen Fusterbuster.
  • Val Clear, Patricia Warrick, Martin Harry Greenberg, & Joseph D. Olander, eds., Marriage and the Family Through Science Fiction.  Science fition anthology/text with 26 stories.  From the introduction:  "[S]cience fiction makes it obvious that not all possible changes are desirable, that we must define values before we can wisely manipulate the changes on the horizon.  The key to the development of sound values is the family, since this is where character first takes form and the most profound value orientations are acquired.  Will parents be replaced by experts in childrearing?  Can women get along without men?  Can sex be satisfying without a partner?  The following stories suggest these and other possibilities, but they ought to suggest additional innovations worth discussing."  This is one of a series of academically-oriented science fiction anthologies published in the late 1970s; themes of some of the others include American /Government, Anthropology, Introductory Psychology, Politics, School and Society, Sociology, Social Problems, Sports, Big Business, Urban Life, Criminal Justice, and International Relations.  According to IMDb, this is the ninth anthology in which Martin H. Greenberg served as an editor, and the fifth for Greenberg's frequent collaborator, Joseph D. Olander.  Greenberg would gp on to edit over a thousand anthologies.
  • George Alex Effinger, The Nick of Time.  Science fiction, the first book in a duology.  "Noon, February 17, 1996.  A momentous day for one Frank Mihalik -- and for mankind -- for Mihalik is about to become the world's first time traveler.  Looking every inch the explorer, he takes off for a trip to the 1939 New York World's Fair, and The Nick of Time takes off on an absurd, hilarious, and thoughtful journey through time and space.  Mihilik's chronological odyssey is to be a simple one:  a quick day trip to the past and back again.  Unfortunately, the time travel process still has a few kinks in the system, and just how Mihilik will get back is anybody's guess.  He finds himself stuck at the World's Fair, reliving the same day over and over again.  Just as he is about to lose hope, his girlfriend Cheryl arrives to lend support and encouragemnt.  With a little boost from the past, however, the pair are soon on their way again, hurtling through time at a breathless pace, down an endless path filled with lively, intriguing -- and often dangerous -- encounters:  riding with the Three Musketeers, serving in a war between the Queen of the Past and the King of the Future, even visiting a futuristic Land of Oz ('If we come to a yellow brick road...I'm going to give up').  It's going to take more than clicking their heels together three times to return to their proper time and place, but the adventures and mysteries they uncover along the way turn their trip (and ours) into a memorably fun-filled journey."  The sequel was published as The Bird of Time in 1986.
  • Esther Friesner, editor, Turn the Other Chick.  The fifth in the Chicks in Chainmail series of anthologies, with 22 stories about all types of "warrior women."  "Those cheeky Chicks in Chainmail are back!  One good turn deserves another and those unpredictable amazons are in action again, swords sharpened, chainmail polished, and makeup in place, ready to fight the good fight on the field of battle.  And if you think they're just male wish-fulfillment fantasies, you'd better say it under your breath and out of their earshot, because these babes were born to battle.  All new adventures of fearless women warriors by Eric Flint, author of 1632; Nebula-winning author Harry Turtledove; Jody-Lynn Nye, co-author of the nation's best seller The Ship Who Won; Campbell Award-winner Wen Spencer; and many more, including the inimitable  Esther Friesner herself, as fantasy adventure gets done to a turn."  Copyright by Friesner and Martin H. Greenberg's Teckno Books.
  • Joyce Holland, Beyond Gulf Breeze.  A Sally Malone mystery.  "Someone was killing the young women of Gulf Breeze, someone who wants it to look as though they were abducted by aliens.  After Sally Malone finds the first victim's body on the beach, an autopsy reveals the woman has been incised by medical instruments and was apparently struck by lightning -- on a cloudless night.  When victim two surfaces, the residents of once tranquil Gulf Breze go into a panic.  Fearing her niece, Ruby, may be next, Sally encounters possible evidence of alien visitation,some 'true believers' and the dark side of mankind."  Since I live in Gulf Breeze, I was happy to come across this book, which incorporates the Gulf Breeze UFO sightings in the late Eighties and early Nineties into the mystery.
  • Damon Knight, editor, The Clarion Awards.  Science fiction anthology with 14 stories entered in a 1984 competition for previously unpublished students of the Clarion Writing Workshop, which was co-founded by Knight.  "These are the gems of the last six years of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop -- a multifacted and colorful collection that demonstrates the eciting diversiuty of ideas and sheer power of imagination to be found within the science fiction writing of today -- and tomorrow."  The first place winner was Lucius Shepard; other stories in the book are by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Dean Wesley Smith, and Mario Milosevic.
  • Elmore Leonard, Fire in the Hole.  Short story collection, originally published as When the Women Come Out to Dance.  Nine stories from 1982 to 2002, including an excerpt from the 2012 novel Raylan.
  • "Myles na Gopaleen" (Brian O'Nolan, who also wrote as "Flann O'Brien), The Best of Myles.  Collection of material from the author's "Cruiskeen Lawn" columns in the Irish Times.  "To parody At-Swim-Two-Birds, this book is 'a three-star cast-iron plunger,' 'so why not "row in" and have the read of your life?'  The Best of Myles is an edited selection of material written at the top of the author's form.  Men of science, men of the art, men of steam, of straw and of the law will find in these pages the wit that only knowledge can spark off.  It is a book to keep near at hand -- especially if you have already exhausted Joe Miller's book of jests.  New readers are invited to start reading the Keats and Chapman section.  Brian O'Nolan ('Myles na Gopaleen'/'Flann O'Brien') was one of the few people in this century to make a permanent contribution to the gaiety of nations.  His writing often attains heights of sustained comedy that can be matched with the brilliance of early Aldous Huxley or Evelyn Waugh.  Like them, his ear for language, for the sublest inflection of comedy, was ever alert and his mind in first-rate order."  As "O'Brien," the author wrote the classic novels At-Swim-Two-Birds, The Dalkey Archives, and The Third Policeman.  'Nuf said.
  • "John  Vail"  (Robert Carse), The Sea Waifs.  Adventure novel.  "They shattered a ship's morale, two women cast out of the sea...War and death were the business of the men...Life and love the business of the women...The captain scarred the officer's face for love of the dark girl...The crew in the hold faced each other with knives for the love of the blonde...And mutiny growled in a hundred throats."
  • Donald E. Westlake, Watch Your Back!  A Dortmunder novel.  ""John Dortmunder hasn't gotten where he is today by turning a blind eye to an easy heist.  So when his friend and fence Arnie Albright discovers that Manhattan billionaire Preston Fareweather has left a treasure-filled Fifth Avenue penthouse practically unguarded, Dortmunder & Co. spring into action.  But into the life of a crook a little rain must fall...and sometimes it's a deluge.  The one place that Dortmunder's crew can always count on, their shrine and hangout -- the O.J. Bar & Grill -- is under seige from some real criminals:  the Jersey mob.  Now Dortmunder and his team must liberate Fareweather's treasure and fight off a would-be Tony Soprano at the same time.  And in a duel of brains, brawn, and dumb luck on two fronts, Dortmunder had better hope somebody's got his back!"
  • Jane Yolen, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh, editors, Spaceships & Spells.  Original YA anthology of 13 fantasy and science fiction stories.  "Just when we think our lives have become predictable, there is a moment when we have a brush with the unexpected.  We wonder, is it only chance, is it real, is it magic?  *A girl buys an antique brass egg containing a spirit named Arnold.  Arnold will grant her one wish.  What will she wish for?  *A boy learns the price he must pay for playing a fantasy game without reading the instrucions first.  *A young boy is looking for little green men but is surprised to find something else.  Here are thirteen stories that test the very fabric of reality.  They bring the reader into another realm, one with a new set of possibilities.  Included in this collection is 'The Silver Leopard,' a previously unpublished story by Newbery and Caldecott medalist Robert Lawson.  Also included are stories by Isaac Asimov, John Forrester, Bruce Coville, and Jane Yolen, among others."

Earth Day:  Saturday was Earth Day, a perfect excuse to once again mention what I consider to be one of the greatest television shows of all time.  Sunrise Earth is a documentry series which aired from 2004 to 2008 for 64 episodes.  Lacking any human narration, the series simply presents sunrises in various spots on the planet filmed in real time, from multiple perspectives and edited into a seamless whole.  Ambient natural sounds are included.  Captions at the bottom of the screen give the location and time of filming.  From locations throughout America to natural animal habitats, from Ankor Wat to the Kenai fjords, and from the Li River to the foothills of Turkey, the more than five dozen episodes are each worth repeat viewing.   It may not sound like much, but the effect is stunning and relaxing, giving one an appreciation for the diversity and the beauty of our planet.

From Season Three, here's episode 48 (because I was thinking of Bill Crider this morning and because it has llamas):  "Andean Dawn at Machu Pichu":

Quote:  "Beauty is pointless wonder -- and as vital as oxygen and B vitamins" -- William Sebrans

Ha!:  Frank the farmer had a terribly nagging wife.  She would berate him whenever she had a chance.  One day while he was plowing in the field, his wife brought him his lunch.  As soon as he opened the sack, she started in, complaining about everything from his lack of money to his looks and personal habits.  This went on for a full four minuites when Frank's donkey suddenly raised his rear legs and kicked the shrew in the head, killing her instantly.

At the funeral, everybody went up to him and offered their condolences.  Whenever a woman came up to speak to him, he would nod his head up and down, but if it were a man, he'd shake his head back and forth.  This got the attention of the preacher and, after the service, he asked Frank about it.  "Well, you see," Frank explained, "the women all told me how nice she looked laid out in that fancy dress, and I just nodded yes.  The men all asked me if the donkey was for sale."

Genocide:  Don't tell the Turks, but today marks the 108th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide.

Not that it means anything, but the Armenians were there first.  They were settled in Anatolia by the 6th century BCE -- the Turkomans arrived some 1500 years later. In the fourth century, the Kingsom of Armenia adopted Christianity as its official religion and established the Armenian Apostolic Church.  The end of the Byzantine Era in 1453 saw two competing Muslim empires vying for control of Western Armenia -- the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid (Iranian) Empire; Western Armenia was completely cut off from Eastern Armenia, which was controlled by the Safavids.  The Ottoman Empire was multiethnic and multireligious.  The Armenians, as non-Muslims had a subordinate but protected place in the Empire; they could own property and hold religious services as long as they paid a special tax, but they had no political power.  In the eastern provinces, things were dire -- Armenians suffered from forced labor, illegal taxes, murder, robbery, and sexual assault.  Attempts by the Ottomans to remedy this were basically ignored, being opposed by the Muslim clergy and by the Muslim population in general.  By the mid-nineteenth century, large areas of Armenian lands were usurped to make way for the influx of refugees from the Russo-Circassian War.  Confiscated land was given to Muslim immigrants in an effort to reduce the Armenian population in the eastern provinces.  By 1878, the treatment of Armenians became an excuse for the great powers of Europe to intefere with Ottoman politics.  Meanwhile, Armenians in the main were attempting ro reconcile their plight through diplomacy.  Nonetheless, authorities began to perceive the Amenians as a threat.  In 1891, Sultan Abdul Hamid II organized the Hamidiye Regiments (composed mainly of Kurds), giving them carte blanche to act with impunity against the Armenians.  From 1895 to 1896, at least 100,000 Armenians were killed in massacres by both mobs and soldiers.  Many Armenians were forced to convert to Islam.  The Ottoman state took responsibility for the killings as part of a concerted effort to have Christians accept Muslim superiority.  The Young Turk Revolution in 1908 brought the Commmittee of Union and Power (CUP) into power.  Despite CUP's pledges to restore Armenians lands, nothing happened, and CUP became more repressive.  Rumors of a countercoup arose in 1909, leading armed Muslims to attack the Armenian section of Ardana.  The Armenians returned fire.  About 25,000 people -- mostly Armenians -- were killed.  This latest display of violence had been instigated by local officials and clerics, not the government.  Nonetheless, no one was held accountable.  Bowing to international pressure, CUP agreed to reforms that included the appointment of European inspectors for both the eastern and western regions and for placing the Hamidiye Regiments in reserve.  None of these reforms actually happened, but the threat of them was cited as a reason by CUP for the elimination of Armenians in 1915.

Durng World Wasr I, Minister of war Enver Pasha took over the Ottoman invation of Russia territories.  The Ottomans were soundly defeated, losing some 60,000 men.  During their retreat, the Ottoman army destroyed dozens of Ottoman Armenian villages and massacred their inhabitants.  Pasha claimed that the Armenians had actively sided with the Russians.  CUP officials, meanwhile, hearing rumors of weapons caches and armed resistance, while ignoring evidence that most Armenains were loyal to the Empire, decided that Armenians had to be eliminated to save the Empire.

On April 24, Ottoman authorities arrested and deported hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and leaders from Constaninople.  CUP chairman Talaat Pasha ordered the forced march of some 800,000 to 1.2 million Armeniaqns to the Syrian deserts in 1915 and 1916.  The deportees were deprived of food and water and were subject to robbery, rape, and massacre by their paramilitary escorts.  Any survivors of the death march were sent to concentration campos.  In 1916, another wave of massacres were ordered.  100,00 to 200,000 Armenian women and children were forced to convert to Islam.  Massacres and ethnic cleansing continued after World War I and through the Turkish War of Independece.

(A few days before the April 24 arrests that marked the beginning of the genocide, violence had erupted in the Van vilayet in the northeastern part of Anatolia near the Russian border [a vilayet is an administrative division in the Ottoman Empire].  Armenian men were being massacred, and the governor of that region, Djevdit Bey, ordered the Armenians of Van to hand over their weapons on April 18, 1915.  If the men handed over the weapons, they knew they would be killed, if they didn't it would be an excuse for additional massacres.  The Armenians in Van refused and blockaded themselves against an Ottoman attack.  The governor ordered that surrounded Armenian villages be eradicated.  Russian forces came in on May 18 and found some 55,000 corpses -- about one half of the area's pre-war Armenian population.  Meanwhile, Djevdit Bey's forces continued their attacks in the area.  By June, there were just one dozen Armenians left in the vilayet.)

Anyway, the end of the Turkish War of Indendence put an end to two millennia of Armenian civilization in Anatolia.  It is estimated that 600,000 to 1.5 million Armenians wer killed during the genocide. To this day, the government of Turkiye claims that the deportation of Armenians was a legitimate action,  They firmly deny any claim of genocide.

Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Little Miss Sure Shot:  Today marks the 138th anniversary of the hiring of sharpshooter Annie Oakley for Bufflao Bill's Wild West Show.  Here's an episode from the Annie Oakley television show that ran for three season fromn 1954 to 1957, starring Gail Davis, Brad Johnson. and Jimmy Hawkins.  The show had absolutely nothing to do with the real-life Oakley or her accomplishments, but it was a tissue of lies that a kid at the time could enjoy.

Pigs in a Blanket:  Today is also National Pigs in a Blanket Day.   All you need is some crescent rolls, some hot dogs, and a cookie sheet.  If you want to go fancy, you can baste the top of the dough lightly with an egg wash (a beaten agg and a little bit of water) and sprinkle them with sesame seeds or poppy seeds or some sort of seasoning.  If you really want to go fancy, you can add bacon or cheese to the hot dog.  Bake on an ungreased cookis sheet at 375 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they turn brown.  

By the way, it doen't have to be hot dogs; sausage of brats will do nicely.

Get Ready:  This coming Saturday is Bob Wills Day, celebrating the King of Western Swing.  I hope this will get you in the mood:

Saturday is also Independent Booksellers Day.  I'm not knocking the big box stores such as Barnes and Nobles, Borders, or Books-a-Million, but the indies are where you are more likely to find the books you want, rather than the books the publishers and corporate buyers want you to buy.  The staff at the indies are, almost to a person, incredibly knowledgable and friendly; they not only can get what you want but they can also recommend titles you didn't even know existed.  Give them a try.  You won't regret it.

Birthday Wishes:  Felicitations go out to William I of Orange (b. 1533; the founding father of the Netherlands); Vincent de Paul (b. 1581; French priest and saint and future thrift shop guru); Edmund Cartwright (b. 1743; inventor of the power loom); Anthony Trollope (b. 1815; a favorite novelist of Geroge Kelley); Carl Spitteler (b. 1845; Swiss 1919 Nobel Prize-winning poet and author whom few people today have heard of); Philippe Petain (b. 1856; former Prime Minister of France, World War I "Lion of Verdun" and World War II Vichy collaborationist); Queen Marau (b. 1860, the last queen of Tahiti; her name means "Much-unique-cleansing-the-splash"); Susanna Bokoyni (b. 1879; circus performer; according to Guinness World Records. she is the longest-living dwarf on record, dying in 1984); Con Walsh (b. 1885; Irish-born Canadian hammer thrower who set a record in 1910 for throwing the 56 pound weight 16 feet 7/8 of an inch high);  Elizabeth Goudge (b. 1900; English author of The Little White Horse, as well as the source novel for the film Green Dolphin Street); Willem de Kooning (b. 1904; abstract impressionist artist); Robert Penn Warren (b. 1905; author of All the King's Men and the only author to have received the Pulitzer Prize for both fiction and poetry); William Castle (b. 1914; horror film director who never met a cheesy publicity gimmick he didn't like); Phil Watson (b. 1914; two-time Stanley Cup champion [1940 New York Rangers and 1944 Montral Canadiens]); Justin Wilson (b. 1914; Cajun-inspired chef);Richard Donner (b. 1930; film director of The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, and many more, including two of Kitty's favorites, Ladyhawke and Timeline); Shirley MacLaine (b. 1934; actress and honorary member of the Rat Pack); Jill Ireland (b. 1936; actress and one-time Mrs. Ilya Kuryakin, later married to Charles Bronson); Sue Grafton (b. 1940; K is for Kinsey); Richard Holbrooke (b. 1941; diplomat and former Ambassador to the United Nations); Richard M. Daley (b. 1942; a big name in Chicago politics); Barbra Steisand (b. 1942; singer, actress, and goddess to many); Doug Clifford (b. 1945; drummer and founding member of Credence Clearwater Revival); Phil Robertson (b. 1946; Duck Dynasty guy); Roger D. Kornberg (b. 1947; biochemist and winner of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of how genetic information is copied from DNA to RNA); Paul Cellucci (b. 1948; former Massachusetts governor; a Republican, Cellucci never lost an election in his more than three decades of public service in heavily Democratic Massachusetts); Eric Bogosian (b. 1953; American playwright and actor; he played Gil Eavis in Succession; Mumia Abu-Jamal (b. 1954; journalist and activist; convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer, he spent 29 years on death row before his sentence reverted to life imprisonment without parole); Margaret Moran (b. 1955; former Labour Party MP whose fiddling with her expene accounts caused a scandal; she was accused of 21 criminal charges but did not appear in court due to mental health issues; she was found guilty in absentia; in 2010, attempts made to erase any mention of the scandal from her Wikipedia page failed); Cedric the Entertainer (b. 1964; stand-up comedian and actor); Djimon Hounsou (b. 1964; Benineses-American actor, known for Amistad, as well as for roles within the Marvel and DC franchises); Rory McCann (b. 1969; Scottish actor who played the Hound on Games of Thrones); Damon Lindelof (b. 1973; creator and showrunner for television series Lost); Eric Kripke (b. 1974; creator of the television series Supernatural); and Kelly Clarkson (b. 1982; massive talent and first season winner of American Idol).

It's nice to have a list like this where the good people outnumber the bad.

Florida Man:  I thought I would use this space today to comment on the stupidity of Governor Ron DeSantis and his cronies, but I found that the Minnesotan covered it much better in his blog TYWKIWDBI.

First, there's this:

Then, there's this:

Granted, the abuse of children is a heinous crime and cannot be tolerated, but I cannot help but remember how many people have been convicted of a crime and later exonerated.  Most person convicted are probably guilty but there are a number of them who are victims of politics, prejudice, and political gain.

Of course, these two examples are just the tip of the garbage iceberg that is the current Florida political scene.  **sigh**

Good News:
  •  Michigan clears criminal records of thousands of low-level, non-violent criminal offenders -- giving them a meaningful second chance
  • Scientist discover pristine deep-sea coral reef in Galpagos
  • Compostable plastic wrap made from seaweed withstands heat and can biodegrade in weeks
  • Contraceptive pill for men nears reality after a major breakthrough
  • A device that pulls dozens of liters of water from the air is already being installed in Jordanian desert homes
  • A lightning strike produced a phosphorus mineral never before seen on Earth
  • Lost dog treks over 150 miles of Alaskan sea ice before he is reunited with his family

Today's Poem:
Rosa Parks

In a bus, in the city of Montgomery,
A woman came aboard.
Little did anyone know at the time,
That this woman would change the world.
When the color of your skin made a difference in society,
And determined how you were treated,
There was a woman, who wanted to change that all,
And in the front of the bus, she seated.
When she was asked to move to the back like the rest,
She simply shook her head and didn't budge.
Even though he was a white man,
She was going to be the judge.
And even as they cuffed her hands,
And sent her away to jail,
In her mind she was not finished,
She knew she didn't fail.
Her actions started a very important movement,
In the history of African Americans.
It sparked a revolution for equality,
And so the civil rights movement began.

-- Rita Dove

In your face to the current Florida educational system!

1 comment:

  1. Once again you have some very interesting INCOMING books! Diane is carefully monitoring my incoming and pressing for more outgoing books.