Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, November 26, 2023


Openers:  Twenty-four chester stree was a rooming house.  Every morning at eight, weather permitting, the old woman from Room 4 stepped out on the portch, dragged a wicker chair to the railing and sat.

This one morning she didn't show until eight-thirty.  She stood for a moment wheezing the fine spring air into her lungs and patting her frizzy hair.  then she patted her cheek, dong it gently, as if the bright color of her face gave her pain.  she dragged the wicker chair to the railing and sat.

The old woman had a trick she dis with her upper lip, curling it back and giving a frightful view of her false teeth.  that happened every f minutes, like clockwork, except this time.  she suddenly got up from he chair, not quite fast enough, nd vomited.

At a quarter to nine the two girls from Roon11 found her there on the porrch.  the old woman started to twich a little when they dragger her back into the house, and by the time they had her under the light thathung by the staircase she was struggling to get free.'

"Lemme go, for heaven';s ske, lemme -- "

"Mrs. Tucker, you fainted.  Lie still now, Mrs. Tucker."

"gt your hands offen me, you!  I never been sick a day of  my life.  Ge your hands offen me," and she startd to screech the way she al;ways did.

They left her sitting on the stairs, under the twenty-five watt bulb, becaus they had to be at worl ten minutes later.

-- Stop This Man! by Peter Rabe (1955)

Mrs. Tucker doesn't realize it, but she is the victim of radioactive poisoning.  Three-time loser Tony Catell ha stolen a gold ingot from a univesity science lab, not relaizing that is was part of an experiemnt involving nuclear power, and thet the gold was dangerously radioactive.  Now the police and th FBI are after Tony and he has no place to go and the ingot he is dragging arund with him is leaving a trail of radiation sickness and death.  One thing Tony knows:  he is not going back to jail because he will be facing the electric chari.

Peter Rabe (1921-1990) was the author of over thirty books, mostly paperback original crime fiction, starting with Stop This Man!  He "had a clear and lucid style, and other than his series books, neve wrote to formula or wrote the same book over and over...He was a subtle writer , and the dialogue and choices made by his characters show them off in unusual ways...He zigs when most witers would zag which makes even his stock characters look interesting."  Luckily for today's readers, a number of his novels have been reprinted by Stark House, nd they are highly recommended.


  • James Lee Burke, Crusader's Cross.  A Dave Robicheaux novel.  "A deathbed confession from an old schoolmate resurrects a story of injustice, the murder of a young woman, and a time in Robicheaux's life he has tried to forget.  Her name may or may not have been Ida Durbin.  It was back in the innocent days of the 1950s when Robicheaux and his brother, Jimmie, met her on a Galveston beach.  She was pretty and Jimmie fell for her hard -- not knowing she was a prostitute on infamous Post Office Street, with ties to the mob.  Then  Ida was abducted and never seen again.  Now, decades later, Robicheaux is asking questions about Ida Durbin, and a couple of redneck deputy sheriffs make it clear that asking questions is a dangerous game.  With a series of horrifying murders and the sudden appearance of Valentine Chalons and his sister, Honoria, a disturbed and deeply alluring woman, Robicheaux is soon involved not only with the Chalons family but with the murderous energies of the New Orleans underwoorld.  Also he meets and finds himself drawn into a scandalous relationship with a remarkable Catholic nun."
  • Avram Davidson & Grania Davis, The Boss in the Wall:  A Treatise on the House Devil.  Fantasy, completed by Davis after Davidson's death.  "Professor Vlad Smith is on a terrifying quest, one that will take him from the halls of our most hallowed institutions to the most run-down of old houses in blighted neighborhoods.  A mysterious committee, a deguerrotype of a Confederate soldier, a headless corpse and a corpseless head...These are the clues which Smith must piece together to save his sanity and his daughter, and uncover the terrible secret of the Boss in the Wall."
  • E. Everett Evans, Alien Minds.  Science fiction.  "The ability to read minds is a mixed blessing, so learns George Hanlon, Secret Operative of the Inter-Stellar Corps.  His unique gift helps him with his assignments, of course -- except that he has a lot of trouble with alien minds.  He encounters a whole planet of alien minds on Estella when the semi-human inhabitants of this Earth-like world of another sundecide that they want nothing to do with the Federation Planets.  Hanlon's investigations lead him into complications and troubles, all of which contribute to the entertainment of this tale of intrigue on a distant world."  Typical mid-50s SF, a sequel to the author's Man of Many Minds.  Also, The Planet Mappers, another mid-50s SF adventure, this one winning the Boys Club of America annual award for the most enjoyable book.  The adventures of a family mapping planets 62 lightyears from Earth.  And, The Undead Die & Other Weird Tales, a collection of nine fantasy and science fiction story, including most of the fiction from the Evans tribute anthology Food for Demons.  The title story is a 1948 collaboration with Ray Bradbury.
  • Lee Goldberg, Calico.  Detective novel.  Disgraced former L.A. cop Beth McDade finds a chance at redemption on the Barstow, California police depart.  there, she is confronted with a century-old skeleton dug up from a shallow, sandy grave, and a vagrant run over and killed by a distracted driver during a violent lightning storm.  There's been a lot of positive buzz about this book, which wqas released on November 7.  Then, two days later and under my radar, this title was released:  Crown Vic.  Collection of two crime stories about Ray Boyd, "an ex-con traveling the open road in a used, black-and-white, Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor.  Ray is the anti-Reacher. He doesn't help people in trouble.  He helps himself.  Goldberg reminds of Max Allan Collins, simply because he's a talented writer who publishes so many books I can't keep up; but it's fun trying.  In an effort to keep with Goldberg, I also picked up Diagnosis Murder:  The Waking Nightmare, the fourth book in the television tie-in series.  Mark Sloan is faced with three problems:  a patient who has survived cancer twice, but insists on continuing her self-destructive behavior; a young woman who jumped out of a fifth floor window as Mark was watching, and now he must keep her alive while trying to learn why she tried to commit suicide; and a magazine publisher who was stabbed in the chest while in mid-air during a skydive.  Which now gives me seven of Goldberg's books on Mount TBR.  O, frabjous day!  Callooh!  Callay!
  • Chris Grabenstein, Whack a Mole.  A John Ceepak mystery.  "An innocent discovery on the beach in Sea Haven leads John Ceepak, the cop with an unshakable code of honor, and his rookie partner, the twentysomething wisecracker Danny Boyle, into the hunt for a long-dormant serial killer who might be crawling out of his hiding hole to strike again.  Like the relentless rodents in the Boardwalk arcade game, gruesome clues keep popping up all over the island as Ceepak (the former soldier who will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do) finds himself up against an adversary with an even stricter code, a code he rigidly enforces.  When the killer targets his next victim, the consequences become dire for Ceepak and Boyle.  This is a game they have to win!"
  • Nigel Kneale, The Old Woman with All the Cats.  An unpublished short story discovered among Kneale's papers in 2022.  Kneale is perhaps best known as the creator of Quatermass, the protagonist of a series of BBC television shows (and related films) in the 1950s.  Tomato Cain, his 1950 Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection of 29 stories is highly recommended.
  • Dean Koontz, Ricochet Joe, suspense novella.  "Joe Mandel is a perfectly ordinary guy from a perfectly ordinary town -- a college student and a community volunteer who dreams one day of publishing a novel.  When a series of strange intuitions leads him to a crime in progress. Joe jumps headlong into danger without hesitation.  In the aftermath, he wonders about the uncanny impulse that suddenly swept over him.  Until new friend Portia Montclair, the strangely wise daughter of the local police chief, explains to him what sent him ricocheting around town like a crazy pinball.  Portia tells of another reality, a reality more thrilling -- and terrifying -- than Joe ever imagined.  Timeless, elemental forces of good and evil have come to the quiet town of Little City:  a cosmic entity capable of infecting human beings, and the seeker who has chosen Joe to find it.  To stop the malevolent invader, this average Joe must be braver than he ever thought possible...and face the hardest decisions of his life."  Also, The Neighbor, a short story prequel to the novel The City, originally included as a bonus tale in a trade paperbeck edition of The City.  In the darkest hours of the night, a very secretive new neighbor moves in next doo to the Pomerantz family.
  • Frank Owen, A Husband for Kutani, a collection of four oriental fantasies, including "Doctor Shen Fu," the first in a brief series about a Chinese alchemist who possesses the elixir of life.

Bonus Imcoming, Small Business Saturday Edition:  So Saturday I decided to spread the little money I don't have among local small business.  Specifically, local used book stores:
  •  Peter S. Beagle, I See By My Outfit.  A 1964-5 account of Beagle's 3000-mile journey with a friend across America on motor scooters, back in the day when he was a "bearded non-beatnik."
  • Amber Benson, Death's Daughter.  Fantasy, the first in the Calliope Reaper-Jones series about a girl who is (you guessed it!) Death's daughter.  "For the last few years I'd been in a state of bliss -- living under a self-imposed Forgetting Charm, because I so did nor want to go into the family business.  What I wanted was a glamorous career in New York City and the opportunity for a normal life -- buyng designer shoes on sale, dating guys from craigslist, Web surfing for organic dimsum for my boss.  And then my father's Executive Assistant, a faun named Jarvis, showed up to tell me that my dad had been kidnapped.  Good-bye, Forgetting Charm.  Hello, (unwanted) responsibilitity.  Not only am I expected to step into the CEO slot on the company Board, but I have to 'prove my worth' by competing against the Devil's protege -- who's so hot on more weays than one.  The contest involves finding three (why is it always three?) objects of power in Hell.  One of them is this adorble puppy -- who happens to be a hellhound.  The others are turnig out to be not much fun.  All this so I can take (unwnted) charge of Death, Inc.  My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones, and I'm Death's daughter."  Benson is also the co-creator of the nimated web series Ghosts of Albion with Christopher Golden.  If the actress, producer, and director looks familiar, that may be because she played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for three years.
  • Nicolas (yes, that's how he spelled his first name) Bentley, Inside Information.  Crime novel,  "For a clever man, Dufferin had made an idiotic decision.  With only four months left to serve, he had decided that the food in Dartmoor was getting him down.  Back outside he's back in trouble.  A gold bullion heist seemed like another good idea, at the time..."  Bentley, the son of E. C. Bentley and godson to G. K. Chesterton, was an author, illustrator, and cartoonist (he illustrated T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, among others) who published more than 70 books in his career.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions (translated by Andrw Hurley) and Selected Non-Fictions (edited by Eliot Weinberger and translated by Esther Allen, suzanne Jill Levine, and Eliot Weinberger).  Two heft collections of Borges's work.  Fictions contains 101 stories; Non-Fictions contains 162 essays, articles, reviews, lectures, prologues, and other pieces.  Heft stuff, but Borges is worth it.
  • Ben Bova, The Sam Gunn Omnibus.  Science fiction collection with 50 tales of Sam Gunn:  "A man with the ego (and stature) of Napoleon, the business acumen of P. T. Barnum, and the raging hormones of a teenage boy, Sam is the finest astronaut NASA had ever trained...and dropped."
  • Peter Brandvold, The Romantics.  Western novel from Mean Pete.  "The daughter of a Hispanic landowner, Marina Clark, has been given a map that purports to lead the way to a hidden cache of Spanish gold.  To her husband, Adrian, his beautiful wife and her map are the keys to restoring his family's fortunes and honor, both lost during the Civil War. The Clark's guide through sun- and sand-blasted lands of what will one day become the American Southwest is Jack Cameron, a deadly shot who has won fame as an Indian scout.  It should be an easy trip. assuming they can avoid marauding Apaches and greedy Mexican rurales.  But the Clarks are not the only ones seeking the gold.  Gaston Bachelard, a former Confederate Army officer turned bandit, is hot on the Clark's trail, eager to use the Spanish Gold to fuel a revolution in Texas.  Bachelard will kill anyone who stands in his way."
  • A. Bertram Chandler, John Grimes:  Reserve Commander.  Science fiction omnibus containing the books The Last Amazon, The Wild Ones, and Catch the Star Winds, plus six uncollected John Grimes stories; and, John Grimes:  Rim Runner, an omnibus containing the books Into the Alternate Universe, Contraband from Outer Space, The Rim Gods, and The Commodore at Sea; and, John Grimes:  Survey Captain, an omnibus containg the books The Broken Cycle, The Big Black Mark, The Far Traveler, and Star Courier.  The Grimes stories take place out on the Galactic Rim, where strange things happen, including visits to other dimensions.  The Grimes series (23 novels and several collections of short stories) is a subset of Chandler's larger Rim World series.  Chandler was a ship's officer and his tales often tale the form of nautical stories in space, ususually with a distince Australian flavor.  I find his books both imaginative and irresistable.
  • "Francis Clifford" (Arthur Leonard Bell Thompson), The Hunting Ground.  Suspense thriller, a "novel of intrigue in a Caribbean police state...[it] begins with a spectacular plane crash -- a crash that never made the headlines. that no one talked about, that might never have happened.  Except for one inadvertent witness who photographed the victims and found he was IT in a breakneck chase, running for his life."  Clifford penned 18 novels, including two that won the Crime Writers Association Silver Dagger Award; two of his novels were also short-listed for the 
    Edgar Award.  Probably his best known novel was The Naked Runner, the basis of the 1967 Frank Sinatra movie.
  • Lester Dent, Lady to Kill, mystery, a Detective Book Club edition, also containing Phoebe Atwood Taylor's Punch with Care and Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Borrowed Brunette.  The Dent involves a business deal gone bad, an elaborate corporate conspiracy, a woman who is not who people thinks she is, an attempt to girll a young physician's assistant, and killers on a train.  Dent, of course, was the legendary pulpster who wrote most of the Doc Savage novles under the house name "Kenneth Robeson."  The Taylor was the penultimate (.1946) novel about the "Codfish Sherlock," Asey Mayo.  The Gardner was the 28th book in the long-running series about attorney Perry Mason.
  • Stanley Ellin, The Blessington Method and Other Strange Tales and Kindly Dig Your GRave and Other Wicked Stories.  Mystery collections with 10 and 9 stories, respectively.  Ellin was a legendary and talented mysery short story writer.
  • Paul W. Fariman, Smile When You Say That.  A Western comedy.  "Peter was just a boy growing up in the Old West, until his fun-loving 'mother' and swinging 'sister' made a man out of him."  Fairman ws a lower-tier writer and editor on many genres, including science fiction, fantasy, suspense, erotica, juveniles, and tie-ins.  He was the founding editor of If Science Fiction (leaving after four issues) and Dream World (which lasted for three issues), spent two and a half years editing Amazing Stories and Fantastic, and was the managing editor of EQMM for five years. We wrote the main body of the Ellery Queen/Jack the Ripper mash-up A Study in Terror a number of the lesser Lester del Rey science fiction novels.  Farmer also penned five volumes of the bottom-feeding Man fron S.T.U.D. series.
  • Roger Garis, My Father Was Uncle Wiggily:  The Story of the Remarkable Garis Family.  A memoir of witer Howard Garis and his wife Lilian, authors of more than a thousand books.  Garis wrote the syndicated Uncle Wiggily stories -- nearly 15,000 episodes, as well as many ju vnile series books for the stratemeyer sydicate, including the first 35 Tom Swift novels, ,most (if not all) of the Motor Boys series, the Motor Girls series, the first six volumes of the Great Marvel series (Five Thousand Miles Underground, By Air Express to Venus, etc.),  the Rocket Riders series, a Don Sturdy novel, a Radio boys novel, the Baseball Joe Series, the Campfire Girls series, the Mystery Boys series, the Daddy series, the Two Wild Cherries series, the Rick and Ruddy series, the Those Smith Boys series, the Venture Boys series, the Larry Dexter series, the Three Little Trippertots series, the Tom Cardiff series, the Circus Animal stroies, the Curleytops series, the Buddy series, the Teddy Series, the Happy Home series, and the Outdoor Girls series.  Garis had been credited with writing the Bobbsey Twins series, but these were actually written by his wife and writing partner, Lilian, wrote also the Let's Make Believe series, the Girl Scouts series, he Nancy Brandon books, the Barbara Hale books, the Ted books, the Cleo books, the Connie Loring books, the Judy Jordan books, the Sally books, the Gloria books, the Joan Books, the Melodie Lane series, (I have a feeling I am omitting a lot of books) -- Howard and Lilian Garis were the mosr prolific children's authors of the twentieth century.
  • "Andrew Garve" (Paul Winterton), Home to Roost.  Mystery novel.  "The whispering voice on the telephone had reported a corpse.  and, indeed, the police found Max Ryland, film star and womanizer, pinned to his floor with a knife.  Suspects abound; and first among the is Walter Haines, for the irresistable Ryland had stolen, then abandoned, Haines's beloved wife.  A highly successful writer of detective fiction, Haines now confesses to the crime -- but is he, or is he not, telling the truth?"  Winterton also wrote as "Roger Bax" and 'Paul Somers."
  • Christopher Golden & Thomas E. Sniegoski, The Nimble Man.  Fantasy/horror novel, the first in the Menagerie series.  "Buried behind the facade of a stately Boston brownstone, humanity's last defenses are being marshaled.  Called to action by the enigmatic, brilliant man known only as Mr. Doyle, they hail from all planes of existence and are born from an array of supernatural and otherwordly backgrounds and bloodlines.  But as the group struggles to come to terms with their shadowy pasts, personal demons, and conflicting loyalties, their greatest challenge awaits them.  Together, they will confront the minions of utter darkness, who have already begun their quest to resurrect the most malevolent of the fallen angels -- whose wrath against mankind knows no bounds."
  • William Golding, The Inheritors.  Prehistoric fiction from the Nobel Prize winning author of The Lord of the Flies.  This one concerns the extinction of one of the last remaining tribes of Nenandethals at the hands of Homo Sapiens.
  • Martin H. Greenberg & Bruce D. Arthurs, eds., Olympus.  Original fantasy anthology of 17 stories concernig the various Greek gods.
  • Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers, eds., Black Cats and Broken Mirrors.  Fantasy antholgy of 17 stories covering both the light and dark sides of superstitions.
  • Lee Hoffman, Trouble Valley.  Western.  "The Widner brothers had come a long way, through badlands and deserts, to deliver a wild herd of  mustang to Harry Boswick's ranch.  All they wanted now was to collect the fifty bucks a head they'd been promised.  Problem was, before he could pay them, Boswick was dead.  Now Gus Widner found himself the unwilling investigator of a bullet wound intended for him..."  Aong with science fictio and romance novels, Hoffman wrote seventeen westrns, winning a Spur Award for The Valdez Horses, which was adapted into the 1973 Charles Bronson-Jill ireland films.
  • Harold Lamb, Theodora and the Emperor:  The Drama of Justinian.   Nonfiction about "the shepherd boy and the circus girl who forged the mighty empire of Byzantium from the ruins of barbarian-ravaged Rome"  Lamb was a popular writer of historical aventure fiction who also penned eight highly regarded biographies of historical figures, as well as ten popular books of history.
  • Brian Lumley, Hero of Dreams.  Fantasy, the firts of Lumley's books set in H. P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands.  "Parallel worlds!  Earth, created out of universal chaos, and the Dreamlands, spawned of the dreams of men.  But where dreams turn to nightmares, Death is the only crossing-point...Ex-waking worlders David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer are now sellswords in that ephemeral dimension called Dreamland.  Once a talented artist of the fantastic, now Hero's art is the wizardry of swordplay.  Once a lecturing professor, now Eldin professes a knowledge of the dark, mysterious Dream Realms second to none.  A formidable pair!  But face to face with Yibb-Tstll and the Gaunts of Night, the Eidolon Lathi and her brood, and the mad, alien First One who plots to set free dreaming Cthulhu from eons-old imprisonment...what can mere men do?"  This one could be really interesting or a total train wreck.
  • "Whit Masterson" (Robert Wade), The Man With Two Clocks. Suspense thriller.  (The Masterson byline was originally used by Wade and Bill Miller, who also wrote as "Wade Miller;"  Bill Miller died in 1961, and Wade continued alone -- including for this 1974 novel.)   "Michael Grail had to prove that he was not a traitor.  One day Grail was driving to Mexico, convinced that he was the luckiest man alive.  Healthy, solvent, in love with his beautiful wife Dory, he had not a problem in the world.  He would never feel that way again.  For suddenly, it was all changed.  He became the victim of a mysterious abductio...and the beneficiary of an equally mysterious rescue.  Then he had his first session with our government security agents and their inexplicable questions.  The search for the answers would send Grail on a strange and terrible mission to a place few men visited.  Here, without allies, he would be pitted against dangerous enemies, knowing that his nation's needs were far more important than his own survival."
  • James Reasoner, Death Head Crossing.  Western.  "Death-Head Crossing is just the name of a little town in Texas -- until the population starts shrinking one body at a time.  But the deaths are as mysterious as the face of the murderer, and only gunslinger Hell Jackson has what it takes to ride through the reign of terror and put an end to the killings...Jackson also gets an unwanted partner:  Everett Sidney Howard, a cub reporter from New York City looking to make a name for himself riding alongside a famous gunman.  Together the two face a gauntlet of dangers from rustlers, night riders, and more unexpected foes, as they close in on a murderous gang that'll stop at nothing to get what they want."
  • "Peter Saxon" (house name originally used by W. Howard Baker; the author of this novel is unknown), The Enemy Sky.  World War I air adventure of the Royal Flying Corps, the third and final book in the series.  ""The bright red of the Flight Commander's ribbons streamed from the main braces of Captain Frank Thompson's Sopwith Pup.  It was his first command:  an offensive patrol deep into Germany.  Suddenly he saw the dark shape of a Hun Albatros far below in the enemy sky.  Instinctively he knew it was a trap; but young Cardew was caught in it -- and the jaws were closing fast.  Frank signalled the attack.  Then he throttled back and half-rolled the Pup to pull out of the vertical."
  • "Hampton Stone"  (Aaron Marc Stein, who also wote as "George Bagby"), The Corpse Was No Bargain at All.  Mystery novel.  "While sunning himself on the terrace of his Manhattan apartment, Mac, of the New York D.A.'s office, can't help but notice the couple on the terrace across the way.  They are behaving in a manner more suitable to the bedroom than a sun terrce.  But as Mac soon learns, there's considerable method to their madness.  What appears to be innocent, if rather public, dalliance, is in fact a clever attempt to establish an alibi for a murder that's happening fifty miles away.  It's the start of a confusing case, and Mac and his fellow Assistant D.A. and partner, Jeremiah X. Gibson, uncover some bizarre (and lurid) details before they come to an unexpected solution."  Stein, with over 100 novels to his credit, was named a MWA Grand Master in 1979.
  • Louis Trimble, Crossfire.  Western.  "When Rand Stewart came home after four years in th Army of th West, he found things different in Silver River Valley -- His father was murdered.; rancher had turned against rancher; Rand's best friend couldn't meet his eye; the sheriff was a drunken bartender...Alone, against heavy odds, Rand stewart fought for his land and for Law and Justice in Silver River Valley."  A mid-list (or lower) writer, Trimble penned a number of science fiction, mystery, and western novels through his career, some under the pen name "Stuart Brock."
  • Richard S. Wheeler, Aftershocks.  A novel of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  And, Rendezvous.   Western, the eighth novel in the long-running series featuring mountain man Barnaby Skye.  And, Vengeance Valley.  Western novel of siver mining in the San Juan Mountains.  Wheeler was one of the best writers of historical western novels in the past fifty years. His books were meticulously researched and unfailingly interesting.  He was the 2001 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions to Western literature and a six-time Spur Award winner.

A Busy Day:  November 27 was a busy day in history.  Sadly, not all of it was on the side of the angels:
  •  Byzantine emperor Maurice (539-60) ruiled the empire for twenty years after being chosen as the heir and son-in-law if his predecessor, Tiberius II.  Tiberius had been a popular and generous ruler whose generosity had drained the coffers of the empire.  Maurice's reign was marked by constant warfare.  A successful general, he defeated the Persians, greatly expanding the eastern border of the empire.  To the north, he pushed the Avars across the Danube and became the first Roman emperor to cross the Danube in over 200 years.  To the west, he established two semi-automonous provinces, including one in Italy which helped stop the advances of the Lombards.  He created the Exarchate of Africa in 591, solidifyng the power of Constantinople in the western Mediterranean.  These miltary and political victories came at a great price, creating financial problems for the empire -- which had already been shaky because of the previous administration of Justinian II.  This led to Phocus, a dissatisfied military officer to usurp the throne, and on this day in 602, Maurice was forced to watch as Phocus executed his six sons before he himself was executed.   The death of Maurice led to a 26-year war with Persia which left both empiresweak and ripe for eventual Moslem conquests.
  • On this day in the year 1542, the Palace Women's Uprising in the Ming Dynasty was held.  Sixteen palace women conspired to kill the Jaijing Emperor.  One legend has it that the emperor, a doaist who believed greatly in divination and alchemy, prolonged his life by drinking a mixture that contained the menstral blood of female virgins, aged 13 and 14.  The girls were fed only mulbery leaves and water; if any fell ill, they would be cast aside.  Some feel that this cruel treatment led to the u prising.  Another legend has it that the emperor had been given a "longeity turtle," painted in five colors, which died.  Furious, the emperor ordered his lower concubines to collect the morning dew from the banana trees in his garden.  (This was a long-held practice of the Jaijing Emperor, who like the flavor of the dew.)  A number of his concubines became ill because of the morning cold.  Meanwhile, the Imperial concubine Wang Ning was spreading rumors against the emperor's favorite concubine Consort Duan, claiming that Duan was actually a malevolent fox spirit who  had enchanted the emperor and was invoking the wrath of heaven.  When the Jijing Emperor discovered this, he order Wang Nng to collect the morning dew as punishment.  Wnag Ning conspire with other dew collectors to kill the emperor in Duan's quarters, saying that the death of the turtle wa a sign that the emperor had lost Heaven's favor because of his relationship with Duan.  Whatever the reason, the palace women caught the emperor in Duan's quarters and attempted to strangle him.  Word of the plot got to the Empress Fang, who rushed with the palace eunuchs to arrest the women and revived the emperor.  The Jaijiung emperor spend several days in a coma and, when he recovered, he discovered that Fang had had all the conspirators -- and the Consort Duan -- executed by slow slicing.  Fang also had ten mebers of the women's families beheaded and a further twenty enslaved and given to ministers.  (Morale:  Do not pipss off the Empress Fang.)  The emperor was upset that Fang had executed his favorite concumbine and, when there was a palace fire in 1547, he refused to rescue Fang and she burned to death.  Meanwhile the emperor did not stop his practive of drinking menstrual blood.  Over the next few years, he recruited 300 girls between the ages of 11 and 14 as new palace women.  Five years later the lower age limit was reduced to 8 and 200 additional girls were recruited.  By 1555, another 150 girls under the age of eight were recruited to make the menstrual blood potion.  The Jaijing Emperor died in 1567 at the age of 60; who is to say whether the blood potion worked?
  • November 27, 1835, James Pratt and John  Smith were hanged in London.  they were the l=ast two persons to be executed in England for sodomy.  They were allegedly arrested after being spied on through a keyhole having sex in the rented room of William Bonill by the building's landlord, who had grown suspicious because Bonill had had many male visitors.  (Although Bonill was not present, -- he had stepped out to buy a jug ale, he was transported to Australia as an accessory to the crime.)    There has been some modern doubt cast about the actual crime.  The keyhole in question offered a limited the view and some of the acts decribed by the landlord and his wife (who also had a gander through the keyhole) were physically impossible.  At the trial, Pratt had a number of witnesses vouching for his charactr (no witness came forward for Smith, though).  The couple were found guilty of section 15 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1828 (which had replaced the 1533 Buggery Act) and were sentenced to hang.  bonill was given 14 years of penal transportation; at the time Bonill was 68 years old was likely not to serve his full sentence.  The magistrate at the trial, Hensleigh Wedgewood, later complained that poor men were more apt to suffer under this law than rich men, who could post bail and then flee the jurisdiction.  Although deeply religious, Wedgewood actually believed that gay se was not harmful.  nonetheless, he adhered to the law and pronounce the deth sentence on the two men.  (At the time, there were seventeen individuals who had been sentenced to death during the September and October session of the Central Criminal Court; on November 21, fifteen of them -- none of whom had been convicted of sodomy -- had their sentences remitted under the Royal Perogative of Mercy.  Pratt and Smith, despite many pleas for mercy, including those from the landlord and his wife whose keyhole spying had led to the arrestwere hanged.  Charles Dickens, in Sketches by Boz, included an account of his visit with the accused in Newgate Prison.  Both Pratt and Smith were posthumously pardoned in 2017 under the Alan Turing law -- something I am sure the two appreciated.
  • This day also marks the anniversary of the 1868 Battle of the Washita River (or the Washita Massacre) in Oklahoma under troops commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.  Custer's 7th U.S. Cavalry, which numbered 574 soldiers, attacked the winter camp of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle.  Supposed, Custer's scouts had found the isolated camp by tracking an Indian party that had attacked settlers.  Black Kettle and his people bad been at peace and were seeking peace.  Custer and his men were led to the camp by a group of Osage, the traditional enemies of the Cheyenne; the Osage did not take part in the battle; instead they watched the proceedings frombehind the color-bearer of the 7th Cavalry.  The camp held an estimated 150 warriors; the total population of the camp was estimated to be 250 persons.  Estimates of the casualties varied greatly.  Civilian scouts reported that from 16 to 140+  warriors were killed, as well as from "some" to 75 women and shildren were killed; Cheyene estimated had from 11 to 18 men killed, as well as from 17 to 'many" women and children were killed.  The "official" count had from 13 to 150 killed and 53 womwn and children captured.  Army casulatied were 21 killed and 13 wounded.  Black Kettle and his wife were shot in the back and killed as they tried to flee.  Was this a battle or a massacre?  Custer himself did not believe it was a massacre, saying he did not kill every Indian in the village and that his forces could not avoid killing a few women in the middle of a hard fight.  Many disagreed.  The arguments continue to this day.
  • On this day in 1924, the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.  The large balloon of Snoopy was not present.
  • And in 1965, the Pentagon tolf President Lyndon Johnson that, in order for plans for the Vietnam conflict to succed, American troop presence would have to be increased from 120,000 to 400,000.  We know how well that worked.
  • San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated on November 27, 1978 by former Supervisor Dan White.  White's eventual trial led to the creation of the "Twinkie defense," which argued diminished capacty due to depression cause by sugar-laden junk food.  White was sentenced to seven year's imprisonment under a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter; his conviction led to both the White night riots and the abolition of California's diminshed capacitycriminal defense.  Moscone's successor, Diane Feinstein, was the first female mayor of the city, a post she held for the next ten years; she would go on to become a United State senator until her death earlier this year.  Milk became recognized as a gay martyr.
  • In 2001, the Hubble telscope detected a hydrogen atmosphere on the exoplanet Osirisin the constellation Pegasus, some 157 light-year from our solar system, , marking the first atmosphere detected on an exoplanet.  Both Hubble and the James Webb telescope continue to bring new and exciting findings about our universe.  We are truly living in an age of wonders.
  • A mass shooting in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs left three dead and nine injured in 2015.  the ttacker, Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., surrendered and was later found to be incompetent to stand trial and was ordered to be indefinitley confined to a colorado state mental institution, where he remains.  Both mass shootings and anti-choice violence remain a plague on our country.
  • Today is also the birthday of Buffalo Bob Smith (1917-1998), the host of The Howdy Doody Show.  Here's a 1958 episode of the show:  It is also the birthday of musician Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970): and and

Consider:  "Do more than belong:  paticipate.  Do more than care:  help.  Do more than be fair:  be kind.  Do more than forgive:  forget."  -- William Arthur Ward

Want to Know How to Get Along with Women?:  Here, hold my beer while I link to the Decmebr 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan, in which actress Ann Southern explains it all:

Today's Joke -- Your Laughter Mileage May vary:  I love going outdoors.  It's so much easier than going out windows.

Herbie Popnecker -- The Movie!:  Yes, fans!  It's the Fat Fury as he faces his old enemy, Ticklepuss, the cave girl onsessed with Herbie!

And here's all you need to know about Herbie:

Florida Man:
  •  A marriage is usually a joyuful occasion, but for Florida Man Cody Wiggins, 29, it led to his being accused of shooting his spouse and his brother-in-law following a wessing in Franklin, Tennessee.  Details are sketchy and the conditions of both victims is unknown, but Wiggins has been charged with attempted homicide, agrravated assault, aggravated domestic assault, and tmpering with evidence.
  • An unnamed 11-year-old Florida boy, a student ay Umatilla Middle School in Lake County, is in hot water after making a false bomb threat in class.  He was, he said, inspired by a reent trend on TikTok.  Evidently to get points, you have to yell out the statement.  In August, three students in Kentucky made simlar bomb threats after watching videos posted on TikTok.
  • If you want to do something, you should go all the way.  At least that seems to be the feeling of Florida Man Cory hill, of Orange County.  Hill is being charged in the shooting death of his wife, Shakeira Rucker, whose body was found days later in a storage shed.  Three hours after alledgedly killing his wife, Hill drove to his ex-girlfriend's home and attemped to kill her.  Evidently, neither the ex-girlfriend, Angel Milligan, nor Rucker were aware of Hill's relationship with each until recently.  Rucker's body was discovered days after Hill had been arrested for shooting Milligan, following compaints of a bad odor coming from Hill's storage shed.
  • 36-year-old Florida Man Donovan Matthews of Palm Coast, was arreested following a road rage incident that began with a thrown cup of coffee during an argument at Chick-fil-A restaurant.  Needles to say, the argument did not happen on a sunday.
  • Not-a-Florida-Man Adam Sandler is starring as a cranky old lizard in a soon to be released Netflix movie set in a Fort Myers elementary school, because when you think cranky old lizard, you automatically think of Florida.
  • Florida Thanksgiving was celebrated vertically by riders on the Rip Ride Rocket at Universal Studio in Orlando as the rolloer coaster remained stuck in a vertical position for nearly an hour.  No injuries were reported, nor was it rported how many Thansgiving dinners were lost.  The ride fetures a 175-foot verticle lift followed by a series of loops, twist, and turns. 

Good News:
  •  Police give motorists a Thanksgiving surprise by handing out turkeys instead of tickets
  • Mom channeled her teminal cancer into debt-relieffundraiser -- wiping out $65 million in medical debt
  • Wendy's worker saves customer's life
  • Hero truck driver saves choking woman who showed up at construction site
  • Seven swimmers owe their lives to Australian teens on boogie boards -- two rescues in one week
  • College project spurs students to establish orphanges for homeless kids in the Philippines
  • A scan of 27 million compounds identifies a new one that outperforms pain medications

Banana Pudding:  November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month.   Here's a handy recipe that will up a four-quart dish (or about one serving if you like banana pudding as much as I do):

Today's Poem, Because It Also Happens To Be Turtle Adoption Day Today:

My Green Sea Turtle

wonderful slick shell,
Brown and golden, the color of a shell.
That perfect shaped shell.
The shell of my turtle I know too well.

You are the greenest.
The most bravest.
And fastest (I think)
And maybe the smartest too.

You slick and slide,
And glide on by,
The water is what you love.
And you swim in the water, like a dove in the sky.

-- Danielle Deason

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