Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 9, 2018


Openers:  "Some years back I came here and heard him preach, and I didn't like him.  Stayed after one of his sermons and talked to him about, how shall I say, being more Christ-like and less Joshua-like, since being Christians, we weren't supposed to be worshipping the old ways, but the new ways of Jesus.  You see, he talked the Old Testament and tossed in lizard men from time to time."
     "Say what?" Leonard said.
-- Joe R. Lansdale, Jackrabbit Smile

I've Been Reading:  Most of the week was spent dipping into 2004's The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, a massive, over-sized, 600+ page compilation of cartoons from 1924 to 2004 -- the book only, not the two accompanying CDs containing over 64,000 cartoons.  It's surprising how many of the cartoons have held up (and how many times I laughed).  George Price, George Booth, Gardner Rea, Chas Addams, Roz Chast, Charles Barsotti, Peter Arno, Gahan Wilson, Saul Steinburg, and -- of course James Thurber...they are all there, and many others.  The original hardcover (there was also a paperbound edition) cover price in 2004 was $60 and Abebooks currently lists 258 copies ranging from $2.95 (hardbound, in acceptable condition) to $408.83 (in very good condition), plus shipping.  I got my copy, in mint condition, for $1.50 at a thrift store.  This week I also finished Manga Shakespeare:  King Lear, a graphic novel re-imagining the old British King as an Algonquin chief during the French and Indian War.  An interesting take and my FFB for last Friday.  I also finished Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, a domestic thriller that takes a surprising turn into fantasy and horror.  I also read Bill Pronzini's The Bag of Tricks Affair (a Carpenter and Quincannon mystery set in 1890's San Francisco) and Joe R. Lansdale's latest Hap and Leonard novel, Jackrabbit Smile (quoted from above).  Good reads, both.

Sad and Glad:  This week we heard from Kitty's Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Don, both in their 90s and living the good life in Coeur d'Alene.  Their granddaughter Serena, whom we had never met, had just passed away after a long bout with cancer.  She was in her forties, married, with a child.  We could hear the pain of the loss shrieking from the the ink on Charlotte's note.  Cancer is a vile, indiscriminate evil and the pain it leaves behind is thoughtless and cruel.
     A few days later we heard from Kitty's niece Sarah, who is now engaged to be married.  Huzzah!  Sarah is a bright, funny, and thoughtful woman who is a joy to be with, notwithstanding the fact that she is a die-hard Republican.  (She is one of the few people who can out-snark me and I love her for it.)  Her fiance is a genuinely good guy and they should have a great life together.
     These two events got me thinking about Kitty's father, who passed away almost eighteen years ago from pancreatic cancer, just days before his first great-grandchild (Mark) was born.  He would have been tickled pink by Mark and proud of the young man he has grown up to be.  My father, who died almost forty years ago and never got to see his grandchildren grow up, would have been the same.  The circle of life continues, singing its sad and joyful song.

Blankets Hugs:  A Canadian friend of one of our close friends has started a Canada-wide project in response to last Friday's horrific Humbolt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash that killed at least fifteen people and injured more than a dozen others.  Michele Kane of Winnipeg is a member of the Facebook group Canadian Crocheters.  She put out a call to its more than 1500 members to help make blankets fro the families of the bus passengers.  The response has been so great that she now hopes to provide a blanket for everyone effected by the accident, including the tractor trailer driver, first responders, and others.  "It's a warm hug, from strangers really, but fellow Canadians. Just to say that we're thinking about you, we're here for you, and here's a hug from us,"she said.  Each participating member of the Facebook group will complete a blanket square in yellow and green (the Humbolt Broncos colors) and will include a note from the maker saying where the square was made, along with any thoughts or prayers for the recipient.  It takes forty-two squares to make a blanket.  The individual squares will be sent to Kane, who will have a small group of crocheters assemble them into blankets.  All blankets will be completed and ready to be delivered by the end of this month.  "This is a small thing for us to make a square, it doesn't take very long..." (Each square takes about an hour to make --)  "... but it means a lot."
     Hats off to these Canadians.  It reminds me of the days immediately after 9-11 before the neo-cons pushed an anti-Muslim agenda, when Americans would go up to Muslims on the street and ask it they were okay, if they felt safe.  You know, the good old days when America did not define someone by their race or religion.  (Well, actually and sadly, we almost always did.  Ask the Blacks, the Jews, the Irish, the Chinese, the Cambodians, the Mexicans, or most anyone else.  But in those very few days after 9-11, we did show our better selves to the world by standing up to hatred and caring.)

Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill:  Since Florida launched a new high-speed train in January, it has struck and killed four people, the latest yesterday.  Three other people have been hit and survived.  At the moment it appears the victims did not heed safety warnings, although it could be that the safety warnings are inadequate.  Is this an example of the Darwin Awards in action or of the Peter Principle?  Ah, progress...

Copycat:  I have watched all four episodes of the new CBS show Instinct and I am less than impressed.  Starring the talented Alan Cumming, the show sounded like it might have legs, but it proved to be totally imitative and boring.  How totally imitative, you say?  Well. the third episode ripped off a 2009 episode of Bones.  Michael Rausch, the series creator (from a book by James Patterson and Howard Roughan), as well as show runner, issued a somewhat dubious (to me) apology.  The script writer, Christopher Ambrose, has been in the game since 2001 and has written at least 32 previous television episodes, including four episodes for Bones.  Ambrose's script may have been a case what is called cryptomnesia, but the the fact that it aired without someone raising a flag is disturbing.  For a more in-depth look (and a description of cryptomnesia), click on this link:

The Good Days: "The last execution  of women for political offenses took place in the year 1685.  One of these, Mrs. Alicia Lisle, gave friendly shelter to two fugitive rebels after the battle of Sedgemoor.  Judge Jeffries, having caused her to be found guilty, sentenced her to be burnt alive.  a petition procured for her the less terrible doom of death by the axe.  The other victim ,who was tried a few days later, was Elizabeth Gaunt, who had assisted one Burton, concerned in the Rye House Plot, to escape from justice.  Afterwards, to screen himself, he basely betrayed his preserver, and appeared at principal witness at her trial.  The hapless woman was burnt alive."  Famous Crimes Past and Present, Volume 1 (1903), edited by Harold Furniss
     The same issue reprinted an anti-capital punishment poem by "W. W. W." from September 13, 1873.  The last two lines of the poem are:  "Shame on the laws that boast as their last hope/A palsied hangman and a yielding rope!"

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid:  Homeland Security wants to compile a list of reporters, bloggers, and "media influencers."  Jeez, Louise.