Openers: There appeareth in these days of ours (of which many do believe that they be the last days) among the common folk, a certain disease which causeth those who do suffer from it (so soon as they have either scraped and higgled together so much that they can, besides a few pence in their pocket, wear a fool's coat of the new fashion with a thousand bits of silk ribbon upon it, or by some trick of fortune have become known as men of parts) forthwith to give themselves out gentlemen and nobles of ancient descent. Whereas it doth often happen that their ancestors were day-laborers, carters, and porters, their cousins donkey-drivers, their brothers turnkeys and catchpolls, their sisters harlots, their mothers bawds -- yea, witches even: and in a word, their whole pedigree of thirty-two quarterings as full of dirt and stain as ever was the sugar-bakers' guild of Prague. Yea, these new sprigs of nobility be often themselves as black as if they had been born and bred in Guinea. -- The Adventurous Simplicissimus (also known as Simplicius Simplicissimus) by Hans Jakob Christof von Grimmelshausen (1668)
[Not the most politically correct way to start off a novel, I know. Despite tha, this book is a true comic treasure.]
I've Been Off: Sine last Tuesday. Why? Take your pick:
a) Life interfered, or
b) You're not the boss of me, Internet! or
c) Both of the above.
I've Been Reading: Well, I finally finished August Derleth's The Milwaukee Road, a history of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway from its humble start as the Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road Company in 1847 through its first century. Behind Derleth's detailed (perhaps too detailed) look at the growth of a small line to a powerhouse reaching the Pacific, are the people and anecdotes that made the Milwaukee Road one of the best-operated and progressive railroads in the country. Interesting reading, although the inclusion of some decent maps would have been helpful. I also read Antiques Wanted, the latest Trash n Treasure mystery from Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins writing as "Barbara Allan." This time Vivian decides to run for sheriff. Throw in an explosion at a nursing home and an autographed poster of Gabby Hayes and we are often to another wonderful adventure of Brandy and Vivian Bourne. It's difficult to keep a series like this fresh and funny, but the authors manage it easily. Recommended. Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy collects the first four issues this comic book. Set at Miss Giunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, five young kickass girls meet up with three-eyed foxes, river monsters, talking statues, werewolf boys, and poison ivy. Written by Noelle Stevenson and Garace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke Allen, this one's great fun. Also great fun but a lot darker is Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Compendium Three which covers issues #97-144 of the comic. The comic varies from the television show quite a bit, but this is the volume that covers the war with Negan -- essential reading for TWD fans.
Coming up: The House on the Mound, a historical novel by Derleth, part of his Winconsin Saga. Due soon from the library are Steven King's latest, Dean Koontz's latest, and Ace Atkins latest post-Robert B. Parker Spenser novel.
Haunted?: The house at the end of Christina's road just went up for sale, the third time in the three years we've been here. It reminded us of a house near where Kitty's brother lived in the Mount Vernon area of Arlington, Virginia. That house went on sale several times a year and we always wondered why no one stayed there very long. Was it haunted? Built on top of an old Indian burial ground? Were there bodies inside the walls or beneath the floorboards? Was it a former meth house and dangerous to occupy? Were biker gangs and neo-Nazis determined that no one should live there? Or, since the land was once part of Geo. Washington's estate, could the ghost of George be dropping in on a regular basis, demanding to know what had happened to his wooden teeth? The possibilities are endless. Feel free to use this in a story.
One of Many Things I Can't Understand: Gas prices. They go up when oil production goes down. They don't go down when oil production rises. They vary depending on demand or season. there are three "cheap" gas stations in my immediate area -- usually their prices are seldom than a penny off from each other. Last week one jumped up ten cents; two days later the others jumped up ten cents while the first dropped four cents. Yesterday they were down to the price they were at last week. We can drive by a station on a brief errand and return ten minutes later to see the price jump up three cents. This past week one station changed its price three times in one day! I think these gas stations enjoy playing with my mind, but why? I'm going to buy the gas anyway. Does the ever erratic price of gas drive you crazy, too?
Props: I have to give props to the Green Gators, Jack's soccer team for five-year-olds. Friday night only three kids on his team showed up, meaning that Jack, Cooper, and Rachel played the entire game against the rotating team of the Purple Lasers who had six kids show up. A gallant effort was made but the Green Gators lost 9-2. (The score is approximate because five-year-olds playing can be confusing.) Rachel got her first goal ever (we think; she may have scored after the whistle for the quarter's ending was blown -- but what the hell, give it to her). The second goal the green Gators got was actually kicked in by one of the Purple Lasers. During the third quarter, Jack and Cooper played alone because Rachel had to run off the go pee. Christina spent a lot of time trying to convince Jack that when there only three players on your team, it's not a good idea to play defense -- especially when the other two players are hesitant to kick the ball. One of the coaches for the other side took the game to heart, jumping up and down and screaming; to his credit he did scream his profanities, only the non-profanities. Anyway, a valiant effort on the part of all players. Kudos.
Another of the Many Things I Can't Understand: The though processes of other people, such as the 26-year-old Denver woman who was cited after a 7-11 microwave blew up a urine sample she had place in it.
Rudy: In response to Trump's hiring his latest personal lawyer, Robert Mueller has taken to relaxing in a hammock with a margarita while letting Rudy do his work for him.
Happy Birthday, Gabby: George "Gabby" Hayes was born 133 years ago today in Stannards, New York. He played semi-professional baseball while in high school, ran away from home at 17 and joined a stock company and became a successful vaudevillian. He retired at age 43 in 1928 and lost his savings in the 1929 stock market crash. His wife suggested that he try his luck in films. They moved to Los Angeles, where he began his career as a character actor, eventually becoming best known as the sidekick of William (Hopalong Cassidy) Boyd, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne in many. Although most identified with westerns, Hayes had never ridden a horse before he was well into his forties. In real life, Hayes was an "intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man."
An autographed poster of him plays a part in Antiques Wanted by "Barbara Collins" (see above).
Amaryllis: Here's a poem by Edward Arlington Robinson:
Once, when I wandered in the woods alone,
An old man tottered up to me and said,
"Come, friend, and see the grave I have made
for Amaryllis." There was in the tone
Of his complaint such quaver and such moan
That I took pity on him and obeyed,
And long stood looking where his hands had laid
An ancient woman, shrunk to skin and bone.
Far out beyond the forest I could hear
The calling of loud progress, and the bold
Incessant scream of commerce ringing clear;
But though the trumpets of the world were glad,
It made me lonely and it made me sad
To think that amaryllis had grown old.
Endings: Th-Th-That's all folks! -- P. Pig (1953 on; although the phrase had been used by other cartoon characters [Bosco, Buddy, Beans] earlier)