Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 4, 2019


Openers:    As Princess Margaret reached middle age, the skin of both her cheeks and neck tended to sag from failure of the supporting structures.  Her naso-labial folds deepened, and the soft tissues along her jaw fell forward.  Her jowls tended to increase.  In profile the creases of her neck lengthened and the chin-neck contour lost its youthful outline and became convex.

-- Princess Margaret's Facelift" by J. G. Ballard (New Worlds #199, March 1970)

Ballard:  James Graham Ballard (1930-2009) was a major voice in science fiction from the publication of his first two stories.  His often surrealistic approach often better mirrored reality in the late twentieth century than most of his contemporaries.  Along with Michael Moorcock and Brian Aldiss, Ballard was one of the most prominent practitioners of the British "New Wave" in 1960s science fiction.  Experimental and avante-garde writing were the hallmarks of the New Wave, along with a willingness to push the boundaries of science fiction (and, occasionally, of good taste),  Ballard's series of "condensed novels" explored the cult of celebrity in which every mundane and intimate detail is considered worthy of public consumption.  These stories required a different narrative structure; in the case of "Princess Margaret's Facelift," a rather dry and detailed description of a medical procedure takes on a deeper meaning with the addition of a celebrity.  Ballard's condensed novels were controversial, antagonizing and alienating many readers.  Fifteen of them were collected in The Atrocity Exhibition (1970; US title Love and Napalm:  Export USA); a revised and expanded edition was published in 1990 with an introduction by William Burroughs, who was a major influence on Moorcock.  The hostility of some readers toward these stories prompted an executive at Doubleday publishers in 1970 to order the first American edition pulped before publication.

Many of Ballard's works are difficult but certainly worthwhile.  His work often reflects landscapes -- both the outer landscape of the world and the inner landscape of the human mind.  In The Atrocity Exhibition takes the mundane and the unusual and imbues them with a mater of fact violence that borders on non-sexual pornography.  The mirror he holds up is not distorted; it is a reflection of us.

Super Bowl LIII:  I have mentioned before that I am not big sports fan.  However I remain in my heart a New Englander.  Congratulations to the Patriots!




And a thumb to my nose to the haters.

It's Over?:  The partial government shut-down is over for the moment.  Trump lost, as did millions of Americans, some of whom will take a long time to recover  Tomorrow night, the president will finally get to deliver his Mis-state of the Union.  Fact-checkers are at the ready.

Trump says it doesn't matter if you call it a wall, a fence, or a barrier, whatever...just as long as you call it a wall.  The Democrats have offered billions for border security (but not including funds for a useless and ineffective wall) only to be rejected by Trump and his Congressional toadies.

My own feeling?  Let's not call it a wall, a fence, a barrier, or whatever.  Let's just erected a beaded curtain across the Mexican border.  Maybe that will satisfy The Donald.

Speaking of Things Presidential:  Two hundred thirty years ago today George Washing was elected the first President of the United States of America by the Electoral College.  The vote was unanimous.  My, have times changed.

And in 1861 on this date the Confederate States of America was formed.  The conflict and the divisions that followed still echo today.

Florida Man:  He's been looking for love in all the wrong places.  Grant Amato, 29, of Chuluota, Seminole County,  Allegedly shot and killed his parents and brother after stealing $200,000 to pay a Bulgarian prostitute he met on an online porn site.  Greater love hath no man...

And Another Florida Man:  This one is an unnamed West Palm Beach police officer.  Somehow he managed to run over a 24-year-old couple who were lying on an isolated road watching the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse.  At first it was exciting to watch the eclipse, then it became crushingly disappointing, I guess.

Florida Man's Priorities:  Another unnamed Florida man, this time in Ocala, pulled up an unexploded World War II hand grenade while "magnet fishing."

What to do?  Well, call 911 of course.

But first he took it to Taco Bell,, because...Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch, that's because!

Sadly for lover of Mexican haute cuisine the Taco bell had to close while the bomb squad did their stuff.

Pando Aspen Clone:  The world's largest organism, the Pando Aspen Clone, is dying.  The 107 acre forest with what appears to be some fifty thousand trees is actually one giant tree whose roots have sprouted identical identical "clones," all attached to one tree.  The main culprit in this collapse appears to be climate change.

Today's Poem:

If I cannot forgive myself
For all the blunders
That I have made
Over the years,
Then how can I proceed?
How can I ever
Dream perfection-dream?
Move, I must, forward.
Fly, I must, upward.
Dive, I must, inward.
To be once more
What I truly am
And shall forever remain.

-- Sri Chinmoy

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