Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Openers:   They were almost two hundred, men in khaki trotting up a bare slope blasted by an ardent sun.  Divided, they formed sections and combat groups, united, they composed a company of the French Foreign Legion.  From the crests came a continuous crackling of detonations, a fusillade that swelled furiously, sank into unexpected lulls.  There were other sounds nearer, subtle and  murderous, musical and insidious, a thousand sinister voices whispering.

"You -- you -- for you!"

-- "Affair of Honor" by George Surdez (Adventure, April 1937).  Surdez was a master of the Foreign Legion adventure story, something you don't see much of nowadays.

This Day in Dracula History:  Times were tough in the fifteenth century.  So were many of the rulers.  Vlad the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia, was no slouch in the toughness department, but so was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed II.  The Ottomans had levied a tax against non-Muslims which Vlad refused to pay.  In 1459, Pope Pius II called for a crusade against the Ottomans.  The idea fizzled and the only leader to show enthusiasm for the crusade was Vlad, who was a good friend of the Pope.  Knowing there was a lack of support for the Pope's crusade, Mehmed went on the offensive, easily conquering several cities.  In 1460, Mehmed captured Vlad's only ally, Hungary's Mihaly Szilagya, killing Szilagya's men and them sawing Szilagya in half in what could be considered to be a modern day magic trick gone horribly wrong.

Mehmed sent envoys asking Vlad for the late taxes and, in addition, 1000 boys who would be trained as janissaries.  Vlad killed the envoys.  Mehmed then sent his people into Vlad's territory to do some recruiting.  Vlad impaled them.  In 1461, Memed asked Vlad to meet him in Constantinople to iron out their differences.  Vlad refused.  Mehmed then sent and envoy with a thousand troops to "negotiate" with Vlad.  (By negotiate I mean to capture Vlad and bring him to Constantinople.)  Vlad's army boxed in the "negotiators" and wiped them out using hand cannons -- making Vlad perhaps the first crusader to use gunpowder in such a deadly way.  Then Vlad got serious and began waging a systematic war, first slaughtering any Turks as well as any possible supporters in his territory, then crossing the Danube to Bulgaria and impaling Turks.  Turks were also burned in their homes or were beheaded in battle.  Mehmed then sent his Grand Vizier with 18,000 soldiers to raze a Wallachian port, only to be soundly defeated by Vlad and losing 10,000 of the 18,000. Like I said, the fifteenth century was a tough time.

After Vlad's latest victory, many Turks became afraid of Vlad and left the area for safer climes.  Mehmed decided it was time to take control of things himself.  Mehmed assembled a force of some 250,000 - 300,000 men; Vlad's forces were estimated to be about half that.  As Mehmed entered Vlad's territory, Vlad put forth a scorched earth policy, moving populations from towns into the mountains, then burning the villages and poisoning the water.  As Mehmed advanced he found only ruins.  Vlad also sent the ill to infiltrate Mehmed's forces -- bringing with them leprosy, tuberculosis, and the plague.  The plague was particularly effective and spread through the Ottoman troops. 

The on June 17, 1462, Vlad directly attacked Mehmed's camp in an attempt to capture or kill the Ottoman ruler.  Only bad intelligence saved Mehmed; Vlad personally attacked what he thought was Mehmed's tent but it turned out to be that of two of Mehmed's viziers.  After the failed attempt on his life, Mehmet brought his troops to Wallachia's capitol city of Targoviste only to find a few soldiers manning the city.  Leaving Targoziste, Mehmed came upon some 23,000 impaled Turks.  Perhaps to save face, Mehmet sailed to the Danube port city of Braila and burned it to the ground, before retreating back to his own country.  Both Mehmed and Vlad claimed victory.

Happy Birthday, M. C. Escher:  "Want to hear a joke/" the bartender says as M. C. Escher walks into a bar.  As M. C. Escher walks into a bar, the bartender says, 'Want to hear a joke?"

Florida Man:  He's been busy:

-- Two Bradenton brothers were upset over a practical joke played on them by a woman.  One brother hit the woman with a hamburger, punched her twice in the face, and bit her neck in response.  The other brother left the room, returned with a gun, and threatened to kill her.  Geez, guys.  Can't you take a joke?

-- A Charlotte County deputy resigned after tests indicated that he showed up drunk at a children's event.  The man and his wife had gone out celebrating their anniversary the night before.  Evidently they celebrated a lot because his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit the next morning at the children's event.

-- It's not a party unless the police show up.  In Pasco County, this Florida Man's family arguments often become violent.  Florida Man merely did what many of us want to do -- he shot his  Amazon Alexa.  When his wife expressed displeasure, he begin to hit her.  A ten-year-old girl then called the police.  When the police came, Florida Man began firing at them, probably thinking they were a new form of Amazon Alexa.  Two officers and Florida Man were shot, although it's unclear whether Florida was shot by police of whether the wound was self-inflicted.

-- A Palm Bay man has admitted to stealing pool floats in order to have sex with them.  At least thirteen cases of float theft have been reported and police found about 75 pools floats at the accused home.  He told police he had sex with the pool floats so he wouldn't have to rape women.  Considerate guy, that Florida Man.

-- "Keith Byrne cut off a car in traffic.  He got out of his car (with a gun) in an effort to apologize (with a gun).  Before he could a passenger got out of the cut-off car and shot him square in the chest.

"The mortally wounded Byrne, 41, was also prepared to fight back.  With his own gun, he fired two shots at 22-year-old Andre Sinclair, and Sinclair died of his injuries at the hospital two days later.  Byne died on the scene."

Perhaps both will receive a Darwin Award.

-- A couple were swimming in a pool when they were joined by an alligator.  The male (hitherto known as Florida Man) "hauled ass" out of the pool, leaving his girlfriend as the alligator charged at her.  The event was caught on camera:

-- A fifty-year-old Florida Man was smoking crack cocaine when he was involved in a hit-and-run in Miami.  A police chase ensued that led all way to the Florida Keys.  along the way, Florida Man ingested 20 rocks of crack cocaine, some of which was still in his throat when he crashed his car into a cement abutment.  Somewhere along the way his tires had blown out.  He told police there was a woman in his vehicle but none was found.

-- And Florid T-Rex terrrorizes Tampa!

Today's Poem:
A Prouder Man Than You

If you fancy that your people came from better stock than mine,
If you hint of better breeding by a word or by a sign,
If you're proud because of fortune or the clever things you do --
Then I'll play no second fiddle:  I'm a prouder man than you!
If you think that your profession has the more gentility,
And that you are condescending to be seen along with me;
If you notice that I'm shabby while your clothes are spruce and new --
You have only got to hint it:  I'm a prouder man than you!
If you have a swell companion when you see me on the street,
And you think that I'm too common for your toney friend to meet,
So that I, in passing closely, fail to come within your view --
Then be blind to me forever:  I'm a prouder man than you!
If your character be blameless, if your outward past be clean,
While 'tis known my antecedents are not what they should have been,
Do not risk contamination; save your name whate'er you do --
'Birds o' feather fly together':  I'm a prouder bird than you!
Keep your patronage for others!  Gold and station cannot hide
Friendship that can laugh at fortune, friendship that can conquer pride!
Offer this as to an equal -- let me see that you are true' 
And my wall of pride is shattered:  I am not so proud as you!

-- Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

(Lawson was one of the best-known Australian poets of the colonial period and has been called Australia's greatest writer of short stories.)

No comments:

Post a Comment