Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, August 12, 2019


Openers:  He and Big Mama Thornton were taking a break backstage when it happened.  The dance floor was covered with Mexican and black people, a big haze of cigarette and reefer smoke floating over their heads in the spotlights.  White people were up in the balcony, mostly low-rider badasses wearing pegged drapes and needle-nose stomps and girls who could do the dirty bop and manage to look bored while they put your flopper on autopilot.  Then we hear it, one shot, pow, like a small firecracker.  Johnny's dressing room was partly opened and I swear I saw blood fly by across the wall, just before people started running in all directions.

-- James Lee Burke, "The Night Johnny Ace Died" (Esquire, March 2007)

Epstein:  He's gone and I can't say I'll miss him but I'm sorry he's dead.  There are too many unanswered questions, too many unsubstantiated links, too many victims who may never have a chance of healing.  And now the crazies are coming out of the woodwork with their conspiracy theories.  Trump retweeted the idea that the "Clinton Crime Cabal" -- whatever that is -- engineered Epstein's death.  Other are positing that Trump was behind the so-called suicide.  I'm sure there are many other theories out there, with many others still to come.  For the moment, though, let's apply Occam's Razor and assume that the pedophile's death is what it seems, the suicide of a very sick man, and stick with that until and unless an investigation proves otherwise.  Epstein may be dead but the various investigations surrounding his activities are not.

The "Glorious Twelfth":  That's what today is known as in England because...wait for marks the start of the grouse shooting season.  Grouse are medium-sized birds found in the heather moorlands of Great Britain and Ireland.  Heather moorlands are rare and 75% of them are located in the British Isles.  One method of managing/increasing the grouse population if through controlled burning.  Patches of the moorland are burned at different times, allowing new shoots to grow and sustain the bird population; because patches are burned at different time, the length of the new shoots will vary from patch to patch.  This method of grouse management is a two-edged sword.  By sustaining the grouse population, the heather moorlands are less likely to be taken over by development, and proponents say the controlled burning provides a variety of habitats for other wild species.  On the other hand (and it's a pretty big other hand), the burning appears to have a negative effect on the moorland environment, the water table beneath it, and downstream rivers.  The burning reduces the ability of peat to retain water needed for plant growth and resistance to acid rain.  The rivers have a lower concentration of calcium and a lower pH and the catch basins have a higher concentration  of silica, manganese, aluminum, and iron.  Studies are underway to determine the best ways of grouse management.

One way of management is to shoot the bloody birds out of the air.  Thus we have the birding parties we so often see in British film and television.  How many of these birds end up in a pot I can't say, but shooting animals for mere sport is something I can't agree with.  And don't get me started on fox hunting.

On another note, our National Park Service leases land in our national parks to farmers for cattle grazing.  Some farmers are upset because elk are also using the leased land for grazing, blatantly munching on grass that belongs to their cows!  On hearing the complaints of the farmers, the Park Service is (or is about to) authorizing elk hunts to eliminate the problem.  Either something is very wrong here or I am misunderstanding the mission of the Park Service.

I'm Old:  The Teen Choice Awards were held and I'll be damned if I recognize the majority of names of the singers and actors.  Or the songs.  Or the television shows.  Or the movies.  But then, I really didn't recognize many of them when I was a teenager.  And to be completely honest, popular music was much much MUCH better when I was a teen, right?

Raining Cats and Dogs and...:  In California a "Humboldt County Sheriff's patrol vehicle was struck by a falling bear while traveling north on highway 96 last week.  The vehicle caught fire after striking an embankment and the deputy escaped the vehicle without serious injury.  Don't worry, the bear also fled the scene."   The vehicle was destroyed, along with half an acre of vegetation.  Rumors that the bear wore a necktie and hat and was carrying a pic-a-nic basket have not been authenticated.

California May Have Falling Bears, But Florida Will Not Be Outdone:  A Port Charlotte toilet exploded this week and Taco Bell food was not to blame.  Marylou Ward said that her only toilet was destroyed when lightning hit her septic tank and caused the porcelain throne to explode into hundreds of pieces.  Ms. Ward, although she needs to replace both septic tank and toilet, said she was relieved that toilet was not in use at the time.  All Floridians with indoor plumbing are cautioned to be afraid, be very afraid.

How Did I Miss This One?:   Oklahoma Man was arrested on June 26 in Guthrie (about 30 miles outside of Oklahoma City) in a stolen car.  In the car with him was a live rattlesnake, a canister of uranium (!), and an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe whiskey.  And there was a gun in the console and Oklahoma Man (better known as Stephen Jennings) was driving on a suspended license.  It turns out that you can buy uranium from Amazon.  Who knew?

Today's Poem:
Beat!   Beat!  Drums!

Beat!  beat!  drums! -- blow!  bugles!  blow!
Through the windows -- through doors -- burst like a ruthless force.
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet -- no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums -- so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat!  beat!  drums! -- blow!  bugles!  blow!
Over the traffic of cities -- over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
As beds are prepared at night for sleepers in houses?  no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers' bargains by day -- no brokers or speculators -- would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking?  would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums -- you bugles wilder blow.

Beat!  beat!  drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parlay -- stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid -- mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums -- so loud you bugles  blow.

-- Walt Whitman

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