Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Openers:  A mile ouside of Picture City, they has set up a tent for the meeting with the Apaches.  A troop of cavalry from Fort Apache had been dispatched to the conference, and now two lines of horsemen faced each other on the cloud-darkened meadow -- one line of the saber-bearing cavalrymen; the other the blanketed Apache braves, impassive-faced, sitting [on] their ponies like waiting statues.

Richard Matheson, Shadow on the Sun (1994)

Sharpiegate:  When will it end?  The lying, the stupidity, the dismantling of our government, the erasure of American values, the deliberate attack on our environment, civil rights, and personal freedoms, the hatred and xenophobia, the currying of favor toward dictators to the expense of our tradional allies, the growing income gap, the teetering on recession, the moral vacuum, public offices being used for private enrichment, the lack of empathy, the disdain toward the poor and minorities, the inconsistancy, the braggadocio, the waffling, the incompetence, the greed, the ignorance, the kowtowing to the NRA, the personal attacks on all who disagree, the defensiveness, the bullying, the smarmy, immoral, and corrupt administration...I can go on and on.

On the bright side, we still don't own Greenland.

Oh, And Did I Mention?:  ...the threatened firings at NOAA.  Geez Louise, how on earth did we get here?

Football:  I am not a big sports fan.  I have trouble remembering team names and often mix up those names with the sports they play; I can't tell you anything about statisics; and I would be hard pressed to come up with a name of a sports announcer or reporter.  The last time I followed any sport was with the 1967 Red Sox; after that, any information I possess about sports has been sucked into a large spinning black hole.

That being said, football season has begun.  As a courtesy to those who, like me, are among the sports illiterati I present a brief explanation of the game:

In addition, let me refer you to Hold 'Em, Girls!:  The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Men and Football by Judson P. Philips and Robert W. Wood, Jr., a 1936 tome that explains it all.  (Philips, who also wrote as "Hugh Pentecost," went on to become a well-respected mystery writer; this was his frist or second book -- I'm too lazy to look up which.)

100 Days In:  Today is the 100th day of 2019 and I am grateful we made it this far.  I'm not celebrating yet, though, because if history teaches us anything, it's that on this date in 1912 the RMS Titanic set sail on its maiden only voyage.  Suddenly I have a sinking feeling...

Also on This Date:  F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was published in 1926.  the novel, which Fitsgerald felt would cement his literary reputation, met with less than stellar reviews.  "So light, so delicate, so sharp -- a literary lemon meringue" -- New York Herald Tribune.  "No more than a glorifed anecdote, and not too probable at that" -- H. L. Mencken.  "Seems a little raw" -- The Times-Picayune.  "A minor performance" -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  "One finishes Great Gatsby with a feeling of regret, not for the fate of the people in the book, but for Mr. Fitzgerald" -- The Dallas Morning News.  There were positive reviews (in The New York Times and The New York Post, for example, and the book was privtely praised by T. S. Eliot, Edith Wharton, and Willa Cather) but generally the book landed with a thud.  Fitzgerald, convinced of the book's quality, had refused a $10,000 offer for magazine serialization because he wanted to get the book into print as soon as possible; he ended up with an advance of nearly $4,000 in 1923 and another near $2,000 on publication.  He had expected sales of some 75,000 copies while the actual sales were in the 20,000 range.  As late as 1946, Scribner's still had the original edition on their list.  When Fitzgerald died in 1940 the book had become nearly forgotten.

But fate is tricky.  Slowly The Great Gatsby began picking up critical and popular steam.  Now considered one of the greatest American novels with its take on the American dream, gender issues, and cultural inequality, it has sold well over 25,000,000 copies.  The book has been filmed four times, the latest in 2013 by Baz Luhrmann (a terrible film from a terrible director, IMHO) and has been made for television at least once.  It has been adapted for radio three times and has also been adapted for the stage thrice.  The novel has also been turned into an opera and into three ballets.  It has even seen two computer games based upon it.

Almost as popular as the navel is the iconic cover art by Francis Cugate, who completed the painting while Fitzgerald was still writing the novel.  The cover, with its disembodied eyes and mouth and with a nude woman reflected in the irises, had so affected Fitsgerald that he wrote it into the book.  Fitzgerld's appreciation for the painting eventually waned, but the appreciation of the general public remains strong.

Good News:  Here's some of the good news headlines from this past week:

  • New Reactor Uses Renewable Energy to Turn Greenhouse Gases Into Fuel for Hydrogen Batteries
  • Deep Magnetic Stimulation Shown to Improve Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Father Uses Scuba Therapy to Restore His Paralyzed Son's Motor Function -- And Now It's Doing the Same for Others
  • New Research Links Five Separate Lifestyle Choices to a 60% Reduced Risk of Developoing Alzheimer's
  • Bob Ross's Legacy Is Helping Inmates Plant "Happy Little Trees" Throughout State Parks
  • Anonymous Man Spent Almost $50,000 on Generators and Food for Hurricane Victims in the Bahamas
  • Dad Develops New Treatment for Peanut Allergies With Almost No Side Effects After Son Suffers Severe Reaction
  • Flight Crew and Passengers in First Class All Welcome Boy with Autism During Mid-Flight Meltdown
  • And this:

Florida Man Thinks It Through:  Patrick Eldrige of Jacksonville made headlines when he parked his smart car in his kitchen so it would not blow away in Hurricane Dorian.  Not all Florida Men are stupid -- some come up with innovative ways to handle a problem.

Today's Poem
The September Rose

To sighs of morning air, that froze, --
(With her lips opened for a say),
How curiously has smiled the rose
On a September fleeting day!

And how has she ever dared
To great, with air of springy greens,
The single blue-tit, in the bare
Shrubs fleshing in the orb of wings.

To bloom with steadfast dream that later,
Just leaving her cold bed in rest,
She'll cling, the last and dissipated,
To a young young hostess's charming breast!

-- Afanasy Afansa
yevich Fet

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