Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, December 2, 2019


Openers:  'What a relief for Edna," they said.  "But she won't know herself.  She's always been so devoted to Mother.  She must feel that she's starting life again -- and at her age!"

-- John Pudney, "Edna's Fruit Hat," from It Breathed Down Her Neck  (1946, also printed as Edna's Fruit Hat and Other Stories)

John Pudney (1909-1977) was a British poet, writer, and editor whose poem "For Johnny" was one of the most popular poems of World War Two ("Do not despair/For Johnny head-in-the-air/H sleeps as sound/as Johnny underground...").  He published at least fifteen books of poetry and edited at least two more.  He wrote two series of juvenile fiction -- the "Fred and I" series, eleven novels dealing with two boys and the secret researches of their Uncle George, and the seven volume 'Hartwarp" series, fantasies about a quirky English village.  He also edited fourteen volumes of the annual Pick of Today's Short Stories, 1949-1963.

If the purpose of a story's first paragraph is to hook the reader, Pudney hit the mark with 'Edna's Fruit Hat."  In just four sentences, the opening paragraph pique's one's curiosity.  Who is Edna?  How old is she?  What will she do now?  What was her relationship with Mother?  Obviously she has been taking care of mother, but why?  Was it out of devotion or duty?  Does Mother's death leave her grieved or relieved?  Was she grateful to take care of mother or was she resentful?  And the fruit hat of the title -- is it an extravagance?  A cry for independence?  A vanity?  A sign that she is becoming independent or that she is being foolish?  Will Edna's story end in triumph or in tears?  The reader wants to find out.

If you want to find out, the collection is available at internet Archive.


  • "Dr. Ian Browne," The Da Vinci Mole:  A Philosophical Parody.  Satire of a certain book by Dan Brown.  "Except for the words, every aspect of The Da Vinci Mole is accurate, and it reveals the truth behind some of the great mysteries of the universe, including:  the secret meaning of Jackson Pollock's paintings, definitive proof of God's existence, the truth behind Area 51, the secret plan of the Scientologists, and what Karl Rove does in his spare time."  Browne is a pseudonym "for  well-known figure" who (we are told) has been a jet fighter pilot, a professional pool hustler, and a paid assassin, and is a master of Bushido.  I assume the Bush-ido is where got all that info on Karl Rove.
  • [Arthur Conan Doyle], Graphic Classic #2:  Arthur Conan Doyle.  A graphic collection of eight stories and poems by Doyle:  "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches." "Th Los amigos Fiasco," "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," "Master," "The Lost World," "The Coming of the Fairies" (extract), "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and 'How It Happened."  Contributors are Rick Geary, Nestor Redondo, Donald Marquez, J. B. Bonivert, Matt Howarth, Roger Langridge, Anita Nelson, Dan Burr, Arnold Arre, and Tim Quinn & George Sears. Some interesting artwork.

Political Ads:  Over 200 political ads for Donald Trump have been taken down by YouTube and Twitter for violating their standards and policy.  (Side rant:  Not so Facebook, which refused to take down an ad that features blatant falsehoods about Joe Biden.  The more I see Mark Zuckerberg the more I see a weasel who, like Mickey mouse as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, has put into motion something that he has no idea how to control or stop.)  YouTube famously refused to take one Trump ad that contained b;latent falsehoods about Joe Biden.   Now, reacting to pressure, they have come "out with adjustments and clarifications to its policy, including limiting microtargetingof users."  All this is supposedly spelled in their "transparency report," which CBS news examined, finding that the transparency is not very transparent.  The report does no indicate why ads were removed, or even what those ads were.  It also appears to indicate that the 'offensive" ads were taken down after a few day, which by then most likely have hit their target audience.  O,Brave New World!

Picture Perfect:  Here are some of National Geographic's best animal photos of 2019 -- a reminder of the wonder that surrounds us worldwide:

Start Early:There are only 389 more days until Christmas, 2020.  Have you started your shopping yet?

History:  November 2 was a milestone day in recent history: 

  • 1889:  North Dakota and South Dakota become the 39th and 40th states of the Union.  Quick, name the state capitols.  Okay, you knew Bismark and Pierre, but which belongs to which state?
  • 1917:  The Balfour Declaration gives British support to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," adding the caveat that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities."  
  • Also 1917:  The Military Revolution Committee of the Petrograd Soviet held its first meeting.  The Committee is charged with planning and carrying out the Russian Revolution.
  • 1920:  The first commercial radio station in America, KDKA of Pittsburgh, started broadcasting.  Neither Alan Freed nor Wolfman Jack were present.
  • 1936:  The BBC began the BBC Television Service, the world's first "high definition" service.  Neither Benny Hill nor Davis Frost were present.
  • 1947:  Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" made its first and only flight.  The large fixed wing aircraft then led a reclusive life, followed by its designer, who later did the same.
  • 1959:  Game show contestant Charles van Doren admitted to having been given quiz answers ahead of time.  The scandal would rock the nation.  Small beans compared to the scandals of today.
  • 1960:  Penguin Books was found not guilty of obscenity in publishing D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.  Mellors, the gamekeeper, is thought to have given a victory cry.
  • 1967:  Lyndon Johnson and his advisers decided America needed more "optimistic" reports of America's progress in the Vietnam War.  The birth of "alternative truth"?

He Should Have Been from Florida:  Cenen Placencia of Kodiak, Alaska, was arrested at anchorage's interernatinal airport when he tried to smuggle $400,000 of illegal drugs inside spoiled goat intestines.  It is not known how he can up with that less than brilliant scheme; the plan was as rotten as the goat guts.

The Good News:
"If the ocean can calm itself, so can you.  We are both salt water mixed with air."  -- Nayyirah Waheed

Today's Poem:
Song of December

December plays a song
for a season in strings
frozen beyond age and time
and the tunes of that song
transformed earth
into a fearless planet
while alien masks
continued their dance
in wild rhythm...

--Rema Prasanaa

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