Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, December 30, 2019


Openers:   There was nothing to indicate impending trouble that beautiful spring afternoon.  The streets of Chicago resounded with the accustomed roar of traffic, and hurrying pedestrians dodged truck and cable cars heedless of aught but the immediate cares of life.  The afternoon papers contained no hint of threatened danger, and the afternoon of May 23, 1899, drew to a close as uneventful as thousands which had preceded it.

It was the afternoon before the anarchist riot -- the last demonstration of force anarchy in America.  A prolonged period of industrial and commercial depression with its train of poverty and suffering had revived the anarchists' groups, scattered and dismembered since the Haymarket tragedy of years before.  Of the extent of this movement the press and public knew little, but it was an open book to the police department.

Frederick Upham Adams, President John Smith:  The Story of a Peaceful Revolution (1897)

Adams (1859-1921) was an American inventor (he invented the electric light post), writer, and editor.  From the book above, it will come as no surprise that he was also a political organizer.  President John Smith was evidently his first book.  After writing that book, he became the co-editor of a reform magazine, The New Time, for a couple of years.  He was one of the organizers of The Majority Rule League of the United States, which advocated the removal of business interests and, most importantly, monopolies in national politics, and that the nation should be governed by majority rule of the people.  these views are clearly evident in President John Smith.

As The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction states, "Most of the works which we can characterize with hindsight as Proto SF are political fantasies.  The earnest and constructive aspect of this endeavor is generally displayed in Utopias..."  The end of the nineteenth century provided plenty of fodder for political novels -- unrest seemed to consume the world, corporate and political greed was becoming unbearable, the country had lost two presidents to assassination -- one as recently as 1881, and the industrial revolution had brought change, hope, and opportunity, but at a terrible human cost.

Another political look at the presidency came from Herbert Dickinson Ward (1861-1932), who published the 1891 story of "A Republic Without a President," the beginning of which capitalizes on the uneasy fears of a nation:

"On the morning of the eighth of June, 1893, at about ten o'clock, crowds were seen clustered in front of the daily newspaper bulletins in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston.  The excitement rivaled that occasioned by the assassination of Garfield, and by night the country was as bewildered and aghast as when the news came that Lincoln was murdered.  This was the announcement as it appeared in blood-red, gigantic capitals by the door of the New York Tribune building:







"Extras found enormous sales, but they contained no more news than this.  Business was brought to a standstill and stocks fell in half an hour from five to twenty per cent.  The land was convulsed.  It was true that there were those who thought the whole thing a colossal hoax perpetrated by the losing party.  But as time went on the startling and incredible news was confirmed.  The evening edition of the New York Sun has these ominous headers.






Wow, those headlines really piled it on.

The early twentieth century brought with it more political novels, the Yellow Peril, Bolsheviks, and the War to End All Wars.  Political novels -- whether Utopian or satire -- gave way to political thrillers, a much more escapist type of read.  I wonder if some literary critics of a century from now will look back at our current times and posit that we should have had more political novels and less political thrillers?

IT'S WORSE THAN THAT, JIM.  SHE HAS NO AIM AT ALL:  Willow the cat is now fourteen and a half years old.  For the past two years Christina has housed Willow with us; she had been behaving very stressed at Christina's, suddenly peeing and pooping anywhere, with blood in her stool, and just acting nervous and unhappy -- a combination of old(-er) age and living in a house with three other cats, three dogs, and a very active and noisy five-year-old.  So off she went to us and a more stable environment.  It worked.  She immediately stopped all her bad behavior, although for the first few most she remained aloof as all cats must do.

Slowly she became more affectionate and prefers to sleep on the sofa snuggled up next to Kitty or me.  The about three weeks ago, she started changing.  She would go in where her litter box is and deliberately miss.  She began peeing anywhere except her litter box.  We were not happy and tried a few suggested remedies to no avail.  We have now been spending a lot time cleaning floors and furniture.  Other than her bodily function problems she has remained just as sweet as even, although perhaps a bit more affectionate.  We were worried that her incontinence just might be a symptom of her age.

So yesterday we bundled her up and took her to the vet.  Nothing appears to be physically wrong with her.  The vet did find some fleas on her and suggested that they be causing the stress that is causing our problems.  Now, Willow has always been an indoor cat and shows no inclination for venturing outside.  And out house is clean, but the vet told us that this time of year fleas abound outside and can often be brought into the house unknowingly.  So we have the flea treatment and the flea medicine and a sincere hope that the cat will get over this problem.  Trouble is, the vet said this process could take up to three months.  O joy.  We're stocking up on additional cleaners and pet odor products and keeping our fingers crossed because she really is a super good cat.

Speaking of...:  I like theater.  I really do.  And I like musicals.  Even the sappy ones.  Kitty and I spent a number of years working at an Actors Equity theater and loved almost every minute of it.  We saw Cats when the road show first came to Boston and enjoyed it...the costuming, the music, the enthusiasm.  The barely there plot had me scratching my head, though (to borrow a phrase) it was barely an inconvenience.  Now they've turned the darned thing into a movie which is not living up to expectations.  Creepy CGI and pure word of mouth are having a negative effect on the film.   **sigh**  I think I'll for some streaming service to air it instead of going to a theater.

It could well be that this pitch meeting for Cats is more entertaining than the movie:

So this got me to thinking.  Remember the fun times we all had in the Sixties, with the Kennedy assassination, civil unrest, and the Vietnam War?  And when Barbara Gerson wrote MacBird, updating MacBeth into a screed against the Johnson administration?  We have much the same situation today with mass shooting, civil unrest, and an unwinnable was in Afghanistan.  Some enterprising soul should take Cats and update it as a screed against the current administration.  You could call it Rats.  Somebody could easily make a gazillion dollars with a property like that.  I'd do it myself but I have a large pile of laundry to fold.  So, please, you do it.  You will have my blessing.

Hot Time:  206 years ago today, British soldiers burned Buffalo, New York.  Some think it was an action in the War of 1812; I'm fairly certain they were just trying to keep warn du.ring a Buffalo winter.

And Now for Something Completely Different:  Because we are still in the holiday season, I thought I would point out Florida Woman Colleen Hutton of The Villages, who has hand made over 300 Christmas ornaments to honor law enforcement officers across the country who have died in the line of duty.  Each ornament has the officer's name. the date they died, their agency, and their rank.  Hutton has been doing this since just after 9/11. 

More Kind People and Astonishing Breakthroughs:  Good news does not take a break over the holidays.

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the figure of a free people.  A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough."  -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Today's Poem:
The Year

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go, 
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheathe our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.

--Ella Wheeler Wilcox

May 2020 bring you joy, wonder, hope, peace, and the strength to overcome any obstacles that may come your way. 

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