Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, March 23, 2020


Openers:   I used to think there wasn't much to this army life -- just marching around and toting a firearm and wearing khaki.  First off I was glad to get out'n the Kaintuck hills, figuring that I'd see the world and maybe some excitement.

     Things had been awful dull in Piney since the last of the Fletcher boys was killed off, and Uncle Aylmer was allus talking about how he shouldn't of plugged Jared Fletcher, 'cause that ended the clan and there wasn't anybody left to fight with.  Uncle took to drinking corn likker serious like after that, and we had to keep the still running overtime to keep nhim supplied.

     Anyhow, the teacher up at Piney allus told me to start a yard at the beginning, so I guess I will.  Only I don't know when the beginning happened.  Might have been the day I got a letter said Huet Hogben on the front, or as Paw said, and he's got a mite of book-learning.

     "Yep," he said, "that's an aitch, alrighty.  Guess it's for you, Saunk."

     They call me Saunk because I'm kinda short and runty, as the Hogbens go.  Maw says I ain't got my full growth yet, but I'm nigh twenty-two, and hardly over six feet at all.  I been kinda touchy about my runtiness all along, so I used to sneak off chop kindling to give me strength.  anyhow, Paw to the letter over to the teacher to get it read, and he came back ranting nd raving.

     "Fightin'," he yelled.  "There's a war goin' on\!  C'mon, Aylmer.  Git yore shooting iron."

-- Henry Kuttner, "The Old Army Game" (Thrilling Adventures, November 1941)

And thus were the Hogbens born.  Sort of.  The Hogbens were a wild, weird, mutant hillbilly family featured in four humorous fantasy stories published in Thrilling Wonder Stories from 1947 to 1949.  (Think Ray Bradbury's tales about the Elliott family -- only funny.)  "The Old Army Game" has little to do with the main Hogben sequence except for a hillbilly family named Hogben.  The story is not a fantasy although it certainly was the genesis of the more celebrated stories.  The 2013 collection The Hogben Chronicles from Borderlands Press did include this story along with the four fantasies.  The stories themselves have been to variously attributed to Kuttner alone and to Kuttner and his wife, C. L. Moore.

That's the problem with Kuttner and Moore and their various pseudonyms -- it is almost impossible to suss out who wrote what.  Both authors had separate careers before they met.  They met, married, and began a collaboration that only ended with Kuttner's death in 1958 at the early age of 42.  Each also wrote separately.  Their styles could mesh so flawlessly that, in many cases, it is difficult to tell where one ended and the other started, or if indeed a particular story was a collaboration or not.  A remarkable partnership considering the wide  number of styles and genres the two wrote in.

(Following Kuttner's death, Moore retired from genre fiction and began a short-lived career (1958-1962) as a script writer for Warner Brothers television.  She curtailed all writing after she married her second husband in 1963 although she continued to be semi-active in science fiction circles until she began the onset of Alzheimer's later in life.  After a long bout with the disease, she died in 1987.  She had been nominated as the first female Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America but the nomination was withdrawn at the request of her husband who felt that the award ceremony would be confusing and upsetting to her, given the state of her Alzheimer's.)

In addition to The Hogben Chronicles, "The Old Army Game" appeared in Virgil Utter's 1988 small-press collection Kuttner Times Three (which also includes "Bamboo Death," Kuttner's second published story, from Thrilling Mystery, June 1936, and "The Wolf of Aragon," from Thrilling Adventures, July 1941; both of these stories are available in the massive Terror in the House:  The Early Kuttner, Volume One published in 2010 by Haffner Press.)

For the curious, here is a link to Kuttner Times Three, courtesy of Internet Archive:

The Gift That Keeps Giving:   Randy Rainbow has a new parody (and some good advice) out.  Here's "Social Distance":

Coronavirus:  I am just about done with this pandemic.  Are you listening, Covid19?  You can go away now.

(Pause,  As I do not hear the virus get up and leave the room.  Dang!)

We all know the downside of this global disease:  death and probable economic and social collapse.

Perhaps it's time to look at the good side of this.  There has to be a good side, right?

For one, more and more people are realizing what an incompetent, blustering fool our president is.  Alas, while heartwarming that may be a case of too little, too late.

For every stupid spring breaker we see on the news, there are thousands of ordinary people going the extra mile with acts of kindness.  Too often we forget that we are essentially a decent and caring race.

Dolphins are swimming in the canals of Venice!  As we reduce our footprint, nature is coming in to fill the void.  Many people are showing an appreciation for the simpler things and for the wonder of the world around us.  When we get out on the other side of this affair, we may well be a changed people.  One can hope.

If we don't kill them first, self-isolating our families will teach us the value of togetherness.

And we spit in the face of danger.  Or, at least, have come up with some great memes about the coronavirus, self-isolating, social distancing, and the like.  We are very, very funny and that is something rare and beautiful.  Embrace it.

Many, if not most of us, will eventually get the virus.  Most of us will survive with only minor inconveniences.  By flattening the curve, we improve the survival chances of others.  That awareness, and our ability to follow through on it, speaks volumes about us as a people.

Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Angel Esteban Hernandezcito, 31, was arrested for trying to steal 66 rolls of toilet paper from an Orange County Marriott hotel.  A different Florida man was arrested in Clearwater for trying to steal a $1 pack of toilet paper from a neighbor.  Toilet paper theft is on the rise and officials are determined to wipe it out.
  • Florida Boy whose name has not been released has sent at least forty of his seventh grade classmates to the hospital after he mistook a can of pepper spray for a body fragrance spray.  The Gainesville lad had taken the spray from the belongings of another student.  Once he got to the school gym, he decided to give himself a healthy spritz of the stuff, causing an evacuation and making may of his classmates sick.  Gainesville junior high school students are evidently not taught to always read the label first.  (Three months earlier, a Manatee County school bus had to be evacuated because of an overwhelming odor of Axe Body Spray.  That stuff is powerful!)
  • This goes back to August, but I don't think I've mentioned it before.  Florida Man Larry Darnell Adams, 61, ws upset at the loud music at an 18th birthday party outside his apartment in Daytona Beach.  What does a Florida Man do when he's upset?  Well if you are Larry, you run out and spray them with roach spray of course.  And you keep it up until you hit yourself in the head with nunchaku.  Threats with a handgun were also made.  Police found 60 9mm projectiles inside a sock in Larry's bedroom.
  • Florida Man Todd Edward Watson, 56, is back in jail after threatening county judges.  He had been jailed this week twice before for...wait for it...threatening county judges.   This time he's being held without bail.
  • From Reddit yesterday:  Florida Man, Who Is Also a County Commissioner, Uses Public Meeting To Recommend Blowing a Hairdryer Up Your Nose To "Kill" Coronavirus
  • Also from Reddit one day ago:  Florida man who weighs 450 pounds -- hides marijuana in stomach fat
  • Florida Man Colin Gelb, 23, repaid a man's kindness by letting him stay in his spare room by peeing all over the room and attacking the man when he tried to stop him.  What is the saying, no good deed goes unpunished?  Yes, alcohol was involved.

Good Stuff:
There is so much going on this week about kindness and generosity.  What have you heard or seen this week that touched you?

Today's Poem:
The Virus

Here I sit
In complete isolation.
All of us separated by the invisible.
I would reach out to you,
But a simple elbow touch wouldn't do.
Lysol spray has become perfume,
Hand sanitizer has become hand lotion,
The news has become a bible.
A simple virus,
Whose name resembles royalty,
Has done the unthinkable.
Destroyed businesses,
and has ruined relationships.
The death toll rises,
And hope decreases.
What to do?
Everyone scrambles to find a solution.
Maybe it is found in the empty grocery shelves,
Or maybe in the fear of going outside.
Online assignments plague the uninfected.
But I believe,
We will all get through this together.
We will all get through this,
Just not with each other.

-- Katy Lyons
Hilton Head Island High School

This poem is from one of Ms Felix's students written during the school's first week of isolation.


  1. All of the quilters are making masks. I wish they would learn how to make respirators.

    1. I think some people with 3D printers are trying to figure out how to do that, Patti.