Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, August 23, 2021


 Openers:  Captain Sir Haddingway Ingraham Jameson Ingraham of his Majesty's Royal Frontier Houssa Police -- less formally known as Hiji from Lagos to Bathurst -- was engaged in the pleasing and harmless pastime od shooting crocks.

A grinning Krooboy, naked save for a breech-clout and a blue celluloid comb thrust in his kinky hair, squatted along the river bank with a long pole in his hand.  Attacjhed to the pole was a length of strong, stout string, and at the string's far end there dangled the remains of a deceased cooking dog which swished slowly through the muddy waters of the Luabala with a motion counterfeiting swimming.  Crocks are always hungry and ever guiltly of the sin of gluttony, and the appetizing scent of the defunct dog wasalure no crock, no matter how inhibited, could withstand.  So presently there showed a long, triangular ripple on the surface of the water, and at its apex was the long pointed armored snout and knob-set eyes of a voracious saurian.  The Krooboy was an old hand at the game and played the crocodile skillfully.  Without appearing to do so, the bait increased its rate of speed, and the crock paddled faster, caution lost in appetite.  The dog came closer to the shore, the crcodile in hot pursuit.  Then Hiji raised his 9.5-mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer, took quick aim, and fired.

Your African crocodile is a tough customer.  From ten to twenty feet in length, and armored like a tank, his skull is thick and hard as metal, his brain pan small, his vitality enormous.  You can shoot him full of holes as a fly-net, yet cause him little more than temporary inconvenience till you hit a vital spot, and vital spots are few and far between.  But Hiji was no duffer with a rifle.  He could put a bullet through the trefoil of the ace of clubs at thirty paces, and the lone pip on the ace of clubs is considerably smaller than a cdocodile's eye.  Also a Mannlicher-Schoenauer fires a bullet weighing 261.7 grams with a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet per second and strikes with the power of 4,200 foot pounds.  The crock lashed once or twice with his long tail, then sank beneath the surface or turned belly-up, webbed feet and short legss pointing to the sky.  Post-mortems were invariably the same.  The newly deceased crcok's cousins, aunts, sisters, and brothers swam to devour him, and Hiji potted one or two of them before they dragged him under or swam out of range.

-- "The White Goddess of the Khiva" by Seabury Quinn (from Short Stories, October 25, 1947

In a story riddled with stereotypes and a rascism that woiuld not sit well with today's readers, Seabury Quinn did what he usually did -- concoct an interesting and exciting tale.  Quinn was never a stylist but, like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, he was able to propel a story, no matter how trite, into a rollercoaster of thrills and action.

Here we have Hiji, the brave, young, and practical leader of British troops sent to enforce English law in Centrl West Africa, an admistrator whose determination and swift action made him feared and respected by the tribes he oversaw.  Hiji's reputation has kept the various tribes or or less settled, leving him little to do save for indulging in his hobby of shooting crocdiles.  But his pastime is interupped by the appearance of a delegation of four Iliki wariors who had traveled 300 miles on the Luabala to presnt a grievance to Hiji.

Six months before the Khiva, a fierce tribe of cannibal warriors, began worshipping a powerful white goddess.  Blonde, beautiful, and silent, she communicates only with the witch doctor Hiksoka during the dead of night.  Since this goddess appeared, the crops were full, game was abundant, many male children had been born, and people were less inpacted by sickness.  Truly this was a powerful goddess.  The she instructed the Khiva to go to was against a small village and the Khiva wiped out the village and feasted on the dead bodies.  When the Khiva attacked the Iliki, they managed to repel the invaders at a heavy cost.  Since then the Khiva have been consorting to sorties, stealing the Iliki goats and grain, capturing their men, and tking their women for the slave trade.  Now the Iliki are appealing to the powerful Hiji for justice.  Hiji's reaction?  A stout curse:  "My Aunt Mehitabel's best Sunday-going-to-meetin' bustle!"

Hiji feels the tale of a white goddess was a bit of hokum.  A white goddess is on the par with the Loch Ness Monster or the Jersey Devil -- there can be no such thing.  He sets out to finds the truth with a troop of soldiers on his utility boat, the Wilhelmina.  The boat travels along the Luabala and when it reaches the confluence of the Mendi-Mendi, which would lead to the territory of the Khiva, the boat continues up the Luabala.   When Khiva spies reprted this to the fat King Hefela, the king prises the white goddess who obviously led Hiji away from the tribe.  They tribe celebrated and danced and ate a young man randomly selected for sacrifice by Hiksoka.

Ah!  But Hiji was cunning.  He and some twenty soldiers had left the vessel downstream before it had reached the Mendi-Mendi and were now traveling through the jungle to surprise the Khavi.  But King Hefela was also cunning, he had warriors posted as guards along all the trails leading to his village and one of the guards reported of Hiji's advance.  Since there was only one trail from that direction leading to the village, Hefela knew of the perfect spot to waylay Hiji and his men.  And so they do and Hiji and his soldiers are captured and about to be sacrificed.  Hefela asks Hiji if his liver is tough enough to be made into a drum.

Golly, things look dire!  But don't worry.  Hiji carries the White Man's Burden well and comes out on top.  And who -- or what -- was the white goddess?  Sorry, but that would be telling.

Seaabiry Quinn was a lawyer who practiced mortuary law and taught mortuary jurisprudence in mortury schools for many years.  He wrote a two textbooks on the subject.  For 15 years he was also the editor of a mortuary trade magazine, Casket and Sunnyside.  He also contributed to The American Funeral Director, Dodge Magazine (an enbalming magazine for the Dodge Chemical Company), and othe trade journals.  All of which is a fitting background for his over-the-top weird tales of horror and grotesque crime.  He is best known for his series about the occult detective Jules de Grandin, who battled supernatural forces in over ninety tales published in Weird Tales.  Quinn was the popular author in the magazine, more so than H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, or Robert E. Howard (the three big names most commonly assiciated with Weird Tales), and Quinn's name on the cover would resuilt in increased sales.

Quinn was prolific and wrote many other stories in the detective and oriental fantasy fields.  His  novella Roads, which used original Christian legends to come up with a new origin for Santa Claus, is considered a classic.  A three-volume set of stories he wrote for Dodge Magazine under the pseudonym "Jerome Burke," This I Remember:  Memoirs of a Funeral Director, has been published by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, a company which has also published all of Quinn's known work.


  • Dan Simmons, The Fifth Heart.  Mysery.  "It is 1893, and Sherlock Holmes and Hanry James have come to America to solve the mystery of the 1895 'suicide' of Clover Adams, a member of the same Adams family that has given the United States two presidents.  Holmes and James suspect foul play -- and that it may involve matters of national importance.  On his Great Hiatus after his 'death' at Reichenbach Falls, Holmes explains that his powers of deduction have led him to a shocking conclusion that he -- Sherlock Holmes -- is a fictional character.  This disturbs James with the question:  If his fellow investigator is a work of fiction, what does that make him?   Teeming with vividly drawn historical characters, The Fifth Heart is a fascinating and often amusing thriller with surprises at every turn."  Dan Simmons writes big fat books, all of them well plotted, detailed, and addictive.  There are few who can equal him.

Today:  It's Hug Your Sweetheart Day!  What are you waiting for?  One caveat:  Be sure the person you are hugging knows that she or he is your sweetheart.

Speaking Of...:  Today is Governor Andrew Cuomo's last day in office, prooving once again the some things shouold remain beyond your grasp.

Sacco and Vanzetti:  Nicola Sacco was an Italian-born shoemaker and night watchman who emigrated to America when he was seventeen.  Bartolomeo Vanzetti, three years older than Sacco, was a fishmonger who came to America in 1908, the same year Sacco did.  Both was said to be anarchists and followers of Luigi Galleani, who advocated violence -- including bombing and assassination -- to achieve his ends.  The two met during a labor strike in 1917.

On April 15, 1920, a factory of the Slater-Morell Shoe company in Braintree, Massahusetts, was robbed.  Two employees had been transporting the company payroll -- two large steel boxes -- to the company's main factory.  One, security guard Alessandro Beradelli, was shot four times when reaching for his gun.  The other, paymaster Frederick Parmenter, was shot in the chest and then in the back as he tried to flee.  The robbers escaped in a blue Buick that was seen carrying other men.

Police suspected that known anarchist Ferrucio Coacci was involved.  Coacci was scheduled for deportion on the day of the robbery but did not appear because he said his wife was sick, an alibi later believed to be falso.  Coacci and his family were deported to Italy on April 18.  Suspicion then fell to Mario Buda, who had lived with Coacci.  Buda told police that Coacci owned a .32 automatic.  A search failed to find the gun but did find the manufacturor's diagram of the gun -- the same type and caliber that killed Beradelli and Parmenter.  Buda admitted to owning a 1917 Overland automobile, which had been sent for repairs four days after the robbery.  Tire tracks had suggested that a second car had been used in the robbery and police thought it may have been Buda's.  Police went to question Buda further but he was not at home. 

On May 5, Buda was at the repair garage with three friends:  Sacco, Vanzetti, and Riccardo Orciani.  Buda was not seen again until 1928.  Unlike Sacco and Vanzetti, Orciani had an alibi for the day of the robbery.  Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested that day.  A search of Sacco's home found anarchist literature and guns that could have used in the robbery.  Vanzetti's house revealed shotgun shells similar to casoings found at the crime scene and a handgun of the same type the security guard had owned but was not found at the scene.  The pair were indicted four months later on September 14.  Following the indictments, there was a series of violent acts of retaliation by anarchists, including a Wall Street bombing that killed 38 and wounded 134.  Orchestrated bombing against American embassies continued for a number of year.

It was determine to first try Vanzetti on an earlier robbery in Bridgewater, Massachusetts -- one in which Sacco had an alibi.  It was felt that a gulty verdict for the Bridgewater crimes would make it esier for guity verdicts on a Braintree crimes trial.  Vanzetti's trial began on June 22, with Judge Webster Thayer presiding.  Also felt to be a fair judge, Thayer had previously spoken against Bolshevism and anarchism and was known to be prejudiced against foreigners.  The prosecution produced several witnesses who placed Vanzetti at the scene, but their testimonies contradicted each other on details.  The defence produced eighteen witnesses, all of Italian origin, who testified that they had bought eels from Vanzetti on that day for Estertide.  Biut the witness for the defense were a confused lot, some of whom did not speak English, and the translators provided did not speak the same dialect of Italian.  One witness, a boy, admitted to rehearsing his testimony.  A shabby defence was pitted against a cunning prosecution.  Vanzetti refused to testify on his own behalf.  On July 1, the jury deliberated for only five hours before giving a guilty verdict for armed robbery and first degree murder.  Judge Thayer had learned that the jurors had tampered with the shotgun shells found at Vanzetti's home, thus prejudicing the evidence.  Thayer declared a mistrial on the murder charge, but sentenced Vanzetti on the robbery charge.

On May 21, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti went on triaal in Dedham, Massachusetts for the Braintree robbery and murders.  Sacco's attorney was Fred Moore, a former attorney for the the Industrial Workers of the World (the "Wobblies").  Moore was a radical firebrand who constantly clashed with Judge Thayer, and Moore's antics continually maddened the judge.  Thayer was heard to complain that "no long-haired anarchist from California can ruin this court!"  Legal scholars agrred that it was a grave mistake for Sacco to hire Moore as his lawyer.

On July 21, gulty verdicts against both defendants were handed down.  Supporteers felt that the pair were found guilty solely for their political viewpoints but jurors swore that these had never entered into discussions.

A series of appeals followed, based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury's foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the crime.  All appeals were denied by Judge Thayer.

An internatinal outcry convinced Massahusetts governor Alvan Fuller to appoint a three-man panel to investigate the case.  After weeks of secret testimony, the panel supported the guilty verdict and, on August 23, 1927 -- exactly 94 years ago this day -- the pair were executed.

The controversy did not stop there.  Debate has continued as to whether or not the pair were guilty or were just political pawns.  The case has been muddied by additional ballistic tests and incriminating statements from people who knew the pair.  In 1977, on the 50th anniversary of the executions, then-
Massachuestts governor Michael Dukakis declared that the pair had been unfairlyn tried and convisted.  Later investigations added support to the ;pair's innocence.

No one truly knows if Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty or innocent, but the debate continues to this day.

Non DeSanity:  Our governor here in Florida, Ron DeSantis, is clearly aiming for the white House in 2024.  Elected on a pro-Trump platform -- his political ads consisted of pro-Trump pandering -- DeSantis has embraced the anti-vaxxer, anti-masker hardline of the radical Right.  When Covid first raised its ugly head, the GOP used it attack the Democrats, saying they were using it as a ploy to attack Donald Trump.  By the time  most of the GOP realized the threat was real it was too late; the so-called Covid hoax had been implanted in the minds of many of the party's (and Donald Trump's) base.  And it to this base that DeSantis is appealing to.

Usng the specious argument that parents know what is best for their children, DeSantis has banned any mask mandate in public schools, implying that masks only affect children and not those the children may pass the virus on to.  If he were remain consistant, perhaps he should ban the requirement for students to be vaccinated against, smallpox, diptheria, polio, measles, and other diseases.  Mandatory vaccinations have long be assumed to be needed for public health reasons -- until the Age of Trump and DeSantis.  The vast majority of Florida parents support mask mandates in schools and feel that unmasked children may put all at risk, but the majority of Florida parents are not part of the DeSantis base.

A  number of major school districts in the state are defying DeSantis's order, but at what cost?  The State's Board of Education have said that they will withhold salaries for those school employees who refuse to obey the governor's order -- at least those whose salaries are controlled by the state.  Blackmail and threats of the highest order.  

I often post about "Florida Man," but Florida Man is not in any way as stupid as Florida government.

Fish Tale:  Granmdson Jack went fishing with his Daddy yesterday.  Actually, Daddy did not fish because his fishing license had expired, so it was all up to Jack.  He caught seven fish (so he tells me) using raw bacon as bait.  Imagine if he had used a pine cone...

Florida Man (Excluding Ron DeSantis:
  •  Florida Man Steven Wayne Yoakum, 51, of Wildwood, has not learned his lesson.  Convicted of stalking his ex-girlfriend, he served more than six months for violating his parole by stalking the same woman.  After his release from jail, guess who he began stalking once again.  He is currently being held on $10,000 bail.
  • Florida Woman Darlene Ann Schoff-Brock, 62, of Dania Beach, evidently did not what to do with the body of her brother whom she allegedly murdered in 2014, so she buried him in her backyard.  Following a tip. the Broward County Sheriff's office set uip an interview with Schoff-Brock to talk about her brother, Donald Marks Schoff, whom Schoff=Brock had said had been out of the country for several years.  The following day, her lawyer called to cancel the interview.  Police dug in Schoff-Brock's backyard and found a body which had been shot in the back of the head and which DNA analysis had shown belonged to a male child of Scoff-Brock's mother.  Neighbors decribed Schoff s "nice" and "mostly quiet."  The  motive for the slaying is unclear, although the pair had been known to argue over money, with Schoff accusing his sister of stealing from him.
  • Pinellias County Florida Man Steven Jordan, 31, ws arrested for threatening Disney on Twitter.  Jordan had opened a Twitter account on August 8 and made 186 tweets within a three-hour period.  Two of those tweets were directed at Walt Disney World and its executives, threatening to "blow up all of your exec houses with C4" and to "toss a hand grenade through their loft window."  Jordan admitted to authorities that he was responsible for those tweets, as well as other directed against Activision Games and at current litigation issues.  As with Yokum (above), he is being held on $10,000 bond.  We have no idea what his beef was against the Mouse, but Twitter shut his account the following day.
  • This guy may not be Mike Tyson, but Florida Man James Lenn Williams, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested for biting off part of a friend's ear during a brawl at a Key West hotel.  Williams was partying with a male friend and two women when one of the women passed out.  Williams put the woman in a maintenance wheelbarrow and began wheeling her to a hotel room; he also poured beer on the unconscious woman and verbally insulted her.  The woman then awakened and the trio tried to calm Williams down.  Williams responding by pushing both women to the floor.  this did not sit well with his male friend and the brouhaha started.  Williams began by choking his friend and then advanced to biting off part of his ear.  I am tempted to write "ear today, gone tomorrow," but I have much better taste than that.

A Sprinkle of the Good:
  •  Locals digging a well accidently discover a $140 million star sapphire weightin half a ton
  • Solar-powered beach-combing robot filters even tiny particles of plastic 30 time faster that humans can
  • Teen rescues a bumblebee and now it won't leave her side -- even sleeping in a jar beside her bed
  • Man's dog went missing two years before, then he recognizes him on television
  • Police dog trained to find weapons aces special assignment to find lost wedding ring on a sandy beach

Today's Poem:
All I Needed Was a Tight Hug...!

The real one which I wrote:

From the onset of my life
where daily my sould cried
for a one who was mine
who would have asked if i was fine
is this enough?
for my life which is rough
from my infancy to now
I want only one thing from everyone but how?

-- Chitresh Jhawar

No comments:

Post a Comment