Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


 Openers:  In one of the vallies of the great mountain Dalanger reigned a king who was a widower, very poor, and very old; he had three sons, whom he one day addressed in these words:  My ancestors call upon me to join them in the land of spirits; but before I die I must reveal to you a secret of importance.  A short time before my marriage, being fatigued in pursuit of a bear, I passed the night inn a cavern of the Yellow Mountain.  A very handsome young man unexpectedly appeared to me in the morning, and said, Aboucaf, train up thy children in the paths of virtue, and send them here when thou shall be on the point of quitting the world.  I could not return my thanks to this young man, because he suddenly disappeared, but I have never forgotten his words.  Go to the Yellow Mountain, my children, perhaps you will find there an inheritance more worthy of you than that which I shall be able to leave you.  -- The three princes immediately set out, and having arrived at the Yellow Mountain, and advanced pretty far into the cavern described, they perceived the foot of a ladder, which till that time had been concealed.  They ascended more than a thousand steps, and at last arrived at a square apartment, cut into the rock, where they nothing but a small basket made of rushes.  This basket contained a purse of raw leather, a horn similar to those which the shepherds use to collect their scattered flocks, and a gidle of very coarse goats' hair.  Truly, said Hairkan, the eldest of the brothers, our father had no reason to be in haste to discover to us this treasure.  Let us not, however, fail to divide it among us; I shall take the girdle -- And I the horn, said Xamor, who was next to him in age -- The purse then will belong to me, said the youngest brother, who was called Tangut.  -- Hairkan, in unrolling the girdle, saw a paper fall from it, on which he read these words:  "In what place do you wish to be?"  The two others, curious to know if they should similar billets. looked, the one into the wide end of his horn, the other into his purse.  Xamor found in his horn a paper, on which was written, "How many troops do you desire?"  The youngest also drew from his purse a billet, which bore these words:  "What sum of money do you wish for?"  -- If we only have to wish in oder to be obeyed, cried they all three together, we are happy indeed.  -- It is easy to make the trial of these prodigies, said Tangut, and I shall begin.  -- He closed his purse and said, I wish for a thousand pieces of gold.  -- At that instance the purse was stretched out, and became so heavy that it fell from his hands.  He opened it upon the ground, turned it up, and a thousand pieces of gold dropt from it and were scattered about the place.  Judge of the raptures of the brothers at this sight.  They made no further experiment, but set out on their return; but their father, Aboucaf, could take no part n their joy; he expired just as they got home.  After giving this good prince a magnificant funeral, they agreed to prserve their secrets, and to leave their barren country, to go in quest of happier climates.  Hiarkan and Xamor departed first; but I shall not relate to you their adventures; though I am acquainted with them.  It is sufficient at present to inform you, that they founded in the same year two cities and two kingdoms, which bear their names even until today.  I confine myself to what relates to Tangut.

-- "The History of the Prince Tangut, and of the Princess with a Nose of a Foot Long" (from The History of Abdalla, The Son of Hanif by Jean Paul Bignon under the pseudonym "de Sandisson" from 1712-1714 and translated into English by William Hatchett in 1729; reprinted in the third volume of Tales of the East, edited by Henry William Weber, 1812)

Just from the title of the story you know that things are about to get nteresting for Tangut.  Tanbut settles in the city of Kemmerouf, where the constant riches from his purse place him in good stead with the citizens and nobles of that city.  Women, of all sorts, throw themselves at him to no avail because Tangut has eyes only for the beautiful daughter of the sultan, Dogandar.  Dogandar, however, suspects tht Tangut is harboring a secret and spurns his advances.  Eventually she discovers that his purse is the secret of Tangut's wealth and, using her feminine wiles, takes it from him and scurries off.  (Yes, Tangut is a noob.)  With no source of income, Tangut leaves the city and travels to Xamor, the city his brother founded, and asks that he be given his brother's magic horn.  Arriving back at Kemmerouf, Tangut blows on the horn six times and 300,000 invincible soldiers magically appear, complete with battle supplies.  Tangut lays seige to the city, forcing the sultan and his family to come out to surrender.  Once Tangut sees Dogander, he again becomes a noob and loses his heart to her.   The sultan and sultana agree to have Tangut marry Dogandar.  Once again, Dogandar plies her wiles and, taking the magic horn from Tangut, blows on it.  Instantly, 100,000 soldiers appear for her.  Just as instantly, Tangut's 300,000 soldier disappear.  Tangut flees the city, going to his elder brother to request Hairken's woven girdle. which will transport him anywhere he wants.  Tangut, ever the noob, is instantly transported to Dogandar's bed chamber where she lays in a rather flimsy nightgown (ahem).  Once again, Dogander gets the magical item from Tangut and he must flee the city to avoid the sultan's guards.

Depressed and exhausted, Tangut wanders about until,he decides to end it all by jumping off a cliff.  Before he can do so, his clothing gets stuck on the branches of a fig tree -- the only vegetation to be seen in the area.  Tangut falls asleep and awakens quite hungry.  But there on the tree were the most beautiful figs he had ever seen.  Deciding he might as well commit suidcide on a full stomach, he manages to free his clothing from the branches and pulled down a fig.  He eats it and his nose grows a full foot.  As he eats more and more figs, his nose keeps growing.  He just can't stop eating the figs.  Finally, he wraps his nose around his arm and leaves.  After wandering some more, the depressed Tangut comes across another fig tree.  Hungry again, he decides that eating thee figs cannot do more harm than had already been dome to him.  As he eats each fig, his nose shrinks until it is his normal size.  He gathers up the figs from the second tree, then goes to the first and gathers figs from it.  Then he travels once more to Kemmerouf.

Disguise, Tangut sells the nose-growing figs to the royal procurer, who brings them to the sultana and Dogandar.  They eat the figs and their noses grow to extraordinary length.  Physicians far and wide were called to treat the royal pair without success.  Finally, Tangut, again disguised, approached the palace and states the fells he could cure the unfortunates.  After eight days of feeding them phony elixars, he gives the sultana the curative figs and her nose grows to normal size.  He tells Dogandar that, because she is of a different temperment than her mother, the cure may not work for her.  Hopefully she gives Tangut all three magical artifacts.  He gives her the figs -- all but one.  Her nose then shrinks to only a foot in length.  He then gives her a regular fig and her nose stays the same size.  Tangut reviews himself to Dagandar and, using the magic girdle, transports imself away.  Dogandar lived to an extreme old age, while Tangut -- no longer a noob -- founded a prosperous kingdom far away.

The full title of the book is The Adventures of Abdulla, Son of Hanif; Sent by the Sultan of the Indies, To Make a Discovery of the Ifland of BORICO.  Intermix'd with Feveral Curious and Inftructive Histories.  Translated in FRENCH from an Arabick Manuscript found at Batavia, with NOTES explaing fuch paffages as relate to the Religion, Cuftoms, &tc. of the Indians and the  Mahomatans, By Mr. De SANDISSON, Done in English by William Hatchett, Gent.  Abdulla is sent by the Sultan to discover the secret of immortal youth.  Along the way he meets a number of people including a Persain woman, Roushen, and her young daughter, Lou-lou.   The three entertain themselves by telling stories; the tale of Tangut is related by Abdulla himself.

It should noted that there was no "Arabick Manuscript"; the book was written in whole by Bignon.  Abbe Bignon (1662- 1743) was a French cleric, statesman, writer, and librarian who was a patron of Antoine Galland, the first translator of  A Thousand and One Nights.  Bignon's book, while not as well-known as Galland's monumental work,  had a profound effect on fantasy literture, ,most especially with William Beckford's Vathek.

Regarding Tales of the East, William Henry Weber (1783-1818) was an editor of plys and romances and the literary assistant to Sir Walter Scott, who aided Weber in many of his anthologies.  Supposedly, Weber edited Tales of the East  in honor of Scott.  He allegedly wend suddenly mad in late December 1813, produced a pair of pistols and challenged Scott to a duel.  Weber was then soothed without  having any shots fired.  The next day he was restrained.  Comitted to an asylum as hopelessly insane, Scott and others supported Weber until he died in the asylum in 1818.

Woot!:  Today (er.. yesterday now, since this has been posted a day late) is National Pepperoni Pizza Day!  (I knew there was a reason I got out of bed this morning.)  To add to the joyous celebrations it is also National String Cheese Day and National Rum Punch Day!  Since this yesterday was the third Monday in September, it is also National Respect for the Aged Day.  You can best respect me by bringing pepperoni pizza, string cheese, and some rum punch.  You can also bring along some fried rice since it's also (again, yesterday) National Fried Rice Day -- I prefer pork fried rice.

This is was also a day when we honor our most recent former president:  National Gibberish .  Hobbit Day falls on Wednesday, this is also Tolkien Week.  Don't celebrate with an orc.

This is was also the date when Joe Louis won the heavyweight boxing championship in 1939 against Bob Pastor in 11 rounds.  And when, in 1969, John Lennon left the Beatles but did not make an official announcement of the split.

Arsenical Wallpapers:  Here's a handy little book for those who wish toplot their next mystery novel or story:  Shadows from the Walls of Death:  Facts and Inferences Prefacing a Book of Specimens of Arsenical Wallpapers  by R. C. (Robert Clark) Kenzie, 1874.  There's only about eight pages of text and the type is so small that it is virtually impossible to read.  No matter.  There then follows color pictures of over seventy examples of arsenical wallpaper -- the arsenic had been added as a coloring agent.  If you ever see anyone boiling some 19th century wallpaper, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Dangerous Toys:  Christmas is coming on us fast.  I can tell because Christmas items are pushing Halloween and Thanksgiving items off the store shelves.  If you are considering buying a toy for some little one you know, beware of these Top 10 Most Dangerous toys of 2021, as determined by World against Toys Causing Harm, Inc (WATCH):  

  • 10 -  Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber -- potential for blunt force and eye injuries
  • 9 -  My Sweet Love Lots of Love Babies Minis -- potential choking hazard
  • 8 -  Boom City Racers -- potential for eye and facial injuries
  • 7 -  Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO -- potential for propellor-related injury
  • 6 -  Sci-Fi Slime -- potential for chemical-related injuries
  • 5 -  WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists -- potential for blunt force and impact injuries
  • 4 -  Gloria Owl -- potential for ingestion
  • 3 - Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw -- potential for eye and facial kinjuries
  • 2 - Missile Launcher -- potential for eye and facial injuries
And the Number 1 Most Dangerous Toy is (drum roll, please)...
  • 1 - Calico Critters Nursery Friends -- potentiaal choking hazard
We've come a long way from lawn darts and Saturday Night Live's "Johnny Flame-On" costume, but still exercis caution when purchasing toys for children.

The First Antipope:  Robert of Geneva (1342-1394) was elected to the papacy as Pope Clement VII by cardinals opposed to Pope Urban VI in in 1378.  Robert had been named a cardinal in 1371.   As Clement VII, he established his papacy in Avignon, France.  Meanwhile Urban VI had assumed leadership of the Roman Church and was elected outside the College of Cardinals.  The dueling popes, as it were, led to the Western Schism of the Catholic Church.  Urban (c. 1318-1389), born Bartolomeo Prognano, who was never a cardinal, was elected to the papacy as a sop to angry Romans who demanded a Roman pope and not a French one as the previous pope, Gregory XI, was.  (Gregory was the seventh and last Avignon pope.)  The innocuous Urban was at the least moderately appealing to French cardinals, who later left Rome and supported Robert of Genva for the papacy.  What was not realized at the time was that the little-known Prognano was not a Roman, but a Neopolitan.

Pope Clement VII had the support of most of Europe, incuding the king of France, Charles V, but Urban's coronation was carried "with scrupulous detail, leaving no doubt as the the legitimacy of the new pontiff."  Urban insisted that the Curia do its work withour gratuity or gifts, that the cardinals were not accept annuties from governments or private persons, that they eschew their luxuries and retinues, and he insisted he would  not move the papacy to Avignon.  This madden Charles V, who granted Louis I, Duke of Anjou, a phantom kingdom is he could unseat Urban VI.  The French cardinals voted to declare Urban's papacy illegitimate and elected Robert of Geneva as pope.  The previous year, Robert had distingushed hemself by ordering the massacre of 2000-8000 civilians at Cesena.

There followed years of battle and struggle.  Clement, died in 1394, perhaps realizing that his dreams of a united Catholic church under him would never be realized.  Urban died in 1389, following a fall from a horse; rumors, perhaps unfounded, circulated that he had been poisoned.

Dancing on the Moon:  Here's a 1935 animated cartoon from the Fleischer Studios.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Richard Wolfe, 57, of Crystal River, was stopped for using the grass median to pass other cars.   Wolfe got out of the car and began twerking at the Orange County Sheriff's officer who stopped him.  He then pulled a knife out of his belt, tossed on the ground, and said, "What are you afraid of?  I've got a knife and you've got a gun."  Wolfe then twerked his way into the traffic lanes of State Road 44.  He was arrested for resisting an officer without violence, fleeing, and dangerous driving.
  • In a related story from November 2017, a number of Florida Men (and Women, presumably) began twerking on Interstate 95 during a 35-minute traffic jam caused by Donald Trump making his way to Mar-a-Lago during the Thanksgiving holidays.  Traffic-goers were not amused by the delay although the twerking (allegedly) was outstanding.
  • In disgusting Florida Man news, Florida Man Brian Riley stopped a man who was mowing his lawn to tell him that God had told him to talk to Amber because she was about to commit suicide.  The man, Justice Gleason, told Riley tht there was no Amber at that address and told  him to leave or he would call the police.  "No need to call the cops, I'm the cops for God," Riley allegedly told Gleason.  Riley left nd leter got a second "message" from God, telling him to kill everyone and rescue Amber, who  was a victim of sex trafficking.  Riley returned to the Gleason house shortly before 4:30 in the morning and shot Gleason's 62-year-old mother-in-law, emptying an entire magazine into her.  He then entered the main house and shot the family dog.  The family was hiding in the bathroom and Riley shot the locked door, then killed Gleason, his wife, and their 3-month-old son.  Elsewhere in the house, he found Gleason's 11-year-old daughter and tortured her in an effort to find out where the imaginary Amber was.  Riley told the girl that he had killed her parents because they were sex traffickers.  Prior to these incidents Riley had had no contact with, or knowledge of, the victims.
  • Florida Man Stephen Dariff of Daytona Beach used his riding lawn mower to scare off a six-foot alligator.  When the alligator eventually came back to the water's bank, Dariff headed toward the animal with his lawn mower, lowering the moving blades directly on the alligator, injuring the gator's head and severing several limbs, as well as destroying  the eggs in the alligator's nest.  If Dariff did not know what he did was a crime under Florida law, he does now.
  • Florida Woman Ashley Ruffin, 31, of Palm Coast, was arrested for allegedly helping her son and his friend beat another boy.   Ruffin was charged with felony child abuse for holding the victim while the two other boys assaulted him,  Evidently parenting in florida has a lower standard than elsewhere.

Good News:
  • 12-yer-old Polish girl with Down Syndrome sends painting to Queen elizabeth and is "over the moon" when she replies
  • Man gives bone marrow to help with his depression -- not only does recipient go into remission for leukemia, but also for the MS she had been battling for 20 years
  • Premature baby born so small she was kept alive in a sandwich bag has defied odds and now is starting school
  • New study indicates that oxygen therapy may slow the progress of Alzheimer's
  • Astronaut bringss ashes and photo of 9/11 victim to space to fulfill his lifelong dream of orbiting for NASA
  • 100-year-old grandma set Guiness record for power

Today's Poem:
Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec'd

And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad heart thicken, 
And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.

No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no.  Then list with tearful eye,
While I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.

They got him out nd emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the ralms of the good and great.

-- Mark Twain

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