BLACK FRIDAY SEANCE AT THE CHINA SHOP IN HOOVERVILLE
Posted 6 Weeks Ago
It was the morning of November 29 ("Black Friday"), 2019. The Sun wasn't up yet, but Arsenio had urgent business to attend to.
He put his robe on as he was descending the stairs, then stopped in the office only long enough to summon some coffee from his new vending machine. Wait, he would need a *second* cup to fortify him for the coming holy rituals.
His next stop was the function room, where he drew the drapes and pushed the chairs and tables against the wall. Why the secrecy? Arsenio loved the shopkeepers on either side of him, and he didn't want them to worry about the magic that was about to take place.
Now he was ready. With a thick piece of chalk he drew a pentagram in the center of the floor. Within each of the star's points he drew the logo for some great manufacturer of china -- Wedgwood, Spode, Lenox, etc. Finally he drew a circle conneting the points of the star, and arranged 13 candles evenly along its circumference. Solemnly intoning the words "Council of dinnerware spirits, I summon you."
A fine mist sprang out from the circle, and Arsenio could see faces forming. Arsenio recognized the Two Great Josiahs (Spode and Wedgwood). The dapper, mustachioed figure of Walter Scott Lenox was there as well. What warmed Arsenio's heart the most, though, was the sight of N.O.Bull and Aunt Aganista. There they were, holding hands, allowed to do in the afterlife what propriety would have frowned on when they were alive.
"Great spirits, I strive to serve you all through the year," Arsenio continued, "but I am also a businessman who can be wiped out by random misfortunes. I need to make 40% of my yearly profits during the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Please forgive this fallible mortal for asking such a thing, but if you would open a portal from your world to this room, my customers would find their hearts' desires here. Just be sure not
to harm the other shopkeepers in downtown Hooverville. Shop Til You drop is another story, though. They're a conglomerate that could ride out just about any recession. I'm just sayin'."
Suddenly a glowing mist filled the entire room. Arsenio stepped into the main section of the shop. Looking back, he saw a tasteful sign with the legend "Holiday Annex" over the function room door. Now the entire shop was bathed in light that seemed to come from heaven itself. The doors to the outside unlocked themselves, and Arsenio found himself dressed in an elegant maroon and gold outfit that would have done credit to N. O. Bull himself.
Despite the early hour, many shoppers were driving past on their way to Shop Til You drop, but Arsenio's shop was so inviting that most of them parked in front so they see what he had to offer. The Holiday Annex seemed to have just what many of them wanted. if they wanted books or breakfasts, however, there were signs along the walls directing them to the bookstore or the Waffelhaus.
It would be a long and busy day for Arsenio. Thank heavens the great dinnerware spirits were there to support him! He could feel their presence. On January Second, though, he would need to thank them, ply them with gifts, and send them back to the Great Beyond. Finding appropriate gifts would be the hard part, of course. A late-December quest through the dangerous reaches of the underworld would be de rigueur. Arsenio knew some
wise spirits here and there -- if he could get past Scylla, Charybdis, Loki, and many other treacherous entities. Last tear he had almost perished as he sought what he needed. But, it had to be done. No one else could understand his plight, not that he ever felt sorry for himself. He wanted to be a fixture in downtown Hooverville for as long as Fate allowed.
He was pretty sure that he had not sold his soul -- at least not yet -- but who knew?
Inside The No Bull China Shop
Posted Nov 30, 2019
[Sometimes you can't help thinking that the places in your stories are characters in their own right. Here is what a character study of the china shop might look like...]
As you walk past the shop along whatever street that is, you see the front entrance, flanked by two large picture windows that prominently display the most seasonally appropriate china. The frnt of the building has a southeast exposure. Along the left side of the building, there is a pickle yew tree in a large raised bed. The tree gets a lot of
afternoon sun, for itfaces west. Right now, in late November, you can see Christmas displays in both the front windows. Arsenio may not have attracted much attention as a window-dresser, but his work is fine nonetheless. There's even a miniature railroad that winds its way around the window on the left. The old schoolhouse, the
covered bridge, and the Christmas platter (all from the Friendly Village pattern) bring back memories of winter in a rural village. Those are arranged behind the railroad, creaitng a natural back drop. Thw window on the right has plates in the Lenox Holiday pattern plus Mistletoe Park, a miniature winter village with lights that really glow!
Yes, Arsenio hopes to entice little kids passing by to urge (nag) their mothers into letting them go into the shop and buy all this good stuff.
"But what if Arsenio just has those traions for display, bnot pruchase?" the mothers are sure to object.
Arsenio will be waiitng near he door, ready to smile and assure the mothers that he ha splenty of trains (as well as Mistletooe Villages) at a good price, or at a low monthlyptice of $_____ . Sure, this blurs the line between dinnerware and toys, but why not have what people want?
Meanhwile, inside the shop there is some china that isn't specifcally holiday-oriented, but isn't Christmas a time for selecting gifts that might be good all year long? Of course!
Most families like their meals to be casual these days, so there's a lot of basic white dinnerware that wiobn't call attention to itself. It's all microwavable, dishwasherable, and designed to stand up to the worst that rambunctious kids can do to it. Well, almost! There's a half-price replacement offer for any item that doesn't survive its first year.
Does it get better than that? Well, there have been very few complaints so far.
Arsenio's office is tiny, and it faces the front door, so he can easily catch up on paperwork when things are slow, but he can quickly get the front door when customers come in.
Tio the left of his office there is a functon room, where he holds charity teas and Friday night madrigal group rehearsals. This room faces an alley in the back of the building. The set of large picture windows faces the northwest. It gets warm sunlight in the midafternoon, when most of the teas take place. From these windows oyu can see a garden
that is in the rear of a large residential building. In late Summer, fireflies cna be seen in the garden at twilight. This is a well-kept secret. ASrsenio likes to sit facing the garden and enjoy the light show that Nature puts on.
To the right of the office is a short hall that gives into two rest rooms plus an elevator and a staircase. The elevator is recent; it was installed when Aganista Philpotts, rsenio's aunt, had troublecliombing the staiors to the apartment above the store. Arsenio will likely need that elevator someday, but unless he has some heavy bags of groceries to bring
upstairs, he prefers to climb the stairs. It's good exercise, and it helps give him an appetite fpr whatever supper he plans to have. Unless, or course, he plans to eat out.
His favorite eating places are the Waffelhaus and the River Pirartes Inn. The owner of the Waffelhaus became a bit pset when she heard that Arsenio might start serving coffee in his shop. She feared that he would take business aay from her. It took a few days to allay her fears. Although he might put in a coffee vending mahcine, that would likely be a year
or twoi n the future, as the production of any such machines would take a while to accomplish. The vending mahcines kight also goi nto the planned Hoovernile Court, but who knew whether Arsenio could even get the contract for that? The modern world is a very competitivbe place, some would even say a cruel place. Arsenio is not a cruel man.
He has a business degree, but he has no ambition to work for someone else in a large, bureaucratic firm. He will always aim to greet every cusotmer himself and try to think of things they might want. What else are3 local businessmen for?
Sure, Arsenio's business, like any other, will undoubtedky change over the years, it will always react to what people here want.
I've just realized that Pin Oaks don't grow in Clarion County.
Posted Nov 16, 2019
It was an honest mistake. In a segment of the Hooverville NaJoPoMo project, I mentioned walking along the river, where pin oaks and red maples were growing. Just now I checked to see where Pin Oaks grow, and they wouldn't be in Hooverville (which is based on Clarion, Pennsylvania).
So, I'm sorry about that. That segment is going to be regarded as a dream anyway, but still.....
We don't have the capacity for going back and making changes, the way we might if we were submitting a manuscript to a book publisher, or working on a Guide Entry. So, we make mistakes and try to figure out how to deal with them after the fact.
There are misunderstandings, too. Maybe I shouldn't talk about those. I sometimes think that other people will be delighted with things, and it turns out that aren't . Okay, I've talked about moroe than I should have. get me started, and I go on too long.
Do Aristotles's unities belong in Hooverville?
Posted Nov 2, 2019
The first day of the Hooverville NaJoPoMo project covered Midnight through 1:00 a.m. on the 'first day" of November. The second day, strangely enough, did not touch November second at all, but went back to November First to cover 1:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m.
This story is apparently observing Aristotle's unities, as menitoned in this guide entry:
The "unities" are described in that entry as follows:
"The Classical Unities
The three Aristotelian 'Unities' of classical drama are supposed to be the ultimate purist in writing for the stage, an idealised structure which a playwright should strive to include in his work. These Unities are of Time, Place and Action; that is, the events described in a play should ideally be set in 'real time' or at least be set within the space of a single day, in a single place and be concerned with one overriding idea. Of Shakespeare's plays, the one which follows these Unities most closely is The Tempest, as it is set over the space of a day, on an island, and concerns the restoration of the status quo (the end of Prospero's exile, the release of Ariel from his servitude and the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda)."
Well, Hoovervbilles is arguably not a single "place," but rather a dozen or so different places within a single town.
Is there a single overriding idea? Well, think about the different characters, each of whom has a unique perspective and back story.
So, observing the unity of time without the other two gives us one-third of Aristotle.
Of course, anyone can start a new thread.
Today is national black cat day
Posted Oct 27, 2019
If I see any black cats today, I will certainly celebrate them.