The Vault

Lucky 2021.

This is one of my annual traditions although this year’s class will be held via Zoom.

In recent years St. Patrick’s Day has become controversial because of a maligned and often caricatured minority. I’m referring, of course, to leprechauns. Reviled, mistreated, and still all too frequently portrayed as happy little figures sitting on toadstools smoking pipes even though increasingly they’re switching to e-cigarettes the leprechaun is still the object of prejudice and misconceptions. Many of us, in fact, have passed by or even worked alongside leprechauns, often without realizing it. In the interests of time I’ll just be addressing a few of the most common misconceptions here.

The first is the ancient belief that leprechauns are mischievous, even dangerous creatures. Stories of leprechauns luring travelers into bogs or inflicting injuries on those passing through wooded areas go back as far as the 8th century, but sociologists now agree that such behavior is not characteristic of leprechauns, and is, in fact, quite rare. While there may be some basis in truth for these stories it’s widely accepted that destructive behavior was the act of a minority among leprechauns who, feeling marginalized from the culture as a whole, acted out in anti-social ways. Unfortunately this misconception has been perpetuated and reinforced by stories that are still told to children, as well as in movies, such as the 1993 film Leprechaun, its many sequels including 2000’s Leprechaun in the Hood, and, of course, the 1980 Al Pacino movie Cruising.

There is also a less common misconception of leprechauns as helpful. There are stories of leprechauns discreetly doing farm work, including harvesting, milking cows, and repairing small machinery. Again there may be some basis for these stories, but not all leprechauns enjoy the outdoors or are suited for farm work. Many prefer to work in offices, or seek employment in fields such as shoemaking. This is, of course, not to say that all leprechauns are adept at working with footwear, but many did find this to be an accepted trade. It’s believed this originated from leprechauns making shoes for fairies who, being generally more accepted, would be asked by more common folk where they got such amazing stilettoes. Working as cobblers proved to be profitable even when leprechauns were subject to such fierce discrimination that they were kept out of most cities and towns and had to form their own exclusive villages, commonly known as leprechaulonies.

Stories of farmers rewarding helpful leprechauns with suits of clothes, only to find that the leprechauns considered this an insult and would disappear, may also have some basis in truth, mainly because you can’t expect a leprechaun to wear that coat with those pants, especially after Labor Day.

Finally we come to the most common and persistent belief about leprechauns: that they are hoarders of massive quantities of gold which they keep in pots at the end of rainbows. This belief has been so pervasive that attempts have been made to lure leprechauns with artificial rainbows by everyone from Sir Isaac Newton to the manager of the band Pink Floyd. As a belief it was understandable at a time when people regarded meteorological phenomena as magical, unlike now when it’s understood that rainbows are caused by the refraction of sunlight through water droplets suspended in centaur farts. Because rainbows rarely have ends that reach the ground it’s still not understood how exactly leprechauns could have kept their alleged pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, in spite of several theories advanced by folklorists and experiments attempting to hang pots of gold from rainbows using balloons. A frequently repeated tale is that a leprechaun, when caught, may be forced to give up the location of his pot of gold, but only if the person who caught him keeps his eyes fixed on the leprechaun. In stories of this type the leprechaun often escapes capture by telling the person who caught him that there’s a fierce beast or the Chrysler building just over his shoulder. Folklorists believe that there is some truth in this, but only to the extent that leprechauns seem to have invented the “made you look” joke. Also it’s now known that leprechauns are not inherently wealthy. While there are some who have enjoyed success—the heir to the Lucky Charms fortune, for instance, or Mickey Rooney—leprechauns are no more likely to be wealthy than the general population.That concludes the lecture for today. In preparation for next week read pages 126-153, when we will be discussing genetic mutation and its potential for altering reality. Our lab work will involve real four-leaf clovers, but I’d better not catch any of you wishing for a better grade.

What It Was Was Fantasy Football: 2021 Edition.

Source: qwantz.com. Awesome fun times!

Defending Team

Safety- Tyrann Mathieu

Safety- Daniel Sorensen

Cornerback- BoPete Keyes

Cornerback-Rashad Fenton

Outside Linebacker-Anthony Hitchens

Outside Linebacker-Darius Harris

Middle Linebacker- Lavonte David

End- Ndamukong Suh

End- Tanoh Kpassagnon

Tackle- Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Tackle- Donovan Smith

Wide Receiver-Mecole Hardman

Wide Receiver- Tyreek Hill

Tackle- Khalen Saunders

Tackle- Derrick Nnadi

Guard- Ali Marpet

Guard- Andrew Wylie

Center- Ryan Jensen

Tight End- Travis Kelce

Quarterback- Patrick Mahomes

Fullback- Damien Wilson

Halfback- Charvarius Ward

Receiving Team

Safety-Egg Shen

Safety-King Meshugah

Cornerback-Garet Jax

Cornerback-Dejah Thoris

Outside Linebacker-Thorin Oakenshield

Outside Linebacker-Yog Sothoth

Middle Linebacker-Sandman

End-Ningauble Of The Seven Eyes

End-Rincewind (filling in for Falkor, currently out with COVID-19)

Tackle-Sir Gawain

Tackle-Mongo

Wide Receiver-Namor Of Atlantis

Wide Receiver-Jareth (reserve for Baron Munchausen)

Tackle-Hellboy

Tackle-Xena, Warrior Princess

Guard-Anita Blake

Guard-The Red Queen

Center-Lessa/Ramoth

Tight End-Lord Voldemort

Quarterback- Schmendrick The Magician

 Fullback-Eeyore

Halfback-Rudy Ruettiger

 

 

Thanksgiving 2020.

This repost is one of my annual traditions. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone except those in countries that don’t celebrate it and the Canadians who are heathens who have Thanksgiving before Halloween , and this year we could really use it.

It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

–Wikipedia

November 25th, 1864

It was even worse than last year. I know every time my family gets together we fall into certain patterns, but that never makes it easier. This time it was even worse because just getting to my parents’ house was such a pain. I thought I’d carriagepool with my younger brother and his wife, but they went up early so that fell through. Then I thought I’d beat the traffic by setting out at dawn, which was such a great idea everybody else in Richmond had it at the same time and the horses were nose to tail, stop and trot, for miles. Finally I got there a little after ten in the morning and my older sister came out already holding a glass of blackberry wine and when she hugged me I could tell it wasn’t her first one. She asked me how things were going and then didn’t wait for an answer and ran back into the house to tell everyone I was there.

I should have known I’d be walking into an argument in the foyer, the way my family is. It’s just what it was about that threw me. My kid brother had this crazy idea for a new way to cook a turkey, leaving the feathers still on and roasting it in the coals of a fire. Well, it sounded pretty stupid to me, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the neighbors tried the same thing last year and burned down their stable. But I didn’t want to side with my father either. So I said it had been a long trip and I needed to visit the outhouse and slipped out. Well, there was a line at the outhouse: two of my nieces, three cousins, all four of my brothers, and my sister was already in there getting rid of some of that blackberry wine. So I went back inside to see what was going on.

In the parlor my mother was putting together some kind of monstrosity with dead leaves and dried berries that she said she was going to put in the middle of the table.

“Where’s the food going to go?” I asked.

“Well, we’ll move it before we eat.”

I was going to ask why she’d bother to put it in the middle of the table if she was just going to move it again but decided against having that discussion, so instead I sat down and leafed through a broadsheet that was handy.

“The other men are organizing a game,” she said. “It’s some new sport called foot-ball. You should go and join them.”

Well, she knows I’ve never been athletic, but when I protested she got put out with me and said, “It’s your Uncle Wilkes’s idea. You know you’ve always been his favorite. You really should go and do it just to please him.”

FINE.

Well, when I came back in my sister just cackled and toasted me with another glass of blackberry wine. All my mother could say was “Don’t get any blood on the carpet,” and my older brother kept telling me to stop being a sissy and just put some salve on it. Then Aunt Gerda said pinch the back of my neck and tilt my head forward and Uncle Wilkes said no, put pressure between the eyes and lean back, and then my cousins got into it so there had to be a family brawl about that. A day later and I’m still bleeding. So much for the salve. I’ll have to make an appointment with Dr. Samuel Mudd when I get back.

 Then Uncle Aloysius had to start in Daniel about supporting the Whigs and Elizabeth about Suffragettes, just trying to start an argument. Fortunately they didn’t rise to the bait.

Then I tried to head off another argument about who’d have to chaperone the kids’ table by volunteering, but my father cut that off.

“No, no, I want John seated here on my left. After I sent him to that fancy and very expensive school so he could waste his time studying the dramatic arts and oratory he should be well-equipped to deliver the traditional Booth family prayer of thanks.”

Traditional since last year, he means. Then my kid brother kicked me in the shins which I know was his way of saying “Don’t start anything”. I kicked him twice as hard in the shins which was my way of saying, “I wasn’t going to,” and then kicked him again to say, “Hurts, don’t it?”

All this might have been a little more bearable if my sister had let me have some of the blackberry wine.

I swear I’m going to get that Lincoln for making us do this.

It’s About Time.

Daylight Savings Time always throws me off. Setting the clocks back in the fall isn’t so bad even if in other years it means it’s dark when I get home from work and eventually dark when I leave for work too. It’s worse in the spring when we lose an hour, and that always brings back memories of one evening in my childhood when I went down the street to ask if some kids I knew could come out and play and she said it was too late for them to be out, adding, “Maybe after Daylight Savings Time starts…” It was May and I realized that was a bogus excuse and the kids didn’t want to play with me but were too cowardly to tell me themselves so they sent their mother out to do it.

At least in the fall we get to sleep an extra hour even if it does mean that Halloween–the most wonderful time of the year–is over and the days which have already been getting shorter are about to start getting even shorter, which is going to happen regardless of what the clocks say. That inspired me to write this poetic tribute to falling back several years ago, and I’m not too cowardly to say it’s not funny but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Daylight Savings Time

It’s over. Time to crank the clocks back an hour

And face the fresh week with a little more

Sleep. An hour to live over, to wince in the light out

Earlier than before. I have to wait

A few days until morning’s dark again wraps the house.

I march to shed sleep’s robe with a quick wash

While the digital clock’s bright gash

Fades into a faint red nimbus.

The hour went as quickly as it came

And added a trace of storm

To my hair. My legs rebel at the thought,

With pain, of lifting me out

Intro this light. It’s made me a witness.

A life is composed of hours.

Unwatched they collapse into years

And in a moving moment condense.

The leaves talk against the window in this bright

Wind. Movement, all of it, can’t separate

From time, but the fall of day has a taste

Of denial, a wrinkle that wants to be missed.

Dawn wicks away night’s flesh and color

Until it’s only a skull bleached

By the cold. In an hour that never

Happened blood surged through skin touched

By time turning backward. My hand

Slid that hour through falling sand

And like a dark red worm from chrysalis

I come into a desolate place.

The Ghost Is Real, The B&B Isn’t.

I have a handful of Halloween poems. Here’s one that was inspired by a program I watched one night about haunted hotels. An owner of a B&B claimed there was a ghost named Ed that she’d see walking up and down the halls and sometimes she’d say “Good night Ed!” and he’d turn and look at her. What do ghosts think of us?

Ghost Of The Watertown Bed & Breakfast

Touch sparks to wet bones. Watch them dance. That’s how this feels.

All night Ed walks up and down the hall. In recent years

He’s become an anomaly, an attraction, a circle of cold.

For hours he concentrates on the frozen candles that hold the night

Away. There’s a place he’s supposed to be, but both ends of the hall

Are blocked. Not even his feet sound the floor. The well-fed guests

Sleep in their rooms, except for one who, unaware of the presence

Outside the door, watches a star move across the sky.

Ed is in his shirtsleeves always now. It was evening when

He closed his book and came up here. He wasn’t going to bed

Just yet. It was a quiet evening in the spring. The house

Had guests in it then too. He’s forgotten which room was his,

And thinks that’s what’s wrong, but can’t remember. The rooms

All seem occupied now, and no one speaks to him in a way

That makes him think he knows them. The ones who come through

Drag trails of themselves along, and are so fast

They slip away when he tries to speak. Their voices too

Are murky, but sometimes when the air is thick and he moves

Through it less easily he can hear them. A woman screamed

One night that someone was in her room standing over

Her. It’s said now that Ed enters the rooms. He’s heard

This, and it baffles him. All the doors are locked

To him, and he never stands still, not until the sun

Rolls in through the East window and fills the hall

With blood and fire. What’s after that he can’t remember.

Here’s a crude video I made to go with the poem.

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