Dinner with Edgar Allen Poe

A friend of mine posted this snippet regarding the question: “If you could invite a famous writer or artist (dead or alive) to dinner who would it be?”

From New York Times Book Review’s Chuck Klosterman:

“The only problem is that dead people might not understand what was going on, why they were suddenly alive, or why they were being forced to make conversation with some bozo at a weird dinner party. They might just sit there and scream for two hours. And even if they kept it together, I’m sure they’d be highly distracted. If I invite Edgar Allan Poe to dinner, it seems possible he’d spend the whole time expressing amazement over the restaurant’s air conditioning.”

I’m far from an expert on Poe but I imagine, if you took him to dinner at a modern restaurant he’d be far more alarmed by the menu items than the air-conditioning.


Dinner with Poe

“Dandelion salad?  Thirty-four dollars and fifty cents? Highway robbery! Call forth the proprietor! He deserves a tongue lashing. I was assured that my return to this vile and wretched planet merited a meal at Manhattan’s finest establishment.”

“But Mr. Poe.  This is the finest ⏤”

“My morning repast, delivered ‘complimentary” to my chamber without my even having made a request, consisted of a plateful of delightfully crispy bacon, sweet rolls the likes of which I’ve not beheld since brief childhood, a full pot of coffee with pitchers of cream and sugar and even, fruit. Not one damned and cursed dandelion. And I was encouraged to dine in bed ⏤ to rest from my ordeal ⏤ in bedding as soft as the satin in my beloved Virginia’s coffin,” he paused “Where is my love? If I must be dragged from endless rest, why couldn’t she also be reconstituted by foul alchemy? Once again to cuddle, if just for a day.  It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea.”

“Ah, um …” The man in charge of Harvard’s annual Dinner With Your Favorite Author event didn’t know how to respond. The year before they had brought back both Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning at the insistence of an exceedingly wealthy donor.   But at least they were both adults. At the height of his creative output (which was when the bidders demanded their interviews) Poe was married to a thirteen year old. 

Luckily they were rescued from having to explain the Me-Too movement by the arrival of the high bidder and introductions were made.

Much to the organizer’s distress, Poe scowled at the high bidder. “You have made a donation to a university to converse with me?” I, who scarcely eked out a living ⏤ oft reduced to consuming only dandelion soup ⏤”

You’re a legend now, Mr. Poe.”

“A legend? What damsel in distress have I saved or battle charge have I led?  Sir, I daresay you have been swindled.  Did I not see beggars on the streets?  Did I not see mere children selling their bodies and men, even some women,  drinking spirits directly from a bottle in the middle of the day.  I say onto you – entirely too many dandelions are consumed in this time and place and you’re all quite mad!


 

Buried in Section C

Many people believe that newspapers are obsolete.  You can, after all, get your news on the internet for free so why pay? Aside from the fact that online you have to put up with numerous pop-up ads just to read the headlines, sometimes it’s nice just to unplug.  To sit with a cup of coffee and read articles researched and written by local reporters who have a vested interest in what is going on in your neck of the woods, who write with wit and passion and deserve to be read and not buried five clicks down and behind an ad for Depends.

Here are some of the local stories that caught my eye in the San Francisco Chronicle last Saturday, March 9th.

Osprey watchers can see clearly now
by Steve Rubenstein, staff writer

First, this article has a catchy headline that infers osprey watchers have been having vision problems.  Oh dear,  Was there some kind of eye infection that affected only people who liked to watch ospreys?  Why? And last, what was the cure that has them seeing clearly now?

It was a … drumroll please … a three thousand dollar remote control windshield washer.

According the SF Audubon Society, over 70,000 people are addicted to watching the mating habits of an osprey couple via a webcam installed downwind of their nest. But when a bird’s gotta take a crap, he doesn’t much care where the wind takes his treasure, no matter how many followers he has. And so Richmond Osprey has made quit a mess and osprey viewers are suffering. There hasn’t been too large a public outcry because Rosie Osprey has been off clubbing in Mexico, as is her habit every winter. But soon she’s returning and no doubt expecting Richmond to give up his bachelor ways to service her at least eight times a day “live and in color” for all to see. Some poor member of the Audubon Society will probably be on call twenty-four seven to activate the windshield wiper when necessary but I’m sure it will be a sacrifice made happily.  If you also like to watch ospreys mate, here’s the link.  I can’t guarantee you an x-rated experience but you may get lucky:

http://sfbayospreys.org

There is, however, a darkly ironic side to this story. 

Point Molate, Richmond California

For at least a decade a friend of mine has waged a frustrating battle to save the shoreline that provides eelgrass for the osprey and other wildlife  from developers hellbent on building subdivisions and casinos. She and others in the Pt. Molate Alliance have provided plans to the city for an eco-friendly nature center, picnic areas and hiking and bike trails which would provide Richmond residents with a million dollar view of the San Francisco Bay.  They’ve also documented the perils of overdeveloping that area from increased traffic congestion to the environmental impact.  But they’re up against big money in a community famous for poverty and high crime.

While she is happy that people enjoy watching these incredible birds, she wishes that money had been spent fighting the greed that will put them at risk once again.  I agree.

Another headline concerning wildlife also caught my eye:

When monkeying around was a job creator and kid favorite
by Gary Kamiya, the author “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco”

Now I think of monkeying around as cheating on one’s partner. That’s just where my mind goes, folks.  So how could that be a job creator and kid favorite?

Rats! I was fooled again by a clever title.  Building monkey houses for local zoos was one of the projects that got people back to work after the Depression. The one at the San Francisco Zoo was particularly popular however it was not rebuilt after 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged it beyond repair.  The reason why?  The residents, spider monkeys, expressed their displeasure at being held captive by dangling their butts over the mesh tunnel leading to their island and defecating on the zookeepers.  These monkeys also ran in gangs and followed leaders who were often described as “gang bosses.” It was a regular West Side Story on Monkey Island.  I’m sure the zookeepers probably said “It’s either them or us!”

It’s a sad commentary on the times, but I bet Life and Death on Monkey Island would get more views on a streaming webcam than Rosie and Richmond’s last tango mid-air.

Alas, t’is the season for sweeping away spend camellia blossoms.  Perhaps spring will eventually arrive!

Angel or Moth

Superman Can’t Find a Phone Booth has challenged me to write a story using this photo as a prompt. 

Here’s what my demented imagination conjured:

The Shameful Secret

Carl couldn’t confess to his dear sweet mother. Nor could he tell his father or his sister or anyone in his family. And he most certainly couldn’t tell his best friend, Dr. Clarabelle Litchfield.

“Now Carl,” whispered the angel assigned to comfort him as she wrapped her wings around him. “God is with you.  God loves you.”

“But how could he possibly forgive me?” Carl said aloud.

“What honey?” Clarabelle, who could not hear angels, asked as she leaked oil onto the driveway. “There’s a giant moth wrapped around your shoulders.  Should I get out the BlackFlag?”

“She’s my guardian angel.”

“Now dear, I can clearly see, she’s no angel. But we’ll get to that delusion later.  Now, why don’t you tell me what has you in such a state.  I promise I won’t judge you.”

Carl raised his eyes to her face.  She seemed sincere but no, he couldn’t tell her.

“Are you gay?”

“No!”

“It’s alright if you are. In fact there are some nice guys at -”

“No. I am not. Oh god, how could this have happened?”

“Did you tell that moth or guardian angel thing?”

“No, but she knows.”

Clarabelle addressed the angel. “Moth, I implore you to tell me what the problem is so that I can help my friend.  He’s clearly distraught and I am a licensed psychoanalyst.”

The angel rose to her full height, spread her ten foot wings and, then enfolding the two of them, whispered Carl’s shameful secret.

“NOOOOOOO!” Clarabelle cried in disgust.  “You can’t be addicted to that brain dead television show!  It’s idiotic and so phony.  What’s happened to your brain?”

The angel’s eyes turned into those of an irate tigress. “That’s my favorite show too, you snobby bitch!”

Dr. Annabelle Litchfield soon found herself in a puddle on the parking lot.    

[I suppose there’s a moral to this story but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.]

Magic Red Panties

The only logical place to be today is in the sun.  The skies have stopped dumping ice crystals and only a lump of cumulous sits anchored above, but it is cold. 

I’m very superstitious.  If a black cat crosses the road in front of me, I will make a U turn, knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder. I don’t walk under ladders or open umbrellas in the house.  And I painted my front door beet red. But nothing is sillier than habitually reading a daily horoscope that has never been even remotely accurate.  I’d be better off with the Ouija Board, Tarot Cards or even tea leaves.

A few years back I found out that, according the Chinese,  my mother and I were both born in a Year of the Tiger.  No wonder we were always at each other’s throats, I thought.  We couldn’t help it.  We’re impetuous, untamable beasts.   So I decided maybe there was something to Chinese astrology that warranted looking into.

Didn’t last long. In 2017 tigers, whether born in 1926 or 2010, were guaranteed bodice-ripping, once in a lifetime, grand and passionate love affairs.  Great news to my mother who was raring to go.  But I greeted the news as one would an infestation of wasps. Actually, the wasps would be more welcome. 

But today is the Chinese New Year and so predictions are everywhere. Here’s one of the predictions for tigers in this Year of the Pig.

The Tiger needs to be cautious in dangerous situations such as walking in narrow dark alleyways in the evening, high places such as cliff tops, busy building sites or participating in dangerous activities.  It is advisable for the fire Tiger to wear a red string around his/her waist for the year, or to wear red socks or underwear for support.

I guess this means I can dawdle down dark alleyways at night, do cartwheels on cliffs and pirouette through dangerous work sites as long as I’ve got on my magic red panties.

 

 

My teeth will outlive me

God gave us two sides to our mouth because he also gave us teeth guaranteed to rot over the years. Then he invented a special breed of human, one who would, for the price of a Maserati, endure twenty years of sticking their hands in other people mouths.  He called them dentists.  Then he said onto them “Behold! You have the God-given ability to make even the mighty feel like slobbering fools.”

You’ve probably guessed that half my face is numb and my chin is sagging down to the floor.  My stomach is full of the crap that never gets completely sucked out by those vacuum cleaner things you’re required to pucker up to and kiss. And tonight my dinner will be tepid mashed potatoes and warm wine.

Apparently the dental assistant saw right through me.  She knew that unwarned I would bolt out of the dentist’s office to the nearest restaurant and scarf down a steak burrito and then head for the ice cream shop.  While she still had me upside down, she leaned into my face and ordered in broken English. “Do not shoe on dis side.  Do not eat or dink till numb is gone.  Do not eat hot or cold. Do not floss dis side.”  Then recognizing I couldn’t focus my eyeballs on her face, she handed me a sheet of instructions.  “You put on frig!  Two hours, no eat! No dink.”

If I lose that temporary crown she’ll probably make me wear a sign around my neck that reads “Bad Patient! Not follow instructions.”

My current dentist started out as a classical pianist which I guess is reassuring as he grinds out all those silver fillings put in when I was a teenager who could not go a day without chocolate.  He sweetly informed me:  “Your new cap will have a life time guarantee!”

I don’t know how I feel about having body parts that have a lifetime guarantee.  Good grief.  I don’t have a lifetime left.

Becoming a fruit fly

I dreamt that I died but instead of being free to shape shift into some other existence, a fruit fly or whatever, my ex-husband sucked me into a hologram and made me sing White Christmas alongside Bing Crosby.

He would try to do that because he’s a Mormon now and they own their wives forever. Or so they think.

According to the news show VICE (HBO)  it’s not enough that images of dead celebrities are being used to sell products, now they’re being “reanimated” to do things they may not have wanted to do.  Like sing White Christmas with Michael Buble.

Oh Gawd. Save me from a show filled with reanimated celebrities.  I’d never be able to get to sleep.

No, no, no. I loved them but let them go!

Believe it or not, until recently the legal ramifications of digital necromancy were somewhat fuzzy and the estates of several dead celebs  had to sue to protect their star’s legacy.  And they didn’t always win. In the 1970s a judge on the California Supreme Court actually ruled that after Bela Lugosi died, he no longer owned his “personality rights.”  I guess that judge thought the dead don’t care.  I’ve got news for him.

Today, companies have to gain the permission of a dead celeb’s estate before they exploit his or her “personality” to sell products. But what if a celeb dies intestate?  Whoever winds up in control could do whatever they want.  I’m reminded of Stieg Larsson, the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, whose estate ended up in the hands of his estranged father and brother.  According to the reviews, the latest installment of the series sadly does not do justice to Larsson’s legacy.

Hologram of Ronald Reagan.

Poor Ronald Reagan has to give the same speeches over and over again and again at his presidential library.  He was scary enough in the flesh.  Seeing him reanimated would definitely bring on the nightmares.

One good thing about not being a celebrity is no one will try to reanimate me after I’m gone.  I’ll be allowed to die and whatever energy force resides within can either scatter to the winds or find another vessel.  

As a non-celebrity I’ll also never be on the following cruel and sadistic lists:

  • Stars Who Aged Badly
  • Stars Nobody Wants to Work With
  • Stars Whose Spouses Are Unattractive

This picture is from “Stars with Bad Mug Shots.” I have no idea who it is but she kind of looks like me in the morning!

And don’t even get me started on wax museums. 

The Spoon Apocalypse

My paternal grandmother believed that at some point in the near future the world would be bereft of spoons.  To prepare her grandchildren for the coming apocalypse, we all received spoons for Christmas, that is until Cousin George, then over six foot eight, pooped on her prophesy. I believe his exact words were “Get your head out of the vodka bottle Grandmother.”

“Oh what a wonderful spoon, Grandmother! Now I’m prepared for the Spoon Apocalypse.

Through all my travels and relocations, my spoon collection has not fared well but I still have the first one she ever sent me. It’s a sterling silver teaspoon with an etching of the Moorhead Minnesota Public Library.  I always assumed it was just something she picked up at some antique store, but through the miracle of the internet, I believe it had some other meaning to her besides the spoon prophesy.

Moorhead was my Grandmother’s home until her father died and her mother married The Judge. Probably a wise thing for a young widow with two small children to do but The Judge was a controlling nasty pants who didn’t allow his stepchildren to talk of their father or paternal aunts, uncles and cousins still living in Moorhead. That town always remained a life that could have been if not for the Spanish flu.  As a freshman in college when the library opened, she probably also spent a lot of time there.  At that time, the University of North Dakota at Fargo catered to the study of animal husbandry and improvement of soy bean crops and not to the study of something so useless as English literature.  So the spoon wasn’t just something she wrapped in foil and sent to her granddaughter (or maybe it was and I’m just a fruitcake)

After Grandmother’s death my aunt sent me this odd assortment of her utensils. Note anything odd?

 

There’s only one fork and who needs that many butter knives? Or pickle forks.

I don’t know what to do with all those spoons. Perhaps play Spoons.  Have you ever heard of that game?  Apparently it’s also known as Pig and Tongue and it is some kind of variation of Musical Chairs.  The winners of Spoons take a spoon from the middle of the table and the winners of Pig, fart.  (Not really they just touch the end of their noses. Don’t ask.) The winners of Tongue stick their tongues out.  I imagine it’s a game old Judge Nasty Pants would have loved.

Maybe I’ll give the spoons to the Spoon Lady!  Any odd things you’ve gotten as Christmas presents that made sense many years later?