Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Backward child

Today I found two books I had given up for dead. You know how you just can't find a book? It must be somewhere. I felt as if I was going out of my mind.

This all started a few months ago, I think. I was in the bird room (my bird's bedroom, downstairs, also a catch-all for my husband's TEN YEARS' WORTH of receipts for such important purchases as foam insoles at Walmart and two loaves of bread from the Safeway). No, back up a little. I couldn't find my music books! Caitlin, now 7, got a guitar for Xmas and wanted me to help her and I could not find ANY of my 25 or so music books!!

I don't know, I didn't even think to look in the bird room, nor did I remember moving a whole bookcase down there with lots of "tall" books in it, books that just didn't fit anywhere else. Anyways.

The 2 books I found today, in the tall book case in the bird room, are called (firstly) Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody. Most of it is boring, the rest of it gruesome. It talks about how a man, after being beheaded, retains consciousness (presumably in his head) for several seconds after "severance". Once a researcher asked a poor beheaded guy to blink three times after they removed his melon. He blinked twice.

I won't tell you about Thomas Edison's early failed experiments (on humans) in electrocution, or the death of William the Conqueror whose body exploded like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python, because it is simply too disgusting (and when I visited England, a tour guide at the Tower of London told a horrible fable about a drunken executioner, Jack Ketch, who mis-chopped about fourteen times before successfully offing the poor guy's head).

But I will say, during one of the worst bouts of the Black Plague, 10,000 people were dying per day. Unable to accommodate the bodies even in burning pits, they had to remove the roofs from massive guard towers, throw the bodies in, cover the whole thing with quicklime and nail the roof back on.

I think my day just got a whole lot brighter.

Enough of this Panati stuff: and who is he, anyway? Some ghoul? On to the other one, equally boring except in spots, called An Almanac of Words at Play by Willard R. Espy.

A lot of this is bad poetry and tricky little word-things, and the anagrams are atrocious, but I do like the palindromes, words or names or phrases that read the same forwards as backwards ("Otto"; "Anna"; "Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron"; "'Naomi, sex at noon taxes,' I moan").

I want to share with you, dear readers, before I nod off into another bout of foggy depression, what I've come to think of as the Ultimate Palindrome. For some reason it's called The Faded Bloomers' Rhapsody. I will have to transcribe it, damn it, and it's long!

Flee to me, remote elf - Sal a dewan desired;
Now is a Late-Petal Era.
We fade: lucid Iris, red Rose of Sharon;
Goldenrod a silly ram ate.
Wan olives teem (ah, Satan lives!);
A star eyes pale Roses.

Revel, big elf on a mayonnaise man -
A tinsel baton-dragging nice elf too.
Lisp, oh sibyl, dragging Nola along;
Niggardly bishops I loot.
Fleecing niggard notables Nita names,
I annoy a Man of Legible Verse.

So relapse, ye rats,
As evil Natasha meets Evil
On a wet, amaryllis-adorned log.
Norah's foes' orders (I ridiculed a few) are late, Pet.
Alas, I wonder! Is Edna wed?
Alas - flee to me, remote elf.

This is simply gorgeous, and you just gotta start at the end and go backwards. It will at least distract you for a while.

Oprah Confesses She Ate 30 Lbs. of Mac & Cheese

The press has this totally wrong: she says "Oh, about thirty pounds' worth": meaning thirty pounds of weight gain. I am sure this is what she meant. The "thirty pounds of macaroni" makes her seem like a pig at a trough, so of course everyone seizes on that. Wow. We sure like to tear down our idols.