Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
One particular passageway exists in a convent in Italy. A convent that found some 1,100 particularily vintage volumes missing from its bookshelves a few years ago. Each time another book vanished, the police were called, however, there was no evidence of forced entry and no traces of the thief.
It was obviously someone borrowing Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak.
Not until a hidden security camera was installed was the thief revealed to be a simple booklover, who was afraid the older antiquarian volumes were not being stored properly, much less being read.
He had studied an 8th century map of the convent and discovered a long-forgotten passageway thought to be used to spy on medieval monks. By first climbing up an exterior wall to the attic, a steep, narrow stairway could be reached. The dark stairway led to a secret chamber directly in back of a cupboard in the library where a hidden mechanism released an access panel.
Said booklover then spent leisurely hours perusing the ancient volumes by candlelight, choosing some to store in the attic and some to remove to his home.
Some of the books date back to the fifteenth century. Our booklover took excellent care of the books in his possession, even restoring some of the volumes.
His own words to the court:"I'm afraid my burning passion overrode my conscience. It may appear selfish, but I felt the books had been abandoned. They were covered with dust and pigeon droppings and I felt no one consulted them any more."
I can so sympathize with this man. If I ever found a map with a secret passage into a library, let's just say I'd end up in the cell next to him. I am so tired of seeing books ignored while endless rows of computer terminals are installed..... but that's another post....
At any rate, the convent's lawyers asked only for community service, recognizing the extraordinary care our booklover had extended to the collection. But the court imposed a monetary fine (the whole making-an-example thing I guess).
Afterwards, the convent hired him as a teacher. He is now free to come and go in the library at anytime.
Mostly through the front door.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Starting with the early 1960s with Danny Kaye introducing the Easter showing on CBS, I was an Oz fanatic.
Fanatic - as in - I know almost every single line of dialogue for every character. I've read every interview and every behind-the-scenes book there is (the flying witch who scrawls SURRENDER DOROTHY is actually a tiny wooden silhouette, glued to the end of a pen, and then handheld in a glass pan of soapy water, and photographed from below, as the holder wrote out those infamous words).
I've read every one of the original books (there are 14 by L. Frank Baum, 26 additional by other authors, and hundreds of twists on the Oz idea). Once I almost got my hands on a first edition complete set, but had trouble scraping up the $100 (I was a broke college student at the time.) Now that set is worth thousands.
As that same college student I was a card-carrying member of the International Wizard of Oz club and spent more than a few hours writing letters (yes,letters) arguing Oz political philosophy (and yes, there is a political philosophy behind Oz - mostly socialist).
I remember the day I reached into my post office box and pulled out an hand-written letter from Margaret Hamilton, along with an autographed 8x10 of the Wicked Witch. Still have it.
And there was also the legendary 1972 theater release of the film, and the marathon 24 hour showing at my favorite Baton Rouge movie palace....the Wizard of Oz runs 103 minutes....this means with a short intermission between each showing, an addict can easily watch 12 complete showings, or 36 on a long three day weekend. Especially with a blanket, a couple pillows and huge bags of popcorn brought from home.
Outside of this odd obsession of mine, I can easily trace the influences on my life directly to Dorothy's feet....
When I was very young, I was convinced my hometown of New Orleans was the Emerald City.
About the same time I was taking riding lessons. I drove the teacher crazy asking her if I could ride the horse of a different color. For some reason, she kept giving me the brown one.
When I graduated and received my degree, I remembered the scarecrow and his Doctorate of Thinkology. About that same time, I had occasion to remember the Tin Woodman and his heart that could not be broken. I was never that lucky.
But see, I read the original books. And it never was a dream.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Okay not really. It's the Weasley's house. (If you need to ask who the Weasley's are, turn to another page while we talk amongst ourselves).The Burrow is famous for its topsy-turvy, homey, cluttered look.
Our real house is very, very much like the Weasley's, minus the magic. And the magical housekeeping. But we have just as much clutter. Actually, here's a secret clue: I sell on ebay (and Amazon). All of you out there who sell on ebay immediately grasp this situation.
There is no -I repeat- *no* way to know what you will run across in our home.
At any rate, as it has been pointed out to me rather frequently lately, things could probably be tidier. And less cluttered.
In all fairness, I'd like to point out there aren't many livingrooms where you can find the Lady of Shalotte, an 1880 edition of The Christmas Carol, a stuffed black raven a la Edgar Allan Poe,the Lamp of Knowledge, and a original watercolor of the Black Mountain of Scotland.
All sitting next to Lurch's Walking Hand from the Munsters.
And that's just the stuff we're keeping.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
1 out of every 50 people is a sociopath.
1 out of every 100 people is a psychopath.
I'd like to add that your average Boeing 757 holds 201 passengers. And a Boeing 777 holds 440, while the 737 holds anywhere from 126-149.
So let's figure that your random Thanksgiving flight on Wednesday will be 1) crammed full; and, if you are on a 757, home to 2 psychopaths and 4 sociopaths.
Worst case scenerio, flying home on a 777 will net you 4 psychopaths and 8 sociopaths (maybe 9).
Really no way to body scan for Hannibal Lector, is there?
Of course, there's always the possibility that some sociopaths will be psychopaths, sortof a two-for-one deal....
Just thought I'd throw that holiday cheer out there.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Saturday, November 6, 2010
But it is.
As long as my fellow Virginians (and fellow Americans) decided to take a hysterical step into the past with this last week s election, I decided to dive headfirst there myself, back to my natural spot in time, medieval Europe, home of turkey drumsticks, lusty wenches and incredibly handsome long-haired men in kilts and tights.
Ya'll have your version of progress and I have mine.
Our normal time portal, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival actually celebrated its 40th anniversary this past summer. We missed it, being stuck on the East Coast for the time being.