Parvulus enim natus est nobis. Filius datus est nobis.

Merry Christmas to men of goodwill. See you again next year!


Suicide by State

The usual suspects were rounded up; the Dutch, the Irish, the Spanish, the French, especially those French papists. Even the king himself wasn’t beyond reproach in the search for a scapegoat. No “other” was excluded in the frenzied hunts that ensued, no questions asked. But all the arrests and beatings and mob executions still produced no answers. And then came along a young watchmaker, conveniently of French parentage, who appeared to fit the bill.

Flames were still burning across four-fifths of the wind-licked city when Sir Henry Keeling, the Lord Chief Justice, entered his chambers and stared down the deformed little simpleton in chains awaiting him.

“Prisoner, you admitted yesterday to having set the fire at Westminster. Considering that Westminster has been untouched by the flames, your recantation is probably wise,” the lord said tiredly.

“Oui, my lord, I was confused in my, uh, my hatred for your peoples. It was on Pudding Lane that I threw the first fireball... through an open window at the bakery, I threw three...”

“But man, the building you described to the jury this morning had no open window where you say it was, not open because there was not even a window...”

“My lord, your own investigators have determined that building is most likely where it all started, how could I be expected to remember all the details of that exciting night? I am guilty and I await your just punishment.”

Sir Henry Keeling sighed. Hopefully with his death, this talk of plots and conspiracies will die with him.

Robert Hubert, a “Confessing Sam,” was hung and his body torn apart by a mob, his confession having overridden all the facts of his innocence. He hadn’t even arrived in England until September 4th, 1666, two days after the Great Fire of London began.


A Patently Riveting Tale

In a cavern (in a canyon), excavating for a mine, lived a miner. A “forty-niner.” He had no daughter cooking his meals for him though, for with the scant dust that he’d scraped over the past dozen years, he’d barely been able to keep his accustomed one pair of pants in patches let alone support a family. His darling daughter, along with his wife, had packed it in and moved back to Nantucket where they were doing fairly well for themselves running a bed and breakfast called “Clementine’s,” named after the horse they rode in on. By 1860 he packed it in too and disappeared into the foothills of history, never making a penny of royalties on the songs that were later written about him.

In the twelve years he spent prospecting, the miner had gone through roughly 23 pairs of cotton trousers, 7 canvas dungarees, 16 hemp overalls, one silk bear costume (don’t ask), and 4,273 spools of thread sewing back the seams torn along the crotches and pockets during his daily digging. By the time he’d quit, he’d resorted to simply roaming through the hills au naturel. They left that part out of the song.

On May 20th, 1873, exactly thirteen years after the miner wandered away (a typically unlucky thirteen for him but thirteen Indian-head-up-lucky-penny-type years for the miners who’d kept their patched pants on and stuck around), the cries of Tarnation! and Darned-Blast-It! and even the occasional @#$%^&*!!! gradually began to fade as fewer and fewer button-flies ripped at the seams. For on that day, Levi Loeb, the San Francisco dry-goods dealer and Jacob Davis, a Reno tailor, received word that their joint patent for adding metal rivets to strengthen denim “waist overalls” had been approved. Blue Jeans had arrived for the working man.

Oh, Clementine!


phoenicopteris ruber plasticus

Yellow is for cowards and jaundiced babies. Blue is for mea culpas, and green for the over-satisfied, too fat and happy to try anything bold. Black and white, well that pair is constantly trying to break out of their rule-following but in the end they’re only hiding behind words. And always making you pick a side. Orange? Really, it can’t even find a word to rhyme with.

Red is a dangerous rival. Blood. Passion and fire, but red tends to be the livid instigator. And red quickly turns to grey once the deed is done. “Twenty-five to life.” Clink. Tom Robbins hit the woodpecker on the head when he gave all his outlaws red hair.

The closest is purple. But even purple is too snobbish, only the king is allowed to wear it, everyone else is stealing from the crown. Besides, purple is Thursday’s color and Thursday hasn’t been the same since Friday ditched it for Saturday (and an occasional affair with Sunday).

There was only one color that a great sculptor could have possibly applied to his masterpiece. A color that symbolized whimsy and gregariousness (and that’s asking a lot, Gregary was a pretty creative guy). A color that put candy in cotton and yum in gum. The color of brave lemonades and startling grapefruits. Of the best panthers, diamonds, and bumbling inspectors. Shrimp, salmon, and waking eyes. Elvis’s Cadillac, healthy newborns, and the baby-sitter’s lipstick. The perfect steak. Floyd would have been second-rate without it.

When Don Featherstone mixed pink with flamingo sometime in 1957 (for romance’s sake, let’s say Valentine’s Day), the suburbanites of south Florida took to it like odalists to a Grecian urn. (Though that still doesn’t explain why Polish shopkeepers from Pottsville to Parma in the snowy north still can’t restock them fast enough).