Thursday, February 25, 2016
Today as I was ripping out old stalks and leaves without mercy or precision from the dozens of Red Hot Poker plants (kniphofia uvaria) that grow around our house, I realized… These things must be suffering from some plant-form of Stockholm syndrome. I mean, they’re held captive within the confines of my yard, neglected and abused, yet they grow like crazy. They’re peed on by the dog, gnawed on by the donkeys, and everything short of water-boarded by me. The ground is dry and rocky in the summer, and half flooded and rocky in the winter. The only thing they can count on are the rocks. Believe me, the grass is both figuratively and literally greener on the other side of the fence.
A four-man landscape crew with implements of perfection and a full array of plant-spa services show up every week across the street, and the Red Hot Pokers never cry out. They bloom and attract hummingbirds for me each summer, gathering moisture from God only knows where to keep the hummers happily humming. They grow so well I’m constantly hacking them in half with a shovel and replanting chunks of them in places that other plants have given up on… and the chunks flourish. As fast as they grow they could easily grow themselves into a giant “SOS” that could be seen from a passing airplane… but they don’t. They could commit suicide like so many other plants in my yard have… but they don’t. A hydrangea shot itself in the head just last week.
Yes, they’re definitely sick. Not from pesticides, or chemical fertilizers like the poor lush green perfectly pruned plants across the street. No, they’re clearly sick with some sort of mental disorder… but in their weird way, they seem to like it here… and we like having them.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Lost to history for nearly a century, a written eyewitness account of Harry Houdini’s greatest trick is now being reviewed by scholars. According to a just-released document: On August 3, 1921, Houdini was dressed before a live audience in soaking wet clothes. Each article of clothing, from underwear to outerwear, was pulled from a barrel of ice cold water on stage. His outermost layer consisted of a pair of high laced leather boots, a peacoat jacket, and wool gloves, all drenched. Houdini was then hand-cuffed and put into a large wet gunnysack.
The dripping sack containing Harry was then shoved into a large tumble dryer. The powerful clothes dryer (a precursor of today’s modern home version) caused the audience to gasp when it was turned on. George Sampson, inventor of the metal drum tumble dryer, and two of his assistants stood by in case of emergency. Harry was tumbled on medium heat until dry.