27 December 2009

Gruel and Unusual Punishment

Modern persons are so accustomed to criminals being mollycoddled they believe responding feebly to crime is natural. The etching below is a reminder that, in days of yore, the application of justice was swift and terrible.

In the upper left (D), a trio of thieves are thrown down a well for stealing rutabagas.

On the right a pundit is punished for repeatedly expressing erroneous opinions, abusing logic, and proud ignorance of obvious facts. His face has been removed, and while he waits his turn at the well he must endure being sneered at by a man (A) dressed in an obnoxious hat and ridiculous pantaloons.

For impudently displaying an erection in the presence of noblewoman a horse (C) is forced to eat stale gruel from the hollowed out corpse of a duplicitous used oxcart salesman.

And that’s how it was, in days of yore.

20 December 2009

Jane and Jim have a holiday party

"Jane. Great to see you."

"Hi Carter. Glad you could make it. Carter, I’m a little concerned about your friend. I think I saw him putting food in his pockets."

"He’s certainly on the spindly side, isn‘t he? Though I wouldn't call him a friend. On my way here I realized I was ahead of schedule. Not wanting to be early I stopped off at a local watering hole, he was at the bar, we started chatting. He flew into town yesterday, his friends and relatives are all down south so he‘s alone, he knows a lot about fish. Possessed by the Christmas spirit I told him about your shindig."

"So you don’t even know him?"

"How much does anyone really know anyone?"

"He’s making people uncomfortable."

"Is he? I guess you’re right. Look at him. He radiates awkwardness, an awkwardness which makes those around him awkward. It’s fascinating for students of human nature like ourselves to watch. By the way, is there some, not that this beer isn’t delightful, but is there any non-domestic around? I suppose I could make a cocktail, but these days I try to lay off the harder stuff in the early innings, for reasons of public safety."

"I’m trying to remember why I invited you."

"To be honest it took me by surprise, but what‘s important is that you did, and that it‘s Christmas. Oh look, there’s Jim. I had better go talk to him."

"Jimmy. Happy Hanukah."

"Oh, hi Carter. I’m not…Jane never mentioned inviting you."

"She‘s been so busy, probably. I think I’m going to mix us some drinks. Vodka…vodka…gin…have you got some brown liquor stashed away? Not that I won‘t thoroughly enjoy this martini, but something from the scotch group, or perhaps the bourbon family, would be more congruent with the seasonal festivities."

"Who’s that guy you brought?"

"Him? I didn’t, we arrived at the same time. Strange bird, isn’t he? You know what? I think Jane dated him during her 'artsy' phase. Those were wild times. Before you knew her, of course. Oh look, there’s Jane’s younger sister. I had better go talk to her. Signal when you locate some scotch."