Apr. 15, 2009


by James Tate

        The man that was following me looked like a government
agent, so I turned around and walked up to him and said, "Why
are you following me?" He said, "I'm not following you. I'm
an insurance agent walking to work." "Well, pardon me, my
mistake," I said. "Have you done something wrong, unpatriotic,
or are you just paranoid?" he said. "I've done nothing wrong,
certainly not unpatriotic, and I'm not paranoid," I said.
"Well, nobody's ever mistaken me for a government agent before,"
he said. "I'm sorry," I said. "You have something weighing
down on your conscience, don't you?" he said. "No, I don't.
I'm just vigilant," I said. "Like a good criminal," he said.
"Would you stop talking to me like that," I said. "I don't want
to have anything to do with you." "You've committed some kind of
treason and they're going to get you," he said. "You're out
of your mind," I said. "Benedict Arnold, that's who you are,"
he said. "I'm going to a peace rally if that's okay with you,"
I said. "Oh, a peacenik. That's the same as treason," he said.
"No, it isn't," I said. "Yes it is," he said. "No." "Yes."
"No." "Yes." We reached his office door. "I really hate to
say good-bye to you. Would you like to have lunch tomorrow?"
he said. "I'd be delighted," I said. "Good. Then Sadie's
Café at noon," he said. "Noon at Sadie's," I said.

"Treason" by James Tate from The Ghost Soldiers. © HarperCollins, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is Tax Day. The federal income tax has been in effect since Congress ratified the 16th Amendment in 1913. That first year, the form was only two pages long. Humorist Dave Barry wrote, "It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta."

It's the birthday of humorist and biographer Morris Bishop, (books by this author) born in Willard, New York (1893). His dad was a doctor, and Morris Bishop was born at the Willard State Hospital for the Insane, where his father and grandfather worked.

He studied Romance languages at Cornell and then became a full-time professor there, and he stayed at Cornell for the rest of his career. He was a brilliant scholar, fluent in German, Swedish, French, Spanish, Latin, and modern Greek. He wrote biographies of Pascal, Champlain, La Rochefoucauld, Petrarch, and St. Francis. But we remember him best as the author of light verse, such as this:

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!"

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?"

It's the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, born in Vinci, Italy (1452), the man who painted "The Last Supper" and the "Mona Lisa." He was a painter, sculptor, scientist, inventor, and philosopher. He studied anatomy on decaying corpses so he would be able to accurately paint and sculpt human bodies. He did studies on plants, animals, architecture, geometry, bridges, canals, floating devices, bicycles, flying machines, weapons, and more. He sketched ideas for hundreds of inventions, including an underwater breathing device and shoes that would make it possible to walk on water.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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