November 28, 2011

Zazel "The Human Cannonball"

written by Rosa Morgan
My name is Rossa Matilda Richter, but do call me by my professional name, Zazel. Being the first human cannonball, I would enjoy ever so much the opportunity to recall my maiden performance at the vernal age of fourteen.

It happened on April 2, 1877 at the newly opened Royal Aquarium. With its glass roof, palm trees, and fountains, the Aquarium was fashioned after the Crystal Palace, and was intended to hold highbrow lectures and art exhibits. However, working class gents didn't fancy spending their hard earned pence on such dubious fare, and so the developers turned to more entertaining venues. That's when I came into the picture.

Scheduled to appear after the dancing bears and hypnotists, I found my knees knocking so terribly, I considered backing out of the whole shebang. To my rescue came William Hunt, better known as The Great Farini. It was he, who designed the devilish cannon and who convinced me of its safety. I had trained long hours for that moment; calisthenics to strengthen my legs, and a strict diet to maintain my weight, lest our precise mathematical computations of thrust and matter be thrown off course. And so, with the crowd cheering crazily in anticipation, I lowered myself into the cold black hole of that cannon, whispered a curt Hail Mary, and faced possible death head on.

The brief moments I stood there with body rigid and mind intensely focused, felt an eternity. Though I knew gunpowder was to be used for dramatic effect only, elastic springs being the impetus for propelling me, I was still quite startled by the fantastic explosion that resounded in my ears and the indescribable affect of finding myself actually flying through the air at a height of thirty feet. Though my aerial escapade lasted only a few seconds, the thrill of it was intoxicating, and when I landed safely in the net, I was fully prepared to do it all over again.

( Zazel went on to work with P.T. Barnum, but retired after breaking her back in a fall. Out of 50 human cannonballs, 30 have died, mostly from missing the net.)

November 14, 2011

Thaddeus Turkey at Thanksgiving

written by Rosa Morgan Lockwood

Thanksgiving Day became an American national holiday in 1863, and much of the activity of the day is centered around the meal. From it's early days, the menu has not altered from its roast turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, potatoes and pumpkin pie. I shall present the following vintage Thanksgiving images with perhaps an altered interpretation from their original intent; ever mindful that poor Mr. Turkey wants to enjoy the day too.

My name is Thaddeus Turkey, and there was a time when I was thought of as a great noble bird, even considered by Benjamin Franklin to be a representative of America. In the beginning, I was a wild animal; eating, mating, and flying freely through the forest.

One day, while contentedly foraging for breakfast, I was startled by the appearance of two little boys. They were ever so kind to me, offering sweet bits, I dare not refuse.

To my astonishment, I found a rope soon tied round my neck and I their unwilling captive. From that day forth, Iwas subjected to forms of humiliation, too embarrassing to elaborate upon.

Having lived amongst people for nearly a year, there came a chilly morning when one of my companions was gathered up and unceremoniously slaughtered. That very night, the whole family feasted on the unfortunate fellow, stuffing his innards with bread and apples.

Henceforth, I set out to be a most unpleasant farm animal, chasing the children till they cried out in fear, and gobbling at ungodly hours to everyone's dismay.

A full year passed and it was soon another chilly morning when one of the boys came to the coop with his sharpened ax. There was no doubt the murderous glimmer in his eyes was directed towards me, and I was intent on evading his plans.

Lo and behold, it was my good fortune that Miss Charity arrived on the scene in her corncob automobile, and with a gobble gobble gobble, we turned our tail feathers and drove away from those, who so single-mindedly wanted to rob us of our lives. That dreadful day turned into my most cherished, for my love and I came upon a justice of the peace, and an impromptu wedding was performed. I, too, shall celebrate Thanksgiving Day, giving thanks for my life and happiness.

Benjamin Franklin's Letter to his Daughter

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure (representative of our country) is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”