Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chris Cross

Beastographer Chris Rheume has submitted another stunning image. This one was snapped near the dump, an outstanding location that combines scenic wonders and natural Beast attractive properties. Thanks Chris! 2017 is shaping to be a banner year for Beast sightings.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

From the "Hundred and One Nights:" Little Red Riding Einstein


For many years the part of the wolf was played by actor and long time local Michael Rider. Little Red Riding Einstein was interpreted memorably by a succession of actresses...

One day the phone rang for Little Red Riding Einstein. It wasn’t her phone, it was the phone of the person who happened to be near her. “Hello? Why yes she is, how did you….yes I suppose so..” and handed Red the phone.

It was little Red Riding Einstein’s mother. Something about a wolf prowling around Grandma’s cottage in the woods. Little Red gave the phone back to whomever and said only:
“I gotta go.”

She hopped into her El Camino and headed on up the Highway. (Obeying all speed indications along the way.) When she arrived at the familiar craftsman cottage, up a dirt road and behind two gates, it didn’t take long for her to figure out what had happened. The door was ajar and “grandma never leaves her door ajar.” She went inside gently, quietly. There was a large and somewhat battered looking grey wolf lying in Grandma’s bed wearing a bonnet, and “Grandma never wears a bonnet like that to bed.”

Little Red Riding Einstein approached the creature lying in Grandma’s bed in a none-too-expert attempt at a grandma disguise. The wolf was biding his time, just waiting for his set up line. “Here we go, here we go,” he thought to himself, “come on, come on, you can do it. “My, Grandma, what big…. “

    But Little Red wasn’t feeding the Wolf anything, not even a cue. She was just doing that “calm assertive” thing the dog whisperer talks about.

    The wolf began to get a little anxious. “Maybe a little improv will loosen things up,” he thought to himself.
The wolf, in a somewhat trembly version of his best Grandma voice, tested the water with
     “My, Little Red Riding Einstein, what beautiful red lips you have.”

     “All the better to kiss my darling Grandma with,” the girl spoke simply, as if she had not a care in the world.

The Wold began to see his fortunes improving. “I always was good with the improv,” he reassured himself. “Let’s go!”

     “My, Little Red Riding Einstein, what beautiful blue eyes you have,” the Wolf continued in a now more boldly modulated imitation of Grandma’s voice.

     “All the better to spy out the difference between my Grandma and some crack actor gigolo Wolf.”

    This last line was delivered in a manner rsurprisingly steelly for such a slender and even waif-like person, and shattered the thin ice the Wolf had been skating on. The sudden drop of her voice into the baritone range was further disconcerting, as anyone who has heard it will remember.

     The Wolf felt his blood run cold. The sweat of the ill-starred opening night chilled his furry armpits and the stink of fear and failure began to sting his nostrils. At this point there was not much he could do, but he kept on, really improvising this time;
     “My Little Red Einstein, what big bulging b-b-b-b-biceps you have.”
And the reply like a shot;
     “All the better to tear you limb from limb with! Prepare to meet your Maker, Wolf.”
    Immediately she set upon him. The Wolf jumped back and bit her on her upper lip, leaving, by the way, a handsome scar that you can still see to this day, or at least you could last time I saw her.
    Little Red’s skill with the jabs and tugs was just as sure as hers with the Stanislavski or the Method acting.. She give him a good you-know-what in the you-know-where and the Wolf doubled over and coughed Grandma up whole, and in surprisingly good condition for woman of a certain age who had just been eaten by a wolf.
    Little Red Riding Einstein and Grandma then proceeded to double team that hapless canine, and it wasn’t long before there was nothing left of him but some bones that Little Red later took home for her  doggies to chew on, and an only slightly mangy wolf pelt that she brought home to make a bed for her kitty cats to sleep on.
    Once the dishes had been done and put away, Little Red Riding Einstein went out to her El Camino and retrieved her Stradivarius. She rosined up the bow, tuned it up, and treated Grandma to a little of Bach’s first Suite for Violin Cello.
    When the last chord had died out she drew a deep breath and noticed that Grandma had nodded off. She put her cello back in the case, put out the lamp, and closed and locked the front door. She tossed her Stradivarius in to the back of her El Camino and headed on down the highway.

     “What do you think the moral of that is?”
     “Don’t ever play mind games with somebody with a name like Einstein?”
     
“Always chew your food thoroughly before swallowing?”

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Scheherezade's Story and the "Hundred and One Idyllwildian Nights"

In the days of the Beast Flag Republic the people of our town celebrated the Idyll-Beast Festival differently than we do now. The spectacle was, though more primitive, much more lavish, and the cult more devoted. But its spirit was incomparably more cruel. The climax of the festival was the Bar-B-Que of a real Idyll-Beast. For this a creature was trapped each year and tied up behind the Snow White Laundry. The animal rode in the parade down North Circle like nowadays, but was then afterwards roasted and eaten. This annual event was keenly anticipated by the townspeople, with the exception of the vegetarians, who were in any case rarer than today.

    According to contemporary accounts there was nothing more delicious than roast Beast, and nothing more terrible than the effects on the spirit the ritual had; the greedy expectation, the gluttony, the dull satiation that lasted for days after, the aching in the soul as the effects wore off and the eater began to feel that he was digesting his own insides, the attempt to dull the sickly quickened appetite with loads of sweet and meat, grease and starch.

    When old folks told this story years ago, they would go on and on about the preparation of the Beast, until the children (and anyone else listening) had all fallen asleep. The townspeople each took a role in the festive process, some feeding him (or her), others grooming and entertaining her (or him.) The preparation of the sauce was undertaken by members of the Rotary club and the American Legion, each group entrusted with one half a recipe that had been passed down through generations. Children gathered the firewood, the old ones the special herbs. The Realtors oversaw the “division” of the animal into individual portions. Shop-keepers donated the rare ingredients for the stuffing, and Innkeepers provided hand towels for the sticky-fingered celebrants. And the Idyll-Beast was only the capstone, as it were, of a pyramid of delicious wildlife. Deer and Bear, Raccoon and Squirrel, Mole and Chipmunk, Boar and Rabbit, and Quail and Frog adorned and added each their own individual notes of flavor to the terrible banquet.

    Eventually this hunting (along with habitat loss) decimated the local Idyll-Beast population, and there was even talk about serving pork ribs instead. Then one summer an unlikely Animal “volunteered” herself for the sacrifice, simply strolling or sauntering into town one sunny day to hand herself over. Her story is called “Scheherezade’s” story. That’s not the name the Beast gave herself, but what the people came to call her…

Scheherezade.

Securely tied up behind the Snow White Laundramat, the Beast seemed quite comfortable. People came to gawk and offer the Animal snacks. The local restaurants sent take out. This went on for several weeks. The night before the feast, she began to tell a story. She began to regale her captors with a story about Old Idyllwild. Full of Realtors and Building Inspectors, wily shopkeepers and clueless tourists, hard-drinking young folks, legal shenanigans and black magic. The tale entranced the listeners. But just at the most dramatic moment, the Beast introduced a plot twist and a sub-narrative, and the listeners all realized they were actually hearing a story about a story about Idyllwild. The Beast then announced that she was too sleepy to continue, but would finish tomorrow…. The Feast had, in the past, occasionally been put off a day or two, one year for the rain, one year when a fire forced a temporary evacuation; so the delay was not unheard of, and the people really wanted to hear the rest of the story. And so the Animal was spared. The next night’s story “ended” just as suspensfully. And so the tales and tales within tales continued…and multiplied… for 101 nights…..