UnBooks:The Best of The Writer's Almanac/6

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n p r NPRNational Public RadioThe Writer's AlmanacGarrison KeillorA Prairie Home CompanionCar Talk
Garrison Keillor, son of Batman and Batgirl

(cue boring piano)

(prod comatose host with a long stick)

"And here is The Best of The Writer's Almanac for Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

"It's the birthday of poet Palmer Dinkel, born in Newark, New Jersey in 1929. He fell in love with the poetry of Walt Whitman when he was in high school, then later with the man himself when he ran across a picture of Walt in a swimming costume. Dinkel framed the picture and placed it over his desk where it remained the muse of inspiration for his subsequent works over the next 51 years, including: "Bearded Splendor", "Muskrat Love", and the voyeuristic classic, "Scenes from a Men's Restroom".

Here's a poem by Palmer Dinkel for his birthday. A poem from 1959, and what many consider to be his master work:

"Requiem for a Rusty Fork"
Heel, discarded cutlery.
Splines obscenely twisted;
Bane of the dining room table
Once a proud solider, marching smartly plateside
Deftly parrying the teasing stabs of friendly knives,
While stowed away in the cupboard after maneuvers
Until called from furlough to wrest open a sealed drawer,
Barred by a forgotten key
Never returned to the barracks, nor the silversmiths
But exiled to the utility drawer,
Forevermore

"It's the birthday of poet Rusty Rickshaw. Abandoned at birth at a hostel in Gofuku, Japan in 1927, he was given the name "Bigeye Whitey Bastardchild" when attending staff were at a loss for what to call him. He later adopted his new monkier when rickshaws were banned in China after the Communist takeover in 1949.

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"Famous for writing about everyday events, he was oft criticized for being unimaginative, until he wrote a poem about being criticized for being unimaginative.

"Here's a poem by Rusty Rickshaw for his birthday. A poem from 1959, and what many consider to be his master work:

"Airport Security"
Into the airport I wandered,
Feeling lonely but looking suspicious
Our eyes met; he beckoned me to the wall
I felt his hands grasp me roughly
Fingers riverdancing down my ribcage
Circling my waist like drivers around a racetrack
But failing to achieve pole position
Much to my obvious dismay
"I've seen you here before?" he said.
I nodded solemnly.
"Show me your ticket." he said.
I shrugged nervously.
His palms seized my thighs,
Patting me forcefully but meaningfully,
In a way that made my feet sweat,
And my buttocks tingle.
Our eyes met; there was the slightest pause.
He looked me up and down.
"Same time next week?" he asked.
I nodded.

"It's the birthday of novelist Elmer Gluesniffer, born in Intercourse, Pennsylvania in 1961. He wrote his first novel, The Flasher Only Rings Twice in 1983, when he was just twenty-two years old. The protagonist, a misunderstood ex-figure studies model facing middle age, copes with his sagging body and diminishing profile as best he can, by displaying the remains of his earthly gifts door-to-door, to a series of unsuspecting strangers.

"Disgraced in 1985 by a high profile arrest for public indecency, Gluesniffer claimed to have been "conducting important research" for his follow-up novel, when taken into custody in a suburban neighbourhood in Allentown. His career would never recover, though most of his contacts that day have done just fine after intense, daily counseling in the years since.

"Here's an excerpt from Elmer Gluesniffer's debut/swan-song novel, in celebration of his birthday:

The Flasher Only Rings Twice
Nervously, I approached the door, terrified but intoxicated with the anticipation. Or perhaps the Mad Dog 20/20.
Who might answer? An attractive young woman? A stodgy old priest? A young boy readying himself for baseball practice? I didn't know.
There was a time that I would case out a home in advance, but such was my appetite to surprise that I now needed to surprise myself.
Trenchcoat at the ready, I raised my knuckles to rap at the door when I felt a hand grasp my shoulder from behind.
"Can I help you, sir?" a voice asked.
I turned. It was the police.
"Good afternoon, sir," I replied, "Might I interest you in a new Electrolux vacuum cleaner?"
"No, I don't think so," he replied. "Do you have anything else I might find of interest?"
There was the tiniest pause as I considered his motives.
"No, I'm sorry." I said.
"Haven't we met before?" he asked.
I shrugged.
Our eyes met; again, there was the slightest pause.
He looked me up and down.
"Want to come back to my place?" he asked.
I nodded.

"It's the birthday of Duane Pipe, born in Toad Suck, Arkansas, USA in 1932. He's the prolific writer of many instructional guides to Do-It-Yourself plumbing, but yearned to be a poet according to his widow Elaine. By her account, he would never share any of his personal writings, but kept many scraps of paper in a wooden box under his desk, and in his toolkit.

"After his tragic blimp-related death in 1959, she gathered all his papers together and sought the attention of every major publisher in America, only to have them rejected as 'poor, 'amateurish' and 'not even real poetry - did you bother to actually read these before submitting them?'

"Later, she sold most of their worldly goods in an estate sale to finance a self-published book under the title: 'Duane Pipe: Broken But Unbowed'

"Here's a poem by Duane Pipe for his birthday. A poem from 1959, and what many consider to be the least bad of his writings, which were quite bad, and coincidentally the last bit of writing he completed before his untimely demise:

"Essentials"
- 1 dozen eggs (check)
- 1 gallon of milk (check)
- 1 pound of butter (check)
- 12 ounces cheddar cheese (check)
- 5 pounds of potatoes (check)
- 2 ribeye steaks (check)
- 120 feet of lead pipe (check)
- a smaller blowtorch (still looking)
- a parachute (back ordered 7 weeks)
- plans for installing a sink, toilet and tub into a blimp (check)
- check from the blimp company (double-checked check for sufficient funds - check)
- sink (check)
- toilet (check)
- bathtub (check)

"It's the birthday of Stewie Nutscrubber, born in Monkey's Eyebrow, Arizona, USA in 1993. He's a middle school student at the "Our Lady of the Bleeding Eye Sockets Junior Academy for Boys" where he is a straight "A+" achiever according to his dedicated teacher Moe Lester, who's written "The Writer's Almanac" every day for the last 7 months asking me to feature Stewie on the show.

"'Stewie's enviable portfolio is brimming like a literary cornucopia of delightful treats guaranteed to satisfy the senses' Mr. Lester writes, quite tritely. Just another example of the old adage: those who cannot do, teach.

"Here's a poem by Stewie Nutscrubber for his birthday, on the condition that Mr. Lester agrees to cease and desist hereafter any further contact with "The Writer's Almanac".

"This poem was selected for no other reason than it happened to be the first poem on the first page I opened when preparing for the show today — a poem from 2006:

"This Persistent Acne"
My face looks like the moon
Girls call me a goon
It is time to eat soon
Can you pass me that spoon?
I am covered in zits
But I'm not without wits
Can I look at your tits syllabus?
I can freshen my pits.
Can we go on a date?
I won't keep you out late.
I'll write all your essays for the rest of your secondary school career,
And ensure that you get Valedictorian plus a full scholarship into an Ivy League college without ever having to do any classwork from now until the day you graduate from high school.
My face has some craters
From those french-fried potaters
Can you call to the waiter?
Or should I get the check later?
Shall we go to my place?
Where you can stare at my face?
And pick the food from my brace?
Hey! Where are you going? You can't leave! This wasn't part of our agreement, you know. The deal is off is you walk through that door. Wait! The deal is off if you leave this driveway! Stop! The deal is off if you leave my street! I'm serious. Aw, c'mon! Don't you want to be Valedictorian? You'll never get to Harvard without me! Think about that, will ya? How will "University of Utah" look on your resume!! Not very good I can tell you!

"It's the birthday of novelist and poet Edward Beer, born in Highgate in 1812. The youngest of 20 children, Edward was often ignored by his father Jeremiah and mother Ann, and took to speaking in limerick as a way to be noticed. As an adult, Lear found it difficult to escape his invention. His debut novel, The Girl from Nantucket received poor reviews and even poorer sales, with many calling for his return to short and smarmy verse.

"Days from being evicted from his 3 bedroom 2 bathroom lean-to beside a town garbage dump, Lear relented and began work on a compilation of irredeemably sick but highly amusing ditties entitled A Book of Nonsense, but under the pseudonym Harry P. Berries. No one was fooled.

"Here's a limerick by Edward Lear for his birthday. A dirty little ditty from 1861, and what some consider to be his master work:

"Good-time Raunchy Rhyme"
The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.
So, there was a young lady of fashion,
Who had oodles and oodles of passion;
To her lover she said,
As they climbed into bed;
"'Ere’s one thing the gov'ment can’t ration."

(cue boring piano)

"Do well, be good to children and old people, and please... ask before touching.®"

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