While I’m putting up old posts, I might as well add this… it’s kind of cheating because it’s prolly coming out in “Fermentations,” but, oh well – – –
An enormous grin alights Jeremy’s intense two year-old face as we step up the floor of the humid concrete cave to the indoor hippo house. There they are – right there: two four-thousand pound tubs of bristled plum gray blubber, four feet away. Jeremy stops his fidgeting, riveted by the weight, the bristles, the blubber. Jeremy will watch hippos sleep for half an hour straight.
Tonight, the hippos do tricks. They stand up; they clobber to the gateway like over-grown pot-bellied pigs on their short pug legs. Abe Lincoln is reputed as saying that you only have to be tall enough for your feet to reach the ground. For hippos, this is only applicable if it gives your tub belly at least a three inch clearance. These two are fine. They squeeze through the gate, one at a time, and lumber down the plank. See hippo swim.
A pair of arched eyes beckons at the horizon of the great gray greasy water, one glaring at me, the other glaring at her mate. The line of her gray back echoes the arch of her eyes. Her nostrils are flared like a mustang’s. A line of her graces the water’s edge – beneath it, she explores and reigns in a watery world that I don’t fathom despite the shallow depth.
This, my friends, is a water-horse: a mythical creature christened by those bizarre ancient Greek-people who thought in a world of which ours is only an echo.
“Throw apple at hippo!” says Jeremy suddenly, breaking the reverie. Foappo atippo! His two-year old talk is Greekling. “Hahahaha,” he chuckles. This is his latest and favorite joke. He repeats it several times a day in a tiny guttural voice, grinning wickedly. But now he stops, mesmerized again. There are two gigantic gray stallions rippling at the water’s edge, turning a watery turf in the concrete pad.
The moment just makes me think that we ought to consider what we know more as cryptozoology than to a closed coloring book left in preschool when you learned how to distinguish a hippo from a rhino – but please, please don’t relate this fancy to Sir Nikola Tesla or to too much yerba mate chatting in Manitou Springs! I only wish I had gotten the cam earlier to show you what I mean.
Here is a quote from the movie to put you in the mood for black capes, twilight, and Hugh Jackman, or at least mega magnetism and electricity:
“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.” – Michael Caine, The Prestige
When I rang the doorbell to the “vintage” b&b that houses the museum, I felt like I was an accessory to the pledge of a magic trick. It struck me as an eerie piece of dramatic flair. The museum entrance was the turn.
The inn-keeper gave us a tour of the b-and-b. The rooms include prime balcony views of Pike’s Peak, romantic sunsets from the hot-tubs, and authentic steam showers. These produce hot water like other modern appliances, but are powered by steam – just like a calliope, which is also powered by steam. Factoid compliment of the host.
After awkwardly pausing at door-ways and exploring the honey-moon get-a-way rooms, we trooped downstairs to the basement. And what awaited? Downstairs, the lights were off. The room was unheated. The table was covered in books and light-bulbish things, and fronted by a row of chairs. The room definitely upped the ante that the door-bell had slapped down. The museum master was the prestige.
He was a man who looked like a Monty Python Hitler in rumply black jeans, a tightish zippered black polo, and black Nikes with a white logo, just like a badly-dressed high school science teacher with a great grey greasy mop of pepper-and-salt hair. He was so awfully glad to see us he didn’t know where to start, and so excited to continue that he didn’t know where to stop.
By the end of the tangled web of conspiracies I actually was overpowered by a burning desire to know about Tesla. After a while I couldn’t resist. My hand shot up again and again. I was the prize student, the one that everyone really hates. I knew – or at least I should have known – all that St. Tesla wasn’t, because the Tesla Ex had made that very clear. Right now I am pretty sure that he was from Mars. But what was the name of the cat?
That was when the Tesla Ex turned on a movie and left me to it. I’m going to have to read one of those 500 page biographies, I guess. But I was his favorite. He asked ME to lick the light-bulb. It was a fuzzy taste, with a furry zap – like licking the swing-set in a playground. Like really, really dirty iron that has a nice zing.
When we left the Tesla Ex asked us all to return to be a part of Tesla: The Movie: a production to be filmed this summer. But since the movie won’t have a heroine so I can’t be her, and besides all of that sexy Hollywood jazz is a b.s. conspiracy, I’ve instructed my agent to decline.
Nikola Tesla (July, 1856 – January, 1943) was a mad Serbian genius. During childhood he was fascinated by lightning, by wind, by the fact that the fur of his cat would spark and light a dark place. He was touched by the devout Roman Catholicism and mystic Spiritualism of his family and the darkly forested land. He went to school with his best friend. There is no girl friend to speak of, although scads of girls angled for him, viied for him, and slit their necks for him, but Tesla was a devotee of celibacy for the sake of science, as well as a devotee of pigeons. He would special-order seeds for his favorites in Central Park.
As an adult, Tesla experimented with the electro-magnetic field, and is acclaimed for the invention of alternative current. His entanglements within the field of scientific inventions led to rivalry with Thomas Edison, and a great friendship with Mark Twain. He invented several things. He might have invented several others. He also might have thought that these were inspired by UFO.
His life was, and is, peppered with conspiracies and riveting, ravishing El-Dorado-almost conspiracy theories. Murder and betrayal nipped his heels like a terrier, and we sat in a row of at the back of the table while the Tesla Ex filled us in on nearly every one of them at the Tesla Museum Tour. “Tesla opened the doors to ‘Men in Black.’”
At length Tesla was chased to Colorado Springs, and inspired a great deal of the magickery in the movie The Prestige, which you should all watch again to catch the allure of the Tesla Museum, which is officially closed, but opened for us upon very special request. Cf. Tesla: Part II. The Sequel.