Journal Entry: Minotaurian Thanksgiving

Journal entry, 4 Frimaire 225: Two weeks ago Minotaur announced he would be hosting “American Thanksgiving” at the compound (Thanksgiving is not normally celebrated in New Salem, thanks to the 1969 decree of Prime Minister Judah ben-Christian III, who proclaimed that New Salemites “really had nothing to be thankful for, when it comes down to it”). Messengers with invitations were sent out to the four quarters of New Salem by government-paid employees on government time.

Minotaur spent several days straight in what he calls the “nude wetbox” (a shower) deliberating on the seating arrangements. When he emerged–cold, starving, and about ten pounds lighter–he dictated the arrangement to Mr. Cornwall, to wit:

“The tables will be arranged in the shape of the Maginot Line. The tables should be glued end-to-end with a weak glue. On the west side of this line, guests will be seated on the ground in berets. On the east side, guests will be seated on velvet-covered thrones in traditional German garb. At my signal, the German-dressed guests will reach across the table and eat the food of the Frenchies before feasting on their own meals. A few guests in British garb will then come in with milking stools so the Frenchies can be seated. Near the end, guests in American garb (presumably cut-off jeans and concert T-shirts exposing bare midriffs) will be let in the front door and will be led to the dessert table.

“As far as who sits where, it doesn’t matter other than I don’t want that thing to happen where the person sitting on my right is left-handed. Also, the Widow Jameson should be seated at some distance from me so that it is less likely she reminds me that I still owe her for picking up my lunch tab.”

The fare served was traditional to the holiday or at least a shadow of it–buttered rolls, fresh trout, Indian corn, canned pumpkin from a paper dunce’s hat. Animals selected for slaughter were afforded a measure of due process. Various beasts from the yard were brought before a jury of seven humans. As in the American criminal justice system, the jury looked to two factors in determining which ones were to die: the color of the animal’s fur, and misconduct. The animals sentenced to death were Handy the ass, whose crime was reportedly speaking to his master; Tammerson Goatson, an oddly named duck who had tried to drink from the teat of a cow; and Frederica von Steuben, the cow who had not resisted the duck’s effort with enough vigor.

After the meal, guests surrounded a television to give thanks for American football, that singular, warlike sport involving hand-to-hand grappling, sprinting, secret plotting, and both aerial and ground assaults.


Journal Entry: Thankful Lists

Journal entry, 12/1/13: Two weeks ago, Justice Minotaur asked Mr. Cornwall to affix a poster board to the wall at the chambers office and label it “Things I Am Thankful For and/or for Which I Am Thankful.” The idea was that the various clerks, beadles, justices, secretaries, brightsmiths, personal assistants, fresco painters, reeves, vending machine operators, janitors, statisticians, and others on the premises would, at their own leisure, write something on the list, bringing the entire group to a kind of catharsis as they contemplated their individual and mutual good fortunes. Without being asked, Mr. Cornwall also tied a pen to a string and stapled the string to the wall near the poster to provide ready access to a writing implement. The holiday of Thanksgiving now being over, Mr. Cornwall here reproduces the inscriptions that were made on the poster.

Things I Am Thankful For and/or for Which I Am Thankful

-Mother loaves & speed
-Absence of malice–not the American movie but the concept
-I am thankful that Aunt Quatilda seems to have the habit of having large amounts of money in her purse but not being terribly cautious about where she puts her purse
-On a recent transoceanic flight, a very large, sweaty, and hairy man was seated next to me (he in the middle seat and I at the window). As his extraordinary girth pressed against me, I found myself literally being suffocated against the side of the cabin. In a kind of near-death hallucination, I imagined a flock of birds looking in through the tiny window and watching me take my last breaths. The thought of extinction suddenly horrified me and I jolted into full consciousness. Turning my entire body toward the window, I was able to create a pocket of air by pushing against the fiberglass wall mightily with all four limbs. Thinking of many courageous women and men of the past, particularly those in the grocery industry, I was able to summon stores of strength I did not know I had. After about six hours (I arrive at this estimate because the entire Omen trilogy had played in the cabin as the in-flight entertainment), I felt and smelled an enormous quantity of hot vomit on my back, which soaked me so thoroughly I shivered from the cold. Then suddenly the pressure against me ceased and I found myself at liberty. Fortunately, my copassenger had become violently ill after eating the tuna and pear compote and spent the remainder of the journey in the lav.
-The unfathomable wisdom of the Minotaur [Mr. Cornwall’s note: this entry appears to be in the handwriting of Justice Minotaur]
-George Washington Carver [Mr. Cornwall’s note: here “George” and “Washington” were written in very large block print, and “Carver” was written very small in a different ink and handriting]
-I am thankful that every year we gather with families to watch a game where squadrons of armored men use a variety of ploys and brute strength to attempt to advance a leather, oval ball across an imaginary plane.
-All marsupials are dear unto me: kangaroo and koala, possum and opossum, numbat and wombat and wallaby, Tasmanian devil and bilby, quoll and quokka, bandicoot and bettong. I have savored and drawn energy from the sinewy, salty meat of each.
-Nudiustertian leftovers
-That the government has finally allowed individual citizens to purchase surgical staplers
-Bernard Whalen Convy
-End-of-line hyphenation [Mr. Cornwall’s note: this entry was cleverly done–the word “hyphenation” was itself hyphenated and the remainder of the word was completed one line beow]