Rumor No. 1
Bacon Goes Down in a Hail of Chicken
Not just a delicious name, Bacon was all over the place. Sir Francis Bacon, we’re talking about, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, Duke of Blah Blah Bling. He apparently simultaneously wrote Shakespeare’s plays (rumor), embezzled a smooth stash o’ cash from the Crown and took bribes as Lord Chancellor (kinda true), fathered modern science (semantic), and finally was doomed after stuffing a chicken full of snow on a cold winter night in an ill-fated experiment about food preservation, which just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do, but this was the olden days, OK, and the report said “the snow so chilled him” that he went “to the Earle of Arundell’s house at High-gate, where they put him into a good bed warmed with a panne, but it was a damp bed that had not been layn-in in about a yeare before,” and I’m just quoting here, so let’s not worry about all the holes in that story, and “in two or three dayes … he dyed of suffocation” (dubious). This according to Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher guy, and maybe Bacon was Hobbes, too.
Besides all the Olde Englishe extra e’s—give me a break—where do we stand? Bacon and Arundell are old hat, the Peanut and Butter of their day, so I won’t punch that one. Warming beds with pannes doesn’t make sense, because what is a panne? I’m not looking it up, is all I know. And what do you mean “science”? How do you birth something as lanky as “modern science”? That’s barbaric. And so, was the guy high or something? This has to be made up—stuffing chickens with snow? Here’s what we do know: the Shakespeare crap started in the 19th century, the guy did die after playing in the snow, and if there’s a humanitarian lesson here it’s to always layn-in your damp beds, else guys who plan out scientific societies—New Atlantises, if you will—might catch a draft.
Rumor No. 2
Mendel the Monk
in Bowl of Peas
Gregor Mendel was the kindly old monk (1860s) who became, posthumously, Mr. Genetics (1910s). He did inheritability studies with peas. Goody. Rumor has it he had, oh, kind of a pea obsession. He was always scuffing down the monastery halls with scratchy slippers, robe-waist clenched tight in his left hand, a bowl of peas in his right. Those luscious pea-growing days spent in the church garden were gentle and sweet, mornings counting peas, afternoons reading about peas, nights maximizing potential for pea-related conversations he could have with other monks, monks wholly unappreciative of the breadth of pea-based discussions, blind to the living beauty of pea-centric narratives. Peas. Mendel loved peas. Isn’t that weird?
Fine, I made it up. He did the heredity stuff, but I added the obsession backstory. I thought, you know, it’s charming, gives him some dimensionality. Next I’m thinking maybe add some detail about him lying alone in his room on his stomach—elbows on floor, chin in hands, kicking his feet playfully, staring out the stone-framed window on a mostly sunny Moravian day—and he’s looking for pea-pod shapes in the clouds. And there’s a little pea-green homunculus on his shoulder that he shares secrets with. Call him Milton. Too much?
Rumor No. 3
Wedding Bells in Greene’s Future?
Brian Greene, the popular physicist and heir to Sagan, was allegedly seen dining at Dan Tana’s on Santa Monica Boulevard last Thursday, using Clooney’s corner table, in fact. He ordered the famous Chop Salad Julienne, had a glass of Shiraz with his pan-seared rib eye, and left an average tip (for a scientist) after two mint-topped dollops of sorbet. His date wore DKNY (dreadful) and appeared to have dyed roots. Larry David was not there. Kutcher was.
Our camera was impounded after the crash, so we have to wait for the film on this one.
Rumor No. 4
French Mathematician’s Icky Doll Fetish
They said Descartes spent his last years dragging around a mechanical life-size female doll everywhere he went. Always slept with it. Named her Francine and it looked just like him. The guy was Linus-like, weak and alone without his constant partner. Can you imagine? Brilliant philosopher, mathematician to beat all, and he’s carting around this rag-doll doppelgänger? His point was something about how humans have souls and other things don’t, they’re just machines, and so aren’t humans great?—yay for us. Or something like that.
You got yourself some bad biographers there, ugly bad biographers. They told this story. I didn’t make it up. But they did. Sounds dumb to me. I’m thinking next time they should give him a food-based obsession, to make it more believable. Add some dimensionality.