Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Magna cum Murder
Had a truly marvelous time at Magna cum Murder this past weekend. It was much smaller than the usual con – and it’s always been one of the smaller ones. But that made it cozy, there was every chance to talk more than once with old friends and make new ones. And hear the stories. S.J. Rozen tells wonderful stories, such as playing poker at a big convention and suddenly realizing one of the players was a major con artist and Pete Hautman was on to him.
The speaker at the banquet was Eric G. Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has recently published a book: Everyone Loves A Good Train Wreck: Why We Can’t Look Away. His theme for the talk was our fascination with the morbid and why that isn’t a bad thing. He says we shouldn’t be depressed, but neither should we be always aiming for happiness. Melancholy, says Dr. Wilson, is a good and healthy default mood. He was quite convincing.
Molly McRae, on a panel with me on cozies, told a disquieting story about the woman who owned a house before the people she and her husband bought it from. Mail was still coming to the house for this woman. Molly wrote “deceased” on the envelopes and put them back in the mailbox. But letters kept coming – even following them when they sold the house and moved away. Now the letters had the woman’s unusual first name and her husband’s surname! They moved again not long ago. And mail from the deceased woman has started coming again. Is someone trying to send a message?
Mattie Coleman was there as has become usual, selling marvelous hats. I swore to my husband I was only going to buy one – a nice purple for my new purple-and-black suit. Sure enough, she had one just the right shade of purple, a big satin cloche with a bunch of very narrow and curly feathers on the side. But there was this other hat, made of what looks and feels like coarse natural linen. It has a multi-petaled flat flower on top with here and there little cream feathers on long thin stems rising from it. The linen is formed into long, broad streamers, wired at the edges, that curl and twist, and the whole thing sits on a hatband. I kept going back to try it on, because I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like it, except maybe Princess Beatrice’s strange hat at the recent Royal Wedding – and this thing, unlike hers, is beautiful. Mattie finally offered it to me at what must have been her cost. I don’t know where I’m going to wear it; I think it’s a Kentucky Derby hat, and I don’t go to the Derby. I’m going to try to attach a photo of me wearing it with the five-dollar sweatshirt I also bought. (They have a new logo so were selling items with the old one for less than cost.)
Riddle answer: An umbrella