Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beleaguered Beloved throws up hands in despair

Welsh terrorist Wilkie threatens to jump if no rumen
By Comrade Editor Marienka

Dacha goats continue to reproduce at alarming rates. “I don’t know where they’re coming from,” said a bewildered Beloved. “I go out to chop wood, and when I get back there are five more baby goats running around the dacha.” Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova just sniffed. “Comrade Beloved, he naïf. He think baby goat fall from sky. Mama goat, she jump fence with papa goat and they do goat things in woodshed. Five months later baby goat fall from mama goat and start running round my kitchen. I thwack goat over head with iron skillet if they no stop running around my kitchen. I cook maybe. Goat taste good. Comrade Beloved, he need finish bigger goat barn soon. Dacha no place for goat.” To further compound the chaos, the Welsh terrorists have begun a campaign for a rumen of their own.

As for urania, an unidentified comrade peasant reported she fell into a two-day faint after finding nannyberries on her favorite Fortuny dress. Beloved and the wicked but seductive Baron von Kindle had to keep dusting nannyberries off of her lest she suffocate under the profusion of these goat gifts. She has once again departed with the wicked but seductive Baron von Kindle in tow. “I cannot, I will not, continue to tolerate the goat situation in this house. I am no Mrs. Carl Sandburg.”  Mrs. Carl Sandburg late wife of the even later poet Carl Sandburg was famous for keeping goats in the house.

According to urania’s spokesperson Jarek Ňadra (sometime bra designer for the glitterati), urania has headed off to an unidentified spa to partake of the healing waters after straining her back on her Soviet issue fainting couch while reading Fyodor Sologub’s “The Girl Who Would Not Learn.” Sources close to urania are crying “reading ruse.” Mrs. Martha Mucus relic of the late Henry “Commodore” Mucus and aunt of the mysteriously missing woman remarked, “That girl has never missed an opportunity to learn what she shouldn’t. If you ask me, something other than reading was happening on that fainting couch.”

Lady Eugenia Eugenica-Zwisherstufen longtime friend of urania confirmed she entertained urania and one Baron von Kindle at her stately mansion in an unidentified location near an unidentified spa. “I’m not sure to which branch of the von Kindle family the Baron is related,” she said. I assume he’s a legitimate baron, but one can never be sure. There are so many Baron von Kindles running around these days. They simply cannot all be barons. Sources close to urania report she and the baron seemed quite attached. She took him everywhere even to the baths,” said a spa employee who asked not to be identified.

Bath attendants deny having seen urania there; however, they did report that Mrs. Martha Mucus was seen emerging from the steam-powered vibrator room at the spa looking less sour than usual. Mrs. Mucus disavowed any sexual congress with the machine. “I am receiving medical treatment for a wandering womb,” she said. At this time, the location of the womb is unknown. Mrs. Mucus reportedly was so pleased with the treatment she ordered a smaller, electrical home model for herself.
News Flash . . .

A recent update from the highly regarded newspaper Dark Tea Times reports some friction between urania and the Baron over Oblomov. It seems he gave her an abridged version of the book. “I feel deeply saddened and betrayed,” said urania. “From now on, I shall tend to my garden. As for the vicious rumors circulating about my activities during my vacation from the dacha, I can only say this: May the instigators live in interesting times. As for me, I am currently immersed in reading high-minded literature and discussing the hermeneutics of suspicion with the Earl of Macintosh.  As for Baron von Kindle, I have no idea where he is. Probably off somewhere reading a Nora Roberts novel.” An anonymous source revealed the wicked but seductive Baron has been reading Goodnight Desdemona, Hello Juliet
Baron von Kindle could not be reached for comment.
Rev. Anil B. Lessing removed from ATTA Conference 
keynote address  for raising ruckus.

Leather panties a sensation at ATTA conference
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

The January 23rd ATTAC (American Tupperware and Tea Association) Conference was huge a success with the exception of a few minor blips.  Cornikens (Cornelius Aloysius Balthazar Mucus to his colleagues) contracted a raging case of laryngitis, which rendered him speechless for two weeks and unable to deliver the keynote address at the conference.  This duty fell to his arch-rival Schneida von Snacken, who delivered a controversial speech in which she claimed that the famous burping Tupperware allowed frustrated fifties housewives an opportunity to imitate gassy while still being classy. 

Her comment caused a minor uproar in row Q seat 39 occupied by Rev. Anil B. Lessing minister of the Church of the Holy Glowing Water in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. “Jezebel,” he roared at Professor Von Snacken.  “Tupperware is the last bastion against communism, the devil, and democrats in the latter days, of which I might add today is one.”  Rev. Lessing had to be escorted out of the auditorium by the ATTA Grrls, who know how to use their black belts and leather panties when need be.  Professor Snacken remained disdainfully calm throughout the ruckus.   

“Shame on him,” said Mrs. Irma Geddon after the talk was over. “Every women likes to pass a little gas now and then.  It’s good for the digestion.  Why I pass gas at least ten times a day, and my daughter Aurelia says, ‘Momma you could digest nails if you needed to.’ Nothing communist bout that. And I don’t reckon I was one of those fools running up a deficient over the right to gas back in 2001.”

T. Septimus Glass, Soho’s purveyor of fine vintage Tupperware did an excellent business as did the Prufrock Toast and Tea Room.  Indeed, the Prufrock Toast and Tea Room had to call in extra help to handle the hordes of toast-hungry ATTA Conference attendees.  Miniver Cheevy and friends postponed a planned Anti-Teaparty demonstration in Vermont to help Bob O’Lardy, prodigy toast chef and owner of the famous Soho tea establishment. “Bob’s a great guy,” said Cheevy. “We want to make the name of his tearoom fragrant.” Asked about Cheevy's vote of confidence for the tearoom, O’Lardy responded gloomily, “That’s nice, but the name’s Rob not Bob.  I’m not bitter though.”

By far the most popular event, however, was the ATTA Grrls concert.  The ATTA Grrls, who had to handle the whole show as the lead band Teddy and the Throes failed to appear, literally played their leather panties off.  An enthusiastic crowd responded by hurling leather panties onto the stage. “This is better than reading Nightingale Wood,” shouted an enthusiastic Mrs. Irma Geddon of Maryville, Tennessee during the noisy intermission.

The ATTA Conference gift shop did a booming business selling commemorative leather panties autographed by the ATTA Grrls. “I bought me ten pairs of them leather panties,” said Mrs. Irma Geddon, “one for me and a pair for my sisters Pansy, Daisy, Violet, Rose, Phlox, Tulip, Hyacinth, and my two daughters Aurelia and Dianthus. Dianthus, she is an odd one. She ran off at sixteen and got herself a scholarship to Cooper Union where that young Ludovic Mucus went. She designed sets (or so she says) for a film of his called Poor Folk.  With a title like that I reckon it must have been porn, but I don’t like to ask for mother’s sake.  She goes into a coma every time Dianthus does something abnormal. Then we all have to walk around on tiptoe so we won’t wake her.  Momma’s a hard woman when she first comes round from one of her comas.


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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Is the dacha doomed?

Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova without 
her iron head-thwacking skillet
By Comrade Editor Marienka

According to inside sources, dark doings have hit the dacha. Last Sunday, the fair urania’s beloved computer Diotima began to behave in a strange fashion. “One minute it was off, and the next it turned itself on. It started to speak in some unknown language that did not sound friendly,” reported Beloved. Comrade peasant Tatiana Chaucerova, crack computer expert and wife to the illustrious Comrade peasant Mstislov Chaucerov president of the Comrade Peasant Chaucerian Society, was called in to investigate. “Not good,” she said. I know immediately the computer it cursed. It erected own firewall.” 

This mysterious otherworldly firewall resisted all attempts by the world’s best hackers to breach. “This is no ordinary firewall,” commented Stephen J. Hacking, president of the Hacking Coughers, who worked closely with Comrade peasant Chaucerova. “It emits dangerous combinations of 0s and 1s that can only be described as diabolic foul play. No human wrote the code.”

At approximately 1:00 am on Tuesday morning, the computer gave a mighty belch and exploded. Thus far the mystery remains unsolved though local DC (Dacha Constabulary) officials have several suspects under surveillance.

On being informed of the tragedy, urania immediately rushed back from the Czech Republic to which she had decamped precipitously a few days earlier. Upon arrival, she rushed to Diotima (or what remained of her), shrieked and collapsed on her Soviet-issue fainting couch. Prostrate with grief, she has remained inconsolable despite the best efforts of Beloved and the Baron von Kindle to cheer her. Beloved, at great sacrifice to his bank account, has obtained a new computer for urania, but she can scarcely bring herself to look at it. “It does strange things,” she reported. “It demands I install demons in it. Who wants demons in one’s computer? Besides it does not even have a name, and if it did I fear the name would be ominous.”

Great Aunt Martha Mucus relic of the late Henry “Commodore” Mucus made a brief appearance to provide bracing, if unwanted, advice and company. “You spend entirely too much time on that fainting couch reading trashy literature. Now get up and install those demons right now or I shall thwack you with my reticule.” urania’s tears flowed harder and local comrade peasants had to be called in to play soothing balalaika music for her, while the Welsh terrorist howled in sympathy. In the ensuing noise, with the howling Welsh terrorists, the weeping urania, the soothing balalaika music, and one infuriating aunt, someone (we know not who) installed demons on the computer. Needless to say, urania is distraught.

Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova has remained stoic throughout the crisis. “Computer,” she said, “no worry. Computer explode always. I no believe conspiracy. And fowl play? That for chickens. I hit everybody over head with iron skillet if they no stop this noise.”

Today, the local comrade peasants held a funeral service for the dearly missed Diotima. They erected a large snow statue of Emma Goldman by the burial site and wrote in the snow the epitaph “Dance in peace Diotima.” Needless to say, urania wept through the entire service.

After the service, the wicked but seductive Baron von Kindle presented urania with two copies of Doctor Glas, one in English and the other in Swedish. On reading about the loathsome Gregorius and the perpetually gloomy Glas, urania rose from her fainting couch of woe and announced, “I shall never be happy again.”
A goat coming in from the cold

Snow crisis at dacha
By Comrade Guest Reporter Tatiana Chaucerova

If deaths, demons, and great aunts have not been enough, the temperature has plunged precipitously to depths unexpected even by local comrade peasants used to the cold. Early this morning it looked as if the local cattle might freeze in the field if not moved to warmer quarters, so the dacha has been turned into a temporary animal hostel. All the furniture has been moved to the lumber-room with the exception of urania’s Soviet-issue fainting couch, for which Beloved and the Baron have erected a platform. Although an efficacious solution for keeping away the cows, horse, and sheep, the goats keep climbing up on it and leaving unwanted presents on the couch. To make matters worse, the littlest goat, Mia Sofia ate urania’s copy of The Idiot, an event about which urania was not most pleased. Although Baron von Kindle promised her a new one, urania announced petulantly that she wanted her old one. “How can one even mourn properly with all these cattle,” she said and flounced off to lumber room locking the door behind her. Beloved was forced to stop reading Sheep and Goat Medicine and plead with her to come out lest she starve. Doctors are pessimistic about her health.

Prodigy toast chef Bob O'Lardy is not bitter
about tearoom riot.
Racous rioting temporarily closes tearoom
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

The Prufrock Toast and Tea Room reopened today after a Wednesday morning fracas that resulted in shattered china, broken sugar bowls, and a very sticky floor. The damage occurred during an anti-Teaparty demonstration at the esteemed Soho tea establishment. “We were having a self-righteous time hurling china and sugar bowls when one of our members noted there were no copies of Ayn Rand in the establishment,” said Miniver Cheevy president, co-president, and chair of the Manhattan CATNIP Association (Citizens Against Teaparty Nattering in Public). “When I found a copy of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland on a table by the window, I knew we had the wrong place. No Teaparty member would stand in the same room with The Wasteland. They even get twitchy when copies of Ezra Pound poems are in the room. And how silly is that? We apologized to Bob and promised not to do it again. You know, sometimes we just have to weep that we were ever born,” Cheevy concluded.

Prufrock Toast and Tearoom proprietor and chef de toast Bob O’Lardy responded, “Actually the name is Rob, but I’m not bitter. What are a few china fragments shored against our ruin? Really I’m not bitter.” Anti-Teaparty demonstrators rallied round, spending the rest of the day moping floors, laundering tea clothes, and gluing china together. I think Bob will have to admit we did a bang-up job putting the place to rights,” said Cheevy.

“Well . . . the teacups are bit leaky, but they did send several nice pots of hyacinths,” said Bob. “And by the way my name is Rob, but I’m not bitter.” Bob later retired to the larder perhaps to eat a peach.

Vera Pol, an innocent Czech lass and frequent customer at the tearoom, said “I not like Teaparty people,” she said. They spoil parties by reading sections of U.S. Constitution. Not so bad if they understand what they read and not mispronounce words.” And all that ‘refudiating.’ What this ‘refudiate’? I not find world in OED. I write Natasha and see if she know word.” Natasha is Vera's lover over whom she spends much time weeping while dusting Tupperware at T. Septimus Glass, Soho's vintage Tupperware gallery.

We wish Bob the best of luck on the reopening of the Prufrock Toast and Tearoom.
Dark Tea Times book reviewer, Comrade 
Overcoat alleged perpetrator of missing 
person hoax

Horrible hoax exposed
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

The Dark Tea Times is happy to announce the return of Comrade editor Davushka. It turns out his disappearance, the mysterious letter signed Vixen, and the letter from Odessa were all part of an elaborate hoax believed to have been carried out by Comrade Overcoat. In the interests of objectivity Comrade editors Marienka and Davushka declined to elaborate on the details of the alleged disappearance of Comrade editor Davusha. The DC is continuing its investigation, however. “The hoax, if hoax indeed it is, is far too elaborate for a man of Comrade reviewer Overcoat’s IQ. Obviously he had help, said DC official Pyotr Kopunkov. Comrade Overcoat denied all allegations. “I have been framed. Something is fishy about this investigation. What we need is total transparency, something I might add the Dark Tea Times is short on,” commented Comrade Overcoat upon leaving DC offices after questioning. “I will say no more. At the moment I am on the trail of a man named Copperfield, David Copperfield. I am also reading The Secret History of Moscow. I am convinced that all the clues to this mystery are there and that Comrade editor Davushka will be exposed for trafficking in fake Tupperware.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sudden departure leaves all in tizzy

Jarek Nǎdra denies allegations of Kinkaid forgeries.

By Comrade Editor Marienka

Meanwhile back at the dacha, urania has been conspicuously absent. Semi-reliable witnesses reported last seeing her late this afternoon decamping in a troika shouting “Czech Republic or Bust.”  Exactly what she meant by this enigmatic comment was difficult to decipher.  Earlier in the day, she had been observed reading a treatise on “foundation” garments entitled The Corset: A Cultural History.  Has she become a purveyor of foundation garments?  True, her name has been linked with that of Jarek Ňadra, the famous Czech bra designer and rumored forger of Thomas Kincaid paintings, but close friends and longtime enemies resolutely denied urania would ever stoop to selling bras, no matter how bad the economy or how desperate her personal finances.  “I’ve known Ms Baggage since she was born,” said Mrs. Martha Mucus relic of the late Henry “Commodore” Mucus.  “She scandalized her entire family by burning her bras at boarding school.  As far as I know, she has not worn a bra since, not even when her sainted aunt Louise Pickens went down on her knees and promised that child a healthy trust fund if only she would please wear a bra.  Why that shameless little hussy said she would rather scrub toilets at Howard Johnson’s than ever wear a bra again.”  L’affaire remains a mystery.  The only clue . . . urania did take those intrepid Welsh terrorists Wilkie and Ceilidh with her.  For some time they have been perfecting the art of biting popes on the butt; however, the Vatican denied that any visits to the Czech Republic by His Royal Popeness have been planned. “Urania? We speak not to this Urania,” said Vatican spokesman Luigi Del Monte.
Will Cornikens survive another collapse?

Exploding eggs in Soho love nest
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

Cornikens (Aloysius Balthazar Cornelius Mucus to his colleagues) has once again suffered a nervous collapse and has retired to the linen closet to read Real Live Boyfriends.  Alas, insiders say the book was not quite what he expected although Teddy Musus-Psmythe-Mucus, his long-time lover and co-owner of Soho's vintage Tupperware gallery T. Septimus Glass, was somewhat offended.  “He slam door when he come into shop,” said Vera Pol, the innocent Czech lass who works at T. Septimus Glass. “I think he no like this talk of boyfriends. I cry if Natasha start reading book Real Live Girl Friends.”  (Natasha is the lover Vera left behind in the Czech Republic.) Inside sources say Teddy has more on his mind than Corniken’s latest collapse.  The ATTA (American Tupperware and Tea Association) conference is just around the corner, and Teddy and the Throes (his nephew Ludovic's band) have not contacted him or shown up for rehearsal.

Nora Velvet, lead singer and didgeridoo player for ATTA Grrls is furious.  She has been pitching fits and leather panties for the last week.  How are we supposed to coordinate if this numbskull Dostoevsky-reading IDIOT refuses to show up for practice? What a nepotistical nitwit. And ‘nepotistical’ is too a word. So there ‘Mr. Ludovic Got-My-Nose-in-the-Air Mucus.’  I hope you drown.”  Teddy has been sighing a lot.  “I’m just going to go home and reread A Near Thing for Captain Najork and How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen.  My brain needs a rest.”  “If that nepotistical uncle of ‘Mr. Ludovic Got-My-Nose-in-the-Air Mucus’ rests his brain any more he’ll be comatose,” retorted Nora Velvet. Apparently Teddy’s reading did not relax his brain as he absentmindedly stuck two eggs in the microwave and set the timer for five minutes.  Explosions followed.

 Oh dear, oh dear.  Will the ATTA Conference come off smoothly?  The situation looks darkly dire and unpromising at the moment.
Comrade Overcoat (right) drinking 
something other than tea from samovar.

Notes from the underground
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

“I do not think Comrade editor Marienka is pleased with Comrade Davushka's absence, said Comrade Overcoat.  She’s been slamming lots of doors lately and muttering about a certain comrade who needs to get his bohunkus back to Russia. Confidentially, I always suspected that Comrade editor in absentia Davushka was a bit too dazzled by oligarchs and crime lords.  And this André person?  It all sounds very suspicious and below board to me . . . underground in fact.  I shall shortly be taking notes.” Rumor has it that Comrade Overcoat is trying to assume sole editorship of the Dark Tea Times.  “Editor schmeditor,” Comrade housekeeper Natasha Nezvanova told the Dark Tea Times.  “I know idiot when I see idiot.  Comrade Overcoat he idiot.  And he need to wash overcoat.  It stink.  I hit over head with skillet and maybe sue.  I think hit over head with skillet better.”

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Burnt bottoms at dacha

Comrade peasant Tatiana Chaucerova 
expresses concern over dacha ruckus.

By Comrade Marienka

Home from Paris, urania celebrated Christmas with Beloved in a state of connubial bliss. Although there had been some concern beforehand that Beloved might repeat the birthday faux pas, all went smoothly.  “I tell Comrade Beloved, ‘No more fainting in house. I hit everybody over head with skillet if fainting happen,’” said Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova. Thanks to her flawless French and her former connection with Prince S. and Count B., Comrade Nezvanova was able to procure an appointment with the exclusive French couturier, Madame Urania Chanel de Newtoniere. 

“This is an unprecedented event,” announced Jarek Ňadra, urania’s personal spokesperson and sometime bra designer for the glitterati. Normally, Madame Chanel de Newtoniere does not grant appointments without three recommendations from the exclusive ranks of the rich and famous. It is quite an honor for Beloved.” Under the careful guidance of Madame Urania and Comrade Nezvanova, Beloved purchased a velvet opera coat and a pair of embroidered violet silk moiré shoes for urania, reported an anonymous seamstress who asked to remain anonymous for reasons of anonymity.

Despite the connubiality of the day, there were some faint rumblings of discord. On Christmas Eve, the Earl of Macintosh arrived unexpectedly.  Finding everyone asleep, he decided on a forced entry down the dacha chimney. “I thought they might be dead and need rescuing,” said the Earl defensively. “All I got for my concern was a burned bottom and a thwack on the head. I guess I just didn’t have the app for it.” Comrade housekeeper expressed doubt about the Earl’s story. “Dead people no need rescuing,” she said. “I know Don Juan when I see him.  This earl he Don Juan. I thwack over head with skillet.  Maybe I thwack again if he no go home.” 

The ruckus created by the Earl’s arrival had local comrade peasants diving for their bomb shelters. “It sound like how they say in United States, “Armageddon.” We not believe in Armageddon here. We believe in enlightened post-Marxist state,” said Comrade peasant Tatiana Chaucerova, wife of Mtislav Chaucerov president of the Comrade Peasant Chaucerian Society.  Comrade Chaucerova added, “The whole event was like a medieval morality play. First there came a great howling, then a mighty growling, followed by much thwacking and gruntling.”

As for urania, she understandably swooned.  Neither Beloved nor the Baron had much to say as they slept through the fracas. The Baron just twirled his mustache and muttered incomprehensibly under his breath. “Noise?” asked Beloved. “I heard a slight bump, but I thought it was probably just urania swooning again; otherwise, I slept like a log.”  Comrade Nezvanova responded tersely, “Comrade Beloved sometime he be log.  Then he need thwack and kick in bottom.  I do both maybe.”

Great Aunt Martha Mucus, who had descended on the dacha for Christmas, said dourly about urania, “That shameless little sauce-box swoons on purpose.  She’s been doing it since she was four, when she put little Carl Utterback-Mucus in a cardboard box and pushed him down a steep mountain.”

We at the Dark Tea Times confess this is the first time we have heard of the little Carl Utterback-Mucus debacle. Surely our fair urania would do nothing like that. “Of course she would. She did,” said Great Aunt Martha tartly. 

Who has been kissing under mistletoe?
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.
Illicit kisses?

On the fifth day of Christmas, rumor began hurtling recklessly round the dacha.  An anonymous member of the paparazzi snapped a photograph purportedly of urania kissing someone, who was not Santa Claus, under the mistletoe. Jarek Ňadra, urania’s personal spokesperson and sometime bra designer for the glitterati, hotly denied the rumors. “Purported’ is the key word,” he said. “The woman in the picture could be anyone.  Her face is obscured in the shadows.  This is all just so much tittle-tattle. Distressing, distasteful, and dubious.”  When confronted with the picture, urania fainted. Doctors are worried.  As for the man in question, some say he is the Earl of Macintosh.  The Earl has also hotly (a truly operative word in his case) denied the rumor.  “That couldn’t be I.  My bottom was severely injured four days ago. I still cannot sit down.  The demned doctors have said I may be sitting on a doughnut pillow for months.” Only time will tell. As for urania she wept copiously. “I don’t even own a dress like that one . . . although it is very nice.” After this brief comment, she understandably returned to her Soviet-issue fainting couch to nibble Belgian chocolates and read Somerset Maugham’s novel Cakes and Ale.

Missing pig while still unmissing
News flash . . .

An urgent letter has just arrived from the missing Comrade editor Davusha who was last seen while investigating a lead about a missing pig named Bella Ella. We have made the bold decision to print the letter in full:

Dear Comrade Editor Marienka,

I am writing to you from the Hotel Otrada in Odessa where I have been sequestered under heavy guard after being abducted from my home by two Russian thugs and a mysterious woman known only as Vixen. After being forced to drink a cup of drugged eggnog, I awoke three days later to find myself thousands of miles away in overly luxurious surroundings.

I soon learned from the two Russian bodyguards who are my keepers that I am in a suite in the Hotel Otrada, the only five-star hotel in Odessa, where Teddy and the Throes happen to be staying during their Ukrainian tour. Aunt Ida and Mrs. Whimpersnapple are here as well, having come along to chaperone the boys on the tour. Mrs. Whimpersnapple, who grew up in Odessa, is acting as an interpreter for the band.

It seems some Ukrainian oil tsar who calls himself Tamurlane is a big fan of Teddy and the Thoes’ song Cold Drizzle, which was a huge hit in the Ukraine. The band had intended to end their tour before the holidays and spend Christmas at the Mucus farm in Oklahoma. But their plans went awry. Instead the boys are being forced to do eight more performances.

According to a source I dare not name, I have been kidnapped because of my connection to the band. I have been encouraged" to write reviews of the performances for the Ukrainian newspapers praising the band and the benevolence of its new “sponsor” Tamurlane. If the band misses a performance, I am to be shot immediately and thrown into the Black Sea. “They” say we will all be free to leave Odessa after the band completes its tour with a special New Year's Eve performance at Tamurlane's palatial estate outside Odessa.

One of my guards—André, as he calls himself (who knows what his real name is)—is a charming fellow, with a penchant for great literature. He has brought me many wonderful books to read during my imprisonment here. Currently I'm reading Marlowe's Tamburlaine in honor of our host.

Only the Throes, Aunt Ida, Mrs. Whimpersnapple, André, and I know that Teddy did not accompany the Throes on their Ukrainian tour. Tamurlane's people all think that Ludovic is Teddy because he is the front man for the group. I shudder to think what will to us all if Tamurlane finds out that Teddy is still in the states.

If anything happens, I hope I can depend on André. He is risking his life to get this letter to you. I must say goodbye now before the other guard Vlad returns. He is not at all friendly, and I am certain we would all be done for if he intercepts this letter.

Comrade Editor Davushka
Hotel Otrada

Fashions to Faint For

We are shocked—almost to the fainting point—to learn that our well-heeled society patronesses do not own opera cloaks.  To remedy this shocking lack in their wardrobes, we are now offering an exclusive selection of opera coats to faint for . . . of course.

Fashions to Faint for is open by appointment only.
Contact Madame Urania Chanel de Newtoniere.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Couple with Christmas Tree, Otto Lendecke, c. 1913
Merry Christmas from 
all of us to all of you

Comrade Editor Marienka
Comrade Editor Davushka (still missing)
Comrade Staff Person Anon.
Comrade Overcoat
Comrade Undercover
Baron von Kindle
Comrade Housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova
The Welsh Terrorists
Aunt Ida
Teddy and the Throes

and of course . . . Great Aunt Martha

Friday, December 17, 2010

More mayhem at the dacha

urania sashays through Côte d'Azur

By Comrade Marienka

Last Friday, the missing comrade parents were located in Minsk trying to catch a flight to Florida after having disappeared for two weeks.  Although asked nicely to return to the dacha to reclaim their children and the hordes of dogs, cats, goats, and one stray pig, the comrade parents were firm.  “We love our children, no,” said Mstislav Chaucerov, president of the Comrade Peasant Chaucerian Society, “but until April is redeclared the cruelest mouth, we will continue to strike.” 

It looked as if tense and prolonged negotiations might be in order until Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova showed up with her Soviet-issue iron skillet in hand. “I beat head until parent see light.  I no care about cruel month.  Any month with comrade children is cruel.”  Pyotr Kopunkov of the local DC (Dacha Constabulary) remarked, “Comrade Nezvanova can be most convincing.” The comrade children, their dogs, cats, and goats have bid farewell to Beloved and have returned to the homes of their nativity.  No one has claimed the stray pig. An unnamed source told Long Dark Teatimes that Comrade Nezvanova is quite disgruntled about the pig's presence at the dacha. When asked, Comrade Nezvanova responded tartly, “I know nada about this disgruntle.  That pig he gruntled.  He soon be bacon if no one claims.”  Beloved has remonstrated with the strong-willed comrade housekeeper.  “This will send urania into a relapse.  She doesn't like bacon and she cries when pigs die.” Retorted Comrade Nezvanova, “If Comrade urania like pig so much, she come home and take care of.  This pig vicious.  It bite many people. I kick in snout.”

As for urania, she is currently sashaying about the Côte d'Azur where she has been seen frequently in the company of the Earl of Macintosh much to the apparent gruntlement of Baron von Kindle, who merely grunts unintelligible curses under his breath when anyone brings up the Earl's name.  Lady Eugenia Eugenica-Zwisherstufen, longtime friend of urania, confirmed she entertained urania, Baron von Kindle, and the Earl of Macintosh at her stately mansion in the Côte d'Azur this week.  Asked about the presence of the Earl of Macintosh with the famous twosome, Lady Eugenia Eugenica-Zwisherstufen replied, “urania is always bringing barons and earls to my famous stately mansions.  I really can't say more.  These barons, these earls, they all start to look alike after a while-you know tallish, darkish, and apparently male, although these days one can never be sure.”  A guest who asked not to be identified overheard the E. of M., invite urania to his "pad" to look at his apps.  Said the unidentified guest, “I don't think the Baron von Kindle cares for this kind of earlish behavior. He stood by the bar all evening, twirling his mustache and drinking quantities of absinthe.”  A distant relative of the Baron, Alice Cholmondeley Newton nee Nookie, who did ask to be identified, said, “He's been so totally, you know, Balzacian of late.  I saw him this morning holding a copy of Ursule Mirouët. I mean, who reads a book like that. It's so totally outré. I think he must be, like, mad.”
Aristotle Dayton days before his death

Mournful memorial service held
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

A memorial service was held yesterday for Aristotle Dayton, who died last year under deeply disturbing and suspicious circumstances.  According to his friends, Aristotle had seemed distracted and worried for several months before his death.  He was seen several times at the Prufrock Toast and Tea Room in the company of one Vlad Vsevolod believed to work for a Transylvanian crime syndicate.  “It was all just so terrible,” sobbed Adelaide Psmith the fiancée of young Aristotle.  One day he was a perfectly ordinary math genius. And then he meets this Vlad person.  I don't know what happened, but his hair never returned to its normal position.” 

According to colleagues at Harvard, in the last month of his life, Aristotle became intransigently mute and spent his days madly scribbling incomprehensible equations on the backs of shopping lists. So advanced was his mania for shopping lists, that he loitered in grocery stores, usually by the grapefruits. When an unsuspecting matron arrived, Dayton would quickly unzip his pants, and while the hitherto unsuspecting matron screamed he would seize her grocery list and leg it for the nearest exit.

A brilliant young mathematician and part-time detective, Euphrosyne Newton (the last female link to the brilliant Lady Fig Newton) is convinced that Aristotle Dayton's final mad scribblings were anything but mad; rather, she believes they were coded messages. She could not be reached for comment.
Cornikens in his Soho library

Prostrate perturbances in Soho love nest
By Comrade Overcoat (filling in for missing Comrade Davushka)

Cornikens (Aloysius Balthazar Cornelius Mucus to his colleagues) collapsed in his Soho apartment today after receiving a letter from former colleague Schneida von Schnacken.  Said Teddy Mucus-Smythe-Mucus his long-time lover and co-owner of Soho's vintage Tupperware gallery, T. Septimus Glass, “In the interests of delicacy, diplomacy, discretion, devotion, and decorum, I cannot talk about the contents of the letter.  All I can say is relations between Cornikens and Schneida have been vexed for years.” The vexatious relationship dates back to the days when Cornikens was a Professor of English and Popular Culture at UNYU.

In an infamous rencontre between Cornikens and von Schnacken at the annual MLA (Modern Language Association) conference, von Schnacken accused Cornikens of covert Derridean deceit for identifying a Tupperware cake holder as a cheap Transylvanian imitation. At the time Cornikens was presenting a paper entitled “Tupperware and the Erotics of Polyethylene Populism in 1960s America.” Cornikens denied the accusation but subsequently resigned from his job at UNYU.

Cornikens is currently recovering in his sumptuous library and reading Murder at the MLA.
Have you seen Comrade Davushka?

News Flash . . .

Comrade editor Davushka mysteriously vanished last Monday while investigating a lead about a missing pig who goes by the name Bella Ella.  Consternation and worriment awoke when he did not return to the Dark Tea Times office to file his report.  A local comrade peasant reported seeing a mysterious stranger entering Comrade Davushka's humble Soviet-issue apartment. Said the terrified comrade peasant who asked not to be identified, “That stranger, he be Transylvanian crime boss.  I know. Those Transylvanian crime bosses all look same. Mysterious.”  When the local DC entered Comrade Davushka's apartment, they found a highlighted copy of “The Night before Christmas” on his kitchen table and a hoof-marked note signed “Vixen.” Dacha Constabulary officials have refused to divulge the contents of the note.

Fashions to Faint For

Christmas is just a week away and you obviously have not been looking for the present that will please her best.  Fashions to Faint For does not support those who do their holiday shopping forty-five minutes before tasteful boutiques close on Christmas Eve.  We believe such people should take up knitting.  Thus our policy is to stop all appointments at some random time in this final week before Christmas.  This date will not be announced. Madame Urania Chanel-Newtoniere will simply leave for her holiday at an unnamed exclusive location in Switzerland . . . when you're not looking.  So don't delay.  Come today.  If you're fortunate, you may be able to get an appointment.

Fashions to Faint For is open by appointment only.
Contact Madame Urania de Chanel-Newtoniere.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Annual Mucus gathering fraught with tension

Clara Psmith before Jude Mucus jumped.

By Comrade Editors Marienka and Davushka

Having drawn the short straw once again, Cornikins (known in professional circles as Aloysius Balthazar Cornelius Mucus) and his long time lover Teddy hosted the annual Mucus family Thanksgiving dinner.  The Vermont Mucuses, headed by family matriarch Great Aunt Martha Mucus (relic of the late Henry “Commodore” Mucus) attended.  The Pennsylvania Psmiths (who came over on the Mayflower but under a different name) also made an appearance, as did dear old Aunt Ida of the Oklahoma Mucuses. 

Unsurprisingly, tensions were rife as Great Aunt Martha Mucus and Cousin Clara Psmith refused to acknowledge each other’s presence.  The mutual enmity between the two parties dates back twenty years when that irresponsible rake Jude Mucus refused to seduce Cousin Clara. (He jumped out a window after Clara had maneuvered him onto the bearskin rug in the library.)  

Asked if she had any comment about the longstanding quarrel, Great Aunt Martha replied, “If you knew Clara as I do, you would have jumped too.” Cousin Clara was equally forthcoming. “In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we should not speak ill of the dead”—the dead in this case being Jude Mucus who broke his neck after the three-story tumble from the Psmith family mansion. “All I can say is good riddance to Jude Mucus.”  Fortunately Cousin Clara and Great Aunt Martha are on speaking terms with dear old Aunt Ida, although Great Aunt Martha rather condescendingly remarked, “Those Oklahoma Mucuses, poor things, wouldn't know the difference between fine vintage Tupperware and a Rubbermaid container.” 

Asked what he thought about the dinner, Teddy sighed heavily and said, “Thank goodness for dear old Aunt Ida.  She’s such a calming influence at these family events.  And my dear, I simply could not have managed in the kitchen without her.  Her famous pies and her acorn squash casserole—oh my they are simply to die for.”  We have heard Aunt Ida also makes a mean curried chicken.  However, she did not prepare one for the party. “Oh dear,” she said, “I know sweet young Ludovic does like his curry. But I always feel these large family gatherings are hot enough without the curry.”

As usual, the Russian existentialist folk Goth band Teddy and the Throes, led by Ludovic Mucus, performed after dinner.  This year’s selection came from their 2009 hit Cold Christmas.  Admittedly the music was grim and angst-ridden, but last year the prestigious music journal Anharmonics called the songs “Cold Drizzle,” and “Nada, nada, Christmas nada,” the most important contributions to musical history since Beethoven.
Comrade children come in from the cold.

Meanwhile back at the dacha . . .
By Comrade Staff Person Anon.

Comrade Beloved was busier than usual this Thanksgiving after opening the dacha to local comrade children whose parents have mysteriously vanished.  The comrade children brought with them an assorted menagerie of goats, chickens, dogs, cats, and one stray pig.”  Comrade Beloved took the situation in stride. “They have to go somewhere,” he said. “I can’t send them to the local kennel, and the poor dears would cry without their pets.”  Comrade housekeeper Netochka Nezvanova was less patient. “Comrade Beloved, he do nada. He no cook. I cook. Children no like good Russian borscht and blood pudding. They want decadent western junk food. I feed blood pudding anyway. They complain, I spank.” To maintain her equanimity, Comrade Nezvanova is reading The Shortest Way to Hades.

There is still no word on the missing parents.  “We are looking into the matter,” said an unnamed DC  (Dacha Constabulary) spokesperson.  “Better he look fast, or I come after with iron skillet,” Comrade Nezvanova commented curtly.  “Children and goats all jumping on Comrade urania’s fainting couch.  She no like. Comrade Beloved he be in trouble again.” Welsh terrorist Wilkie of the dreaded Dacha Office of Guerilla Gulag Yaptivities (DOGGY for short) has been seen sniffing around the scene of the crime, if crime indeed it is.

And what about urania? She was last seen at the exclusive French clothing galley Fashions to Faint For, purchasing Fortuny dresses and hand embroidered (by Norwegian nuns) nightwear. “Doctors are optimistic she will recover completely from her ill-fated birthday trauma,” said Jarek Ňadra, urania’s personal spokesperson and sometime bra designer for the glitterati.

Fashions to Faint For

Fashions to Faint For has just received an exclusive delivery of fashions that will make one faint with delight.  Our Fortuny gowns and French coats are exquisite, destined to become collector’s items by Christmas. One is advised not to delay as Christmas is not far way.

Fashions to Faint For is open by appointment only.
Contact Madame Urania de Chanel-Newtoniere.