Saturday, May 07, 2016

Roundtop stables

Back when he was a teen my brother used to work at Roundtop Stables in Saunders Station, Pa. It changed his life.

This was largely because my brother had always been a horse junkie. The walls of his bedroom had been bedecked with horse posters while we were growing up. He took horseback riding lessons when he was in middle school, and by the time he reached high school, he already had saved enough money from his paper route to buy his own horse. I kid you not.

Working at the stables was a great way to feed his passion for horses, and also to reduce the amount of money it cost him to board Smokey there. Before he got a job working at McDonald's at the age of 16, my brother spent his summers and often his weekends, shoveling horse manure and taking care of the other horses at the stables. Not surprisingly, when it came time to celebrate his birthdays, we often would do it with some sort of celebration at Roundtop.

The most interesting incident I can recall my brother sharing with me was about a fellow in 1987 who arrived at Roundtop and announced that he had received a vision. Jesus was coming soon, and Roundtop Stables figured prominently in the Day of Judgment. As my brother relayed the story to me, Jesus was going to descend from the heavens and land on top of the hill in a spaceship. From there he would ride out and conquer the earth.

The man wanted the permission of Mike Katinsky, who owned the stables and associated land, to wait for the Second Coming on the property, so he could film the great arrival when it happened. I'm told he waited patiently, and came in good weather as well as bad, often with his young son.

In that way that he has, my brother told me he wanted to take his off-white horse out and ride it up to the top of the hill, past this ardent believer, to whom he would call out, "You dummy! I said I was going to ride up the hill."

I don't know that my brother ever did this, but I do know that no flying saucer set down on Roundtop Stables, and Jesus never rode out on his white horse to conquer the earth. The devoted filmmaker eventually went to court and tried to file a lawsuit against God for breach of promise, and one presumes for emotional suffering because of the ridicule he still attracts whenever this story is told.

Steve eventually sold Smoky to someone else because it became impractical to board the horse at Roundtop while he attended college at Purdue University in Indiana. Not long after graduation, though, he was back at his old digs where he ran into a former high school classmate of mine. She was covered in horse manure, but my brother asked her out. Not surprisingly, she judged that if being covered with horse manure wasn't an impediment to being asked on a date, she ought to give it a shot. They've been married about 21 years now.

Shoveling horse manure in the summer heat usually doesn't seem like the most exciting way to spend a summer, to me. But when it changes your life like that, I guess it's hard to argue with it.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

chamber of secrets: a new perspective

In today's interesting fan theory: Knowing of the threat muggles posed to wizards and witches, Salazar Slytherin planned ahead and built a saferoom where the students and staff of Hogwarts could hide. This secret chamber even contained a guard animal to protect them. Getting to the saferoom was something he entrusted only to members of Slytherin, because any other wizard would have muggle relatives, and therefore could be compromised in a crisis situation.

Later, there was a falling out among the founders of Hogwarts, one so bad that even Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin parted ways, though they had been best of friends previously.

Over the centuries, bigots in Slytherin twisted the legends so that the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets came to be seen as a plan of Slytherin's to purge the impure and mudblooded from the wizarding community.