Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog as 21st Century Diary

Tomorrow is the 150th anniversary of the day that our most unschooled President (and best prose stylist) took office. The Virginia Historical Society observed it a day early with a Lincoln lecture.

"The Diary of a Public Man and Abraham Lincoln" was the subject of Dr. Daniel Crofts' talk (with pictures). The diary referred to was published anonymously in 1879 and claimed to detail conversations between Lincoln, his rival Stephen Douglas and Secretary of State William Seward in the five months running up to the Civil War.

After over a century of the diary author's anonymity, Crofts had discovered through the alert eyes of one of his students the similarities between the diary's writing style and that of a prominent journalist of that time, William Henry Hurlbert. Bingo! Book deal in the offing.

What had been purported to have been a diary then was in fact a memoir penned by a mere newspaper writer, albeit one who was writing editorials for The New York Times before he was 30 years old.

Still, the diary contained priceless nuggets of information about the goings-on behind the scenes and Crofts' talk was a compelling look at the difficulty of the situation Lincoln faced from the moment he took office.

Yet again, I was lucky enough to sit by a guy who fell asleep, mouth wide open, only minutes into the lecture. Why do these people come to lectures that don't interest them enough to stay awake? I'd really like to know.

Once he began snoring, the guy behind me tapped him on his shoulder to tell him to knock it off. Sleeper guy was apologetic and requested that if he began snoring again, he should be pushed in the back. Gladly. How about a full-on shove?

Amazingly, he managed to fall asleep only a couple more times before the Q & A session began. And, just like all guilty lecture nappers, he just had to raise his hand to ask a question of the speaker. I swear these people do this to make themselves feel better about having slept through the talk.

Brain full of information about our Constitutionally- conservative, Shakespeare-reading President, I headed over to Bonvenu to meet a friend and fill my belly full of food.

It was his first time at Bonvenu and, as I expected, he was totally taken with the fact that their midday menu is both brunch and lunch every day, not just weekends. So, at 1:45 on a Thursday afternoon, a nice breakfast was an option.

Even more enticing, pitchers of Bloody Marys and Mimosas are also available and we were sorely tempted. We are weak people and we are okay with that.

Naturally he went for it, ordering steak and sunny side up eggs with hashed browns and an enormous biscuit with butter and cherry preserves and then raving about how good it all was.

Breakfast long forgotten on my part, I got a turkey and spinach panini with an enormous salad that caused my friend to say, "That's a side salad? I need to remember that!"

Dessert was a chocolate torte about four inches high with a crumb crust and dense in a sticky, heavier than mousse-like way.

Actually our server called it a cake because the baker had, but this was like no cake we knew of. It was so rich we couldn't finish it, which says a lot for the two of us dessert pros.

By the time we finished gabbing and gorging, my friend didn't think there was any point in going back to work. Like me, he's his own boss, so it was a pretty simple executive decision for him to make given the hour and Plan 9's proximity.

Dear Diary,
Learned a little, ate a lot, did some work and called it a day. Juicy bits withheld...

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