Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller
jwgh

Nikola Tesla

On Sunday I went to the Boston Museum of Science with Kibo, mmcirvin, samantha2074, and Joshua Cope. One of the things we did there was watch a one-man play about the life of Nikola Tesla titled Battle of the Currents. That inspired me to write the following (which was also posted to alt.religion.kibology).
I met Tesla when one of us was a kid. He was somewhere between seven and twenty feet tall, with a strong handshake and a broad, friendly grin, and he had a large invisible yacht that he would use to hunt crows in the antarctic. Or at least that's what he said; they say that seeing is believing, and I never saw that boat, so I guess it must have been invisible.

Once, when Tesla was still young, he met the famous author Mark Twain. Mr. Twain became quite an admirer of Tesla's, and when Tesla experimented with medical applications of a vibrating box he had invented Twain was first in line to try it out, despite Tesla's warnings that the vibrations had some unpleasant side effects. It was on that day that Tesla learned just what a giant pervert Mark Twain really was, and they remained inseparable until the bar closed.

His experiments with resonance caused quite a stir, especially after he accidentally invented the twelve-string guitar and nearly caused a riot. But when the police came around he was cool and calm and polite and friendly, and when he was being charming he could convince you of anything! Absolutely anything! So he politely spoke to the police, and they politely took their bribe, and he went on to invent the geodesic bassoon, which revolutionized the field of bad musician jokes forever.

When I met Tesla he was embroiled in an argument with that evil bastard Thomas Edison about whether toilets flush clockwise or counterclockwise on the equator. Eventually Tesla came up with a brilliant solution. "Ze water flushes DOWN, you dummkopf!" he wrote in a telegram to Edison. This would not be the last of the clashes that these two gentlemen had, but it would be the twenty-fifth, and that is almost as notable.

Yes, it is true, Tesla held Edison in great contempt. Of the famous saying of Edison's that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, Tesla once remarked, "Then how is that I am the one who invented antiperspirant while that idiot Edison was still trying to figure out how to hold his nose closed?" Then he laughed so hard that it set up a sympathetic resonance in the atmosphere which resulted in the destruction of the Moon. Fortunately, Tesla had launched a spare moon the previous week, "just in case," as he said, and so the world's natural cycles remained undisturbed for another six weeks or so.

Years later, I visited Tesla while he was staying at the Chelsea Hotel, where he and Nancy Spungen became famous for their high-quality stash. He was growing old then and his fame had started to fade; his only recent claim to fame was that his likeness had just been used as the basis for a character in a Lois Lane comic book, where he appeared as Lois's dream husband. He was never sure how he should feel about this, and indeed, his opinion on the matter alternated between pro and con quite frequently, sometimes as many as sixty times a second. It was sad to see a man of his intellect so reduced, and it was not until he was on his deathbed that he seemed to finally have resolved the question. His last words were, "Was the comic book a good or a bad thing? What can I say? People are wacky!"

Recently his reputation has started to recover, and the books, movies, and slide shows based on his life have all become blockbusters, with a Kitty Kelley unauthorized biography soon to follow. He would have been glad to know this, I think, even though when he was alive he always would disparage fame. "Fame," he would say, "is like broccoli: green, but most people do not like to eat it." As always, his prescience was both remarkable and wrong.

I always am tempted to explain what I'm talking about in stuff I write, but it's probably a mistake to do so.
Tags: snark, writing
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