Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 5-16-11 | TheFencePost.com
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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 5-16-11

Readers of my column have probably concluded by now that I have a very eclectic circle of friends, perhaps even strange or weird. This column puts the stamp on that conclusion.

It came to me in a letter from an old friend, Will Cook, who fancies himself as a self-styled chef, engineer, art historian, farmer, genealogist and general goofball.

Will lives near Stark, Kan., and I have no idea how or why he found the following historical excerpt by reading the Boise City News from Boise City, clear out in the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

But he did and here’s what the historical note said: “In 10th century Burma, King Theinhko ate a farmer’s cucumbers without the farmer’s permission. The farmer killed the king and took his throne.”

For some reason known only to my friend Will, that little historical note prompted Will to look up King Theinhko on the internet Wikipedia website which confirmed the Boise City News item. In short it said, “At age 41, Theinhko was killed by a farmer, Nyaung-u-Sawrahan, from whose farm he took a cucumber. The king had been on the run from rebel forces and was exhausted and thirsty. The farmer was accepted by the queen to prevent unrest in the kingdom and became known as the ‘Cucumber King,’ ‘Farmer King,’ or Taungthugyi Min.”

That story, for some reason, sparked some neuron in Will’s brain to do an exhaustive genealogical study on King Theinko, which ended up happening to involve me in an oblique sort of way.

Will wrote in his letter, “Milo, you are noted for claiming to know all sorts of people with odd names, such as Hayes T. Speaker, the auctioneer, Nick deHyde, the sheep shearer, and Hugh E. Rector, who builds big buildings. Most everyone figures these names are merely figments of your imagination. True or false, it appears I have now discovered the source for the name of your nearest, dearest, inseparable, friend and companion, Thayne Cozart.

(A personal note: I scarcely ever write about him, but it’s true that Thayne Cozart has been closer to me through my lifetime than even a twin brother. We are pretty much inseparable and have been since we first got together in February, 1974.)

Now, Will continues, “Some research suggests that the surname Cozart was derived from some Ozarker who was peddling thickly-lacquered walking sticks made from the male parts of bovines. Other sources suggest that ‘Thayne’ resembles the noise heard gurgling from the throat of a lovely young lady many years ago in Parsons, Kan., at an Eggbert’s all-night cafe in the early a.m. hours after she’d consumed too much alcohol and too many sunny-side-up eggs as she made a futile attempt to enter the restroom for an ’emergency,’ only to discover the door was locked and the ’emergency’ ended up on the floor.”

“Alas, my extensive genealogical search on the internet has discovered that both of the above suggestions about the name Thayne Cozart are erroneous. I have discovered the true source of the name of your bosom buddy Thayne Cozart. It traces directly back to that 10th century Burmese king Theinhko.

“See, it’s been discovered that, during his reign, King Theinhko amassed a veritable treasure trove of rural and pastoral art which he kept in a palatial structure bearing the simple identifier ‘Theinhko’s Art.’ Thence was the name of your friend Thayne Cozart derived.”

Well, Will, I can’t confirm or deny the truth of your genealogical research on my friend Thayne. However, I do know that his lineage is a polyglot of German, Dutch, French, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and English. So, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that there could be a bit of Burmese blood in there, too. And, of course, all of Thayne’s close friends will readily acknowledge that he is creative and has a great appreciation of all things agrarian and/or western. So, your story could be true.

***

I have no idea of a good way to end up a column with the “artistic” story above in it. There’s no way to top it. So, I’ll close for this week with a few words of wisdom about art and being artistic.

The first is from the famous writer William Faulkner. He said, “The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”

The second is from another famous writer Henry Miller. He said, “The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual, the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist. The artist does not tinker with the universe, he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.”

But the words about art that I like the best because they best apply to me are those of Fran Lebowitz: “Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.”

I’m gonna go have a chocolate chip cookie. Have a good ‘un.


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