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Breakfast in the Bathtub

Breakfast in the Bathtub

The way things have been going lately, we could all use a book of smiles. Well, here it is. Poet Fred Samuels and columnist Joann Snow Duncanson have teamed up to produce "Breakfast in the Bathrub". If you’ve had enough of nasty weather, political strife and bird flu, or if you happen to be President of the United States – this book’s for you. Click for special excerpts from the book.



MEET THE AUTHORS: Upcoming book signings will be held at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth on Thursday, November 10 at 7pm, and at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on Saturday, November 19 at 2pm.

This book reminds us of the volumes we’re been reading by mid-19th century Boston humorist BP Shillaber. There’s a pinch of this and a pound of that, and then on to something else. That upbeat mix of poems, narratives and short essays used to be a popular genre. People bought Shillaber’s books, he always said, simply to smile. Making someone smile in Victorian times was apparently a worthy effort. Shillaber never advocated raucous humor, slapstick comedy or the kind of laughter that makes milk run out your nose. He liked to make people smile.

Breakfast in the BathtubPublished by Peter E. Randall of Portsmouth, Breakfast in the Bathrub mixes tales about Samuels’ growing up in Brooklyn, NY with Duncanson’s zany poem about taking Emily Dickinson to the mall. All 36 poems and 23 stories aim to make you smile.

Fred Samuels is a retired UNH Sociology professor, living in Alton, NH. Among his earlier published books are To Spade the Earth, and Intense Experience: Social Psychology Through Poetry. Joann Snow Duncanson, from Greenland, NH, is the author of Who Gets the Yellow Bananas? and is a newspaper columnist for The Peterborough Transcript. She is also known for her performances on the lives and works of Emily Dickinson and Celia Thaxter. Both writers are active in the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and are members of The Seacoast Writers Association and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.

Breakfast in the Bathrub: A Book of Smiles
By Fred Samuels and Joann Snow Duncanson
Peter E. Randall, Publisher, 2005
126 pages, 6 x 9 paperback
BUY THE BOOK at RiverRun


JoAnn Duncanson

If my kids are reading this, listen up!! I DO NOT NOW, NOR HAVE I EVER, WANTED TO BE FROZEN AFTER I DIE! For that matter, I’m not too keen on being frozen before I die either. I’m not a winter person, but I know that at least when spring comes, I can thaw out. I’m not so sure there’d be a spring in my future if I were to be relegated to the frozen section of some cryonic after-life supermarket. I don’t imagine they bring birds and flowers into those repositories once a year just to boost our spirits.

The only positive aspect I could see about being frozen, is that I possibly could get to know Ted Williams, whose family has chosen this route for him. I never understood much about the world of baseball, but I always knew a good-looking man when I saw one, and he was definitely good-looking. If the Splendid Splinter and I got iced together, perhaps he could help while away the hours by transmitting some of his vast baseball knowledge to me -- reading me some bedtime stats, reciting the names of Hall of Fame guys, or at least explaining that mystery of all mysteries -- why baseball players have to spit all the time. Sure, baseball might not be the most interesting of topics for me, but a refrigerated hereafter could last a long time, and I don’t suppose the library’s bookmobile makes stops there.

Then there’s that other matter -- they say you are frozen in these cylinders upside down. That right there is reason enough for a person to beg off from being a cryonics customer. Granted, after you’ve died, I suppose that old problem of the blood rushing to your inverted head wouldn’t be too big a factor. And speaking of heads, some folks are opting to have just that part of their body preserved. No thanks, I’d rather be in one piece, thank you. It’s the whole enchilada or nothing. Of course, if I thought they could attach my head to Britney Spears’ body someday, I might reconsider.

This whole business of cryonics is curious to most of us. I have many questions. For instance, are we fully dressed all that time? With a temperature of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, would a little polar fleece help, or since we’d be in liquid nitrogen, should we pack a wetsuit?

There seem to be two basic reasons for people to choose the cryonics route: (1) their ego is such that they feel their DNA alone will be worth something someday, or (2) they want to know what it would be like to "come back" to experience life in the far future. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone clamoring for the DNA of a woman who helps make a living by writing stuff like this! And as far as coming back is concerned -- I’ve already had plenty of blessings and challenges in this life, thank you.

The way I see it is this. Once you make up your mind that you don’t want to go the traditional route -- being lowered below the sod in one piece -- you have two choices: fire or ice. Since I’ve just ruled out the ice route, fire seems the only choice left. For women, that may be a natural solution. Now that they’ve taken away our Hormone Replacement Therapy, what better way could we go out of this world than with one final, gigantic hot flash!

Too bad, in a way. Ted Williams and I just might have hit it off.


Fred Samuels

The plump, young secretary
at the doctor’s office
calls me "Honey" when I come
for my monthly shot
of "Johnny Walker red"
(B-12 to the unhip).

I smile as an old graybeard
is expected to do, but

a part of that smile eludes her
-- for she does not know that
I still view all women
through the X-ray eyes of imagination.

Excerpted with permission of the authors from Breakfast in the Bathtub: A Book of Smiles. Copyright Fred Samuels and JoAnn Snow Duncanson. All rights reserved.

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