Sunday, March 11, 2007

There There Be Monsters

Herewith are the other monster stories I did for Stefan Bucher's Daily Monster project. I suspect none of them make sense without watching the videos, but anyway. (Please click the links to the videos; they're all perfect.)
I want writing these to be my job; how do I do that?

The flip side of this particular coin is: since this is the only thing I've written in months with anything approaching "enthusiasm", I think I need either pseudocollaboration or deadlines to jolt my brain into activity. Too bad; I could have been a contender. If anyone wants to co-author a screenplay about bat-bomb inventor Lytle Adams (#96), it looks like my slate is pretty much clean for a bit. (Your job would be to read what I've written.) (Or, wait, is that what a blog is for?)

Monster 96: (or, Three Stanza Limerick About the Offspring of a Bat and a Squid)

In the ’40s, a dentist named Lytle
Tied some bombs to some bats with a bridle.
(It was his master plan
That they’d fly to Japan
And the Second World War would go idle.)

My dad was among those recruited
(And combustible-uniform suited).
He met a squid (mother);
One thing led to another
(Her ink sac leaves details disputed).

The echolocation’s incessant
Plus, too, I’m bio-luminescent.
But from this phylogeny
I stand here: their progeny!
Ninety-six, or: “Le Monstre Quiescent”.

Monster 97: (or, You Fall Down on your Left)

The words of the casting director ringing in his ear like uncharitable tinnitus (“Need I say, with overmuch emphasis, that it is in the leg division that you are deficient?”), 97 hops to the door.

He’ll come over to your place tonight to let you know that he botched another audition.
It is true that the two of you had to bow out of participating in the three legged race at your company picnic, and you have to constantly remind him that flamingos are not making fun of him when they go unidexter at the zoo. It is true: he is no Johnny Weissmuller, but let’s be frank, you are no Maureen O’Sullivan.

And tonight you will have a dream. You are walking outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater with Monster 97, past Maureen O’Sullivan’s square, past Johnny Weissmuller’s, past the square of Dudley Moore, who, you note (as you are a fan of synergy), was in a film with Bo Derek, who was, after all, in a Tarzan movie. And you look down at your own square and then turn to 97 and ask why there is only one footprint.

“That,” 97 says, “is when I carried you.”

Maureen O’Sullivan was Ireland’s first film star. Were you? She was Woody Allen’s mother in law (kind of). Were you? No. You will wake up and look at him lying there and realize that despite everything you are in this for the long haul. “Sleep tight, 97,” you’ll say.

Tomorrow, you’ll call in sick and help him practice his audition monologue (the clergyman speech from Princess Bride), but for now you just say, “Sleep tight.”

Monster 98: (or, The Seven Year Ditch)

Elsewhere known as Rose Loomis, Lois Laurel, Lorelei Lee... in this case, she was just “The Girl,” but that didn’t make the words sting any less:

So he lured me down to his apartment,” The Girl said. “He made me sit on his piano bench. Then he made me play Chopsticks. Then, suddenly, he turned at me, his eyes bulging. He was frothing at the mouth... Just like The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The sting faded to a burn, the burn to an itch, and then the itch just hung out while the next seven years lurched by.

They say Time is the Ultimate Antihistamine, #98 thinks, but after seven years of itching, maybe it’s time to just do something about it. Tilting his head back, 98’s eyelids roll down like the weighted eyelids on a doll and he thinks, that’s what The Girl was: a doll with weighted eyelids, but he knows in his heart this is an oversimplification, just like her calling him The Creature from the Black Lagoon had been (98 had actually gone to high school with The Creature, though they ran in different crowds; didn’t he end up with Julie Adams? She’s on Lost now!!).

As he scratches his back, he hums to himself, not without a little regret:

One, two, three, steadily,
Let’s hear the melody,
This is the way that the "Chopsticks" go.

Be sure to give 'em
That regular rhythm.
Where have you gone, Ms. DiMaggio?

Monster 99: (or, Worst Twilight Zone Ever)

These days, relationships with neighbors can be quite complicated. You know, little things that get blown up out of all proportion? Such is CBS’s relationship with Serling as he touches up draft #99 on this thing Matheson turned in called “The Invaders”. He is tired now, and his head is pounding and he finds himself thinking often of the Mind Body Problem.

In “The Invaders” there is no dialogue until the last three minutes of the script. CBS thinks: not so much. They balked at the first draft: a the entirety of the text of a whole teleplay consisting of “Central Control! Come in Central Control! Incredible race of giants here! No counterattack! Stay away!” and then the camera pans down to reveal the lettering on the side of the saucer: “U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1”. It’s a total sockdolager of an ending: The invaders are us! (Or has he taken that trip to the well once too often?) Serling’s head is killing him.

So, he closes his eyes and tries to think of a new draft: Maybe the woman comes up through the trap door. Maybe the space ship separates, and tries to lift off, leaving the monster behind it, but maybe the woman has an axe and is bearing down on them. Maybe as she attacks, a distress call is heard from the tiny ship:

Head on: apply directly to the Moorehead.
Head on: apply directly to the Moorehead.
Head on: apply directly to the

Fifteen years or so later, in “The Tenant”, Roman Polanski will sum up the problem thusly: “Cut off my arm. I say, ‘Me and my arm.’ But cut off my head... would I say, ‘Me and my head’ or ‘Me and my body’?”

This is spookily close to what Serling is thinking right now, but he will never hear those words; he will have been dead a year before that movie comes out: stress, smoking, heart attacks. But in this way we can find an answer: the body will be gone, but the head will still fly around, usually in early ante meridiem but also sometimes as a marathon on the SciFi channel, especially when it’s a holiday weekend, especially then, the head is still flying around.

Monster 100: (or, Monotreme Enthusiasts and Professional Skeptics Meet at a Holiday Inn in Fresno)

The spiritual heirs of John Nevil Maskelyne would no doubt take issue with the adjective “spiritual”, but nevertheless, here they are: a group of magicians, experts, textperts, choking smokers and skeptics taking time off from their endless pursuit of rogue billet readers to meet in Conference Room A of a Holiday Inn in Fresno to puzzle out the existence of Monster 100.

The more taxonomically inclined ask, is Monster 100 a

The case for: He has hair and he just laid an egg.
The case against: Teeth.

The prevailing opinion, then, is that perhaps the egg-laying is just some clever legerdemain (“legerdederriere”?) on 100’s part. He does bear a passing resemblance to Ricky Jay, or at least something Ricky Jay would be interested in (they say
broadsheets begin to resemble their owners). Where is Ricky Jay, anyway? Shouldn’t he be here? They put the video on a loop and they determine: there is some funny business going on with that second sheet of paper. Perhaps that’s how it was done? But no one can pinpoint it exactly. Murmurs from the crowd: “Eggs are common enough magician props”; “Nothing up my sheaves”; “Regardless, man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.”

And then someone says, “The great mentalist, The Amazing Dunninger, once said there is one primary rule in the fakery of spirit mediumship” (one assumes that this extends to Magical Egg Apparition); he continues: “And that is, to concentrate upon persons who have suffered a bereavement.” The speaker looks around the room: everyone there is suffering a bereavement, for 100 is the last of the Daily Monsters. The magicians look around at each other for a moment and then shuffle sadly out of the conference room. They’re in no state to crack this one, and anyway, Martin Gardner is going to do a Power Point about the time he had a fistfight with Uri Geller and they don’t want to miss it.

As they file out, the video is still on a loop, and that Logan Hasson viola piece comes up again as the last magician is turning off the light. Listening to it, he can almost put some words to it: “I am the Eggman. They are the eggmen. I am the walrus,” but then as immediately as it starts to make sense, he has lost it again, and so he snaps the lights off at last.

Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

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