Monday, December 08, 2008

New song

Max and I wrote a new song. It's a duet!

I did the first verse and Max did the second one. I think it is the best song ever written, with the exception of "Say Say Say" which narrowly beats it because the video for "Say Say Say" features a hayride. "Video Killed the Radio Star"? YEAH UM I GUESS, DUE TO THE HAY RIDE.

anyway, here's the song

Verse 1
Oh yes, they're peas, peas, peas:
They are round and also green.
Peas, peas, peas:
They're the best that I have seen.
And if we were a monarchy, I'd feed them to our queen
Oh yes, they're peas, peas, peas:
They are round and also green!

Verse 2
No pea song, Dad.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Once every 209 posts or so, we like to point out something that makes us think of something else, like that Lawrence Weschler "Convergences" thing in McSwy's, only here you're reading it on a blog instead of in a published lit quarterly, so you're less likely to say I do this every seven minutes of my life and usually with more nuance; why am I still reading this?

ok so anyway:

1963 photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt of Parisian kids watching a retelling of "Saint George and the Dragon" VIA THE MAGIC OF PUPPETRY:
Children with various range of expressions watching story of St. George and the dragon at the puppet theater in the Tuileries.

Girls watching American Idol:

My awareness of this video via Videogum.
My awareness of that photo via an issue of Life magazine I purchased at some point in high school because there was also a picture of Marilyn Monroe in it.

(Recall: I said I was in high school.)
(Also: Google is scanning all these old images from Life and it's kind of amazing.

I had to look this up, because I am so superior, but apparently the finalists of Am.Idol were both named David, which is why there is still anticipation after the guy says "David".

Watch me get all Weschlery:
St. George is David Cook and the dragon is David Archuleta and GUESS WHO THE PUPPETS ARE.
McSweeney's Book Deal, Please

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by mrbikferd

Ha ha, suck it, 15-year-old kid from Salt Lake City.

Sort of funny if you know some of the history: there are actually two keys in this room as well, but the photo didn't pick them up, because the "magic" is too strong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Original Ending to Little Shop of Horrors

I knew the play ended like this, due to I took a lot of theater classes in high school..?

..aaand I read a long time ago (I think in People(!)) that they had shot this original/alternate ending, but I was never sure exactly how seriously to take that information, since it seemed more like an homage to the fact that The Birds also had an original/alternate ending that featured the eponymous menace taking over an iconic bridge that was planned but scrapped (giving us the current ending to The Birds which is maybe more unsettling because it just ends for no particular reason) (I read someone describe it as a very "European" ending, which was a nice way of telling Europe that its movies could use a little more, how do you say, montage musical au "Je Sens Le Good"..?).

But now, just when I had stopped saying, "holyshitholyshitholyshit" the original ending to Little Shop of Horrors is up on YouTube (for you to watch on your big, enormous, 12-inch screen):

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Mark well: there are diminishing returns here: the first part explodes my brain it is so sad (Ellen Greene in this movie is the only reason I sat through Pushing Daisies four episodes longer than I wanted to) (but I got past all that), the second part is less volatile, my-brain-wise, but still kind of headshakingly sad and the third part is mostly that song that sucked so much on the soundtrack (yes, I had the soundtrack); but wow.

I say:
Rick Moranis gets a Get Out of Jail (/Canada) Free Card.
Whatever movie you want, Moranis, it's yours. Even if it's a four-hour film about you and your pet goat wandering the country and calling it like it is.
Actually, that sounds kind of awesome.

Dan Aykroyd, jury's still out.

Think of the children

I hate it when they fight like this. It's like I'm reliving the divorce my parents never had.

You guys: I'm too old to sublimate all of my anxiety into the first Star Wars trilogy (that's what children of broken homes did in the 70s, right?).

Please, you two, you have to find some way to make this work (for the sake of the kids).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

some guy at work just said this TOTALLY SNARKILY

"It makes it difficult to parse into objects off the schema, doesn't it?"

He said it really sarcastically.

Man, I wish I could pull something like that off.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Curious if the more eyebrow-raising suggestions are a googlebomb for the autofill feature, or if, as was my immediate first impression, the entire internet is like a phonebooth stuffed with late '50s teenagers, only instead of late '50s teenagers it has idiots..?

Also curious how one determines that.
By the way, you're welcome for that metaphor. Free of charge.

I think the fact that typing "barack hussein..." also brings the same autofill suggestions might hold the answer.
all over soon, all over soon, all over soon, all over soon, all over soon, all over soon

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I’ve been trying all morning to come up with a Word field that calculates the current week of the year (e.g., today we’re somewhere in the middle of week 44) (I think..? I will know for sure when I figure out the field code). In trying to puzzle this out, I came across lots of date calculation information for everything except what I want (Convert a Julian Day Number to a Gregorian Calendar Date? YES, PLEASE; THAT JUST CAME UP LAST WEEK).

But in particular, I want to acknowledge the, let’s call it, goofy-yet-clearly-bordering-on-OCD-amiability of Paul Edstein who has a downloadable date calculation tutorial that has just got to have the answer in there somewhere if I can crack it (it’s 16 pages without the field codes displayed; 31 pages with). I don’t know who this guy is, but I think I kind of picture him like Frank Gorshin?

In anticipation of my figuring this out, I would like to thank Paul Edstein by giving him a field code that I have devised on my own, so HEY PAIL EDSTEIN: HERE IS HOW YOU CAN USE THE EQUATION EDITOR TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU’RE RAISING ONE EYEBROW:

Just one possible use for this code:
You see your name show up in a blog where the writer thinks you look like Frank Gorshin.

Speaking of Frank Gorshin: Top 10 Riddler Riddles (youtube)!
Check out the big brain on Robin. He’s totally good at these!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How David Rees and John Hodgman Saved My Life: A TRUE STORY

I went to see David Rees and John Hodgman last night at Second City ETC, but got a late start getting out of the house (right before I was going to leave, my 19-month-old fell out of a chair and bit his lip so hard (on both sides!), we were debating whether he needed to go to the emergency room; but also: I am poky) and by the time I got there, they were already over capacity, and I had to get back in my car, pay the parking fee ($10(!)) and drive back home.

TOO BAD: These are some of my favorite Brooklynites.

I have been a fan of JH since the apparently on permanent hiatus Little Gray Book Lectures days* and I am surely the only non-David-Rees-relative to have actually ordered a hard copy of My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable In: “Horse Races(horse racing as retroactive metaphor for Credit Default Swaps? SIGNS POINT TO MAYBE).

BUT: let’s look at what could have happened had I made it there in time.

(1) I would have enjoyed something life has to offer

(1) I probably would have spent money on books (spending money on books is not in the budget at present)

(2) I would have enjoyed myself so much that I would have gone downstairs to the Starbucks in the Piper’s Alley lobby and had a latte and reflect upon the events of the evening (also not in the budget, both the coffee and the reflecting)

(3) Having enjoyed that latte and the concurrent reflection period, I might have hidden behind a sofa when it was time to close the Starbucks (note that getting to spend the night alone in a coffee shop has recently edged out getting to spend the night alone in a bookstore in my brain-hierarchy of fantasies for lonely people) (also note that this Starbucks is 24 hours, but my fantasy life is stronger than my real life).

(4) Being in that Starbucks after hours I likely would have been HIT BY THIS CAB

What have we learned from this?

(1) If you are falling out of a chair, do not bite your lip.

(1b) Not specific to this, but related in my mind: If you are punching someone, do not tuck your thumb inside your fingers; I learned on, I’m almost positive, Laverne and Shirley (although why (1) a character on that show had to punch someone and (2) a writer for the show thought this was useful information to include, w/r/t punching, I have no idea) that you will break your thumb if you do this.

(2) When you see a sign at a Starbucks that says “Drive Through Window”, before you take action, you should ask yourself: “Is that meant to be imperative or declarative?”

(3) Either John Hodgman or David Rees (or both) were Pavlovianly conditioned by Dr. Laszlo Jamf to host book readings immediately prior to taxi accidents.

(4) Disappointment in Chicago will run you ten dollars.

N.B. Their books, which I have not read due to budgetary restraints, are available here and here.

* Witness this Screenshot of Evidence (tip of the hat to Outlook pst files):

By the way, for what it's worth you can still type in the URL that this email was originally about (I cropped it out by accident, but trust me) and listen to mp3s of Selections of Little Gray Book Lectures, though they're not accessible from the main page.

Note also the reference in this email to a mispost of an mp3 file, a precursor to the current misposting of embedded video, for all you fans of leitmotif.

You’re out there, right? Fans of Leitmotif?
If so, welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Special Financial Collapse Edition

Perhaps you are aware that AIG spent $440,000 on a week-long retreat for its brokers less than a week after receiving an $85 billion government bailout. And perhaps you are aware of the specific amounts that went to spa treatments ($23,380), golf ($6,939), room service ($9,980) and things like that.

But what I found interesting — and what no one is talking about, as far as I can see — are the Pay Per View purchases of what we’ll call “grown up movies” that are listed in the bill.

Below, courtesy of is page 2 from the AIG St. Regis hotel receipt.

It’s been a few years since I had Cinemax, so I’m not positive, but I’m reasonably sure that’s the porn version of the Ayn Rand Book?

Can someone confirm?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by mrbikferd

(I love how this picture of Max turned out so I am posting it on my personal weblog, or "blog", for people to see.)

Best kaijū ever!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I don't feel like I have to explain to you why I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Doodles Weaver

but I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Doodles Weaver and this struck me:
Appearing on The Colgate Comedy Hour, Weaver did an Ajax cleanser commercial with a pig, and the audience reaction prompted the network to give him his own series.

I emailed my co-worker and said, "I wish television still worked like this!" and he wrote back and said, "No, now we only use that method to select our Vice Presidential candidates."


note: I am remaining flexible and trying not to be too derogatory, but I am still allowed to post Zings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Instead of typing all of that, I should have just typed:

1. Remain flexible
2. Don't be too derogatory

benefit of the doubt

Chip's post about a DFW signing reminded me of something I did that was stupid w/r/t book signings. (CHIP: THANKS FOR REMINDING ME I AM STUPID)

I went to a Dave Eggers book signing a while back when Dave Eggers lived near me (and when Dave Eggers lived near Chip, for that matter; now none of us live there in that place, not one): right after AHWOSG came out.

I was in a line to get my copy of the book signed, and the further I moved up the line, the stupider I felt, because he was (/is) sort of like my age, and I felt at the time that if I had written so personal a book, I would feel weird that people wanted me to sign it? And I kept moving up the line and feeling increasingly awkward, like in Zeno's paradox about the arrow never reaching its target because it keeps getting stupider?

And then there was just one person in front of me and that person went to get her book signed, but her book was not AHWOSG; it was Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus.

Which I think her strategy was: He will see I am whimsical yet deep and therefore sleep with me.

And he signed her copy of Myth of Sisyphus without commenting on it, and then it was my turn, and whim took over (or maybe antiwhim, as I was trying to cancel out the previously established whim), and when Eggers looked up at me, instead of just telling him my name, I instead asked Eggers to forge Camus' signature on my copy of AHWOSG (since the only signed DFW book I have is Everything and More, I'll just add that what I was going for is f–1(f(x)) = x where x = attempted whimsy). And Eggers (again, without any comment) wrote:

Oh the horror.
~ Albert Camus

..and I thought, "That's not Camus, that's Conrad," and I walked away feeling stupider and stupider.

But: To my knowledge, he did not sleep with the whimsical and deep girl!

Because after this signing, we all got on a bus and went to see a gallery in lower Manhattan that was displaying paintings by elephants. Because, and this almost doesn't seem like it could have actually happened, apparently during this period in Thailand's history, all of the elephants were being captured and loaded up on methamphetamine and put to work in the circus or as black market laborers. And so these two Russian expats, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, were rescuing the elephants and having them paint things (like literally they held the paint brushes with their trunks) and then they (the Russians) were selling the paintings and then the money from the sale would go to house and feed the elephants. Which, that plan doesn't seem scalable, but it really was a real thing (unless it's not) -- there were actual paintings in the gallery; there were peanut shells littering the floor. And I did not see that girl there.

And anyway: now it's seven years later and I just did a Google book search; this is from The Plague:
Among the heaps of corpses, the clanging bells of ambulances, the warnings of what goes by the name of fate, among unremitting waves of fear and agonized revolt, the horror that such things could be, always a great voice had been ringing in the ears of these forlorn panicked people, a voice calling them back to the land of their desire, a homeland.

At the elephant painting exhibition, Eggers was taking questions ("How long does it take an elephant to paint something?" "Is this real?" "Really?" "Really is it real, though?") and someone asked how many paintings an elephant could do in one day if it was still on Elephant Meth.

This is funny! But also cynical! (RECALL: This was about eight months before we were attacked, and everyone in New York was nice to everyone else for a while.) Eggers said, "I'm not going to answer that."

I don't know the context of that Camus passage, but here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to give Eggers the benefit of the doubt.

In fact, I'm going to try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even though (it is said) we ultimately have no control and even though (to paraphrase) everything in life entropies toward irrationality; Zadie Smith said recently on DFW (and let's just state it outright: the only reason I'm thinking about any of this (= cynism vs. sincerity) at all and not just spending my day reading, like, Gawker is because of DFW) Zadie Smith summarized at least one aspect of his aesthetic thusly: If we must say something, let's at least only say true things.

I am agreeing for the foreseeable future. Let's see how long it lasts.

the horror
Dave Eggers forges Albert Camus' signature because why not?
Originally uploaded by mrbikferd

(though now that I think about it maybe I shouldn't start this plan until
after November 4.)

Update, 9/24: Roger Ebert on board with giving people the benefit of the doubt. Alex Balk has the money quote.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I always imagined that when the end days came I would be taken by surprise, but I guess not

World's Most Powerful Magnet Under Construction

Something of a buzzkill on paragraph 3: "it won't even be the world's most powerful magnet."

but I still think the question has to be asked:
What if the World's Most Powerful Magnet somehow crashed into the Large Hadron Collider and Jesus appears?

I'll bet he'd be pissed!
(And forgiving.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Liveblogging the RNC

9:23: if I didn't have to pick my sister up at the airport, I would be getting so wasted right now.

9:31: OK! Have to head out to pick her up. Someone tell me what happened.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I've been watching The Wire

on DVD, and although I'm about to start Season 4, I spent all of Season 3 failing to get over the events that befell the Frank Sobotka character in Season 2.

Spoiler Alert: things don't turn out so well for good old Frank Sobotka in Season 2.

And like I was sort of haunted by it (it also doesn't help that my 1.5 year old hasn't had his hair cut yet and so his hair is long and wispy and when he's been running around all day and has gotten all sweaty, he resembles Frank Sobotka more than he resembles anyone in his nuclear family)?

And it was almost to the point where I was going to write a letter to the actor, saying: "Look, I know you are an actor, and you are not actually Frank Sobotka, but I don't know who else to address this to" even as I am aware that Larry Linville used to get letters all the time addressed to Frank Burns telling him what an asshole he had been to Hawkeye. And even as I am aware of the uneasiness I felt with the mail lady at my first job when she would stop at my desk to talk about the previous night's The X Files and she would use "David Duchovny" and "Fox Mulder" interchangeably, and sometimes discus Mulder's wife, Tea Leoni or wondered if Duchovny and Agent Scully would ever get together and the porousness of certain borders was made evident.

But I fixed it!
And if you are suffering from something similar, here is how you can fix it too:
(1) Look up the actor who played Frank Sobotka (Chris Bauer)
(2) Go to his IMDB page
(3) Look at the pictures that accompany his profile
(4) Note that in the pictures Chris Bauer is tan, has a shaved head, and is wearing an unbutton shirt+suit combo.
(5) Done. If you never look at a picture of Bauer portraying Frank Sobotka again, you will be cured of empathy.

Which, who needs it?

It is probable that the Secretary Treasurer for the International Brotherhood of Stevedores in Baltimore does not require a running-mate, but if it did, then just as Obama chose Biden to fill in the [perceived] foreign policy gap and McCain chose Palin to fill in the creationist / not-a-man/ drilling-in-Alaska gap, Sobotka could do worse than picking Bauer whose IMDB profile pictures imply a chance to fill the LA douchebag gap.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Malo malo malo malo

Hot on the heels of the "Buffalo" post (i.e., hot on the heels when you consider how long ago the dinosaurs lived), comes, "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher."

I plan to diagram this sentence shortly, but I need to go to my parents' house to get my spriograph out of the attic.

hi, my name is patrick and i read wikipedia and then i tell people about things i read do you want to be my friend

perfectly good white boy

Doree Shafrir had a post about the 80s canon and “Better Off Dead” in particular, and I was thinking about the guy who wrote/directed that movie (as well as other end-of-the-cold-war-Cusack vehicle “One Crazy Summer”): “Savage” Steve Holland.

And Also: how I was recently watching some Nick or Disney (Nick, I think) show for tweens with my nephews, and at the end I was surprised that it was directed by “S”SH, and then not surprised? Because what are all of those shows but those two movies with slightly more self-consciously sitcommy acting?

And so I went on this interesting site called and looked him up, and do you know what “S”SH did, in addition to making the two greatest films of the 1980s (and yes, I’m including “Three Men and a Baby” in this assessment)?

This is what he did:

And yet I don’t see his name on the list of medal winners on the Congressional Medal of Honor page.
WTF, past Presidents in the name of Congress?

I can’t find his date of birth, but once I do, I think the least we should do is wear our collars up on that day.

And peg our jeans?

And peg our jeans.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Most alarming headline you will read today

No. It is not the one about the woman who upset people by cloning her pit bull ("Booger") five times and was subsequently shown to be linked to an abduction case involving a Mormon missionary in England, whom she handcuffed to a bed with mink-lined handcuffs and made her sex slave, and has now also been alleged (the woman has) to have instructed a 15-year-old boy to break into a house in Tennessee to steal some money the woman needed to buy a false leg for a beloved horse.

It is not that. Because the headline does not exist that could convey all of that. (Although we are happy to see that the Ghost of Michael O'Donoghue Now Working as a Copywriter is still working his magic.)*

The most alarming headline you will read today is:

Ernest Borgnine: "I Masturbate A Lot" (VIDEO).
(via, indirectly)

(It's that parenthetical that gets you.)

* Where is fakeghostofmichaelodonoghuenowworkingasacopywriter's tumblr, by the way? I'm way too busy setting up fakehenrydarger's tumblr to do this.

Sample posts:
> Just made some toast. Also, I think girls have tiny little penises.

> Been enjoying the Olympics. Interesting how you can barely see the tiny penises on some of the girl gymnasts.

> I've been thinking that I will change the name of my story to "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion" from "The Story of the Vivian Girls, Who All Have Tiny Penises" because that would go without saying! Am I right, people?

..Sooo, someone else take charge here?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I was poking around the McSweeney's archives, which I find myself holding off reading and then reading a lot of it at once, as if it were a neglected article of clothing that eventually guilts me into wearing it (looking at you, hypercolor socks), and this thing by Dave Ng, None of My Science Piñatas Are Appropriate for Children, reminded me of a better version of something I had typed a long time ago (9/25/06): the first paragraph of Early Draft of Text Automatically Attached to the End of Outgoing Emails from Horizon Securities Ltd. (which itself was politely declined for publication by McSweeney's, around 2005 or thereabouts, if I'm remembering correctly) (at the time it was easy to pretend that they were afraid they wouldn't be able to render a tilde on their website; now I think I will pretend that they will be afraid that the site is becoming too piñata-y) (it's ok McSweeney's; I bear you no rancor).

Anyway, 9/25/06 = made me want to go back and see when the first post was and it was this: July 26, 2006. That means this blog's second birthday was a week and a half ago! If you forgot to send a birthday presents to the blog, c/o me, here is a fact: Since I work remotely part time, I am at a weird place in my wardrobe-cycle where I actually need more crummy T-shirts to wear around the house.

THUS: Here is the short list of T-shirts I need for my blog to have a good birthday:

OK, I think that's it.


Friday, August 01, 2008

As everyone already knows

One Person Trend Stories are this summer's Lonelygirl15 (advice to Lonelygirl15 people if that's still going on: turn it into a tumblr and people will pay attention again).

But what everyone doesn't know is what my favorite part of each one is.
As a public service announcement: This is my favorite part of each one.

When it comes, I always smile, and when it's not there, I feel weird all day.

It's like that homeless guy on La Salle that asks for non-McDonalds food and then regardless of the reply says "God bless you." When he wasn't there on Tuesday, everything got thrown off for me psychically. Thank God he was back on Wednesday.

No one buy that guy a home!
It will mess me up.

Origin of the word "Ravenous"

(Source: OED)

There used to be a time when people walked around going, “Man, that guy’s as hungry as a raven,” or “Today, I am so hungry, I could eat as much as a raven could,” and then finally someone said, “You know what? We’re wasting all this time using this really labored metaphor. Let’s just start saying, I’m ravenous.”
SO: hats off to that guy.

(Or gal.)

(also: this is not really the source of the word "ravenous")
(this just seemed funny at 2am)

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Portrait of Woman Revealed Beneath Van Gogh Painting (via)

Reminded me of This:


..from April, which is the last thing that appeared on this blog that I've been even remotely pleased with. (April!)

but please feel free to reënjoy (NYer diaeresis stizzz).

When you're tryin' to diphthong
And you're umlaut's soundin wrong
Diaeresis (cha cha cha)
Diaeresis (cha cha cha)

OK, update: I'm pleased with the way this Diaeresis song is turning out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Muggle, Please

I am suspending my earlier Proposed Postulate for Rule of the Internet w/r/t Choire Sicha, because that's not Ian McKellen!!!

Waait, unless that's part of the joke..?
Arrgh, Choire Sicha, you are always one step ahead of the Internet!

Um, so, that was actually so I could say this:
The trailer for HPatHBP is up, with Hero Fiennes-Tiffin (nephew of Stage Uncle Ralph Fiennes) as young Voldemort. The last movie was ungood, but this was the best book in the series (too bad it was followed by How Wizards Go Camping), so I will likely eventually see it? Some day?

BUT: based on the preview I am prepared to set up a PayPal account so we can get enough money together to have Hero Fiennes-Tiffin act out all of the Jake Lloyd scenes from Phantom Menace, to be digitally reinserted later.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When I'm Driving and I See a Company Name Stenciled on the Back of a Truck, My Brain, Which is 12, Tends to Go for the More Ribald Interpretation

Today's Example:
"Johnson Controls"

Tune in next week when hopefully we will see a truck for Cummins Onan.
Wish us luck!


Here you can see how much I have invested emotionally in

The Ravishing of Lol Stein THE RAVISHING OF LOL STEIN
Marguerite Duras

Pretty good, I guess, but not quite as good as The Ravishing of ROTFLMAO Stein.

View all my reviews.*

* or, you know, don't

Mad Men Beyond Thunderdome

I don't know if this is any different elsewhere (with TimeWarner, e.g.; I can't believe I miss TimeWarner, but I miss TimeWarner), but I have [to have] Comcast — I watched each episode of this show last season the day after it aired via OnDemand in HD with no commercials.

This season, the HD isn't an option for OnDemand (which, I guess I don't really care about), and there was a commercial — a big one [..] for Viagra, right in the middle of the episode.

I know they're basically making this show for me for free, but:

(1) to see a commercial for something that would benefit the main character in this regard is gross; and
(and this is the Main Idea)


So hey, AMC:

Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.

What did you bring me, Daddy?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Let Your Conscience Be Denied

I miss Brooklyn when things like this happen (also when I read Knufflebunny to my kids); not living there, I don't feel qualified to comment on it anymore (actually I think there’s a rule that once Choire Sicha has commented on it no one else should bother?) (wait, did I just miss the whole point?).

Except to say:
The article could have used a second "Yeah, we know." right after "And so Jessica Roy will depart for a semester abroad in Paris in September. "

but also:
The whole thing reminds me of 2005 when Neil Pollack (I'm relatively sure I'm qualified to quote Neil Pollack) was responding to a essay about the Boys of McSweeney's:

It's hard to deny that the twee, detached men Calhoun describes in the piece existed. They certainly did, and such men still exist today. They're called Men In Their 20s.

and also that when I read that in 2005:

I was reminded of the great great great Delmore Schwartz short story, "The World is a Wedding", published in 1948 (1948!), inspired by Schwartz's being simultaneously daunted and unimpressed by Paul Goodman's insular Clique of Literary Intellectuals. (Now that was a blog post.)
And also a lesson for everyone? Because who knows who the hell Paul Goodman is any more? (except Keith Gessen who has a tattoo of Paul Goodman's name crossed out with his name right below it).

But 1948 = Makes me think going forward that when we read something like this, until we’re proven otherwise, we should just assume that the author is writing genre fiction?

That's my advice!

Take it with a grain of salt, though. I live in Chicago, so I may not be understanding everything.
Do you need to borrow a grain of salt? We have a lot of salt here because it snows for seven months of the year

OK, so hey wait, I thought of another reason I miss Brooklyn.

Update, 7.21.08, Above Proposed Postulate for Rule of the Internet w/r/t Choire Weighing in on Something: VERIFIED.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guess which word made me raise my eyebrows

in this forum called Dinosaurs & man contemporary with each other:

>>The only thing I wonder about is if the
>>flood killed them, how did Job know about them.

Noah brought them on the Ark with him. He was to bring every kind of animal with him on the Ark, so that would mean the dino's as well. Logically, we can assume that he would have taken the young because they eat less and are smaller.

Let's start here, and then we'll work our way up:
Logically, you shouldn't pluralize with an apostrophe S.

Work in progress

I have a really awesome idea for a song called The Graveyard Shift Blues.

It starts off like this:

I woke up... this evening...

something something
obviously it writes itself at this point

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Obey Your Thirst

Originally uploaded by mrbikferd
This may look gross to you, but I say:
At least it's better than Jooky.


(I think that's how you spell that.)

In what is being hailed as a huge victory for things that I like but whose apparent inability to break out to a broader audience has always puzzled me over theoppositeofwhatIjusttyped, Scott Prendergast, who did The Delicious, which was in ("on"?) ("comprised by"?) the first issue of Wholphin and which is viewable here on his website, along with several other films (including Anna Is Being Stalked, which might be my favorite, and Saragossa, which I just watched for the first time and is a filmic riff on this book Michael Atkinson loves (I'm just going to link to a bunch of early McSweeney's offshoots in this post, OK, thanks)) has a new film coming out called Kabluey. It also stars Lisa Kudrow (you guys! she was on that show Friends!)

America's Radio Sweetheart Jesse Thorn interviews him here, where Thorn talks about his mother's laminating habit and Prendergast talks about improv and repainting his apartment and Lauren Graham never needing to smile.

Also, fun fact: it turns out it is spelled "Prendergast".

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Crisis in Infinite Riverdales

(I don’t know how much background is necessary for me to explain why something I saw on the Internet is funny to me, so feel free to skip the first 1,010 words of this.)

And but so I think this is common knowledge, but: if you’re a fellow of a certain age, then when you were a kid there was understood to be a Line in the Sand (Colonel Travis stizz)1 separating DC Comics and Marvel Comics. I stood on what is generally considered to be the Correct Side of the Line, unless you are Completely Retarded. So did, I believe, Jonathan Lethem2, but por el otro mano as good as Michael Chabon can be sometimes, I believe he made the wrong choice and I will never be able to get fully behind him: I believe him to be a DC Man. (I think it’s all that talk of capes; capes are sooo DC.)

The reason this was the right choice circa 1978 is because the Marvel take on a “superhero” as a dysfunctional person whose superpower is an amplified distillation of some imperfect human trait was totally appealing to someone who was, say, waaay into dragons (and/or dungeons? yes.), while DC’s überhuman angle was totally remote and alien and repellant [to that person]. But on top of that, during this period, DC had no idea what it was doing3 (this page comprises like, 95% DC comics: this is what I think of when I think of DC).

So: This thing in The Lede4 was pointed out to me a few months ago: it turns out Largely Pointless to Me DC Character The Flash had died! But actually not really!5 And I said in my head: DC Comics! You are maddening! For: in my head, the whole endless alternate universes / infinite parallel earths / lazy retcon thing where multiple storylines branch off for multiple versions of the same character was totally a DC thing. So in order for my head to prove my head right (doing this is 93% of my day) I googled it and my head was wrong. Wrong in italics.

Marvel is actually much, much worse than DC. Wikipedia lists 61 Universes for DC, while Marvel clocks in at a frankly headsnapping 340 (not including “pocket universes” which I don’t want to know about), one of which is Jack Kirby’s inane Dinosaur World, and another of which is actually the DC Universe, so let’s round that up to an even 400 (Source: Start Menu>All Programs>Applications>Calculator).

I don’t think this can totally be chalked up to: “Marvel has more fanboys”; I think some of that has to be chalked up to: “Everything is Ridiculous”. What the hell happened?
This piece in The High Hat has a good summary of what the hell happened (and includes The Flash as an example, bringing this all full circle) (for fans of bringing things full circle, this is for you) (but hey also Said Fans, also check out the Warlock chapter in Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics referenced below in Footnote 3: Holy crap are things ever brought full circle there oh my god it’s TOTALLY NUTS) and does it more succinctly than I could, so you are encouraged to click.

But anyway, perhaps you are now thinking: isn’t this whole thing crying out for some sort of obsessive fanboy unintentional metaparody? OK, so: All of that was so I could say this:

Hey look at this funny thing I saw on the Internet:
A List of Alternate Universes in Archie Comics.

OK, thanks!

1 I just spent a week in Texas! Carl’s Corner is not looking too great. I wanted to get to West to buy kolaches, so I did not even check to see if they were still selling BioWillie. CARL’S CORNER WE ARE ROOTING FOR YOU.

2 (his story about the kid that dressed up as Avengers team member The Vision = breaks my heart because: The Vision!?; Lethem’s superheroes generally seem to be the second tier ones and generally fail)

3 But maybe it never knew what it was doing? This goofy cover from Showcase #4 depicting The Flash breaking out of a filmstrip was correctly deconstructed in Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics:
The cover’s text and art reveal fumbling confusion over what exactly it is advertising. Is this comic a showcase for art, as in a museum? A series of frozen representations of something so unreal that a body moving at high speed leaves parallel lines of ink behind it? A movie that isn’t really a movie, made out of individual images that the eye can see in or out of sequence at the same time?

Fun trivia fact: I have a copy of Reading Comics because I won it for writing this story, which is only 100 words more than this post. It needed a better editor! (the book, not this post) But it is still pretty good! And it fills in a lot of gaps for people like me who haven’t been paying attention. Especially the chapter on “Warlock”: it is kind of mind blowing. If I ever hold a contest on this blog and you win the contest, I will totally send this book to you.

4 “An Unexpected Comic Book Resurrection”? In what “multiverse” was it unexpected? OBVIOUSLY he was going to be resurrected: he’s a dude.

For what it’s worth, the reason I was thinking about all of this again months after I saw the Lede piece was this Twitter post (sorry, “tweet”?) from Defective Yeti:
Tonight I’m going to have to add “Read entire history of Green Lantern on Wikipedia” to my to-do list just so I can cross something off. I TOTALLY GET THAT, except for the part where it’s Green Lantern. (I was still sad when Martin Nodell died! I’m not made of stone.)

ME: Your insignia is a rotated theta.
GL: I’ve rotated a few thetas in my day, if you know what I mean.
ME: Do you mean you went Insert>Picture>Word Art>Symbol Font>“Q”; Rotate 90°?
GL: ……yes.


Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station......Barry Allen

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This might not make 100% sense

in terms of narrative structure or whathaveyou, but could we just swap out all the appearances of IRL Fred Willard in Wall-E with all the appearance of the CGI prarie dogs in the new Indiana Jones?

It will make everyone less uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I Use Google Chat to Supply Content For My Seldom-Updated Blog, Which Is Probably Bad Form

recbee: Hey Shearn: have a good death match tomorrow
moonlightambulette: Oy! Jeezus. Thanks. I'm a skeered.
recbee: here's a tip when facing a literary adversary: try to picture them without their eyewear
moonlightambulette: Ew! They all just look like moles that way.
recbee: They all look like Avogadro's number?? What are you talking about? Is this explained in your book?
moonlightambulette: Yes, it is explained in the book. But only in the hardcover edition. and only if bought new. and in bulk.
recbee: That is a good strategy. If I ever write a book; I'm going to do the hardcover in invisible "Yes/Know" ink and only include the decoding pen in the softcover.
moonlightambulette: Hey. You might be on to something there...
recbee: And then the audio book could detail how to make an antidote for the carcinogens that you absorbed using the first two books. I ACTUALLY MAY BE ONTO SOMETHING
moonlightambulette: HOLY SHIT YOU'RE GOING TO BE RICH
moonlightambulette: FUCKING FUCK. I'M OUT OF HERE

The proprietrix of Moonlight Ambulette, whom I have just demonstrated swears like a stevedore (and who broke up my writing group with her terrifying insouciance), has a book coming out.* The word on the street is that this book is terrific and also that the title of the book was once shouted by a sleeping Dave Eggers. This is a coincidence!

People of Earth: It would be nice of you to buy this book.
And New Yorkers specifically: You can see her tonight (Wednesday the 25th) at Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match where, based on the above exchange, she may or may not be LASIKing people with her mind.
Other People With Whom I Have Engaged in Google Chat: I will probably not betray you like this, assuming you have not broken up a writing group I was in.

* as do other people from my old writing group; for real, if you want a book published, join a writing group with me. Not all of my stories will be about eleven year olds in suburban Texas where pseudomagicrealist things happen! Not all of them fall under the category "Like David Mitchell If David Mitchell Had Zero Intellectual Rigor"!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

lycopersicum? I don't even know him

I got a sandwich for lunch today, which sandwich was allotted zero tomatoes, and in this way I found out about the TOMATO RECALL, which recall includes red Roma, plum and red round tomatoes (before you ask: Mortgage Lifters: still on the White List).

As a public service, here are some FAQs from the FDA site.

Am I safe if cook them?
The FDA does not recommend this.

If I wash the tomatoes, are they safe?
No. The salmonella might be inside the tomato, so washing won’t help.

What if I wash the inside with a darning needle and a loofah?
No. That's just— no.

Soak it in Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic Mouthwash and then microwave the holy snot out of it?
Look, just don't eat them.

Should we head to the cellar?
That's not — That's tornados. That's a different —

What if I eat "cleared" tomatoes, say an SSE Brandywine, but I do it with my friends, Sam and Ella?
You're trying to make some kind of "Sam and Ella" / "Salmonella" joke, but it's not working, either as a joke, or as — OK, obviously, that would be OK. But if you have any questions about a tomato, then —

Did you know "tomato" translates to "Apple of Love" and that's why Puritans won't eat them?
Yes. No. You are getting this wrong. The legend says "Pomme de Maure" was misheard as "Pomme d'amour" but this is likely just a fabrication, so..

So if Puritans are immune to Salmonella, why are they all dead?
Is there anyone else who has any questions?

We want to know what killed the Puritans!
Many modern Presbyterian denominations are related to the Puritans. Questions about tomatoes only please.

If John Winthrop were here, would he think tomatoes are fruits or vegetables?
They're taxonomically fruits — technically berries — but "vegetable" is actually a culinary term, not a botanical one, so both are correct.

But Winthrop —
Winthrop would likely quote 1 Corinthians 15:37. Last question. About tomatoes.

Do you want to hear my parody of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" where I sing from the points of view of John Winthrop and Anne Hutchinson?

I say "Bible Study Leader"; you say "Salome", an'
I say "Covenant by Grace"; you say "Antinomian"

"Bible Study Leader!"
"Salome!" an'

"Covenant by Grace!"

Let's call the —


in conclusion, Puritans suck

I don't have any immediate thoughts

on Kottke's post about survival tips for if (when..?) one is unexpectedly transported to a random location in Europe during the Middle Ages (other than I agree with the one guy about Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke = helped me understand my burgeoning sexual feelings) (toward hawks), but the whole sort of stupid thought experiment reminded me that about six months ago, we were walking down the street, and Meg asked what I was thinking about, and I said, "Nothing," and she said, "What? Tell me," and I didn't want to say anything, but she finally got me to admit that I was daydreaming that Benjamin Franklin had traveled forward in time to 2007 and it was up to me to explain modern technology to him.

Franklin'd be all, "Have you seen this thing? It's called a Roomba."

Monday, June 09, 2008

I saw this headline in the Times gadget thing on iGoogle

And I totally thought it was about Clinton's concession speech.

It is not that I didn't think it was exceedingly weird, but I still thought that's what they were going for.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Holy Cow

Down 8-0 in the fourth inning and still trailing 9-1 in the sixth, the Cubs came back to beat Colorado 10-9.

I am bad at / have no interest in any kind of sport whatsoever (except zorbing) but that's pretty crazy.

Even as I type this, Mayor Daley is taking the Red Line over to Wrigley Field to affix the Brass Erection to the Harry Caray statue oustide the stadium.

(as is tradition)

By the way, w/r/t the title, don't email me and tell me that's a Phil Rizzuto line. Rizzuto stole the catchphrase, "Holy Cow" from Caray.
But as Caray said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Baseball People steal catchphrases from each other = the joke I was going for there, I guess.

Hey! We all know that the moon is not made of green cheese. But what if it were made of barbeque spare ribs, would you eat it then?
I know I would. Heck! I'd have seconds and then polish it off with a tall cool Budweiser.
I would do it. Would you?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Louis Armstrong: Closet Scrapbooker

I like these collages that Louis Armstrong did to decorate his reel-to-reel boxes.

Or, I guess, I like the story that he did it, plus the four sample collages out of one-thousand that are shown on the Paris Review site. If you want to see more, you have to click a link and the link takes you to a place to buy the magazine.

Tricky! But surely there are not 996 Louis Armstrong collages in the Spring 2008 Paris Review.

Paris Review, you are trying to grift us! We're not going to buy your magazine, unless the other 996 collages are in it, and also if there is a picture of a Miley Cyrus wrapped up in a sheet. As you may recall, buying a magazine is the only way to see that.

I will also accept George Plimpton wrapped in a bedsheet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

is this real? I hope this is real

Just saw this in the comments for a post in The L Magazine about their Fourth Annual Literary Upstart Competition:

I have a good one: parody of "Hills Like White Elephants", the girl is the chick from Juno and the guy is that masturbating kid from Squid and the Whale.

(not 100% but I think the commentor is Alice Munro.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Drive Friendly

I had never seen this anti-crack PSA featuring Van Silk & Melle Mel because I am from suburban Texas where we had neither crack nor rap.

But that is not to say that suburban Texas is without problems (you may be surprised to learn), and in fact we did have indiginous problems + our own musicians fighting those problems: Witness the Murderer's Row of Texas singers (and Matthew McConaughey) (and Shamu) who desire that Texas, the messing of with, you don't.

And yet, if you are looking at this list and you were in suburban Texas during the 80s, then right now you are saying, "Where are Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88s and the impossible-to-judge-the-ironic-distance-with-which-to-view/listen-to-them-that-follows-them-around?"

And the sad answer is that the Ceti Alpha V Ceti Eel Larvae in your ear that is Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88s' take on the Don't Litter campaign is not really anywhere on the site that is clickable (I mean, I guess you can click but nothing happens) (metaphor for life in suburban Texas in the 80s? INVESTIGATE), but thankfully JD&tR88s themselves have come to everyone's rescue; here is the video on the band's own website that will make you not litter in Texas... on the beach. But also don't litter anywhere.

Except it's OK to litter in Lady Bird Lake as long as you are littering pieces of paper that say, "Lady Bird Johnson didn't want you to name this lake after her, so I'm just letting you know that I'm still going to call it Town Lake."

(Lady Bird Johnson loved her ironies.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Due to an (apparent) 150-character limit to the titles in Blogger, the title I wanted to put here was too long, so you have to read it below.

This was going to be the title:
  • In Retrospect, What I Should Have Replied When, In Response To My Overhearing Him Discuss A Formatting Problem in Excel That He Had Been Trying To Crack For Several Weeks and Telling Him the Way to Fix It, My Co-Worker Said To Me, “I Love You In A Non-Homoerotic Way.”
And this was going to be the post:

  • (elaborate shrug) Make it homoerotic, if you like.

And then I was probably going to type a funny afterthought really small like this:
  • Greetings, people googling "homoerotic excel"!
Sorry it didn't work out the way I wanted it to, everyone. TTYL!
~ P

The Derma Bums

Easily the most popular post on this site since I started tracking which posts are popular (via TECHNOLOGY) is Skin Disease: A Survey, which was sort of a psych experiment in that I linked to kind of horrifying pictures for each of the skin diseases I listed, daring You the Reader to click through. Like, far and away the most popular, statistically dwarfing everything else to the point where if I had to represent it graphically, I would draw a blue whale for that post and then like for everything else: a bunch of smurfs. (I just typed that off the top of my head but now I realize both are blue so I only have to use one color of marker, giving me extra time to pursue my dreams, does this make me a genius?)*

It is my dearest hope that it's just the fact that linking to 14 other sites in a single post does something to some algorithm and that is why it is such a popular post, rather than Everyone on the Internet is a Huge Fan of Marjolin's Ulcer or something.

NEVERTHELESS, as George Jessel, Red Skelton and Ray Davies all said, simultaneously, give the people what they want and something something that's why we have George Lucas now, so Here You Go, Internet: this is a link to a quiz I just saw on Mental Floss:


Using the method of Marginally Informed Blind Guessing, I got a 94%, which is exactly the percentage I always got in high school when I was perfecting this method,** which is why to this day I am "unmotivated" and "not much of a self-starter" even when I am given extra time to pursue my dreams.

But for real I really got a 94:

* Answer: No, because it is hard to draw the hats on Smurfs without it looking like it's Dress Like a Penis Day in Smurf Village.

** Mrs. Morris and Mr. Dewar in particular: I am sorry I didn't try harder.
But at the time I was suffering from and/or doing battle with Erysipelas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

it's sort of funny

Because her husband always knew when to pull out.

someone's probably made that joke already

Monday, May 12, 2008


Ke Huy Quan was referenced twice on the Shia LaBeouf episode of Saturday Night Live (1, 2). (and sort of three times, because he also appeared in a clip in the Vinny Vedecci sketch.)
This, plus All Things Considered's recentish Gedde Watanabe story (which, please see the Adrian Tomine "The Donger and Me" supplement they posted) (but to read the actual story, go to and do a search for "donger") (seriously, just do this; I want to see what happens) might mean that the new Zeitgeist is:
Casual Racism Toward Asians in the Mid-80s Reassessed [Mostly by White People]
Get on it, White People. Let me know what was up with all that.

Topic for further discussion:
The problematic William Hung Christmas album "Hung For the Holidays"

I know I know it came out in 2004 but WTF?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Steampunk Dirigibles the Shark!

The Times had an article on the Steampunk genre/movement/aesthetic yesterday! The article is so behind the curve, that I'm a little surprised they didn't go with the "Backlash to Steampunk" angle, but whatevs: the result is we get to watch a subculture panic about potential irrelevance on their blogs.

But Second:
People! Do not get your health corsets in a twist! There will be more Maker Faires! You may continue to casemod your Circuit City purchases so they look like they went through a Brundlepod with a clarinet! The future is still then!

For: the target audience of the article is presumably someone who (1) reads the Times but (2) doesn't know about Steampunk, and would therefore have to be the octogenarians on the Upper West Side who actually have actual dates-to-the-Edwardian-period stuff in their apartment and won't care.

Too: the pictures in the article don't really sell it in a way that makes it "desirable in any way", so your design ethos remains safe. (e.g., I don't think Christoing your TV in burlap makes it Steampunk?) (I think it just messes up your TV?) (AND YOUR BURLAP?)

(Also: looking at the first few pictures of the slideshow, my brain was like, That doesn't really look like Steampunk. It looks more like "54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Punk".)

(Dear Diary. Today I realized my brain is probably racist.)

Just kidding. It's over.
Just as grunge fonts begat Apple Minimalism, time to jump ship: I am shorting Steampunk and going long Cold War Industrial.

Good luck, Sillof's Workshop, I'll miss you most of all.

update (6/10/08): AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I don't have an Xbox or a PlayStation and although my kids are named Sam and Max, I am fairly terrible at video games (also: I have kids), but I totally want to play this because all of the reviews talk about how it recreates [a satiric representation of]* 4/5 of the boroughs, including many of the restaurants, and as irritating a Midtown was, I find myself missing it at times (mostly when I'm trying to find decent food in The Loop), and if this game allows me to drive over to the crêpe lady at the Cyber Cafe on 49th and 8th one more time, for old time's sake, it would be totally worth it.

NOTE WELL: I promise I will not shoot her after she makes me crêpes just to get my money back, because then: no more crêpes.

* w/r/t the "satire", from the little I've read it sounds like how National Lampoon used to get away with "negro jokes" because they were both "jokes themselves" and "jokes about the kinds of people who tell those kinds of jokes".
Which: when Jesse Thorn talks about "New Sincerity" I think he really means "Being Younger than 25" but if it means not having those kinds of jokes maybe it's 20% OK?

I mean, it's obviously too late for me; I came of age reading Suck. That's why I want to play Grand Theft Auto and not like Katamari Damacy or Viva Piñata or something.

ATTN: 14 year olds looking for Lola Del Rio: you are barking up the wrong tree!
Crêpes are totally New Sincerity.

Hook me up, Shearn!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Remember in Back to the Future II when Biff stole the DeLorean and gave a sports almanac to his earlier self so that he could gamble and win at various sporting events?
Well, what if Earlier Self Biff instead just got a job writing secretly ironic headlines for MSNBC?

That might be a good movie too.

Kentucky Derby Hopefuls Take Their Final Shot

oh man; poor dead horse. Although this probably bodes well for sales of Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul II: Tales of Passion, Achievement and Devotion. Totally the best book title ever!

ImprovEverywhere People: you should all buy this book and do something wacky related to it!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Steve is not happy

I had a dream a few nights ago that whenever anyone gets a Blue Screen of Death, technicians at Microsoft always scramble to read what it says so they can help fix the problem, but they are never able to finish reading it before the user shuts the computer down in frustration, so with the new version of Vista, they embedded an mp3 of “Faithfully” by Journey into the BSOD image, so that should it come up, users will wait until the song is over, out of respect for the heartfelt way in which Steve Perry is singing about life on the road, and this way the tech team can read the BSOD and figure out what the problem is.

To be clear: I have not had a BSOD in about four years, and I don’t think I’ve heard “Faithfully” in about that long either, but if this actually is a problem, I think this could work?


And if this is not a problem that needs fixing, then Kacey O’Kelley, thank you for couple skating to this song with me in 1984.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Kids Inadvertently Reenact John 6:19

It's almost May, and they still have to wear fleece and sweaters.
Hey, King of Kings, little help with the weather down here?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


In fourth period (Art Appreciation), Mr. Dunfry casually mentions that an X-ray of a 16th century Italian painting of Jesus revealed a man dressed in Renaissance clothing painted underneath. This gets our attention; we ask, “Does that mean that Jesus was, at heart, un uomo universale?” Dunfry says, “I don’t speak Spanish.”

“Have other paintings been X-rayed?” we ask. Dunfry shrugs and says, sure, some have; it wasn’t all that uncommon for painters to paint over old canvases, and now restorers sometimes notice that blah blah blah. Is it any wonder we don’t pay attention to him? So we interrupt: “Why has no one told us this before?” we all cry.

Dunfry tells us another example: the Arnolfini wedding portrait that we went over last week was also X-rayed, and the scan showed the subjects’ feet were sketched in one position, painted in a second position, and then this was painted over in a third position. “Show us!” we demand. He finds it on the computer, and we are startled to see that when all three sets of feet are looped, the Arnolfinis are doing the Foxtrot. “Was Jan Van Eyck the palimpsest for Arthur Murray?” we want to know. “OK, that’s enough,” Dunfry says, alarmed by our shouting. But this is pretty much how it starts. We all become obsessed with Pentimento.

By happy accident, Andrew Hunt has gotten second place at the science fair for a working infra-red spectrometer and we commandeer this (over his protests); we head to the school’s library, find a big reference book of famous paintings and put it to work (we know: it shouldn’t work but it does; don’t question). We scan a print of Picasso’s “Old Guitarist” and find the image of a woman behind him. Is it supposed to be Melpomene? Or is it just the person that the guitarist is singing is about? Did they break up? Is this the guy who wrote “I Know It’s Over” for The Smiths? That song is SAD. (And he kind of looks like Morrissey.)

Further scans reveal:
(1) Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” originally depicted just one sunflower and a ton of baby’s breath;
(2) The guy in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” originally had glasses, a pitchfork and was standing next to the “American Gothic” lady (who was also screaming, N.B.);
(3) the appearance of the Mona Lisa’s smile was originally a result of the shadowing as opposed to the shadowing being a result of the smile (also: no bra);
(4) “Whistler’s Mother” started off life as “Whistler’s Father” (if you get what we’re saying).

Mr. Dunfry finally tracks us down and threatens us all with Saturday detention if we don’t give the spectrometer back (you only got second place, so get over yourself, Andrew Hunt). “Please!” we tell him, “One more!” and before he can say anything we point the spectrometer at him.

The scan shows beneath that he used to not have a beard, that he grew it to conceal malocclusion; that when he was little he wanted to grow up to be Ricky Nelson (which, who?); that his heart was broken early and he never really loved again (though he is married, N.B.); that he wanted to be a painter himself but could not overcome the fear of failure; that as each new year arrives, he thinks he could still have made a go of it the previous year, but this year it really is too late; that he plans to give everyone in fourth period a B.

(Looking at him with the spectrometer, it occurs to some of us, is like the opposite of when he puts a whole stack of transparencies on the overhead and then removes them one by one until he gets to the one he wants and the chaos resolves itself into words: it is totally our favorite trick of his.)

Dunfry is quiet as we do this: each underpainting influences in some way the next layer and we are all like the onion metaphor in Peer Gynt (we are reading this in AP English), each layer of paint nudging the next layer of paint one way or another until the mammoth commune of neurotransmissions gets complex enough to be a “soul”. We are not supposed to talk about religion in school (due to the separation of Church and State) but that is what it is, right? But like we said: Dunfry is quiet. But then Dunfry looks like he is about to not be quiet; he is about to say something about what the implications of this might be, but then the bell that ends fourth period rings, and we all literally scream our heads off and run into the cafeteria.

Today is pizza day.

Monday, April 21, 2008


This will complete my collection.

¯ ¯
Tuscan Raider: Not a Jew.
But guess who is? Hall of Famer Aunt Beru. (She converted)
¯ ¯

Saturday, April 19, 2008


A few more Monster Stories from the previous Daily Monster Cycle (Stefan Bucher took a break but has started up again for the month of April). These are sort of more specific to the illustrations, so they get dumped in a big post, to make it easier to ignore them. I will even back-date them a little so you don't have to look at it. YOU'RE WELCOME. Unless you are reading this in an RSS reader, in which case it shows up as new. IF THAT'S THE CASE, I AM SORRY.

The book arrived and looks nice. We should encourage stuff like this? I think?

Monster 167 & 168
The TV show “Avengers” had its charms,
Especially those clothes of Emma Peel’s.
And, hence, One-Sixty-Eight throws back her arms
And smiles in thigh-length boots with eight-inch heels.

Her friend One-Sixty-Seven’s like an onion:
She says, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us tougher,”
And dons her cloggy shoes, despite the bunion,
The corns and hammertoes from which she suffers.

The law says, “No white shoes post-Labor Day.”
That would not seem a problem with these two,
Yet: one of them has filched the letter “A”
From Bucher’s hand, and it is not clear who.

Suspicious, then, we’ll click ‘replay’, until
We get to see more monster clips in “PRIL”.

Monster 166

His audition for "the wolf" in what MGM is currently calling "Untitled Tex Avery Project" is in a couple of hours, and Monster 166 goes over the part in the script again: (1) eyes bulge from his head (check); (2) jaw drops (check); (3) lips curl in rictal whistle (check); (4) body goes stiff with instantaneous rigor (check); and in what he hopes will distinguish him from the other actors, he adlibs a bit, contorting his body into Tex Avery's initials; and it is here that he hears a sharp click, a familiar enough sound (he has TMJ), though one not usually coming from his spine.
Not good. His mother had always told him, "If you keep making that face, it will stick like that," and now, quite possibly, this has come to pass. But his first thought is: Can I still audition? He tries a line: "Fly away with me to the Riviera / And it will be a beautiful thing / I will get you diamonds, pearls / Everything!" It comes out all wrong, and the obvious occurs to him: this is an animated cartoon, not a slide show (unless the Hays Code has its way); if the number of facial expressions Avery needs is > 1, then he's sunk.
But! Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney and Katie Holmes have all been affected by Bell's palsy, and at least two of those people are great. But also: they won't be born for another 10, 18 and 35 years, respectively. Also: they're people (Holmes might not be, actually; investigate). He will go to the audition. But he will keep his expectations low. And when it's all over and he's back in his apartment, he will call home, and when she picks up the phone, he will say to her, even if he's not sure, "Mom? I'm OK."
Qualifications: Fez
Monster 164
164 launches the ‘résumé wizard’ in Microsoft Word and starts filling in fields. He has no objectives; no education; has received no awards; speaks no languages; his hobbies are unsavory; his volunteer experiences non-existent; his references suspect. But he types in what he can, and the document is created. At the top, in Arial Black, it says “MONSTER 164”; under “Qualifications” it says “fez” (there is nowhere else to put this that makes sense), and under “Skills” he has typed “second-stage periodontitis -- receding gums meens a bigger smile??” (This is so 164: getting “periodontitis” right, only to blow it on “means”.) It’s worth a shot. He logs onto (obvious, in retrospect) and uploads it. Now there’s nothing left to do but stare at the phone and wait for it to ring.
Do not judge him too harshly, Potential Employers. He hasn’t had an overabundance of breaks in his life, and he’s a little misguided. And although he’s prone to indulge in self-pity, he tries to do the right thing a lot of the time. We’re not saying, you know, hang out with him all the time, and we’re not saying he’s not going to take *some* office supplies, and we’re not saying you’ll be able to leave something in the break room for more than a few minutes and expect him not to eat it; just: if you can think of a way to show him some generosity, he would probably appreciate it. And he has a big smile. Why not give him a call?
Seriously, Jack Kirby
Monster 163

Had Jack “The King” Kirby’s “Devil Dinosaur” comic lasted longer than nine short issues in 1978, and actually made the 120-million-year run that Kirby intended, the fanboys might have gotten to see the “Devil Bird” into which Kirby planned for “Devil Dinosaur” to evolve; as it went down, though, Marvel’s usual treatment of its employees meant Kirby’s leaving the company for a final time, and all that remains of his vision is this sketch of a small waterfowl with Kirby Dots surrounding its eyes, a souvenir of what could have been.
Special Pee Story for Jessi Guilford
Monster 162
Monster 162 checks his email and sees something from “Oh good,” he thinks, but we say “Not oh good”, because: “Hello from,” it says...
We're writing about the order you placed on December 18 2007. Unfortunately, the release date for the item(s) listed below has changed, and we need to provide you with a new delivery estimate based on the new release date:
Stefan Bucher (Author) "100 Days Of Monsters" [Hardcover]
Estimated arrival date: 03/10/2008 - 03/12/2008

We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this delay.

You know how when you need to pee, and you can’t, but then you finally do, and it feels, like, really really good to pee? Like the sense of relief is almost preternatural? We’re basically trying to make you feel that way.

Before you ask that, let us first say that sometimes we tell people that their item is in transit, and then we send a follow-up email saying it’s not. Like this guy, Joerg? We totally did that to him. Tomorrow, he’ll get an email that says, OK, it was shipped, but it’s only readable on a Kindle. Then we’ll tell him the item exploded. Then when he actually gets the item without warning, he’ll feel like he is peeing preternaturally. So before you change or cancel anything, just know that we might be doing this to you.

We’re bored. We blew £1.95 million on that Tales of Beedle the Bard thing, and it didn’t really do it for us..? It was good, don’t get us wrong, but more like “really big sneeze good”. We were hoping for something else. See above discussion on pee.

The name of our company is “Amazon” and we’re obsessed with a fish called a candiru that lives in the Amazon and can swim up your never mind. Never mind, let’s get back to your problem.

...aaand it goes on from there. It’s unclear at what point in the reading of this email, Monster 162 sort of gives up a little inside, but he does. It hasn’t been a good day at work, and this was pretty much the only thing he's been looking forward to since December. But on the other hand, the book is probably still coming, right..? And maybe it will all work out..? Amazon hasn’t let him down before, and maybe they know what they’re doing..?
We say, Monster 162: “hope is a thing with feathers”, and so are you mostly; and “gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors”, which we’re not sure if that applies; and “hope is the shin splint of endeavor”, which we just made up, but still, there is hope, there is hope, Monster 162, there is hope.
It's Possible that I want to Make Out with the Chick on the Flag of Sicily
Monster 161
The first tongue of 161
Looks just like a hamburger bun.
Attached to the skull, it
Distracts from the mullet
And makes sure his steak is well-done.

The second’s for licking Blue Penny
And sometimes an Inverted Jenny.
(We refer to philatelists’
Dampening catalysts
But grant that the meanings are many.)

Tongue number three turns vermillion,
Jutting out like a thirsty vaudevillian.
And, when tailoring’s needed,
Pants twice unimpeded,
Making one “pair of pants” à Triskelion.

Swedish Waffle
Monster 158
[The neutrality of this monster story is disputed.]
[This monster story needs additional citations for verification.]

Having long established its neutrality on pretty much all matters international [citation needed], Sweden is an ideal font of Olympic judges for the 1936 games [POV], which Yay Sweden! Accordingly, Monster #158 gets a job. He says the oath: “I promise that we shall officiate in these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them in the true spirit of sportsmanship,” and presumably..? These “rules” include not ranking anyone higher than ten..?

And yet! Time and again, with the completion of each event, #158 unfurls his wings to display his score: 77. 77; 77: everyone gets ranked 77. [citation needed] And each time, #158 cocks his head and listens. For (it turns out): the complex and subtle diphthongs required in the pronunciation of the word “seventy-seven” in Swedish (“shütioohshü”) makes it the ideal word to determine the True Origin of each athlete. [citation needed] By listening to each person’s perplexed reaction (“77?!”) #158 knows instantly if they’re German, Norwegian, Swedish, or what. The idea being: this will come in, like, handy..? Along the Norwegian border..? If, you know, a war breaks out..? At some point..?

And, in fact: Even for events that aren’t ranked by judges (like the long jump), #158 shows up to rank them anyway. Naoto Tajima (eventual bronze winner) jumps, sees #158’s score and says, “Shichijushichi?” [citation needed] Luz Long (silver) says, “Siebenundsiebzig?” [citation needed] The point was to hear them try to say it in Swedish, and that’s not exactly how it goes down, but still, important data is collected and used later for Sweden’s problematic role in the Second World War.
[citation needed] [POV]

Just a word about that “Siebenundsiebzig”: in prelims, Jesse Owens has two fouls, and a third will disqualify him from the finals. Knowing that Owens can clear the minimum distance even if he begins his jump from several inches behind the line, Luz Long tells him to play it safe so he can advance. Owens takes the advice, advances to Finals, and eventually takes the gold (“Seventy-seven?” he says, perplexed; #158 writes this down).
[citation needed]

After Long dies, he is awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship. Monster #158 has never been awarded that medal. Nor, actually, has anyone from Sweden. But we are not judging! [citation needed] Sweden, “Mitt liv som hund” is totally our favorite movie! [POV] Strindberg..? Big fans! [POV] And when we’re at IHOP..? Lingonberry pancakes, please. [POV] We’re just saying, we just read all shütioohshü pages of “Sweden_during_World_War_II” on Wikipedia [citation needed], and now we don’t know what to think..?

Except to say, Monster #158..? Booo.
Work harder at being a better monster.

Halloween Party
Monster 156

It’s 1999, so there are a few Harry Potters and at least four Austin Powerses. But my division always goes for the conceptual. Last year, I went as “Various Stages in the Life of Rockin’ Rollen Stewart” (rainbow wig, John 3:16 sign, world’s longest moustache, restraining order), so this year I’m trying to beat that. This is the high point of the year at our office, so if you can pull off a good costume and not accidentally hook up with anyone, you’re sort of golden until at least June. I’ve chosen to go as “Lines from the Album ‘My Aim is True’ by Elvis Costello”: I bug my eyes out like I’m looking at someone with a face like a magnet (Watching the Detectives); I conceal one of my arms in some wedding cake (Alison) and stick the other out the back of the costume so it looks like a juggler running out of hands (Welcome To The Working Week); put on a black patent leather glove (Miracle Man), big red shoes (The Angels Wanna Wear My R~ S~) and loose fitting white pants (Wave A White Flag); refuse to dance (No Dancing); reshape my head like a rifle (almost sure there’s a rifle or gun or something in Less Than Zero); put on an old Edwardian looking corset that’s completely falling apart (Poison Moon: “And these bones, they don’t look so good to me”; accentuate my mouth (“lip service” lines from Cheap Reward); OK YES IT IS A STRETCH DO YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT. But I couldn’t get anything else together and I know at least this: no one else will have the same costume as me (a minor scandal: two of my officemates are both going as “Y2K” this year, although they took different approaches). There is a lot riding on this, for me, personally. I AM UNDER A LITTLE STRESS DUE TO THINGS AT WORK I WON’T GO INTO THEM NOW.

And so, when people start coming up to me and saying, “Weren’t you just in the copy room?” and I say no and they say, “Someone else is here with the same costume I guess,” I can’t believe it. I make my way to the copy room, past “Standard Ghost” (sheet, two holes); “Dog Dressed Up For Halloween” (bee costume, dog mask); “Molly Ringworm” (don’t... just... just let it go); “Sexy Girl Scout”; “Sexy Nurse”; “Sexy Cat”; “Sexy Ralph Nader”. And then I see it: someone else dressed up as “Lines from the Album ‘My Aim is True’ by Elvis Costello”. Is it the guy from Accounting? With the forehead? I can’t tell. As I approach, though, someone asks him/her, “What are you supposed to be?”

“Monster 156,” the person says. I duck back over by the punch bowl.

My costume is still unique.
It’s possible no one remembers I hooked up with Jenni from HR at the last “Labor Daze” party.
It’s possible my job is saved.

Kubelik Con
Monster 154

154 always wears a power tie, although the office went business casual months ago. He smells like some chem plant in New Jersey’s idea of “the woods”, and today when he stops by my desk to flirt with me (he’s married, n.b.), he’s wearing a hairpiece. “What do you think?” he says. I tell him nice tie, but I have to admit, the hairpiece is working for him.

“Big day today,” he says, and it is. The sales team is expanding the “AIDA” method (“Attention”, “Interest”, “Desire”, “Action”) to “AIDAS” (adding “Satisfaction”), which means a four-hour kickoff meeting, which means they’ll order in pizza, which means I don’t have to pay for lunch today, and ordered-in-pizza is the closest thing I’ve had to “dining out” in a while. He catches me staring at his hair and does a thing romance novels always describe as a shaking of “golden tresses”, except his are not golden, and I see now that they also have eyes and teeth. Then the hairpiece asks me out for dinner. “Are you asking me, or is your hair asking me?” I ask him. 154 and his hair just smile at me, polycephalicly.

Then I see what he’s doing: A: Attention; he has my attention, because his hair looks nice. I: Interest; I am interested because his hair has eyes and teeth; D: Desire; I desire to eat at a restaurant instead of having ramen again; A: Action; he’s asking me out.

Am I Fran Kubelik to his Mr. Sheldrake? I do not know how to play gin rummy, but I do feel like a misfit. Before you judge me, let me stress there are no C.C. Baxters left in all of Manhattan. Fine, I say, yes. But pay attention at the kickoff meeting, I tell him. If I don't see any “S” tonight, there will be hell toupee.

Midas Rex
Yes, I know these are different myths; thanks.

Monster 152

A monster, whom we shall call K--,
Was Thebes-bound, and heard a sphinx say,
“Can you name the guy
Who’s a quadruped, bi-
ped, and tri-ped, and all in one day?”

K-- said that the answer is “Man”,
For he crawls on four legs; then he stands,
And then when he’s older
He is a cane-holder.
(The ‘day’ thing’s a figurative span.)

The sphinx told him that this was right; it
Said, “I’ll grant your wish, then. Please cite it.”
“Transmute stuff to bullion,”
K-- said, “But one rule: on
Condition,” he said, “That I bite it.”

The first thing K-- changed to gold hues
Was his footwear, which one can excuse
As an homage and thanks
To director Les Blank’s
Movie, “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoes”.

But late that night, post-counting sheep,
As into all parables creep
Comeuppance, desserts,
Retribution asserts
Itself: K-- bit his tongue in his sleep.

The golden tongue’s weight on his beak
Soon rendered his posture oblique.
He was forced to maintain
Himself up with a cane,
And his mandible gave in a week.

The moral, Monster 1-5-2
(Also known as “K--”) might construe,
Is this: “Chrysopoeia:
I don’t want to be ya.”

And: “All that glitter’s not AU.”