Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Ortolan

Inside twenty smallish cages,
The only moving things
Were the eye sockets of the ortolans.

I was four times my size,
Like an ortolan
In which there is a lot of millet.

The ortolan drowned in the Armagnac.
It was a small part of the recipe.

A dying French president and a napkin
Are one.
A dying French president and a napkin and an ortolan
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The sweetness of the meat
Or the bitterness of the entrails,
The existential crisis of the bones
Or the nausea.

Napkins covered the guests’ heads
With blank laïcité
The aroma of the ortolan
Could not escape.
And God
Could not see their sins:
It was a thick napkin.

O thin Aunt Alicia,
Now let's go into luncheon.
Today you will learn to eat ortolans.
What are ortolans, Aunt?
Exquisite little birds.

I know French accents
And uvular, fricative ‘r’s
But I know, too,
That the ‘r’ in ‘les ortolans’
Is hard to swallow.

When the ortolan flew into Gascony
It marked the edge
Of government-sanctioned endangered species protection

At the sight of an ortolan head
Sticking out of Mitterrand’s mouth,
Even the board of directors at Tyson Foods
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over to a churchyard in Jarnac
Followed by his wife and mistress.
Once, a fear pierced them,
In that they mistook
His illegitimate daughter
For ortolans.

The napkins are running low.
The ortolan must be the Special.

He was chewing all afternoon.
He was chewing
And he was going to chew.
The ortolan sat
In his isthmus-faucium.

This is Duane’s Thing

Originally inspired by/posted as a story for Monster 155 on Stefan Bucher's Daily Monster. Posting stories in the comments of someone else's blog and then modifying them slightly and posting them here is the only thing I know how to do, except I can juggle and I know a little Spanish. Ask me to ask you where the library is, BECAUSE I WILL DO IT. The book comes out in a week; everyone's buying one, right? Great, awesome.

“This is an early concept sketch for the Admiral Ackbar character by Ralph McQuarrie,” our guide says, pointing to a black, blotchy illustration labeled “Ackbar #155”. We’re on the last leg of our San Francisco trip, and are touring Industrial Light & Magic (this is Duane’s thing). I don’t want to be here, but he put up with my whole family for nine days (we’re talking about talking about getting married so I said he had to meet them). So I can throw him this bone.

“As you can see, the character was a little tough to pin down and went through some pretty drastic revisions in the early stages,” the guide says, “This sketch is actually starting to get to the essence of the character, although here, you can see, Ackbar is female and the head is a little megalencephalic.” Everyone is quiet. “Biggish,” the guide says.

“And what is this little guy in the brain area there?” Duane asks. The tour guide sighs and said, “Jedi came out about a year after ET, and George was so impressed with it, he really got it in his head that Matthew De Meritt should play Ackbar.” He points at a part of the drawing that could best be described as “a little-boy-crouched-in-the-giant-brain-sac-of-a-squid-thing” and says, “That’s where De Meritt would have been positioned in the costume.” Duane leans over and stage-whispers to me, “De Meritt was the kid without legs that played ET.”

“Just in some scenes,” the tour guide says. He looks around nervously and then whispers, “George just gets these ideas and won’t let them go. They had already started production and it turned out De Merritt didn’t want to do it. Davis was already overextended...” Here, Duane whispers, “Warwick Davis: he played the main Ewok. And Willow in the movie Willow. And the Leprechaun in the move Leprechaun. And he’s been in all the Harry Potters.” The tour guide waits patiently for him to finish and then says, “...and so the part eventually went to Timothy Rose who, because of the way the mask was positioned, had to look out of...”

“The nostrils!” Duane shouts and raises his hand for a high five, which the tour guide gives him, but only after about ten seconds pass and it’s clear Duane isn’t putting his hand down.

We take a break not long after this, and Duane goes into the men’s room. The tour guide comes up to me. “Are you two serious?” he asks. I tell him it’s not really any of his business, but yes, we’re thinking about getting married, although as I say this, I think: this has been a tough nine days. He didn’t really get along with my family, and this fanboy obsession stuff really kind of came out of nowhere. Back in Madison, most of our friends are my friends and he doesn’t really act like this. “You don’t seem all that into this,” the tour guide says.

“Not really,” I say, “This is Duane’s thing. I’ve seen parts of Star Wars on TV, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I couldn’t tell you a single line that Admiral Ackbar said in that movie.”

About this time Duane comes out of the men’s room, and says, “Hey, you know how I took that multi-vitamin at your parents’ this morning?” (I nod.) “Well, when I was peeing just now, I looked down, and my pee was this fluorescent yellow color, and it was like my johnson was like this, I don’t know, like, flesh light saber. It was hilarious.”

I look back over at the tour guide, who raises his eyebrows and locks his eyes with mine. In a weird, hoarse voice he says, “IT’S A TRAP!

I look at concept sketch #155 for Admiral Ackbar. She’s wearing a wedding dress, and she has a little boy wedged in her brain making it impossible for her to move forward. I freak out, and what always happens, happens. My brain starts arguing with itself: “Prepare to retreat!” it says,

“You won’t get another chance at this!”

“We have no choice!”

“The shields are down!”

“Commence attack!”

and finally:
“Move the fleet away from the Death Star!”

Friday, February 22, 2008


Yesterday, Jonathan Coulton linked to Darin Strauss' "Living With Music" playlist in the Times book blog, "Paper Cuts" (all the Times blogs have dumb names) (not awesome ones like "Recursive Bee", duh), where Strauss includes the sweetandheartbreakingbutmaybeonlyifyouhavekids Coulton song, You Ruined Everything, adding that he (Strauss) played guitar on Coulton's debut CD, Smoking Monkey, on the song De-Evolving, and that it was hard for him not to list that one instead. (Sorry for all the links; I'm practicing to see if I would enjoy having a metafilter account.)

That at the "Smoking Monkey" CD release party in something like 1993, Coulton said his friend (Adam Sachs?) insisted that he end the song De-Evolving with the non-sequitur "I’m a coal miner’s daughter" and Coulton was not sure why.

Halfhearted Googling has revealed no stabs in the dark, so as a public service, allow me to cut this Gordian knot with Occam's razor into four (because Occam's razor is a Schick Quattro, apparently) possible answers to the riddle of the last line of De-Evolving, in order of decreasing likelihood:
In "What Makes Me Tick", Loretta Lynn says "Gonna have my head examined 'cause my mind's in bad shape / The way that you've been actin' I think that you've gone ape" and then later in the song "Tonight I saw you kiss her, you said 'Can't you take a joke' / Now I won't be your monkey, you'd better change in quick" and then at one point there is a guitar solo, which it is well known that monkeys are fond of (source: MonkeyFancy).

Loretta Lynn's husband was Doolittle "Mooney" Lynn, and the word "Mooney" looks like the word "Monkey" to people who are just learning to speed-read and haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. Is Adam Sachs a speed-reader? Signs point to yes.

Two of director Michael Apted's most celebrated films? None other than Coal Miner's Daughter and Gorillas in the Mist (N.B. which features monkeys)
(Gorillas are technically apes, but to a speed-reader? MONKEYS).

Koko the Gorilla's secretary "Loretta" warned him not to get a kitten. Loretta Lynn's secretary "Koko the Gorilla" once signed to her, "KOKO ASK DIRTY BECAUSE PINK/SHAME SORRY PINK/SHAME HELP OUT OUT FREE HELP."

(I know I make that Lincoln/Kennedy joke all the time; it's because it secretly still scares the crap out of me.)

OK but now I just remembered Monkey Abraham Lincoln from the Planet of the Apes remake (and wasn't Lincoln always drawn as a monkey by his opponents?) (and didn't Kennedy engage in "monkey business"?) (And get THIS: during the Kennedy Administration, TWO MONKEYS DIED IN SPACE: a squirrel monkey named Goliath on November 10, 1961 when his rocket exploded, and a rhesus monkey named Scatback who was lost at sea after his sub-orbital flight was completed on December 20 of that year.

OK, guys? This is seriously freaking me out, actually.

Quick, NYTimes, make a new blog called "UNSETTLED" or something to tell me what to do.

Seven Letters, Starts With L

Can someone make an online Flash version of the NYTimes crossword puzzle that, once you finish it, turns into a Lode Runner level..?

Because that would be the only way I might get good at crossword puzzles..?

Amazon, this sounds like something the Kindle might be good at. Can you make the Kindle do this?
I miiiiiiight buuuuuuuy ooooooooone...........

As an aside, in pictures where Will Shortz needs a haircut, he kind of looks like Ron Jeremy.
I'm like 80% sure that's why Liane Hansen has him on all the time.

No disrespect, Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan; I'm sure you're all man.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

These go to eleven

Misogyny: Pretty much always funny?

But we're a little mystified: on this Dell Book Comparison Chart, Why is it more interesting to spend an evening with this book than with a beautiful woman?, we're confused..? About the number-of-words joke? Like, specifically, why does a [beautiful] [$45] woman only speak eleven words?

Is it that the number that means "mutual oral pleasure" hadn't been invented yet in 1943 or whenever, and the number 11, representing "upright congress" was as crazy as it got?

Help us out, ladies?

(Please keep your responses short to reduce your frankly insufferable insomniability)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gallagher is the Archduke

Is there a phrase that's similar to "memento mori", only it means something like "Remember you went to a fucking Baptist university"? I don't know the answer to that, possibly because I went to a fucking Baptist university.

Regardless: Baylor University's own Jeff Dunham (or should one say "FUNham"??!?!?!!) (no, one shouldn't) was just voted Comedy Central's "King of Comedy".

I'm pretty sure this means it won't be long before Whiplash appears on the cover of MonkeyFancy.


Anyway, Go Bears.

(also, America? You are destroying America.)

Happy Super Tuesday

I've been trying all day to make a joke about how when you vote in a primary in Chicago they put ashes on your forehead, but I haven't been able to come up with anything good yet.

However: Reluctantly clicking through to see WTF the headline "Super Tuesday vote on the wild side" could possibly mean, I was confronted with this, which helps explain why when I dressed up as Charlie Cook for Halloween, everyone thought I was going for "Tim Russert, Fifth Member of the Beatles".


Monday, February 04, 2008

I Read Interviews and Find the Funniest Line, Saving You Valuable Time

From the Sight and Sound interview with Quentin Tarantino:

Q: You string together those long riffs, though, that are strong, Quentin-type lines.
A: Well, do you want me to write now like David Hare?

This cracks me up. Both the weird syntaxt, like his brain for once outpaced his ability to verbalize it, but mostly: Who comes up with "David Hare" off the top of their head?

Also good news, it appears that Inglorious Bastards will be coming out after my kids have graduated from college, so I might get to see it in the theater.

[actually, maybe just go ahead and read it, so you can see his "killer slave with supermacho powers done in the style of a slasher films" idea because it will maybe make you feel better about all of your own ideas?]