Often misquoted as saying "Variety is the spice of life"—which most assume referred to multiple sexual partners/positions—what poet William Cowper actually said was "Cinnamon is the spice of life."
The confusion initially arose from the fact that the line was first heard shouted from Cowper's kitchen, which was his favorite place to have sex. The thing is, it was also his favorite place to make snickerdoodles.
Go figure; the lazy-eyed, cookie-eating son of bitch thought about something other than tail now and again.
Ok, here's an old one:
"We simply must have clean butts. If we do not have clean butts, what separates us from common chimpanzees?"
That, of course, is from the ever-classy Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The clean butts thing makes perfect sense, because Jackie O. was just that kind of lady—if you hadn't already heard the quote, you could have guessed that part word for word, I'm sure—but what a lot of people gloss over when they read this is the woman's disdain for "common chimpanzees."
Indeed, disdain hardly seems to cover it. Jackie O. hated chimps. No one is exactly sure why. By all accounts, Jackie never even saw a chimpanzee, not in person or on film, until she was an adult, and when she finally did it was like the light in one bright corner of her soul was turned off. The closest she ever came to explaining her sentiments was at a White House function in 1962, when she drunkenly told a Tanzanian diplomat, "I hate [chimps]. They remind me of trolls. I hate trolls. You know that. Everyone knows that!"
Perhaps most surprising was the revelation that she repeatedly attempted to have Jane Goodall killed throughout the 60s and 70s. After examining a Onassis' lifetime correspondence in 1995, a biographer claimed that the letters contained "hundreds" of references to "that troll-loving bitch," and that Onassis felt her assassination contracts would have been successful, had Goodall's chimpanzee subjects not proven so adept at "soaking up bullets."
Anyway, it's an interesting side to such a (supposedly) well-known character. Quotes quotes quotes. Got to love them.
PS—If anyone gets sassy about the title of this post ("But humans are great apes, so..."), I swear to god I will make them regret it.
Yeah, ok, that was my bad. I shouldn't just introduce a groundbreaking new concept like "dick breaker" (or "dick-breaker," or "dickbreaker," I haven't decided) and leave you in the lurch like that.
And, to be perfectly honest, I think "dick-breaker" is going to take off even before "Grapes in the Snow." (Although I'm certain that Grapes in the Snow is going to be huge too. It's just going to take a couple of months.)
Anyway, now might be the time for a couple practice dick-breakers. Try with me:
"Mom's being a real dick-breaker, eh, Dad?"
"We aren't allowed to eat meat on Fridays? The pope is the number one dick-breaker, if you ask me."
"Don't put your dick on the door frame like that, son. A fast-closing door can be a real dick-breaker."
"If I were to crack open Dick Clark's head with a hammer, I sure would be a dick-breaker. As it is, though, I just stabbed him."
"You're out of the salmon, huh? I guess I'll take the dick-breaker."
And so on. We're still pretty early in R&D here, obviously, but it has a lot of potential. This must be how the guy who discovered gasoline felt.
Without further ado...
Grapes in the Snow: A Christmastime Play
The Narrator: A voice to guide you through the holiday.
Urchins: Three street children, lucky to be alive.
Misters Bellylaugh, Jinglefoot, and Fumblefeather: Entrepreneurs with jolly names.
A Mysterious Follower: Could it be the ghost of Old Malthus, come to strangle the surplus population?
We open on the streets of old London, packed with Christmas Eve shoppers and merrymakers…
Narrator: Another cold and uncaring Christmas has come to Londontown. The old saying—Christmas does not love you, so hope to God that your parents do—has never been more true. Loved children snuggle at home under piles of furs, fattening themselves on candied figs, while their parents bustle through the city streets, searching for the perfect presents. But London’s unloved children… they are left to the harsh and icy whims of the winter holiday. Street urchins are trampled underfoot or thrown through plate glass windows as shoppers and passersby see sales and promising looting opportunities.
But here and there throughout the city, a few urchins—those big enough to fight off stray dogs, or small enough to hide from them—have found some measure of shelter. I would be lying to you if I said that they were either comfortable or safe, but you may warm your heart next to this fact, at least: they are in marginally less danger. And so, wrapped in rags and smeared with shit—for warmth—the urchins hide in alleys and under piles of tires, huddled around burning animal carcasses or steaming sewer grates.
We find one such group of children, two of them only, squeezed between a dumpster and a rotting fence, attempting to warm themselves over a tin can of burning wood alcohol. The urchins peer at each other through watery eyes, each wondering if the other will strike him down for an unshared sip of the wondrous alcohol, and each waiting for the opportunity to lash out themselves. But neither has any sort of weapon, and they’ve been in the rings of enough outdoor urchin/dogfights to know that the end result of a match between them, whoever the victor, would leave them colder than ever. They are resigned.
Urchin 1: This is the shittiest Christmas ever.
Urchin 2: You say that every year.
Urchin 1: Yes, but last year I never imagined that I would lose another foot.
Urchin 1 leans back and kicks his leg stumps joylessly in the air. He falls backwards into a puddle of gasoline slush. Urchin 2 pulls him upright.
Urchin 2: I suppose so. Dear me, they do make it hard to enjoy the birthday of Christ our Lord. You, with your diabetes, and me, with rickets.
Urchin 1: And not only that, but they say that Old Malthus is back.
Urchin 2: But the Wicked Reverend has been dead and gone for years! They hung his body outside the library! I saw it myself. Birds were eating his face.
Urchin 1: Well, then it’s his ghost that’s back, and I don’t see how that’s any better. Alive or dead, there’s nothing Old Malthus’d like better than to hunt street children such as ourselves.
Urchin 2: Yes, Old Malthus truly hated street children.
Narrator: Our two urchins sit in silence, wondering if they could outrun the ghost of Reverend Malthus, as they have not a good leg between them. But hark! What’s this?
A third urchin joins the first two. He maneuvers unsteadily between the dumpster and the fence. It would not have seemed possible for a child to look worse than our two urchins, but Urchin Number Three somehow manages the task. And yet… there is a look of triumph on his sad face. He has a secret, a wonderful secret, as if he has found treasure!
Narrator: Now look at this child. Cold and sick though he is, there’s a look of hope about him. It’s as if he has found treasure.
Urchin 3: Oy, friends! I believe I have found treasure!
Urchin 1: Good on you. But why don’t you introduce yourself?
Urchin 2: Yeah, who are you?
Narrator: Listen to our little scamps! They do indeed know the third urchin, but, as he is blind (one of his eyes became infected and was eaten by a rat, and he sold the other eye to buy food for himself), they cannot pass up the Christmas cheer they knew would come from upsetting him.
A tear falls from Urchin 3’s sightless orifice.
Urchin 3: Ah, kind friends, I have mistaken you for acquaintances of mine. But... still. Have you an eye between you? You see, I am blind, and I require the help of the sighted.
Urchin 1: Blind, you say? Of course! I thought I smelled baby otters, but I see now that it is only your eye sockets; they are fishy and wild.
Urchin 3, nervously: That they are! That they are! But it would benefit the both of you, I think, to tolerate the reek for an evening. If you could assist me... there... there may be treasure for all of us.
The first two urchins exchange a knowing glance.
Urchin 1, whispering: An old fashioned treasure hunt! Why not? Whatever else happens, the situation is ours to control. After all, we hold all the eyes!
Urchin 2: True enough… (To Urchin 3) Right, we will hear you out.
Urchin 3 smiles, and launches into a silent, lip-flapping, pantomimed explanation.
Narrator: In his excitement, the blind urchin’s story contains many words and patterns of speech used exclusively by children and poor people, and it would mean nothing—less than nothing!—to those of the audience who are even remotely civilized. That is, if you have eaten at least one meal today that did not come out of a dog, you will not understand. But the essence of it is this: He believes he has found treasure, and he is willing to share the treasure in exchange for help. What's more, he too is convinced that he is being stalked through the streets of London—not by Old Malthus, but by the rat that ate his eyeball. This theory, of course, is based on guilt born of Catholicism and paranoia born of huffing turpentine. Nonetheless, he has no wish to try his luck searching for treasure while a rat with a taste for blood—his blood—trails him tirelessly. They return to God’s English, and so we return to them…
Urchin 2: And the treasure? What is it?
Urchin 3: Oh, it is the greatest Christmas treasure of all! Grapes! Plump, juicy grapes, a trail of them, lying in the snow!
Narrator: Their mouths watering, the urchins contemplate what they might find at the end of the trail of grapes. A wounded grape merchant? A lost foreign prince? Either could… “disappear” so easily into the London night, their cargo of grapes free to whoever might have the strength of will to take it!
Urchin 3: But, alas, the trail runs through the street, and I am sure I would be struck down by a hoof or a cane were I to try to follow it unassisted. So… What say you, fellows?
Narrator: Of course, their minds are already made. It may be a merry Christmas after all!
The urchins creep through an alleyway, moving like the wounded animals they are. The alley is tight and dim, and industrial waste peeks through a covering of what snow would look like if it were made from feces and coal oil. And it is snow, made of feces and coal oil. Here and there lies a shard of what may be broken china. They are, in fact, bones, shattered to expose their rancid, yet nourishing, marrow.
Narrator: Urchin the third spoke truly, and our Christmas adventurers found his trail of sweet, purple grapes. Every few feet the snow yields a purple delight, to be stuffed into the urchins’ already sticky faces. Crossing the road was as harrowing as the urchin had suspected—while only a narrow thoroughfare, the sighted urchins nonetheless could barely save their companion from the high-spirited kicks and stabs of Christmas shoppers.
They follow the trail of grapes into a maze of alleys, warehouses, and factories, and here they are… but where is here?
Urchin 1: Oh, shit, this is the Urchin Grinder.
Narrator: Ah, “the Urchin Grinder.” While there is little physical evidence of urchins literally being ground up, many urchins report that a trip through the neighborhood of the Grinder is truly emotionally destructive.
Urchin 1: I’m not happy to say it, friends, but I think we best fuck this shit.
Urchin 2: I don’t know…
Urchin 3: No! Let us continue on! The trail is as strong as ever!
Urchin 3 has plugged his eyeholes with two of his grapes. He says it makes him feel whole again. The dark, fleshy globes and sticky juice tears disconcert the other urchins, but they cannot deny that Urchin 3’s new prosthetics have at least temporarily stemmed his odor.
Urchin 3: And, friends, you must admit that your bellies have not been so full in months!
Narrator: It is true—while the children have eaten their fill of street-grapes, they are like a small pack of malformed, sickly wolves, prepared to utterly gorge themselves on any available sustenance.
Urchin 2: The ayes have it!
Urchin 3, in horror: Eyes!
Urchin 1: Fine. But any scent of Old Malthus, and I will take my leave.
On cue, a peculiar sound comes from behind them. It is the sound of breathing, raspy and hoarse.
Urchins, together: The Reverend! Cheese it!
The urchins run down the alley in terror, yet still stoop to pick up each grape in the trail. They gobble them down as they limp along, gagging and coughing all the while.
Narrator: Pulled by the trail of grapes and driven by the rasping breath and scraping footsteps behind them, our urchins are driven ever deeper into the Grinder. They skid, stump, and stumble around one final blind turn, only to see the trail of grapes end and a closed door.
Urchins 1 and 2 stop in front of the door, but remain silent as urchin 3 continues to run. He collides with the wood, making a sound like a child’s head being thrown at a door.
Urchin 2: Oh, shit, a door!
Urchin 1: Christmas!
Urchin 3: Bwaaaaaa.
The urchins have never in their short lives found the far side of any door to be better than the rest of the world. Indeed, given Londoners’ propensity for luring street children into their homes to use them as chimney and drain pipe scourers, passing through a doorway often leads to a much worse situation. Yet Urchin 3’s collision with the door has apparently already attracted the attention of its owner. The door opens just a crack. Blue eyes peek through the crack. They see the children, and the door is opened wide, revealing a jolly looking man in a green suit. He has blue eyes, curly ginger hair, and a large, round belly straining at his velvet waistcoat.
Man: Good evening to you, children! How can I help you?
Urchin 1: Nothing.
Man: I’m sorry?
Urchin 2: We don’t want nothing. We’ll be on our way.
Urchin 3: Grapes! Where are the grapes?!
The man chuckles, his belly shaking merrily.
Man: The grapes! You found them, eh? I was returning from the market with a sack of grapes for my Christmas dinner, only to find the bag nearly empty with a great hole in its bottom when I reached home!
Urchin 3: No! No! No!
Man: Ah, you’re a sweet child to worry for me, but I have a great many grapes still. Too many for one lonely man to eat this Christmas.
Urchin 1: That’s a god-damned shame. But I think we ought to be leaving…
Man: But… wouldn’t you perhaps share my dinner with me tonight? All I ask in return is your company.
Urchin 2: We don’t eat with strangers. Sorry.
Man: Of course. My name is Primrose Bellylaugh, Esq. And now we are no longer strangers! Please, won’t you keep me company for dinner?
Urchin 1: Eat a dick, guv’na.
But just then they hear again the shuffling footsteps and labored breathing of their pursuer. It must be nearly at the mouth of their dead-end alley! The urchins share a look.
Urchins: We’d love to share your dinner, sir.
Mr. Bellylaugh: Wonderful! Much obliged! Come in, come in!
The urchins are ushered quickly through the door. Mr. Primrose Bellylaugh looks out into the alleyway, suspicious of the strange sounds. When nothing reveals itself, Bellylaugh places a hand on his stomach and chuckles quietly at his own foolishness. He walks through the door and closes it behind him.
The children and Mr. Bellylaugh are in an antechamber beyond the front door. Two doors lead further into the building. A bell hangs between them. Mr. Bellylaugh rings the bell.
Mr. Bellylaugh: Ha ha ha!
Urchin 3: So… what about dinner?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Soon enough! It’s not yet suppertime!
Urchin 1: Don’t treat me like a retard, Bellylaugh. I’m out.
A faint scratching comes from the closed door.
Urchin 1: In a little bit. When’s dinner?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Not long! But first I have to make it! In the meantime, we’ll have to find something for you to do!
Bellylaugh rings the bell again, and the inner doors open. A man walks out of each. One of them, Mr. Fumblefeather, is scarred and toothless. His clothes are covered in grease. The other man, Mr. Jinglefoot, wears a rubber apron and gloves. His face, arms, and apron are streaked and spattered with red.
Mr. Bellylaugh: These are my dear friends, Mr. Eustace Funblefeather, and Mr. Theodore Jinglefoot. (Bellylaugh indicates the greasy Fumblefeather and grisly Jinglefoot, respectively, and then turns to Urchin 1) And you, my dear boy, can I ask you a rather personal question?
Urchin 1: A what?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Be you an orphan, lad?
Urchin 1: An orphan? I wish that were my situation, cap. Alas, I am the victim of regular domestic abuse, and I cannot deny the badges that proclaim me to be, to some extent, a domestic child. (The urchin lifts his shirt, to display a curiously shaped bruise across his skinny back.)
Mr. Bellylaugh: Your badge! It bears striking resemblance to a cat.
Urchin 1: Yes, sir. It is with the cat that I am beaten.
Mr. Bellylaugh: Hmm. Your father, he...
Urchin 1: My mother.
Mr. Bellylaugh: Of course. Your mother, she sounds like a dangerous woman. Please, I think Mr. Fumblefeather can help you prepare for dinner. (He indicates toward Fumblefeather’s doorway. Urchin 1 approaches cautiously, and slips through to the dim room on the other side.)
Mr. Bellylaugh, to Urchin 3: And you, be you an orphan?
Urchin 3: Truly sir, I am. Abandoned by mother and God, I live by my wits alone.
Mr. Bellylaugh: No one has been abandoned by God, my little friend, only tested. Please, Mr. Jinglefoot can help you. (He firmly guides Urchin 3 in the direction of Jinglefoot. When they walk through Jinglefoot’s doorway, the room is momentarily bathed in red light.)
Mr. Bellylaugh to the last Urchin: Now, be you an orphan, child?
Urchin 2, who is indeed an orphan: I... No, sir. I am no orphan.
Mr. Bellylaugh: You sound uncertain, lad. Be you an orphan?
Urchin 2: No! I hate orphans with all my weak heart! The only thing better than a dead orphan is an orphan that was never born. I was taught this by the parents I have.
Mr. Bellylaugh: Very good! Away you go! Bellylaugh indicates the same door taken by Urchin 1. Urchin 2 walks through, followed by Fumblefeather and Bellylaugh. The antechamber dims.
Narrator: This is becoming a strange Christmas for our urchins, orphans and parented alike. But Mr. Primrose Bellylaugh seems a jolly sort, doesn’t he? And then what could this be? Perhaps our lads haven’t escaped their pursuer after all! And what about the rest of those grapes?
The latch on the front door mysteriously lifts, and the door creaks open. A slender, hunched figure in red creeps into the room. He sniffs at the two other doorways like a dog. The scene fades to black.
We see Fumblefeather and Urchins 1 and 2 in a new room. Bellylaugh leans against the door, and watches them. The large room is bare of furnishings, with high, barred windows. Its two distinguishing features are a factory-style conveyor belt running in one wall and out the other, and a chute slanting down from the ceiling into a large vat. The conveyor is covered in half-constructed toy drums. The chute periodically discharges thick, chunky fluid into the vat.
Urchin 2: Ah, shit!
Urchin 1: Christmas!
Urchin 2: So that’s it? You captured us to work in a factory?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Oh, such clever boys! I hope your little fingers are as quick as your wits, because these toy drums won’t make themselves!
Urchin 1: What about the grapes? Am I correct in assuming that there won’t be any more grapes?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Not for you, urchin. You don’t fill up a factory with kidnapped children by giving away all your grapes to the first bunch!
Urchin 2: And what about the blind kid?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Who?
Urchin 2: The other urchin who came in with us.
Mr. Bellylaugh: The tyke was blind?
Urchin 1: “Was blind”?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Well, of course! He was an orphan, so Mr. Jinglefoot will have processed him into chum by now.
Urchin 2: Chum?
Mr. Bellylaugh: Chum, for baiting sharks! He should be along any moment now! Ah, there you go!
The chute above the vat expels a volume of chum into the room.
Mr. Bellylaugh: And now we all have work to do. I’ve got to spread some more grapes…
Urchin 2: There are more grapes?
Mr. Bellylaugh: And you two have to start making these drums. Mr. Fumblefeather?
Fumblefeather grunts and unhooks a whip from the wall. He cracks it above the urchins’ heads.
Mr. Fumblefeather: Figure out how to make these drums, you urchins!
Mr. Bellylaugh, leaving: Excellent. Merry Christmas, children!
Narrator: Hours later, the already scarred and frostbitten fingers of our urchins have been worked raw. The drums must be constructed to the highest standards, for they will be presents for wealthy children. Even poor Fumblefeather can barely keep up his whipping.
Mr. Fumblefeather, whipping weakly at the urchins: Make those drums… make those drums… make thosss drmms… m’k ths drrr…
Fumblefeather falls asleep on his feet, the whip falling limp. He slumps against the wall behind him, and slides to the floor, snoring. Urchin 1 runs to the door, but finds it locked. There is no key on Fumblefeather’s belt.
Urchin 2: Well, this is fucking horseshit.
Urchin 1: It’s fucking Christmas.
Urchin 2: What now?
Urchin 1: Keep making these drums. Fumblefeather will be feeling mighty whippy when he wakes up from this nap.
The urchins sigh, and return to the conveyor belt of elegant little drums. They are only at work for a few moments, however, when a familiar and horrifying sound is heard.
Urchin 1: That breath! It’s the Wicked Reverend! He’s come for us!
Urchin 2: Where is he? The sound is coming from all over!
Narrator: Look up! Look up!
The chum chute disgorges a particularly large chunk into the vat. It is a person.
The figure in the chum surfaces and pulls itself out of the vat. Its velvet clothes drip with blood, and its beard is a tangled mass of gore. It tumbles from the lip of the vat, and drags itself across the floor toward the screaming children.
Bloody figure: Ho… ho… ho…
Urchin 2: Hold on… that’s not the Reverend!
The figure pulls itself upright, and places a long, blood-soaked, tasseled cap on its head.
Urchin 1: Fat Nicholas?!
Narrator: The spirit of Christmas! Fat Nicholas himself! Disappeared from London all these years, who would have thought him any more alive than Reverend Malthus himself? Yet here he is, bone-thin and blood-soaked as he may be!
Fat Nicholas: Ho… ho… ho, my children.
Urchin 2: Fat Nick, what are you doing here?
Fat Nicholas: I have come… one last time… so that I might restore some Christmas joy… to the two children who need it the most.
Urchin 1: You’re rescuing us?
Fat Nicholas: No, my child… my reindeer have all gone to meat and glue… and I haven’t the strength… any more.
Urchin 1: Well then what the shit? Thanks for nothing.
Fat Nicholas: No! Please… don’t lose the Christmas spirit just yet! I may… have a present or two in this old bag of mine still. Christmas… is not lost.
Fat Nicholas pulls a deflated sack from over his shoulder. Chunks of chum fall from its folds, but he reaches inside hopefully.
Narrator: What could Fat Nick have in that sack, as empty as it looks? And what would our heroes do with toys in this cursed toy factory anyhow? Is this the end… of Christmas?
The Urchins approach the struggling Nick curiously. Stage fades to darkness.
The exterior door of the factory antechamber opens, and Bellylaugh and Jinglefoot enter, each holding a sack of grapes.
Mr. Bellylaugh: The trap is set, dear Jinglefoot! In a few hours our factory will be full again!
Mr. Jinglefoot: I hope so, Mr. Bellylaugh, I hope so!
Mr. Bellylaugh: I wonder how our chums are doing?
Mr. Jinglefoot: “Chums”! Ha ha! Not yet, but soon enough!
They walk to the factory door, which Bellylaugh unlocks and opens wide.
Bellylaugh is thrown backward, his skull torn into ragged chunks and strips.
Mr. Jinglefoot: What in…
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Three more shots catch Jinglefoot in the neck and chest. He falls, choking on his own blood.
Mr. Fumblefeather tips through the open doorway into the antechamber, blood erupting from his face. The urchins follow him into the room, each holding a large, new handgun. Smoke wafts from the barrels.
Urchins: Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Thank you, Fat Nicholas!
Fat Nick, still soaked in chum, crawls through the door behind them.
Fat Nick: Of course… my children. I only wish I had more to give you. But… I think… (he lays a hand on Urchin 2’s foot) You might enjoy those. (Fat Nick waves at the sacks of grapes sitting near the bodies of Bellylaugh, Jinglefoot, and Fumblefeather.)
Urchin 2: Hooray! Grapes for everyone!
Fat Nick: Not… for everyone. I have… a different gift for you… my little friend. (He places a hand on Urchin 1’s ankle, as he has no feet.) I am too old… too weak… to continue my duties… But you! There is so much… room for Christmas in your heart… You shall carry on… where I could not.
Urchin 1: What?!
Fat Nick’s head falls to the floor, and his hand slips off Urchin 1’s ankle. He is dead.
Urchin 1: What?! What?!
Even as he speaks, Urchin 1’s filthy rags are shed, revealing a suit of red velvet and white fur. Shiny black leather caps cover his foot stumps. Fat Nick’s bloody toy sack inflates with cargo, and rolls toward Urchin 1’s hand.
Urchin 1: No! No! Nooooo!
Urchin 2: Grapes! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas everyone!
Stage dims, narrator’s voice rises.
Narrator: And so we leave our happy Christmas tale. And while the streets of old London are still frozen and dark, and the urchin dens across the city are still cold and filled with seeping carbon monoxide and radon gas, whenever you see a homeless child selling bruised fruit on the street, or a tiny, footless Nicholas stumping slowly across the rooftops, dragging a massive bag of toys, remember this: the spirit of Christmas lives on. And sometimes the simplest of gifts—like two loaded pistols, or a trail of grapes in the snow—can make the greatest difference! Merry Christmas!
I use commas like I decided it was more important to have and employ commas than it was to feed my cat, so I stopped buying cat food and put all that money toward buy commas instead.
I use commas like I'm too confident—or not confident enough—in my writing.
I use commas like I have a comma factory in my basement, where child laborers carve commas out of inferior quality, carcinogenic materials all day long.
I use commas like I force the child laborers to make commas out of the bodies of their fallen coworkers, resulting in more commas than I could possibly use in a grammatically correct sentence.
I should be one of those comedians!
PS—I don't intend to use fewer commas, by the way. Just makin' some observational humor is all.
Initially, I just wanted to change the "reactions" options. I didn't think that "interesting," "funny," and "cool" were very useful adjectives (there's a post about that somewhere...), and in fixing that, I got distracted and really made shit bonkers, you know?
I wanted the overall effect to be the same thing you might experience while reading the hieroglyphs on an ancient stele (assuming you can read hieroglyphs), because that's how I figure all of this is going to end up... but things didn't quite work out that way, and I wasn't sure how to get back. And there was no button for inserting dancing babies, which was a drag.
At any rate, the available reactions have been given an edgy, 21st century update. I'm hoping this will a) increase my readership from just me to maybe me and a couple other people; and b) inspire my readership to offer their reactions in the form of checkable boxes.
I recently found out that I can use the internet to see how many times people look at this site every month (literally dozens sometimes), what y’all look like when you’re reading (most of you look a lot like me—great minds look alike, eh?), where you’re reading from (Forest Lake isd is a big one, but the average time on the site there is 00:03), and, most importantly, what y’all were looking for that brought you here.
Now, for a while, a major hook was “Harry slash Draco.” I totally understand that, and you should all rest assured that there will be a lot more coming along those lines. Really, images of an albino wizard wrestling The Boy Who Lived to the ground and giving him a shoulder rub cannot be banished from my mind. It’s just a matter of squeezing those pictures into words that
A) Are real; and
B) Won’t get me arrested if I ever have to travel to the American South.
In the last few weeks, however, there has been a frightening drop off in the Harry slash Draco category, and an equally disturbing influx of flow from these keywords:
“Attention getters on shaken baby syndrome”
Can I get a what-what up in here? (Street language—just roll with it.)
My first reaction upon seeing this was, of course, to prepare a post themed along the lines of “you should never shake a baby to get attention.” I mean, duh. The baby isn’t going to think you’re any cooler, because they don’t even understand what that means, and unless there’s some sort of club out there that I don’t know about, no one else will think you’re cooler either. So there.
But… I consulted my neighbor on the whole thing. (Turd—you remember him, right? He lost some fingers to “diabetes” since I last brought him up. Right, Turd. You say “diabetes,” I say “too much butter.”) Turd was of the opinion that “attention getters” aren’t people, but rather conversational techniques or teaching aides. Sort of a “scared straight” kind of thing.
So… I want to give y’all what you’re looking for, but what the heck? This isn’t my area of expertise (that would be, traditionally, poisons, and, more recently, Legos), and, frankly, the whole thing seems in bad taste. Talking about shaking a baby, even if it’s just to get teenagers to like you, is obviously better than actually doing… that… but it’s still not great.
But, ok, here:
- Babies are largely defenseless. A hummingbird could kill or wound any baby.
- A baby’s brain is like a computer made of chocolate pudding. You don’t shake that!
- Babies are like ants: you might feel tough next to one of them, but if you fell into one of their nests you would be singing a different tune pretty quick.
- Babies are born knowing how to swim, and can swim faster than most adults. Only once they learn to walk do they lose this ability. It is a trade-off.
- Unless you were raised in a communist country’s gymnastics program, you probably aren’t strong enough to pick up a baby, so don’t try. It’s not a matter of weight, it’s that their skin is like a water weenie.
- Some babies are made of tar, and touching them can get you into a very sticky situation.
- You were a baby once, unless you were grown in a jar like those twins form Sister Sister. In that case, you were once a mass of cheek tissue. Showing jealous towards a real baby will only give you away.
That’s all I’ve got right now. I hope that satisfies you, Google.
There's no denying that it's a beautiful shot, but when you know the story behind it you can't help but experience a little wishful thinking. For one, the still image captures none of the manic thrusting described in the photographer's notes, and the pitching of the crippled vessel (the boat, I mean) disrupted the tableau moments before the shot was taken. Apparently, a mannequin dressed to resemble Nellie Taft was only inches outside the frame at this point, skidding away on the tilting deck. But that's the ballet of history, eh?
It should be mentioned, too, that Mr. Reis survived "the ship thing" by eventually fleeing to his private dinghy, losing nothing more than his photographer's legs below the knees. (Cold water was the final straw, certainly, but poor circulation was the real culprit.)
*Honestly, I really don't know much about the Titanic situation beyond the sexy photography. I did see the film several years ago, and I gathered that many of the poor people traveled in some sort of submarine towed behind the main vessel. I assume they were dragged to the bottom with the furniture and propellers and... other boat things?
But I can't! It's like it's Christmas, and I'm Santa Claus; I had to share at least one more photo from my Old Money and Vintage Porn collection. How could I not?!
I'm not sure exactly who this man is, but he certainly looks like someone, if you know what I mean. He's got the kind of swagger that only comes from the knowledge that you could have someone fired and possibly blinded if they looked at you cross-eyed.
I thought about starting up a blog to display the photos I've found... but then I remembered I've got this one already, and two would be a lot to take care of.
Check it out:
It's as if he's screaming, "Make me beautiful, Ansel Adams! I own you!"
I asked my supervisor today if she had ever read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She said she had, and that she very much enjoyed the book.
A little side note here: I haven’t read the book myself, technically, but only because I’m not really a reader. I’ve had it read to me, however. It’s amazing what that guy at the suicide prevention hotline will do if you pretend to cry.
Anyway, she said she enjoyed the book. I asked her, then, what she thought of the concept: camping out in a museum. She said she loved the idea, and as a kid had always thought that would be a wonderful thing to do.
I’m inclined to agree, and I told her so. I told her that even if you didn’t like going to museums, or if all the local museums had photographs of you taped up by the doors, it would still be pretty fun to try the concept out at your place of business, wherever that might be. I said you could just sleep under your desk like a little fort, and if they turned down the heat over night, you could shred trash and stuff your pants with it. When it was too warm for pants, you could have awesome, Risky Business-style solo dance parties. Also, you could shit in the drinking fountains, because, if you tape the handle down over night, even a reasonably large shit will wash away by the morning. Of course, when you do that, you have to get used to drinking out of the sink.
There’s a lot to consider, and I thought it was a fun topic of conversation. I wouldn’t have brought it up if I’d thought she was going to be such a killjoy, but I guess I shouldn’t have been totally surprised. (I try toreserve the term “totally surprised” for situations like getting bit by a shark while you’re in the tub, or catching the flu from a bat.) All she could come up with was that she didn’t want to find me sleeping under my desk anymore when she came in early. As if there’s a better spot.
So that’s out.
This is a word-picture I had made by a local artist. I gave him the text of every buyer review I could find for the DVD of "The Sweetest Thing," starring Cameron Diaz (and several other talented, beautiful women), and told him to make something with those words that represented the film.
I was expecting something like a heart, or a pair of traveling pants, but what I got was, in his words, "a penis with a nail sticking out of it."
Crude? Insulting? Yes and yes, and he wouldn't know a good movie if it knocked him over and hammered a nail into his you-know-what. If I had ever been planning on paying him, I would have changed those plans there and then. (I'm more of a dine-and-dash art patron in any case, but the sentiment was still there.)
My solution, at first, was to just hang the illustration backwards. Then I realized that it was, after all, mine, and it could be whatever I wanted it to be.
So what we have here is no longer a nailed wiener, it's a funmarine! ("Funmarine" is just a contraction of submarine and fun. Funmarines were also featured in Down Periscope, and Das Boot.)
On this funmarine girls do... whatever they want, just as long as they follow their hearts and stay true to their friends! Now that's what I call art!
"Instead of describing things as 'phallic,' use the word 'penile.'"
Say what you will about the perils of youth, but I was a smart guy in 2008. If I could only talk to that kid today...
What's on your mind, Dandy? How do you come up with this shit? Where were you going with that "penile" thing? Do you know how special that was? How are you doing with the ladies?
Yes sir, that was one sharp, mysterious young man. I fucked that up pretty seriously, though. I don't mean to imply that I ruined myself with drugs—I don't do drugs, I drink. And I only drink what I make myself in the garage. I'm not an idiot.
No, I killed young Dandy up here (I'm pointing to my head). Did you think that such a clever, innocent psyche could survive six months of thinking through the lens of what I would do if I were forced to take up Frodo's burden? I feel lucky that the attraction to under-four-foot men lasted as briefly as it did. Everything beyond that was a freebie, and the youthful inventiveness wasn't part of it. After thrusting my digit into The One Ring, there was no going back. (And I'm sorry if that sounds penile to you, but it's the truth.)
I'm not down about it, though; it's not all bad. Being less creative has led to me getting arrested way less often. I mean, the very next item in my notes was "See what my neighbor's neck skin smells like." That's an experience I would happily forget, and the aftermath wasn't a great way to spend my birthday.
RC’s fame ate away at the essentially private Cola. Its initially minor eccentricities escalated into grotesque changes to its packaging and flavor, ultimately leading to accusations of pedophilia. RC maintained that its relations with kids were healthy—it was simply attracted by their "purity and innocence."
The same qualities were attributed to it by its loyal fans, believing RC Cola to be a beverage whose fine flavor was distorted by a malicious press. But as its packaging changed, rumors about RC grew. It began to appear in public wearing a koozie, and seemed to be asexual.
RC was due for a grand re-release next month, but there were still wild stories: one claimed that RC was suffering from fecal contamination. Like so much else about it, the rumor may have been true, but it was probably just razzle-dazzle. It is survived by its parent companies, Cadbury Schweppes and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up.
That Franklin was some sort of genius-philosopher. And, keep in mind, this lil' sweet-mouth wasn't pulled from the racist, xenophobic rantings of "Poor Richard"—this is pure, unfiltered Franklin. That shit can give you cancer, but it's so smooth. Savor it.
Don’t worry about it—I didn’t know what it meant either. But I had some free time this afternoon between lunch and 5:00, and I did a little etymological research.
The phrase is French, and it dates back to the days before the most recent French revolution. France was totally going to pot back then. The emperors and their ladies were super rich, and they started the fashion of eating only little candies all day. The rest of the country was super poor, though, shit poor, but they still wanted to act like rich people and eat little candies all day. The poor people couldn’t afford candy, and there sure as shit weren’t little candies lying all over the place. But there was something else lying all over the place: goose poop.
See, one of the main reasons for all of France’s revolutions (besides all the rich people making everybody else feel ugly) was the periodic goose infestations. They were everywhere! And nothing drives a poor person crazy like geese getting up in their huts and stuff. The kings always promised to keep the goose population down, but geese are cyclical, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. So now and again the poor people would revolt because of all the geese, and kill some richies.
In this last goose-infested, pre-revolutionary period, the poor people were feeling jealous over the rich people’s constant candy-eating, and they were driven to desperate measures. They ate the only plentiful, approximately candy-sized objects they had (goose poop). It’s sort of like poor people today who wear pieces of car tires instead of Crocs, or snort salt instead of cocaine. It’s all about image.
So they ate the goose poop, because it was practically free, and it made them feel fancy. But obviously they couldn’t call it “goose poop” unless that’s what the rich people called their candies (it wasn’t), so they thought up a term that sounded—to them—cute and classy: bon bon (literally “sweet-sweet”).
But as much as the poor people liked the cultural cachet that came with being seen eating goose poop, the pastime was not without drawbacks. The main issue was a certain rankness of the mouth that accompanied a day of lying in the shade and eating “bon bons.” It made lengthy discussions between habitual bon bon eaters excruciatingly unpleasant, in fact, and so many people limited their conversations to as few words as possible. In another attempt at classing up a behavior by calling it the exact opposite of what it was, these outbursts were dubbed “bon mots.” And yet, for whatever reason, the expression stuck. We still use it today to describe the clever expressions of rich people, or what someone smart enough to have a twitter account wants to say at any given time. Bon mot.
What I’m getting at is that I now have a twitter account. It wasn’t easy, and it’s not cheap, but I was thinking about how it can sometimes literally be months between my diary entries, and how that’s too long for most people to wait for my “sweet mouths.” And so: twitter.com/DandyChesterton
PS—My cell phone is rotary, so please forgive the typos. They’re a small tradeoff for updates from my bathroom. (Or any bathroom!!)
No, really, where did the last month go? Not long after my previous post, I got what I heard the doctors call a “corncussion.” What’s a corncussion? It’s like shaken baby syndrome, but for grown-ups. I’ll tell you what, I’ve never envied a shaken baby any less than I do now. (Except for the shaking, I had always considered that to be a pretty decent gig.)
So… Yes, and no.
Yes, I got it from a fall in the bathtub. And no, I didn’t slip and fall while trying to put something up my, you know, butt. Why does everyone think this? (Ok, not everyone, just my mother.) Only one thing goes up my butt: thermometers. And sometimes I prefer oral thermometers, so it’s not even like thermometers are up there all the time.
It’s a health thing. You have to keep constant tabs on your temperature. Otherwise… who knows what could happen? That’s a mystery I’d rather not be the one to solve.
Who’s to say that the corncussion wasn’t heat-related? I don’t remember what happened, exactly, but it seems more than reasonable that I could have been taking an ice bath to compensate for an unexpected rise in my core temperature. Ice is, of course, the slipperiest element, and I probably stepped on a cube, took a tumble, and, viola, corncussion. If I had been monitoring my temperature more carefully, I probably wouldn’t have had to spend the last three weeks relearning which direction Mario is supposed to run. (To the right.)
On the plus side, while unconscious I had a wonderful dream about one huge rabbit with one huge eye (and one normal eye, but the big one was really the attention-getter.) The dream was thin on plot, but I think it could easily be fleshed out into a film, or at least one of those one-man plays.
Find it here, at Paper Darts magazine.
Heyo, all! This one has been stewing around in my head for a while. My real stews don’t turn out very well, if I’m being perfectly honest, but I have a good feeling about this one. If it were a real stew, it would be rich, tangy, and brown. (Brown isn’t particularly appetizing, I know, but it’s the appropriate color for stews.) Also, this slash/stew wouldn’t be poisonous. That might seem like a given to most of you, but, trust me, it’s not.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I was sitting in my closet, watching a film from a then-little-known producer by the name of Jerry Bruckhimer. The movie was about a troubled and short young man with dark, tousled hair. This boy had rare and exceptional abilities, and was accepted into an exclusive school for other special children like him.
At the school, the lad made a sidekick out of an oafish bootlick, formed a curiously asexual relationship with a very clever girl, and found an enemy… and then a friend in a blue-eyed, blond haired classmate. And, of course, he ultimately excelled at the unusual academy.
I’m talking about Harry Potter, right?
No! But, see, that’s what I thought too! It turns out that I was high as a kite from a Freon leak (my neighbor’s vintage refrigerator vents right into my closet) and I had actually been watching Top Gun all night.
But the mix up got me thinking: if I could so easily get these two films confused… maybe they were really meant to be mixed up. Mashed up. Slashed up!
And so, without further ado, I give you…
Top Potter/Harry Gun
The men’s locker room at the Navy’s elite Fighter Weapons School. The room is empty, the showers temporarily dry and free from concealing clouds of steam.
The doors open, and a crowd of boisterous young men jostle and shove their way into the locker room. Many of the young men wear the FWS’s standard-issue sport jeans, the official volleyball wear of the school. For they have indeed been playing volleyball, in a much anticipated intermural match with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Hogwarts students have been graciously allowed to use the FSW’s locker room, and still flushed with the excitement and sportsmanship of the afternoon’s match, the cadets are happy to share their space.
The Hogwarts students have lost the game. It was a close game, close enough that they very well could have won if luck had gone their way, but the defeat is a stinging one nonetheless. Hogwarts boys are used to getting what they want, and these boys wanted to win. They shuffle into the locker room, their shoulders slumped in their sleeveless sport robes. The last two to come in are the captain and co-captain of the team, and they can’t help but feel responsible for the team’s loss. They are, naturally, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. (Respectively. Ron knows the only reason he is co-captain is because of his famous and athletic friend.)
Harry: Ron! You’re a co-captain! Act like it for once.
Ron: Ah, sorry, mate. I just… I just…
Harry: I know. It’s the worst. But without the losses, the victories would mean nothing.
Ron: If you say so, mate.
Ron slouches onto a bench and bends down to struggle with his shoes. He has never gotten the hang of laces. He stays at it for several seconds.
Ron: Ah, Harry, mate…
Harry looks down to see the tangle Ron has made of his laces.
Harry: No problem, Ronno.
Harry crouches next to Ron, and concentrates on the knotted laces. He’s amazed that Ron could have created such a mess with only two strings and no magic. His prescription goggles have become fogged in the warming locker room, and he pulls them from his eyes.
Ron: They make you look like Scotty Pippin.
Ron: Your goggles. They make you look like Scotty Pippin. It’s a good look on you.
Harry: Thanks, mate, but I know what they make me look like: a git.
Ron: No! Harry, I’d never…
Harry: Don’t worry about it. I know.
Harry stands up and gives Ron’s bare shoulder a firm squeeze.
Harry: There you go. Laces sorted out. Why don’t you hit the showers? The next game will be better. I know it.
Ron: Yeah. We’ll beat these retards yet!
Harry: I wish you wouldn’t use that word. But… (Harry grins) Yeah, we will.
Ron ambles off towards the showers, his mood already lifting. Harry wishes he could be so carefree. He stretches, and scratches his temple with his wand.
A voice comes from behind him: Nice moves out there, Potter.
Harry whirls around, his wand at the ready, prepared to face the shriveling sarcasm of the Malfoy. But it’s not Malfoy that stands in front of him.
But then he places the young man in his memory. He is Maverick, the captain of the FWS team. The boy, in many respects, looks like a stockier, more muscular version of Harry. Harry sees so much of himself in the other captain’s eyes, he half expects to see a vivid, zigzag scar on his forehead. But his brow is smooth and unmarked. A mischievous grin crawls across his mouth and creases his eyes.
Harry relaxes, and sits on the bench to untie his own shoes.
Harry: Er… Maverick. Thanks. But not quite nice enough, I guess, huh?
Maverick thrusts a jean-clad leg up on the bench, and rests an elbow on his knee.
Maverick: Ha ha! Nah. Just bad luck. Plus, the Iceman was in rare form today.
Harry: “The Iceman”?
Maverick: The cool customer with the highlights in his hair and the chip on his shoulder.
Harry: Ha. Practice that one?
Maverick’s grin widens.
Maverick: You know it. Maverick’s a real asshole, but he sure can play ball.
Harry: Yeah… I’ve got one a lot like that.
Maverick: The ginger?
Harry: Ron? No, Ron’s a puppy dog. Well, a puppy dog who can’t be trusted with matches, but you see what I’m saying. I’m talking about Malfoy.
Maverick: The golden snake with the killer spike?
Harry: That’s the one. “Golden snake”—that about sums it up, I suppose. Malfoy… sometimes I just want to break his little neck. And sometimes…
Maverick: Yeah. But that’s captainship for you. It’s not what people think it is.
Harry: No, it’s not. It’s… stressful.
Maverick: You said it. It just builds up, right up here.
Maverick places his thick hands on Harry’s shoulders. Maverick is right. The muscles in his shoulders are tense, and as knotted as Weasley’s pathetic shoes.
Harry: Yeah, right up there.
Maverick squeezes Harry’s shoulders, kneading the tight muscles.
Maverick: You just have to let the game in, you know? The action, the movement… Let the game lead you, and you’ll lead your boys just fine.
Harry: Yeah, I forget that sometimes. Say, I don’t suppose you’ve ever played quidditch…
Ron calls excitedly from the other side of the locker room: Harry! Mate, they have some sort of tub full of hot water, like a… a… a hot-tub. You can get in it!
Harry reaches back to give Maverick a pat on the bicep.
Harry: I better go check on him. Last time he went in the lake by himself, he almost drowned. From eating mud.
Maverick gives Harry’s shoulders one last squeeze, tight and strong.
Maverick: Ha. You should have seen Goose. Until next time, Potter.
Harry: Yeah. Until next time. Oh, and Maverick?
Harry, with a wink: Watch your back at the next match. I’ll be gunning for you, bud.
Maverick: Ha ha! I don’t doubt it!
Maverick flashes a grin, and gives Harry the thumbs-up. The curtain falls.