Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Ballad of Poops-a-Dollar Elephant

If you've been to Minnesota's own Mall of America, and I pray to God you haven't, you may have seen the first floor kiosk of My Pillow Pets. These are pillows with little heads and feet and tails of animals. They also feature a velcro strap that you can fasten to make them look more like stuffed animals. Anyway, Charlie has the lion and for Christmas he gave Kate the elephant.

Because it's soft but mostly because her brother gave it to her, Kate adores this pillow, must have it every night.

So last week, Kate loses one of her front teeth and so it's Tooth Fairy time, right? Except last time this happened, ol' TF was a day late, which was my fault. THIS time, my lovely wife who is more careful than me, decides to be proactive. She slips a dollar between the elephant's legs (elephant being in "stuffed animal" mode) and proceeds to read Kate her goodnight books. But then for some reason, Kate decides to reach up there. She finds the dollar, naturally.

"MOM! The elephant pooped a dollar for my lost tooth!"

Thus, a legend was born. Soon, the creature was named "Poops-a-Dollar Elephant" and a mythology began to grow. Like many parents, I kind of wonder about- mmm I'm going to be careful with my phrasing even here- the perpetuation of charming stories versus the desire to be honest with one's children. But here was a situation where we knew it was a pillow that somehow contained a dollar and STILL Kate wanted to talk about who Poops-a-Dollar Elephant really was. I think adults get hung up on this idea of real v. make-believe but to 6-year-olds that just doesn't much matter.

I talked to 6-year-old Kate about Poops-a-Dollar's back story:

ME: So who is Poops-a-Dollar? Does he compete with the Tooth Fairy?
HER: No, he's her helper.
ME: Well, how does that work?
HER: The Tooth Fairy flies into your room and then Poops-a-Dollar comes in too and she might leave you money or he might just poop it out and leave it under your pillow.
ME: But it's not elephant poop, it's cash money.
HER: Right.
ME: I think that's important to note.
HER: Right.
ME: Does he crash into things? Because I'm thinking she's all pretty and delicate with the wand and the tiara but he's this big old elephant that poops money all over the place.
HER: Not all over the place! Under your pillow!
ME: Okay, right, but still: elephant. I wouldn't be surprised to see some broken lamps here and there.
HER: Yeah!
ME: How is Poops-a-Dollar able to make that money come out? What do they feed him?
HER: Other money.
ME: So they just give him money and he just poops it out the other side?
HER: Yeah!
ME: It seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through. You take this money and run it through an elephant who, somehow, doesn't digest it and then he poops it out the other side. I mean, why not just skip the whole elephant thing entirely and just hand out the dollars in some way that doesn't involve an elephant's colon?

And it is. And you get to say the phrase Poops-a-Dollar Elephant.


Original version of Space Oddity, 1969

Would that NASA would employ the same clothing designer.

(found via the inescapably awesome Kung Fu Grippe blog of Mr. Merlin Mann)


Monday, March 23, 2009

Went to Chuck E. Cheese and wrote some Twitter stuff about it last night

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. The heads of Showbiz Pizza characters displayed on pikes outside, a warning to other pizza/terror restaurateurs.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. Enormous leering animatronic vaudevillian vermin was MOST serene and comforting element in the place.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese in wealthy suburb, reasoning it would less skanky and soul killing. Nobel Prize for Shrewdness not forthcoming.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. Tried to keep my mind occupied with joke making in order to stave off madness.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chunky Cheeses. That's the street name for the state of Wisconsin.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese's In Love, the new chain of Rickie Lee Jones family restaurants. I must say, the Tom Waits Tiltawhirl was awesome.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese's. Or tried to. Accidentally ended up at Chuck E. Jesus. Totally different place. (insert alienating joke here).about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. Was pleased to find that it was all earth tones and Dan Zanes music. Or so went my emergency comfort hallucination.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. I'd like to say I then came back but you never really come back from something like that.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. It was horrifying, sure, but I was comforted by the belief that the UN will eventually shut it down.about 15 hours ago from web

# Went to Chuck E. Cheese. Why didn't you stop me? Not cool, dude.about 15 hours ago from web



There's got to be a better word than that for consulting with people via Twitter. Regardless, I kicked an idea for a show out to my 1100 or so Twitter followers. I wanted to know what they would think of a show that was guided by a commitment AWAY FROM journalism, a show that was anything but the news. I figure the news is pretty well covered anyway and people might like to seek refuge from it. So what would that be?

Here are some responses:

A story on all those people I see in the coffee shops who look like writers and deep thinkers-What are they REALLY doing?

how about some travel pieces, ala Savvy Traveler. Could take many forms. Listeners/readers could contribute from worldwide locals.

Maybe it's because it's the kind of story I like to do, but I just want to hear stories about real people's lives, such as...
...how you met your spouse, how you got your kids to sleep, how you hated your dad, how you got fired, how you started a new life.
not to mention, what it's like to work your job, what it's like to be in your school, what it's like to live in your house...
Some of my favorite moments on WA were the listener responses to queries about anecdotes or scary movies, etc. More of that.

For someone who's ostensibly a journalist, I have minimal regard for both news & truth. But, Ledes/segues will b tough on NO NEWS.


Trying to come up with something not news, not cars, not Radio Lab, not finance and politics, but still palatable to Minnesotans...

I'd like a show where people call in and complain about things & the recorded calls are played back w/o comment:The Bitching Hour.

Like Atlantic Monthly, NYT Mag topics minus headlines stuff. Books, film, culture. Skies the limit. Get ppl thinking critically!

i wanna tell the story of a dog i rescued from traffic. it was the most annoying dog ever and i regretted it... stories like that!

The problem with any non-news radio idea i have is it turns into This American Life.

all free range chicken songs, all the time.

(And then there's all this that came in one email from this guy Stewart) (!)

*Getting drunk and thinking it is a good idea to clean the chain on your bike. Then, when you try to put it back on, your chain turns into a Rubik's Cube and you spend 30 minutes putting it back on.
*Air. The band or the gas.
*Have goatees secretly become incredibly fashionable? Look around!
*People on Twitter who follow way less people than follow them. What is up with those people? Is that is good strategy?
*Interviews with authors of books who said that the stock market was going to keep going up! Up! UP!!! 2 or 3 years ago.
*What did you think about Bush when he stood on that rubble at the World Trade Center? What do you think about Obama? Does anything worry you when you compare the two thoughts?
*Are there less cardinals(birds) now?
*A primer on song bird songs that might be in your back yard and the mnemonic associated with them. EG: "Peter Peter Peter" for the tufted titmouse or "Miss Towhee" for the towhee. erm, I do not know how to spell towhee and it is not coming up in spell check and I am too lazy to check Google.
*What is the best way to use Pandora?
*How do you make radio really good for 10 seconds?
*With netbooks, are we moving back to the mainframe-client model?
*What is the story with Xeni?
*You know those word games where you get a word, change one letter at a time, and after you have changed all the words, you have a new word? Get a musician, David Byrne comes to mind, to do the same thing. Have him start with a chord, change one note at a time and come to a different chord.
*Is it okay if I think Ray Charles is just lame?
*Dictionary stands, who has them?
*The French Whispering Woman Singer genre.
*Self Promotion Time! http://www.photocatrace.com/ What is that all about?
*Reusing an idea but making it look brand new.
*Are functional alcoholics just incredibly fucking smart?
*Talk about your DUI
*How do you approach taboo words vs the way your parents approached taboo words.
*Don't you just love that woman on NPR that reports on the Supreme Court?
*I bought IKEA and they did me wrong
*I think my last boyfriend / girlfriend ruined me for life.
*I have a radio in my TV
*Seriously Boomers, you might not be listening to this show, but our music is much better than yours.
*The French and the letter Z
*What is up with dudes and strip clubs?
*Do oldsters go gay when they get Alzheimer's?
*Do you think your earliest memory is a real memory?
*Examples of people declaring "X words!" and then saying a different amount of words. EG: "Three words: John Moe's Radio Show!"
*When to use a colon.
*When to use v or vs.
*Ask the dude from Goldfrapp, "What is up with the chick from Goldfrapp?" Don't get crass.
*Did you know that Daylight Savings Time is stupid?
*What is up with Chicks and Cosmo? Is that like the dudes strip club?
*Can you put the the word "actually" anywhere in a sentence?
*Are (American) knickers coming back?
*Can we just call knickers clam diggers?
*Does Alzheimer's have an apostrophe?
*Is Frank Zappa dead?
*Is there a worse album than 'Thing Fish'?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh I forgot to tell you, I did some radio

I filled in hosting Midmorning, a 9am to 11am weekday show on Minnesota Public Radio. Two one-hour topics per day, guests, calls, liveness, the whole bit. Had a blast thanks to some really top notch producers and the support of colleagues.
On Monday, I talked about the decline of religious affiliation in the 9am hour. At 10, we did a show about Twitter, that hopefully illuminated more than it confused. The lovely John Hodgman was part of that one. Tuesday's 9am hour featured a discussion about the online future of newspapers, just as the last ever tangible Seattle P-I hit the streets. Monica Guzman of the P-I was on that one and she sounded weary but candid, which was perfect. She's one of my faves. At 10, yeesh, all about gang warfare in Mexico and whether you'll get beheaded if you go to Cancun (you won't but don't buy any drugs whatever you do).
So you can listen to all those online if you like. Felt great to do radio again. Like a stack of flapjacks on a hungry morning.


Ichiro - Lasorda

(from the New York Times)
Tommy Lasorda, the tournament’s official mascot, held court during batting practice with several Japanese players. Ichiro Suzuki stopped by and spoke passable English with Lasorda, who in turn spoke passable English with Suzuki. Ichiro kept pointing to Lasorda’s circumferentially-challenged midsection and saying, “How many months?” Clearly unfamiliar with certain idioms, Lasorda answered, “I’m 82 years old.”


I know what you're saying

you're saying "I like 'The Boys Are Back In Town' and I like 'Ignition' by R. Kelly, but where can I hear them in a pensive acoustic cover TOGETHER by The Mountain Goats?
Here is where.

The Boys Are Back In Town - the Mountain Goats

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My favorite band for the next few minutes...

is Punks Not Dad. Listen to their song "In Me Shed".

There’s a place where I wanna go
be on my own when I’m feeling low
Only place that I wanna be – ONLY PLACE WHERE A DAD CAN BE FREE!
If you want me - you know where to find me If you need me - you’ll know where to look – I’ll be…
In me shed - reading the paper
In me shed - stirring up some paint
In me shed - sorting out me jam jars
In me shed in me shed
In me shed - fixing a puncture
In me shed - oiling the lawnmower
In me shed - having a quiet fag
In me shed in me shed in me shed

Theres a place where I wanna be -
get away from the family
Where a bloke can be a bloke
put me feet up have a smoke
If you want me - you know where to find me If you need me - you’ll know where to look…
In me shed - varnishing a picture frame
In me shed - mending a toaster
In me shed - doing the sudoku
In me shed in me shed
In me shed - listening to the cricket
In me shed - sampling me homebrew
In me shed - cleaning a sparkplug In me shed in me shed I’LL BE IN ME SHED!
In me shed – looking for the Duraglit
In me shed – repotting me tomatoes
In me shed – having a quiet nap In me shed in me shed
In me shed – got a paraffin heater
In me shed – got an old leather sofa
In me shed – got a nice bit of carpet In me shed in me shed
In me shed – got a Razzle and a Mayfair In me shed – got a handy little workbench
In me shed – got a transistor radio In me shed in me shed
In me shed – I’ll be readin’ the paper In me shed – and stirrin’ up some paint
In me shed – sortin’ out me jam jars In me shed In me shed
In me shed In me shed In me shed In me shed IN ME SHED!

(found on BoingBoing)


Friday, March 13, 2009

At the coffee place this morning

ME: Medium coffee and a muffin please.
BARISTO (male form of Barista): We have a special going where if you get a large coffee the muffin is only a dollar.
ME: Would a large coffee and a muffin be cheaper than a medium coffee and a muffin?
BARISTO: Yeah, it would.
ME: But I don't want that much coffee because then I would want to drink it and I would be all twitchy and panicky. I only want a medium.
BARISTO: I'm just saying.
ME: Could you give me a large coffee but just put it in a medium cup so there's only a medium amount of coffee in my large coffee?
BARISTO: Sure, I could do that. Great idea!



Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We're living in confusing times, thus it becomes necessary to identify truth and deception. We need to call out those people and institutions that we're on to.

You know the rules. It's not a condemnation exactly, more just a statement that while these folks/things/ideas might have other people fooled, they DON'T HAVE YOU FOOLED. You are on to them.

For further research, see:
First edition

Second edition
Third edition
Fourth edition
Fifth edition
Sixth edition

Okay, I admit this was all prompted today by hearing a Lily Allen song.

I am on to you, Lily Allen.
I'm on to you, Raisin Bran Extra. Yogurty clusters? Come on. Go check in with Raisin Bran Crunch on how to be a proper RB progeny.
I'm on to you He's Just Not That Into You. And I'm a little exhausted from that sentence.
I'm on to you, Apple, with your new proprietary headphones. Not. Fooled.
I'm on to you, Triscuits.
And you, Morning Glory Muffins.
Took me a while, The Strokes, but you have been found out. I'm on to you.
Icy sidewalks? I'm on to you too. Not that you care.
Everyone's on to you, minus 6 degrees in mid-March. Not that you care.
I wish I could say I'm on to you, Michael Steele, but I've totally lost the trail. I have no idea where you're going.

So. Your turn. Go!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Where Are We?

I'm writing this at Blogger.com. It's the website where I write the content that will appear on my blog, Monkey Disaster, which appears at monkeydisaster.blogspot.com. I started the blog way back in, jeez, 2003? Or something? Six years ago, just about. It was to be an outlet for my writing, my training facility for other writing, a way to stay in shape. Friends started reading it, then strangers, I've never made a dime on it and never will but I believe it's read by people.

Now, in October of 2007 I joined Facebook and soon after that enabled a feature there that imported all the posts from the blog over to Facebook. So sometimes when I make a post that gets a lot of comments, an I'm On To You post for instance, they show up both on the blog and on Facebook.

And, forgive me Facebook readers, but I've sometimes thought that you're getting it wrong. That comments belong not on the Facebook servers but the ones connected to the blog. That felt like the REAL place to me.

But I'm not sure about that anymore. Because, jeez, what does internet real estate really mean anymore (What did it ever mean, John?) (Shut up.)

I recently heard a speech by the new president of NPR, Vivian Schiller, who said that she sees a day in the near future where the NPR.org website just wouldn't matter anymore since people would receive that content on their Facebook and iPhone and a million other places. It should be noted that Schiller used to be at the New York Times and she claims credit for being the one to take down their dumb Times Select pay feature. Meanwhile, one of the brainy web people at my own company says he wants to move away from the idea of a radio show web page being a "Walden" experience, this pristine disconnected from all other realities. "More Emerson, less Thoreau," another colleague noted.

Meanwhile, I must admit I'm rather hooked on the press-the-lever-get-the-pellet nature of Twitter and do lots of writing there. We're at a curious time in our communications and technology history. It was a short while ago that I marveled at the idea that anyone could create a blog and have instant distribution to anyone who had access to a computer. It was the most dispersing and democratic thing I could think of. Now, this whole blog - which I have no plans to abandon - feels almost like a relic.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Today I read the Wikipedia entry on Kim Wilde

I have an excuse: I was trying to shoot some video in my office but I have western exposure and blinds so in the late afternoon I was getting a sort of Kids In America video feel to it. So that's why I was reading about it.

Check that. I have no excuse.

Anyway, there was this:

Her second career as a gardener has been equally successful, having received many accolades within only five years as a serious gardener, including a Gold at the 2005 Chelsea Flower Show. She also held an entry in the book of Guinness World Records for successfully moving and replanting the world's largest tree with fellow horticulturist Dave Fountain. Unfortunately the tree was blown away by a storm in January 2007.

Ah, hell, fine, here:


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Well here's some music for you.

My colleagues at The Current cool people radio station that is hip but not alienatingly so have launched a little widget thingie. You can listen to The Current now from right here. I might put it over on the side bar later on. Let me know what you think.