Acceptance speech

Above all, this morning I would like to thank my subconscious for my eccentric homestay family, rural English intellectuals in a cluttered house, and the homestay father who painted himself yellow and blue each morning, in a different pattern daily, everything but his curly ginger hair; and for the beautiful moor outside the house, in autumn colors, pools of water reflecting the sky with a fine clarity; and for the gangs of geologists exploring the region on a large sailboat for National Geographic, taking tons of photographs and removing their shoes and piling them up, shoes which, viewed upside-down, made expressive faces that amused Gamma mightily when I pointed them out to her.

Why the subconscious is better than a Fiat Dobl

  • When driving my subconscious in the rain, the thing connecting the driver’s-side wiper to the wiper motor that makes it go back and forth doesn’t break off.

  • When I drop my subconscious in a roasting pan full of hot, greasy turkey drippings, the asterisk key doesn’t break making it impossible for me to unlock it to call my wife and tell her to buy 75-watt lightbulbs instead of only 60 watt lightbulbs after all.
  • If I get stuck on a character, all I have to do is wait and a brilliant solution comes to me, and it doesn’t come to me from the Fiat or the Nokia.

On the minus side, the diplomats persecuting me in my sleep and the drowning and the other nightmares lately probably don’t come from the Fiat or the Nokia either.

Dieting with Wee Bug

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(Re-run, originally posted 21 Jan. 2004)

Thanksgiving warnings

(Since Thanksgiving Thursday is not a holiday where I live, we celebrated early, on Saturday.)

  1. Cooking the turkey will make you feel like a pervert again. Even worse, for reasons you do not understand, it will remind you vaguely of Condoleezza Rice this year, in addition to everything else, as it lies there on its back in the roasting pan, legs submissively in the air, while you stuff fistful after fistful of stuffing into its abdominal cavity. Why does the recipe call for me to tie the legs together, you will ask yourself, as you search the “miscellaneous” drawer for twine. And why does it give me so much satisfaction to do so?

  2. When you are cooking, keep your cell phone in your pants pocket, not in your shirt pocket, even if you prefer the quick access the shirt pocket location affords, even if you have given a friend dodgy directions to your house and included your cell phone number to make up for it, and want the quick access to be able to respond quickly when he finally calls, lost. Because if you keep the phone in your shirt pocket, you will be overwhelmed by the following flash of insight when, towards the end of the roasting period, you notice that the side of the turkey nearest the oven door is not quite as brown as the far side and ought to be turned around for a while to even out and you are standing there, bent over at the waist holding a heavy tray of aromatic, assymetrically-browned hogtied turkey in your clumsy oven mitts:
  3. Cell phones are not designed to be turkey-dripping-proof. Therefore, it will no longer function, having plopped into the pan. Therefore, my guest will not be able to reach me. Therefore I will have to contact work colleagues to get his number, since I only have his number stored in said cell phone, now submerged in an inch of turkey grease. Which, by the way, I cannot quickly snatch from its greasy bath due to clumsy oven mitts, not to mention the heavy tray they are holding. But the only work colleague whose number I have will be sleeping all day today, having told me of plans to stay up all night the previous night, so I will try in vain to contact her.
  4. Your teenaged daughter will finally get the phone out of the grease for you and give it to you after you get the turkey back into the oven. The coefficient of friction of the phone’s surface will be significantly reduced by the fresh coating of grease, so you will drop it onto the kitchen’s tile floor.
  5. Twice.
  6. This will give rise to optimistic hopes of a new cell phone for Christmas, preferably with a built-in camera and death ray.
  7. Unfortunately, your daughter and her friend will be able to take the phone apart and repair it. At first, the 4 and 7 buttons still won’t work so you remain optimistic, but by the next day even they are working. By Monday the phone is back in your shirt pocket and your co-workers are sniffing and saying, “Mmm. What smells like turkey?”

Miracle Pie

I baked two apple pies this evening because we are having friends over tomorrow to celebrate “Thanksgiving”. (We celebrate on Saturday because we don’t get the Thursday off here in Austria because Austria is not America — at least not yet. And vice-versa.)

Imagine my surprise when I took the second pie out of the oven and saw that it clearly wore the face of Buddy Hackett.

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Marcella Marceau

Alpha lost her voice last night due to a sore throat.
Not one to whisper, she communicated last night via a complex system of squeaks until I finally told her it was bad for our relationship.
This morning I got up and did the usual things and she came down for some coffee with me and conversation, which went much better than last night because she was using sign language this time. (When I first typed that, I wrote “sigh language,” which would also be cool).
Sign language conversations are useful because they eliminate the linguistic level almost entirely, and allow you to directly access the subtextual level of what people are saying, that hidden meaning that usually gets obscured by surface meaning.

It works like this:

    Some man: Good morning, Honey-Bunny.
    Some woman: [waves]
    Some man: Voice still on the blink?
    Some woman: [Nods. Gestures.]
    Some man: It is called a grapefruit in my country.
    Some woman: [Shakes head, gestures.]
    Some man: You want me to change lightbulbs at the mall? Is Beta awake yet?
    Some woman: [Nods, gestures.]
    Some man: She’s dancing the macarena on the ceiling. Okay.
    Some woman: [Emits coffee through nose, shakes head, gestures.]
    Some man: [Explains new method pharmacist allegedly recommended for application of throat lozenge]
    Some woman: [Brandishes big serrated bread knife]

Highly recommended.