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Mad Science and Other Miracles

Last weekend I got to see Young Frankenstein. I got to see it at the same movie palace I originally saw it in when it first came out, thirty-three years ago.

Yes. I am that old.

After I stopped marveling at the fact that every line of dialogue in that film has been burned into my midbrain for thirty-three years (hey, no wonder I never have room for anything else), and then after I stopped wondering how many people on the screen are now dead (and how many have been reanimated), I started to wonder about Dr. Frankenstein himself.

Whenever the man dies, he leaves exactly one heir. This makes probate a snap, but it could also make for some interesting family dynamics. How, after all, would Frankenstein Junior feel about having no mother, yet suddenly gaining a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall younger brother? And then gaining a six-foot younger sister the younger brother wanted to marry? Whom the Doctor disowned, and then followed all over the world? Junior would gain some interesting assumptions about family values.

He would never be able to make his own real sister. He would never even get one for Christmas. But at least he and Igor could make sweet, sweet heirs together.

Perhaps, ironically, we have to chalk up Dr. Frankenstein's production of a single heir to a failure of imagination. After all, the man could make as many heirs as he wanted.

Imagine a reading of the Frankenstein will, attended by a dozen contentious, squabbling Creatures. Which Creature would get Dr. Frankenstein's brain? Why -- the head of the household, of course. And which Creature would get the hands? Probably whichever one had become a secret criminal mastermind and needed a new set of prints to throw off the CSIs. And so on.

As the will was being read, and each Creature got something it didn't realize it had needed, the Creatures' former rivalries would be forgotten. All scars would be mended in the healing balm of the late Doctor's benevolence. For the first time they would stop squabbling about who gotten the choicest body parts or the most electricity -- and come together, as a family.

Then they would marry each other.

Lately people have been giving me things. This is a great way to remind me I have a mailing address.

My friend Dawn sent me a couple issues of Collier's. These are autobiographical graphic novels in booklet form, written and drawn by David Collier. The booklets contain vignettes about the things you did and the people you knew, if you were on the fringes of the punk scene in early-eighties Toronto.

Oh, the things you didn't know about yourself!

The issues Dawn sent me are homages to people who are now deceased. Each panel is a sort of tableau, containing a title with a narrative point and then a homely little picture to illustrate or foil the point. This is how memory works: you remember a split-second scene or a several-second anecdote, which you then fit into whatever narrative you've decided your life is. If you're lucky, you don't have to work too hard to make things fit.

One of my favorite scenes:

  • Caption: He was a great wellspring of unsolicited advice.

  • Panel: "Never ever draw another picture like that again!"

Good stuff. Thank you, Dawn.

Other things I've been given:

My family talks a lot about what's on HBO. To help me make sense of more than forty percent of their conversations, my parents help me watch some of the HBO series.

The latest offering is John From Cincinnati. So far it's fascinating. It's a sort of Being There for surfer families. It contains possible divine intervention, so it's rated TV-MA.

So far there have been no will-reading scenes of lawyers divvying up the divine intervention to mutually resentful family members, but I remain hopeful. I want to see if the surfer grandson gets the sun to stand still so he can finish his promo video for potential sponsors, thereby avenging himself on the family members who scoffed at his lack of marketability.

Oh -- I started up a MySpace page. For those of you who wonder why this weblog contains no pictures of me, visit MySpace to find out.

Then be my friend, won't you?

For a while, everyone told me that fire was my friend. Then they'd blame me when I'd burn my thumb and go on a rampage. They'd actually wave torches in my face, claiming they were here as allies to help fire confront me about my behavior.

As you can imagine, we weren't able to resolve our differences. I've been blocked from fire's MySpace page, but I've stayed in the loop enough to hear that fire has been blackballed from several national forests.

I bet you're easier to get along with than that.


It is obvious that your early days as a peace activist in Mississippi has affected your view of the world.

I don't know Butchie instead

Zippy! Want a kiss?

Elle, what can I say. Mississippi was a real resume-builder.

There are a couple pictures of you in my MySpace Pics section, along with a lot of pictures of me. Unfortunately you have to be a MySpace member to see them.

So unless you become a member, you may never learn what you look like. Or what I look like.

Incidentally, if you're trying to get the dust off a picture so you can scan it: licking is not the ideal solution.

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