Tag Archives | humor

Bonus Audio: The Monkey’s Tail…

This story has been published a few times: first in Trunk Stories #2 (Dec. 2004), and then it was reprinted in Broken Pencil #29 (2005) and most recently in Yareah Magazine, (Feb. 2009). I thought I would repost it here in it’s entirety and add this is audio version, as a bona fide of my long obsession with monkey-related fiction.

Here’s the audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

And a link to the file if the embedded player doesn’t work properly — The Monkey’s Tail … by Mark A. Rayner

The Monkey’s Tail, as Told by Marcel Duchamp the Day After Charles Lindbergh Landed at Le Bourget Field

The Monkey's Tail ....by Mark A. Rayner

I had this friend who was obsessed with having a monkey tail grafted to his ass. Actually, to call him a The Monkey’s Tail….friend is stretching the truth. Toulouse was more of a colleague. An ex-colleague, if you get my meaning.

He went to great lengths to achieve his ends. At first, he was convinced that it would be possible to grow a tail. After all, we used to have them: they are part of our vestigial anatomy. He knew a biologist from Pigalle who was willing to help pull out his tail bone. Not literally. No, he would attempt to stretch it outwards by digitally manipulation.

Oh yes, it was quite painful, but Toulouse was bent on it. He was mad for the monkey tail, wasn’t he?

Eventually, Toulouse accepted the anatomist’s ministrations were not going to work, and went in search of other answers. He tried occult methods: spells, potions and unguents. It was about this time people started to avoid him. The unguents were too pungent by far. Yes, even for Paris in summertime.

Finally, Doctor V moved into town. You must know him. The one who grafts primate glands into the body cavity. Yes, for men unable to … I see you’ve heard of him. His cure was often worse than the disease, if being unable to . . . could be called a disease. It could be restful. Several flaccid gentlemen died, but septicemia did not frighten Toulouse.

He asked the surgeon to graft a tail to him. The tail? It came from a monkey — a Barbary Ape, if you must know the details.

Yes. Yes. It did come from Gibralter. Normally Dr. V. worked with chimps, which have no tails, so he had to find a species with a tail, no matter how underdeveloped. The poor beast had been living with Madame Sélavy, the noted philatelist and prodigious eater of *cerveaux de chèvre*. Hmm. Yes, nasty, I agree. Cow brains are better. In a fit of whimsy she had named the creature “Alonsy.” The little beast was adept at licking stamps and quite useful. So Dr. V. returned the creature to its mistress after he’d removed the small, pathetic vestigial tail. Covered with wiry brown hair it was.

Oh, yes, Toulouse was ecstatic when Dr. V showed him the new appendage prior to the operation. I imagine the Russian must have looked like some demented maître d’, presenting the severed appurtenance on a silver platter. Yes. Yes! The ether was the wine and the surgical tools the cutlery!

By all accounts the monkey was happier after this interlude. (Though they are called Barbary Apes, they are really monkeys you know.) Yes. Yes. Alonsy flew into paroxysms of monkey song, chattering gleefully; he moistened postage with aplomb and joy thereafter. He was much improved.

My ex-colleague did not fare as well, but such is the price of progress.

The End

Originally published: Trunk Stories #2, Dec. 2004
Reprinted: Broken Pencil #29, 2005, Yareah Magazine, February Issue

© 2004, Mark A. Rayner

Alltop find blue pills more effective than chimp bits. Thanks to R@PP for the monkey pic!

Tragedy plus time equals comedy, or why you shouldn’t trust Wikiquote

Funny VikingWarning: while this post may be about comedy, don’t expect it to be comic.

I would consider the quote “comedy is tragedy plus time” an old saw, but it’s still an interesting idea. Could every tragedy become funny, given enough time? The British comedian David Mitchell seems to think so. (His video rant, which tries to explain why Vikings raping and pillaging in the Dark Ages is funny, but the Soviet takeover of Berlin in 1945 isn’t yet, is embedded below.)

The quote should really be, tragedy plus time allows comedy. Depending on how you portray events, you can still achieve either a laugh or tears, and sometimes both. That’s what art is all about, right? But can you imagine taking a scene say, Schindler’s List, and turning that into a rip-roaring farce? Wait, no! Don’t even try to imagine it, because, as they say in another cliché: “it’s too soon. ” You can make jokes about Nazis (not much fun in Stalingrad), but please, no jokes about their atrocities. Personally, genocide strikes me as one of those events that is impossible to turn into comedy, no matter how long ago it happened. (But perhaps I’m not really trying. Maybe there is some good humor to be had in the Church’s elimination of the Cathars, for example.)

Proto-goth and journeyman of the bon mot, Horace Walpole once wrote to a friend, “The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”

I think I like that quote even more, because it gets to the heart of the difference between the two. Of course, it may be that I remember the quote: “Comedy is tragedy plus time” as coming out of the pie-hole of Alan Alda’s character (the abrasive Lester) in Crimes and Misdemeanors, and not from Carol Burnett, as the Wikiquote would have us believe. (Crimes & Misdemeanors was a 1989 Woody Allen film, and Burnett’s quote is attributed in 2004 in Wikiquote. I’ll let wiser heads sort the provenance out.)

I definitely don’t agree with Lenny Bruce, who said: “Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it.” The beauty of satire is that you can go for it right away. It might not get any laughs if it’s too early though.

Of course, none of these sharp observations are as funny as Mel Brook’s 2000-Year-Old Man (1961): “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

If you’re still looking for help on this one, you may find the tragedy-to-comedy conversion chart useful:
Tragedy to comedy conversion chart
(via Comics vs Audience)

Now, as promised, here’s Mitchell on why the Vikings aren’t funny. I do agree with him on one thing for sure: the Vikings didn’t wear horns on the helmets.

It would be tragic if you didn’t enjoy the comedy at Alltop . HT to Renal Failure and Unfinished Rambler for helping me waste time on a Saturday morning. Thanks to Xoxé Tétano for the vintage viking. Originally posted in June, 2009.

The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Sir Thomas More Edition)

Sir Thomas More, painted by Hans Holbein, circa 1527Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide three

  • several religions
  • sun-worshipers, moon-worshipers, Uranus-worshipers (the worst of them)
  • but the best religion worships an incomprehensible Deity.

Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide five

their most ancient law:

  • no man ought to be punished for his religion
  • not even the evil-smelling Uranus-worshipers.

Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide six

  • liberty needed so they can decide:
  • which religion is true and which is false
  • also, dignity of human values more important than religious dogma.

Sir Thomas More presents “Burning Lutherans” (circa 1530) –> slide 5

  • heresy against Church is a disease
  • started with burning Protestant books
  • now onto followers of Martin Luther
  • (but I only burned six).

Sir Thomas More:

“A man of an angel’s wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.” ~ Robert Whittington (1520, before More’s “pyro” phase)

In addition to being an all-weather dude, More also was burner of heretics, or Lutherans as we know them now. Alltop is burning hot with humor. Originally published Dec. 7, 2007.

Municipal Investment Strategies for the Technological Singularity

The Singularity ArtsAn Open Letter to Town Council

Dear Councilors:
Your town may have an emergency plan, a development plan, a health plan — it may even have a plan for how to fix the potholes (though I doubt it).

But does it have a plan for how to respond to the technological singularity? Is it preparing for all the new economic opportunities? I suspect not.

Now, some have complained that that technological singularity is the “rapture for nerds”, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is the municipal investment opportunity of the ages! Forward-thinking municipal governments can start preparing now, and be ready to reap the rewards of the point in human history when human intelligence is not only exceeded by machine intelligence, but when human intelligence is merged with (or eradicated by) machine intelligence.

You’re thinking: “well, sure I’d love to help get ready for this, but realistically, how do we plan? We don’t even know if regular flesh-and-blood humans will be around to experience the singularity.”

Of course we will!

Ray Kurzweil believes that we’ll be able to model the human brain by 2029, and create algorithms based on those models to allow computers to gain human-like intelligence. But is anyone working on a way for computers to go to bars and get drunk and hook up with other drunken computers so that they can “make a mistake” and then squirt out new computers? I doubt it.

So there you go: invest in light manufacturing. There will definitely be a need for humans to help create our new overlords.

But there’s so many other possibilities! What if the technological singularity is based more on nanotechnology than it is on the gross, large-scale electronics of our current era? Here too, prescient town councils can make good investments for the future. It will certainly be easier for the new machine overlords to replicate themselves in mass quantities if our human immune systems do not fight them at every stage. This leads to so many possible avenues of fruitful research: immune-suppressing drugs, radiation, surgery, bio-engineering, even psychology might (finally) prove itself useful by producing a technique by which humans could allow supra-intelligent nanomachines to use their bodies to reproduce.

We’re only scratching the surface here, obviously.

Many municipalities invest much of their resources in policing and this is an area where they will find huge savings, but only if there is a good interface between humans and our new machine overlords. Apart from the aforementioned research opportunities, municipal governments should begin looking at some kind of cybertronic peace officer corps now, to acclimatize citizens early — after all, an easily controlled citizenry is a productive citizenry! This could be as simple as implanting some kind of control chip in police headgear (hats, caps, flak helmets) to something more radical, such as embedding a semi-live police officers in a mechanical exoskeleton armed with rapid-fire pistols and a loudspeaker-augmented voice.

Municipal leaders should prepare for the darker predictions of how a technological singularity plays out. What if the new machine overlords simply wish to rid themselves of the human population?

There is a simple solution for this problem, and it is summed up in two words: rotating knives.

We’re pretty sure that would never happen, but even if it does, what if you’re the first town to think of it, and sell the process?

Think of the revenue. You could cut taxes. Contact us for more details.

Yours Truly,

Genghis Toon,
Oberdyne Industries, “The Helping Corporation”

Alltop has an investment strategy for funny. Originally appeared on Grasping for the Wind, Aug. 9, 2010.

More Christmas goofiness

I do hope this cogent observation only applies to women:

The four stages of life

Now, this next item doesn’t have the awesomeness of a monkey riding a goat, but it’s darned Christmassy, not to mention goofy: “A man dressed as Santa Claus holds a flare as he wakeboards on a small lake in Hamburg, Germany on December 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Christian Charisius)”

Santa wakeboarding with flare

Both of the above items are via the entertaining afternoonsnoozebutton. So have I given up blogging? Am I just ripping off afternoonsnoozebutton? Nay! I am also ripping off Retrograsm:

The origins of eggnog

I’m also willing to link to other writers. If you haven’t already checked out my fellow ENC author’s short Christmas tale, A Claus to Remember, you can find it here. [pdf]

And lest you think I don’t create any of my own content, perhaps you didn’t see the flash fiction below, about a certain Magi and his need to explain “why the myrrh?” Well, there you go. Merry Frickin’ Christmas already!

Alltop ONLY pulls content from other people, and nobody calls them on that! Note: much of this kind of crap can be found at my low-rent Tumblr blog, Monkey Joys.