To snowboard or to ski? thought Pablo. Blurtso’s wetcat mctwist is wicked epic, but Bonny’s telemark turn is beautiful… visor beanies are sick, but my Jean Claude Killy is classic… there’s nothing like the glide of sticks, but gapping a blinger is phat nasty. There must be some way to decide. Pablo! called Bonny from the ski shop. Coming! said Pablo, rushing to join her.
At this point we meet a British sea captain named Alecs of York, and an elephant named Arlan de Borneo. An elephant? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso.
As he returned to his post, Arlan considered the life he had led and the peril that lay in the offing. Dr. Arlan de Borneo had run a successful medical practice in Dover until the unlucky day he botched a routine tonsillectomy on the town constable, rendering him aphonic for life. As a result his practice faltered, and he was forced to seek employment at sea. The ships sailing under Captain Alecs of York had a long-standing reputation for being the most casualty-ridden in the fleet, and as a result the captain struggled to find physicians for his ship.
With no other options, Arlan accepted a post on the Manhattan, but because of his inordinate size and the limited crew that could subsequently be housed, he was obliged to perform the duties of a dozen men. Fortunately, it was a charge he was able to fulfill, for he could effortlessly clasp a line and pull with the force of twenty hands, and could labor for days without sleep. Although he was, by nature, a gentle soul, it was clear that if he were ever roused to anger, he would wreak more havoc than a regiment of Her Majesty’s finest.
Aboard the Manhattan he was given the store room at the stern of the middle deck in which to sleep, but as he rarely slept, the space soon became a game room in which he and Captain Alecs passed slow hours in contests of two-king chess. The contests pleased and frustrated Lord Alecs, for he had never encountered a player whose skill rivaled his own, and though he won more than he lost, it seemed that luck played an inordinate role in his victories. Arlan enjoyed the matches as well, though for different reasons. It had only taken him a few games to unmask his Captain’s strategy, a strategy based on aggression, in which Alecs was willing to sacrifice any number of pieces if the maneuver brought an element of surprise and led to the rapid and dazzling defeat of his opponent. Once Arlan understood this, he was never surprised again, and from then on he was forced to lose matches on purpose to keep the tally leaning in the Captain’s favor. The same aggressive maneuvers, Arlan understood, might be equally effective at sea, but only if Lord Alecs was unknown to the enemy. An astute commander who had engaged him before, and survived his first attacks, could redirect the aggression back to its source, and so, as the reputation of Lord Alecs and his tactics became better and better known, his career moved more swiftly to its end.
With all this in mind, Dr. Arlan de Borneo was not the least surprised when the Manhattan sailed directly past L’Isle d’If and straight toward the mouth of the Marseilles harbor, where it attacked the first ship it encountered, hoping to capture a crew member who would know the whereabouts of Blurtseau Lundif.
“Aaarrgghh!!!” growled Alecs. “Sixteen sheets to the wind!!!
Into the devil’s kiln!!”
Hey, a dating site! Maybe I should fill out a profile.
Age: I don’t know, I’ve never cut myself in half to count the rings
Height: I’m not as tall as I think I am
Weight: That’s not polite
Self summary: I’m a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere
I’m good at: Filling out profile questionnaires
The first thing that others notice about me: That I accidentally stepped on their foot
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, food:
books: Remembrance of Pies Past (Marcel Proust), A clean, well-lighted bakery (Hemingway), Where is Ralph Waldo? (Emerson), What’s that in the Attic? (Emily Dickenson), Donkey Hotey (Cervantes), The Idiot’s Guide to Animal Husbandry
music: You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd (Roger Miller), L’apres midi d’une Trombone (Debussy), Bach’s concerto for trombone and cymbal in C flat minor seventh, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for Seventy-Six Trombones
movies and shows: Babbling Brook (ambient dvd), Ocean Waves (ambient dvd), Mountain Majesty (ambient dvd), The Jerry Remy Postgame Show
food: organic, sustainably grown, local, free-range, alfalfa-fed pumpkins (from Pablo’s garden)
I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Thermonuclear physics, string theory, the event
horizon, if Pluto is a planet, how many angels can fit on the head of a donkey, what that smell is
On a typical Friday night I am:
Wondering what night of the week it is
You should message me if: You need an empty pie tin, you found my wristwatch, you lost your Wi-Fi connection, you have an extra pumpkin pie
What is it in Venice that makes us feel we have been transported in time? Is it the ancient buildings and bridges, the palaces with their frescoes and the moss-lined canals? Is it the smooth-worn stones or the fountains of the piazze? Is it the stillness of the water and the echoing barcarole? No, it is rather the simple sound of voices and footsteps, heard, as if for the first time, in a city without engines, in a civilized world before the automobile.
Wow! thought Blurtso, this wine is good! And so refreshing! When I touch the glass, the warmth of my hoof makes the condensation run down the stem. And the base leaves circles on the table. I wonder if I should drink the entire carafe? It sure is good. And very refreshing. It may be the most refreshing wine I’ve tasted. It was sure hot at the Tower. I didn’t think I’d ever get to the top. And all those people, they weren’t even sweating! I think they should install an elevator. Or serve wine. A glass of wine would have really hit the spot. I wonder if Picasso drank wine? I wonder if he sat in his museum with his paintings and drank wine. I wonder if he took his easel and his wine to the top of the Tower to paint the view… the view is nice from here. The street is quiet and the café is well-lit and clean. Hmmm, the condensation has formed a puddle around the carafe. I’d better pour another glass. I don’t want to offend the owner. I wonder if he drinks this at home? He said it was house wine, so he must drink it at home. I wonder how he makes it? I wonder if it’s hard to make something so good. Or easy. It’s certainly easy to drink. Wow! This second glass is better than the first! That’s amazing. I wonder if the second glass seems better because that’s what I’m drinking now? It’s nice when the second is as good as the first, and vice versa. There’s certainly a lot of pleasure in the liquid in that carafe. What an interesting word, carafe. I wonder where it comes from? Probably Africa. It has a long neck, and is good when it’s hot, and sounds like giraffe, so it must come from Africa. I think I’ll pour another glass. There’s only one left, and I would hate to offend the owner. What a great café. The Tower was nice, but this is a really great café.