DAILY BRIEFING
Lort of the Animals

May 19 - It was brought to my attention Friday that the Calcumalator's miles-to-kilometers and kilometers-to-miles conversion were labelled incorrectly. This was only to be expected, but I have nevertheless fixed the program. If you downloaded it before about 8pm GMT Friday, you might want to download the fix. Or, if you prefer a Calcumalator with no basis in reality, let me know and I'll tweak all the math to ensure its absolute unreliability.

A new and even more useless download, The Moron Game, will be available later this week.

It's Youth and Sports Day in Turkey, so I thought it would be appropriate to discuss Danish children's literature again.

Another masterpiece of the genre has been brought to my attention. The title is Muldvarpen, der ville vide, hvem der havde lavet lort pĺ dens hoved, and it's by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch. (The book was originally German.) Translated into English, the title is The Mole That Wanted to Find Out Who Had Taken a Shit On His Head.

Unlike the strained storyline of Totte og Katten Kisser, reviewed in this space previously, Muldvarpen is very straightforward. Our story begins when the eponymous mole pokes his head out of the ground to see the world, and is struck on the head by the eponymous lort, "round and brown, shaped just like a sausage."

(The authors make it clear that the mole was too nearsighted to see who was inflicting the indignity as it occurred.)

The lort remains on the mole's head like a creamy brown beret while he goes from one animal to another and asks, "Was it you who took a shit on my head?"

Every animal he meets responds the same: "How the heck could you think that? I go like this," and then takes a crap right in front of the mole. Each animal has its own particular lort, described in unflinching detail, but none of it matches.

Finally he enlists the help of two flies, who eat the offending chapeau right off his head and declare its vintage to be pure dog. The mole stalks furiously to the doghouse, climbs on top of it, and blasts a raisin-sized sausage of his own onto the sleeping bloodhound's head. Grimly satisfied at last, he goes back down into his hole.

The end.

My own nieces have an American book called Everybody Poops, I think, which is probably instructional in the same kind of way—except it calls the stuff poop instead of shit and no one drops a loaf on anyone else's head.

I'm suprised to find all this lort in pedagogical literature. I shouldn't be, given how much of it there is on adult bestseller lists, but I don't understand the importance of teaching mostly urbanized kids how to distinguish between horse cookies, cow patties, rabbit pellets, and so on.

I don't think there's anything wrong with this particular subject—and I'm still immature enough to giggle at the pictures—but out of all the many things in the world that require a child's attention, is it really so important that they learn to distinguish between goat nuggets and pig piles?

And why is shit such a terrible word in English? Isn't it unfair to teach our children that everybody poops, while Europeans are teaching their own children the cold, hard truth that everybody shits? Won't our children grow up with that naive optimism and lack of sophistication that makes it so difficult to communicate with some of our European friends?

* * *

Sixty-eight years ago today, on May 19, 1935, Thomas Edward Lawrence was killed in a motorcycle accident. Lawrence was a British officer who rose to prominence during the Arabian campaigns of the first World War. He can also be seen in "The Lion in Winter," "Becket," "The Stunt Man," and "My Favorite Year."

Honore de Balzac was born in France on either May 19 or 20 in 1799. Balzac created a vast body of literature that he called La Comédie Humaine ("A Vast Body of Literature"). Set almost entirely in Paris, it consisted of dozens of novels, short stories, and plays interwoven with many of the same characters and events. One of his most popular characters was the brilliant and great-hearted Dr. Bianchon. Balzac's dying words were reportedly, "If Bianchon were here, he would save me!" The anecdote is probably apocryphal, however, because Balzac didn't speak English.

Pete Townshend turns 58 today, and will hopefully be distracted enough by his birthday to ignore the concurrent Turkish holiday mentioned earlier. Balzac and the legendary rocker share their birthday with Grace Jones (1952), Nora Ephron (1941), Malcolm X (1925), and Ho Chi Minh (1890).

Happy Monday!

© 2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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