'And Leave Show Business?'
By Ralph Burns
This elephant keeper shoved a hose up
The ass of an elephant every day. He
Told a man. The man said, So why don't
You quit? And the keeper said, You have
To understand: elephant bowels are fragile,
You only spray a little and shit flies
All over. . . . And the man said, I understand,
I think, someone has to, but why don't you
Quit? And the keeper said, And leave show
Business? I don't know who first told me,
You'll die someday, you can't live forever.
I don't know who took my hand and said,
Some things, not all things, are possible.
At a state mental hospital where I work
I asked a patient once what he remembered.
Everything. Everything that ever happened.
Thinking back, incompletely, I think
I must've disbelieved his ease, his willingness
To witness all his loss always, so I asked,
Just having heard the stupid elephant hoke:
Anything about elephants? pets? He had a dog:
Bean, Bingo, something like that. And he walked
Him every day on a leash and they bought
A hamburger every day on South Harrison
Or North Harrison, somewhere in Shelbyville.
I asked where the dog was. He said he loved
Him so much he'd drink out of the river
And the dog would too, he loved him
So much. I have to admit I had to say
Something and of course there was nothing
To say. His head was down as he drank.
The water was sweet. Easily I left him
Alone to walk myself out of the river
Of sense. I remember riding shotgun
In a truck with my Uncle Ralph across flat
Kansas. He said something. I said, Really?
And he said, Hell yes boy, do you think
I'd lie? Why do you always say really?
And I didn't know, God help me, I don't
Know. He was my uncle. He wouldn't lie.
Truth is I hadn't been listening,
But watching the long rows pass my window,
I was busy being elephant keeper
And elephant, the hose inside, the dog
That drank with a man, and the river, where
Everything is equal, is possible, where
I knew I'd die someday and live without
Sight or sound or touch, possibly forever.
Tonight's Smallville wins my "Best Use of a Peter Gabriel Song In a Nighttime Soap" award. Oh, that's right, Smallville isn't a nighttime soap, it's sci-fi/fantasy! Except, you know, that it's a nighttime soap, and its 100th episode honored that very well. Don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed it. But when Clark is spending more time crying out someone's name than throwing that person over his shoulder to super-speed that person to a hospital...that's a nighttime soap.
I knew the engagement business was coming from spoiler photos and may I just say how relieved I am that it isn't in the "real" timeline? I couldn't stop giggling during the Fortress of Solitude stuff...Clark took Lana to Disneyland! Everything I liked about their relationship all episode was stolen directly from Superman II with Christopher Reeve, including the come into my parlor stuff. "When you asked me if I believed in life on other planets, you had no idea how ironic the question was" -- ow! The reason for not having had that scene before isn't that it violates canon for Lana to know; it's that there's no way for Clark to tell her that isn't full of bad and predictable lines! Lana tells Clark he's just like everyone else, and he takes her flying and makes her a diamond to prove her wrong. I have never had any great investment in Lois and Clark -- in fact I very rarely watched Lois & Clark -- but the engagement business with Lana really bugged me anyway!
It's also not that I require Clark to end up with Lex or even to be gay. I dearly love the growing-up-superhero = growing-up-gay analogy, but I always expected it to remain just a metaphor, though Chloe's comment about all those years yanking on Clark's closet door made me howl. Oh, and Chloe breaks my heart faking being happy for Clark and Lana...please let her meet the right guy soon, since the writers seem determined not to let her be happily single as Lois is at present. Her speech about how so few people who know what they want and go for it...hello, girl! You have your job at the Daily Planet, now go get the rest!
And, okay, if we have to have Lana on this show and she has to be gratuitously paired with a major character, let it be Lex, because Michael Rosenbaum can generate chemistry with a tree. I like that getting drunk gives Lex an excuse to be a bastard -- in one timeline, telling Lana that she's better off with her parents dead, and in another, making a pass at her at what even Lex knows is a really bad moment. But in truth what I love best about their scenes together is Lex's inability to describe who he's jealous of. It sure doesn't seem to be that he wants Lana and Clark keeps her from him; it's a lot more he wants Clark's everything and he can't stand the idea that Lana has a piece of Clark he never will. Everything he says to her about how he can't believe she chose Clark after the lies he told her could apply to him and his "friendship" with Clark too! "Whatever it is he's been covering up all this time, you know, don't you." He's so envious and it sure isn't because Lana spreads her legs for Clark! I'm really sorry we didn't get more time for a reaction to Lex seeing Clark's super-speed. Lana is so much a secondary concern for him when Clark is on the scene.
And Clark doesn't trust Lana not to tattle or give him away. Bottom line, he trusts Pete, he trusts Chloe, but he doesn't trust her. And who can blame him? Her goo-goo eyes "Clark's not hiding anything" is pretty pathetic. Of course that whole timeline had to go away, just like in the movies, and then they had to tease us with maybe-dead-Lois and maybe-Jonathan-will-kill-Lionel. I was spoiled, but you may remember that several weeks ago I was hoping that Jonathan would win the Who's Gonna Buy It lottery and his widow would take over his just-elected congressional seat...which rocks in a way. I mean, it's sad about Jonathan and the funeral was very moving, particularly with the music, but if Martha takes over that job, then yay! There need to be more female politicians on TV and Martha should have been running instead of her husband in the first place. And, you know, I might have mentioned that I think Lionel should console her in her grief. Repeatedly and in as many positions as possible. Okay, I'm warped and should be grieving for the late Mr. Kent but I can't help but be relieved that it wasn't Lois, it wasn't Chloe, and whoooeee it wasn't Lionel.
I was going to post another ee cummings poem but I wanted a poem that somehow went with these pictures. I know I've been posting National Zoo photos anyway, but tonight's are particularly poignant for me because the elephant Toni was euthanized yesterday after her arthritis took a bad turn. There are articles and remembrances here and here at The Washington Post.
Here is Toni with Shanthi and Kandula -- the baby elephant that was born at the National Zoo -- in the background.
The other elephant in this picture is Ambika, who was born in 1948 and made to work in a logging camp before she was given to the National Zoo as a gift from India.
Toni had arthritis from injuries sustained at another zoo.
Otherwise I don't have a lot of news since lunchtime...wrote up a fun George Takei interview in which he praised Howard Stern and took potshots at Shatner...George, I'm delighted you came out but give up the Bill grudge already, nobody wants to hear it. And I wrote a story on the company that now holds the Star Trek gaming license, which is literally ten minutes from my house...I could get a job there if I knew a damn thing about video game QA or programming, they're hiring! I should see if I can get my son an unpaid internship -- he'd probably report bugs to them in exchange for free Elder Scrolls, and if I can get him playing their Trek games, maybe he can make me understand what it means when these articles talk about "branching missions and multiple outcomes."
Dinner was tacos which we originally promised the kids Tuesday, but then we brought in pizza that night and my mother fed them last night. And we all watched "The Doomsday Machine" together so I could review it...again, I think Smallville suffers by comparison, because the original Star Trek has no peer. Not even DS9. Spock's all logical concern about the planet killer, then Kirk announces that he's going to stay on the Constellation to try to blow it up and suddenly it's "Jim...you'll be killed, just like Decker. Your chances of survival are not promising." Sigh!