Friday, September 24, 2004

Don't think of a pot-bellied elephant

Today's word of the day is "elephant"--a fine word and a fine animal.

A few months ago, I saw some baby elephants on Animal Planet, and they were the cutest little son-of-a-guns... Even at three-hundred-goddamn-pounds, they were adorable enough to bring home to Mom, provided that Mom is a tolerant zookeeper with a lot of space. If elephants were the size of dogs--and had a max weight of, oh, a little less than 14,000 pounds--I'd buy one today.

The word "elephant" is also on my mind because of George Lakoff's new book Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives. I've read a little bit of Lakoff here and there over the years, and I'm psyched that he's getting some attention and may actually be helping our less-evil politicians further their less-evil agendas. Plus, just the idea of a linguist selling any books at all is kind of cool--even for an amateur linguist like me.

I also reread When Elephants Weep last month. Among the hundreds of anecdotes about animal emotions, I particularly enjoyed reading about the mother rat trying to nurse the baby kitten. Hello to the imagery!

Finally, I have to give credit to my friend Mike Basinski for forever changing the way I hear the word "elephant." Mike is a poet/performance artist/librarian whose piece "The Wild Elephant" is kind of beautiful. I wish you could see the bellowing, booming, belching URMPH!URMPH!-ing Basinski perform this one. You can find Basinski's elephants here.

Elephants must be in the air tonight (not literally, I hope) because just as I was finishing this up, I caught a South Park rerun titled "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig." Yes, we have an interspecies-body-fluid-exchange theme!

I was wrong about this entry being over, and I was wronger in thinking the desire for a pet-sized elephant was original--this episode was all about trying to make pot-bellied elephants, whether through unholy science at the genetic engineering ranch or sweet love-making after a sweet keg. Sadly, this drunken tryst of an anonymous elephant and a pig named Fluffy produced no offspring--no scampering, half-breed, baby pig-elephants sprang from Fluffy's loins.

However, the show did feature a monkey with four asses--so I haven't lost all faith in love and science.

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