Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Diplomatic Mission

Well, it took a fair amount of elbow-throwing and threats, but my travel agent managed to put together a short-notice itinerary from Boston Logan to Papua New Guinea. It's amazing what those bums at American Express Travel can do when you hold their feet to the fire a little. They've even arranged for an English-speaking escort to conduct my emissary, PePe, to his destination among the Yali.

What — you thought I would be going? In my condition?

We discussed the matter around the Compound and concluded that although it would certainly be best for me to appear among the Yali in person (as, after all, I am the Big Man Who Carried Etc. &c.) but my doctors communicated to me some concern about how my sinuses would handle the pressure of ascent and descent on those plane flights (not to mention the jungle humidity over there — an infection waiting to happen). I don't know if any of you have traveled to the Far East, but — let me tell you — the airline pilots over there aren't particularly attuned to Western sensibilities about airplane landings. They pretty much drop the nose and go into a full dive. I've told Gloria more than once: if you're going to send one of your jets to fetch me, make sure the pilot isn't a goddamned kamikaze. But she never listens.

It was also mentioned — by an unnamed staff member I will hold in disfavor for at least the next couple of days — that I might not be the best candidate to make initial diplomatic overtures. This after I suggested that we propose certain modifications to the Yali Prophecy, to wit: that the words "his personal guard" be stricken from the oracular text, and that the words "Rock 'n' Roll" be inserted between "Wisdom" and "Harmony." These seem to be reasonable requests, as I'd like to preserve maximum flexibility in appointing and dismissing security personnel (and I'd like them to have firearms training, and not just a facility with boomerangs or whatever these Yalis have in their limited arsenals), and one big reason I'm taking on this burden is that I'm really frustrated with the state of popular music these days. The Certain Staff Member remarked that redlining the Yali's sacred prophecy would be insensitive, and proposing it would surely get the conversations off on the wrong foot. Certain Other Staff Members agreed (the way they all fall in line with one another, I swear they're all sleeping together), to which I say,


It's generally the case that a head of state doesn't carry the bulk of the diplomatic load. So there's no reason for affairs to be managed differently in my case. Upon consultation, it was resolved that PePe would embark on this journey to establish diplomatic ties — and if possible, a formal alliance and pledge of mutual cooperation — with the Yali. I've recorded a greeting on a DVD, for PePe to play on his laptop when he meets with the tribal elders. So I will have a presence at the meeting, even though my brain trust apparently doesn't trust me to address these people in real time.

This being a journey of some historical significance, I assigned one of the Stenos (Dead Eye) to travel with PePe and record the proceedings as best she can. I understand that she'll be traveling in rough country, largely unsupported and without any of her fellows to relieve her. So I don't expect a 24-7 rendering: she's just required to jot down the good stuff.

In the meantime, I'm short-staffed at home, and my contracts with the other two limit their shift length to eight hours daily. So with only sixteen hours of coverage, I've resolved not to speak for eight hours each day. So long as I remember when I'm flying sans-Steno, that shouldn't be so hard to do. I've been sleeping ten hours a day anyway. It's just a question of coordinating the naps.

I must say I remain a bit nonplussed about this Platinum-Haired Goddess, whose shuffling-off from somewhere seems to be a precondition for my Ascendancy. My best guess is that the Goddess is Hillary Clinton, and that the Prophecy requires me to wait until the end of her Presidency to make my move. That's a gagger on so many levels. But I just can't think of many other blondes I'm in competition with right now.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Love a Good Prophecy

A guy with aspirations like mine loves good pub. I like to think I have a nose for a good story, and a knack for self-promotion. But I certainly can't take credit for the developments of last night. Sometimes the Good Stuff just falls in your lap.

As any of you read the papers knows, the story of The Twin in My Head broke in the large media outlets three days ago. I've been on the phone much of the past couple days giving follow-up interviews, licensing photographs of Little Bro to the Associated Press and Reuters. If I didn't own the news cycle, I had a pretty strong market share in it. There's an Apple Dashboard widget that plots, on a map of the world, where the hot news stories are, and when I consulted it yesterday, there was a big fat red dot over this part of Northern Vermont. I don't see anyone else in this sleepy burg generating any news. So it's gotta be me.

Anyway, it turns out that news of my brother's extraction made its way into a deep, secluded corner of Papua New Guinea. Not sure how, as I can't imagine they have broadband or even dial-up Internet in these remote Oceanian jungles, but a Yali chieftain got wind of my story, and he walked a brisk sixty miles overnight to the nearest telephone exchange, found himself an English-speaking interpreter, and dialed me up. I took the call at around 8 p.m. EST. The chieftain endured all this hardship because he wanted to recount to me a generations-old Yali prophecy. It's a cornerstone of tribal lore, apparently, this prophecy, which was uttered from the dying lips of the Yali tribe's greatest warrior king (I forget his name; it sounded something like "Samsonite," which I know isn't right) and passed down over twenty-one generations to my phone correspondent. The prophecy goes as follows:

One day all the world's forces will converge and concentrate in a single man, the Chosen King — Samsonite renewed. You will know him as The Big Man Who Carried the Little Man in His Nose, and he will be revealed to you in that fashion. The Little Man will be separated from the Big Man, and into the vacant space the Big Man will inhale and absorb great leadership attributes. The Platinum-Haired Goddess will recognize him and leave the Earth, out of deference to him, and the Earth will be his to hold and manage. The Yali will be the Big Man's protectors, his personal guard, and under his tutelage and government the Earth shall enter an Age of Abundance, Wisdom, and Harmony.

The prophecy goes on — which was brutal, because this guy called collect, and the charges from Papua New Guinea aren't negligible — but that's the gist of it. In short, this Yali chieftain's pretty convinced I'm the Chosen Big Man, which works for me, because that's what I'm thinking, too. And now I have the benefit of an age-old prophecy to support my case. The guy's talking about forming an army to support me. I told him to hold off for a bit, while I think how I might best use the talents of him and his band.

(I say "band" because this fellow doesn't have authority over the entire Yali ethnic group — just a subset of the tribe. I believe anthropologists use the word "band" to describe the suborganizations of "tribes." This is confusing, I know because when we hear "band," we think, "oh — Phutatorius plans to hire a house band. Brilliant!" But this is something different, Brothers and Sisters. This is an opening for a possible power play in Papua New Guinea. And anyone who has played Risk knows that New Guinea is one of the four component territories of the Australian continent — the easiest of continents to hold, once you take it over. So wahoo (as they say!).)

You've got to love a good prophecy. Now I wonder who the Platinum-Haired Goddess is . . .

Friday, January 12, 2007


I'm back at the Old Homestead now. Wish I could say a lot of construction progress was made in my absence, but alas! Very little in the way of noticeable improvements. I've been told that there was a plumbing overhaul — copper pipes now instead of lead (lead?!? were we really drinking our water from lead pipes all this time?) — internal support structures were steel-reinforced, that kind of thing. Important work, certainly, but not the sort of thing to wow a guy who just had his twin brother carved out of his head.

I mean, for Christ's sake, they still haven't installed the spa. And it could be July by the time the wine cellar is stocked. The temperature and humidity consultant refuses to fly in from France until "appropriate guarantees can be made for [his] safety." I don't know what the hell that means, but he's the World's Finest, so I suppose he's entitled to his idiosyncrasies.

We've set up a nice little room for The Bro. Not so much a room as an alcove off the master bedroom suite where I'm laid up these days. Kid's ten inches tall (not sure whether to say "tall" or "long," to be honest), and he doesn't need a full-sized room so much as a couple dozen square feet of private space. PePe went to the store and picked up a nice terrarium and a multiple-setting heat lamp. We've got a couple of plants in there with him, and we set him down on a shelf opposite the window. He can watch the work crews buy their ham-and-egg bagels from the food truck in the morning. The space gets good light. The Stenos chipped in and painted the walls a pastel green — their welcome-home gift to the Little Guy. It's a "soothing color," according to the psychologists, and it's supposed to help ease him into his new surroundings. I dunno. Sounds like a lot of hocus pocus to me.

We bought him a Bose Wave Radio, and I play him CDs. He seems to like Beethoven, the White Stripes, Carmina Burana. Not so big on Dylan or the Beatles. You get the impression he wants his music primal. I put the remote control in the terrarium, in a Ziploc bag so he can't pee on it and short out the circuit board. Little guy will flop over on the buttons, causing the player to pause, fast-forward, shuffle, repeat. It's not clear that there's any intentionality to it, or that he understands he's controlling the flow of music through the speakers. He may just like the feel of the pips on his backside. We all have our kicks, I guess. Even if we're still covered in embryonic hair.

I've got some reporters coming in tonight to interview me about the experience. There's a guy from the Weekly World News ringing my phone off the hook. Keeps leaving messages emphasizing that his rag is above all others peculiarly suited to cover this story. I don't deny that, but I've got interest from the BBC, the New York Post, and CNN's Offbeat News desk. I can't overstretch myself and appear everywhere I'm wanted, regardless of quality. I can be Matt Damon or Ben Affleck here. That's no choice at all.

Anyway, I've got to get hopping. Drain line to my cheek is clogged, and they've got to clear the blockage before the fluid backs up into my face again. Waking up in the middle of the night to that was no fun at all, let me tell you. Anyway, it's great to get back in front of a keyboard again. All my best to the Blessed Readership — I'll be logging on again soon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


[Start Dictation.]

Wow. I've got to get me one of those, when it comes out.

[End Dictation.]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holy Frappe!

[Start Dictation.]

Hot damn! A brain freeze from a chocolate milkshake is one thing. Now try it a few days after you've had your sinus torn open.

Felt like a glacier advancing up over my head from my soft palate.

Jesus God, that was a bad idea.

[End Dictation.]

Still "in Hospital" . . .

. . . as the English say (they're so cute). Plan was to street me today, but now my hematocrit levels are low, so I'm looking at another couple days On the Ward. I don't feel like my hematocrit levels are low, and I suspect there's some bloodworking ledgerdemain going down, just to keep me around: the national news crews have descended, and the novelty of it hasn't yet worn off on the hospital staff.

(You wouldn't believe how well some of these nurses clean up, suddenly, with Anderson Cooper around. Sure makes my days here a lot nicer. That Barbara who works the early morning shift? Yesterday you could have got a staph infection from her fingernails alone. Now she comes in a dead ringer for Gina Gershon.)

Anyway, I'm on the laptop now. No Internet, because there aren't any Ethernet jacks in the rooms, and they can't do wireless: would interfere with all the machines, they say. I had PePe run a longline from the jacks at the nurse's station — they have a whole cluster of computers there — but of course some lady tripped over it and reopened some wound or other, and he got a talking-to for it. So I'm typing up this post offline, for somebody on the Staff to publish later.

Still no interviews with the press. I'll probably give a statement on the way out the door.

I've got a roommate now. Real talker, this guy. Says he names cars for a living. Says he's the hot car-name guy in the industry, and Toyota just hired him away from Kia. I asked him what cars he named at Kia. He said, "all of them." I got the impression he was full of shit, and I asked him for specific names. He paused for a minute and said, "well, the Kia Boysenberry, for one . . ."

Turns out he is full of shit, and I talked Frankie Big Cheese into doctoring up the guy's medical records to conform to my diagnosis. A minute ago Gina wheeled him off to have somebody "disimpact his bowel." Ha ha ha.

I tell you, B/S, Frankie's not half-bad at forgery — medical forgery, especially. It's like he knows all the notations and abbreviations. A potentially very useful talent, I should think. Already useful, don't get me wrong, but I figure a crack medical forger is good for more than just buying me ten minutes of peace to write a blog post.

Maybe I'll get him to write me a prescription for a chocolate shake. I've got a craving.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hey, Brother

[Start Dictation.]

I finally felt good enough to get out of bed today. Still haven't mastered the fine motor movements required for typing, so the Stenos remain on the job. But I put a couple hundred yards on the Old Odometer after lunch, walking laps around my floor here in the hospital.

More importantly, today I got a first look at my little brother (little in size, of course, and not age, as we were born simultaneously, and since I entered the birth canal in the conventional head-first manner, by the Who Was All the Way Out Test, he's my senior). They wheeled me down to the Nursery — that much ground would have been too much for me to traverse on foot — where they have him in an incubator. I had to wait all this time to see him because they wanted me to undergo six hours of counseling first.

It's a traumatic thing to learn, after all this time, that you have a sibling.

"It's a traumatic thing, too, to have someone basically take a jackhammer to your face on Boxing Day. I think I can deal with it."

Phutatorius, you just can't go traipsing in down there. You need to prepare yourself mentally — emotionally. And so on.

So I talked through my feelings with the on-staff clinical psychologist over the past couple days. Then finally they gave me the go-sign, and Stan the Orderly came by with the Wheelchair of Truth. He rolled these old bones down to see my brother, and I've got to tell you, people: there's not a whole lot there to see.

It's all right, Phutatorius, for you to feel ambivalent. He's a human being and your brother, but he's also severely disabled and terribly small. You might find it difficult to forge an emotional bond with him, at first.

He's basically just this raw-skinned Sea Monkey-looking thing, lying under a heat lamp with a bandage over his leg stump. When they uncoil him, he's about eight inches long. Weighs barely two pounds. (I tell you, Brother/Sister, having a two-pound object taken out of your head is pretty trippy. I've got these overdeveloped neck muscles now, and they whip this new head of mine around like an empty piñata. So this is how the other 99.99999999% live. Wild.)

He's all squinty-eyed, too. Not used to the light, I suppose — but neither am I these days. He blinks constantly, needs the help of a respirator to breathe, and they feed him a mixture of saline and fish food with an eyedropper six times a day.

I'm all like whoa there —

It's completely understandable for you to feel abstracted from your brother. You can't go beating yourself up with guilt over it. It will take time, Phutatorius. Understand that it will take time.

They want me to sign papers, become his legal guardian. I'm not sure I can handle this. I watched the nurse with the eyedropper, trying to work that mush into his tiny mouth. I just don't know if I have the patience. I've never even had a cat, and for the most part they go out and feed themselves.

It's an opportunity for you to grow as a person.

Yeah, we'll see. He's literally a scaled-up Sea Monkey. An overgrown brine shrimp.

Still, though, he is kinda cute. And we've come this far together, the two of us . . . Coochy-coochy-coo, there, Little Buddy. Coochy-coo!

[End Dictation.]