Dr. Funderlik's Regular Grunt

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Roosta Towel by Amy Ant

The superstructure of that indefinite sense of the ineffible existential curiosity which might be called the life of the artist

Art. It begins in tragedy, it ends in Garfunkle. But of course, it was Paul Simon who was the real genius of the group. He wrote that song, 'Fifty ways to leave your lover'. I bought it with money I had saved up while working in a coal mine. I remember at the time that I thought 'Wow, a whole fifty ways. This might very possibly be both educational and entertaining, like 'The Boxer' was, even if that was a weird song about a dog'. Actually, it is a little known fact, but Paul Simon originally intended 'The Boxer' to form part of a whole concept album all about dogs. But Garfunkle went into a sulk and refused to sing for it. Apparently he objected to some lines from 'The Labrador'. They went 'His coat is golden, his tongue is pink. He's my best friend and I wash him in the sink.' Garfunkle said that singing them would ruin his integrity as an artist. Simon quipped back, 'But, hey, Art, what about your hair?. The group nearly split up about it, but in the end, a compromise was realised, and 'The Boxer' was included as one track on a different album. Paul Simon was happy because Boxers are his favourite dog.

Anyway, what I was going to say is that 'Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover is rubbish. It doesn't even mention fifty ways. Simon just mentions that there 'must be' fifty ways to do it, but he only actually talks about something like two. One is 'Get on the bus Gus'. The other is 'Drop off the key Lee'. I mean, I suppose Gus has a fighting chance with that one, but Lee really ought to re-examine his reasons for wanting to leave in the first place. It wasn't very educational at all. Simon didn't even mention some obvious contenders like 'Go around to your mother's and call the lawers, Beryl', or 'Cover his Volkswagen Beetle with paint, Judy, and then catch the night train to Vancouver'.

All of which brings me to the point of this week's grunt. The first thing is, it has a point. That, for me, is an unusual development. Generally, I make it a point to avoid making points. Of course, I'm not going to win any points for pointing out that I make a point of avoiding points. I imagine that even a group of Pointers would make a point of not giving me any points for pointing out that I make a point of avoiding points. But, what's the point?

Well, before getting on to the point, I feel that I must mention something completely random and irrelevant but entertaining nonetheless. It was brought to my attention this week1 that Leonardo Di Caprio has actually gone and met KoKo the Gorilla. This bizarre event has even been captured on video. Regular readers (yes, both of you) will be familiar with the scenario I made up competely about Cliff Richard meeting KoKo some weeks back. But now, for the first time in the history of the grunt, we have a case of life imitating Art (- that's Art the big swirly stuff, not Art Garfunkle). I can imagine what was said, in signs and curious gestures: 'Me Leo. Leo like KoKo. Leo Happy' Arf arf.

The Point is this: How come someone becomes an artist and not a vet? Is it nature or nurture? Maybe someone could answer this for me. If you decided at the age of five that you really really wanted to become a vet, and you thought of nothing but becoming a vet for years, and you read loads and loads of books called 'How to be a vet' and you dreamed of being a vet all through school and then you studied veterinary studies at university and you passed the exams with the highest marks of any student ever and then you saved and saved and did voluntary work and crawled through the gutter just so you could set up a practice and then you finally got your own veterinary practice and you were photographed next to the sign with your name on it by the door and at your first day at work your first customer brought in a guinea pig and before you knew it, instead of curing it, you had painted it blue, photographed it and put it in a frame, and then you spent all night dreaming of making guinea pig sculptures and painting rabbits on the Sistine chapel ceiling - then I would like to hear from you. But only about that stuff, yeah? Please don't write to me telling me about how much you like films and how you arrange your sock drawer. That is not part of the study, and it you send me a letter like that, its just going straight into Mr Wastepaper Basket. I'm sorry, but rules is rules and there it is.

And who knows? Perhaps the opposite is also true. Perhaps Michelangelo is lying there on his back in the Sistine Chapel, painting God's toe nails, when he sees a poor little helpless spider with a broken leg, and so he puts down his 'Luigi's undercoat - guaranteed Chapel-proof - It does exactly what it says on the tin' and he attends to the creature. He's just finished making a little splint from a pipe cleaner when in walks the Pope, and the Pope says - ' Oi, Mike, whacha doing up there? You got the nose done yet?' and there's this crash from high above and one or two pipe cleaners float down from the ceiling and Michelangelo shouts down 'Just getting on to the nose now, your holiness...'. And so the Pope just kind of shrugs his shoulders and wanders off, and Michelangelo breaths a sigh of relief that he got away with it again. But there's a knot of frustration building up within him, and he wonders how long he can hold on and if one day he will he just snap and shout that, of course, that he really wants to be a vet, and that the real reason he's been taking so long is that he has been nursing so many insects back to health.

But the day wears on, and in the evening Michelangelo feels a bit better. He climbs down from the ceiling and walks out into Vatican City feeling a bit peckish. So he goes and has a big meal of hamburger and chips and a banana milkshake. And that's how his day goes, see? It begins in Art. It ends in Garfunkles.

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1Thanks to JEllen42

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