Re: Guest Post By Girl X: The Stupid Ugly Bird

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Sounds like she'll fit right in here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 2:01 AM
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Seriously, I like this story a lot. This kid's got potential.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 2:05 AM
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yay!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 2:09 AM
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This is certainly the place I've found the most swans, so I appreciate seeing this here! I like that her perspective is so accepting of the ugly bird's clueless unchanging sourness and of the swans' unconditional but also perhaps somewhat clueless love.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:40 AM
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Well, she can post whenever she wants to, on the strength of this.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:49 AM
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Wait a minute! Hotel on Lombok? What happened to your beachfront carved teak palace with flawless five meter long teak beams and peg-only construction?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:50 AM
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That was very good. And I think also depressing, but that might just be the lack of coffee speaking. I look forward to future analogy ban violations from her.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 5:04 AM
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FWIW, I liked the story, too. I appreciated the insight that truly rotten birds lack self-awareness of being rotten ("The ugly bird never tried to reflect on or change its actions or its heart, which is why it is still stupid and ugly to this day"). Any bird, whether stupid and ugly or intelligent and/or beautiful, who tells itself "I am rotten to the core" is almost certainly wrong; the capacity for honest self-criticism contains the seeds of redemption.

OTOH, the facile equation of "ugly" with "rotten" - I trust that Girl X recognizes this as a problematic fairy tale trope.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 5:06 AM
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Wow! Did you read her Kafka parables as good night stories?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 5:09 AM
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ha! I am making awesome strides forward towards the knock-down and ultimate re-erection of my currently-completed but still sitting on its ass in java under a giant corrugated roof teak palace. a period of tragic bed-ridden-ness punctuated only by going to work, which just sort of blew up (work, I mean, I'll explain later) led to nothing happening for like 2 years. also my lawyer was mad at me and had slowed communications to a crawl. so I have a new guy, who is a...guy, with a penis and everything, which is unfortunately apparently somewhat necessary for gettin'er dun. well, he's my old guy from back in the day in bali, he's cool. we have to bush-hog the place (I thought the cows and goats on the island would obviate the need for this?) I didn't learn the bahasa word for bush-hog.

we have kudzu and lantana there, it's hilarious, it's about like my bluff at home! I destroyed part of my beach with my seawall, cleverly. I only intended to protect some trees, but consequences, jimi hendrix songs about castles, etc. so they sort of have to dismantle my seawall in a costly and fruitless operation. so, rommy's going to get it bush-hogged up real nice, cut some better paths, leave a 2 m wide strip of holy shit the tropics vegetation between me and my neighbors so I can not see them...mmm...not that there's anyone there. I explained to the fishing restaurant dudes (they run a part-time restaurant for dive expeditions) that I will team up with them to feed my villa rental guests which they like fine. felt I didn't give them enough facetime/prezzies but... I physically cannot do very many things. rommy said they were pleased with the notion. the beach next door is for sale too along with an adjacent hectare, but I don't need to concentrate all my assets on this island, but I could use about 20m of beachfront that's like 100m deep if anyone felt charitable about selling it. fuck. I have to pack and am dying.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 5:15 AM
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I love this story so much.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 6:49 AM
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The ugly bird never tried to reflect on or change its actions or its heart, which is why it is still stupid and ugly to this day.

And thus did the Ugly Bird Effect join the Dunning-Kruger Effect in internet lore.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 7:36 AM
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Wonderful story.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 7:38 AM
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girl x's body has stubbornly revolted against the (requested! given in 2, 2.5mg doses! reasonable, considering we have to wake up at 7, leave the hotel at 8 and fly internationally tomorrow!) 5mg of valium I started giving her an hour ago.* she is 12. BRAIN! TURN OFF! NO ONE ASKDED YOU TO KEEP THINKING STUFF!

*if you give your kids promethazine or dramamine or whatever in the car then don't judge me! I'm pretty sure she was awake at 2 last night. she was making up a new 10 part series laws vis-a-vis her little sister including "copyright violation," "kidnapping," and "must call y lord melonlord."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:05 AM
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Awesome story. Kid's got potential, yes, but also high potential to grow up a swan.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:06 AM
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Actual swans are scary, though.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:08 AM
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W00T she's asleep! apparently I was talking about avatar the last airbender in my sleep two nights ago (after a memorable instance doing so 2 years ago. but I don't hardly think about avatar! but we were talking about it for ages.) I said: "don't worry kyoshi; I've been awake for 2,500 years."

lord melonlord's kind of a family thing already, but I was confused about the nature of the kidnapping statute. law against? law mandating?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:08 AM
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swans are terrifying, although my terrifying grandfather, who killed countless waterbirds in his hunting spree through life, befriended the swans of our end of georgica pond so completely, year after year, that the mother swan led him to the nest when a fox had found it and eaten one of the cygnets, and he helped her move them to a safer spot, which he guarded. those things were mad tame. my children know them only as tall (frightening!) gentle creatures who come eat slightly stale pepperidge farm thin cut white bread outen yo'hands.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:14 AM
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Geese aren't terrifying, exactly, but it's crazy how little they fear us. The geese on the Lakeshore bike path will literally just stand there in the middle of the path not moving and make you swerve around them. I can't tell if they're staggeringly dumb, or just assholes.

I like the story.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:18 AM
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Try annoying a big goose and I guarantee you'll be terrified. And possibly seriously injured.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:24 AM
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I like the store, and I like 4's description of it's virtues.

It also reminds me slightly of the stories that the characters in Generation X tell each other.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:25 AM
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"led him to the nest"

You're full of crazy stories and this one just topped everything. Or anyone else's crazy story I heard.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:28 AM
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Geese are assholes for sure.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:33 AM
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I like that her perspective is so accepting of the ugly bird's clueless unchanging sourness and of the swans' unconditional but also perhaps somewhat clueless love.

I second Thorn's thoughts. She has a place here.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:36 AM
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It's a great story. In a certain way, it also strikes me as more "Lutheran" than Andersen's original, which is kind of impressive considering how religious almost all his fairytales are. The swans would be God, and the ugly bird humanity.

Large waterfowl are terrifying. I've been bitten by both geese and swans as a young child.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 8:57 AM
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Never forget that geese are dinosaurs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:09 AM
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Beautiful story.

"The ugly bird never tried to reflect on or change its actions or its heart, which is why it is still stupid and ugly to this day"

Low self esteem may have prompted the story, but the act of writing it ensures that the writer is different than the ugly bird in one respect. But she was probably already different in all sorts of other respects, too.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:26 AM
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Not exactly the great white hunter crowd around here. It's a damn goose, just kick that thing. If you're running away from a bird it should look like this.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:45 AM
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But she was probably already different in all sorts of other respects, too.

Like being a mammal?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:45 AM
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And the swans were not disappointed when the ugly bird remained ugly, season after season, year after year. For the swans loved the ugly bird unconditionally, which is to say, blindly. Because they could not see the ugly bird for what it really was, they could not help it to change. Because this was the only ugly bird they knew, they had little experience to guide them when they tried to help. And that is why the swans were perfectly content when their kindness and charity had no effect on the ugly bird, season after season, year after year.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:49 AM
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And the ugly bird was happy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 9:50 AM
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I mean, it's not that I'm scared of annoying the goose, I just don't enjoy kicking birds. But maybe they deserve it for blocking the path so ostentatiously.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 10:13 AM
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Kicking isn't necessary; IME geese will respect a bluff, so just charge them. Do it and tell us the results.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 10:46 AM
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34

Co-sign 9,11.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 12:10 PM
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Love the story. I won't offer specific praise, because I think that can lead to writing-to-the-praise or self-parody, but there are many wonderful things about it! One thing to think about is this part,

all of them saw the good and beauty in others. Even when it wasn't there. And in the ugly bird it certainly was not

Do the swans see it that way, too? Would they say, it's ugly but we love it anyway, or would they see it as beautiful?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 12:37 PM
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I have the same question as 8.last.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 1:13 PM
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Enjoyed it.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 1:27 PM
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Nice story, but kind of sad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 3:12 PM
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I think we may be dealing with an "unreliable narrator:" don't the swans know exactly what's going on here, and haven't they chosen to act as they do among the available alternatives?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 3:54 PM
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When we had an 80lb dog we went for a walk on the Common and a goose started hissing at him. My wife was concerned until I said, if it attacks him, who do you really think is going to win?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:09 PM
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ooh, 39 raises an important question.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:11 PM
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Great story, girl x!

39: Well, the narrator must be at least somewhat unreliable, if we read the signature at the end as being part of the text -- which I'd be inclined to do. (Since it's self-contradictory to identify consciously with an ugly bird that doesn't know it's an ugly bird; this is the point made in 8 and 27.)

I think this reads best as intentionally self-contradictory -- the narrator (who might be girl x, or might be a fictionalized version of girl x) recognizes the contradiction, but is expressing that she feels this way anyway. You could remove the contradiction by stating that the ugly bird knows what it is but lacks the ability to change. But that would be a different and maybe less interesting story.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:28 PM
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none of my comments went through before. I am home in narnia! girl x says she explicitly told you guys NOT to make any annoying english teacher comments. but you did anyway!! "do they ever listen?" me: no. also, she was actually confused by the question at first. but she says the swans would say that we're wrong and there's something beautiful in the dumb ugly bird, but they love everybody so it's hard to tell, like maybe we're dumb or maybe they're dumb, it's not clear.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 1:21 AM
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Girl X is wonderful! I respect the ban on English teacher comments. But I want to read more


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 1:39 AM
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||
Completely off topic, but I will be in Berlin for three days in late April with a friend for purposes of culture and recreation. Where does the mineshaft suggest we go while there?
|>

I have put an email into my sig for people who don't want to clutter the threads.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:03 AM
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OK, no English teacher comments, but what does the story cygnify?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:07 AM
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I enjoyed it!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:31 AM
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Try annoying a big goose and I guarantee you'll be terrified.

Obligatory.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:46 AM
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math teacher comments! the best kind!
also, david, the swan thing is true. it's weird, but those swans loved my gdad. like really a lot loved him. I mean, I'd say 'led him to the nest' is misleadingly strong but there's no other way to describe it: she was lamenting on the shoreline, my granddad just...wandered around on the pebbly beach of the pond after her, and there was the nest in his old duck blind afaik, and there were two more cygnets and the moved them one by one to a similar place of matted reeds closer to the house. I like your respect for integrity in being incredulous, and in claiming this the least credible story I've ever told. there must have been at least two generations? how long do swans live? in the longer summers of late they had two clutches.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:50 AM
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Sure! We're the assholes!

Humans! Do they just look in mirrors and think about how beautiful they are?


Posted by: Opinionated Goose | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:50 AM
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30 is pretty great, too.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:13 AM
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No, they look in mirrors to make sure a goose is not sneaking up on them from behind.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:15 AM
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girl x says she explicitly told you guys NOT to make any annoying english teacher comments. but you did anyway!!

I thought that the request was for no mean comments (like those her English teacher made), and I don't think the comments here were mean, not "no comments that sound like a comment that some English teacher somewhere might written before."*

* With apologies to the John Hartford's verse, "I tried real hard to not make this song sound like / Some other song some other singer songwriter might have written before. / If I did its because it's music / And music's based on repetition."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:36 AM
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Is girl X any good at drawing or does she know somebody who is that she could work with, because a webcomic of this would totally go viral.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:41 AM
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These geese are kind of wannabe swans.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:45 AM
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Now, looking at them, they remind me of Björk famous dress.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:48 AM
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But are they wannabe Russian swans or wannabe Ukrainian swans?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:49 AM
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math teacher comments! the best kind!

Every now and then I have to assign an essay - math history or reflection or something - and I never know what the hell I'm supposed to say in the comments. "Wow. Such poor written. Very dull. So boring."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:55 AM
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Such poor written indeed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:01 AM
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I love this story, Girl X. Perhaps I'll let my girls weigh in as long as they agree not to look at the rest of the blog ever. (Maybe there should be an Unfogged Jr.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:03 AM
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Good idea. What are you kids' skype handles?


Posted by: Uncle Ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:13 AM
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This is great. I like the Vogon bird. "I don't write poetry because underneath my mean callous heartless exterior I really just want to be loved. I write poetry in order to throw my mean callous heartless exterior into sharp relief! I'm going to throw you off the ship anyway!"

Related: my Narnian god daughter no longer wants to be a polar explorer - as I feared, she has concluded that this is a male-dominated career (partly thanks to my well-meaning gifts of books about Shackleton etc). All is not lost, however: she wants to fly fast jets instead. EXCELLENT.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:45 AM
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It's still possible to fly jets in the Arctic, though probably not to the Pole itself.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:50 AM
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Well, you can fly over the Pole no problem. NY-Beijing is pretty much directly over the Pole. It's just a bit tricky to land there.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:44 AM
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lift problems? or landing spot problems? I've flown over the arctic on narnian airways direct narnia-NY. (now sadly unattainable because it's all business class; too popular.) ajay: girl x is a staunch feminist and maybe could talk to your goddaughter. related: wants to know why hugo schwyzer isn't being sued more.
54: girl x is insanely good at drawing. this all makes it seem like girl y is lame or something, but girl y is maybe the most hilarious person I know, and is also so full of love and good cheer and kindness etc that she will make you believe in swans god. she is also very smart; she just doesn't lord it over people.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 3:49 AM
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Hey, I'm happy with her wanting to be a fast jet pilot. More lucrative and less frostbite-y than polar exploration. Amelia Earhart has been a good influence here (the Brad Meltzer book about her in particular). I think it's not so much the male-dominated thing that has put her off the high ice, it's just that she really likes airplanes. Fast jets in particular - she was staring lovingly at a picture of a Typhoon - but also some of the old biplanes. And the Spitfire of course.

There's no lift problem with landing in the Arctic - it's hot and high that causes problems, and the Arctic is very cold and pretty much sea level. I was thinking more on the "finding a flat bit of reliable ice 500m long" issue. Though that's not insuperable.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 4:05 AM
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Unfortunately, the UK doesn't have an equivalent of that weird New York Air National Guard outfit that flies C-130s and C-141s to resupply polar scientists and worry the bears/penguins (delete as applicable).


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 4:34 AM
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Which reminds me that I learned yesterday that the bird French people call a pingouin isn't a penguin, or even a species, and they can fly. Hilariously, everyone else in Europe calls what we call a penguin a penguin, even the Russians. It's just the French that call four or five unrelated but vaguely penguiney seabirds penguins, and call actual penguins manchots. Most of the French wikipedia article on penguins is dedicated to explaining why pretty much everything penguin-related is mistranslated.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 4:38 AM
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Manchot, of course, also means "person with one or no arms or hands", as in bandit manchot, a fruit machine. A pingouin is an auk. (Including the great auk, Pinguinis).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 5:05 AM
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65.1(f) -- I'll take a shot at that (and, hopefully, redemption for the question above): a key question, before a lawyer is going to take a case, is whether the target has any money. HS seems pretty well wrecked at this point, living with his mom, child support probably in arrears (it's going to have priority), legal fees -- there's maybe nothing to be had from him.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 5:55 AM
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Has Girl X read "Young Adult Novel" by Daniel Pinkwater? Her piece reminds me of a Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan story. Although the confessional sign-off is a bit different.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:34 AM
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tom scudder wins in 1! girl x has had young adult novel read to her, instead of kafka. it's like the uncle borgel stories too: "moral: eggplants are stupid. never bet on an eggplant."


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:47 PM
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still the thing that has me dying about this is that they taught it skills and gave it books. "look you can make a rustic but serviceable chiffonade of basil now! you can cross-country ski! you can read old church slavonic!" "look, it's sort of a manual on how to be an asshole libertarian, but if you can get beyond that, ender's game is just a cracking good read, seriously, smart fabulous bird, you're going to love this one."


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:51 PM
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49: I believe you.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:02 PM
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73: swan school sounds fun.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:06 PM
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:(


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:36 PM
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76 to not being likely to successfully sue Hugo Schwyzer?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:50 PM
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