Saturday, April 11, 2009

46: And the temptation has never been greater

The temptation to phone it in on this entry, the temptation to eat all the cookies in my house that I've been saving for tomorrow's breakfast for 40 days, the temptation to eat all the crumbled Heath bar pieces that are supposed to end up on a cake for tomorrow's Easter dessert and be fine with a lackluster cake, the temptation to let myself off the hook for this blog because the big hook I've been on is about to end. The Temptations themselves - Get ready, cause here I come.

But I cannot, in good conscience, intentionally crank out crap on what is supposed to be the final big push here. The Saturday before the ultimate deadline - Easter. I will say I have consumed quite a bit of Cool Whip during my consideration of the many ways in which I could conceivably wimp out, but I cannot let myself be a great big quitter. One - we're so close to making it! Two - there is unfinished business in the crockpot! Three - remember that tease from the Isaac Asimov entry just four days ago in post number 42? That still needs to be resolved. What was so fascinating about him that I found out there? Let's see if we can't get down to business and sort through the unfinished business.

Previously, on post 25 of the crockpot, the McCartney Mansion was visited by the shadowy figure of Prince, debonair deal maker, and Jeopardy! victor over Sir Paul himself. Michael Jackson and Bruce, the guy in the surgeon's outfit in Prince's Revolution, had left to play Keytar Hero. Paul and Prince were left to do battle, and the battle went to Prince. When the final jeopardy question involved a Minnesota loon, Prince was more than happy to say he knew all about it. As a result, Prince gets to choose another game to be played another day, because he likes games quite a bit.

No one has heard from Prince since. And Bruce is no longer making house calls.
The McCartney Mansion went back to business as usual.

Lately, Paul has been listening to a lot of "Mr. Roboto." [aside: how has Eugene Levy never been part of a Styx spoof? I think he very closely resembles the lead singer]
Michael Jackson, in preparation for Easter, has been singing "Bunny Be Hiding Something" all week long, hoping that the bunny indeed will be hiding something around the house for him to find. By mid-week, he'd purchased four boxes of Peeps and announced that he had named them all Tom. When Paul came to breakfast on Wednesday morning, Peeps lined the window sills. Michael, who'd been hiding under the table, popped up and sang "I always feel like, somebody's watching me" to Paul.

Paul explained he'd rather consume his Cream of Wheat without edible animal cruelty reminders adorning the walls, and certainly without peeping Toms all over the place. Michael said he understood, and then hurried off, saying he remembered he'd left something yellow in the shower he'd forgotten about.

Paul was actually kind of fond of the Peeps, as he liked their sunny marshmallow dispositions, but had to make sure Michael knew that hiding under the table before he had pants on was not an appropriate roommate to roommate gesture in the name of fun.

Paul wished he could hide eggs for Michael to find, as eager as he was to partake of childhood activities. And Paul was an expert at hiding things, what with the marijuana he'd hidden high and low (mostly high), back in this heyday. Or hayday, as the case may have been. One of his most famous arrests had actually been a victory. He had served as his own decoy for his own delivery. While his suitcase may not have made it through security, no one heard anything about the dummy piano that had been shipped to a studio and immediately disassembled. Even the black keys of the eighty-eights held surprises inside. That was always a point of pride for Paul - everyone thought the lyrics held hidden messages when, like everything else they did, the music was home to the real power.

Maybe he'd hide a basket for Michael, somewhere obvious he'd be sure to go, like the pogo stick closet. Or maybe tomorrow they could have bacon with breakfast, one of Michael's favorites.

Not many knew that the real sword Heather Mills dangled over Paul was not his abuse of her, but rather, abuse of pork. One of the world's most famous vegetarians was like everyone else on earth - in love with bacon. And when Heather figured out he loved bacon more than he loved her, she began to realize her time was limited and she'd better get a compelling argument together to get out of there with a fortune. And that's when she began operation Helter Skelter, assembling many rumors to spread through the gossip Mills. But she knew the sacred cow she held over Paul's head, ready to slaughter at any moment, was the man's love of crispy bacon. And on his birthday, crispy bacon run through the yellow of his over-easy egg, co-mingling creatures of land and air in one delicious bite.
One shot of that forkful and Paul together, and he would be sunk like a toad in a hole.

Paul was considering a trip to the Cadbury store to procure something small for Michael. He didn't want to send anyone though, he wanted to go himself - catch a little of that outside world engaged in acts of joy like binge purchases of chocolate for binge consumption. As he sipped the last dregs of his coffee, he flipped through disguise ideas in his mind. It couldn't be something from old tymey entertainment without Michael in on the gag. It couldn't be anything from Sergeant Pepper as he'd get asked for Cirque de Soleil tickets to the Love show. And he couldn't go as Ringo, as he might get stopped for questions. His Ringo voice was awful. Surprisingly bad for someone with such a gifted ear. He did a better Louis Armstrong imitation than he did Ringo.
Eugene, the estate's mechanic, entered the kitchen, his coveralls grease-stained, hoping to find some lemonade in the refrigerator.
"Lemonade hits the spot, eh Sir?"
"You bet, Eugene. Hey, lemme ask you, do you have any more of those coveralls around?"
"Sure, extra pairs in the gardening and pyrotechnics shed. You have someone new coming on staff?"
"Oh, I don't know, thinking 'bout it though."
"More than enough pants - and work - to go around, Sir!"
"Indeed, Eugene. Indeed. You have a nice Easter."
"I'm Jewish, Sir."
"Ah. Well then, a sexy Seder."
"I will Sir. Oh, you know, I will."

Eugene winked and went back the way he came, and Paul was left thinking he might go under coverall afterall on this mission. His mind flashed to images of singers in coveralls. Billy Joel and Uptown Girl. Then there it was, clear as day - what had been bothering him all these years. The Styx lead singer in a gray robot suit suddenly transformed into the Styx lead singer in a purple jumpsuit. And it had shoulder pads. That was it. That was the subtlety that Asimov had described that he had refused.

It was all obvious to him now. Styx had taken the idea and run with it. Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto. Life is all just a - Grand Illusion. The song stuck in his head.
Paul had chocolate to find and a bone to pick. He headed for the shed, robe flapping in the breeze.

No one saw the dumbwaiter move.

In December 1974, the former Beatle Paul McCartney approached Asimov and asked him if he could write the screenplay for a science-fiction movie musical. McCartney had a vague idea for the plot and a small scrap of dialogue; he wished to make a film about a rock band whose members discover they are being impersonated by a group of extraterrestrials. The band and their impostors would likely be played by McCartney's group Wings, then at the height of their career. Intrigued by the idea, although he was not generally a fan of rock music, Asimov quickly produced a "treatment" or brief outline of the story. He adhered to McCartney's overall idea, producing a story he felt to be moving and dramatic. However, he did not make use of McCartney's brief scrap of dialogue, and probably as a consequence, McCartney rejected the story. The treatment now exists only in the Boston University archives.

- Wikipedia entry, "Isaac Asimov"
In 1974, Styx released this album:

This iconic image of Isaac Asimov shows a similar face:
Could it be, that Styx and Asimov were also
appreciative of one another's work?

Could Mr. Roboto have been Paul's idea
done differently by someone who deferred
to Asimov's suggestion that the imitation
robot band wear robot-esque clothing and not the clothing that the real band would wear, including orange and yellow tiger striped shirts with a vest over top, as the lead singer always did, as that would cause a confusion too great for an audience that was stoned or more to follow? The transition from gray to purple would not be too difficult to grasp. Though it might be a robot band on the run, it would be a band that anyone could catch, even when they'd been "taking their thinking to a higher plane of thought" for hours on end. And maybe Asimov had been right about having lyrics that rhymed. Robotically.

Paul had been a fool, he now realized. But he wanted to hear it from Styx personally.

* * * * *

When Paul returned from the Cadbury store, and was back in his smoking jacket, ready for tea, he came upon Michael, sitting at the kitchen table with a dozen eggs in front of him.

"Michael, what are you doing? There aren't peeps in there, you know."
"Oh, I know Sir Paul, I'm just going to dye, dye- dye these eggs cause it is Easter, dye - dye - dye them right away. Peeps don't live in the eggs. I'm not lovin' these e-e-e-eggs."
"Ok then. If this Easter is just an apple, I'll let you take a bite."
"Thanks! Oh, and by the way, I FOUND the egg you left for me in the kool-aid pitcher."
"What egg? What kool-aid pitcher?"
"The one with all the grape kool-aid in it over there. And the smiley face!"

Paul looks to the kitchen counter and sees a kool-aid man smile on a glass pitcher full of a dark purple liquid. He notices the handle has a familiar, ambiguous design.

"Where is that egg, Michael."
Michael pulls an egg out of his pocket that is covered in purple sequins.
"Open it," Paul demands.
Michael cracks the egg, and purple glitter flies everywhere. The egg disintegrates. A small projected image appears. It is Prince, dressed in a purple version of Princess Leia's outfit from Star Wars when she was a hologram, right down to the hair buns. His message begins as the last of the glitter falls:

Purple rain. Purple rain.
My friends, I come to you in peace. And to tell you the time has come. The game will be held tomorrow.
And you will attend. And yes Paul, I know it's a holiday, but what better time then, for play?
And Michael, I know you're excited. Everything to you, after all, is a thriller.
Sleep well my bunnies. Until it is time to hop, I remain, PRINCE!

The image vanished.
Michael clapped.
Paul decided to ask the cook to add bacon to the lentils on that night's dinner menu. He needed to be fortified for the challenge that awaited.

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