Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ellen's Island

Several years ago my friends and I embarked on a campaign to abandon our lives, move to a tropical island, and adopt lives of Gilligan-esque simplicity and equality.

At the time, Ellen Degeneres - whose talk show I watched every day during lunch - was in the habit of answering viewer mail by granting wishes. I started writing Ellen, asking if she would like to escape with my friends and I to a tropical island where she would serve as our Queen. While the flattery was sincere, the letters were (in truth) really a thinly-veiled ploy for Ellen to finance the adventure.

Sadly, I am no longer self-employed. I am no longer able to watch Ellen during my lunch break. But as summer approaches and I desperately miss the three-month bliss a year of multiplication tables and spelling tests once earned, I am thinking of re-visiting my campaign for Ellen's Island...

(originally sent 8.20.07)

Dear Ellen,

You may not be aware of it, but you and I eat lunch together almost every day. Because I work from home, most afternoons you dance into my living room and chat while I enjoy my lunch. You usually bring friends, and I enjoy the company. Sometimes you talk on the phone for a few minutes, but I don't mind the interruption. In fact, you've so generously shared your time with me that I'd like to return the favor with an invitation.

Would you like to be the Queen of my island?

I know... it's quite an offer. And so, I suppose it's only fair to disclose that I live in a small condo that is desperately landlocked. To be honest, I am not yet an island-owner. My friends and I have decided, however, that an island will be our next (and first) group purchase. We plan to quit our jobs, sell our stuff, and move to a tropical paradise where money isn't allowed and there are no bills (we'll make an exception for the occasional William if you know one you'd like to bring). We're ready to run away, but we don't want to leave you behind.

I know this might sound a bit like a failed social experiment one of the Marx brothers dreamed up a few years ago, but in my opinion his communist vision was never fully realized because...

1. Lenin had virtually no sense of humor.
2. The guest list was all wrong.
3. Nobody in Siberia makes a decent Mai Tai.

We think our island remedies these flaws because...

1. You are much funnier than Lenin.
2. Our island is invitation only.
3. The Mai Tai will be our state bird.

As we chose our monarchy, the candidates were narrowed to either you or Jimmy Buffet. We eliminated Jimmy because we were afraid he would just spend his time wasting away again. But you're so funny, energetic, sincere, and kind that we feel you'd be the perfect Queen. We love your show and know that you must be as wonderful in person as you are on syndicated television. You're obviously the piece we need to make our island paradise complete.

It won't be big or fancy, but our island will be surrounded by clear water and warm, white sand. We're fun people, Ellen. You'll like us. Will you please come and be our Queen?

Of course, we're all very poor and could never afford an actual island. We'll probably have to settle for sharing an inflatable raft at the public pool – but you're invited to that too.

Don't forget to pack your crown and some sunscreen.

Your humble servant,

Bryan Currie

Friday, May 15, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

When they ate the herbs out of her herb garden, my mom was irritated. When they dug up her daffodil bulbs, she was upset. But when the chipmunks chewed through the wires in my step-dad’s car, my mom declared war.*

For the past two months her tactic has been to lure the chipmunks into a wading-pool trap where the rodents drown while trying to eat floating sunflower seeds. The "Salem Witch Trap," as I've come to think of it, may be barbaric... but it's also brilliant. (a similar version can be seen here.)

To celebrate both my mother’s birthday (which was Sunday) and her apparent victory over the chipmunks (she’s drowned at least 10), my sister and I bought flower bulbs to replace the ones the rodents have eaten. For the card I composed the following series of chipmunk limericks/memorials.

Feel fee to add a few verses of your own, but please remember... chipmunks seldom live on Nantucket.

There once was a chipmunk named Pete
who thought your backyard was a treat.
While he was digestin'
you taught him a lesson.
"You shouldn't swim after you eat!"

There once was a chipmunk named Mills
who feasted on your daffodils.
He got a surprise
when he realized
He should have spent time growing gills.

There once was a chipmunk named Jay
who thought your yard was a buffet.
But lunch isn't free
as he would soon see.
Too bad he's now floated away.

A chipmunk was named Alowishus
who thought your backyard looked delicious.
But eating a car
was going too far!
you sent him to sleep with the fishes.

*for more on my mom's war against small, seeminly defenseless animals, click here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Today I found myself outside the Chrysler Building (which, by the way, is tall enough it might block God’s view of Brooklyn) where a small church sits snugged between the skyscrapers.

This morning the cross outside the church was still wearing its Easter outfit; a shroud draped across its shoulders… and a chain securing it to the street.

I know what the chain says about my city, where bicycles and icons (apparently) need the same pad-locked protection. But if this is what the last two millennia have been leading us to, I think someone deserves an apology.

O Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations:
Thou art everywhere, but I worship you here;
Thou art without form, but I worship you in these forms;
Thou needest no praise, yet I offer you these prayers and salutations.
Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.
(traditional Hindu invocation)