Missing: Pigeon with Peas (no Carrots)

It’s all over the headlines this morning that over $600 million worth of art has been stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art. Now, this is not remotely funny. Art crime is a serious and growing problem, which is one of the reasons I chose to focus on it in my recent series (TAKE ME IF YOU CAN, TAKE ME TWO TIMES, TAKE ME FOR A RIDE) about an international agency that recovers stolen art. (www.KarenKendall.com)

What is funny, to me at least, is the title of the missing Picasso: Pigeon with Peas.

Since I’m highly irreverent and have heard all the jokes about abstract art that I can stomach in a lifetime, I imagine the following crime report:

“Hello, Officer? Zis is ze Paris Museum of Modern Art! We are victims of a rrrhobbery!” (Clicks and static invade the telephone line.)

“Terribly sorry to hear that, sir. What has been stolen?”

“Picasso’s Pigeon with Peas! And Olive Tree Near Estaque by Braque! And–” (more static).

“Picasso had a pigeon? Curious. I thought he only had mistresses . . .”

“It is a painting.”

“A painting pigeon, you say?”

“No, you imbecile, it is a–”

“So that accounts for some of his later work . . .”

“—painting!”

“. . . never did care for it, myself.”

“Quel sacrilege!” (One imagines the museum staffer crossing himself.)

“A sacrilegious pigeon? Well, he should have owned a dove. Very spiritual birds, those.”

“Gaaaah! Listen to me carefully, Officer.”

“I’m all ears.” (Rolling his eyes. Clearly a crazy person is on the line.)

“A painting–by Picasso, not a bird—has been stolen from the museum. It is called Pigeon with Peas. I am faxing you a copy right now!”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?”

“Are you receiving the fax?”

“Ah, yes. Here it is.”

“Very good.” (Relief permeates the museum staffer’s voice.)

“But I’m afraid there must be some mistake. There is no pigeon in this painting.”

“It is an abstract piece, Officer.”

“I don’t see so much as a single feather.”

“Cubist, to be exact.”

“I don’t care if he painted the damn thing in Cuba. You’ve sent me the wrong photo . . .”

“Mon Dieu, you cannot possibly be this stupid! Look closely: you must at least see the peas, sir!”

“Sort of in the middle?”

“Oui!”

“All right. I see the peas. But still no pigeon.”

The museum staffer moans, then recovers and indulges in sarcasm. “Perhaps you cannot discern the pigeon because it is MISSING.”

“Oh . . . (officer peers at fax myopically) . . . I see. I mean, I don’t. But we’re not too busy this morning. So by all means, I’ll humor you and we’ll fill out a Missing Pigeon Report.”

“With peas!” The staffer shrieks.

“Yes, yes. With peas. No carrots?”

Click.  

Clearly, the museum director should have called ARTemis, Inc. immediately and hired my art recovery agents to recover the missing paintings. Don’t you agree?  

KK has enjoyed using this blog entry to avoid her contracted writing this morning . . .

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Want Fries With That?

It was easily the size of a wagon wheel. Bigger than a great Dane. Larger than Rush Limbaugh’s ego. More colossal than the national debt.

It was a hamburger dubbed The Titan. And it was part of the big show (Burgers and Beatdowns) at my friend’s restaurant, Quickie’s. (I love the name, which is even more suggestive than the titles of my latest books. LOL.) Quickie’s is a tiny little place on State Road Seven in Hollywood, Florida. The Titan barely fit in the kitchen, much less out the door . . . and they made three of them.

Each consisted of four pounds of beef, half a pound of bacon, enough cheese to blanket Biscayne Bay and all the trimmings: lettuce, tomato, super-secret Quickie sauce–you name it. The buns had been specially crafted by a local bakery. The final touch was the pimento-stuffed olive on top, glaring like a noxious green eyeball at the assembled crowd.  

Three of these Titans were delivered to a wrestling ring that had been erected outside in the parking lot. Inside the wrestling ring were three contenders: two very large men and one skinny guy. His burger was bigger than his whole rear end.

Cheers went up as each challenger cut his Titan into four quarters and commenced consumption. Meanwhile, I sat at a table a few feet away, awestruck by the sheer enormity of the task and able only to eat a measly 1/3 pound burger (fantastically good!) and a few onion rings.

The burger warriors ate through their first quarters with amazing grace, considering that the monstrous things were at least ten inches tall and about the size of your average cinder-block—though I’m sure they tasted much better. Then came a ritual gut-cleansing with about a gallon of soft drink. I’m sure there were some sumo-burps, but thankfully, I was too far away for audio.

Did I mention that underneath the long folding table where they all sat, my friends had spread a tarp? Did I mention the strategically placed buckets, one at the feet of each contestant in case of, er, spillage? Luckily nobody needed one.

The challengers started on the second quarters of their Titans with a little less enthusiasm. (Go figure.) And to my surprise, the two really colossal guys slowed down after about half, though they doggedly kept munching.

The little guy, though, apparently had hollow legs. He did start standing up and jogging in place, bouncing in order to shake the food down from his gut into those legs. He did this several times during the second quarter, and it seemed to work beautifully.

We thought it would be the classic case of the tortoise and the hare, though. Our money, frankly, was on the two big guys who were taking their time, slowly and inexorably chewing through their Titans. But they were still working on their second quarters while Little Guy was shaking the remnants of his down into his calves—maybe his toes.

He bounced and shook his head to clear it, like a boxer about to go another round against a tough opponent. And then he started on his third quarter while we all watched with varying degrees of awe. I wish I could tell you that he finished it, but even he was beaten by the Titan in the end. I hope that he had a beautiful girlfriend to feed him antacids all night. I really do.

Even if you’re not up for eating a burger the size of Antarctica, I highly recommend the normal sized ones at Quickie’s. Visit them on FaceBook

 

 or www.quickiesburgersandwings.com for photos of the great event!

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The shirt off his back

So I was sitting on the couch in the Stepfordville  family room this morning, chugging coffee and watching the morning news, when my husband strolled in. Now, of course he is a vision of handsome manliness, always. Let me just say that for the record. 

But there are occasions when he doesn’t, um, accessorize his manly mansomeness (yes, I just made up that word) to best advantage. Today was one of those occasions. He had paired a casual navy shirt adorned by beige and white stripes with dressy gray, subtly-patterned slacks. 

“Honey,” I said. “Stacy and Clinton would not approve of that outfit.”

“Who?” He looked baffled. 

“The hosts of What Not To Wear, dearest.” 

“So?” He put on his watch.

It was evident that I needed to change tacks. So I said, “I don’t think your mother would want you to leave the house wearing that.” 

“My mother hasn’t dressed me since I was ten. What are you trying to tell me?” 

See, men are really smart. He understood that there was some hidden message underneath my feeble attempts at tact.

“I’m just thinking that maybe a white shirt or a plain blue shirt would complement those pants a little better.”

“My pants,” he said, “are very secure. They don’t need to be complimented.” 

“Well, I’m so glad for them! Isn’t that nice. Tell you what, honey: since they’re not having any self-esteem issues, let’s take pity on your khaki pants that are. They just said to me the other day that they need to get out more.”

“You’re having conversations with the trousers in my closet?” he asked, eyeing me strangely.

What could I say? “I’m very intuitive. So there’s no actual dialogue, per se, but I can sense their needs.”

My husband put his wallet in his pants and picked up his cell phone and keys. He edged towards the hallway. “Sweetheart, I think all this writing is affecting your mental state. I think you may need to get some help.” 

At this point, I flung myself between him and the door. “You’re not escaping the house like that. Go and change!”

The truth dawned on him. “Ohhhhhh,” he said. “You don’t like what I’m wearing. Why didn’t you just say so?”           

“I tried.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “You raved about someone named Stacy, and my mother, and talking pants. Women are crazy. You never get to the point.”

True. We probably are crazy. But at least we can dress ourselves, right?

p.s. Um, when we get around to it. KK is the very picture of elegance right now in pink p.j.’s with red lobsters embroidered on them . . . Cannes stars, eat your heart out.

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Stepford Wife Economics: Buy the Shoes, Someone Else Will Pay

Recent financial headlines have me scratching my head here in Stepfordville, because they don’t follow any of the logic that I was taught in school. However, what do I know? I am merely a lowly, underpaid, overly imaginative author.

Managers on Wall Street who are (allegedly) responsible for driving our economy into the ground are being rewarded with multi-million dollar bonuses. And entire countries—no, continents!—who are on the verge of defaulting on their loans are being given billions of dollars in financial ‘rescue’ packages.

Evidently there is some economic fantasy out there that these loans will be paid back. A fantasy perpetrated by so-called serious people with serious degrees from seriously prestigious institutions of higher learning. 

Let’s stop here for a reality check: And *I* get mocked for writing fiction? These people have contructed the world’s greatest story, and other people are buying it. This thing should hit the New York Times Bestseller List at number 1 and produce zillions in royalties!

According to this logic, I should go out immediately and buy at least a thousand pairs of designer shoes. Why? Because that way I can run up significant debt, and then someone else can purchase it and gamble on whether I will or won’t pay it back.

If I don’t pay it back, one of the gamblers will make a metric ton of money, and the other one will be in danger of going out of business, but get bailed out by the government. And nobody will take my shoes away. They will simply wipe out most of the interest on the shoes so that I can buy more, thus stimulating the economy here in our Stepford Village and keeping the designer shoe boutique in business.

And when I max out my credit card, clearly someone at the Stepford Bank will offer me a new one—just see the government example. When I’ve maxed out about four of them, I can then run crying to a Stepford debt consolidation agency, who will arrange (for a fat fee) to negotiate down my balance and interest with the credit card companies, who will write off the bad debt as a loss and pay it back to themselves by charging more interest and more fees to someone else, who may become so overwhelmed by his debt that he shoots himself. Eh, well. Poor guy was clearly unbalanced.

Does any of this make *any* sense? Isn’t this all a case of passing around Monopoly money and plastic casino chips and favors—which are simply another form of debt? What’s that, you say? Ohhhhh. I’m supposed to be caught up in the intricacies of this twisting, turning plot? I’m supposed to be dazzled by the setting and entertained by the characters?

Oh, I’m entertained, all right. But as an author, I am also aware that at some point, we must get to the last page of this economic story. The point where it says, “The End.” The point at which we have to close the book and face reality. The point at which money and credit become worthless and we go back to trading skins and arrowheads.  

But don’t mind me. I’m just a paperback writer, living between the pages of a good book. What would I know?    

KK, who is writing barefoot today . . .

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I am the missing link . . .

I am the Missing Link . . .

As a child, I spent hours happily looking for reading material to subvert, pervert and invert my young mind. This reading material was written in what was once known as the King’s English, perhaps now the Queen’s English . . . possibly known in the U.S. as the President’s English.

Whatever.

My point is that I developed a working vocabulary in English, and felt quite comfortable flinging around words with gusto . . . until the last decade. But now I’m going to have to go out immediately and buy a dictionary for dinosaurs, because of  words (I use the term loosely) like ‘hash-tag’ and ‘meme’ and “tweet.”  We won’t even get into some of the slang tossed around by teens and twenty-somethings, because I consider it a foreign language. Sadly, as my hips grow, I become ever less hip.

Speaking of foreign languages, I remember laughing at an overseas Prime Minister a few years back, because of his outrage that American slang was polluting French. Now the joke’s on me. Electronic weirdness and today’s miniscule attention spans are assaulting writers everywhere. And we can no longer hide in our rooms like the hermits that we are. We must learn to Twitter. At best, this term conjures up a Disney character for me. At worst, clips of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

I could handle : )  and : ( and ; ) . . . I could figure out abbreviations like LOL or ROTFLMAO . . . but please, WTF is a hash-tag? And do we want to examine the etymology of this term too closely? (Kidding . . . I do realize that the ‘hash’ comes from the # in front of the tag. I’m not quite as stupid as I look.)

And how about meme? I know what a mime is—the guy in clown shoes and makeup who performs silently in a universe all his own. But meme? Despite my official class on Twitter yesterday (thank you, Harlequin, for taking pity on your more mystified authors!) I seem to have missed the definition of this term. Of course I will be off to Google it immediately–after first publicly embarrassing myself with this blog. 

Finally, let’s take a dinosaur’s eye view of  bit.ly—a term that Professors Emeritus Jenny and Amy threw out yesterday. I sit here squinting at it over my coffee and frowning. Here’s what my brain does with it: Bit? Bite? Dog bite? Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame, asking, “Does your dog bite?” “No.” Chomp. “Owww! I thought you said your dog didn’t bite!” “That’s not my dog.”

This is all before my brain gets to the “ly” part of bit.ly, which is the truly offensive part. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, chances are you’ve had some Greater Authority (be it a critique partner, an editor, or a random contest judge) smack your hand and tell you to stay away from “cheap adverbs.” To be specific, the “—ly” adverbs.

So bit.ly is bothering me on so many levels, but most because I haven’t yet figured out what it means . . .

My notes define it as something which “shortens, shares and tracks” my links. Riiiiiight.  I swear that when it comes to technology, I am the Missing Link. Does that mean that someone will be along soon to bit.ly me?

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No toe tag? No entry . . .

No toe tag? No entry . . .

It appears that I will not be overdressed for the morgue. Nor will I be underdressed. We have been dissed by the morgue manager (who knew this was an actual job?). We are not allowed to visit, quite possibly because we’re not dead yet.  

Sadly, I am half glad. To be honest, I was not looking forward to hobnobbing with corpses—I was forcing myself to do this in the name of research. I know it’s very Stepford Wifely of me, but hanging out with the dead is just not my thing. They don’t make great small talk and they’re a little cold and forbidding, if you ask me.

Instead, I now have contact information for not one but two retired police officers who will probably rue the day that they told mutual acquaintances that it was okay for me to call/e-mail them.

But back to the whole concept of a morgue manager. What do you think such a person does? There are toe tags to generate, I’m sure. And perhaps bodies to check out to the M.E.? Or do you think the M.E. checks the bodies in to the M.M.? I’ll have to ask someone how this works.

I’m sure there are autopsies to schedule and perform. (Oh, ugh. There went my breakfast.) I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta stainless steel to clean. So there’s probably stainless steel cleaner to order. And disinfectant. And coolant for all those refrigeration units . . . 

Being a morgue manager, I imagine, is a very busy task. If I were a morgue manager instead of a Stepford Wife, I probably wouldn’t want weirdo writers touring my premises and getting in the way, either. They’d show up in the name of research and/or morbid curiosity, puke their coffee up in the corner, possibly pass out on the floor. At the very least, they’d ask a lot of very silly questions for their great American novels—questions that as a busy morgue manager, I wouldn’t have time to answer.

So there you have it: I don’t blame the guy for refusing to let us visit. I wouldn’t let me in without a toe tag either!

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Off to see the bodies. Just call me … Morgueana?

On Tuesday, I’m paying a visit to the Miami morgue. A sort of accidental visit, but a visit, nevertheless.

Yes, this Stepford Wife is gonna get all gussied up to leave the Stepford Village and make googly eyes at the Dead. (Preferably we will not be running into anyone or anything Undead, but in these turbulent times you just never know.) 

Shocking as it may seem, I simply have no idea what to wear. A black dress and Mummy’s handed-down-for-generations pearls is probably (pun intended) overkill. Yet my typical writer’s garb (jeans, bare feet, snaggle-teeth, hair mashed into clip on top of knobby head, permanently-attached coffee cup) seems disrespectful. And if I were dead, I do believe I’d want to be respected . . . at least a little more than I have been in life as a romance writer. (But that, ladies, sluts and gents, is a whole other topic.)

You see, I don’t believe we have a morgue here in Stepfordville. Why, I’m not sure, but I have a suspicion that the developers of this place might consider them low-rent. And if there *were* a morgue here, well, let’s just say that I can picture the old-fashioned term “top drawer” taking on new meaning. Anyway, I’m fairly certain that if anyone has the bad taste to die here, he/she is immediately transferred to a bigger, dirtier city where such things happen all the time.

Am I digressing again? Sorry. It’s a writer thing. We digress a lot. As I was saying, I’m going to visit the Miami morgue, probably sans pearls. And I have to admit some trepidation about this. In fact, I’m getting chills and goose-bumps just thinking about it, which every good reader knows is a prelude to terror.

I have already told the guy with whom I’m tagging along that he can pretend not to know me if I puke or pass out. The puking—well, there’s that little paper mask to hide it from others, at least until I can get my purse unzipped to catch the, er, fallout. But the possibility of passing out truly bothers me. Because what if I fall backwards and hit my head on the tile floor? And then become a permanent resident? What if the morgue is like the Hotel California and I never get to leave? Now that’s (brace yourself for another terrible pun) chilling. 

Clearly, I must give much thought as to what to wear, especially given this new possibility of Death at a Morgue. Great book title, no?

Stay tuned for more of the Stepford Village Voice . . . after I check with Stacy and Clinton, who can at least tell me What Not to Wear on Tuesday.

Karen

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