Ich Bien Entaggened

Kitten is actual sizeCourtesy Callaghan, I am now required to post the following Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me:

1. I have written a movie about a giant, rampaging robot catfish.

Also a movie about killer mutant poodles, and a movie about civilized vampires, and a movie about a hostage-taking, and a movie about Elvis impersonators. (See #2.) The catfish movie, titled “Bottom Feeder”, was written in response to “Lake Placid” and “Deep Blue Sea”, and evolved out of a lunchtime conversation between my friend and co-writer over what sort of water-borne monster would be more ridiculous than a giant crocodile and a super-intelligent shark, put together. And once the words “Giant”, “Robot” and “Catfish” came together, well, we just had to type the sucker up.

2. I have been dissed in print by Michael Madsen.

A while back, I wrote a screenplay with the Toronto Star’s Rob Salem called “Hellvis”, about a serial killer targeting Elvis impersonators in Memphis, and we thought Madsen would be perfect for the role of the investigating cop who may or may not be the King’s s bastard son. (This was in the fall of 1992, when it seemed unlikely that Bruce Campbell would ever be big enough to headline the project.) So Rob passed it along to his people, and Madsen clearly read it … though I’m not sure how much attention he paid to the specifics, since when he brought it up dismissively in an interview with Movieline magazine, he got the plot wrong and said it was, well, “shit”. I fired off a snippy letter to the editor, which I kinda regret now — it makes me look like a whiny kid, although in my defense I more or less was, at the time — but hey, you gots to defend your art.

3. I have had my hand in a baby giraffe’s mouth.

In 1998, a friend — the same friend with whom I’d later write “Bottom Feeder”, as it happens — asked me to interview the chief veterinarian at the Metro Toronto Zoo for a video project he was trying to launch; because you always need cutaways and B-roll, she let me wander around the inner fences at a number of the animal habitats, and introduced me to a very friendly baby giraffe. I instinctively did that thing all dog owners do, which is to extend the hand so the animal can sniff it, and the giraffe, who was about six months old, slopped her tongue around my wrist and yanked the hand into her mouth. Giraffes don’t have teeth, so I was never in danger of any harm, but … aww, and yuck, at the same time. Incidentally, the reflexive hand thing is not a good idea if you’re ever in the presence of a Siberian tiger, even if it’s only six months old.

4. I have “Star Trek” fandom embedded deep in my reptile brain.

I pretty much gave up on the franchise after the first season of “Deep Space Nine” — yeah, I get it, it’s diplomacy in space, somebody frackin’ blow something up! — but in the fall of 1994, I went to New York for the “Star Trek: Generations” junket, and discovered that no matter how old you are, or how sophisticated you may believe yourself to be (this being a little more than a year after the Madsen/Movieline thing), when you open a door and William Shatner is on the other side, you will geek the f*ck out.

Even more embarrassing: After the formal interview session had ended, Patrick Stewart, a lovely man, walked down a hallway with me, telling me a story about his stage reading of “A Christmas Carol”. It was a long story, so we ended up standing outside the door to his next appointment as he wrapped it up, and I realized after about two minutes that I was standing kind of strangely … bolt upright, my arms crossed behind me, legs slightly apart … as god is my witness, I was standing at ease for Captain Picard. I’m sure he noticed, and was gentleman enough not to point it out. I wonder how often it happens.

5. I had a cancer scare five years ago.

Barely a scare, really — more like a brief moment of being startled — but I learned two things from the experience. First, when the colorectal guys say, “ah, you probably won’t need a sedative for this,” demand it anyway. And second, if your entire world can turn on a dime, there’s no point in being delicate about things that truly matter, which is why I asked Kate to marry me shortly after receiving my clean bill of health. (It took a few months before she said yes, but that’s just gravy as far as the story goes.)

Apparently, I’m now obliged to tag five more people. So …

Alice in Newyorkland

How it Plays Out


… and, because it’d be awesome if they actually do it:

Jonathan Coulton

John Hodgman

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s this piece I should have filed an hour ago …

5 thoughts on “Ich Bien Entaggened”

  1. Damn, Wilner, you’re fast. It took me three days and I didn’t have a deadline to speak of.

    “Standing at ease for Captian Picard.” hahahaha

  2. Yeah, well, that probably should have been Thing #6: When facing a deadline, I will do almost anything not to write the thing I’m supposed to be writing.

  3. Argh! Tagged again – twice tagged, truly. I kinda already done did this thing a few months ago (um… scramble, scramble… here).

    But your list is so darn good, it makes me want to do mine again. Now I just have to think of some juicy secrets worthy of posting…

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