Sparrow Spelunker

To: PBS Kids

From: Rampage Productions

Subject: Sparrow Spelunker

Let’s not beat around the bush.

You have a thing for avians.

big bird

I have one lodged in the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

house sparrow

You could do with some fresh IP.

IP intellectual property

I need $100 to extract the fresh IP from the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

100 dollar bill

You seek to excite and education your young audience.

the more you know star

I suspect the three or four nanoseconds of life that sparrow had when it encountered the exhaust blower, which to him must have seemed like a ten thousand RPM birdie buzzsaw, were both exciting and educational.

furnace blower

So without further ado, I give you your children’s television flagship property: Sparrow Spelunker.

Sparrow Spelunker

Sparrow Spelunker

It’s a show as unafraid as its protagonist(s) to grapple with the tough issues.  Issues like:

  • Why you really shouldn’t go in there

  • What will happen to you if you go in there

  • How much it will cost some innocent homeowner to scrape you out again after you do go in there

This said, I admit the title of the series is somewhat misleading in using the singular form of sparrow – it will probably require a new protagonist pretty much every episode.  While this might seem like a lot of work from a characterization standpoint, I feel the script leaves both adequate room for characterization as well as presents the opportunity to vary the racial, familial, and political history of the sparrow for a true multicultural experience.  In fact, based on the flying communist who entered my furnace in an ill-fated attempt to seize the means of heat production, I’ve put together a script outline for your consideration.

  1. Opening theme

  2. Recap of previous week

    1. “O’ Righ’ – On last week’s episode o’ Sparrow Spelunker, ol’ SS explored the exhaust on a 100,000 BTU Luxair.  Didn’t end so well for him, poor chap.  But that was then, so hang onto yer hats, kiddies, ’cause this week we’re going in the intake o’ that same 100,000 BTU Luxaire!”

  3. Spelunking

  4. Audience of British-sounding-children, in Spongebob Squarepants fashion, shouts the show’s catchphase: “Oh no, Sparrow Spelunker!  You mustn’t spelunk in there!”

  5. Furnace fires up

  6. Closing theme

I also have drafts for other possible episodes of Sparrow Spelunker.  These include such exotic, spelunk-worthy locations as a wood chipper, a fractionating tower, a muscle car air intake, and – my personal favorite – the depths of some pachyderm’s wazoo.  The last, of course, is where I sincerely wish the sparrow that inspired all of this would have flown.  You know, instead of my furnace exhaust pipe.  I could have done without meeting the furnace repair guy, who in his defense was a very nice man and more than willing to convert a bird oubliette back into an exhaust pipe in return for a picture of Benjamin Franklin.

This, of course, is where you come in, PBS.  Just send that check to Rampage Productions.

And maybe a Sparrow Spelunker t-shirt.


Playing Rugby with Morgan Freeman

Note to self: There is such a thing as truth in advertising.  For example, if the box art for a movie is made up of approximately 75% Matt Damon’s gaping maw and 25% Morgan Freeman’s profile, you’re going to get more Damon than Freeman.


You’re also going to learn a whole lot of things about rugby you did not know previously.  Things like:

  1. It exists.
  2. People play it.
  3. And “Roller Derby Queen” would make a strangely appropriate soundtrack.

Now, in honesty, I knew of rugby prior to this.  It is the surprise staple of collegiate intramural sports the world over, including those hosted by my dear alma mater.  Unlike many intramural athletes, rugby participants were always easy to recognize on account of being built like Maytag products and struggling to manifest in class with four functional limbs and a minimum of facial scarring.

Yes, we’re talking coed intramurals, mind you.

But having confessed that, four years in an environment that existed parallel to such savagery, in addition to 120 minutes of Matt Damon’s glorious jawline, have not brought me any closer to understanding how the !@#$in’ thing is played.  Furthermore, the more I watch, the more I grow convinced rugby is loosely based on Fizzbin.

Take these, for example:

Rugby Great Grunting Pile

I call this the Great Grunting Pile, which is approximately 9/10ths as disappointing as Linus’s Great Pumpkin from which it takes its name.  For the record, I have no idea what they’re doing here.  I just know there’s a heap of men in tight shorts having a good ol’ fashioned grunt off, and every now and again a ball flies out.  Where the ball comes from, I’m not sure, and I’m not entirely unconvinced that the ball does not start in someone’s rectum, and what I’m witnessing is some sort of communal cavity search.


Rugby Man Tower

I call this the Man Tower, and if the picture is any indication, it is approximately the worst idea since the Scots started throwing whole trees in the air and calling it a sport.  On that note, is this a bad time to have a discussion to the effect of what, precisely, is wrong with the British Islands?  They couldn’t all make it as literary giants, and so everyone that was left met up at the pub, knocked down a few pints, and proceeded to come up with the most bat!@#$ insane sports they could concoct.

Cricket – I’m looking at you.

And where do they get these names anyway?  Even rugby, in a desperate attempt to return to the topic at hand, sounds like something I’d ask for at my local carpet outlet.

Rugby Tackle

Of course, when not confirming that gravity is working more or less as designed, and presuming one can somehow extract the ball from the Great Grunting Pile, I can pretty much promise this is going to happen to you.  Immediately.  Some guy who looks like a Fitch Barrel with legs is going to apply several principles of Newtonian physics to an uncomfortable point in your torso.  Should he, for whatever reason, not be successful at doing so, there are fourteen other men with contempt for your life ready, willing, and eager to take his place.  And unlike in, say, Invictus, you will not get a handshake with Nelson Mandela/Morgan Freeman out of it.

Music to Poop By

As a general rule, I assume no one really wants to know what happens in a public restroom during such auspicious times as when I happen to be in it.  Call it a courtesy, or some sort of introvert survival instinct – if I alienate my few remaining friends with regular (pun not intended) tales from the toilet or stories from the shitter, my life is going to culminate in the same manner as Fortunato from “The Cask of Amontillado,” i.e., with myself entombed in a stall.  And while I am a Poe fan, that particular method of passing seems to lack some of the literary merit found in the original.  (Which doesn’t, I suppose, rule out my being immortalized in a dirty limerick, but I never recited, “There once was a man from Nantucket” and thought, “Man, when I grow up, I wanna be just like him.”)

However – and you all knew the conjunctive adverb was coming, so don’t act so surprised – one does not title a piece “Music to Poop By” and then proceed not to talk about the individual blasting “Drops of Jupiter” in the men’s room.

2001 called.  They want their song back.

Now, let us be clear: this was not a ringtone.  That was my initial assumption, too.  However, I was forced to abandon it when we hit the line that goes, “Tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?”, which A) happens to be part of verse three or four and B) happens to take on new and unfortunate connotations when thundering through a public bathroom.  Yet to focus exclusively on point A (in the hopes of forgetting about point B entirely), let it be noted that “Drops of Jupiter” is not a short song.  It clocks in somewhere in the neighborhood of four minutes and twenty seconds, which for an insipid pop song is approximately four minutes and nineteen seconds too long.


What all this would seem to point to is a reality where someone – a man, I hope, given that this was a gender-specific restroom – realized that the native ambiance was not fully conducive to the completion of whatever business to which nature was compelling him to complete.  So, with little regard for his stall mates, our amateur sound engineer whipped out his cell phone and selected a song that put him in the mood to, in the language of the internet, set up us the bomb.

All your stalls are belong to us.

All your stalls are belong to us.

We come to the point where there should be an epic climax, but I really have nothing for you.  He eventually flushed.  Stopped the music.  And then left.

Fast forward, I later regaled my wife with the above tale, because after seven years of marriage, this kind of thing is pretty much all there’s left to talk about.  She suggested I come up with my own restroom theme song.  Something that fully communicated the drama of what was about to occur.  And you know what – I think she’s right, and I think I know just the tune.

The theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey should do nicely.