Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In which our hero finds himself on the 81 Throwback Edition once again...

Back on the 81 Throwback Edition to Eagle Rock Plaza tonight. The dude in the dusty wifebeater is not riding tonight. Maybe's he's waiting at a stop down the line and we'll pick him up along the way.

What is that feeling I get when the 81 finally arrives, after the 10, the 84, the 90, and all other manner of impostors have passed me by? Each would-be 81 emerges from the distance, raising hopes, only to dash them when the headsign finally becomes legible. (Longtime fans of the OG may remember our screed against that infamous impostor, the dreaded V train.) But always, eventually, comes the one that does not disappoint.

The feeling I have when the 81 finally appears, and my eyes scanning for disappointment find none? Something like relief, or gratitude, perhaps recognition. The feeling that you have once again found the place where you belong. The bus headsign scrolling "81 Figueroa - Eagle Rock Plaza" represents something more than just the bus route. That headsign represents home, relief, a respite of a few hours from the critical watch of supervisors and opposing counsel, from the unrelenting requirement not to fail, not to falter, not to be indecisive or weak. A time to try to be "yourself", to piece together whatever you can remember of yourself after years of bending to the disciplines of the workplace.

Wow, we are really trucking down the 110 in the 81 Throwback Edition: we must be doing about 70. You might remember that the Octopus and his fellow 81 passengers nearly ended up at the great bus stop in the sky in our last episode on the Throwback Edition. The driver of the Throwback Edition seems a bit too daring for municipal bus service.

[LATER]: I had an interview with the driver of the 81 tonight! Will post that shortly.

Upwardly Mobile

The 81 was cool and quick this morning, and I was deposited on Hill St. downtown before I had a chance to fully settle in and get my blogging fired up.


The piss-smelling steps to the left of Angels Flight


Sitting side by side at the foot of the piss-smelling Angels Flights steps this morning, one man showed his friend how to play a scratch-off game. The other night, a young man romanced his inamorata mid-way down the steps among the zoo stink. Sometimes I try to hold my breath as I go down the stairs.

It looks like they are making progress on the renovations to Angels Flight. It may be in operation again sometime soon. More on that later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Number 81 Review of Books: Twilight of the Superheroes

I intended to blog from the 81 this evening on the way home, but I didn’t: I was completely lost in the magnificent title story from Deborah Eisenberg’s recently published collection of short stories, Twilight of the Superheroes.

The story centers largely on the experiences of a group of friends who find a fabulous sublet in lower Manhattan just across from the World Trade Center in early 2001. Eisenberg’s language, detached, simple, yet potent, captures all the emotions I had on that Tuesday morning in September, standing in a crowd of people in Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, among the papers and ashes fluttering down from the smoke that had carried them across the East River, watching the towers fall, all of us trying to convince ourselves that we were not seeing the things before our eyes:
At the moment when all this--as Lucien thinks of it—began, the moment when a few ordinary-looking men carrying box cutters sped past the limits of international negotiation and the frontiers of technology, turning his miraculous city into a nightmare and hurling the future into a void, Lucien was having his croissant and coffee.

The television was saying something. Lucien wheeled around and stared at it, then turned to look out the window; downtown, black smoke was already beginning to pollute the perfect, silken September morning. On the screen, the ruptured, flaming colossus was shedding veils of tiny black specks.

All circuits were busy, of course; the phone might as well have been a toy. Lucien was trembling as he shut the door of the apartment behind him. His face was wet. Outside, he saw that the sky in the north was still insanely blue.
Eisenberg captures, in her odd, seductive prose, the horrors and misery of the months and years after that day, the “flags waved in the brisk air of fear,” the “files . . . demanded from libraries and hospitals,” the “murky wars,” and, above all, the “waiting for that shattering day to unhappen, so that the real—the intended—future, the one that had been implied by the past, could unfold.” But, of course, the day had happened, and "now it was always going to have happened."

I remember looking for a cab in Brooklyn several hours after the towers had fallen. F-16s were buzzing downtown Brooklyn, just a few hours late to the scene. I needed to get back to my apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. I had pretty much resigned myself to walking an hour or two to get there when, miraculously, I flagged an empty cab. The driver was Bengali, like me. “Some day, huh?” he asked. We drove north, in the dazed traffic, with the smoke from lower Manhattan billowing off to the horizon behind us.

I got off the 81 in Eagle Rock this evening after having read this story, five years later, missing Brooklyn and New York with a throbbing ache, thinking how strange it was to be walking home down a street lined with palm trees in Los Angeles, how strange and sad to have left New York after living through that day and the apprehensive years that followed, but also thinking, once again, that there was no going back. Certain things, certain clear blue joys, have been lost to us, irrevocably.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Bus Book Corner: Pride and Prejudice



Early this morning, I was finally able to close Pride and Prejudice, on which I had been laboring for almost a month. Many rides on the 81 had been spent trying to ignore my fellow passengers changing their socks next to me or picking imaginary bugs off of their sweaters as I tried to push myself through my first Jane Austen novel. (Yes, that is my rather limp attempt to connect this post to the bus.) I struggled to keep my interest alive in the book through the balls, the idle lunches, interminable voyages by carriage into the countryside, walks through grounds, and games of whist. Happily, the book picked up at the end with the elopement, all the passionate letters, and the cornucopia of happy marriages, etc.

I’m not sure how I got through high school or four years as an English major without reading any Austen, but I did. I had never really had much interest in reading Austen, but something piqued my interest a year or two ago. I think it was something I read suggesting that John Updike (a longstanding Octopus favorite) was our modern day Jane Austen. That probably sounds absurd to many, but now that I’ve finally read Austen, it makes some sense. Both authors are firmly grounded in the realm of the practical: incomes, houses, marriages, families, rivalries, etc. If Austen had lived in the 1970’s, I’m sure she would have found a way to write about dissolving marriages in suburban England and swinger parties attended by Toyota salesmen and their wives. As it is, she seemed to push pretty far, especially for a woman writing this novel in 1796-97.

Which brings me to the absolutely awful parody idea I’ve been plagued with while reading Pride and Prejudice. Of course, this idea came to me on the 81. In any event, perhaps influenced by The Wind Done Gone, the legally disputed parody of Gone With the Wind (the litigation over the book struck an important blow for the cause of fair use), I’ve been imagining the following parody of Pride and Prejudice: a combination of Pride and Prejudice and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this version, Eliza Bennet has run away from Longbourn and steals away with a young black man named Jim, and they float down the River Thames, perhaps to freedom. Eliza has fallen in love with Jim, and the two lovers are determined to float away from England and the imprisonments of reputation, virtue, rank, civility, manners, and the crass market for marriage. There would likely be a lot of gratuitous lusty scenes, in which Eliza eagerly hands over her virtue to manly Jim, on the dark water under the stars above England.

The Octopus recognizes that he is sick and dirty-minded.

This parody seems all the more delicious because it would likely horrify both Twain and Austen, though I suspect Twain would be the more disgusted of the two. Twain once said of Austen: "Jane Austen? Why, I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Number 81 Food Guide: Cindy's Diner and Ye Olde Taco House

I'm at home sitting out on the patio: I won't be riding the 81 today. It's always around -- everywhere -- when I'm not looking for it. Mrs. Octopus and I drove down the 110 to Union Station and Olivera Street today (I had never been to either), and we must have seen eight or nine 81s chugging along Figueroa and Colorado.

This morning we had breakfast at a diner right next to my 81 bus stop here in Eagle Rock -- Cindy's Diner. I had been eyeing the place for a while, and we finally went today. It's pretty much your basic old-school roadside diner: orange booths, vinyl chairs at the counter, old cash register, ancient clientele, heavily buttered toast, laminated menus. It's been there since 1946 or so. It was fantastic. They even had the old tan-brown patterned Corningware coffee cups and plates everyone's parents had in 1971. I am now tempted to slip into Cindy's Diner in the mornings (they open at 6 a.m.) to get a coffee and maybe some hot cakes while waiting for the 81 to come by.˜

At my downtown bus stop on Hill Street, there's a place called "Ye Olde Taco House", which has apparently been there on Hill Street since the 60's. They get an "A" from the LA health authorities, which is saying something in the Grand Central vicinity. I had a veggie taco there the other day for $1.60, and it was delicious. I had to scarf it down in the little adjoining eating area because I saw that the 81 was pulling up. I was tempted to just bring the taco onto the 81, but I didn't want to break the bus rules. What if everyone did that?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Not Buying


Every time I ride the 81, I notice the benches at the bus stops. All of the benches bear advertisements. Many of them are public ads along the lines of "Keep Our City Clean". A few of them say "Bench Ads: The Most Effective Form of Outdoor Advertising", which I find funny, for obvious reasons.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back on the Bus



I think I'm on the 81. The 81 I'm riding tonight looks a little different. The entire seating section is flat, whereas the rear section of the normal 81 is slightly higher than the front section. The aisles are wider, and the seats are very 70s, a kind of brown and orange velour. I feel like I'm flying Eastern during the Ford Administration.

The woman next to me has a Gatorade bottle in her purse and is intently studying algebraic-looking symbols written on a crumpled napkin. I looked one too many a time at what she was reading so she folded up the napkin and put it away just now.

Holy shit! I think the 81 just made an emergency evasive maneuver. We totally swerved to one side and honked long and hard at someone. We're going really fast on the 110 -- too fast. The 81 sounds like it might blow up, it's being revved so hard.

*Phew* We are off the 110 and onto peaceful Figueroa.

The lighting on the 81 Throwback Edition is a bit more calming than the standard blaring blue white fluorescent light on the normal 81. The light is pleasantly yellow and muted, perhaps by years of grime, scratchiti, and dead insects. Oh, and there are no plasma TVs on this 81.

I'm wearing a suit. The guy across from me is wearing a wife beater. With real dirt on it. Lots of it. The bus is sometimes almost too real. It smells like sweat in here.

Who's going to drive you home tonight?

Had to drive into work to go to a meeting down in Orange County today, so again, no bus this morning. My stupid car. The Intrepid is a decent car, but it's so huge and awful and lumbering. It feels like you're driving a sofa. And this piece of plastic underneath the fender is falling off and drags along on the ground as I drive. Sometimes I stuff it back into the fender, but then it falls back down again. I'm tempted to just cut it off, but then I worry that maybe it serves some purpose and if I cut it off the Intrepid will suffer irreparable damage of some sort. Do they have random pieces on cars that just don't matter? I guess they do.



I am nominating this for dumbest post ever on Octopus Grigori. I think I'll ride the bus back tonight. Perhaps I'll give a report on the 81 on this penultimate Thursday evening in August.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dreaming of the Bus



Stuck here, wishing I were on the bus, rolling home, watching the Spanish language personal injury law firm advertisements on the bus TV. The bus has become, in my mind, some kind of escape vessel. And it's not necessarily an escape to Eagle Rock, but more an escape to the bus itself, and the freedom of the nowhere time on the grunting and sighing bus.

I drove into work today because I stayed up too late doing work and then had to race into work this morning. I felt genuinely bad about not riding the bus in. Every time I stepped on the Intrepid's gas pedal and felt the engine guzzle some more gas, I felt pained and guilty, and thought of drowning polar bears and Bangladesh underwater.

Maybe I'll leave my car in the parking garage and take the bus home. Later, not just yet.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The view from the bus

Not too many people read on the 81. Most people, morning or evening, seem to nap, listen to music, watch the Bus TV, or space out and contemplate the places they've just left or the places they're going. There's a lot of staring out the windows.

At night, it's sometimes a bit frightening when someone pulls the cord to request a stop, the bus stops on some dark, featureless corner, and the passenger steps off the bus and into the void.

A couple in front of me is having a sad gropey party of their own on the bus. They spilled some of their drink from their plastic cup and now the bus smells like the ninth inning in the upper deck at Shea Stadium.

I'm always somewhat sad when my bus ride comes to an end. It means that I am responsible for things again. Maybe there's a bus out there that never stops.

The woman in the partying couple (the tattoo on the back of her neck reads "Jackie" in blue-black script) is now kissing the ample neck of her beloved, and crying.

Change is Good for the Octopus

The Octopus is hurting right now. In a very strange turn of events, an anonymous blogger posted, on a friend's blog, an evaluation of Octopus Grigori, complete with grade. Octopus Grigori was thoroughly panned.

Here is the assessment, and it's not pretty:
OCTOPUS GRIGORI

1.Content: personal views on politics, culture, news items, personal endeavors. Classic personal blog content.
2.Format: sometimes just photos, sometimes photos and words, sometimes links and words.
3.Frequency: High
4.Voice: unfettered personal exposition without much of a stylistic voice, but the heavy political and social content leads to a certain viewpoint.

Assessment:

The jumbled and explosive nature of this blog is not for the faint of heart and the mishmash of whatever seems to come into the writer’s orbit makes it into the blog at an alarming rate. This is a topical blog with so many topics, it is a little hard to get a handle on the point, but there is no reason it should not be entertaining for those acquainted with the writer. Unlikely that a stranger would return except in the case of someone looking for a real, raw blog experience.

C+
Yes, sometimes we are "jumbled and explosive". Granted, many disparate topics fall into the irresistible gravity of our "orbit . . . at an alarming rate." And it is undeniable that this is "a real, raw blogg[ing] experience."

But we are not upset for long. We admit some narcissistic fascination with reading a stranger's evaluation of Octopus Grigori, even if the verdict was bad. Mystery Critic's assessment is a much needed wake-up call. We respect Mystery Critic's opinion because this critic appears to be someone totally unconnected with the Octopus who has done some significant background research. Mystery Critic seems to know what he or she is talking about. So, it is resolved: the Octopus will be scattered no more. No, from this day forward, the Octopus will commit himself, for all time, to one theme.

What will this one theme be, you ask, to which the Octopus will swear fealty, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health? Why, the bus, of course, where your chastened blogger now sits, posting through his tears. Starting today, all Octopus Grigori posts will be bus-related. This topic will encompass observations made on the way to, waiting for, riding, and leaving the bus. It will include thoughts and dreams the Octopus has on the bus. It will include bus history, bus-themed anecdotes, and fun bus facts.

Goodbye, miscellany. Farewell, farrago of ideas. We now scale back our ambition, we give up naïve hopes of encyclopedic mastery. Instead, we will endeavor to know and fully document one small corner of the universe: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Number 81, between downtown and Eagle Rock.

Monday Blues

Back on the bus to downtown, another weekend cashed. I went to bed at 10:20 last night, already
weary with anticipation of another week of drudgery and deadlines.

I need to go on vacation. You develop a bad attitude when you are in the office all August while everyone else is frolicking in Maui and Yosemite.

We need some patio furniture. Then we could sit outside.

Ughh, too tired to blog . . . .

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Adrift for Nine Months, You Might Need A Snack

Three guys trapped on a boat floating aimlessly on the Pacific for nine months were recently rescued:
Three Mexicans who survived nine months aboard their small fishing boat as it drifted across the Pacific Ocean threw the bodies of two other men overboard after they died of starvation, officials said Thursday.

The three were rescued last week by a trawler more than 5,000 miles from the Mexican fishing village of San Blas, from which they had left on what was supposed to be a routine shark fishing trip last fall.

Stranded on the high seas, they ate raw birds and fish and drank rainwater. . . .

At the start of this fishing trip, there were five people on board the boat," Miguel Gutierrez, a senior official at Mexico's Foreign Ministry, told reporters.

Gutierrez said a survivor told a government official that one man died in January and the other in early February.

"They refused to eat, and that's why they died," he said.

The survivors did not mention their dead companions when they were interviewed Wednesday by radio and television stations aboard the boat that rescued them near the Marshall Islands.

"It is natural that people who have spent nine months on the high seas, in the conditions they survived, would not have their complete story straight away," Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said.
Yeah, I'm guessing they ate those other two guys.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Believe in America

Parents Say the Darndest Things

Conversation from this weekend:
Dad: So we’re leaving tomorrow. The five days went by so fast.

Me: I know.

Dad: At least we got to spend some time with you. Three days is just about one percent of the year. So we spent almost two percent of the year with you.

Me: Well, three days is less than one percent of the year, right?

Dad: Well, okay. We spent just a bit more than one percent of the year with you.
And now my family’s all returned to Connecticut (and Brooklyn) and I miss them again. The other 98.63% of the year can be a little lonely without them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hello, World!


I'm just one small litle man blogging from a small little bus somewhere in Los Angeles in the year 2006. Perhaps, some day, after the Earth has been swallowed by the sun, after the Solar System spirals into the glowing, irresistible core of the Milky Way, someone will come across this archive, decipher it, and read this again.

Whoever you are, I send greetings from the former inhabitants of Earth. Sorry we missed you.

81 to Infinity: Those stairs smell like piss

Boy, do those Angels Flight steps smell like piss. It's like some kind of horrible urine distillation process: people piss on the stairs up near the top or mid-way up the stairs, smiling with a very rich satisfaction as they watch their pee stream down the stairs, to puddle at the bottom of the stairs with all the other former rivers of pee. There, the communal pool of pee sits in the Los Angeles sun, burning off, sinking into the concrete, being distilled down to a pure, powerful essence of piss. You reach the bottom of the stairs and walk through this piss miasma -- it's like being hit in the face.


Angels Flight when it was working, with the piss-smelling steps down to Hill St. on the right.


Why are people always pissing on stairs? Stairwells in apartment buildings back in New York often used to smell like piss. Now that I'm thinking about it, I guess it makes sense. It's slightly more hygienic than just pissing in the hallway or the middle of the lobby. At least the pee doesn't sit there pooling in front of you: it streams down the stairs. And in building stairwells, you get the added element of some privacy.

This isn't at all what I intended to post about. Maybe next time I'll offer a review of the execrable programming they force upon us on the bus TV screens: it's like Clockwork Orange.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Octopus Carpool


We're driving by lovely Echo Park right now -- I'm carpooling with Mrs. Octopus. Some of the lotus are still in bloom, the ducks are quacking, people are sitting around on the grass wasting time. We're stuck in a mini-traffic jam on Glendale, the congestion before the entrance to the 2.

We're right near the Echo Park branch of the LA public library. It looks like a pretty nice branch, but I'm somehow destined never to go inside: it seems to be closed all the time.

Mrs. Octopus's Jetta is much cleaner than the bus, and I don't even need to walk down the piss-smelling steps by Angels Flight to get picked up. But our hours are difficult to coordinate, so I'll probably be back on the 81 again tomorrow.

Time to get gas. Prepare the AmEx card.

I hate pumping gas. Well, that was fun. 11.88 gallons=$37.54.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Victorian L.A.

On the bus home on a Sunday afternoon in L.A. Back down the stairs from gleaming Bunker Hill with its Wells Fargo towers, its CPK, its Deutsche Bank, and its air-conditioned parking garages, to Hill Street and the bus stop again. Today, there was a man lying on his side on the sidewalk by the bus stop, with a cane lying by him. Fellow citizens just slightly above him on the economic food chain stepped over him and laughingly poked at him to see if he was still alive. A man wearing sunglasses and dirty Stan Smiths, pushing a baby carriage filled with plastic bags stuffed with cans, bottles, and clothes, steered his stroller around the man on the ground, glancing back briefly as he passed, as if to contemplate how far he could fall if he didn't keep on pushing. I sat there, holding my redweld full of documents and fingering my five quarters of bus fare, contemplating the same thing. A man wearing a headband walked by with a jerky limp.



As I was watching this scene at the bus stop, I happened to be reading the following passage from an excellent essay entitled "Filthy Lucre: Victorian Ideas of Money", by Christopher Herbert:
To be wealthy, in a society ruled by [a taboo on contemplation of poverty], seems only to cause one to be preyed on by an intensified morbid fear of being tainted, or thought tainted, by the unmentionable unrefinement of poverty; any contact with it, even by hearing it mentioned in one's presence, carries danger, as though it were an acutely contagious disease.
Herbert's observations seem eminently applicable to life in Los Angeles, where the bankers and lawyers on Bunker Hill are kept hermetically sealed from the contagion of poverty as they step out of pristine elevators and into their waxed Jaguars to whisk themselves back to the Pacific Palisades and South Pasadena. Even though rich and poor live cheek to jowl here, we hardly ever run into situations where the classes are forced (or allowed) to mix. Pershing Square is no Central Park.

Herbert's essay also reminded me of the comments of a friend at work who also rides the bus: she said she sometimes fears that "the bus" will follow her to work, or that "the bus" will somehow rub off on her. She said she sometimes worried that she smelled like "the bus", especially after a ride sitting next to a particularly smelly fellow bus rider.

Now that I, too, sometimes ride the bus, I totally get this. As everyone knows, the classes do not mix on L.A.'s public transportation. The ridership appears to be overwhelmingly working class, poor, and occasionally homeless. Sometimes, some fellow passengers are not Pine Fresh. Sometimes, someone's meal spills a little bit onto you. But part of the reason L.A. is sick is because the bus and the metro are treated with something akin to taboo - the rich and those who ape them shudder at the thought of contamination, and the city suffers for it. I don't think this is a call to gentrify L.A.'s public transport, although, all things considered, would that be a bad thing? Maybe not, so long as the "rent" didn't go up.

In any event, for what it's worth, I always find myself washing my hands thoroughly after riding the bus. Read that as you will.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

At LAX - No fluids, please

I'm at LAX to pick up my parents and my brother. My family's coming into town from Connecticut for a visit. I wonder if they were allowed to carry anything on board with them, or if they spent the flight reading the Official Delta magazine and the inflight safety guide.

We can have funny blog titles about it now, but if those English guys had actually succeeded in blowing up 10 planes (if this was indeed the plot) we would be living in another, more miserable stage of the world right now. As it is, it seems it's just a matter of time until someone manages to blow up 10 planes simultaneously, or something along that scale of unimaginability and horror.



Perhaps a certain stage of history is over: why should we continue to fly and drive around the world? On NPR's "Marketplace" this morning, they were reporting about how airlines are terrified that if the ban on electronics on flights stays in place, business travel will be decimated: no business travelers will be willing to spend 10 or 12 hours travelling without being able to work on a laptop. Business travelers will instead choose to teleconference, meet virtually, etc. If business travel goes, so does the airline industry, as that is the industry's single most lucrative segment.

It makes sense that frequent flying will soon be a thing of the past, with terror and oil costs. Perhaps the range of our physical existence will shrink, as we fly and drive less frequently, and for shorter distances. Perhaps we will stay put more often.

Would this be bad? Would it be a bit more boring? Wouldn't it be nice not to feel like you had to move all the time? Perhaps neighborhoods and communities would benefit?

I don't know, but a trend toward localization seems inevitable. Just as it appeared that the whole world was running together, the engines of all that movement are cutting out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday Night on the 81 to Eagle Rock Plaza

The 81 is mercifully empty tonight - plenty of open seats. It's starting to get dark earlier now as we float toward September. Actually, it feels more like falling toward the bottom of the year, once you've passed the summer solstice. I'm actually feeling butterflies in my stomach now, as I think about falling further into the future.

The steps down Angel's Flight always smell like the zoo. Down on Hill Street, just outside Grand Central Market, various figures hunched at picnic tables, clutching stuffed plastic bags. A shirtless man was lying belly up and unconscious on the sidewalk, bags, bottles, and papers strewn around him, as if he had tumbled and spun to the ground, spraying his possessions as he fell.

The 81 barrels down Figueroa through Highland Park, bent on Colorado. As I waited for the bus a guy biked by, the 10 passed, and a plane cruised over downtown, leaving a pink contrail in the sunset. People should stay in one place more often.

The Great State of Connecticut

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Curry on the Brain

I knew there was an explanation for all those brainy Indian engineers. From the New Scientist article: "'What is remarkable is that apparently one needs only to consume curry once in a while for the better cognitive performance to be evidenced . . . .'"

Turns out curry also helps combat skin cancer.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tom the Dancing Bug



Ruben Bolling's Tom the Dancing Bug is clearly the best political cartoon in America. Spend a few minutes perusing the archives.

Ninjas Totally Rock

Mrs. Octopus just asked me if ninjas were real. Can you believe that? Ninjas are so totally fucking real.



This came up because we were talking about Batman. Mrs. Octopus, as you may know, was surprised to find that she liked "Batman Begins". I think she liked it because of Christian Bale's pecs, but who knows? Anyway, Mrs. Octopus was like "How does Batman do that stuff if he's like an ordinary guy? Like flying with that cape?" And I was like, "He's a trained ninja." And that's when Mrs. Octopus asked her amazing question: "Are there such things as ninjas?"



Hell, yes, there are such things as ninjas -- and they will fucking kick your ass! (Yes, yes, it's a little old, but it's still fucking hilarious.)