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Forthcoming Novels Titled with the White-Hot Suffix “-Ist”

by Roderick Maclean

The following is a survey of soon-to-be-published novels titled with the increasingly faddish “-ist” formula (à la David Maine’s The Preservationist, Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist, James P. Othmer’s The Futurist, Martha Cooley’s The Archivist, Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, Donald Antrim’s…

The Da Vinci Bandwagon

by Michael Rottman

Call for Shreek Writers!

Polish Fact

Polish Clans
of the Middle Ages

Pomeranians (Kashubians, Slovincians, Kociewiacy, Borowiacy)

Learn a Foreign Tongue!

Learn Français!:
Quoi-ques; évidemms; ainsi bourdonnz.
Whatevs; obvs; so buzz.

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Literary Miscount
Wednesday, June 28, 2006   |    Fiction

Wittgenstein: The Crank Calls

by Michael Fowler


Respondent: Evening Standard, editorial desk.
Wittgenstein: Reading your newspaper is a TORTURE to me.
Respondent: Would you care to cancel your subscription, sir?
Wittgenstein: I find your attitude QUITE UNBEARABLE. [Crash of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Moore’s Clocks, Moore speaking.
Wittgenstein: Do you have the time?
Respondent: London time, sir?
Wittgenstein: Philistine! Time is INDEFINABLE! [Slam of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: British Museum, Curator Pink speaking.
Wittgenstein: I have proof that England was created five minutes ago. Therefore, the contents of your museum are fakes.
Respondent: I didn’t quite get that.
Wittgenstein: I do not find a TRACE of humanity in you. [Thump of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Leicester Cinema, Clive speaking.
Wittgenstein: I have a dilemma. I would like to come see a ‘flick,’ but only if it is a Western ‘flick.’
Respondent: I’d be happy to advance-mail you our monthly schedule, sir.
Wittgenstein: Your attitude is MOST SUFFOCATING. [Wham of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Cambridge Classical Request Line. May I take a request?
Wittgenstein: The Strauss that you played just now reminded me of a STEAM ENGINE.
Respondent: Would you care to hear something by Mozart, sir?
Wittgenstein: Bounder! The sound of your voice is REPUGNANT to me. [Whack of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Cambridge Bank, how may I assist you?
Wittgenstein: I find myself in dire need of money. I have a number of extremely wealthy relations, and yes, they would give me money if I asked them to, BUT I WILL NOT ASK THEM FOR A PENNY.
Respondent: I believe I understand, sir.
Wittgenstein: Dealing with you is QUITE FATIGUING. [Thud of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Bond Street Books, Smythies speaking.
Wittgenstein: The books on display in your front widow are VOMATIVES.
Respondent: Would you care to special-order something, sir?
Wittgenstein: Blighter! Your stupidity deprives me of OXYGEN. [Bang of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine.
Wittgenstein: I wish to complain about your last issue. It featured a detective THINKING.
Respondent: We thought it was quite well done here.
Wittgenstein: It is INTOLERABLE to me to read about a detective’s BRAIN. Give me ACTION, or CEASE PUBLICATION. [Clatter of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Two Steeples Sock Company, Pattison speaking.
Wittgenstein: The number 83 sock in your recent catalogue CANNOT be ‘stylish and manly.’
Respondent: We believe that it is, sir.
Wittgenstein: Philistine! Fashion statements are INEXPRESSIBLE. [Crunch of receiver.]

* * *

Respondent: Anscombe’s Hotel, Anscombe speaking.
Wittgenstein: The faux cherry furniture in your guestrooms is a TORTURE to me.
Respondent: I’ll inform the management, sir.
Wittgenstein: Blighter! I will not TOLERATE your BEASTLY BACKTALK.
[Smack of receiver hitting the wall followed by a loud buzzing. ]

Michael Fowler wears a penis patch for more inches and sucks only meatless lozenges. Something of a bon vivant, he enjoys going through revolving doors with women.