FURTHERMORE GOES CRITICAL
“First,” Furthermore declaimed from atop the yellowed skull on the stone mantel, “we kill all the critics!”
That sounded familiar. Second Degree ritual? No…it was from Shakespeare but it dealt with lawyers. Both options have a certain appeal, however, so I didn’t bother to correct him.
“Why critics?” I asked, knowing the moment the words left my mouth that I was probably in trouble.
“Because they richly deserve killing,” the old bird shot back, doing a clever little loupe and dropping to the table top. “They produce nothing of value and make a living by demeaning the creativity and hard work of others. Actually, killing is far too good for them.”
Well, so mote it be, but I didn’t really want to know an alternative that might be good for them, so I decided to head the conversation back into familiar territory.
“How about a drink?”
“Thought you’d never ask. Something in a dry martini. Two olives. Stirred, not shaken, because I think James Bond is full of it.”
I chided him. “Now who’s being a critic?”
“Martinis are different. They’re sacred.”
What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right.
The bird speared an olive with his beak and continued.
“Now, about the critics. Did you read the paper last week about the animated Disney movie Dinosaur? Critics are mad at it because they say that’s not how dinosaurs were. They didn’t do stuff like they did in the movie. The science was all wrong. Well, duh! What was their first clue? The word ‘Disney’ in front of the name of the movie or the fact the dinosaurs talked?!”
Well, he had a point.
Of course, bad critical reviews are generally a guarantee of popular success. The critics hated Moby Dick, too, at first. Now it’s required reading in every legitimate English program in the country. Or was when the kids could still read. And the list of books and movies that achieved the status of creative legends that began life with bad reviews is longer than even Furthermore can imagine.
Furthermore discussed this at some length and with much passion, as is his want to do on occasion. Something continued to nag at me, however. At first, I thought it was just the Thing Nobody Can See, which is one of several Things that live in the caverns below the house. It wasn’t, however. Then it finally struck me.
“I know why you want to kill the critics!” I cheered. “ It finally came to me! They panned your new book!”
Furthermore sulked for a moment and dived for another olive.
“No appreciation for art,” he finally confessed. “The critics didn’t like it. Nuts to ‘em. I’ll be required reading in another century or so.”
And the book?
Part of a series, he explained. “Chicken Soup for the Vegetarian Soul.”
And that, I thought to myself as I tried to spear an olive with my nose, explains that.