August 27, 2005

The Penguin Movie for Guys

Oh my, one more Saturday night.

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY... as a guy, you have either seen The Penguin Movie , will see The Penguin Movie , or been told to see The Penguin Movie , and have decided to ignore all that because you're just not that into her, or into seeing The Penguin Movie which is, after all, about a bunch of birds at the bottom of the world.

If so, this one's for you guys out there just so you can know what this film is all about. Now some, girls or girly men, will tell you that The Penguin Movie is about how "In the harshest place on Earth, love finds a way," and my yes that is so true. Others, arguing for intelligent design will state that The Penguin Movie proves through the sheer magnificence of these creatures that a hidden hand moves always behind the veil of mere existence. Still others, more sodden, will argue that The Penguin Movie proves Darwin was a very smart man. These things are also true, but they are not the real, deeper purpose of The Penguin Movie .

The real purpose of The Penguin Movie is to establish once and for all how fortunate all men are to be born MEN and not male Penguins.

Here's how the life of a Penguin of the male persuasion unfolds according to The Penguin Movie.

First you live on the edge of an ice-sheet in Antarctica and, for the most part, hang around holes in the ice. When the mood strikes you, you plunge headfirst into these holes and into the just-barely-above-freezing slush to try and snag some sashimi on the fin that has not even been descaled and cleaned. You diet is sashimi, sashimi, and more sashimi with nary a hot bottle of Sake for about 3,000 miles minimum.

The absence of the hot saki back to the sashimi entree may account for the fact that although there are lots of female penguins hanging around the holes in the ice, none of them will even look at you. Indeed, none of them will even look at any of the penguin males hanging around the ice-holes.

To get even the ghost of a chance of a hook-up with a penguin female, here's what you have to do:

First, you have to stop stuffing yourself with sashimi and pop out of that ice-hole onto the ever so welcoming sheet ice. Then you have to walk inland for 70 (Yes, seventy.) miles across the ice to a 'special place.' And you will walk these 70 (Yes, seventy.) taking teeny-tiny four-inch steps. It will, dare I say, consume some time. Oh, and during this time there will be no sashimi breaks. That's all behind you now. So you had better have been doing some serious carbo-packing before you start.

Upon arriving at the Penguin Singles Bar at the bitter end of the world, you will find that all the other penguin males have decided to pick this exact moment to check in as well. So what do you do? You shuffle aimlessly around waiting for a penguin female to actually look at you. Which, if you're lucky, one will. If you are not lucky, it's about face and back 70 (Yes, seventy.) miles across the ice-sheet to the sashimi bar -- better luck next year, dude.

But if you are a cool penguin you've gotten "the look" from a female that says, "Waddle right up and sniff my feathers, you steaming hunk of luv." After this exciting nuzzle of foreplay in a driving blizzard, you may actually get lucky. You may indeed get lucky two, three or four times with the feather pile of your dreams, but once the egg gets hit all that stops.

You then hang around the Featherpuff of your dreams in the blowing snow throughout gestation. You haven't eaten for weeks now, but that's just the beginning. You will wish you'd packed a lunch, but since you've got no hands that's immaterial, isn't it?

In time, Featherpuff will lay "your" (in more ways than one ) egg. She will lay it on her feet. Can't lay it anywhere else since flash-frozen eggs produce no Little Featherpuffs. So she's just standing there with this immense egg on her feet and, again, she gives you "the come-hither look," but with different motivations.

Like males of all species, you respond to "the come-hither look" with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. After all, you might get lucky (for the fourth or fifth time this year!) But that's not what Featherpuff's got on her mind. Nope.

What you are about to do is play "pass the egg footsies" with your beloved Featherpuff. You see, she's got this egg on her feet and it can't be allowed to touch the snow -- ever. But she's also been months away from the nearest sashimi hole that is 70 (Yes, seventy.) miles away as the penguin waddles. Hence, she's peckish and she's got to unload the egg. You are the father so, tag, you're it. Casts a whole new light on the concept of "child support," doesn't it?

After a lot of bumping and shuffling, the egg rolls onto your feet and Mom sets off immediately for the raw fish salad bar. So long, sucker, thanks for the feet. You? You ain't going nowhere.

No. You are going to stand there in the middle of Antarctica for quite some time with a large egg on your feet. While this happens the winter of Antarctica sets in.

Let me repeat that: While you are standing in the middle of Antarctica with a giant egg on your feet, the Antarctica winter begins.

Of course, there are thousands of other male penguins hanging around you to help, but it just so happens that all of them have eggs on their feet as well, and an extreme shortage of opposable thumbs. Right on schedule, here comes the Mother of All Blizzards.

What to do? Well, you waddle over to the rest of your poor benighted brothers-in-eggs and you all sort of huddle together in a slowly revolving heap of starving, fetid feathers taking a turn in the "warm" center of the pack, and a longer term in the exterior realms where you wear a thick, glistening coat of sheet ice over your feathers just for kicks. And don't lose your place in the pack since, once you do, they're not letting you back in and you are just another penguinsicle on an ice-egg stick.

Things roll along in this entertaining manner for quite some time and the lunch wagon has not shown up, nor will it. You are probably months short of a snack at this point when, just when you are getting really fed up with being unfed, "Crack!" And out of the shell on your feet pops Junior.

Junior immediately inserts himself into your pouch. (The less said about this the better.) There he stays except for brief peaks out to see how the weather is. It isn't any better so, pop!, back in your pouch he goes.

After a couple of weeks of this, you look out and see that the female penguins are waddling ( s l o w l y )back from the sashimi salon 70 (Yes, seventy.) miles away. If your babe hasn't been eaten by a Leopard Seal, or waddled a mile too far and has "fallen and I can't get up," she'll find her way to you and Junior in what is left of crowd of male penguins.

Once she arrives the love of your life, Featherpuff, is so glad to see you that she walks right up and vomits down your throat. Ain't love grand?

However, considering it has been some months since your last meal, you decided to put aside your normal high sashimi standards and just, well, go with the flow.

After a bit of bobbing and shuffling, Junior gets transferred from your pouch to Featherpuff's, and you split at your very highest speed (five-inch waddling steps) towards the fresh sashimi holes 70 (Yes, seventy.) miles away.

Once there you dive headfirst into the turgid slush of the Antarctic ocean waters and scarf up fish until your stomach assumes the size of a small Toyota. Then you plop yourself out on the ice-sheet for a brief period of digestion.

In time, the females and kids show up and they all get busy taking fresh fish out of your beak.

This continues for some months until one day you notice that no female has looked at you in months.

So you take a hike.

The moral, guys? No more complaints about the easy and hot sex lives of animals. Ever.

Posted by Vanderleun at August 27, 2005 1:57 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Can't say it sounds like paradise for the female of the species either.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at August 20, 2005 4:01 PM

Did you write a book?When I was student I thought
"Papa" Hemingway is incomparable.

Posted by: Al.Dr. at August 20, 2005 4:11 PM

Kind of makes the 'you will be in the delivery room' schtick pale in comparison.

Posted by: P. A. Breault at August 20, 2005 4:14 PM

Well, it's an accurate summary of the movie and much funnier. (But the movie was charming.)

Posted by: Yehudit at August 20, 2005 4:25 PM

I can't wait to see the movie. You have permanently colored how I view the movie, I am afraid. Please write more movie reviews.

Posted by: rk at August 20, 2005 5:29 PM

I knew I had to see this film from the moment I heard it reviewed on NPR. I even blogged about it at the time (along with another fascinating event from France that caught my imagination). It's the first time I have been sparked to go to the movies for four or five years. Now I can't wait. Great review!

Posted by: Hootsbuddy at August 20, 2005 6:29 PM

Brilliant post, as usual, but I hope I'm not being pedantic in insisting it's sakE, (pronounced "sock A"), not sakI.

Haven't seen the flick, but reading your review cleared up the mystery about this:

Posted by: Tanuki at August 20, 2005 8:56 PM

Thank, Gerard--one of the funniest things I have read in a long, long time--at the end of a day where I really needed a laugh.

Posted by: Dr Bob at August 20, 2005 9:04 PM

Hah! Great post and so entertainingly written.

Posted by: Digger at August 21, 2005 10:23 AM

At bedtime during the winter, my wife has often praised how warm my legs and feet are. I sense a pattern.

Posted by: Morenuancedthanyou at August 21, 2005 10:56 AM

I'm crying.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at August 22, 2005 10:21 AM

Re The Antarctic Cold.

Freezing water isn't a problem for the emperor penguin. The birds have excellent insulation.

Sometimes too good. Temperature gets warm (for Antarctica) an emperor penguin can actually overheat. When they start getting too warm they'll plant themselves on some ice to cool down.

BTW, don't think of it as an epic migration or any of that stuff, think of it as rush hour.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at August 22, 2005 10:50 AM

Brilliant piece, Bos.

Never again shall I yearn for the romantic penguin life.

Posted by: craig1st at August 23, 2005 3:19 AM

This summary of the story was GREAT! I teach science (this year I have 2 Bio classes), and I think this would be a great video to get when it comes out. But, first I would want them to see your summary.

BTW, today I had to explain to these students about asexual and sexual reproduction. Two of them had to be woken up part-way through, making me the only teacher on the planet to put the kids to sleep talking about sex in class.

Posted by: Linda F at August 23, 2005 4:32 PM