Issue #49, May 2003





Skeeter Kitefly’s vintage running (hopping, skipping, jumping) commentary
Romancing the Stone
as told to P. S. Ehrlich

You’re a brave man, taking a girl to see a movie about romance and jewelry.

(‘Scuse me:  I meant to say ROmance.  Lay on that emphasis thick and proud!)

Isn’t that Kathleen Turner chick in this movie?  What a bitch.  Oh I hate her...  Whaddaya mean, “Why?”  Didn’t you see her in Body Heat, or The Man with Two Brains?  She’s got the classic, coldhearted, deepthroated evildoer-with-a-clear-complexion role nailed down tight, all right.

Hey!  What’s all this cowboy nonsense—some sort of prologue?  How dare they!  We should be heevbazooming directly into the bejeweled ROmance.  (Oh it is too a verb—“I heevbazoom, you heevbazoom, he-she-or-it heevbazooms”—she more than he, probably.  But keep picking at my grammar and see how soon you see me heevbazooming, buster.)

Oh I get it:  The Old West prologue was actually the end of a ROmance novel.

Is that Kathleen Turner?  She’s so cute!  Crying and laughing over her typewriter—whoops!  Never go into a weepyjag till you’re sure you’ve got plenty of kleenex available.  Oog!  She’s out of TP too?  Come on—no woman would ever leave a toilet roll empty, not unless the house were on fire or something.  She must have a live-in husband or boyfriend.

No, she has a kittycat.  Named Romeo?  I take it all back; any woman who’d call her cat “Romeo” is capable of running out of anything.

So her own name is “Joan Wilder,” and she’s the ROmance Book Club Writer of the Year, meaning she puts parsley on catfood and plays Easy Listening music when she wants to celebrate.  Ohhhh-kay then.  Lookit all her tiny airline boozebottles!...  Ooh I hate it when people in movies smash their drinking glasses in fireplaces.  What a waste—and there goes Romeo’s plate too:  smash!  This from a chick who lets herself run out of toilet paper.  And here I was getting to like her this time, with her cute red nostrils and hair in a mess and dowdy flannel shirt.  Way to go, Joan...

Okay: you can tell right away that gloved hand must belong to the Villain.  Good guys in movies would never dial a phone with gloves on, not even if it’s freezing cold out.  A good guy’s man enough to do his dialing barefingeredly, by heck.

Oh Jeez—I’ve been in bars just like that one, with that kind of men:  “Wimp.  Wimp.  Loser.  Loser.  Too sleazy, too dopey, too happy—”  You do need to watch out for men in bars who act too happy before they buy you a drink.

Oh God—Joan drinks GRASSHOPPERS?...  Whew!  She doesn’t like them.  Boy, I nearly lost all respect for her right there.  Though I can see how she might be the crème de menthe type, not trusting herself around true booze—no wonder she keeps only minibottles in her apartment, and smashes all her drinking glasses.  Too bad that bar doesn’t have a fireplace.

But see:  Joan’s a ROmantic, knowing it’s ridiculous to wait around for Somebody Out There but doing it anyway ‘cause she also knows He’ll show up for her sometime.  (Probably in the next hour or so.)

So then they start talking about Joan’s brother-in-law Eduardo, whose murdered body hasn’t been found yet “except for the one piece.”  (BELCH)  Oops sorry!—serves me right for chugging that Sprite during the coming attractions.  Back in a flash—take notes while I’m gone—

...Okay, what’d I miss?  They find any more of Eduardo?...  Hunh?  “Joan’s sister got knocked out by a little kid in Colombia who proceeded to kidnap her on behalf of Danny DeVito’s bald cousin who steals antiques and dotes on crocodiles.”  Say WHAT??  Boy, do I time my potty breaks right.

So anyway:  Joanie’s got Eduardo’s treasure map (why sure! I bet everybody’s dead brother-in-law mails them treasure maps) and now she’s got to bring it to the kidnappers in Colombia or they’ll cut up her sister Eduardo-style.  Hey, I wouldn’t mind having to fly to South America to rescue my sister—I bet Sadie could get into all sorts of ROmantic danger down there.

Now, see?  That was a signpost of how Joan’s going to Grow as a Character:  She’s told she’s not up to doing this, and she agrees she isn’t but says she has to do it anyway.  Since this is an action comedy you can bet she will be up to it by The End:  Mark my words.

Oh puhLEEZE!  She looks too the hell fresh and unfrazzled to’ve just got off a plane from New York!  (That’s a nice linen traveling suit she’s got on, though.)  Oh lookit the little piggy squealing at the airport!  Do you suppose they let you carry live pigs onboard planes down there?  I bet they had to have a swine wrangler on the movie set, anyway—boy, that’d be the dream job for me!

That’s right, Joan, get all gullible-pally with the Villain right away.  And yes—be sure to have that treasure map sticking out of your purse, so he can take a good gander at it.  (Jeez, they’re not going to have her fall in love with him, are they?  Him and his villainous gloved dialing finger?)

Ooh that’s beautiful scenery!  Is that really Colombia, or do you think they filmed it somewhere outside Burbank?

Oh come ON—now she wakes up after snoozing all night on a grubby old bus, and she’s still immaculate?  No drool on her chin even?  Look, the driver’s so astonished he plows the bus right into an abandoned jeep.

Well now I know this is a fantasy film!—see, her skirt’s come half unfastened, and there’s her thighs on display; but there is NO FREAKING WAY a girl like Joan would head off to a foreign continent without putting on a slip first.  I don’t care if it is the tropics; trust me on this.

Aha!  The Villain stands revealed with his gun out (so to speak).  Now at least she won’t fall for him (I hope).  K’pow k’pow k’pow!  Villain shoots at strapping male passerby, strapping guy shoots back, virility virility virility.  Meanwhile poor Joan has to wallow around beneath the bus—nothing symbolic about that scene, of course.

So that’s Kirk Douglas’s son.  Wasn’t he on The Streets of San Francisco?—the TV show, that is, not sleeping in an alley.  Talks just like his dad.  And yep:  There’s that tell-tale chin-cleavage.  Boy do I mistrust men who have those.  See, he won’t even carry Joanie’s suitcase for her.  Instead he flings it off the mountaintop!  And there she goes mudsliding after it!  And there he slides right after her—wheeeeeee!!  Nothing like a fun first date.

SMACK-DAB splats his face between her bare thighs in a mudpuddle—Hi there!  Good morning!  (Told you she should’ve worn a slip.)  Well, I guess we can say Joanie’s no longer immaculate...

I just love Danny DeVito.  He was so gleeful-evil on Taxi and could get away with it every time, ‘cause he’s so short and cute—like ME:  I could be Mata Hari or Tokyo Rose or Catwoman’s secret identity, and nobody’d ever suspect.  (Mrowr.)

Lordy that is one humongous river chasm—unless it’s really just a Burbank creekbed magnified by trick photography.  Along with Joan’s swinging over it on a handy Tarzan vine... and Michael Douglas’s tagging along after her, checking out Joanie’s wet caboose as they machete their way through the rain forest—

—yeeeeeeek!  SKULL!!

...And now she’s in his arms.  As I seem to be in yours.  Taking advantage of a frightened woman, are you?  (What took you so long?)

I’ve got to admit she looks really, really pretty, all soaked to the skin inside that wrecked cargo plane.  Course, who wouldn’t look pretty sitting around a campfire made out of primo Colombian keys?  “Oh, you smoke it?” he says; “Sure, I went to college,” she says.  (Hee hee hee!)  Doesn’t keep Joan from getting all snippity-drippy about how a Real Man’s supposed to be forthright and trustworthy and—

YEEP!!  Snaaaake—


I hope that was a prop snake he beheaded with his little machete.

Lookit Joan heevbazoom away there—oh, you are looking.  While your arm is around me, I might add.  (You cur!)

OH kay then.  They’ve started falling in love.  And she’s so zonked she promptly passes out.  But does Mr. Shortcut meddle with her pretty heevers?  Nope; he fondles her treasure map instead.

So now they’re in a village of unfriendly drug runners, trying to rent a car from Juan the bellmaker—who looks exactly like my high school geometry teacher!  (Hi, Mr. Lopez!  I still can’t remember what the square of a hypotenuse is supposed to be equal to!)  And Juan turns out to be Joan Wilder’s biggest fan—sure, why not?  If you write novels titled Love’s Wicked Kiss, you’ll always make friends and influence people.

K’pow k’pow k’pow!  Joan’s been in Colombia for, what? a day and a half now?  During which I bet she’s been shot at more times than in her entire prior life, even if she does live in New York.  But does it bother her?  No way José—lookit her picking flowers with her hair all fluffy and blouse gaping open for Michael Douglas and you to ogle into.

Festival!  Carnival time!  And both of them all gussied up, showered clean of jungle funk.  He gives her a little gold corazon on a chain, and she’s twinkling and sparkling back at him, and they’re officially in love... right... there.  You can tell by the music.  And so they dance, and he twirls her and dips her and time comes to a stop for them while everyone else salsas on roundabout...



Oh, God.  Oh, Jeez.  (Shniff.)  Oh, they did that exactly right.  (Shniff.)  Oh, wow—what’d I say about having plenty of kleenex?... thanks.  (Phonk.)

Whoa!  They didn’t waste any time, did they?  Though I hear there’s actually nothing less stimulating than to be filmed with your bare buff mashed up against another actor’s bare buff, under hot klieg lights and the eyes of fifty crew members, with some director telling you what to do and when to do it and where to put it and yelling “CUT” at all the heeviest moments.  (Of course I know some people who’d get off on exactly that—my ROmantic friend RoBynne O’Ring, for instance.)

Well now I’m hungry—hey!  Where’d most of our popcorn go?  Have you been hogging it, just ‘cause you’re twice as big as me?  Lucky thing I looked, otherwise I’d’ve had to starve through the rest of the movie.

(Chomp.  Chomp.  Chomp.  Munch.)

THAT is one big honking emerald!  Well now I know what I want for my next birthday.  Can I have the rest of your root beer?  No, not for my birthday!

(Shlurp.  Chomp.  Munch.  Shlurrrrrrrrrrppp.)

Boy, they aren’t kidding when they call it “root” beer.

Okay—gimme your hand—we’re getting all climactic here, as it were...

So Joan saves her sister for about ten seconds, ‘cause here comes the Villain! with Michael Douglas his prisoner! and Danny DeVito too! and right away he burns up the treasure map! and gun-butts Michael’s crotch till he disgorges the emerald down his pantleg, onto his toe, kicking it through the air into the Villain’s gloved hand—

—and so into the jaws of a crocogator!  ORRRRGH...

Didn’t I say he should’ve gone barefingered?  Then he might still have fingers... and not be getting burned and whomped, and whomped and burned and thrown screaming to the gators, all by Joanie by her little own self!  Good for her!  Didn’t need Michael Douglas at all, except for the final clinch—and farewell French kiss—and away he goes, diving off the castle wall into the drink.  So long, Joan Wilder!  Sail around the world with you some other time!

But see?  See how she’s Grown as a Character?  Not a hopeless ROmantic anymore, but a hopeful one who’s up to anything!  Told you to mark my words!  And now we’re all set for a sequel—

Oh no...

No!  What are they DOING??

Are we supposed to believe that Michael Douglas found the one crocodile out of all the alligators swimming around South America and wrestled it to a standstill and turned it inside out and into those fancy boots he’s wearing and extracted that big honking emerald and lived long enough to sell it to somebody and buy himself that sailboat and cart it up to the middle of Manhattan and park it outside Joanie’s door?

Well that’s just silly.

It must be a dream sequence—that’s the only way I’ll be able to forgive them, the only way they can claim any verisillymissitude, if the ending only happened inside Joan’s ROmantic head.  Like that cowboy prologue at the beginning.  That must be it; just a dream.

So how come you never take me out salsa dancin’?  (Yes I know you knew I was going to ask that, sooner or later....)


© P. S. Ehrlich 2003-2010


Copyright 03 © The artist retains all ownership of the work; however, M10K retains the right to post any submissions it receives, and it bears no responsibility for the content posted here, its originality, or how it is used or downloaded by others. At the artist's request, any submissions will be removed from M10K within five days of receipt of the request.

[Sadly, Ten Thousand Monkeys is now gone from the Web.  Above is a replica of their May 2003 publication.]