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September 13, 2004

Albert and Cthulhu, Sitting In a Tree

alandc.jpgI have to say, I wasn't entirely surprised when plush Albert Einstein and plush Cthulhu decided to become an item. After all, the two have tons in common: The love of water, the enjoyment of naps, a fascination with non-Euclidean geometry and a dislike of quantum physics (Al because it engenders spooky action at a distance; Cthulhu because quantum physicists tend toward the gamy side; it's that whole "I'm too busy thinking about the Higgs Boson to bathe" thing). People have gotten married who have had less in common, and at least this way if it ends up that Cthulhu drives Albert crazy, well, you know. He can't say he wasn't warned.

For all the obvious compatibilities, I was still worried. Let's face it, Dubya's America is a difficult place to conduct a plush same-sex interspecies relationship, even if the two participants are stuffed representations the father of 20th Century physics and an elder god of madness and chaos. People will still talk. Even here at home, I worry about some of the other less tolerant plush toys; I've seen Felix the Cat giving the two of them the stinky eye, which is pretty rich coming from a plush toy whose history includes an acknowledged "bag of tricks."

And what about outside the home? When Athena takes Al and Thu out into the world, will she get stares? I mean, they stare already -- after all, how many five-year-olds walk around with a plush physicist and/or foul slumbering creature from the briny depths. I mean, will they stare more. Will the average person be able to divine the passionate vibe emanating from these two cloth-wrapped bags of fun-shaped batting? And if they do, will they understand? And will they condone? Or at least tolerate? It's made even more difficult by the fact that some people still haven't forgiven Albert Einstein for the social fallout surrounding his theory of relativity, or Cthulhu for being, well, a homophagic instigator of insanity. They just can't see that at the end of the day, all these two want is to be loved.

Well, to hell with the lot of them. I for one applaud Al and Thu for their devotion to each other and for being willing to suffer the slings and arrows of those who misunderstand their relationship. If anyone can make a plush same-sex interspecies relationship work, it should be these two. Let's hear it for a grand unified theory of love. They say you don't have to be a crazy elder god to be in love, but it doesn't hurt. That's wisdom, my friends.

Posted by john at September 13, 2004 12:51 PM

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Dwight Brown | September 13, 2004 02:01 PM

"Let's face it, Dubya's America is a difficult place to conduct a plush same-sex interspecies relationship..."

I'm confused: how exactly is it established that Cthulhu is male? How exactly do you sex an elder god, anyway? (I ask because I have a smaller one sitting on top of my work machine, and I think it would be good to know.)

Is it more difficult than sexing chickens or alligators? Or about the same level of difficulty?


John Scalzi | September 13, 2004 02:06 PM

Dwight Brown asks:

"How exactly do you sex an elder god, anyway?"

Veeeeeeery carefully.


Well, and of course you are exactly right, which adds another element to the whole relationship: While Cthulhu is often referred to a "he," to my understanding his (or more accurately, its) sex is indeterminite. So perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a "plush quasi-same sex interspecies relationship."

Bear in mind that this whole matter is additionally compounded by the fact that neither Plush Al or Plush Thu have genitals. Love is complicated, nu?

Elizabeth Bear | September 13, 2004 02:22 PM

...did you have to slash the plush toys? I'm still recovering from the Muppet SeXXX in Avenue Q. And as if Bert and Ernie weren't bad enough.... now I need my brain scrubbed.

John Scalzi | September 13, 2004 02:25 PM

Oh, sure. Blame ME for their love. As if *I* was the one who posed them on my computer, or something.

Elizabeth Bear | September 13, 2004 02:29 PM

You know, I have a plushie Cthulhu on my computer too (although mine keeps company with a Shakespeare Finger Puppet), and I know Sarah Monette does as well. It must be a common writer accessory.

The plushie shoggoth is popular as well...

Kate Nepveu | September 13, 2004 02:46 PM

I have a teeny tiny devil duck sitting below my computer monitor (stolen from Mary Kay Kare's LJ/blog party at Noreascon). He hasn't shown any inclination to eat people's brains yet, but he is slightly more discreet.

Kate Nepveu | September 13, 2004 03:38 PM

Ah, links don't work. Devil ducks:


Jas | September 13, 2004 03:40 PM

Oh, great, now you've got me searching Google for Lovecraftian plush toys at work! As if online journals and SlashDot weren't enough!


Byron | September 13, 2004 03:58 PM

I think someone should tell Al---Cthullu is here on my desk snogging Beaker.

John Scalzi | September 13, 2004 04:06 PM

I'm sure Al won't mind. Beaker is a fellow scientist.

Alina Adams | September 13, 2004 04:10 PM

Tell Athena not to worry. A friend just gave his daughter the most adorable, stuffed Ebola germ... Talk about getting odd looks!

Jamie Kelly | September 13, 2004 05:51 PM

I truly love Cthulhu.
But I have to ask. How do you pronounce the name? I want one, but I can't justify it until I can pronounce it.

John Scalzi | September 13, 2004 06:09 PM

I usually pronounce it Ka-Thoo-Loo.

Jas | September 13, 2004 07:21 PM

Interestingly, I've heard it's supposed to be pronounced "THOOL-hoo"...

I don't recall where, but it's stuck with me.


Daniel H. Alvarez | September 13, 2004 08:06 PM

Well, if a homophagic instgator of insanity can fall for a humanist human, not everything can be bad.

BTW, if anyone finds a link to where one can get a stuffed homophagic instigator of insanity or another member of the pantheon, post it!

John Scalzi | September 13, 2004 08:22 PM

"if anyone finds a link to where one can get a stuffed homophagic instigator of insanity or another member of the pantheon, post it!"


Scott | September 13, 2004 09:00 PM

Jas Wrote:
Interestingly, I've heard it's supposed to be pronounced "THOOL-hoo"...

Mr. Lovecraft is on record as having claimed the name isn't REALLY pronounceable by human vocal apparatus. He's also on record as saying that the best human equivalents are gutteral.

So by my reckoning... if you were to pretend you were pretending to cough while saying the particular fiend's name, it might come out something like "CHuh-hhCHloo-loo" (where 'CH' represents the sound that starts the word "Chanukkah"). kuh-THOO-loo is much easier though, and much more likely to be understood.

Squid | September 14, 2004 12:41 AM

I think Lovecraft -- or someone; now that I think about it, it's only ever come up in gaming discussions, so maybe it was someone involved in an official capacity with the Call of Cthulhu game or something -- is also on record as claiming the closest a human can get to the proper pronounciation is something like 'cluh-luh'. I don't really care for that, so I use something more along the lines of the more common 'kuh-THOO-loo' form, though without a vowel between the K and TH.

Alternatively, just run the garbage disposal for about a second.

Kai Jones (formerly Kris Hasson-Jones) | September 14, 2004 10:53 AM

At Orycon last year on the video channel one of the features was a really well done mockumentary of a production of the musical, "Cthulhu on the Roof." Now *that* I'd like to have a copy of.

Scott | September 14, 2004 11:16 AM

The music from "A Shoggoth on the Roof" is, however, available from the HPLS http://store.yahoo.net/shocklines/hlohiso1.html

And, having heard it once, can tell you... SWEET!

Jon Hansen | September 14, 2004 02:42 PM

I'm so glad Cthulhu's gone on to find love with other stuffed plushies, as opposed to my own. And thanks for the link off of By The Way, incidentally.

Bill Tozier | September 17, 2004 10:39 PM

At last the Pewter Bust of Mad King Ludwig and rubber pangolin whose identities I have been protecting can come forward and declare their own monitor-top shenanigans to be acceptable and decent.

They can, right?

John Scalzi | September 17, 2004 11:13 PM

Bill Tozier asks:

"They can, right?"

Indeed, we would be disappointed if they didn't!

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