"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Anne V – 02:01 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1318 of 7835
OK — I know how to take meat away from a dog. How do I take a dog away from meat? This is not, unfortunately, a joke.
AmyC – 02:02 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1319 of 7835
Um, can you give us a few more specifics here?
Anne V – 02:12 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1320 of 7835
They’re inside of it. They crawled inside, and now I have a giant incredibly heavy piece of carcass in my yard, with 2 dogs inside of it, and they are NOT getting bored of it and coming out. One of them is snoring. I have company arriving in three hours, and my current plan is to 1) put up a tent over said carcass and 2) hang thousands of fly strips inside it. This has been going on since about 6:40 this morning.
AmyC – 02:19 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1321 of 7835
Oh. My. God.
What sort of carcass is big enough to hold a couple of dogs inside?
Given the situation, I’m afraid you’re not going to be able to create enough of a diversion to get the dogs out of the carrion, unless they like greeting company as much as they like rolling around in dead stuff. Which seems unlikely. Can you turn a hose on the festivities?
Ase Innes-Ker – 02:31 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1322 of 7835
I’m sorry, Anne. I know this is a problem (and it would have driven me crazy), but it is also incredibly funny.
Anne V – 02:31 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1323 of 7835
Elk. Elk are very big this year, because of the rain and good grazing and so forth.
They aren’t rolling. They are alternately napping and eating. They each have a ribcage. Other dogs are working on them from the outside. It’s all way too primal in my yard right now.
We tried the hose trick. At someone else’s house, which is where they climbed in and began to refuse to come out. Many hours ago. I think that the hose mostly helps keep them cool and dislodges little moist snacks for them. Hose failed.
My new hope is that if they all continue to eat at this rate, they will be finished before the houseguests arrive. The very urban houseguests. Oh, god — I know it’s funny. It’s appalling, and funny, and completely entirely representative of life with dogs.
Kristen R. – 02:37 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1324 of 7835
I’m so glad I read this thread, dogless as I am. Dogs in elk. Dogs in elk.
Anne V – 02:41 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1325 of 7835
It’s like that children’s book out there — dogs in elk, dogs on elk, dogs around elk, dogs outside elk. And there is some elk inside of, as well as on, each dog at this point.
CoseyMo – 02:49 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1326 of 7835
“dogs in elk, dogs on elk, dogs around elk, dogs outside elk”
This is, possibly, the ultimate tag line.
Anne V – 02:56 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1327 of 7835
you may have it. Me, I have the dogs, and the elk. The tag line is available.
Elizabeth K – 02:57 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1328 of 7835
Anne, aren’t you in Arizona or Nevada? There are elk there? I’m so confused!
We definately need to see pics of Gus Pong and Jake in the elk carcass.
Anne V – 03:03 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1329 of 7835
I am in New Mexico, but there are elk in both Arizona and Nevada, yes. There are elk all over the damn place.
They don’t look out very often. If you stand the ribcage on end they scramble to the top and look out, all red. Otherwise, you kinda have to get in there a little bit yourself to really see them. So I think there will not be pictures.
CoseyMo – 03:06 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1330 of 7835
“All red.” I’m not sure the deeper horror of all this was fully borne in upon me till I saw that little phrase.
Anne V – 03:10 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1331 of 7835
Well, you know, the Basenji (that would be Jake) is a desert dog, naturally, and infamous for its aversion to water. And then, Gus Pong (who is coming to us, live, unamplified and with a terrific reverb which is making me a little dizzy) really doesn’t mind water, but hates to be cold. Or soapy. And both of them can really run. Sprints of up to 35 mph have been clocked. So. If ever they come out, catching them and returning them to a condition where they can be considered house pets is not going to be, shall we say, pleasant.
CoseyMo – 03:15 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1332 of 7835
What if you stand the ribcage on end, wait for them to look out, grab them when they do and pull?
Linda Hewitt – 03:30 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1336 of 7835
Have you thought about calling your friendly vet and paying him to come pick up the dogs, elk and letting the dogs stay at the vet’s overnight? If anyone would know what to do, it would be your vet. It might cost some money, but it would solve the immediate crisis.
Keep us posted.
Anne V – 03:44 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1339 of 7835
I did call my vet. He laughed until he was gagging and breathless. He says a lot of things, which can be summed as *what did you expect?* and *no, there is no such thing as too much elk meat for a dog.* He is planning to stop over and take a look on his way home.
Thanks, Lori. I am almost surrendered to the absurdity of it.
AmyC – 03:56 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1342 of 7835
Oh, sweet lord, Anne. You have my deepest sympathies in this, perhaps the most peculiar of the Gus Pong Adventures. You are truly a woman of superhuman patience.
Wait — you carried the carcass down from the mountains with the dogs inside?
Anne V – 03:59 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1343 of 7835
No, well, sort of. My part in the whole thing was to get really stressed about a meeting that I had to go to, and say *yeah, ok, whatever* when it was suggested that the ribcages, since we couldn’t get the dogs out of them and the dogs couldn’t be left there, be brought to my house. Because, you know — I just thought they would get bored of it sooner or later. But it appears to be later, in the misty uncertain future, that they will get bored. Now, they are still interested. And very loud, one singing, one snoring.
Lori Shiraishi – 04:04 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1344 of 7835
Wow. I can’t even begin to imagine the acoustics involved with singing from the inside of an elk.
Anne V – 04:04 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1345 of 7835
Reverb. :ots and lots of reverb.
shechemist – 04:09 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1346 of 7835
Stop! Please Stop!
I almost peed laughing so hard.
Oh my. I have these … images and now sounds that will haunt me for the rest of the day. And I will start giggling. and it will scare my co-workers.
Anne V – 04:15 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1347 of 7835
I’ll tell you the thing that is causing me to lose it again and again, and then I have to go back outside and stay there for a while.
After the meeting, I said to my (extraordinary) boss, *look, I’ve gotta go home for the rest of the day, I think. Jake and Gus Pong are inside some elk ribcages, and my dad is coming tonight, so I’ve got to get them out somehow.* And he said, pale and huge-eyed, *Annie, how did you explain the elk to the clients?* The poor, poor man thought I had the carcasses brought to work with me. For some reason, I find this deeply funny.
Linda Hewitt – 04:16 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1348 of 7835
Since no solution appears in sight. Why not get this moment preserved for prosterity by calling the TV stations. I bet they would love a human interest story like this.
Having the TV stations there will also take the edge off of the situation with your urban company plus it will give you lots to talk … laugh about.
No worry. You and your guests are going to have a great time.
Anne V, now that I’ve wiped the tears away and have my breath back, I hope you’re still there. Have you tried pouring something harmless but doggie revolting over the elk habitat? Diluted pepper sauce maybe. BTW, the reason I’m posting on a thread I’ve never appeared in before, a link to your story was dropped at Rick’s Bar in the Politics folder. If it’s any consolation, you’re famous!
Linda Hewitt – 08:30 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 9, 1999 – #1355 of 7835
Annie, what’s the latest status on the dogs and the elk? Did you get your camcorder out to record it for all time?
terrilynn – 04:50 a.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 10, 1999 – #1358 of 7835
Anne V, thank you, thank you for the absolute, without a doubt best laugh of the week. I nearly peed in my pants reading about the dog/elk situation, and I must say you are keeping a remarkably cool head about everything.
Update us, please!
AmyC – 06:22 a.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 10, 1999 – #1359 of 7835
How are you holding up this morning, Anne? I hope the dogs weren’t out on the carcass all night, snoring and singing and whooping it up like sailors on leave.
marcia watson – 11:50 a.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 10, 1999 – #1365 of 7835
The suspense is killing me. You don’t suppose that the dogs have dragged her into the carcass and are holding her hostage?
Grace Newton – 12:04 p.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 10, 1999 – #1367 of 7835
I deeply regret I’m not a cartoonist. The images conjured by posts to this thread over the past two days cry out to be immortalized. Elk drunk dogs carousing atop rib cages, whooo. Got to stop, my family thinks I’ve lost it as it is.
Anne V – 09:37 a.m. Pacific Time – Sept. 13, 1999 – #1395 of 7835
So what we did was put the ribcages (containing dogs) on tarps and drag them around to the side yard, where I figured they would at least be harder to see, and then opened my bedroom window so that the dogs could let me know when they were ready to be plunged into a de-elking solution and let in the house. Then I went to the airport. Came home, no visible elk, no visible dogs. Peeked around the shrubs, and there they were, still in the elk. By this time, they had gnawed out some little portholes between some of the ribs, and you got the occasional very frightening glimpse of something moving around in there if you watched long enough.
After a lot of agonizing, I went to bed. I closed the back door, made sure my window was open, talked to the dogs out of it until I was sure they knew it was open, and then I fell asleep. Sometimes, sleep is a mistake, no matter how tired you are. And especially if you are very very tired, and some of your dogs are outside, inside some elks. Because when you are that tired, you sleep through bumping kind of noises, or you kind of think that it’s just the houseguests. It was’t the houseguests. It was my dogs, having an attack of teamwork unprecedented in our domestic history. When I finally woke all the way up, it was to a horrible vision. Somehow, 3 dogs with a combined weight of about 90 pounds, managed to hoist one of the ribcages (the meatier one, of course) up 3 feet to rest on top of the swamp cooler outside the window, and push out the screen. What woke me was Gus Pong, howling in frustration from inside the ribcage, very close to my head, combined with feverish little grunts from Jake, who was standing on the nightstand, bracing himself against the curtains with remarkably bloody little feet.
Here are some things I have learned, this Rosh Hashanah weekend: 1) almond milk removes elk blood from curtains and pillowcases, 2) We can all exercise superhuman strength when it comes to getting elk carcasses out of our yard, 3) The sight of elk ribcages hurtling over the fence really frightens the nice deputy sheriff who lives across the street, and 4) the dogs can pop the screens out of the windows, without damaging them, from either side.
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)