Ben Greenman's brilliant memoir of fandom, Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince, has stuck with me for a bunch of reasons (and with the two-year anniversary of Prince's death coming up in a couple of weeks, this would be a great time to get a copy). There's a small section in there about Weird Al Yankovic's desire to parody The Purple One that I'm particularly amused by though. Weird Al, Greenman writes, kept asking for Prince's permission to borrow a song:
Weird Al has gone on the record regarding his desire to rewrite “Let’s Go Crazy” using the plot of The Beverly Hillbillies (the idea later morphed into his massively successful parody of Dire Straits’s “Money for Nothing”) or create a bargain-retail promotional spot called “$19.99.” Fans obsessed with both artists (a narrow but vocal Venn diagram overlap) have also proposed a post–snowball fight lament called “When Gloves Dry” and a slightly risqué Marcel Marceau satire called “Dirty Mime.” I personally roughed out a song called “Bris” (“I just want your extra skin in this . . .”) and started to write Weird Al a letter.
Greenman's telling us something about Prince, who couldn't see the funny side of parodies in general. But there's something here about Weird Al's oddball genius, too—not only did he have two parodies ready to go, but his fans knew the blueprint well enough to come up with their own suggestions. The man thinks in jokes, and we treasure him as a result.
Anyway, Weird Al co-authored today's New York Times crossword puzzle. He mostly used it as an opportunity to sneak a whole load of movie-based cheese puns into the paper of record. "Cheesy 2001 animated film?" That'll be Muensters Inc. "Cheesy 1992 military drama?" You're looking for "A Few Gouda Men." Tremendous.
While we're here, what sort of cheese should you use to coax a bear down from a tree?
Alex Robert Ross really shouldn't be allowed on Twitter.