"Only if there's a little money in it. Just a little bit, for me. Just a taste, to wet my beak, ya know?" Jack stared at me in a way that suggested he didn't know. "My beak, you understand, is just so dry, and if I'm gonna fly all the way to Chicago -- the City of Dark Truths -- I'm gonna need some assurances that this dry-ass beak of mine will be just sopping with some nice, wet money by the end of my time there. I want it soaked, homey, do you understand me?" I threw some corn from my pocket onto Jack's desk and started pecking at it pretty violently to drive the beak metaphor home.
"I don't know why I phrased it as a question," Jack said. "You're going to Chicago. I already booked the flights. And we won't be giving you any additional money, because this company is already in tremendous amounts of debt because of you. You know why."
I thought back to what has since become known as "The Most Expensive Sketch We Never Aired." The budget did sort of go off the rails, and the lawsuit from the apparently very litigious Judy Blume didn't help. Plus there were all those dead pandas. But sometimes that's what happens when artists aspire to greatness. Did I fly too close to the Sun, as they say? Maybe. Maybe I did fly too close to the Sun, just like Icarus -- and also and more accurately, just like me when I spent a soft 20 million on an allegedly consumer-friendly rocket that mysteriously melted. But do I have any regrets? I do not.
"I stand by that sketch, Jack. It was a great idea."
"Our website isn't allowed near schools anymore because of that sketch. I still don't even understand how you did that with a sketch that never aired."
"Same thing happened to da Vinci," I said. "He did some weird stuff people didn't get, maybe killed a few pandas, maybe made the Dalai Lama say the F-word for the first time ever, and no one forced HIM to go to Chicago. I've always said that if pandas can't drink alcohol, they should come with a warning. You can check the records. I've literally always said that."