From Plastic Tub

ear snd. 1. Cartiliginous head appendage that gathers sound; sometimes found attached to the backs of mice. 2. Fourth sign on the O'Donnely Zodiac Placemats. 3. Headphones.


"There is a bone in your ear which does not belong there!" -- Jonathan Trenchwheat to Nathanael West, Hollywood, 1940.

"Well that would be the time I lay naked on a gurney in agony as the orderlies stuffed a snack cake into my ear... my left ear to be precise." -- San Francisco Vagrant to Miss Monitzer when asked about his worst experience while institutionalized, 1991. This quote would later be adapted into a screenplay, but misplaced in 2004 during an alcoholic stupor.

“Pass me an ear of corn.” -- an oft-heard request at Incidentalist Dead Flesh Bonanzas.


On the Uniqueness of Ears

No two ears are alike1 -- an astounding fact considering the 10 billion-plus human ears that have graced the Earth. Not even your own ears are identical. Ears are, in fact, the most reliable distinguishing identifier between identical twins, chimps and apes.

The big question, as always, is why? For some, this is glimpse of the unseen hand of the Maker, shaping each person from the clay anew; for others, this is evidence of the grand random chaos in the universe, a bit of trivia, purposed as we grant it.

Like men and women, these twin views were once one in the poetic sciences of ear divining, which appears to have traveled with alchemy from the Indian subcontinent to the ancient Greeks around the 4th century BCE. The practice eventually split into the blind fatalism of phrenology and the cold science of ear-based identification systems2 around the beginning of the 20th Century in London and Brussels.

The schism was retained, indeed amplified, as ear identification was quickly replaced by fingerprinting (and eventually, DNA sampling), while phrenology evolved into a host of predictive practices (e.g., racial profiling). This divide is really only an echo of the contrary philosophies “shared” today by the American peoples, where a fundamentalist president who “shapes reality” to fit his beliefs presides over scientists who explore the heavens with Martian rovers.

The Trouble with Unattached Ears

Ear investigation is a relatively uncommon field. Since criminals aren't regularly ear printed, it can be difficult to match an ear to a print found at a crime scene.

But there's another weirder problem: unattached and unclaimed ears turn up world wide on a regular basis. Since there's little in the way of large-scale ear print repositories, it's difficult to track an unattached ear back to its owner unless someone comes forward. In one particularly curious example, an unattached and unclaimed ear (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1345942/posts) was found near Strangeways Prison in Manchester on February 18, 2005. (The news of this was somewhat delayed due to an extraordinarily thorough job of ensuring that the object was, indeed, an ear. This wasn't due to a particularly thorough police force; rather, this was an attempt to avoid the embarrassment the force faced earlier when an unattached finger turned out to be a sausage.)

This would just be another loose ear incident were it not for some cracker jack detective work by one Mr. Cor van der Lugt,3  who managed to match this ear back to a previously found ear lying unattached and unclaimed at the feet of a dead and dangling Creatine Panderbox on May 3, 1960, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. This rather extraordinary bit of news has rather baffled international crime agencies. All they've been able to conclude is that somewhere there's an earless person running about, immune to prosecution from ear prints.

Ear Forgeries

A second weakness in the world of ear investigations results from the sheer simplicity of it all. The great draw of ear identification is the basic and readily identifiable unique properties of each ear -- but it's this very simplicity that makes the whole thing rather prone to trickery.

At the risk of reading like a criminal how-to manual, the simplest trick is ear muffs. Wear them while committing a crime, and you have nothing to fear from ear investigators.

A more devious trick is ear stamping. Gnomic operatives are known to produce stamps that perfectly replicate the ear prints of numerous VIPs. The blackmail opportunities are obvious.

A third trick is the supposed use of prosthetic ear coverings (or ear gloves) by higher-ups in the Gnomic underworld. Although unproven, this doesn't seem out the realm of possibility -- though it would certainly require extreme proficiency in costuming; we're talking Hollywood caliber make-up at this point.

The true extent of Gnomic ear stamping and gloving may never be known, but the rumors run broad and deep enough to have been mocked by none other than Walt Disney, who placed giant false ears on the heads of each and every Mouseketeer.

The O'Donnely Zodiac Placemats

What's your sign?

See Also


Note 1:   “The ear is, for each human being, so different that the precise description, with all its characteristic features, would already be enough to ascertain the identification” (Professor Niceforo, Die Kriminalpolizei und ihre Hilfswissenschaften).

Note 2:   Ear investigators continue to prosecute criminals on the basis of ear prints, which are particularly suited for identification due to: a) The readily measurable ratios present in the distances between the numerous standard cartilaginous protrusions (e.g., tragus, anti-tragus, knob of Darwin, etc.) b) The uniqueness of these ratios in every ear. c) The fact that these ratios are established by the fourth month of fetal development and remain unchanged until the decomposition of the corpse. BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/235721.stm) presents a short story of a murderer busted by his ear prints.

Note 3:   Mr. Cor van der Lugt (http://www.crimeandclues.com/earprint.htm) has presented an excellent discussion and proposal concerning the role of ear identification in the field of criminology.

Note 4:   Amateur AA historian Steven Adkins defended Payne, pointing out that the “sicko perv” claims were “childish and unsubstantiated. Besides, we all have our own crosses to bear. And remember, to err is human, to ear, divine.”

Steven Vogeler's Fun Facts ®

Fun Facts About Ears

Ears N' Stuff

You can't smoke in your ear-hole. Anywhere else will do.

People who fix ears are called otologists. People who fuck ears are called pencil dicks.

Ear Incidents in AA Lore

Addisson apparently did not stick his tongue in Krystine Monitzer’s ear as she slept; she apparently mistook a story someone told her about P-Boy with an incident from her own life.

Due to a cannon-related hearing-loss incident, A.W. Slippers was able to blow smoke rings out of his ears.

Latter-day AA clamper David Payne was called a “sicko perv” after he was heard whispering “lemme lick yer hot ears, babe” to a woman of ill-repute.4