2% Owl

Hitchin and I have very similar senses of humour. So much so that Jen finds it a bit spooky. She first realised this when she made some comment to Hitchin, and he made exactly the same obscure yet hysterically funny joke that I had made on hearing the same comment five minutes earlier. (OK, maybe it wasn't all that hysterically funny, but Hitchin and I both thought it was.)

Anyway, while we were staying with Hitchin and Soo last weekend, Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was on the telly, and Edwina Curry was asked which is the heaviest flying bird of prey.

"The condor!" shouted Hitchin and I in unison, before the answers were even shown on the screen. We then had a discussion about whether this might be a trick question, as scavengers such as condors might not count as birds of prey, but decided that Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire? probably wouldn't be that devious (or, more likely, that it would never have occurred to them in the first place).

"I think I'd better ask the audience," said the former junior minister for health, and Prime Minister's mistress. So the audience voted. The result: 98% Condor, 2% Owl.

Now 2% Owl is exactly the sort of phrase that Hitchin and I find incredibly funny: it's such a very small proportion, and such a very ordinary-sounding bird. So, for the rest of the weekend, we tried to slip the phrase two percent owl into the conversation whenever possible. You get the idea:

2% Owl
2% Owl (98% Fox).
  • "According to the nutritional information on the side of this box, these Cheerios are two percent owl!"
  • "Hey, you know that Keira Knightley? She's two percent owl! You'd never guess it to look at her!"
  • "Did you know that the population of Bolivia is two percent owl?"
  • …and so on.

So there's your new challenge, Gruts readers. I would like you to go out into the world and start slipping the phrase two percent owl into conversations wherever possible. But, to keep it funny, unlike me, you must never explain where the phrase came from.

See also: The Owl of Doom

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. It just occurred to me that the warm beer you drink probably isn't much more than 2% ale! Also...while doing a design course at uni, we were taught that ergonomics & anthropometrics (look it up) are measured in percentiles!
    And now tonight's (or tonite's) challenge... who originally recorded the song Nite Owl in the late 1950s? It accounted for 2% of total record sales in the Pomona area in the year issued. (I made the last bit up)

  2. It wasn't Tony Allen, by any chance, was it?

    OK, I admit it, I Googled it. Doesn't he bear an uncanny resemblance to Tiger Woods?

    I must admit, I wasn't aware of the Zappaesque nature of your nom de plume (although I probably should have guessed). I only have two Zappa albums, and I only bought those because the Captain was on them.

    To your knowledge, did they ever release a recording Zappa made shortly before his death with some Tannu Tuvan throat singers? There was a documentary about it on telly many years ago, and it was fantastic. I have a bit of a soft spot for (and CD of) Tannu Tuvan throat singers on account of their triangular postage stamps and their association with one of my heroes, Richard Feynman.

  3. Oh God...now you've started me off!
    Zappa did perform 'Nite Owl' live in 1980. He loved Doo Wop music & quite often performed obscure stuff live. There's a really good version of it on the 'Remington Electric Razor' bootleg.

    I presume you have Hot Rats & Bongo Fury, but Don also appears on Mystery Disc, Lost Episodes, Zoot Allures (on harmonica), One Size Fits All (Bloodshot Rollin Red, on harmonica) & lots of Zappa bootlegs (info available on request) The version of 'Metal Man' on Mystery Disc is a beaut! There is also an un-edited version of '200 years old' on a bootleg called 'Chronicle' which is breathtaking. If you want CDR copies of any of the bootleg stuff, I may be able to help!

    The Huun Huur Tu material has not been released, but that's not to say it won't be in the future. Do a google search on 'gands music' & select 'other stuff'. that's where you'll find it when it comes out.

    Apparently, their album 'Six Horses in my Herd' features material played for Zappa, but was not the actual recordings made at his home.
    The stuff the Chieftains recorded with Frank in 1992 is available. The 'Radar Station' site is also worth checking out for Beefheart info. I expect your other readers will be bored to tears by now, so I'll leave it there.

  4. I recorded the programme at the time, and still have it somewhere along with the Beefheart documentary from around the same time (the artist formerly known as...) The Huun Huur Tu title should have read '60 horses in my herd...but they are 2% owl'

  5. I recently read an article in the Vole Stranglers Weekly, saying that members of the House of Lords were asked to contribute blankets to the New Orleans disaster fund.
    It was reported that the appeal was a great success, but the report added that where nearly all the Lords sent blankets, two Peers sent towels!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *