Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Words Not Really Necessary

"Hey, I'm trying to eat, do you mind?"
Grace Marie Royer (age

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Impecunious Laugh Vacuum

This morning I was specifically sought out (through e-mail) by the Handbag Test Panel, an altruistic group of intrepid consumer advocates interested only in insuring that the general public-at-large carries only the finest creations by Burberry, Dooney & Bourke (forgive me if I swoon), and the inimitable Kate Spade (Kate Spade… would that be little Katie Spade, Sam Spade’s daughter, the cute little blonde girl who captured America’s heart with her enthusiastic, if slightly out of tune, rendition of Over The Rainbow at the Founder’s Day Pageant in May of 1944?) *SIGH*

Apparently, all I had to do was supply them with a little background information (for demographic marketing purposes only, of course, and none of the data would ever be passed along to others), including a full financial sheet not unlike the one I filled out when purchasing my last home and a love offering of only $24.95 (to cover shipping and handling), and I would be the proud recipient of my choice of one of their fabulous creations.
Be still my foolish heart…

Alas, it can never be. My wife’s arm/shoulder shall not be adorned with the sleek leather/composition magnificence of one of their designers’ priceless creations, because this sort of promotion is prohibited by law in my state. Oh, the humanity…

But life goes on… this, too, shall pass… “Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile” (or so The Bard of Avon would have us believe… Love’s Labor’s Lost, Act 1, scene 1, 72-79… check it out).

No, it’s going to take some time to get over this one. Perhaps a little ‘golf therapy’ might help, accompanied by several hours spent at The Nineteenth Hole in search of solace and multiple pints of Guinness Stout…

In Consideration Of Circumstance

Here in the stillness of this eternal night, little entropic reactions are beginning to occur; annoying mostly, but omnipresent, nevertheless. Considering my present state, I suppose it is a benediction. Not so much feeling as presence, a sensate awareness of change is surging throughout— an attack of sorts… an onslaught of vascular invaders intent upon domination.

Alas, even embalming fluid is transient. Very soon, it too shall be gone, and the last blessing with it. Death was easy, eternity promises no such covenant.

Monday, February 25, 2008

...all about a Monday morning

I don’t care who says that time travel is physically impossible, the guy seated third from the right in The Last Supper is me. I can't figure out how DaVinci painted it fifteen hundred years later and captured my image so perfectly, though. Maybe he knew about time travel, too. In retrospect, if I had it all to do over, I think I would have had him draw me to look a little more like Christopher Walken.
I have absolutely no idea why B.B. King and his band decided to burn my house down (with me still in it)... but as a blues fan, I’m pleased that they brought their instruments along with them. Their music helped pass the time as we waited for the paramedics to arrive. There’s something special about the dulcet tones of “The Thrill Is Gone” while one is being loaded onto an ambulance gurney.


Knucklehead State University (College of Braggadocio) is proud to announce an addition to its spring semester course offerings:

Hyperbole 101
Instructor: B.R. Church, W.G.A.D. Meets T, Th, Su (2:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m.) at Denny's


a) Extremely twisted sense of humor
b) Ability to perform complex tongue-twister exercises while mildly intoxicated
c) Poor eyesight or facility to overlook instructor’s somewhat-grotesque personal habits
d) Willingness to contribute large sums of money to instructor’s relief fund. (Note: Attractive females may have any or all requirements waived, dependent upon attitude, at instructor’s discretion)

e) Like a thousand pencils or something

Sample discussion text:

At the doctor’s office:

“Mr. Church, your blood tests show that your cholesterol, lipids, and electrolytes are all fine… but I am concerned about your highly elevated chutzpah levels. Kindly crawl off N
urse Buffy, and we'll discuss it."


This morning hasn’t started out great for me. I’m dizzy, I can’t feel my arms or legs, my mouth is dry and pasty, my tongue’s numb and I can’t see my hand in front of my face… plus, judging from the wetness, I’d take 8-to-5 that I just peed my pants.

I’m starting to believe that hindsight is always 20/20, because if I had it all to do over again, last night I wouldn’t have drunk that second bottle of furniture polish.


To every thing there is a season, or at least, so Ecclesiastes proclaims. For the past six years is has been our time to kill, our time to cast stones it would seem.

Evidently there is no price too dear for our avaricious appetites, no sacred trust inviolable in our quest for vengeance, no commandment so stringent that we will not forsake it to mollify our sense of political outrage.

Statesmen, if they exist at all, now cower in the weeds of political expediency, waiting until the air is once again sweet enough to lift their heads and determine which way the winds blow. Once-stalwart beings capable of balancing justice and mercy with equal fervor now surround themselves with like-thinking accomplices intent upon forcing their ideology down the throats of others suffering the shock and horror of their presence.

Negotiation skills are taught in a classroom accompanied by car bombs and air strikes, as if a point of view is best heard in the wake of screams. Ecclesiastes also said there is a time to mourn and a time to weep. These days, the tears could fill a dry ocean bed or turn the deserts green... with no end in sight.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Advanced Studies

Some of you may be interested to know that I’ve decided to go back to college. I’m entering a graduate studies program at Knucklehead State, majoring in postmenopausal debauchery.

By the time I receive my PhD, I hope to find myself in a unique position within the senior community, a counselor capable of assessing and treating some of the more misunderstood problems of senior citizens.

I’ve already enrolled in my first course:

Psychology 511 Sexual Assessment and Evaluation (6 hours) – Broken down into two successive teaching blocks, detailing male and female perspectives in determination of hormonal and/or attitudinal assessment.

Female— Examines in depth, the questions “Is it really hot in here or am I merely flashing?”, “The bastard is boinking my best friend!”, “Why don’t I feel sexy anymore?”, “My hussy neighbor is nothing but a tramp!”, “Why does he insist on playing with himself?”, “If he passes out while having an orgasm, should I call the doctor?” and “Fellatio—Teeth In or Out?”

Male—Topics for discussion: "Once A Month Is Not Plenty, Thank You Very Much", Advanced Methods for Keeping Your Balls Inside Your Shorts, "How Much Crotch Scratching Should Be Tolerated?", Strategies For Boinking The Tramp Next Door, "Why Does She Bitch When I Play With Myself", "Of Course I'm Going To Play Golf Today, Why Do You Ask?" and "I’m Sorry, But She Just Isn’t Sexy Anymore."

Hopefully, this will help prepare me for the more advanced courses in Bacchanalia, orgiastic party planning, drunken revelry, Satyrological Behavorial Analysis and Saturnalia. One day soon, you'll be able to say, 'I knew him when'. Stay tuned...

By the way, in reference to the picture, is that a Gibson on that guy's Johnson?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Writing Outside The Box

Everything smelled of sheep. The dandelions were suddenly more sheep than flower, each petal reflecting wool and the sound of a bell ringing off the yellow. But the thing that smelled the most like sheep, was the very sun itself. When the sun went behind a cloud, the smell of the sheep decreased, like standing on some old guy’s hearing aid, and when the sun came back again, the smell of the sheep was loud, like a clap of thunder inside a cup of coffee.

That afternoon the sheep crossed the creek in front of my hook. They were so close that their shadows fell across my bait. I practically caught trout up their assholes.
—Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing In America, 1967, Houghton Mifflin Company (by permission)

If you asked me to define edgy writing, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to answer. “Richard Brautigan”, I’d say. His work should grace the library of every edgy writer. Every morning, one should wake up and pour him/herself a Brautigan tonic as a bracer, slugging it down to shock a lethargic, post-somnambulistic system like astigmatism making itself at home behind your optic nerve or sprinklers going off in a park where John Dillinger’s body lies in repose.

Feel the burn… understand the hunger, own the desire to move the elephant into the living room. Smelled of sheep… do you remember how Grandma smelled when she leaned down and forced you to allow her to kiss you, smiling and cooing, cool fleshy flaps of skin suddenly smearing spit all over your cheek as every atom in your body struggled to bolt? You can’t capture the odor except in the context of the universality of common experience. Brautigan’s brilliance created similes that gave anthropomorphic qualities to plants, rivers, the sun… he related human experiences in the context of the natural world, at a level that requires supernatural realization. He creates a world of ‘could have been’ or ‘might possibly be’ or ‘if x then why not y, even though y doesn’t exist on a plane that some humans accept as real’. He bounds, undaunted, into a twilight world of what the word-snobs call ‘quasi-reality’, the ‘almost real’. And by doing so, he slips the fetters binding other writers with cold, hard reality. He expands the possibilities, linking the grace and poetic beauty of the great masters with the stark, in-your-face slap of everyday living. His elixir alerts you to the burn that makes you edgy. Enjoy it with gusto; wallow in its sensitivity and immerse your mind in his pool, suspend your disbelief.

Reality. What is it exactly? Most people accept a more-or-less universal concept of it, but no one has license over it. The five senses don’t adequately explain reality in total. My reality may not exist for you at all, and that’s okay. Reality’s domain is different for every creature, every plant, every breeze that blows. Some kids grow up thinking that if they don’t get knocked around at least once a day, daddy doesn’t love them. A large number of humans have never seen a skunk or a double-bladed timber axe or a coffee cup, yet they still have a concept of their use if their other senses get involved in the process. Helen Keller could not see, hear nor speak; yet she created a world of beauty for herself, within herself—then she shared it with us. Helen Keller was one edgy lady; her reality existed on a different, higher plane.

I’ve heard good writing described as ‘capturing life on the page’. For the most part, I’d be inclined to agree with this assessment, especially when uttered by creative writing professors or others qualified to make such assertions. Further, I’ve been taught that the singular quality that links all good writing is its ability to make the words ‘jump off the page’. Obviously, there would seem to be a contradiction at work here.

Given the inability of any act to accomplish two different events simultaneously due to the Einsteinian subscription to the limits placed on the natural world, one must assume that if something can jump off the page, it cannot, by definition, be captured. So, given my perceptional difficulties with the concepts, I choose to ignore the contradiction and commit myself to capture life on the page and jump on it, no matter whether or not it offends your sense of reality and/or fair play. Yes, the elephant can come inside my house, so long as he promises not to drink my beer or harass the toilet/tiger.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And From The Hordes Came One

Foreward: Here Come The Jesters, One, Two, Three

“And swap two asses for one who harasses? I think not, you slathering sot!”

From amid the gathered, an anonymous voice challenged, “That’s right, vilify with civili-tie, just know the bile from your simpering smiles best reveal those scenes you steal.” A confused dance accompanied the declaration, carrying the entire troop past the throngs of now-bewildered masses; that is, until one drunken centurion mistook a tiger for a street corner harlot and gave his life as bounty for an ill-conceived attempt at coitus interruptus. Throughout the marketplace, merchants, consumers and those inclined toward more creative (if injudicious) methods of removing goods from their rightful owners paid little attention to the bartering, accustomed as they were to life in the souk.

“A dollywomp for the Judean!” The intensity and clarity of the voice stopped all conversation save low murmurings from adjacent characters non-integral to the scene and best described as low-wage extras supplied by Herod’s seemingly-inexhaustible caches of individuals content to receive a few orts in return for their promise never to form a union. Of course, no written documentation signified their acquiescence given their First Century customary lack of writing skills, but dominion accepted is dominion warranted, so the point became moot in any case. No one except one born of noble blood would dare speak in such tones without worrying of society’s penalties for such effrontery.

“Who… him?” The fat trader reacted quickly, grabbing an underfed member of his entourage and thrusting him to a position of prominence at the front of the mob. “Is this the one you want? Personally, I thought him to more closely resemble a Tunisian, but if you say he’s a Judean, then so be it. Of course, such a capable earner could never be allowed to do service for anyone else without a much more generous bid than I thought I heard… what was it, four dollywomps you offered?” Light shone off the now-grinning pasha’s teeth as he waited for a response.

For his own part, the grotesque effendi seated atop the slave-drawn litter carefully fanned himself, concerned that he might over-react to the commoner’s insolence and order him beheaded. Plus, the hummus and baba ghanoush he’d eaten during the midday repast now sent gas pains coursing through his abdomen with the fury of some giant anachronistic jet turbine that would not be invented for another two thousand years, threatening to fill his pantaloons with flatulence and/or worse, forcing him to focus on his gastric infirmity rather than the task at hand. Still, he had a reputation to protect so he decided to press on. “What are his skills, this Tunisian Judean?”

The question seemed a fair one, judging from the number of turbans nodding within the crowd, and the trader noticed it, too. “Well,” he began, gathering his hands to his chest in the manner of a Christian preparing for prayer (which, of course, he was not), a position he often used when attempting to promote an air of worldly scholarship (which, of course, he also could not) designed to give the impression that he knew what the fuck he was doing and could not be cheated, “are you speaking of his performance art or his abilities as a tradesman?”

“Start anywhere you like,” the elder yawked, waving a fine red linen handkerchief dismissively, “but I warn you, for one dollywomp he’d better be pretty damn talented.” He then proceeded to blow his nose on the crimson square before tossing it to the crowd. Leaning to one side, he cupped his hand over the ear of the strapping eunuch standing next to him and whispered, “Fetch me some tincture of witch hazel, a little Devil’s Tongue and maybe just a pinch of Job’s Tears if you can get your hands on it… I think I feel a cold coming on. Have you ever had a summer cold? No, of course you haven’t, slaves don’t get colds… never mind, just do as I say.”

Grabbing the Tunisian Judean’s cassock in the area that would have been his lapels if it had been the twentieth-century and he’d been wearing a western-style suit jacket, the merchant gritted his teeth and whispered to his charge, “I don’t give two shits what you do, but it’d better damn well be spectacular!” before tossing him forward, where the man landed on his butt causing the audience to titter.

Not ten feet from him, Pusillanimous Pilot stared down. “Do you have a name?”

Looking up, but not yet bothering to rise, the man nodded. “Yes, I have a name.”

Pilot began to chortle loudly, causing the simpering hangers-on to erupt with their own brand of derisive laughter; then raised his hand, signaling them to be silent. “You’re a funny guy, pilgrim, so… if you’re in the mood, I mean… would you mind telling me what your name is? You know… just for old time’s sake?”

Without looking up, he offered, “I am known by many names, but I prefer Art… or Artie if you choose, that’s what my friends call me.”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Unfinished and Untitled...

... and if you're capable of completing the first paragraph/sentence without first poking both your eyes out with an icepick, you'll understand why. I don't really know why I do this, it really shows very little regard for my readers' sensibilities and even less for the 'rules' of good writing. I am, at my lowest common denominator, a pusillanimous reprobate incapable of even a modicum of respect for others, a low-grade fever, a contemptible pustule filled with bilious vitriol. And those are my good points...

Once upon a time, in a land that never really existed but I wish it did because it would make it far easier to provide details in a story rather than pulling them out of my ass and just hoping that they might sound conceivable to a discerning potential reader, there lived a loosely-bound group of genetically-linked hominids capable of most all the mental and physical characteristics available to other members of their species, but who, through eons of diligence and practice, became specialized with speech patterns emphasizing broad speculative interpretations of available data interspersed with factoids only peripherally aligned with any subject being discussed, resulting in overly-long, nearly-imperceptible, exhaustingly-inarticulate sentences that went on and on and on… except when they needed to fart, of course, which was pretty often given the fact that they ate a diet composed mainly of a chili-cheese mixture embellished with corn chips and wrapped in flour tortillas, washing it down with a warm stale beer called Swillyesbutstilltasty.

Now, for all their social unacceptability and borderline sociopathy, they also possessed an innate kindness that forbade them to drown kittens or beat puppies, although the occasional flushing-of-goldfish was permitted as punishment of and object lesson to a disobedient child. This disavowal of violence and general amity and harmony with their neighbors, naturally, led to their rejection by the local Republican Party, forcing their representatives to minority positions in the area legislatures and virtually prohibiting the possibility that a member of their band ever be elected President. In fact, so apathetic was their population and so anti-establishment was their voting base that special laws had been enacted to summarily prohibit participation in the legislative process in any way unless and until they could prove that they subscribed to the State doctrine of Going-Along-To-Get-Along (refined from the previously-popular but highly politically incorrect Don't-Say-Shit-Even-If-You-Have-A-Mouthful).

Did I mention the name of this fascinating yet highly flawed group? Sorry, sometimes in my frenzied fervor to feed you festive fonts of alliterative details, I tend to forget the formalities and fail to identify my foragers. Let’s call them… Etruscans. Yes, I realize that there was a real civilization by that name, native inhabitants of ancient Etruria who influenced the Romans (who had, in recognition of this influence, suppressed them in typical Roman fashion until about 200 BC), but it’s the only one I can think of right now, so it’ll have to do.

There were lots of monsters living in the area immediately contiguous to the Etruscans, too. Ranging in size and intelligence from massive to miniscule, although the two indices were not in every case proportional, these beasts provided daily challenges to Etruscan existence.

Friday, February 15, 2008

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

I’ve decided to stop watching television. Last evening, while stretched out on the couch with my feet resting on the ottoman, it occurred to me that even though the volume was adequate for me to hear the dialogue clearly, I felt like a dog watching a magician perform a card trick— I was mesmerized by the movements, but I had no idea what the words meant. I just kept hoping that someone would throw me a biscuit or whistle for me and open the back door so I can walk outside and take a leak. In fact, had armed intruders burst through the door and sprayed my heart, spleen and pancreas with a barrage of small arms fire, my last thoughts would have been 'Thank God! Where have you been and what took you so long?'

Be they dramas or situation comedies, the ‘stories’ are a series of six-minute segments, each a story within a story that stops immediately before the climax, designed to tweak the audience’s admittedly declining attention span long enough to keep their fingers off the remote buttons. The message is clear: ‘Don’t change that channel or you’ll miss Misty’s confession to Chad that she’s having Brett’s baby’. I’m convinced that the Nielson people now monitor not only the shows that are most often being watched, but also the commercials. Since producers can’t serve two masters, the advertisers win, the viewing public loses and the story becomes mere filler to support the plentiful two-minute flashes of marketing genius.

Even sporting events are affected, with ‘tv-timeouts’ and other orchestrated game stoppages designed to allow Budweiser to sell us some more of Auggie Busch's finest elixir. God forbid that a player gets hurt bad enough to require a cart to haul him off the field, because there’ll be time for an entire infomercial endorsing the benefits of colonic irrigation or no-money-down real estate investment. By the time the game resumes, I’ve either now forgotten or no longer care what teams are playing, much less the outcome.

So, you beat me, Madison Avenue, I give up. I know you don’t care because there are millions to replace me, and I'm the wrong demographic in the first place, but they’re not stupid either, they just have a higher pain threshold. Eventually, they’ll quit you, too, and then you’ll have to find another way to gouge us. Meanwhile, I'm off to the bingo parlor... at least there I anticipate diminished expectations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jury Duty

Yea, yea, yea… call me out, just because I’m twenty lousy minutes late for court. I’m sorry that I kept the wheels of justice from getting greased just because some jerk in a Mercedes took the last parking spot and I had to try to park in the handicapped parking area. I tried explaining it to the meter maid, but she wrote me the damn ticket anyway. Like towing my car is really going to help me be on time, right? So, it’s really the city’s fault that I had to walk from the satellite parking area, causing me to be late.

Sometimes I get so disgusted by what I witness that I just want to crawl into a hole and shovel the dirt over myself. Sitting in the jury box this morning, I watched the expressions of the audience and the other jury members that I could see without becoming conspicuous, who listened to the lawyers and the testimony being offered. Suddenly, I wondered if I were the only one who wasn’t speculating as to what the judge wore underneath her robe.

Juror #4 definitely undressed her as he sat there, his gaze fixed and his cold black pupils beginning to dilate. I couldn’t see his crotch, but if I could, there’d be a tent where no tent should be under such circumstances, you can take that to the bank. I think the guy is either Italian or maybe Greek, and he’s got longshoreman’s hands, but manicured. Who knows, he might be a made guy for all I know, especially if he’s Italian. I considered asking him what he thought of the judge, when we take a break, but thought better of it. It’s best not to antagonize those guys.

Why would a woman want to be a judge, especially a fine-looking specimen like Judge Caruthers? Fortyish, but definitely assembled in a nice petite little package, she wore a purplish-brown (puce?) blouse that stuck out the top of her robe and screamed ‘respect me, you sumbitches!’ I like that, too… ballsy chicks are cool. I think she’s had Lasik because she doesn’t wear glasses, even when she picks up some papers and reads them… and that’s okay, too, because it shows that she doesn’t want to look like a dork in front of the assemblage, not that she’d necessarily look like a dork in glasses, but you know what I’m saying, right? After all, she’s a judge, not a second-shift assembler on the transmission line at General Motors, is she? The public scrutinizes her constantly, so her looks are important, especially to Juror #4, apparently… I may speak to him about it when we go to lunch, he’s embarrassing me a little. I’m not afraid of him, I’ll bet he isn’t such a bad ass without his heat, and I know he had to pass through a metal detector as he came to court. It’s not right for a juror to be removing the judge’s bra and panties while testimony is given (although I'm convinced the judge probably has a fine rack) even though the DA’s opening statement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the bastard did the deed.

The defendant’s sister is hot, too, if you’re into the grunge look. It isn’t my thing, necessarily, but it works for her. Personally, I can take it or leave it, that’s all I’m saying, know what I mean? I can tell by the way she looks away when we make eye contact that she wants me. Have you ever noticed how pent-up sexual tension can do that? Some women try to make you think that they’re really not interested when really they are… I’ve had some actually cross the street as we waited at the bus stop, just to keep from taking all their clothes off and accosting me as we stood there. That really would have been embarrassing.

Oh, look, now the defense attorney is objecting. Yea, that’s right… stand up and make an ass of yourself in front of the entire courtroom. Uh-huh, sure… it calls for speculation on the part of the witness… sure it does, you weasel. What? Sustained? Oh, come on, Judge, we’ll be here all freaking day if you allow him to keep doing this… let’s just get on with it, okay?

I wish I had a mint. My stomach is a little upset from all the sausage I ate this morning. I really need to quit going to buffets, especially for breakfast. Eight or ten link sausages would have been plenty, but when they’re sitting there in the pan and I can have as many as I want, sometimes I just can’t help myself. Judges with cute puce shirts under their robes are like that, too, I guess, according to that lecher, Juror #4. I’d like to break wind, but the schoolmarm sitting next to me would probably have a heart attack if she heard it. She’s a prissy one, and ugly as a mud fence. I’ll bet she’s never farted in her entire life. Who would want to wake up next to her? If you open up the drawer of her bedside table, you’ll find Mister Sure To Please and a lifetime supply of AA batteries. Maybe he can defrost her enough to leave a little moisture on the sheets, who knows? Stranger things have happened, I’m sure…

Wait! What’s that? A continuance? Saints be praised! Now maybe I can make it to the bathroom before my bowels explode! Plus, it’ll give Mr. Wonderful, Juror #4, a chance to calm down a little, too. Honestly, some people just don’t know how to conduct themselves when given a position of responsibility. It's just despicable, and it makes me feel a little ashamed…

I wonder what they’ll be serving for lunch.

Monday, February 11, 2008



Touch it… it’s real… it can’t hurt you.
Feel the oh-so-subtle current that flows into your fingers…
know its somber acceptance of what must be,
even as the skin warms under your touch.
Share its desire to meet you in our special place,
the wilderness we share that is ours alone,
so that when our journey ends, and end it must,
you’ll glimpse eternity and smile.

Can you feel my heart? Merely touch your own
and you’ll know the truth.

All The News Anyone Could Possibly Expect

(UPI) Nkhata Bay, Malawi— Tired of the killing and general lack of respect that humans show for each other, Nhaba-Tsibutu, the large cape buffalo grazing on swamp grass at the edge of the village, made a plea for greater understanding. Then, realizing that his efforts were mistaken for an act of aggression, he charged into a local market and trampled everyone incapable of outrunning him, thereby making it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

(Reuters) Jiangsu, China— The Hang Fang Porcelain Works, makers of the once-famous “I Wish I Were Dead” coffee cup, will suspend operations on March 1, 2008 because of slow sales and the decline of the US dollar. When contacted for comment, President Bush said, “I really don’t give a shit… I already got me one.”

(UPI) Hadleyburg, Ohio—In January 2008, drinking in local rock quarries declined by nearly 40%, according to Hadley County Deputy Sheriff and Officer of Community Relations, Purcell Purser. While admitting that reasons for the sharp decline are not well-defined, it is concluded by law enforcement and other community leaders that strict enforcement of drunk driving ordinances and the fact that the weather has been colder than a well-digger’s ass may well be driving the reduction.

(AP) Ypsilanti, Michigan—Local mother Juanita Carlson tossed and turned all night on Sunday, wondering what her son, Willie, is eating while away at school. Willie, 19, a freshman at The Michigan Millinery Academy, received his mother’s blessing and approximately $4,000 worth of comestibles and preparation utensils when he moved into his off-campus apartment, but Mrs. Carlson fears that he may not know where to find the cooking oil, which she mistakenly put on the top shelf behind the large box of trash liners. Also, Willie hasn’t contacted his mother since the late night hours of January 1st, when he called and informed his mother that “this shit is fucking incredible”, before the line immediately went dead.
Compounding the situation, last night Willy’s landlord called Mrs. Carlson, informing her that a terrible odor even now emanated from Willy’s apartment, and that if she didn’t call Willie and tell him to clean it up, his next call would be to the police. Apparently, the line wasn't the only thing in the apartment that had gone dead.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Death Therapy

Have you noticed that you’re starting to get telemarketing calls on your cell phone now? I am now convinced that telemarketers are no longer paid by the number of sales they achieve from their efforts, but by the amount of time they can keep a prospective customer on the line. In fact, I don’t think they’re really representing specific companies at all, I think they’re all shills for the phone company—the longer they can keep you on the line, the more the phone company charges you.

I got a call last night that went something like this:


“Hey, how are you tonight? This is Larry, down at Merle’s Hardware, and I see that you recently bought some merchandise from us. I’m calling to follow up and make sure that you’re satisfied with your purchases. Would you mind answering a few questions for me, it’ll help us determine customer satisfaction levels and ultimately keep our prices low. Plus, as your reward for helping us out, we’ll be sending you a nice gift.”

“I’ve never stepped foot in a Merle’s Hardware store.”

“I see here that you used your MasterCard for your purchase. Could you please confirm your number and expiration date for me so I can make sure that it’s really you? I wouldn’t want to inconvenience the wrong Bob Church.”

“I don’t have a MasterCard, and even if I did I’d sooner allow you to strap me down and pull all my teeth out with a pair of Channel Lock pliers without the benefit of anesthetic before I gave you the number.”

“Wait… oh, I’m sorry, I was looking at the wrong line on my monitor, I’ll need your Visa card number.”

(After a short pause to recompose myself) “I’m not giving you my Visa card number.”

“It wouldn’t have been an American Express card, would it?”

“Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear… there isn’t a Merle’s Hardware store within a hundred miles of my house, and I certainly wouldn’t drive that far to buy hardware.”

“Well, Mr. Church—do you mind if I call you ‘Mr. Church’, I assure you I respect you and your time— let me ask you this, if there were a Merle’s Hardware store close to you, what credit card would you be using for your purchases and what is its number, including the four number identifier code on the back?”

“Please don’t force me to be rude, I don’t want to descend to your level, but I’m not giving you any credit card numbers.”

“Uh-huh… I understand totally, many people feel that way until they know that tonight only, I am authorized to offer you $50,000 worth of building materials for only $500 if you’re willing to put it on a nationally accepted credit card such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover or major department store. That’s a tremendous bargain, Bob, one that you’d kick yourself for tomorrow if you fail to act tonight.”

“I’m going to dress up like a drunken doctor in a Superman costume with a burrito stuffed into the crotch of his tights and give you a proctology exam.”

“Let’s assume for a minute that there was a Merle’s Hardware store close by, what card would you be using?”

“I fully intend to hunt you down and kill you.”

“From our conversation, I’m guessing Discovery, am I correct?”

“I’m going to find you, rape you and your wife, kill your kids and set your house on fire.”

“Say, that’s swell, scooter, I understand... but you can’t claim the fabulous prize I’m about to offer you without a credit ca—”

Dimple-Cheese Delicacies

Lately, I’ve felt the need to remain incognito, regardless what situation might arise. Trust me, my friends; this is more easily alleged than executed… or something to that effect. The semantics of the wording is totally unimportant in this case, and while I could have just as well (and correctly, I might add) written, “…more easily said than done”, it would risk sounding trite or banal, would it not? Now, look what you’ve done… you’ve forced me off point. But it won’t work! Do you understand me? No, sir! Regardless of your insidious motives, I shall remain true to my quest… and you can take that to the bank, Mister! Wake up and smell the coffee!

Oh, my goodness… I just re-read the previous paragraph and I see that I used exclamation points to punctuate four out of the last five sentences. My God, how amateurish! Oops… sorry, there’s another one. I’m so ashamed. I fear I’ve become so single-minded in my attempt to illustrate my zeal that I’ve temporarily stomped on the Principle of Exclamation Point Economy! Help me, sweet Jesus!

It is, precisely, times such as these, that a lesser writer might give in to temptation and (gulp) edit. (Excuse me for a second… I need a sip of coffee…) (There… that’s nice. I recently switched to a different brand of Colombian, not so much because my current brand was failing to please, but because the brand I’m now using is a little closer to eye level on the shelf and requires less expenditure of ergs in the task’s execution. Overall, I’d assess the experiment as a success, although I have no support for the theory except personal observation, therefore violating the premise of scientific method and rendering any conclusions necessarily vacuous, or at the very least, questionable. I hope the scientists among your numbers can, in time, learn to forgive me for my sloppy execution of time-honored protocol. Did I mention that the new brand also carries an asking price of nearly double that of the old? Never mind, the point is moot in any case... I'll just give up breakfast to make up the difference or, perhaps, start drinking Ripple instead of Boone's Farm... I need to give that a little more thought.)

Anyway… I tried not to attract attention today. This might be a good time to point out that if you’re a novice and still trying to learn the art of disguise, forget about camouflaged wetsuits— I tried wearing mine to the mall, and people could still see me, even when I crouched and attempted to remain very still. I think next time I’ll leave the rubber duckie flotation device at home.

In the words of the esteemed Donny Baker: I gotta go…

Saturday, February 09, 2008

An Hour To Reflect

An Hour To Reflect

I read her Twain in a hot tub…
at least, I do until my glasses fog up.
She likes that, she says,
somehow it makes her feel good,
hearing the words from me.

She says he’d be proud,
hearing me read.

Light stuff, mostly; short stories,
essays, extracts from Adam’s diary… and Eve’s.
Corruption in Hadleyburg, monetary bequests,
conversations on that new-fangled telephone…
she snorts from time to time when I get it just right
and Sam shines across the page.

She says we’re kindred souls,
and I still don’t know whom she meant…
I guess I should have asked.

A sip of wine or coffee, depending on the time of day,
and birds repeating my words in the background,
I pause to reflect and watch her face from the side,
and wonder aloud… “Enough?”

“No, read me that poem again,
the one he wrote after his children died.”

She says post-mortem poetry is the sweetest of all,
and I finally understand why I love them both so much.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

‘Tis Marshly Voravé

*This poem is not recommended for those inclined to sit and stare incoherently. If you, or anyone you know intimately (and by intimately I refer to societal intimacy, not necessarily physical intimacy, although I certainly approve of that, too, so go for it if you take a notion), has previously demonstrated a predilection for said catatonia, I must insist that you read no further.

The Management

‘Tis Marshly Voravé

Muskrim and pelgrave, we dwimble…
Farthing bare for soot so afoot,
Flash sodden! Crash noggin!
Twit! Twat! Twut!

Paramour and belgrade, we gimble…
Nonce put merkin’s rare agog,
Cinch plodden! Brash scoggin!
Nit! Gnat! Gnut!

Plethora rare and bodkin’s sweet hare,
Ambience miffed only to pout,
Kenny loggin’, Marbury doggin’!
Shit! Shat! Shut!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Breakfast Conversation

Henry Ballard sat semi-tranquilly at his kitchen table, staring into the infinite space his mind created where cupboards, cereal boxes, dishes and a pantry might ordinarily inhabit. His fingers tapped ceremoniously in response to a tune heard only by him.

“You know, Trudy…” he began, now staring across the table, “if it weren’t for you, there wouldn’t be anyone in the entire world I could count on.”

“Now, Henry, you know that isn’t so.”

“Oh, stop right there, my dear, I’m calling bullshit! It is, too, so! You know it and I know it… the whole damn world knows it, they just won’t admit it because they want me to die so they can take my money!”

“Why do you say that? John and Becky come to see you every week, and sometimes they even bring the kids.”

“Yea, John and Becky… I keep hearing about the great lawyer and his trophy wife,” then leaning closer, he continued, “you know they’re trying to put me in a home.”

I’ve never heard them mention it.”

“Well, you better wake up and smell the coffee, sister, because times, they’re a-changin’,” Henry bellowed at Trudy, setting his eyes upon her and cocking his head slightly, “and, by the way, may I say that you’re looking a little peaked, this morning, have you been sleeping all right?”

“You know I don’t like it when you get worked up like this, Henry. Why don’t you eat some toast… it’ll make you feel better.”

"Trudy, they say I'm losing my marbles."

"Oh, pshaw... you're fine, my darling, maybe just a little too hard on your family. If I were you, I wouldn't give it another thought."

Staring at Trudy, Henry smiled, one of those closed-mouthed, eyes scrunched, self-conscious grins he’d developed to acknowledge when someone had successfully called his bluff.

"Yes, I suppose you’re right…” the bluster gone and his voice suddenly transformed into a mea culpa squeak as he grabbed two slices of bread out of its protective plastic wrap, “a body needs to eat. Thanks for reminding me.”

Placing the two slices of bread in the available slots, Henry pushed the handle down and Trudy’s heating coils turned cherry red.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Spears Enigma

Try as she might, poor Britney could never grasp even the most rudimentary aspects of the group dynamic. Fortunately, as fate would have it, she was raised in a family capable of instilling in her a highly-honed sense of resentment for authority.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tree-House Gothic

The very term, ‘tree-house’, in this case could only be termed ambitious. The stark enclosure, constructed of the most rudimentary materials--particleboard, previously used two-by-fours, nails picked up off the ground at construction sites, and a few sheets of tin serving double duty as roof and siding—looked much as it did the last time I saw it, fifty years ago. Oh, it’s true that the tin gave testimony of the abuse heaped on by Colorado weather, choosing to give up several electrons of galvanizing and revert to its elemental oxide color. That’s the thing about tin, I think; much like its human counterpart, it can’t be trusted to resist the cold without help.

Sitting tucked between three foundation-limbs nearly twelve feet off the ground (or so I assessed it without actual measurement or knowledge of trigonometric calculation—I tended to daydream a good bit in math class), it persevered the last half century with grace uncommon to most of us. I found a long, straight stick and prodded inside the opening (I’d call it a doorway except for the fact that it had never contained an actual door), and hooked onto the two ropes with intertwined knots that dropped down and formed the basis of a ladder.

How many kids had crawled inside it? How many teenagers seeking refuge from their parents’ judgmental eyes had rolled fat joints between these walls? How many teen-aged boys saw their first real, live bare titties up here? How much semen produced by Hustler photos or Mary Elizabeth Bradley’s hand-jobs stained the floor? Would the lantern Uncle Willie gave me still be there? Hell, would the rope even hold me as I tried to climb it?

One look at the aged hemp left no doubt that the rotting process sufficiently altered the rope’s integrity so as to render it ineffectual as conveyance to the Kingdom, so I returned to my truck and produced the aluminum ladder and extended it skyward. Once in place against the threshold, a quick tap insured its viability and I began to scale the rungs, my senses preparing for my entrance and my mind savoring the anticipation. I couldn’t help but compare my steps to those of Egyptologist Howard Carter as he first entered the tomb of Tutankhamen at Luxor. Are the treasures unsullied by human hands? Will the curse I set into motion fifty years ago still strike dead anyone attempting to enter? Will the floor collapse and deposit my ample ass back onto the forest floor?

I ambled onto the tin floor on hands and knees, carefully testing each movement and noting how much the enclosure had shrunk since my boyhood. Other than some debris deposited by the wind along the back wall, there was only one artifact still present—a torn poster now faded by weather and age, but still hung in precisely the spot I had nailed it so long ago. A smiling cartoon clown, wearing a pointy fez and oversized shoes, posed in a fashion no doubt designed to pique our interest and beg our parents to take us. Underneath, in letters too large to ignore, came the proclamation:

Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus
Denver Coliseum, July 16-20, 1960

A few minutes wasn’t too much to ask of myself as I luxuriated in the rich memories of Dale Irthum, Cheri Duval, Dick-licker Ambrose and the night I convinced Laurel McFadden that she couldn’t get pregnant the first time. Suddenly, I felt the enclosure shake and creak. Perhaps the wind gusted a little harder than I’d anticipated or possibly the ghosts felt threatened by my presence, I couldn’t be sure. Either way, I filled my lungs with the same slightly lean Rocky Mountain air of my youth and backed down the rungs of my ladder.

1960… in a tree-house…

Your Daily Moment of Zen

Your Daily Moment of Zen (turn your sound up)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Have you ever wanted to be someone (or something) else? I've always thought I'd be pretty neat to be a bird. And it wouldn't have to be an exotic bird, either. I wouldn't tax the Creator's patience by insisting He make me a Blue Crown Conure or Patagonian Nanday. I'd settle for being a common pigeon. Yea, a pigeon...

Sure, pigeons are a pain in the ass sometimes, given their propensity toward crapping all over everything in sight and, yes, it's true that they're known to carry some pretty nasty diseases, as well. But they can be useful. Say, for example, you're trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany and you need to get a message to the Allied commanders so that they can come get you... what better way to do it than with a carrier pigeon? Not even the Nazis are cruel enough to shoot down a harmless pigeon.

Yes, there are lots of good reasons to be a pigeon. But maybe the best would be that if I were a pigeon, and got a little too drunk and felt the need to take a squirt on Ben Franklin's statue in the park, maybe I wouldn't have had to bail myself out of jail this morning.

I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Hand-Me-Down Mirth

I’ve only been on one safari, but the experience remains indelible. I think some of us lack the gene that hardwires us to accept the shock of death and disembowelment, so when the giraffes attacked and ate our indigenous guide, Nkwanu, the entire scene left me with nightmares.

Like most people I’d come to believe that giraffes are harmless herbivores. In hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t prudent to roll Nkwanu in acacia sap and fresh mimosas leaves, and then tie him to a 12-foot extension ladder on the side of the Land Rover.

My bad...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hints Of Spleen In Our Best Tureen

The two chookyes, bellies full and not a little sleepy, decided to call it a night. Stretched out on the warm desert, chookye style, with their back legs trained behind them and to the sides, knees bent luxuriously, they rested with heads on their forearms, rubbing their midsections slowly back and forth across the soft sand.

“Are we reticulated?” said the first, his chookye voice even squeakier than usual, the result of spending far too long in the baneberry patch.

The larger chookye opened one eye far enough to form a slit, failing to clear his transparent nictitating membrane, so puny his effort. “I don’t know… I guess I’ve never thought about it. Let me consider it and I’ll get back to you.”

No sounds sullied the moment save those created by friction between their bellies and the sand, the chookye version of Brahms. A full ten seconds passed before the senior chookye re-closed his barely-open eye and replied, “No, I don’t believe we’re reticulated. Somehow, I think that someone would have mentioned it before this.”

Again the lunar stillness fell over them in its fullness, emphasizing their contemplative aspects and soothing their all-too-overwrought chookye dispositions. Both chookyes, their species lacking the anatomical capability of sighing, continued to bask in the glow of their surfeit tummies, nevertheless.

At some point (it’s very difficult to quantify time in the desert night, and even if attempted, its significance would likely be pooh-poohed as unnecessary), junior chookye moved his torso slightly, allowing five or six gas bubbles to escape from his anal orifice and reverberate, announcing their arrival with a hearty staccato.

“Excuse me.” said junior, his voice revealing his embarrassment. Chookyes are nothing if not polite.

For his part, senior felt no obligation to reply further, his lack of response tacit acceptance of the apology, albeit totally unnecessary. Choosing instead to proceed with the more intellectual discussion of Junior’s previous question, senior offered, “Actually, the subject of our potential reticulation means squadoosh to me. I know of several creatures with true reticulant characteristics; a python, a giraffe or two, a shark and even a gecko, but chookyes they are not. I suggest you concentrate on something of greater substance.”

Whether or not junior chookye felt chastised by senior’s admonition, or for that matter felt anything at all, will forever remain a mystery. Handy as nictitating membranes may be for keeping sand out of the eyes, when shut they function only as an impediment to wariness. This night, under the desert moon, the forces of kismet stampeded the chookyes along with a herd of frightened praluks, the hooves of which brought about the demise of both junior and senior.

And this, my friends, is the way of the world. It’s neither terrible nor tragic; it’s just the way the chookye crumbles.