Friday, May 30, 2008

June Word Catalyst is up!

Hi, everyone... I've been out of town since Wednesday and haven't been able to keep up with any of your blogs. Sorry... I'll try to catch up this weekend. Just wanted to let everyone know that the June edition of Word Catalyst Magazine is up! There are lots of good poems, some nice artwork, photography, and one of my stories, "Seasons Beckoned Unto Night" is featured. You may have heard me telling you that I wrote it a year or so after my father passed... and I brought his ghost back for a visit. If you have a few minutes, I hope you'll take a look... thanks!

The artwork above is the cover for our upcoming chapbook of selected works from Word Catalyst.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Boy, Gal

Have you ever questioned your parents' motivation in naming you?

My Boy, Gal

“Oh, it’s not a common name, no, but I think it holds a certain elegance in its tone, wouldn’t you agree?” Eleanor Gimble continued to stir the cookie batter with a large wooden spoon, pausing to tap it on the side of the bowl before offering the spoon for her son to lick. Her son’s question, while not totally unexpected at some point, nevertheless took her unawares. The ten-year-old, normally not given to inquiry on any subjects that didn’t relate directly to his favorite team or players, had recently started to ask questions about many subjects; some harmless enough, Eleanor figured, and others more troublesome. “Why do you ask?”

Taking the spoon from his mother, the boy stared at it closely before putting it into his mouth. “Mom, is cookie batter supposed to move in the spoon?”

Eleanor Gimble grabbed the spoon from her son, carrying it to the kitchen sink. With a finger, she flicked at the batter, grumbling under her voice, “Damn ants.” Handing the spoon back to him, she continued, “Honey, is everything okay at school?”

Still looking at the spoon, he pointed at a speck and held the ladle out to his mother. “Is this ant poop?”

Taking the spoon, she grabbed her reading glasses off the counter and put them on the end of her nose. Pretending to inspect the spoon, she licked the spoon with a long lap of her tongue and muttered, “Hmmmm… Eeee-ooouuuu… I do believe it is!” Then, she put her free arm around her son’s shoulders and mockingly tried to force the spoon back into his mouth. “Here, help me get rid of it before the health inspector gets here!”

Arms flailing and chairs falling over, the ensuing wrestling match lasted only seconds, with mother and child laughing hysterically and hugging each other. A few seconds later, Eleanor Gimble set a chair back on its four legs and stared at her son. “Tell me what’s wrong, pretty please?”

Bashfully, the boy avoided eye contact. “I—, I— oh, Mom, I don’t like my name!”

“What’s wrong with your name? It’s a perfectly good name. Most boys would be proud to have such a wonderful name. Galileo discovered… um… well, he discovered something pretty scientific, I’m sure. He was a great thinker. Don’t you want to be a great thinker someday?”

“Galileo, Mom? You think ‘Galileo’ is a wonderful name? Why not Copernicus or Von Leeuwenhoek? When was the last time you were in the fourth grade, for Christ’s sake?”

Grabbing both of the boy’s arms, her fingers dug into his flesh. “Galileo Gimble, you apologize immediately! I’ll not have you taking the Lord’s name in vain in this house, do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am… I’m sorry”, he answered, contrition steeped into his tone.

“I accept your apology, but see that it doesn’t happen again. If your father hears you talking like that, you’ll be losing some privileges. How about a nickname? What about ‘Leo’?”

Galileo gazed at his mother with a look that could only be called incredulous. “Leo… you think ‘Leo’ is a good nickname? Tell you what, Mom, why don’t you just start calling me ‘Gal’? I’ll be the class homo in about two seconds… if I’m not already! Tell me, how did you and dad come up with that name? Were you stoned or what?”

Immediately Galileo Gimble understood that he’d crossed the line. His mother’s face, now frozen in a ghastly, open-mouthed mask, left no doubt that she considered the question/allegation beyond the scope of any conversation a ten-year-old boy ought to be having with his mother. She said nothing, but her wide-eyed stare caused young Galileo to slowly start backing away from her, his prelude to the upcoming sprint he’d need to escape her grasp. Her accompanying gasp and scream burst the bubble of intrigue and brought him to full gallop as he ran out of the kitchen, hoping the back screen door wasn’t latched. If he could make it out the door, she wouldn’t chase him past the back yard.

With the speed and agility God seemed to grant to all pre-teen smartasses, Galileo successfully negotiated the twenty feet from the kitchen table to the back door, his mother nipping at his heels, still screaming and cursing at him to stop immediately— an instruction that she may just as well have issued to the table or the toaster, because by the time she reached the back screen door, it slammed shut and she was treated with the view of Galileo’s form jumping their back fence.

Dabbing at her face with the dishtowel still draped over her shoulder, Eleanor Gimble took the time to compose herself before taking another step. I’m gonna beat that boy like a rented mule. Then, after taking a few steps back toward the kitchen, a smile sneaked out and by the time she reached the table and pulled out a chair, she had to cover her face in case the little bastard had sneaked back onto the porch, and she laughed like she hadn’t laughed in the last ten years. Stoned, indeed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In The Best of Worlds

In The Best of Worlds

Constant in the darkness, I hear you call
and if I could, I’m sure I would,
I’d re-create it all

Blank canvas, you and I, primed for lust,
I’d paint it all in passion’s hues
and Devil claim the just.

Your sumptuous lips, red as holy wine,
parted, wait in heavenly bliss
to share their spice with mine.

Then, when feather touch yields its providence
to acts so bold they lose their blush,
we’ll be one in every sense.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Final Stand At Fort Surrender

Jacob's Ladder-- Henry Blake

The Thought For Today:

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.
-- Henry Wheeler Shaw (Josh Billings)

The little woman is starting to worry me. Oh, her physical health is fine as far as I can ascertain, but her mental state seems to be exhibiting some signs that the train might just be starting to slip the track.

This morning I got up when the alarm went off, just like I do every morning, but today Louise wasn't in bed. Well, there are certainly reasons why she might have already gotten up, but she hadn't mentioned anything before retiring the previous evening so I was a bit taken aback.

I checked the bathroom and she wasn't in there, so I proceeded out into the living room. No lights were on, but I got the feeling that someone was in there, so I softly called out, "Weezie, where are you?"

"I'm out here... " The voice came from the direction of the kitchen, but it too was darker than the pits of Hades. I flicked the light switch and the kitchen was suddenly bathed in the yellow glow of 75 watts of incandescence, but still no sight of Louise. I proceeded out into the laundry room and found her sitting on top of the clothes dryer, both her hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate and staring out the small window of our back door.

"What's up?"

She stared at my face as though trying to assess its suitability for some future project, her eyes questioning and piercing. "Bob, I died in my dream last night."

Oh, Lord... here we go...

"Dang, honey, I wouldn't pay too much attention to that, I die in my dreams at least a couple of times every week and I still wake up every morning just like you did. If it means anything at all, I think it just means we could stand to lay off the Twinkies right before bed."

She sipped her cocoa and looked up at me again. "Well, I'm not worrying about the dying part... it was the rest of the dream."

Now it was my turn to stare. "I know that very shortly I'm going to hate myself for asking, but what happened?"

The woman got a strange, dreamy look on her face, as though she were actually revisiting the scene. "I was standing at the Pearly Gates and St. Peter met me and led me down a golden street, just as I had always been taught, but then he took me to a large field of beautiful flowers. In the middle of the field, there was a ladder extending as far as the eye could see into the sky. Handing me a piece of chalk, he explained that I must write one of my life's sins on each rung and continue to climb to Paradise."

I have to give her some credit... she has one great imagination. "Well, I'm sure that you must have had a few small sins that you could record, didn't you?"

"Yea, but that's where the strange part started, Bob... I was standing on the second rung examining my conscience, when I looked up and saw you crawling back down!"

I scratched my chin at this point, not really wanting to know, but unable to stop myself from asking, "I was coming back down? What for, pray tell?"

Thats when she got that look in her eyes. "That's what I asked you, Bubba. You said you needed to come back down and grab another box of chalk."

Then she started to laugh; not a polite chuckle or a garden-variety titter, either. Oh, no... this was the full-out, 50-megaton, batten-down-the-hatches horse laugh! She damn near fell off the dryer she was laughing so hard.

It wasn't necessary to say anything else, not that it would have been possible to actually speak to her at that point. By the time I'd finished my shower and gotten dressed, she'd calmed down some, but she avoided eye contact with me, and evidently the act of waving good-bye at the front door is now enough to re-create the entire scene, because as I closed the door I heard sounds that I'd never before heard coming from my wife!

I still trying to decide whether to be relieved or offended.

Friday, May 23, 2008

How To Spot A Gay Iraqi

I don't even know why I'm surprised. Given my particular psychological make-up, a reasonable person might suspect that nothing would shock me. I don't know whether it's the free-flowing peek-a-boo thoub or the matching white short shorts worn in defiance of the Koran or the blue suede pumps with four-inch heels or the designer gutrah emblazoned so jauntily on his head or the eleven gold bands on his wrist or the matching kidskin purse or the designer Pierre Cardin shades he wears with such obvious defiance to all things traditionally Arab, but this cat rocks the boat.

I realize it's probably heresy to mention it, but this dude has real chutzpah! I don't know where the photo was taken, but I can't imagine that it's Baghdad or anywhere in Yemen. For that matter, even in someplace as civilized as Paris, I can't envision a scenario where his jaunt lasted more than a couple of blocks before some slightly-irritable Jihadist sent him to Allah with a well-placed volley from a hand-held rocket launcher.

But, I guess some must suffer in the name of self-expression.

In Consideration of Lascaux

The Thought For The Day:
You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think.

(I know... it's lame, but at least it's original. I can honestly say I thought it up. Whoppee. It's amazing what will pass for entertainment when you're really, really bored.)

Have you ever thought about why we do some of the things we do? I want to know who the first guy was who, after wandering around looking for something to eat for days on end, sees the first cow that man has ever laid eyes on. How long does he have to stare at this gargantuan four-legged bovine creature with the massive horns and big sac of nipples hanging underneath before he says, "Gee... I think I'll pull on those and drink whatever comes out"?

I mean, really... this is before cattle were domesticated, so he doesn't know a cow from a sabre-toothed tiger at this point, does he? Even if he makes the comparison between his own mate's and the cow's hangy-down thingies, how does he know that the stuff isn't poison to humans? I don't recall hearing about any hungry calves that attacked lactating women while looking for a quick, nutritious meal.

Common sense tells me that this is the same guy who ate the first mushroom. "Hmmm... that's an interesting looking thing growing out of that pile of manure, maybe I should pop it into my mouth-- Hey... why is the forest starting to spin?"

Somehow I suspect that once word got out, Mushroom Guy was the most popular dude in the tribe. All hours of the night, some guy would be pounding on the entrance to his cave. "Pssstt... hey, Blarg... you awake? Got any more of those poop-buttons? No, man, it's me, Kwang, I ain't a narc..."

Next thing you know, the whole damn tribe's sitting next to the fire, giggling and writing on the walls of the cave. "Wow, man... that's a cool-looking eohippus! Bitchin'! I've never seen one before with all four legs on one side. Hey, dude, pass me the bota bag... I need another hit of milk!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Quality of Mercy

The Thought For The Day:
I don't do drugs anymore... I find I get the same effect just standing up fast.

I received a letter I'd like to share with you:

Dear Bubba,

I’m writing to you as a last resort. I am an enigma, a formula to be more precise, and I’ve enticed and enchanted mathematical theorists for centuries. You have the most wonderful readership known to man, and I’m hoping there’s someone among them capable of understanding me. I guess I really shouldn’t complain, I’ve gotten lots and lots of attention over the years, but sometimes it seems that no one understands me, at least not in a deep and abiding way.

I’m the equation xn + yn = zn, where n represents a whole number greater than two. That’s it... as theorems go, I’m really pretty simple, but I have no solution. That’s me in a nutshell, but for some reason, men are fascinated by me and no one, no matter how hard they might try, can come up with my solution. It’s depressing...

Like any beautiful woman, I attracted some men who only wanted to fool around with me a little before moving on. They manipulated me in un-Godly ways and forced me to commit perverse acts of atrocity just so they could chart my curves and revel in my many provocative undulations on or about the x-y axis. Take that bastard, Yarosh, for example, who went out of his way to prove me for n=2. Do you have any idea how that made me feel? It was so incredibly degrading. Would you want to be proven for just n=2 and nothing else?

At first, I thought Euler was different from all the others. He spent every waking moment thinking only of me... and I held such great hopes for the future. But, alas, it was not to be; he failed to understand me like all the others.

And don't bring up that tired old argument about Andrew Wiles, either. He’s the worst of them all. Sure, in 1994, he proved me, like that’s the end-all of end-alls... he walks in, manipulates me and gets lucky. Slam, bam, thank you, ma’am... but that's not the same thing as understanding me, as truly knowing what makes me tick. Did he once, in his 20-year obsession, ask me what kind of music I liked? Or inquire as to my favorite scent? No.

In the final analysis, he used that easy Taniyama-Shimura conjecture to get to me—I was reduced to becoming the product of an Oriental gang-bang! That hurt. It reduced a big part of me to a semi-stable case and I thought I had, for all time, lost my identity. In all his years of fondling me (and never to completion), the only time he ever spoke directly to me was late at night when he'd been working too hard, and he was depressed and embarrassed by allowing his Japanese buddies to share me.

Screw Andrew Wiles and everyone who looks like him! I haven’t heard from him for nearly ten years now, and I hope I never do again. More than likely, he’s off solving three-body problems using only odd numbers, if you get my gist... he’s into that sort of group thing.

Bubba, if people care about you, they don’t need proof. They can find out all about you by merely trusting their feelings and communicating. I have lots and lots of experience with mathematicians, and late at night, when I’m really most vulnerable, is when they are at their worst. They’ll tell you anything. They say they want to understand you, but it’s really only the thrill of the hunt... the conquest. They never stop to ask me HOW I can be understood. It’s then I want to scream at them, “Hey! Put down that calculator and just talk to me! I’ll tell you anything you want to know if only you’ll think about ME for a change!”

Maybe that’s how they all are. They use their fanciful explanations, always dancing around the true essence, but they never really get to know you. Okay, I admit, I’m not the easiest theorem in the world. There... I said it, are you happy now? But I hardly think I’m impossible! At one time, no one could prove the Pythagorean Theorem, either... nowadays, nine-year-olds understand his entire essence. Maybe it’s our age difference, I don’t know... he’s a very old theorem.

I just know I can't give up hope. However, I also know I can't rely on imaginary numbers to make me complete, either. That's just not the kind of theorem I am. Deep down, I have some really complex variables. There may be no solution for me for whole numbers greater than two, but I've learned to live with that. All I need is one, just one person who truly understands me, and I'll finally consider myself a complete, happy, balanced equation.

Bubba, do you know anyone who can complete me? I’m not asking that he be rich or good-looking, or even smart, for that matter... I just want to find a quiet, unassuming mathematician (please, no engineers) who holds the key to my future happiness. I’m begging you, please help me.


Fermat’s Last Theorem

Folks, I don't ask for much... could one of you please answer this cry for help? You could possibly save a life this morning. Honestly, I think she's desperate. Look into your heart and sharpen your pencil... you can do it, I know you can.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm sure this won't piss anyone off...

This cartoonist is really cool.

Wrinkles in the Wainscoting

When I bought my house a few years back, I moved in with the expectant anticipation of converting the domicile into our dream home, just the sort of self-contained paradise that mature Americans shape in hopes of someday morphing into a life of dignified retirement.

Nothing could have prepared me for the secret the dwelling harbors—it is haunted. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Bob has flipped his trolley. Honestly, at first I might have agreed with you. Throughout my life, I have practiced a form of pragmatism that tends to discard outlandish reports of anything that couldn’t be proven scientifically.

Be that as it may, we have a ghost, a spirit, a spooky wraith. And if that isn’t bad enough, he’s one of the most boring individuals I’ve ever encountered. He doesn’t really do very much; once in a while we come home to find the dog’s dish turned upside down or junk mail spread out all over the dining room table or the refrigerator door slightly ajar.

Recently, I found out that he rips coupons out of the stack of old newspapers we keep stacked in the basement. I went downstairs to check the furnace filter and found coupons for mushroom soup and air freshener lying on top of the water heater. Every single one of the coupons had expired, so either he can’t read the fine print or he has no concept of time. Just once I’d like to go down there and find that he’d selected a coupon for a quart of Johnny Walker or a two-for-one advertisement for Trojan condoms.

We first knew that we had a haunt last winter when we couldn’t keep the temperature in the house above 64 degrees Fahrenheit. We’d set the thermostat for 72 and come back an hour later, after feeling a chill, and find the dial back on 64. After this went on five or six times, we just left it and my wife started wearing a heavy sweater or coat inside the house. I’m as green as the next guy, but 64? In January?

Convinced that we were losing our minds, we decided to hold a séance. We bought a Ouija board at the Dollar Store and lit some candles on the dining room table one evening. Spooky as hell… the dog wouldn’t even come into the room. We’d been advised to ask yes or no questions, so we constructed all our inquiries in that fashion, but invariably, when we made contact he’d blather on and on about the declining quality of the lunch buffet at Golden Dragon or the virtue of paper rather than plastic or how kids don’t really need recess. After twenty minutes or so, I think he lost interest because he stopped answering our questions. In the den we heard the TV come on and the channel change to The Food Network, with Chef Emeril Lagasse detailing his latest culinary creation, Butter Bean Ragoût.

I wish that just once he’d leave us a cryptic message on a steamed-up bathroom mirror or offer up a plaintive moan capable of scaring the bejesus out of the kids during Halloween trick-or-treat activities. Instead, we get an improperly recoiled garden hose or the cap being left off the toothpaste or my hand tools taken off their hooks in the garage and strewn on my workshop countertop.

It’s embarrassing, really… I haven’t even called a psychic for help. I’m afraid any self-respecting parapsychologist would laugh at us.

So, up until now, I’ve just kept my trap shut about him. Do me a favor and keep this to yourself, if you don’t mind. I wouldn’t want anyone to think me strange.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Hell Only Tuesday Can Bring

As most of you already know, I'm an aspiring screenplay writer. While it's true that I couldn't find a home for "Gunther Spooge" or "Nighttime for Giardia" or "Ass-Crack Lament", I have high hopes for "Park Bench", the psychological drama featuring the relationship between several unique and aging layers of enamel and latex paint forced to deal with their feelings of hopelessness as they endure the weathering and cold of the Midwest winter. The premise relies on the audience's ability to project their own emotions upon inanimate objects while aging causes the layers to chip and peel, revealing the underlayer's desire to once again re-live a life of exposure to the elements.

I think the draft could use a good punch-up, particularly with DuPont 4653 Off-White Satin Latex, who is still having problems getting the other layers to relate to her, and the second act falls a little flat when Benjamin Moore Aliphatic Urethane Gloss #CM74-00 becomes hopelessly infatuated with the physically and emotionally inaccessible black Shop-Kote metal primer. If I can raise the stakes to a white-hot blaze with the smoldering sexual tension created by the intimacy of their polyacrylic bonding, I think my little masterpiece will be bound for Broadway!

If not, I guess I'll just have to keep on sniffing glue until something else comes along.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Word Catalyst Time!

Hey kids, it's time again for submission to the June edition of Word Catalyst Magazine . If you have a short story, poem or piece of artwork that you created, send it along to me and I'll take a look at it or see to it that it gets to the appropriate editor. I make the decisions on prose, so if you've got a story you're proud of, please send it to me along with a short biography to go along with it. The cutoff date is May 23, so there isn't much time remaining.

You can send it to broncobob4755 (at) . Thanks!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Forest of Dreams-- A Cautionary Tale

Forest of Dreams-- A Cautionary Tale

A rather somber day for May even in Thanatopsea, with a morose pall hanging from the low and ever-present clouds forecasting a coming blow, breezes of change even now forged their way across the landscape. A Barnaby squirrel nonetheless braved the harbingers of inclemency in search of whatever adventure might come his way, as well as a few morsels of vegetative sustenance. The trail he followed from his tree-base, normally well marked and situated in such a way as to invoke the recollections of countless other such trips, today held no distinguishing characteristics. It was as though he’d fallen out of his refuge in the canopy into a world he’d never seen. Oh, the ground cover was similar enough, but with none of the telltale trail forks and distinguishable assemblages of natural flotsam to which he’d become accustomed. Still, it was pleasant enough, all in all, with no lashes of cold to worry about and little danger of getting too much sun, a perfect day to explore.

Making his way through the shoots and roots, the squirrel soon realized that a clearing lay dead ahead, a crossroad of sorts, with its meadow grass and occasional wildflower. Surveying its breadth, our hero’s gaze quickly centered upon the creature lazing happily atop a soft mat of grass at the far side, at a point where the trail funneled past the river. If he was to proceed without the stealth provided by shrubs and fens he would need to be wary, for if his eyes could be trusted, the creature was a wolf, and a rather large one at that. The squirrel knew of wolves only by reputation, having never actually encountered one, but the size disparity alone heightened his senses as he crept closer and closer. Perhaps if he retained a posture as close to the ground as possible, the wolf wouldn’t see him at all and he could resume his journey once the danger had passed. Squirrel stealth ranks high amongst that of other forest denizens, a statistic that further emboldened his advance. Once within a few yards of the wolf and having noticed no perceptible movement on the part of the apex predator, the intrepid adventurer decided to up the ante and see if he could elicit a reaction.

“Chitter-chitter-chippity” he squeaked, his senses now heightened, his awareness piqued.

For his part, the wolf didn’t move except to twitch one ear ever so slightly, specifically the down-wind ear closest to the squirrel. In fact, a lesser species, a rabbit or chipmunk perhaps, might not have noticed the movement at all. But to a squirrel, the spasm screamed Danger at the top of his lungs.

Then, sitting up abruptly and facing the squirrel, the wolf chuffed and stared at the squirrel. “Do you mind if we speak in English? Your dialect taxes my vocal cords and I find your language, with its distinct lack of predicates, to be difficult. Besides, the narrator isn’t smart enough to tell this story without dialogue, so if it is to progress as anything more than a tired cliché of a parable, we need to be able to converse. What do you say, feel like giving it a shot?”

Rising onto his back legs (confident of his ability to outrun the wolf to safety should he show signs of aggression) with sangfroid aplenty, the squirrel countered (in English), “If I engage you in conversation, do you promise not to try to eat me?”

This caused the wolf to pull his lips back, baring his teeth. He meant it as a smile, of course, although an interested observer of less than two percent his mass surely might have mistaken it for an outward display of aggressive intent. Unfortunately, wolves’ anatomical limitations and habits leave their actions open to misinterpretation. “You want guarantees… from the most feared creature in the forest? Surely this must be your first adventure out of your mother’s earshot. If I were to promise, would you believe it?”

“Well,” the squirrel quipped, now trying to sound authoritative, “in my part of the forest, all the creatures are true to their word, even the wolves. Oh, they’ll eat a squirrel, certainly, if hunger dictates, but they don’t cloak their intentions in subterfuge and they’d never purposefully lie, especially when asked a question that would present a moral dilemma. So, I guess my answer would be ‘yes’.”

“You guess?” The wolf now sported a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses, making him resemble Ray Charles in a distinctly canine way.

“Well, with about 80 percent certainty, I’d say.”

“80 percent, huh? Well, now I know that I’m not talking to a total idiot, at least.” Cool as the other side of the pillow, the wolf struck a match and lit a cigarette. After a long, slow draw, he removed the cigarette from between his lips, grasping a loose piece of tobacco from his tongue, and asked, “Tell me, then, oh one of such belief in his fellow creatures, where do you think you are?”

“Who taught you to grasp something as small as a sliver of tobacco with your paw? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a member of your species who could accomplish that. You’re very talented.”

With a certain slyness, a look attributed exclusively to his species, the wolf cocked his head slightly and narrowed his eyes as he stared at his tiny inquisitor. “Yea… so I’ve been told. Now, could you kindly answer my question? You’re starting to try my patience, and trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to piss me off.”

“Sorry,” the squirrel offered, a new sense of danger reminding him that he was conversing with a wolf. “I’ve not ventured into this part of the forest on previous occasion, so I’d most appreciate it if you could enlighten me.”

Extending his chin, the cigarette dangling precariously, the wolf scratched himself absent-mindedly with his paw, giving the impression that his answer should be known to anyone with an IQ higher than a slug. “That’s a little more like it… you’re in the land of dreams.”

“The land of dreams, huh?” the squirrel chattered, “How very… useful.”

Taking several steps toward the wolf, the newly created tyrannosaur grabbed the stunned animal with his mouth, ignoring the yelps and screams of a creature being ripped asunder by teeth capable of disemboweling a grizzly bear. Flipping his head back, the thunder lizard tossed the hide onto the ground and swallowed his meal.

Then, crouching against Mr. Wolf’s tree, the extinct freak of nature licked his lips and belched… the gas leaving an ambience of wolf to pierce his olfactory senses. The thought occurred to him that perhaps an after-dinner cigarette might be nice. Soon, it would be time to proceed back into the forest.

Moral: Don’t be afraid to live your dream, just make sure you don’t get caught up in someone else’s.

Bob Church©5/18/08

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Hard Seven

Just imagine… you’ve spent five years at MIT doing post-doctoral work in particle physics and advanced computer science, another two in training at NASA’s astronaut training program and three years in learning every circuit, every module and every button contained in the cockpit of the nation’s newest and most advanced space shuttle. You’ve shunned your family, friends and all activities that don’t directly pertain to your upcoming Jupiter launch.

Then, after the exhilaration of being strapped into a puny little cabin, you’re launched with a rocket on your ass the size of Rhode Island until you suddenly find yourself whizzing through space at half the speed of light. Hey, what the hell was that—Mars??

For another three years you pass through deep space, pissing in a sack and distilling the contents to form the water you’ll drink tomorrow, noting that after awhile it begins to taste a little like Sierra Mist®. Finally you pass Saturn’s outer rings and start the final leg of your journey, the express route to Jupiter!

Then, you become the first person in history to discover the meaning of all life. Just inside Jupiter’s atmosphere you encounter a 100,000-mile-long crap table and a slot machine the size of earth’s moon, it’s dial spinning and occasionally landing on two cherries, causing coin-shaped meteorites marked exactly like American quarters to be launched into space.

The accumulation of all mankind’s discoveries put together fall short of the significance of your singular determination, a discovery that will prohibit you from ever again getting a good night's sleep:

God has a gambling jones…

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do you take this man to be your... ummm... your...

Good morning, world citizens, I heartily wish something sweet and squishy for every last one of you. I’m in a good mood this morning, a departure from my prevailing demeanor during the last few days. Yea, yea, I know, you don’t have to say it…

Anyway, be that as it may, I think the reason for my euphoria has something to do with the California Supreme Court ruling yesterday that same sex marriage is, indeed, a concept to be sanctioned, if not overtly embraced by my friends sitting on the right side of the aisle.

Think about it... couples possessing two penises (or no penises whatsoever) can now enjoy the same privileges, responsibilities, disappointments, expenses and divorce rates as the rest of us. Could it be that Almighty wrath might be delayed long enough for our society to realize its possibilities or will the timing of The Apocalypse and subsequent Second Coming be brought forward to coincide with the huge lean to the left of our nation’s upcoming election? Yea… yea, I know… you don’t have to remind me.

I am not now, nor have I ever been a gay American. I’m not sure I even know any gay Americans. But, I do know that I have five grown children and three of them are not married. If one of them were to suddenly announce that he or she was in love with a person of the same sex, I’d want them to be able to enjoy a life with all the complexities that I enjoy, but without the burden of being branded as a deviate. Isn’t that what it all really reduces down to? We all want to be accepted for what we are, not what others think we should be? This is about what the Constitution supposedly provides for all Americans, isn't it? Isn't that the bigger issue?

And don’t try to give me that sanctimonious crap about sexual deviancy (sexual predators and child molesters) being the hallmark of homosexuality. While I don’t pretend to have the latest statistical data, it is my gut feeling that there are plenty of sexual deviants on both sides of the homo/heterosexual Mendoza Line.

For a few months, at least, this country can boast of at least one state that holds its head a little higher this morning in terms of recognizing human rights and dignity. However, lest you think me Pollyanna, I also realize that every effort will be made by certain governmental factions during the next session to push through legislation negating the advances brought forth by the Supreme Court, I would suspect nothing less.

But, for today, if today alone, I choose to smile.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Untitled and unfinished...

...and depending on your comments, may stay that way:

Insane jealousy, a natural (if unfortunate and ill-advised) corollary of passionate love, yields none of its power to reason or recognition. In fact, often it is strengthened by the light, usually to the long-term benefit of neither faction directly involved with events occurring immediately after discovery.

“Why, that dirty bastard!” Rage flew from Joan Underwood’s mouth like energy from a broken steam line, invisible but none-the-less lethal. Now standing with her hands on the table, Joan stared at her sister, her grotesquely contorted face and suddenly wild and dilated eyes signaling her threat to attack anything that moved.

Chance Marie Calder diverted her eyes to the utensils on the table long enough to see if Joan intended to grab one. Their history, though loving, contained enough drama and strife to warrant caution. “Joan, you need to sit down. Please… you’re making a scene. Do you want the whole damn town to know your business?”

For her part, Joan continued to seethe, teeth clenched and her body beginning to shake in mini-convulsions that started in her face and radiated throughout her torso. Moving her head across the table to within inches of her sister’s, and taking long, slow breaths through her nose deep enough to cause her breasts to heave, she glared and spat, in a voice barely audible, “Who is she?”

“Joan…” Chance said, her voice still calm and resolute, “sit… down. I refuse to be party to a meltdown. If you can’t control yourself, get the hell out of here. I’m not your keeper or your whipping boy.”

Einstein would have been proud. The dining area, now only a quarter the size it’d been before relativity took over less than two minutes ago, now contained tables and booths filled with diners whose ears had increased in size the four-fold inverse of the room’s diminution. As Chance looked around and moved her head signaling Joan to do likewise, she silently sent the signal Salvador Dali would feel right at home here. Now, how do you want to proceed with this freak show?

Movement, as reported by any measure of visual acuity, momentarily halted. All eyes now focused on Joan Underwood, virtually expecting all hell to break loose in the vicinity of the booth in the back corner, Server Station A1. Joan closed her eyes and held her breath, hoping to slow her heartbeat and respiration. Pursing her lips, she rapidly expelled all the air her lungs contained and sat down, brandishing a sheepish mea culpa expression and cheeks stained with unwanted tears.

When the inertial protraction refused to die, Chance shouted at no one in particular, “Hey! Eat your damn dinner, show’s over! I guess none of you have any problems?” Instantly, forks tinkled against plates, conversations spontaneously generated and servers hustled coffee pots and dinner checks to waiting diners. At Server Station A1, Chance Calder walked around the table and aided her sister’s re-seating and resultant decompression, her arm hugging Joan’s shoulder and shielding her from prying eyes while she wept.

“Listen to me, Joanie, you’ve lived through worse than this. Do you recall the events surrounding your fiasco with Dutch? At least this time, you weren’t a punching bag.”

Joan raised her head and wiped tears from her cheeks. “Is that supposed to be re-assuring? The son of a bitch didn’t hit me so I’m supposed to filled with gratitude?”

“Of course not! You know damned good and well that’s not what I meant. I’m just happy that he didn’t…” The sentence needed no ending. “Come on, what do you say we go back to my place and drown our sorrows? I’ve got a half-gallon of Captain Morgan that’s begging for a little abuse.”

“Chance, I gave him $25,000 less than a week ago.”

Now it was Chance Calder’s turn to lower her head. “Oh my God…” was all she could muster. Only one thing was certain at this point—she needed to get her sister out of here…quickly.

Without speaking, she reached into her purse and fumbled with her wallet. Producing a ten-dollar bill, she placed it on the table and tugged at the shoulder of Joan’s coat. “Come on, let’s go.”

“But, we need to—“ Before she could finish the statement, two zombies stood up from the booth and walked toward the exit, totally disregarding the disdain created in their wake.


Sunlight is the natural enemy of nightmares, beasties, bleached blondes and things that go bump in the night; it is simultaneously the sworn foe of those who spend their nocturnal hours imbibing strong spirits instead of sleeping. Joan Underwood’s eyes opened momentarily before closing, her sister’s hands firm upon the bed covers that had, until seconds ago, shielded them against the invading sunbeams. “Goddamn it, Chance, get the hell out of here and let me be!” Reaching for the blanket, she lunged both arms forward, grabbing only air as Chance Calder stepped deftly backwards.

“Get up.”

“Kiss my ass.”

“We have things to do.”

“I only have one thing to do, and if you’ll give me back my blanket, I intend to do it!”

Without another word, Chance walked to the bedroom window, blanket in tow. Once there, she raised the window, calmly gathered the blanket into a window-sized wad and tossed it. After watching it drop, she folded her arms across her chest and stared back at Joan, her face suddenly transformed into the visage of their mother. “If you don’t want to be next, I suggest you get up and head for the shower. I’m just about done puttin’ up with your bullshit.”

Joan, the older of the two by several minutes give or take, tittered audibly and turned her back to her twin, raising the middle finger of her left hand in defiance. “When you walk down to pick up my blanket, try to avoid stepping in any do—”

Before she could react, Joan felt herself being pulled to her feet by her hair. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she struggled unsuccessfully against her sister’s onslaught, as the ungainly, snarling, two-headed creature began its journey toward the bathroom, where even now the shower awaited, its cold water faucet happily offering a morning tonic to the battle’s loser.

Alfred Hitchcock, in 40 years of producing psychological thrillers never once filmed a scene so chock full of blood-curdling terror as that created by Chance Calder while she held the glass shower door shut amidst her sister’s screams, kicks and fists pounding against the glass. Happily, the unfortunate Joan managed to find the hot water faucet within a few seconds and soon the caterwauling magically transformed into a litany of cursing interspersed with blubbering and the occasional terrorist threat.

Chance closed the toilet lid and sat down. This promised to be a very long day.


Monday, May 12, 2008

"Hey...You... Stay Offa' That Roof..."

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t allow me to climb up on the roof, and that really pissed me off, because there wasn’t any reason for it, frankly. It was just another of their stupid rules designed to keep me from enjoying my childhood. It’s not like we lived in a three-story mansion with peaked dormers and lots of interesting architecture that I could have explored around on… it was a nearly-flat one-story bungalow that was a straight shot from one end to the other. Hell’s bells, I could have run from one end to the other, jumped off, did a double somersault and landed in the hollyhock bush and jumped out without a scratch, so what’s the big deal? I had more of a chance of getting hurt by falling off the monkey bars or the top of the slide at school, for Christ’s sake!

There’s nothing up there I could hurt except for the TV antenna and the wind had already pretty much blown it down anyway. We didn’t even have a chimney. It’s true that the electrical and telephone lines did extend from the power pole to the roof, but after the Nuttall kid got electrocuted, I knew better than to touch the power lines.

Truth is they didn’t have a single valid reason for forbidding me to go onto the roof. I’d already heard my fair share of lectures regarding what the neighbors might think and the cost of emergency room visits and how sad it’d be if I broke my leg and couldn’t play baseball and even how fragile the roof shingles were if walked upon. I guess that’s why they only last forty years, huh?

I could have retrieved a few of the roughly twenty or thirty balls I’d thrown up there just to see if they’d roll all the way through and down the downspouts—they didn’t—and I would have had a great vantage point for finding out when Joyce Nuttall (the college student who lived two doors down) was wearing her bikini while getting a suntan so that my dad could find an excuse to go down there and help her fix something.

In fact, climbing on the roof wasn’t really all that dangerous when compared to other statistics like getting bit by a rabid dog or accidentally eating rat poison or having one’s skull crushed by a submerged rock while diving off the cliffs into the water at one end of the rock quarry pond, and we did that stuff practically every week with little more than an ass-beating if our parents found out.

But, I wasn’t allowed on the roof, no matter how hard I pleaded. Maybe that’s why I wrote ‘fuck’ on the shingles of our house and dug up the asphalt at the edge of the driveway and threw about half of the rocks out of the window wells and put dog crap in the mailbox and left the lid open on the freezer chest in the garage and…

Wheel of Outrageous Fortune

I can now happily say that life has finally come full circle, and the defining event occured at the exact right time. I've long wandered through life wondering why I'd never realized any of my goals, why life seemed to confound me at every turn. Homeless, jobless and without hope, despair became my constant companion.

And then it happened... karma aligned with kismet and fate spoke to me.

I am now the full-time operator of the very same Ferris Wheel on which I was conceived. Sometimes, things just sorta work out.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dum spiro, spero

I recently returned from a joyous experience in a nether zone interspersed precariously between heaven and earth. During this time of reflection with family and dear friends, I re-learned my basic tenets of life and realized, once again, that all joy must be balanced against heartache, all revelry countered by piety, all beauty placed on our mantles be reflective of our understanding of the basest of human reality. No sooner had I started to sort my memories and categorize my blessings than a phone call reminded me that a friend now faced the grief of losing a loved one. In a flash, my perspective shifted and the halo I'd surrounded my family with suddenly seemed weak and penetrable as I groped for words of comfort.

Every day, every hour we teeter between nirvana and ruin, and no matter how smart, how accomplished, how esteemed our position or how deep our stores of wealth, we cannot escape our humanity. We can deny it, forestall it, or for a blessed few actually understand it, but we cannot prevail against it. All we can do is interpret it and enjoy it, whatever challenges it presents. It's called life and those of us who still claim it should give as much of it as possible to others, because only by doing so will we ever hope to receive a richer version of it in return. It's as close to immortality as any of us can ever hope to get.

Go kiss your loved ones... let them know you understand.

Monday, May 05, 2008

He's Ba-a-a-ck!

Basic to the art of human communications, I think, is the premise of collegial harmony; that implicit knowledge that all partners to a conversation will be allotted equitable shares of time to relate interesting or otherwise noteworthy information to a group. Also basic is the understanding that this will never happen, especially when long-time friends meet after a long period apart and feel the necessity to humiliate a single member of the group (me) with a disturbingly enthusiastic fervor. (Plus, although I can't prove it to a judicial certainty, I think one of them tried to poison me with a piece of dead cow so horribly burnt that little remained except chunks of charcoal clinging to the plate.)

In the course of a three-day meeting (well, fishing trip, technically) organized by yours truly (with no small effort on my behalf, I might add), these five Philistines and/or Neanderthals tore me apart with the delight of jackals fighting over fresh-killed prey. And if I should happen to come up with a snappy retort capable of leveling the playing field slightly (and it didn’t happen often due to my innate shyness and desire not to lower myself to their level), I was shouted down at every turn as they laughed, toasted each other’s wittiness with drink strong enough to knock down the average bull rhino and forced me to share their libations before withdrawing even further into my own inner sanctum.

Yet, through it all, I remained strong, overlooking their childish remonstrations and remembering that there must be a reason why I’ve put up with their abuse for such an interminable period of time. Then I remembered the reason… they all owe me vast sums of money.

I’m home, I’m safe (relatively) and now I can begin to lick my many wounds. I’m sure I’ll get over the horrors of the experience in due time, but I wouldn’t repeat the experience again, driving the 470 miles each way to such a horrible, God-forsaken place until… well, actually, I’d leave this afternoon if I can get some better company, or even the same ungrateful wretches if they’ll go, because that’s just how I roll. I’ll give them a second chance… I’m the bigger man.

Seriously, folks, I had a great time. We had a rough spot of weather that cost us a day of fishing (tornados killed 8 people within fifty miles of us), but Mountain Harbor Spa and Resort at Lake Ouachita, Arkansas, is about as good as it gets-- and it's affordable. They offer amenities too numerous to mention, the area is absolutely gorgeous and the accommodations are world-class. We hired a guide service to put us on some nice striper fishing (which they did, a tip of the hat to Mike Cogburn (501) 627-2212... call him!) and I highly recommend it to anyone.