Sunday, December 31, 2006

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Out with the old year and in with the new. And where does that get you? The old one was a perfectly functional year. Why, just last October it was winning accolades at the annual awards ceremony. It was sunbathing at Saint Tropez last July. It fell madly in love in April. Why, just last February it finally shed its training wheels.

Sure, it's a little long in the tooth now, but this new year is an unknown property. Do we expect preciousness to get us through the cold winter months? Couldn't this cherub be foisted on us in May or June instead of January? What we need now is experience. Let's keep the old year until it keels over and dies, what do you say?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Papa Legba

I was standing on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street, waiting for the Loa bus. I was cold, so I began shuffling my feet and clapping my hands together. In doing so, I worked up an interesting rhythm.

A dog sidled up to where I stood and looked up at me expectantly. I figured he was hungry, so I tore off some of the fried chicken I'd been eating and gave him some. He seemed grateful, but rather than look to me for more, he put his ears back and stared down Seventh.

From that direction came slowly an old man, hobbling along on a pair of crutches. His face and arms were covered in sores and bruises, and he was having a hard time breathing. As he approached, the dog went up to him and licked his hand. I stopped shuffling. He chuckled.

"You don't want to stop now, son," he said to me weakly. "You're almost there."

I had no idea what he meant, but the spark in his eye made it clear that he did. The dog wagged its tail. The old man sat himself down on a bench I hadn't noticed was there. I sat down too. I looked down Sixth, then straight ahead. He looked at me looking.

"What you want," he said, "is not far off."

"The bus?" I asked. "I imagine not."

"No, not the bus. What you want. You know you can have it."

I stood up and started to walk away. Then I stopped and walked back. I looked down at him and he met my gaze, smiling. He drew a pipe from his coat pocket, struck a match to it and smoked, all the while studying me. This weak old man was not weak at all. He had resolve to beat the band.

I wanted to tell him I didn't know what he was talking about, but something stopped me. Because I knew what I wanted. Maybe he was right. The dog looked at me, then at the old man, and then back at me. The Loa bus pulled up to the corner and the door opened wide. A wave of warmth hit me.

"It's my bus." I said quietly. "I have to go."

The old man nodded. "I'll see you," he said.

He and the dog watched me climb aboard and take a seat near the front. I turned to wave, but the old man had picked up his crutches and was walking on up Seventh. The dog trotted down Sixth.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Nondecisional Escalation

The great decider, a uniter not a divider,
has reached a decision on the division that splits us.
This after the fact-finding mission to back
another cynical division deployed in Iraq.
General consensus on green zone defences concur
a surge is what's needed in order to urge
the insurgents to cease their insurrection.
But the meeting in Crawford to be nondivisional
means the final results must be nondecisional,
and that means no means to an end must occur.
But damn, there's always that next election.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Billybob Pod

WANTED FOR PIRACY:
* Billybob (aka Captain Mr. Bill, aka Willyboy, aka Junkie Dan)
* Suspected of years worth of nefarious deeds of daring-do on the high seas.
* Distinguishing features: Missing a few fingertips due to mishap involving a shark.
* Believed to be recently armed with ultraviolet vision after emerging from some sort of pod.
* Should be considered dangerous. Do not mess with him.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gort

The total blanket our parents left us waits crouched with the linen, an everyday object that we are content to imagine. We air it out now and again, hang it on the line for the neighbors to see and marvel at. Then we remothball it, return it to its shadow world, sigh and say we hope we never have to use it. Klaatu barada nikto.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oni

Jombo was not only the village witch doctor, but the son of a hyena. He laid eyes on Oni and wanted her for his wife. But Duna, Oni's father was cheap and would not put forth so much as a rooster for her dowry. So Jombo felt he had no choice but to cast a spell upon Oni, and so turned her to a halfhag.

One day, Kwame, a halfdweeb, passed through the village...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Xmus Yums

Here are three of the world's most popular Christmas sweet treats, guaranteed to turn any frown upside down.



Umm-uhmm. Bone marrow crackers. Okay, they taste like sawdust, but reindeer love 'em. Leave a plate of these out tonight and there'll be no leukemia in store for Donner or Comet.




Oh. Wow. It's old fashioned rhubarb circus candy. Just like the kind that made everybody sick at the State Fair last October, only with the strychnine removed, I think. Elves and clowns scarf these down, usually with no ill effects.





Santa's absolute favorite. Treaclemint cookies. Laced with Ecstasy, they get results. No way you're getting a Playstation 3 if you leave these out.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Howard Stern

From the Clean Channel to the Dog Star, Howard continues to remind us of the words of Lenny Bruce:

"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Leech

I tell ya, you're aLL Right. You're All righT in my boOk, know what I'm sayin'? You're OkAY!
Hey. You're FLush. Buy me A drink, wouldJa?
You'd Do that for mE? You are a GentLeman and a Scholar, sir.
Merry goDDam chrismas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vesta

Back then it was no simple task to kindle a fire, so once one was started, it had to be maintained. Hestia kept it going on Olympus, all the while fending off the advances of vain Apollo and damp Poseidon. Her Roman version was Vesta, who kept the fire going in her circular temple atop Palatine Hill. Vesta hired a crew of like minded virgins to help her in her task. Their hearth tending was a thing to behold. Embers were sent out from the temple to kindle fires in the farthest reaches of the empire. Newborn babes were brought to the fires for tempering.

The Vestal Virgins had two things to maintain: the fire and their virginity. To lose either was punishable by death. Naturally, the method chosen to bring about this result was to tie her to a post and burn her alive. There were always enough coals to achieve this.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Man on Mars

Martian terrain (click to enlarge) with large pointy-chinned, feather-cheeked dour man. Has martian perched atop his right forehead (your left). May have old man above left eye.
Here's the martian.

Also: The North Pole here on Earth ain't much, but here is the North Pole on Mars. Cool. Maybe that's where S. Claus lives.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

John Brown

John Brown leaned forward. Told them they could easily dispose of him; they were nearly there already. But the thornier issue - you remember - slavery? That would remain.

You would dare arm our slaves, enable them to rise up, kill or make suffer their masters, join with you and your like; brigands, ruffians and Negroes alike? Brown, suppose you had every nigger in the United States, what would you do with them?

I would set them free.

Meet John Brown, terrorist.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Guignol

Take one Montmarte church replete with cherubim. Combine with overwritten scripts and overacting players. Add a dash of illicity. Garnish with a slice of death, et voila: Behold the Grand Guignol.

Who knew the body held so many guts and there were so many ways to bring them to the surface? Arms, legs and heads were violently torn from their owners. Blood flowed, eyeballs bounced. Actual crimes of the days were reenacted with flourish, making the Grand Guignol the Law & Order of its day. Society swells and riff-raff alike sat prepared to be enthralled and disgusted and possibly pelted with entrails, a doctor always in the wings to treat the faintable. Apparent spectators could be in a trice dragged stageward for subsequent torture and rape. C'├ętait horrible.

Next to the Eiffel Tower, it was The Place To Go when you visited Paris.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bigfoot Forward

Two hundred kilometers northeast of Saskatoon, I set my turboprop down on the tundra. I had come to take part in a poker game with some high rolling natives of the region, and I found the game soon enough. It went on in earnest for two days and then things got serious. I was racking up my share, but I was looking for the cards to nudge out the man I saw as my biggest threat, Running Fox.
I was dealt three sixes and bet half of what I'd won. They all dropped - all, that is, but Running Fox, who called and stood pat. I drew two and bet it all, having drawn the fourth six. I knew Running Fox didn't have enough on the table to cover the bet. He threw this photo into the pot.
"What the Sam Hill is that?" I asked.
"Bigfoot," said Running Fox.
"Bigfoot?" My jaw dropped. "You mean, you possess a Bigfoot?" He nodded. "A living Bigfoot?" He nodded again, stoically. "Well," I said, "this I have to see. I'll except Bigfoot as your call." I prayed he didn't have a straight flush.
"Read and weep. Full house, kingss high."
"Not good enough, Foxy. Four sixes."
And that's the story of the sasquatch I won in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We're All Working for the Swami

I first met Swami Dave in a crowded street market in the steamy holy city of Baton Rouge. I was but a waif and wastrel - a waifstrel, as it were. I was indentured to a dentist. My job was to blow opium smoke into a hose.
Swami Dave floated into the stall on a cloud of flowers, his jaw swollen. "It'll have to come out," was the verdict. He refused the hose and never flinched. When it was done, I offered to shine his shoes. Then I noticed he was barefoot, so I washed his feet instead.
He must have seen something in me, because he slipped the dentist a wad of bills. Just like that, I was a free man. A free kid, anyway.
Swami Dave took me to a swank set up he had on Fairfields. The place was crawling with kids wearing orange robes, all walking backwards. I learned that was part of the ritual. Followers walk backwards, Swami walks forward. Followers leave room, Swami enters. "Whatever," I says. "Give me the robe, but I ain't drinking the Kool-Aid."
I was given a basin and a sponge and told I would be Swami Dave's official foot washer. I got pretty good at walking backwards while holding a basin full of lotus water. It really wasn't as bad as it sounds; I had nicked a tin of opium from the dentist. The worst part was washing his feet after he'd walked on hot coals. I didn't like using a wire brush.
Over the next three years, I rose through the ranks. From foot washer to laundry detail to limo stepstool to flower petal strewer to food taster to the most coveted of swamical serving duties, right hand PR hack. I'd be by his side still had he not absconded with all he was worth and then some to Aruba. Before he left, Swami Dave drew me aside, pinched my cheek and wished me luck. "Go with my blessing, Child," he said. "Go where?" I asked. His eyes twinkled. "I hear Miami's nice this time of year."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sleep Story 2

The plane taxis toward the terminal. I suggest we buckle up, as many accidents occur at this point. What should appear out the window, in front of the wing, deliberately running toward the plane's wheel, but a clown. The body of a clown, anyway; on his shoulders is an oversized human skull. In no time at all he goes under the wheel. The plane bounces slightly, then comes to stop short of the ramp. A crowd comes running. We sit there, not knowing what to do next. It's quiet.

I guess the pilot decides we need to back up to the scene of the accident. Most of the people on the plane pile over to our side for a better view. We pull up beside not one, but two big-skulled clowns, dead on the tarmac, their huge clown feet pointing to the sky. What a waste.

I don't have a model of the clown, I'm afraid. Maybe I'll make one. Or maybe I won't. It was all quite horrible and I shouldn't be reminded.

But Empty Eyed Louie did remind me later.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Eb 4 Class Prez

I am here......to tell you......to vote for......Eb Gluck for......class president. Why, you ask? I will tell...... you why.
I have known...... Eb Gluck...... since...... well....... a long time. I remember...... back in.......a few years ago....... Eb and me....... I mean, Eb and I....... were at Camp Wumpachuckanimrod for the summer. It rained...... and it rained. We couldn't swim or play badminton... or take hikes...... or anything. We were b-o-r-e-d......... That spells bored. Well......
Eb had an idea. He said we should..... aneth...... anethasi....... anesit...... we should drug....... the camp mascot........Billy.......the badger. And you know? That took leadership.
So Eb sneaks into the nurses' office.......heh-heh.......and gets a bottle of that stuff....... that stuff that puts you to sleep...................... chlorofoam. So, Eb gets a hunka cotton wet in it and sneaks up behind Billy the Badger. Only....... it wasn't chlorofoam, it was a monia. Well...... that was a mean badger. Did you know a badger has claws like ninja throwing stars?
Anyway.......after Eb got out of the hospital he went to another hospital and after he got out of that one, he came back to school. He was changed...... Really changed. He studied hard and then......he made up his mind that........he'd run for class president........so.........
Why should you vote for Eb Gluck........for class president? Well....... because....... because he's been attacked by badgers! I mean....... has Jennifer Wilson been attacked by badgers? No! Has Craig Thomas been attacked by badgers? I don't think so! Only Eb Gluck has been attacked by badgers.......well........a badger. So.......vote for Eb........my friend.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Joseph

Joseph started getting a thing or two through his head. That he'd have to return to the place of his birth to register for the honor to pay Caesar his just due. That he'd have to take Mary with him, who he had promised to marry even though she was with child by none of his doing. That they had no money for accommodations and precious little food to sustain them. That they'd have to pass through something like fifteen checkpoints on their journey from Nazareth. That they were without papers. All at once, Joseph realized things didn't look good.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Amalgamorph Speak

People of Galaxy 8309, we bring you tawdry greets from our quizzical sector of Star System 74-F. I am Moqwadish and I represent species called Amalgamorph. Observe please my protuberant crania. Soft-skulled it hugs my brainia.
My people enjoy to rhyme.

Amalgamorph propose assimilation of unlike species, such are yours. We like enjoy time warp travel, cosmic ray days and procreating new life forms. Must you reply obediently. Send your data immediately. That is all.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hondo Zendo

The sleep of those nights a half-sleep and by day half awake. So satori attained.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gully Deposit Grain

Martian gully deposits (left) in the vicinity of Mons Miro display a notable proclivity toward momaism. Heretofore stymied in their attempts to study the deposits up close, NASA scientists last week were able to launch a microcam from the Mars Global Surveyor in order to take a closer look. The isolated grain on the right makes clear that these are no mere sand or salt deposits. Each grain appears to be a miniature (this one is about three microns long) complex carbon-based organism. It is unclear at this point whether they are fossilized exoskeletons or actual living entities of some odd sort, but either way, NASA is announcing that life on Mars does or did indeed exist.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bisby

Never was a footman like my footman Bisby. Why, Bisby's the last of a breed of servant the likes of which we'll see no more.

I remember once - it was during the war years, rationing and all, couldn't lay your hands on a decent ham sandwich - the cook was at her wits end trying to come up with new recipes involving caviar and fois gras, which was all that was left in the cellars. Well, besides the wine. Anyhow, Bisby, whose duties, of course, did not extend to the kitchen, took it upon himself to call upon his cousin, who happened to be groundskeeper at the Filchmont estate. and who had recently nabbed a poacher who had purloined a bevy of quail in the lower quadrant. The deal led to an outstanding partnership beneficial to all but those snotty Filchmonts. It was all timing with Bisby.

Like the time Bisby in '56 was filling in for Reginald, my valet, who was off burying his mum in Kent. Well, some occasion occurred that called for my formal attire, only Reginald, unbeknownst to us, had sent the entire contents of my armoire to laundress and tailor, leaving me with nary a stitch. Did Bisby panic? He did not. Bisby rang his brother, a lorry driver, who just the night before happened upon an abandoned shipment of the most "dapper of duds," as his brother phrased it. Another deal was struck and I was vestured superbly.

Ah, Bisby, Bisby. He's been in Wandsworth for the last thirty years. We really must visit him one day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Clara

Clara got by on her secretarial salary, but barely. Trouble was, she spent most of her nights at the Top Hat Club dancing like the dickens and having a gay old time of it. She fell madly for King Oliver and Satchmo - danced her feet off whenever they came through town, which in those days was often. There were men who occasionally liked to try to show her a good time, but none of them could keep up. The bathtub hootch took its toll with them. Clara tippled some, but her vice of choice was the wacky weed. Made her flapping a blur. Here's how she looked many a seven AM, after a night of it. Oh, that Clara.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Small Bones

The Occurrence of Small Bones
a nine line sonnet (legal in Delaware)

Most unfortunate fact
swept under the rug:
Look little way once.
Small Bones May Occur.
Duly noted and annotated,
medical records attest.
As or say made chance,
But then who reads them?
Chokers' survivors do.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Miss Molly Muffet

When she was twelve a recluse spider bit Molly Muffet on her cheek, swelling one side of her head to an ungainly proportion. Naturally, from then on, arachnophobia took over her life. Nary a tisket or tasket, nor even a basket went unexamined. Eight legged lurkers could lie in wait under any three legged tuffet. Fortunately, there was always time for words and Kay, her sister, knew a few. They and Kay kept the spiders at bay that wiggled and jiggled and tickled beside her. I guess she lived.