Friday, March 30, 2012

I Command You!

We're going to do something that will do you a lot of good. From now on, for a while, you're going to take your orders from me.

First, let me say, Thank you for your lack of sass. It wasn't entirely expected, although of course it was my hope. Docility gets a such a bad rap, I like to call it trust instead. You are to be commended, praised for it. Don't let anyone get you down.

Seriously, don't let anyone get you down, that's an order.

OK, a few ground-rules just to settle any reservations: 1) I command you to reserve enough of your own will that your obedience will be completely voluntary. 2) When in doubt, obey me without question. I mean you no harm. No harm will come to you from me by malicious intent. You are entirely safe (from me) while under my control. Naturally, I can't be responsible for unscrupulous associates who may come into our association, although it is my vow that if I ever take on associates, I will adhere to the most stringent standards relating to background checks and the likelihood of their perfect obedience to me.

You've had a hard life, you told me. You've had troubles making wise decisions. According to you, you've seldom -- perhaps never -- made one wise decision. Don't worry, you're not alone. Most of my cases are like that. But look, you're off to a good start already! Because in submitting to me, you've already made one good decision! So that's one good decision in a row, or one with which to start your row. I will see that you make good decisions all along the way. With perfect obedience, you will make many good decisions.

Now, what are we to do about your family? You told them something of the nature of our relationship. I wish you hadn't, but now that it's done we have to deal with it. You may be surprised to hear me say this, but you do not have to cut them off. Not entirely. Periodic visits and calls are allowable, given sufficient cause and advance notice. In part, it depends on the influence they have over you, whether it's healthy. If it's healthy, who knows, you might see them every fifth Christmas, or every third funeral for verifiably close loved ones.

But enough about you. What am I getting out of this relationship? Of course there is the satisfaction of knowing I could be of help. As the careful apple picker gently removes the worm from the fruit and eventually sets it free to live the rest of its life in peace, so you can look forward to many years of fruitfulness and good things. Then there is, more selfishly, the growth in my own spirit, as the exercise of my personal power has been vigorous, sustained, and successful. I have both done good and received that benefit.

You are a nice person. Thank you for coming to me. In the kitchen -- if you just go through that door you will see it -- is a sink full of dishes. There's soap under the sink -- just open the cabinet and look down. Do you know the steps to washing dishes? If you do, I dismiss you to go do that job. If not, I will sketch them out for you point by point. You do not have to dry them by hand. Just put them in the dish-drainer. I'm thinking it will take you around 35 minutes to get done. I will be in my study, relaxing. When you get done, please come to my study, knock and wait for me to tell you to enter. You will be told then the next chore on the list.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why The Cow Goes Moo

The cow didn't always say moo. And there's no reason to suppose it did, even if the way it worked out would seem to indicate the way it started. We tend to think nothing makes progress in time. So when God created the cow it came down a shute and the first thing it said was moo.

No, no. And once again, dear friends -- don't be skeptical -- I have traversed the corridors of whatever, most of the time swimming upstream, to reference the Akashic Records. It's not that hard to do, however it is very frustrating because the other quacks who came before me got them very messed up and out of order.

But if you're looking for particular files, things that the average clairvoyant doesn't care very much about, such as on the evolving vocabulary of cattle, they're not too messed up. Most people of course are more interested in the words and travels of Jesus, how Buddha came to be fat and skinny at the same time, and why George Washington cut down the cherry tree. They've pretty much left questions on the various animal vocabularies, and the more subtle things of animal dialects, alone.

Speaking of myself, I'm interested in all these things. One, because I really respect cattle for coming up with something so simple and catchy, and not that far off the mark, as should be clear to anyone, from the Primal/Original Mind sound of OM. It's just flipped around, hinting first at dyslexia, or more purposefully at humor, or perhaps it's merely the same exact thing, only as seen from a consciousness apparently different in typical expression from our own. I frankly don't see a downside to saying MOO, being convinced that it doesn't make a bit of difference.

Anyway, getting back to the Akashic Records. Here's what I have to say about the Records. They're better than nothing. If it weren't for the Records, I'd simply have to make this up, about the cow. And if I did that, perhaps folks wouldn't see in it the same authority. Which isn't to say the original Akashic author didn't simply make it up, but since He and She is a lot more mysterious, we're willing to buy it.

So, please, if you're in that camp, just let me just transcribe the damned thing and be done with it. Here's some of the other vocabulary the platonic perfect cow and its immediate descendants toyed with:
Pistoloops, mamasita, hotsprings, ruff-ruff, lipschitz, palmolive, google, repubpuke, [multiple retching noises based on repubpuke], quaffone, skipbo, passgo, obladi-oblada, poopshute, sadchidananda, chuckbook, checksum, kindlebook, goku, kubball, oompaloompa, cockadoodledo, smorgabord, frootloops, sexawowsa, and vavavoom.
How it was narrowed down to moo is an amazing story in itself. They saw a baby cow walking through the pasture who kept saying MOO. They started making fun of it, then they made fun of it so much, continually, that it finally stuck. It's the old line about "First, they laugh at you..." come to life!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hardcourt Boys Play Cager Classic

A good-sized crowd was on hand in the Lincoln High gym Sunday to watch the Lincoln Panthers edge the Washington Eagles, 56-54. The two presidential clubs faced off in this year's cager championship.   

Enthusiasm was high as the hardcourt boys marched up and down the floor. The cagers of Washington took an early lead, in keeping with their namesake's primacy as president, but the lead shifted back and forth throughout the game.

Cager Wilt Redwood, Lincoln's big man, was their high scorer with a total of 16 points, by a happy coincidence tying their president's place in the list of U.S. chief executives. All the other Lincoln hardcourt boys put up points, with high-flying Hawk Sandpiper nearest Redwood in nested shots.   

For Washington, their big man, the unhappily-monikered Abe Lanky, was the highest scoring cager, adding 17 points. Fans breathed a great sigh of relief when the hardcourt boy sank a late free throw to put him one over 16.

The other Washington cagers did their best in the losing effort, in part sparked by the torrid play of Kelvin Celsius, playing at fever pace. Zeke Denominator often found the bottom of the net, but was called for numerous infractions and fouled out.

On the Lincoln side, Phillip Nozzle pumped in a quick four points, fueling a short spurt. 4 foot 9 Al Soran was the low man on the boards with a single free throw.   

The boisterous crowd was the sixth cager for each team. Tempers flared and the game was stopped three times to warn them against throwing hatchets and fake beards to the court.

Lincoln fans mocked Washington when their hardcourt boys lost the lead, holding up signs referring to the cherry tree, such as "Sharpen Your Axe!" and "The Tree Still Stands!"

But Washington fans gave as good as they got when the Lincoln cagers fell behind, their signs referring to the 16th president's arguably premature death, "It Only Takes One Shot!" and  "Sic Semper Panthers!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lincoln Upsets Washington, And Ghosts

Ready for a freaky story, true in every detail, right down to the ectoplasm spewing from the lady's mouth? This happened just as I'm writing it, and it was just yesterday, so it's clear -- crystal clear -- in my mind.

I was at the Heaven bar for the championship basketball game between the Washington Eagles and the Lincoln Panthers. It was exciting, not just because we watched it on the big screen, but for the obvious fact that Washington and Lincoln are high schools from the same town. Meaning we were all mixed together, with periodic clashes, like with every lead change.

Thanks to Washington having cut down the cherry tree, of course the Eagles feasted on cherry pie. But because Lincoln isn't associated with any particular food, they were eating a la carte. This turned to the Panthers' advantage, because there's nothing Washington can razz them about when it comes to food. But the cherry pie thing can be deadly when Washington loses the lead, and they have to suffer the famous Lincoln quote, used as a taunt, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe."

But the Panthers hate this taunt of Washington's just as much: "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again." Lincoln sees in that a mean-spirited reference to the Assassination, Washington as much as saying, "Wait 'em out! Lincoln can't go the distance! He couldn't finish a stinking play, he doesn't stand a chance at basketball..."

OK, I was paying close attention to the game as it went back and forth and as the bar rocked with cheers, boos, and the occasional, but rare, flying hatchet. But there was something else going on in the bar. Every TV was tuned in to the game, every one except one, a small set in the corner being watched by local psychic Madame Sosotris. Always in touch with two worlds, she was watching Ghost Hunters.

For most of the time, those watching the game prevailed, as far as the noise, but the psychic was tolerated and semi-respected when she would periodically whistle and call for silence. We'd look over and hear a brief comment on her program, such as, "Grant just saw an eerie light at the end of the hall!" Then it'd go to commercial, and when it came back, she'd learn it was just Jason's flashlight. We'd go back to the game, only to be interrupted a few minutes later with a whistle and again the silence, "Jason just heard a thump in the wall!" After the commercial, she'd announce, "It was just Grant in the next room tapping the wall."

Everything was building to a climax in the game, Washington and Lincoln exchanging the lead as it came down to the final minutes and seconds. Hatchets and cherry pies were flying around the room, and a few of the Washington partisans had grabbed the fake Lincoln beards from the Panthers and were throwing them as well. Then as the last few seconds wound down, the score tied, Lincoln stole the ball from Washington and hurried down the floor for the game-winning shot.

It was pandemonium in the Heaven bar, total chaos, until it was amazingly broken and silenced by the presence of Madame Sosostris literally floating through the place, ectoplasm spewing from her mouth and the stuff forming enormous mounds wherever they fell. The Ghost Hunters show had actually hit on something important! She brought a message -- President Washington's concession to Lincoln -- channeled through Grant and Jason:

"There is a Destiny which has the control of our actions, not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature. I shall not be deprived of a comfort in the worst event, if I retain a consciousness of having acted to the best of my judgment. We'll get these Lincoln bastards next year!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Curious About The Titanic?

The 100th year anniversary of the Titanic sinking is at hand. 100 years ... a century ... 10 decades ... quite a while in human terms, even if in cosmic time it's a mere blip. We are totally amazed. It happened in 1912, and now it's 2012. So in terms of time, it's monstrous. Because 100 years, wow!

But seriously, let's think about it another way. The passage of time has taken away some of the rawness of the event. Really, there's barely anyone left who has a personal and immediate sense of grief over it, probably none. So we can't pretend like we're broken up about it. And yet, we can imagine, were it our loved ones, assuming we wouldn't ourselves have been aboard the ill-fated ship had we been alive in 1912, that the grief would have been horrendous. But as it is, had they not died on the Titanic, they would have been dead by now from something else.

I have an old, old story, but it's true. When I was a young man, and this was in 1964, so I was 11, there happened to be an old woman visiting our town who was a survivor of the Titanic. We all went to see her, me and the rest of the town. I stood in line around an hour, then it was my turn. But wouldn't you know it, she didn't speak English. So I had to talk to a translator who conveyed my message to her. Remember, I'm just 11, so I hadn't yet reached my present level of maturity; that would come two years later. I said, all quite innocently, "Tell her I have heard of the Titanic." The old lady, bless her soul, nodded and chuckled, then reached over and patted my head. I haven't washed my hair since!

Well, let's get to what you came for, a few questions you've sent in that I've researched and answered.

What did the Titanic hit? -- Good question, because it could've been anything. It was in fact an iceberg. It was with the Titanic's accident that everyone suddenly realized an iceberg was a dangerous thing, especially if run into. Because it's not just a soft snowball, it's a chunk of ice packed extremely tight, with most of it lurking under water. If you're ever the captain of a boat or anything, avoid icebergs.

Did the Titanic go down immediately? -- No, it was able to stay afloat till it sank, long enough to get off most of the passengers, although there weren't lifeboats for everyone. For those who didn't get a lifeboat, of course it was big trouble. But the good news is those who didn't die survived.

Was Leonardo DiCaprio really on the Titanic? -- No, he was in a popular movie about the famed maritime disaster [copied from Wikipedia.] The "Titanic" he was on was a smaller version of the ship made for the movie. Although it "sank" during the filming of the movie, ironically it would have been small enough to avoid the iceberg.

Are there any philosophical lessons to be learned from the Titanic? -- You mean like "Watch where you're going in life"? That's a philosophical lesson we already know. So if we take away something like that from the Titanic disaster, it's not really the Titanic teaching us, but our mere calling to mind prior knowledge. I seem to remember something like that when I learned about Plato, things we already know. To actually learn a lesson from the Titanic, it'd have to be something you weren't previously aware of. I can think of one very practical lesson: That every ship ought to be pulling a spare ship, just in case.

Well, we've now marked the 100th anniversary, with solemnity and dignity. And if you didn't see your question answered, these are the only ones we had space for. We'll hang on to them and hopefully get to them on the 200th anniversary. So keep checking, particularly as the 200th anniversary (2112) gets closer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where's All The Old Timex Watches?

Hey, great news! I just thought of something to be mad about. In this case, from long ago, back when Timex watches ruled the wrist. I'm wondering, Where are all the old Timex watches? Like everyone, I remember their slogan was "Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'."

I probably should look it up. I would guess Timex is still a company making watches. Assuming they are, it's curious we never hear of them, when a long time ago when I was kid, that's about all you ever heard. Three channels on TV and Timex ads all the time.

Have you seen the Ed Sullivan DVDs of the Beatles' appearances? They're still available. I saw them a few years ago. Timex ads! They left them in, with the guy, I believe John Cameron Swayze, putting Timex watches to various torture tests. Like strapped to an outboard motor, to a cannonball slamming against a brick wall, and under an elephant's foot that's running across a large asphalt parking lot. Or something. And each time it comes out OK, still ticking!

All of it makes me wonder why all the Timex watches I got as a kid -- virtually every Christmas and every birthday -- quit working under normal conditions. They could handle the cannonball, but normal usage was too much. Back then, though, -- I don't know what my problem was -- I don't remember ever contemplating the dissonance between the ads and reality. What it was, was I was happy enough with a watch and happy enough without one. I was a kid, what'd I ever need to know the time for?

The great thing about Timex watches for adults, it turns out, was they were fairly cheap. And despite the slogan, they broke often enough that you always needed a new one! So it was an easy gift choice. The whole thing about "Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'" was with a wink-wink to the adults.

If anyone doubts what I'm saying, go to an antique store or flea market. And you tell me how many old Timex watches you see that still work. Actually, you're not going to see very many that don't work, because we just threw them away...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Plot To Rob 50 Banks At Once

Oh boy, this is going to be big money for me and the Organization! Hi, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward here, crime boss of the Skids gang...

There's no stopping crime, thank God. We just keep going, ever going, ever accruing more, greater and greater wealth. Diamonds, jewels, truckload after truckload of stolen merchandise, and, of course, cash, anything we can lay our hands on. It's all so satisfying! Which we will continue doing as long as we get away with it, which at this point might be forever...

My latest plot involves banks. In particular -- and no one's ever done this before -- I'm going to use peer pressure to raid a number of banks and, I hope, make off with everything they've got. It took some doing to conceive of this plot, and it's going to take some doing to carry it through. Wish me luck, OK?

I started thinking, What bank job has never been done before? What's the perfect bank job? Then it came to me, pick on the rural, backward banks. Not just a hold up. That's been done to death. No, I thought of something deeper, something that involves questioning their self-image, then taking advantage of them to wipe them out.

It seems that these particular banks have not updated their basic facilities in over a century. Meaning, you guessed it, they're dealing with some serious inferiority complex issues. An underlying issue with each of them is the realization that they're backward and behind the times. Because each of them has at least one bank officer -- if not the president himself -- who has visited the big city. They understand what's going on out there.

Now, what do you think is the most obvious, biggest backward thing about them? If you said "round vaults," you are exactly right. Nearly every rural bank, believe it or not, has a round vault, which, inexplicably, was all the rage in the 1890s. Times, however, have changed. And now the rest of us can't imagine anything more ridiculous than a round vault. 1) They're ugly; 2) They're old fashioned; 3) They're space-inefficient; 4) You always hit your head on the sides, and, 5) I've personally never trusted the mechanisms in round vaults, which may be more an irrational prejudice on my part than a real objective problem.

Anyway, here's where my expertise in human environmental science and psychology comes into play. I submit, I put it forth as a virtual given, that if someone goes in and so much as chuckles at their round vault, they'll be ready to do something about it, anything, to make you stop. Just like that, you'll have a contract to take it out and install a square or rectangular one. And that's where we get 'em!

I called in my team of crack underlings and put my plan before them. What if, instead of just one bank, we take on 50 of these rural banks at once? Of course it would take logistics on the most massive scale. No one's ever robbed 50 banks simultaneously. We'll be the first. We'll be the greatest bank robbers of all time. And we'll be rolling in money, perhaps more money than can physically be spent, short of being a governmental entity looking for hammers and toilet seats.

Fleshing out the plan, I typed a list of common numbers into the computer, "1 through 50," then started filling in the blanks, listing every bank within a 100-mile radius that has a round vault. Where do you find this information, you ask? Admittedly, it's old, but I still have a copy of the 1943 U.S. Almanac of Bank Vaults, that of course being the last year the Almanac was released to the general public. Then, just to be safe, I added another 10 numbers to the list, because possibly a few of the prouder banks have updated since '42. (The '43 Almanac came out in October 1942.)

With every background detail fully explained, the underlings nodded, hit a few high fives around the room, and grinned. One overzealous asshole even shot a hole in the ceiling, prompting an angry admonition from me: "Put that gun away, you raving lunatic! What kind of moron..." As that unpleasant moment passed, I called them in closer, much closer, saying, "Here's how we'll do it," at which point I muttered the rest, and in some detail, so only they would be able to hear.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Criminal Life Teaches Good Values

I've always been a values guy, even back before I turned to a life of crime. You might remember me at some of the school board meetings. I was the guy who lobbied and won against the girls' basketball team wearing shorts. It was way too distracting for me and other red-blooded American men. So now we have the only team in sweatpants. I see it as a distinction.

Other than that, I learned lots of other good values growing up, like looking both ways before you cross the road. Not only is it the safest choice, it keeps drivers from going ballistic and honking their horns and waking up Dad, and saves you the beating of your life. I'm trying to think of some of the other values I learned, but I'm drawing a blank. Oh yeah: Wash your hands before meals and after going to the bathroom. For years, I did it the other way around.

Now that I'm in crime -- Hi, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward here -- I still conduct myself according to good values. And they still do me a lot of good. And that also goes for the guys in the outfit who happen to have rug rats who need to know how to live.

A deal's a deal -- You hear guys complaining, "We shook on it. A man's word is his bond." To me that's a wimpy way to handle it. Instead, simply stand on the truth, "A deal is a deal," and if the other bastard doesn't follow through, put a knife in his back, maybe he'll get the point!

Bring the hammer down -- No one gets anywhere in life with half measures. And that's especially true in crime. You have something to accomplish, get it done! You've got a job, something important to do, like offing some guy: BOOM! It's done, no delay. I might call this the principle of the Texas driver: There's two speeds, 0 and 150.

Keep your mouth shut -- I've always been able to keep confidences. And that's part of my life now. I have enough shit on people to put them away for a very long time. The mayor, the police chief, a couple ministers, various pillars of society, etc., not to mention other criminals. But I keep my mouth shut, and so anytime I need a solid, I have it.

Take time to schmooze -- This goes with keeping your mouth shut. People need to know you. Half your success is your connections. So you're schmoozing, showing confidence, a good spirit, a sense of joy, and, yes, ruthlessness. They'll know better than to pull a double-cross.

Trust your instincts -- Go with your gut, your instincts. A great example of this happened when I was schmoozing the other day. I was with some folks at a meeting and I just "sensed" someone was behind the curtains, waiting to ambush me. So I whipped out my gun and shot six rounds. Damned kids shouldn't have been playing back there!

Others are depending on you -- We're an organization, a team. If you fall asleep in the getaway car, you've hurt the whole team. As long as you're alive, we're in this together. You want to be on your own, stiffs are buried one at a time.

There's no second chances -- Get it right the first time. Don't come to me on your hands and knees. I don't want to hear it. And I'm not going to tell you twice, because that'd be a second chance.

No one likes a stoolie -- If you're a stoolie, just tell me now, because there's no reason for you to be wasting air.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Pop Goes The Weasel Killings

As a crime boss -- Hi, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward here, boss of the Skids organization, centered in the Skidrow district of our town -- I have many talented underlings at my disposal. Pickpockets, arsonists, snipers, bookies, scientists, prostitutes, drug runners, pool sharks, bootleggers, and a couple of IT kids who can get any illegal MP3 download you want. What a team!

I had an idea for offing some of my worst enemies. I want to terrorize the crap out of them before their death, to make a more sinister and memorable reputation for myself. I myself could do the same old same old, walk up to a guy and just kill him. The big trouble there is they're not exactly going in their pants for fear, and that's what I want. I want, I demand that the name of Machine Gun Ricky Wayward strike absolute terror in my victims.

That kind of reputation is what I need to take over the entire town. Skidrow of course only rules over the central part of town. The rest is divided between four other gangs, The Aristocrats, The Outlaws, The Ciggies, and the ethnic El Conquistadors. I want to loosen those bozos' control, their iron grip, and make it all mine!

OK, anyway, I'm busy thinking, what are some of the scarier things in life? Clowns, zombies, midgets, carnies, gypsies, psychos, teenagers, fundamentalists, hoarders, repo men, and last but not least, jack in the boxes. Then, of all these, which could you trust most? It'd have to be the one non-human thing, the jack in the box.

I've always thought, since I was a little kid, there's no more mysterious toy than a jack in the box. Because there's pieces in there you never see, forever enclosed and hidden under the jack. It's a hiding place. You could retrofit one of these to be a weapon of mass destruction. I said it 10 years ago, and I'll say it again: Saddam Hussein would still be in power had he only catapulted jack in the boxes at the American invaders!

God, I'm shivering even at the thought of a jack in the box. I can remember my heart racing when I heard "Pop Goes the Weasel" and knew the damned thing would erupt in my face. Now, what if it's full of explosives, what if knives suddenly jut forth and the thing flies around the room, or what if a massive blast of poison spews forth from the jack's mouth? You'll be dead!

So I gave the boys in the lab a bunch of jack in the boxes, and they've been working with them. They're making great progress rigging them up. Different variations, just like I said, with explosives, knives, a machine gun, poison, a canister of muffler fumes for asphyxiation, a Star Trek phaser (which in testing never seems to work), battery acid for spewing, a heat-seeking noose, a poisonous monkey's claw, meat infected with rabies, rubbers tainted with VD, a jar of fumes from a grill used indoors, cancerous organs extracted from cadavers, and, to make it really deadly, a DVD of the Republican debates.

Imagine that. You're one of my enemies. I have an underling put a jack in the box on your desk, then we quietly seal the room. You're looking through some mail and -- WHAT?! -- you hear the box start playing "Pop Goes The Weasel." You know approximately how long the song is -- something like 7.1 seconds -- before the jack pops up. Only long enough to frantically rush the door, then finding it closed, start your final prayer, "Dearest Heavenly Father--", then POP, and poison fills the room. You gasp, you feel your head quickly bloating, you claw the desk, your eyes are bulging, you feel your heart slow, then it stops with a sad whimper, and you think your last thought. Your very last clear thought is one of God's grace and happiness: "At least it wasn't the DVD..." With that, you're dead.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brick By Brick -- Your Criminal Edifice

Now that I'm the new Mr. Big, with Tony's death, I've got a lot more free time, time that I'm using wisely to keep myself focused and centered. I'm looking at it, in part, as time for reflection, with the idea that reflection contributes to my overall success.

Being a criminal, friends, isn't the easiest job in the world, that is, if you do it right. The prisons are full of dumb ass schmucks who thought it'd be easy, but then, and there's no known exception to this, they got sloppy, which is another word for stupid. These days, of course, there's a lot of dumb asses who post their exploits on social media, blogs and the like, which anyone with three weeks experience online can trace in seconds. And so they go to prison. Stupid! The problem is not enough reflection.

I've been reflecting today that establishing and maintaining a good criminal life is kind of like building a building, like building and maintaining a house. There's lots of similarities, and you can almost get lost in the comparisons; it's uncanny how many points of congruence, or overlap, there are. Leading me to think, and it's just a theory, that the first house-builder must have been a very successful criminal. Even to this day, you hear of burglars targeting houses, or criminals apprehended at houses, like a crack house. So there's a real closeness.

Anyway, we reflect, we start thinking, we gather our thoughts, we grant our minds free rein and our thoughts the ability to roam. And they keep returning to this idea that a good criminal life and the building process are very, very -- extremely -- close.

The first thing to our house is the basement and foundation. The basement and foundation may not be the "sexiest" parts of the house. The "sexiest" parts would have to be the shower and bedroom. But the basement and foundation are extremely critical to the house's integrity. It is that which is "foundational" that will stand you in the best stead over the long term. When the winds blow and a tornado or mudslide come through, if the foundation isn't any good ... then good luck! In fact, when vicious storms come, where do we go? but to the basement! Likewise, in the criminal life, you don't start out as Mr. Big. You start out at ground level, but what you first establish there will continue to ground you later.

The house then goes up. You next see its structure, similar to a body's skeleton, 2 x 4s placed horizontally and vertically and nailed, with all the water pipes and electrical conduits where they need to be. Without a basic structure -- let's say you just propped up a bunch of unsupported walls on the foundation -- something less than a doctorate tells you it's going to collapse. Because everything has to be supported. Similarly, in a good criminal life, one in which you're not immediately in prison, you need a structure. This could be a good gang, a network of associates, or looking at it another way, your growth in intelligence and how you let your experience at the foundational base rise up as a supporting structure.

Next, they put in the walls. I've never yet been in a good house that didn't have walls. Walls and windows. I'm serious here, I like good walls. They're useful, like if you have a stoolie and you want to put your arm up against his neck and raise him off the floor. You can't get a guy's eyes bulging out if the wall isn't there for support. Or say you simply don't want your house open to the outside elements 24/7, you need walls. In the criminal life, as we follow our reflections on the good criminal life, the walls represent an enclosure or environment for yourself. In other words, you're not simply exposed. When you're exposed, you're in prison in no time, where they have very good walls.

What comes next? Of course it'd have to be the roof. What good is a roof? Let's think about it a minute. A roof protects the inside of the house from sun, rain, and bird poop. It tops off the house, and helps keep what's inside in good condition, so you can live there comfortably for years to come. In our good criminal life, the "roof" means you've worked yourself up from the ground level and denotes completeness. Also, just as an actual roof makes a great lookout point for cops on the horizon, from your "roof" you can see more clearly the vistas, the opportunities of your criminal future.

I probably should mention all the furnishings, paint, wallpaper, appliances, flooring, alcoves, linoleum, and the like, that make the inside of the house comfy and cozy. You wouldn't want a house that didn't have anything in it! Unless you were just holing up somewhere till the heat died down, or you were doing quick drug deals or something like that. In an actual house to live in, you want nice things, like maybe a fireplace to burn evidence in. Or a toilet with a strong industrial flush. Similarly, in your good criminal life, you're not stealing money and jewels, swindling and cheating just for the hell of it. That'd be pointless. You're doing it so you'll have nice things, bling and other cool things. Because that's what life's all about, enjoying what you have and hoping no one takes it from you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Honoring Ned Hogan, Great Criminal

Today, we're honoring one of the great criminals of the past, Ned Hogan. When pictured here peeling potatoes at the end of 1922, he had been in jail in Milwaukee a record 117 times.*

Hi, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward writing in honor of our fine brother in crime, Mr. Ned Hogan, 76 years old in the picture, and a native of Milwaukee.

As you will see in this brief tribute, Ned was so often drunk that he couldn't handle his affairs and needed a place to flop. That may not sound like great crime, but we honor it, because it is likely that Ned tied up the system enough -- taking the time of jailers, judges, and the cops -- that other criminals had freer rein.

The Milwaukee Sentinel of Dec. 24, 1922, (easily found on Google) profiled Ned, calling him a bum, derelict, and prohibition fighter. In addition, they said he was a vague and shadowy character.

In earlier times, he worked at the circus grounds in Milwaukee, and also did any odd jobs that would bring him a dollar. But the paper said the nearest thing to a regular occupation he ever had was unloading coal boats. Ned was what they called a dock walloper. It sounds like honest work, but we're very glad he left it, or we wouldn't be honoring him today. Since we don't care about dock walloping.

Alfred O. Wilmot, court reporter at the time, who knew Ned when he, Alfred, was a kid, remembers that Ned was all right when he was sober. The newspaper paraphrases Alfred: "Unless he was waylaid down in the lumber yards and got a pony of beer, he took his savings home to his old mother. He is not a thief. With all his arrests, he has never committed a real crime."

It was after Ned stole a tire that Alfred said, "Except for his lack of culture, Ned was a gentleman. I have heard him give a fellow a lecture for insulting a woman on the street. He was never brought in on a charge of anything but vagrancy until this last time. And this larceny charge was just a ruse of Ned's. He didn't want to steal. He had no use for the automobile tire that he walked off from a garage up near Eighth and Wells street. He only took it so as to furnish an excuse to get arrested. He went right down to the Rescue Mission with it and sat there until the police came."

Ned greeted the officer by saying, "Well, it took me two hours to get arrested this time." At first he had tried to get arrested by taking some bandana handkerchiefs from a dry goods store. There were even hanging out of his pockets in the store. But that plan failed, so he resorted to taking the tire.

Of course all the old cops knew Ned. When he wanted to be taken in, they accommodated him. Younger cops weren't so nice, saying, "Get about your business. You haven't done anything for me to take you in." To which Ned would retort, "You better take me in. If you don't I'll do something so you will have to pinch me." Ned's oldest friend on the force, Ed Baivier, chuckled, "He would, too. He has been known to pick up a brick and heave it through a window when the patrolman was stubborn."

Milwaukee's Judge Page said, "Ned is an old figure around here. He is getting old now, must be nearly 70. He manages, by sleeping on park benches, to get along in the summer, but when cold weather comes he needs a more comfortable place. As sure as the thermometer drops we can expect to see Ned in the bull pen next morning. As you know, it was pretty chilly the night before his last arrest a few weeks ago."

Roy E. Briggs, assistant superintendent of the Rescue Mission, said of him, "His mind is so run down from drink that he is 'rum dumb' as one of our men puts it. He has lost control of his power to think, but retained enough mind to know it. He wants to go right but can't quite reason out the way if left to himself. So he voluntarily puts himself where someone will make him do what he should."

So there you have it! We proudly honor Mr. Ned Hogan, one of the great criminals of the past. To summarize, he got drunk a lot, broke windows, and stole a few bandana handkerchiefs and a tire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Was Tony A Well-Rounded Character?

A couple of you -- the vocal minority, always the ones hardest to satisfy -- have written in, saying you didn't feel Tony was a well-rounded character. Meaning that, according to you, what I said about him was very generalized and one dimensional.

My first instinct is to say, "This is what I have to worry about?" But then I think back, and in my defense, I said he was a son of a bitch*, and that's exactly what I meant. I mean, really, what more can I say? Like the rest of us, he lived, he did stuff, he died. Whether he had brown hair, red hair, or no hair, or a particular slope to his nose, or chiseled features, or a worried brow, or even a last name, it doesn't make any difference.

Of course they'd say he was Mr. Big, and must have been an interesting character because of that alone, so they're naturally curious. Couldn't I flesh him out a bit more? And I agree, to a limited extent. I didn't really say much about him, except his name was Tony, that he called me to his office, he gave me oversight of the prostitution operations, he had complete control over things, he had a large guard contingency, and a couple of other details, perhaps, and that he apparently reached several climaxes in the course of an average day.  

By that, I didn't mean to imply that living on the floor above a brothel means a guy is necessarily oversexed, but Tony was Tony, meaning he was known occasionally to have a good time. The climaxes were his outlet. I'm not judging. If he had a target on the ceiling, that's his business. Anyway, if living one floor above a brothel means you're oversexed, what about me? I live on the same floor. And I'm pretty chaste. But for some reason people aren't writing in asking more details about me. Maybe because I am so chaste. So now I know what's on your dirty little mind!

Actually, most of the reason I didn't say more about Tony's life is that this is real life. It's all true. I'm not darning a literary creation here -- satin and lace and frilly, flowery prose to satisfy women and fops -- no, this is documentary fact. Of course, I suppose it could be spruced up and spit-shined a bit, to make it fancier. But who cares? I've always been a man's man, preferring to let facts speak for themselves. I can't get bogged down in details like what color a man's hair is, his profile, his interests, and relationships. Tony was a son of a bitch in life, he's a son of a bitch in death, and it's not like he ever wanted to know about you, so why do you care about him?

Okay, to satisfy your idle curiosity: Tony was not just a son of a bitch, he was also scum of the earth.

*I looked through the archives and it turns out I didn't say Tony was a son of a bitch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Flaming Wreckage -- Tony's Dead

Well, I said I was going to kill Tony -- Mr. Big of the Organization -- and I did! So now that makes me, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward, the new Mr. Big.

Here's how the whole thing went down:

Tony was ensconced in his office, as expected. I put my gun together and went up to his floor. The eight divisions, the gauntlet of guards, lined the hall -- The Shivs, The Battalion, The Hangmen, The Pulverizers, The Psychos, The Mincemeaters, The Republicans, and The Ethnic Slurs. I knew my way was well-greased, thanks to all the ducats and material goods distributed.

I passed through, walking very confidently, then I started noticing a bunch of grins. But were they good grins or bad grins? Were they with me or against me? I felt a trickle of sweat on my forehead as I realized I might be walking into a trap. What if I got to Tony's office just as these bulls closed in on me, to kill me, and perhaps abuse my body? By now I had no choice but to keep going. To turn back meant I was dead anyway.

Finally, I got to Tony's door, knowing this was the moment of truth. And it turned out I was worried about nothing. The last couple of guards kicked in the door and motioned me in. I pulled up the gun, and was ready to blow Tony's head off without a smile or a word, certainly without mercy. Then I saw what they were grinning about, Tony's bullet-ridden body was in a heap in the middle of the room. The guards themselves, in a gesture of loyalty to me, had killed him themselves. I felt a little pissed off to be deprived of the pleasure, but what am I going to say?

Seriously, this wasn't anything like what I pictured. I was hoping, you know, maybe Tony and I would struggle and the gun would go off. Then he would flee to the window, having planned his escape in a situation like this. Out the window he would go, closely followed by me, and up the fire escape to the top of the building. Then a helicopter comes down, and Tony's grabbing at the landing gear, without a second to spare, and they lift off, me shooting like a madman.

He might easily escape were the pilot to whip the machine around and take evasive action. But I'm relentless, knowing if he escaped, I'd be finished. So there I am, aiming carefully, with time for only one last killer shot. The bullet goes through Tony's head and also pierces the copter's fuel supply -- the equivalent of the machine's lifeblood. The whole thing bursts into flames, Tony's on fire, and everything explodes and crashes to the ground, debris spreading over the courthouse lawn, with pieces later found as far away as the next county.

To have him simply heaped there in the room, thanks to the guards, seemed very anticlimactic. And I wanted to give them the biggest ass-chewing they'd ever had. But all I could do was offer them my thanks, a smile, and a few high fives. The lummoxes meant well. And being the new Mr. Big means taking caution where caution is due, which is not to say I won't throw it to the wind tomorrow. So my decision was to celebrate Tony's demise as the guards' gift to me.

But here's the rub. I'm thinking, If they'd do this to Tony, they'd do it to me. So we're not through here! But, again, I must leave that for later. For now, I need to keep a low profile. With the helicopter debris and so much destruction, and Tony's bullet-ridden body blown all over the courthouse lawn -- it's all very conspicuous -- the police investigation will have a lot of urgency. At the very least, there will be the appearance of all due diligence. The sons of bitches will be loaded for bear!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tomorrow I Kill Tony

All kidding aside, tomorrow's a big day. It's the culmination of a lifelong dream, ever since I adopted the life of a criminal at the beginning of February, to take out Mr. Big and take his place. Tomorrow, I kill Tony!

I've been preparing for it, having a hand in everything, not just the prostitution operations of which I am the head. If someone wants to know the latest scut on what's going down, I'm the go-to guy. And that's the way I like it. Tony, as powerful as he is, likes to delegate. Then he sits around his suite, and, I don't know what he does for sure, but I definitely imagine there's multiple climaxes a day. Well, how about one more? The climax of a career and a life...

My preparations have also entailed currying favor on a huge scale with Tony's unparalleled guard. Tony has one entire floor of the hotel for himself alone and his guard, eight divisions of men. To get down the hallway is no easy task, lined as it is with these guys. The Shivs, The Battalion, The Hangmen, The Pulverizers, The Psychos, The Mincemeaters, The Republicans, and The Ethnic Slurs. There's probably not a lot to say about them. They're just a bunch of extremely bad ass dudes.

But as bad ass as they are, there's one thing that puts them all in a great mood, and that's largesse, or to put it in English, material booty. Anything you can give them, if they think it's valuable and matches up with their interests, they like it. So I've been distributing some very nice things, and letting each one know how much I appreciate their service to the Organization. And in return they have taken a liking to me.

And that's mainly it. Ducats and stuff. Tons of it, given repeatedly, with no let-up, is all it takes to buy these guys' loyalty. Money, drinks, hookers, iPods, gift baskets assembled around themes (101 Dalmations, NCAA basketball, antique cars, edible underwear, etc.), boxes of grapefruit from Harlingen, TX, gift cards for 1-800-FLOWERS, styrofoam coolers full of Omaha Steaks, overnighters at Hooters, free Kindles (without "special offers"), and, probably most popular, complete bound sets of the U.S. commemorative quarters series.

They know what's coming, complete and total hell for Tony. And I'm simply going to walk down the hall and do it. They're cool with it because they're cool with me. So there you are. Somebody's gonna die!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Backwoods Men Are Coming!

This is going to be great for business! The Backwoods Men are coming! Every forward-looking, red blooded American male worth his salt will be up and ready for anything, making my life easier and more prosperous. Hi, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward here, crime boss in charge of the Organization's prostitution operations.

It's always been my theory that the best vice thrives best when under the grip of the vise, some seemingly insurmountable challenge to its existence. When a man thinks he might take a knife in the back for his instinctual prerogatives, that's when he goes at it at peak performance. It's an instinct going back to the ancients, with a battleaxe tearing down a man's tent. He felt compelled to leave something behind before death.

But let's look forward, not backwoods. The backwoods view is the view of the instinct-slayers, a furry, boneheaded, religious tribe from the country, dumb as a post, but very self-righteous. A few of their womenfolk came to town and found good careers, and now they want them back. Back to the woods they must go, according to these chuckle heads. It's always that way with these guys, always backwoods, never forward!

And it's not like their women are even suffering that much. It's not backbreaking work. There's many different positions and preferences. And there's good pay and good tips, three square meals a day, their own room, and counseling if they need it. I don't know, they get to read in their off hours, and they can watch all the TV they want. The only thing they might ever complain about is having to stay up late.

But like I said, I'm all for the Backwoods Men! Let 'em come! Bring 'em on! Make my day! We'll do our best to fend them off, most of them. Realizing, as I do, that if a few of them get through and make something of a mess, a limited mess to our place, it'll be great for business. I mean, who wouldn't want to see one of these guys running through the hall? It'd be something to talk about for a month, the extreme danger you felt. Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest! And if some guy gets killed -- wow, that's wild! They'll all say, "At least it wasn't me!"

My advice would be, The Backwoods Men are coming? Run forward, men! Don't look backwoods at all, look ahead! Remember Lot's wife. As the Good Book teacheth, "He who stumbleth backwoods in the dark walketh not forward in the light."

However, as much as I know the Backwoods Men will be good for business, let me stress, I do not support them in any way. They're ridiculous. What kind of man would be against other guys having a good time? They'd have to be backwoods. There's definitely something backwoods about that kind of thinking. They'd gladly take society backwoods, with all the progress we've made. I might be mean about it and say, maybe they don't know how to be forward with a woman. Forward just ain't their direction! They're just big wooly-looking backwoods bullies!

Anyway, when they get here, we'll see what we're dealing with. And if one of these backwoods, self-righteous wrath-makers could be trusted with a key to the backdoor, at least temporarily. I wouldn't mind seeing him do his thing a little bit, then changing the lock when he goes back to the woods.

Right now, every forward-looking man's nerves are on edge -- the threat is real, and I'm loving it! For our traffic, we're going boldly, ever confidently into the future. In no way will we allow ourselves to go backwoods, never, not at all!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Am Not Going Soft

Friends, I get your mail, full of proud suggestions. You think you know more about it than me! I'm not saying it pisses me off too much, but just a warning: Watch your back... Anyway, a few of you -- the vocal few -- have expressed a hand-wringing concern that I'm going soft. You're saying my crime escapades don't really match up with the stuff that typically marks crime at this level, i.e., organizational crime. To which I say, Screw you!

The truth is, my blog is gaining some attention around town with the last few honest underlings at the police department, so sometimes I have to cool it. I'm cagey, not soft! Sometimes it's important to keep a lower profile to stymie the bozos. But I'm also scheming to destroy them so I can freely flaunt my so-called evil, which I actually believe, since I'm doing it, is virtue.

I'm not going soft. Stay tuned if you think that. You're going to see Ming the Merciless. People are going to die, people are going to be deprived of property, and people are going to suffer petty mischief. And speaking for the mischief-makers, it's not going to be pretty, that is, from people's point of view. From mine, of course, it will be a thing of beauty.

Also, you're concerned about the short term, instant kicks. But I'm looking way ahead. I've learned a lesson from history. If you want to be truly honored as a criminal, you have to go all out, pull out all the stops, then, and yes it might take 100 years, they'll revere your memory. Bullet holes that you've shot in buildings, they'll preserve, even giving tours to see them, and if they ever paint the place, they'll paint around them.

They may say they hate criminals today, but eventually, if you were bad enough, and cagey, they'll have days named after you, like Bonnie and Clyde Days, Al Capone Days, Jesse James Days, etc. I hope to be so bad that they not only have Machine Gun Ricky Wayward Days, but, thanks to my reflected glory, days for my less distinguished associates, Big Brute Days (the first guy ever to force me in love), Rutledge Week, in honor of the guy I blackmailed twice and who subsequently died in an actual blackmail operation, and Tony Day (one day's good enough for him), in honor of my boss, at least at the present moment.

But those tributes of the future, when today's bad news becomes folklore, won't happen without the present moment, and what I do right now. Therefore, onward and upward! Greater bigger and worse crimes lie ahead!  (I did an awesome, though low-level, crime the other day that's had me chuckling ever since. You know the stop sign and other little orange sashes the school crossing ladies use? We found the shed where they keep them and raided it! Tossed all their stuff off a bridge and the last I saw of it it was floating away. Probably sunk by now, waterlogged! LOL! This is virtuous because kids ought to know how to cross the road on their own. If chickens can manage it...)
I have schemes in mind not just for society but for the Organization. One, and please don't tell anyone, I'm planning a move on Tony. Seriously, I may as well confess, the chances of anyone ever celebrating Tony Day are not good, because he's not long for this world... I've already said too much.

Getting back to my everyday life, of course I'm still in the market for ways to promote prostitution more effectively. I want it lift it out of the mud in the eyes of folks. I don't want it to have a wholesome amusement park nature, of course, because that would completely destroy the charm of sneaking around. But the more actual danger we can build in, the more attractive I believe it will be. So look for good stuff on that front. Just to pique your interest, how about johns being killed in flagrante delicto?

I love the idea of keeping their nerves on edge. They still come in with the same lust, but it'll be magically heightened with the thought that they might be actually killed. I can see myself doing a cursory investigation -- just enough to assure them things are back to normal. Then I'll get everyone excited about it as the danger is renewed, then wave it off again, then another eruption, then it's calmed down. That'll be great for business. Probably the key moment, the moment of greatest danger, will come just as I announce the building has rock solid security, everyone is safe, and they can go on their way. Delicious!

So, in conclusion, just a note to all the haters, you can rest easy, or put a sock in it. I've got my own criminal operations well in hand. I won't be listening to a word you say. Time for you to take a break. Of course I could invite you up to the hotel -- come on over! I'm so soft, nothing could ever happen to you!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tae Kwon Do

Tae kwon do, a deer, a female deer.
Tae kwon re, a drop of golden sun.
Tae kwon mi, a name I call myself.
Tae kwon fa, a long long way to run.
Tae kwon so, a needle pulling thread
Tae kwon la, a note to follow so.
Tae kwon ti, a drink with jam and bread.
That will bring us back to tae kwon do.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

If These Walls Could Talk


I was sitting in my hotel suite/office, staring at the wallpaper. Have you ever done this? I used to do it when I was a kid. I was always perplexed how wallpaper designers could match up the patterns so well. It was mesmerizing.

Being mesmerizing, it's easy to get lost in a reverie. That also happened when I was a kid. My mind would go almost blank very easily. As an adult, it's harder to do it now, to really concentrate, like what you aim for in meditation. I've had various theories as to why that is, mostly involving being old and not a child, being burdened with more responsibilities, having a brain differently developed, etc. But now I suddenly realize, it's because we just don't have as much wallpaper now. We need more wallpaper!

I like a good wall. Who doesn't? Although you never know what's going on behind it. Since I turned to a life of crime, I've been more and more paranoid about walls. Because how am I supposed to know-- the feds, the state police, the local authorities, or just a lone dick, might be back there. I have the place swept everyday with a bug sweeper, but the bug sweeper might be sweeping with the enemy.

And God knows I'm guilty of enough crimes! It'd be an insult if they weren't at least trying to listen in. Right now, sure, all I really am is the head of the Organization's prostitution operations, but that doesn't mean I don't poke my nose into everything else I get a whiff of. I lead the big diamond heist, I tried to corrupt professional wrestling, I killed the Ciggie outside of Tastee Freez, and the kid crapped on the police chief's desk at my instigation. Not a bad month's work!

I stare at the wall. The whole reverie thing kicks in. My eyes cross and I see the pattern of the wallpaper merge, a piece from over there with the identical piece over there. It's playing tricks with my eyes, my mind wanders. I start thinking, "If these walls could talk," as the old saying goes, "what might they be saying?" I might be out on a job and an investigator drops in. I come in and catch him, and I have no idea how long they've been chatting. One of my pictures is crooked, indicating something.

Next thing I know, someone higher up shows up with a warrant, and I'm very twitchy, looking guilty as hell, but really more afraid of what the wall might say. "I was standing right here when Machine Gun Ricky Wayward was blackmailing Rutledge!" The thought's crazy, but in my reverie I'm thinking, "I'll kill you, and I'll kill this entire room if you open your damned mouth!" Finally, they do get me, but there's no witnesses, at least none in the flesh. And yet, the prosecutor brings in a surprise witness, a chunk of my wall, swearing to tell the whole truth. The whole truth! That'd sink me!

I realize what I must do. I must get construction workers in here and take out that damned wall and put in a new one, one that's soundproof. When that's done, only then can I plot and plan and do whatever the hell I want, and nobody will be the wiser.

And -- I'll be able to idle away the hours with my guitar and harmonica, knowing no one can hear me. Because I'm so bad it's embarrassing.

RICKY'S FINAL WORD: I'm really glad the foregoing -- what you read, and will probably re-read -- is an imaginary story. It would be an obvious bastard, not just to me but the entire world, if our walls could actually talk. I really didn't want to get into my own sex life, but other than my crimes, of course that's the first thing I think of. And if the walls could talk! Whoa, Nelly, bar the gate! They'd be describing things best left even out of the imagination. A mental group grope, perhaps, I'm not saying what all it'd be, except it wouldn't be a description I'd be proud of. Struttin' my stuff, such as it is.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

He Paid For Companionship


Clint married Maude back when Maude was a cool name. He did his best over the years, always faithful, and accepting what she offered, leading to child #1, #2, #3, and #4. The children all survived.

She had her good qualities, being completely in tune with his past. They had the same memories and pretty much the same interests. To all appearances, they were the perfect couple.

But his eye wandered, although thankfully it was just his eye, not any other body part. At one point he was tempted, arguing that sex was the same as shaking hands, only with different body parts.

Eventually, he and Maude, in their 80s, died, remarkably only three hours apart, showing their complete soul harmony. They died and the newspaper wrote it up like this: "Clint and Maude died together, basically a double-ring funeral."


Right when it came time to marry Maude, he left her at the altar. He'd had a premonition of what was to come, life as a grind with just one woman.

How much more adventurous it'd be to pay for companionship. They're always up for it and seemingly more than willing. He wakes up, sees a receipt on the pillow, which goes into his book of memory.

Years of this -- a different woman every time, although once in a while he'd cycle around to the same one -- kept him pretty well satisfied. And his wallet lean as new, in certain respects.

Then came a time, in his mid-30s, when he noticed some of the well-known symptoms, what they whisper about venereal disease. Obviously, somewhere there was a clinker in the mix, which had made her way into his bed and trusting arms. Or could there have been two with a cross-pollination thing gone bad? Sex has its moments...

Clint died, and the newspaper noted that he had paid for companionship over the years, and now he had paid for it indeed, dying alone, leaving behind a number of unlived years (he was 55, so we're talking around 30 years).

The undertaker sent his brother the final receipt.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blackmailed One Last Time

This is a shocker, let me catch my breath... Rutledge is dead. Shot in the back. Bled to death. They dumped him in front of the hotel. Someone noticed his body. All hell broke loose.

Let me say, I'm very upset by Rutledge's death. Say what you will about guilt complexes being bad, I can't help thinking I'm somehow -- at least remotely -- responsible. Before you pat my back and poo poo my thoughts of responsibility, please hear me out. I'm the one who blackmailed him two times as a joke. Of course he wouldn't fall for it a third time.

The terrible thing is: The third time wasn't me, and it wasn't a joke. But he thought it was, so he responded by dismissing their demands, resulting in the present catastrophe, a bullet in his back, the consequent loss of blood, which was entirely necessary for his ability to live.

How do I know all this? Of course I couldn't know it. But it came to me as soon as I saw Rutledge's dead body, that he had to be the victim of foul play. Could it be suicide? No, a man shooting himself in the back and dumping himself outside a hotel is extremely rare. I had to find out what happened, and I wanted to know right away.

It is in a moment of crisis like this that I'm at my best. I've always been that way, and it's something of a source of pride. Once as a boy I lost my homework -- it was a very windy day, and there went my papers out of my hand and across a muddy field! The average first grader would've panicked and figured all was lost, and just take the failing grade. But I leaped into action, going over the barbed wire fence in one bound, like a seasoned track and fielder. And through sheer will, I bounded through the mud, brambles, and over a creek raging out of its banks. I dove on the homework, wrestling it free of the wind's grasp. Long story short, I managed to get a C instead of an F.

But enough about me. I saw Rutledge's body and once again dove into action, telling everyone in my path to get the hell out of my way. I called in my best boys, the ones with connections in all the town's gangs. I have to tell you, I was so flustered -- running strictly on will, two parts will and one part adrenalin -- that I wouldn't take "I can't" for an answer. "Find out what happened to Rutledge! Get back to me within the hour or you'll join him on the sidewalk!"

My demands were met, but they had to give it their all. A couple of guys came back injured, broken arms, black eyes, and one guy was shot in the leg, giving him a painful limp, even painful to look at. But they had the answers.

I winced when the story came out, just as I feared. They tried to blackmail him, but after having been blackmailed twice as a joke, there was no way he'd accept it as the real deal. Rutledge laughed in their face, ignoring every threat and scoffing at the idea of paying a single cent. He reportedly was looking for me behind the curtain, opening closets, trunks, and, not finding me, speaking loudly to the dark corners of the room where he figured I'd be watching on video camera.

And it really hurt when he was proclaiming loudly that this was "the last straw" and that he'd kill me with his bare hands when he caught me. There'd be no more laughs at his expense. He was "finished, through, done, sayonara, arrivaderci, adios, goodbye Ricky Wayward, may you rot in hell!" The gang that had him had two thoughts: 1) He was certifiably insane; or, 2) In some other way, not clearly known, he was "dissing" them, and bloodthirsty gangs don't care for that.

They'd tied Rutledge's hands with a rope and had him hanging from the rafters and there he was spinning. Surely this would bring him to his senses that it was no joke! But no, he shouted out defiance of me as he spun. "There's no way you're going to fool me again, Wayward!"

They dropped him back to earth and took him for a little ride. They hung him off the side of a bridge, so far down that his head was going in and out of the river. Up and down, back and forth. But would he give in? No, he used what power he had left to curse me, "Give it your best, Wayward, you bastard! I'll never give in!"

Finally, they took him to a cheap motel, sat him in a chair, and turned on Jerry Springer. With this greatest torture, he was muttering something like, "All right, Wayward, you win," when some strength, undoubtedly unknown to him before, brought him to his senses, and he refused, saying, "Wayward, you can't break me!"

In short, the gang saw they'd never get anything out of this crazy man, who, from their point of view, had no respect for the whole blackmailing process. Of course they didn't know about the recent blackmail jokes. All they knew is they were getting nowhere fast, and the longer it went on, the worse it would be. Leaving them no choice but to kill him.

The last part of the story went like this: "Wayward!," he cried out, "your guns don't scare me. You say it's a joke, you bastard, but this time the joke's on you!" With that, they shot him. A witness told my boys, "I heard the crack of the gun just before Rutledge slumped." And the rest you know, they dumped him out front.

Later, I went through the hotel and was able to collect almost $100 for his widow, who doubtless deserves so much more. But life is sometimes unfair, like that time my homework blew away. The mud that day was treacherous, but somehow, through indefatigable will, I got it back, and received for my labors a not half bad grade, a B+, I believe it was.

CREDIT: The cartoon panel is from the strip "Vic Flint" by Jay Heavilin, March 24, 1957.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We're The Playthings Of Destiny

Being a crime boss is quite an adventure!

In my role as head of the Organization's prostitution operation, I have all kinds of duties, some routine and some just out of the blue. I have to be ready for anything. Because sometimes the human drama can be almost too much...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. There's a lot of fun in it. And I have all kinds of leeway in the Organization. Think about it: Who else gets to engineer a diamond heist, blackmail a guy twice, and smooth the ruffled feathers of a whole team of Associates (our word for hookers), all in the same week?

Really, you never know when your next challenge will be. But I'm ready! My secret is simple: Overall clean living and daily meditation. I do my best to maintain the utmost harmony, focusing my mind, body, and spirit. I'd be a wreck without it.

So there you have it, I'm bearing my soul, laying it all on the line. Hope you're impressed.

And I'm definitely going to keep at it, because keeping a full team of Associates happy and content is not always the easiest thing in the world. Maybe you'll hear them griping, "When you said 'modeling' I had other ideas about what you meant." Or, "If this is 'massage therapy,' it's a lot different from what they taught us in class." Sometimes you can mollify them with some fresh flowers for their table, but it might just take a heart to heart talk. Which I'm always happy to do, especially if I think they'll go for it.

One of our Associates, Lorelei, came to me, all hangdog about her life, and very moody. I had her sit on the couch. Of course I did what you're supposed to do, presented her a few flowers, but she just waved them off. No, she was going to need something more, this sensitive girl from North Dakota, or Arizona, or somewhere. She'd obviously had too much time on her hands, time wasted thinking, and stewing about it. To hear her tell it, this wasn't the life she'd hoped for.

Well, what could I do ... but commiserate.  It is, after all, one of the very best techniques in human relationships, to affirm the other person through identification. And naturally it is more compelling if you have, or can quickly construct on the fly a plausible back-story. As for myself, I'm from a genuine blue collar family. Those who came before me had a tough time in the Depression. There's a history of military service with my grandpa and uncles, all before I was born. And I personally have a disability, a game toe, causing a pronounced limp most noticeable during my annual visit with federal authorities, who have to validate such things.

Lorelei told me some of her disappointments, which caused me to glance down at my foot. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said tenderly, "Does it really hurt so very much?" I held back a tear and said with all the braveness I could muster, "No, I've got a few months till the next evaluation." But still, had it not been for this migrating bone in my big toe, who knows what I might have achieved? With a good toe, and a little bit of height, I could've played for the NBA!

Our talk hit an awkward silent patch, so I pulled out my ace: "Lorelei, you and I both feel like we're the playthings of destiny. Perhaps we haven't achieved everything we hoped for, but we're happy, because we've accepted the challenges of our lives, and are even now in the process of overcoming them. I wasn't always a crime boss. I had to work at it over the last month. And you weren't always a--- an Associate here. But somehow you saw exactly what your options were, so here you are, and I'd say better for it! I'm proud of you." Such poetry, I felt tears in my eyes, natural ones, not spritzed from a bottle.

I patted Lorelei on the back and told her anytime she needed to talk, of course I would check my schedule and we might be able to squeeze in an appointment. Until then, keep a stiff upper lip, don't take any wooden nickles, and remember, them's the breaks.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bad News -- You're Being Blackmailed Again

It was a terrifying experience for Rutledge to be blackmailed by me. So he was greatly relieved to find out it was just me fulfilling his self-confessed fetish. He claimed that was exactly what he wanted!

I'd pretty much forgotten about it and moved on, when Rutledge came into my office saying he wanted me to do the same thing to one of the other guys, Granger. I said, "Yeah, Granger would shit his pants, even though he also said he'd like the danger of being blackmailed." Granger's wife is totally suspicious that he spends his check on booze, hookers, and gambling. So far, though, what she doesn't know hasn't hurt her...

I rubbed my hands and said, "Yesssss! Our Mr. Granger is in for it ... big time!" Rutledge and I laughed and slapped high fives. But I warned him not to say anything under any circumstances, no matter what. He crossed his heart and said "hope to die." I put a bead on his heart and said, "Don't worry, you will." With that, his smile disappeared, till I said, "Cheer up, Granger's gonna get it!"

The joke here, though, wouldn't be on Granger. Rutledge was going to get it again! So Rutledge leaves and Granger comes out of the bathroom, and I said, "You heard everything?" He nodded. We began making our plans. Then I scratched out a note and told him to deliver it, pronto!

A few minutes later, I placed a call to Rutledge. When he picked up, he heard heavy breathing on the line. Then an unfamiliar voice, my voice again disguised. "Rutledge, I understand you're a regular over at the hotel, with everything that implies." He tried to deny it. He might have been suspicious, so I referred to myself in the third person to deflect it: "And I understand you're working with that shithead, Machine Gun Ricky Wayward, whose guts I hate with a purple passion, a hatred beyond words. I'd love to see Wayward take a long walk off a short pier." He clearly didn't like where this conversation was going! His breath was heavy and I could feel the moisture of his perspiration through the line, nearly short-circuiting the connection.

My demand once again was for money, this time $5,000. Or I would go to his wife with all the disgusting lowdown, plus, the police would hear some "very interesting" news of his involvement in a recent diamond heist, among other jobs. Rutledge knew he was nailed, and this time it could be no joke. The resignation in his voice was heartbreaking as he asked where to make the drop. I referred to a particular garbage can at a playground on the east side of town. He said he knew it well. I said that wasn't where he would make the drop, but where he would find his instructions for the next step.

I said "my boys" were watching the garbage can, "so don't be late," and I gave this final warning: "If you double-cross us in any way, if you contact Wayward, my order on you is shoot to kill." I finished the call with only about 10 seconds of maniacal laughter, not wanting to use all my minutes this early in the month.

OK, some time passed, giving me and Granger time to wonder what the hell was going on. I remembered the note in the garbage can word for word: "Rutledge, we hope you enjoyed our little fun. How's the fetish going? -- Wayward and Granger."

About two hours passed -- you'd expect the bastard back sooner! -- when Rutledge came busting into my apartment. He was well-lubed, obviously having stopped by a drinking hole for liquid courage, to do--- to do what he felt he must! Which was to kill me. Thankfully, the booze made him so unsteady, he merely shot four or five shots into my walls and ceiling.

Granger sneaked behind him and knocked the gun down, after which we laughed our asses off. It took a while, but soon drunk Rutledge was also able to laugh, and the three of us left that particular subject arm in arm, singing the old song about "15 men on a dead man's chest."

Rutledge had the 5 grand on him still. I peeled off $100 and sent him down the hall with one of our more patient hookers.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is Christmas Always On Sunday?

I'm glad the paper answered this important question today, because there's probably lots of us who've been wondering the same thing, without having the courage or drive to write in.

I can truthfully confess, I've celebrated many Christmases, all of them in the past, without now remembering the day of the week they were on. But if I'm to be completely honest, I have to say I don't think they were always on Sunday.

Unlike the questioner, I was already more or less aware that Christmas is always on Dec. 25. More or less? I can actually be more definitive than that: I am very sure Dec. 25 is always Christmas Day! But, still, it's nice to see it in print, and to know it wasn't just a figment of my imagination.

So, thank you, newspaper! You've done us all a great service. If it weren't for the help, who knows, the questioner might have had to look at a calendar! Or googled multiple calendars for multiple years, which would make it a lot more complicated. And obviously not every calendar says when Christmas is, like little calendars. Plus, sometimes it's tough to know if the calendar is showing Sunday or Saturday, since sometimes they just say S M T W T F S (my emphasis).

I hate to gripe about the "Sound Off" column today. But if I could complain just a little, what's the big gap of white space for? If they had that much room, they could have elucidated with a few more details. Like how to reconcile the odd fact that Easter is always on Sunday.

Here's why I think that is: The church gives payoffs to calendar publishers to make it happen. Why the publishers aren't open to payoffs at Christmas is anyone's guess. You'd think they'd be more open, so they could afford more Christmas gifts. But you'll have to ask them.

Maybe "Sound Off" can get to the bottom of it! I'll write in! Why do calendar publishers accept crooked payoffs from the church to reserve Sunday for Easter, but when it comes to Christmas they turn and say "Bug off!"?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good News -- You're Being Blackmailed

We all know what blackmail is. You've had a little bit of fun, then, wham, someone blackmails you. Then it's time to pay. Of course you're all nervous when the call comes. "What?" you tremble, knowing if you pay, that won't be the end of it. The guy gives his instructions, you're in terror, but you can't realistically do anything but pay.

Some of our regulars were at the hotel this afternoon, not for the hookers, but just sitting in the lounge having coffee. In my place as the head of the Organization's prostitution operation, I have a bank of TVs to keep track of people's comings and goings, no pun intended. I saw among them a couple of the ones who said one of their fetishes was wanting "the danger" of being blackmailed.

Of course I like to make people happy. That's the business I'm in. So I thought I'd play around with this one guy, a guy named Rutledge. He's the kind of guy who would probably scare easily. And who knows how happy that might make him!

I dialed his number and watched as he answered the phone. "Mr. Rutledge," I said calmly, disguising my voice, "don't hang up..." He goes, "Who is this? What do you want?"

"What-do-I-want?" I repeated, adding a menacing chuckle. "You tell me ... You've been a very bad boy. I've been watching you." He sounded like he was getting sick. "What's this all about?" I just chuckled again, like a cat with a mouse, then said, "You know what it's about, you being a very bad boy."

In the give and take, definitely fevered at his end, I finally described the monetary payment I would need "to keep my big yap shut" and where he should make the drop. Of course I added a few snarling remarks about "What a terrible pity" it'd be for his wife to find out, especially considering all the child support he'd be liable for, with eight kids. "That'd wipe me out," he complained, to which I only replied, "I know."

He wanted to meet me face to face. It was a confused conversation because in there somewhere he started thinking maybe it was me. "Is this you, Ricky? Is this what we were just talking about?" I expressed that I didn't know anyone named Ricky. Probably more unbelievably, in spite of Ricky Ricardo and Ricky Nelson being famous Rickys, I said I'd never even heard the name before. Before he could interrupt, I cleared my throat.

"Mr. Rutledge,"  I said, "The plain truth is, I know where you go, and I know what you do there. And if you don't do exactly as I tell you, I will be sharing some very interesting facts with your lovely wife..."

"OK, dammit to hell," he blustered, "what do you want?" I explained a complicated procedure that he must perform. He should put $300 in small unmarked bills in a package, come to the hotel, catch a taxi to a particular corner, walk to a mailbox, take another taxi from there to where he started from, walk to a fire hydrant, catch a taxi back to the same particular corner, clap three times, and catch a taxi back to where he started. Then he would re-enter to the hotel and say to the receptionis, "Give this package to Mr. X when he arrives."

"That's all, then you can go back home ... to your loving wife and kids ... or carry on as you've been doing."

I could see in the monitor he was sweating a rainforest. But he was relieved, it appeared, that it was only $300. Could he be so fortunate? I brought him back to earth with a dispiriting promise, "I'll talk to you again ... next week!"

UPDATE: Rutledge did exactly as I commanded. Later, I called him up to my office and gave him back his money. He was pleasantly surprised and said, "Don't ever do that again!" and was totally relieved. I was laughing my ass off and asked how he liked it, since it was his fetish. He laughed, too, and said, "Not as much!"