Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hercules Out For Breakfast

I think of Hercules as a big klutz who can't control his power.

For example, if he shakes your hand, you've just lost a hand. He either squeezes it like a lemon or it's torn off completely. If he so much as feels the fabric of your shirt between his fingers, as daintily as he can, he's at least torn a big hole in it.

So the idea we're thinking of today is full of danger. And really not so far from the realm of possibility. Since Hercules is a big guy, of course he has to eat. We all have to eat, how much more such a big guy?

The way Hercules normally eats is to stand on the side of a mountain and pluck big birds out of the sky. His hand darts up like a reptile's tongue, the reptile having lain in wait for its prey. Hercules is just that quick, and equally voracious.

But in this scenario, Hercules finds himself in modern society, away from the mountain and present with the rest of us. Although you could easily imagine him on a mountain, then reaching up and, thinking it was a bird, plucking a jet plane out of the sky, thereby becoming Public Enemy No. 1.

But we're going to keep it on the up and up. Hercules is at a house and decides to go out to breakfast. He goes to the car and immediately rips off the door. He gets in and crushes the seat. Even the steering wheel is in pieces by the time he gets to IHOP.

He gets to IHOP and accidentally pulls the door off its hinges. They seat him at a table for one. He puts his arms on the table and crushes it. He goes to the bathroom, and his stream is so powerful the urinal is shattered, leaving a horrible mess.

It comes time to order. Of course the menu doesn't stand a chance. Just in normal handling he's ripped it to shreds. He tells the waitress what he wants and the power of his booming voice blows the windows out of the place. The waitress and all the people on that side of the room are deafened.

He needs a mountain of food for his enormous appetite. The cooks are overwhelmed, having to come up with 40,000 pancakes, 100,000 sunny side up eggs, and enough fried bacon to sink a battleship. They don't even have the supplies for such a meal, as good as IHOP is.

A thousand waiters bring his meal. He has torn off the roof so they'll have a place to stack it. But he's not satisfied, as I said, since they don't have the supplies, and he literally consumes 200 waiters to make up the difference. And in our modern world, you can't just kill 200 people and expect them to think nothing of it. Because not everyone belongs to the NRA. So it's a big problem.

Hearses are lined up outside IHOP, as coroners try to sort out which remaining legs belong to which missing waiter. Hercules is offended and comes running out. He rips off the tops of two hearses, put his feet in them, and roller skates away.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'll Never Be Ignorant Again

It's been a while now, back in January, that I wrote what I thought was a scientific post on clouds, "The Mystery of Clouds." You'd really think that'd be so long ago no one would care. But I get more mail on that post than all the others combined. As it turns out, science people are very protective of their domain, and apparently I don't measure up to their lofty standards.

Frankly, I wasn't expecting any backlash whatsoever. Because I figured my opinions are as good as anyone else's. Which, OK, looking back on it, I can agree that there can be a stark difference between scientific fact and personal opinion. Just like there's a difference between intelligence and stupidity.

All that said, the backlash looks to be way out of proportion to the offense. Wasn't what I said half in jest anyway? I don't have a clear memory of it, but it seems like it. I said I wasn't sure what held clouds up or how they operated. So I gave my opinion that it had to do with being lighter than air. But heavier than the air above them. As they gain weight they become fog. As they lose weight they leave the atmosphere. I wrote something about wires holding them up too. Which isn't true, but that's the part I was joking about.

To those who wrote in and left comments: It might interest you to know that I deleted all your comments. If you can't keep it clean, then I'm sorry, you're outta here! It turns out those who believe in science are the world's biggest pottymouths. Probably because they believe in science, they're able to harness technology faster than everyone else, thereby allowing them to accomplish so much more, fitting in more activities, etc., like looking at porn, and so they pick up a more extensive vocabulary. Of the four-letter variety!

It was hurtful to be called ignorant, along with all the more colorful ways of saying it. But just to clarify one particular comment, assuming I'm supposed to take your insult literally, no, my head is not so far up my ass that I have to see the sun shine through my mouth. Would that even be scientifically possible? Come on, we must be scientifically reasonable and consistent, don't we, huh? Excuse me?

Still, my Grandma always told me I needed to pick my battles. She also gave me a bunch of good information on psychologically minimizing the various situations of life, such as looking for one fatuous argument against me, then being able to dismiss the whole thing, like the guy above saying my head was up my ass. It's impossible. Something I like to do, heh heh, giving away my most intimate secrets, is when I get in a fight I know I can't handle I just walk away. My way of picking battles is never to actually pick one! You see, Grandma lived in a world that didn't have the internet. She never knew an anonymous battle.Or the scurrilous creatures we now have to communicate with on a daily basis.

But I have my self respect to deal with. And if I made certain claims, ignorantly as it turns out, about clouds, then I want to do better next time. So that's my resolution! I'll never be ignorant again! From now on, before I ever say anything even remotely scientific, I will look it up online or in a book. You'll never catch me saying anything stupid ... ever again!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Disabled Patriotic Veterans

Now that the local newspaper has exposed The Disabled Patriotic Veterans of Distinguished Foreign Service to America (DFVDFSA) as a scam, and Walmart forbade them ever to set up their table of suckers sold for their benefit, we can only look back and celebrate their presence for those brief months.

They're gone now but not forgotten. I can still see them in my mind's eye: The various articles of slouchy clothes, the ratty camouflage, faded Doors T-shirts, patriotic caps burdened by trinkets and buttons everywhere, and of course the handlebar moustaches. They'd show up, and if you were lucky enough to get there early, you'd see the heartrending ceremony of unpacking the six inch flag and its wooden base, and proudly saluting as they erected it on the table. Then it was on to the cash drawer and the all-necessary priming of the tip jar with about 20 bucks.

The Disabled Patriotic Veterans of Distinguished Foreign Service to America.  Every word is important. They're disabled, or presumably serve others somewhere who are. They're patriotic, as we've seen them show their little flag all due deference. They're veterans who've performed service in the foreign fields, which has been distinguished. These weren't just desk jobs, supply guys, logistical staff, officers, or base personnel. This was distinguished service, meaning it was extraordinary. And America, that's a word that packs a punch!

All that time, there in the stifling heat of a Walmart entrance, they kept a brave vigil, testifying to their great sacrifice and sacrificing still, that with each sucker sold perhaps they could make a few cents over cost, to support themselves, not to mention those, their brethren, somewhere, the ones who are actually disabled and in dire need.

And you have to hand it to them, they had a great sales pitch to go along with their physical presentation. "No one gave us a parade, at least buy a sucker." And ,"We gave our lives for your freedom, buy a sucker already." But even with that there were plenty of people who acted like they didn't see them and would press into Walmart without stopping. Which is both bad and good. Bad, because those people are miserable, sons-of-bitchin' ingrates. But good, because it feeds into the DFVDFSA's complex that nobody appreciates them, giving them the resolve to double down on the guilt-inducing slogans.

I asked this one guy -- who asked me if I'd ever served, to which I had to go into my normal spiel about being eligible yet drawing high lottery numbers in the draft -- what the average gift for a sucker is. He said it was a measly buck. A dollar?! Crap, the suckers are about a dime to buy, so that's not much of a profit when you factor in the table, the flag, the stickers, and the sheer amount of time it takes to set up out there -- not to mention the heat! -- and time is money.

But what about the upper stratosphere of donations? We've all heard of the stranger who shows up at the Salvation Army bucket every year and puts in a 1609 gold doubloon worth a million dollars. No, he hasn't been here, but of course we'd love to have him stop by. The upper stratosphere, as it turns out, isn't very high. A few people have put in $20, and a few of those make the added gesture of not even taking the sucker!

Then, what is the most memorable thing that's happened to you out here? I asked. He thought it over and was visibly moved. His voice starting to break -- which he brought back quickly to normal -- he told me about an old guy who lives at a nursing home. OK? This stuff really happens. The nursing home (assisted living facility, I should say) brings them out in vans.

One time the old guy saw the sucker stand and decided next time he'd do something special. So he put on his World War II uniform and came out. He stood about 20 feet away. The DPVDFSA rep stood near the table. The older gentleman walked straight toward him. People parted. The old man, his hand feeble beyond belief, and shaking like a leaf as a consequence, lifted his hand and saluted. The other returned the gesture. That was a beautiful moment. It was a meeting of generations, from one who probably did get a parade to one who didn't. As if to say, "You're all right, and your suckers ain't half bad either, and thank you for your service." He put in $10, took the sucker, and signed the rep's hat. I saw the faded signature, clearly the scrawl of an old-timer, someone very old.

Other than that, I have a clear memory of the naked girl tattoo on the guy's arm.

Now, though, it's all gone. The DPVDFSA appears to be no more, exposed by an ungrateful newspaper as a scam. And our opportunity to give them what they deserve as disabled patriotic veterans has now sadly passed.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thorax -- The Space Visitor

Those who saw it say they will never forget it. And you know what? I'm forced to admit they're probably right! How could you ever forget a space ship -- a flying saucer -- pulled by a 20-mule team? And an all-but-incredible, a being just shy of incredible, a space alien named THORAX!

They're all fortunate, most of them, that they lived to tell the incredible story ... of the day the sky lit up bright as can be. It was a night really, but it was as bright as day. Even the birds took to their nests. They were on the beach, in beach homes, and in homes farther inland, just as -- Good God, what was that? They heard the most horrendous whooshing noise, apparently coming from the sky, and apparently from the massive vehicle hovering overhead, along with the standard braying of a 20-mule team.

I had a friend there whose sworn testimony is what I base my own opinion on, feeling through his vivid description, related to me with words, sounds, gestures, and fearful looks, that I was actually there. It was one hell of a sight, with THORAX'S spaceship even monogrammed with an immense, ornate T. And the mules! My friend couldn't believe the mules, pullilng a spaceship and somehow defying the earth's gravity. It's almost too much...

And yet it is ... what it is ... a fact ... The Earth has been visited, according to the sworn testimony of my friend, by a being named THORAX, who came with a mission. And once his mission was accomplished, off he went, speeding back to the darkness and vastness of outer space. Leaving behind unforgettable memories ... and 20 spent mules, which scientists even now are examining for whatever evidence they can provide.

The biggest unforgettable memory, out of many, is when THORAX strode off the ship and, oblivious to the mere mortals forming a circle around him and his craft, unhitched the mules. Because what happened next, that's what my friend will never forget. THORAX himself walked over and extended the right hand of fellowship to him, and asked him a question.

THORAX inquired of my friend: "Tell me where your Grand Canyon is." Our Grand Canyon, my friend wondered, before replying, "You know about our Grand Canyon?" "Yes," said THORAX, "Every planet has a Grand Canyon." With the information gained, and a crowd of people standing around waiting for a sign of peace, THORAX reentered the ship and sped off toward Arizona.

There at the Grand Canyon, the reports go, THORAX procured fresh pack mules. To "train" them for flying in outer space, he hooked some kind of weird electrodes to their ears and gave them a jolt. Then it was simply a matter of fitting them in the exquisite other-worldly harness apparatus he had, also affixed to the craft.

THORAX turned and gave a gesture of peace and goodwill to the world, before lashing the mules, and taking off once again, headed for space -- the blackness of our star-studded sky. Space, more vast than any of us can imagine. Space, enough room for everyone. Space, room enough to grow.

Will THORAX ever return? This is an unanswerable question, unanswerable to me. THORAX himself probably knows.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Write, Yep

I write, yep, darned tootin' I do. Here I go again! No one can stop me from writing, because there's nobody else here. And by the time they got here, I'd already be done...

Writing's no big accomplishment. You're just putting one word in front of another. Type type type. The main thing, apparently, is if you want to do it, do it. Don't put it off for an unreasonably long period of time, because then you might keep putting it off so long that you'll never get to it. Then you'll die with many regrets.

Do I have any recent regrets? Yes, I guess I do. I've had a number of killer ideas -- deadly stuff -- then I've let the moment pass. Or I have a few false starts with some of it, that by the time I get back to it, it's no longer killer stuff. You have to strike while the thing is hot, if you can manage it. Which is just the thing, because sometimes I can't manage it. Too busy with something else, in bed for the night, etc.

I've had a couple of run-ins with the subject of writing in the last few days. I can't remember the first one precisely, but it was some famous person saying words to the effect of, "Write, even if it's no good, just put it out there, who cares? Put it down on paper, whatever you're thinking." That's cool. Because, really, who does care? And what does it matter if they care or not? One of the biggest hangups when it comes to writing is picturing your audience, and what they might like or not like.

The other run-in I had was hearing someone saying, "I like to write" or "I write." And I'm thinking, 'Well, I don't want to tell what I do. It's something of a secret life. If I get too many readers, then I have to worry about them, and what they like,' as stated above. But I was thinking to myself, 'I write too!' Big hairy deal. Anyone who can think can write. And that's just about everyone, excluding only those who can't think.

Writing, writing, writing. I'm doing it right now. And now I'm getting ready to stop, because it's time for bed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Star Spangled Tribute To America

"This is MY country, land that I love. This is MY country, something-something above. I pledge thee my allegiance, America, my home sweet. Yes, this is MY country, to have and to hold." The patriotic blood boils just to hear the precious lines of our most cherished songs.

And on this 4th of July -- with global warming scalding us with 104 degree F temperatures -- boiling blood is just what I need. So it's a welcome thing. Crank up the heat, pretty soon when we sing, "From sea to shining sea," we'll be able to actually see both seas from the middle and appreciate our great songs more.

I've got a little tribute to America I want to lay on you. In some ways, it sounds bitter [It's already written]. But I prefer to look at it as constructive criticism, exercising my freedom of speech that my blessed uncles (on my mom's side) fought for and very well could've died for had push come to shove.

All right, here it is:
Your sons are all cross-eyed.
Your daughters are all bowlegged.
Your mothers wear army boots.
Your fathers dress in drag.
Your grandmothers are loose women.
Your grandfathers can't get it up.
Your great writers are all hacks.
Your statesmen are very perplexed.
Your churches are your last hope.
Your grocery stores sell junk food.
Your flag has more stars than stripes.
Your roads are falling apart.
Your last victory was conquering polio.
Your old westerns have bad, fading soundtracks.
Your bald eagle could use a toup.
OK, that's it. It's a beautiful tribute, if I do say so myself, something I hope will make your Fourth of July holiday even more special.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Very First Guy To Eat A Banana

Full Disclosure: I'm working off an outline here, so I can get every detail just right.

We love bananas. They're good, and, they say, they're good for you. I saw a story one day that said we might be close to the precipice when it comes to bananas. We might be almost at the very point where we no longer have bananas. Because of some weird scientific fact which I don't remember.

But we're thinking today not of a dismal future but of a bright past. Way back when, when the first guy to ever eat a banana ate one. He didn't actually just grab one and eat it. He too was something of a scientist, thinking it might be poisonous. So he studied it out and scratched his head as he pondered.

The animals, of course the animals didn't care. They ate them like crazy. So the days passed, the animals eating bananas, and our guy watching. Being a scientist, though, he didn't make the rather abrupt jump in logic to say, "If they're good for animals, they're good for me." Because maybe the animals had a different digestive system, or maybe they'd drop dead as soon as they were out of sight.

The man followed them. First, the monkey. Then the chimpanzee. Then the gorilla. Then the baboon. And when he'd exhausted the simian family, he followed the snuffleupagus. None of them died. A week later, they were still alive. Two weeks later. Three weeks later. And so forth, they kept right on living. Making the guy think maybe he'd found the secret of eternal life. But he put that thought out of his mind, because it wasn't a concept he worried about.

He was meticulous, charting it all out on the walls of a cave. He charted out months, then years, of animal/banana observations. Five years later they were still alive, although some of them were up against their normal lifespan. One thing was for sure, bananas didn't harm them.

Finally, he went over and got a banana and ate it. It was delicious. But he just happened to have a son, who ate a banana and just happened to die of something else. Maybe a heart attack. He ate the banana and dropped dead. The man had no idea what happened, but clearly bananas, despite his own success with the first banana, were dangerous. And that was it.

It literally took another century -- 100 years -- till another guy came across the research notes in the cave, and, with the same experiments, concluded that bananas were safe, or reasonably safe. He fed them to 100 kids and none of them died, convincing him that the first kid's death was likely a fluke.

He ate all the bananas he wanted, grew more, fed them to the poor, and everyone was happy. Later, someone discovered the secret recipe for banana bread and that made them happier yet. They went bananas, so to speak, on bananas!

(Let laughter subside.)