Sunday, June 30, 2013

Welcome to Ida Lupino Theatre

What did I know about Ida Lupino? Nothing. Except she's the answer in crossword puzzles to the clue "Miss Lupino." When you have a name like Ida, you can achieve crossword immortality.

But then, in wanting to watch old movies, and suddenly, through the miracle of watching YouTube on your TV, I've discovered a movie sensation, whom I would immediately sign to a long-term contract were that possible, by the name of Miss Ida Lupino.

I guess I've only seen three movies so far, but all of them were ones where Ida was heavily involved in making them. In fact, she was the director. And starred in one of them. They are, in the order of me seeing them, The Hitch-Hiker, The Bigamist, and Not Wanted. And guess what, they're fantastic.

The Hitch-Hiker is about two guys who happen to pick up a particularly noxious hitchhiker. He's already killed others along the way, and now it's their turn. He manages to keep them under his terrible control for virtually the whole movie. It's very atmospheric. They're out in the wilderness, the mountains, the blowing dust, desert rocks, and little out of the way roads. I know this much, even if you're not a violent person, before the movie's over you'll want to strangle that bastard with your bare hands and send his soul somewhere worse than hell. It just so happens, the guy is the same guy who played the hapless prosecutor on Perry Mason.

The Bigamist follows the sad life of a salesman. He and his wife want to adopt a baby. But adopting a baby isn't like having your own; it requires a background check. The old man doing the background check on our salesman friend uncovers a whole double life, which is then presented to us in a long flashback. It's interesting as can be. I thought it was gripping, the whole sad story that you know it's going to be ... thanks to the title. Ida Lupino played the part of the wife in Los Angeles. His other wife was in San Francisco.

Not Wanted is about a young woman who becomes an unwed mother. It happens all the time now and it's usually OK. But in 1949, not so much. It's a very cool movie. We have a wild-eyed, yet in some sense reserved, night club piano player. I really liked his controlled histrionics at the keyboard. He and the young woman start up a thing. Too bad it wasn't coitus interruptus, or better yet abstinence, since his career, dismal to this point, means he has to go to South America. We never see him again, although he leaves something behind. Then there's the true man, a one-legged guy who definitely, heroically stumbles the extra mile to show he does actually love her. In between, there's the hospital for unwed mothers and some of the agonizing issues of adoption. Nice movie.

I was thinking, enjoying Ida Lupino as I've been, that it'd be cool to have my own TV show. Sort of like the guys on Turner Classic Movies. I could be sitting there in my easy chair. Then I realize I'm on. I perk up, go to the bookcase for a huge volume, titled after the Ida Lupino movie that I'm presenting. Of course I open the book and give a few bits of history about the film, who wrote it, etc. Then I pull out a pipe and go through all the gyrations it takes to get one lit, then I'm smoking it, and talking about Miss Lupino and some of the issues she addressed.

Ida was in a bunch of movies, way before she started directing, so this could be a show that went on for maybe close to a year. In the course of the year, I could have all sorts of cool things that I'm messing with. Like my slippers in the winter, poking at the fire, cleaning my bookcase, having my chair reupholstered, interviewing one-legged men, talking to hitchhikers, playing the piano, and sexing up young women (not on the air, of course) ... we'd just show the afterglow. Also, I'd be getting ready my passport for South America.

My recommendation to you is this: Don't wait for my show. The bastards on TV don't want me, I'm not commercial enough or something. I haven't scratched the right person's back, I don't know. I haven't slept with any producers, which is probably the actual truth. No, instead of waiting for my show, check out the list of Ida Lupino films on her Wikipedia page, then hightail it over to YouTube and check out some of these films. They're great.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mister Ed, This Is Your Last Chance

I'm giving Mister Ed this last jab, then that's it, I'm moving on. I've done my part for national security, which was only my duty, and now it's up to the higher powers, the higher echelons, to bring that one trick pony home. Oh, that takes me back, really, to my days on the horse show circuit, years ago. I truly thrill to hear the exhortation of the crowds to the horseman at the end of his showing to, "Bring it home! Bring it home!" What a mad dash it is to make good time!

That's also a good message to you, Mister Ed, "Bring it home! Bring it home!" Don't you feel it, just a little, the desire to make good on your duties of citizenship, to "bring it home" and face justice here in the fields of home, with those beautiful amber waves of grain? That's such a pretty sight, driving by a farmstead, with the horses standing around, munching their way from here to the fence, and swishing their tails to ward off bugs. I love it. And I believe you love it, too, Mister Ed. Maybe a fly creeping around by your eye, and the area around the horse's eye twitching, with nicely evolved little muscles there...

My words to Mister Ed today aren't actually "jabs," so much as hoping to talk American to American, mano a mano, rider to horse, man to pony, man to beast, humanitarian to equestrian, one on one, small nose to big nose, gaining his confidence, then slipping in the bit and adjusting the rigging. Yes, he roamed far afield, to the foreign fields of Hong Kong, Moscow, and Ecuador, a lot of far flung places, where, quite frankly, I can't see why any American would have anything to gain from going to those places. I certainly wouldn't want to range that far from the old barn back home.

I love it here, Mister Ed, and I believe you could regain your love for it, too. Of course I'm sleeping good at night, with a clear conscience, no worries, nothing beyond the day to day stuff: Will there be a mouse in the trap in the morning? Did I remember to give the dog fresh water last night? Are those pork chops that were on sale three months ago getting freezer burn? I'm definitely not worrying, at least too much, whether the Navy SEALS are going to storm the compound I'm holed up in, whether I'll be waterboarded by sundown, or whether I'll ever be able to live within 2,000 feet of a national security installation, then having to have a sign in my yard, "Registered National Security Data Thief."

I know, I know, it's all "alleged" at this point. Which I respect. That's one of the greatest things about America. You get the full measure of justice, whatever you're alleged to have done. All you have to do is avoid living in Texas or some other backwards place, and everything will be fine. So you may as well give yourself up, and get it over with. Tell you what, Mister Ed. Contact me at this blog, and I'll personally lead you to the police department, so you can get this weight off your back. You don't want to be saddled with guilt all your life.

The fact of the matter is -- and I guess I'm doing a little more leaking here than I should -- is that they already know where you are, and they're just biding their time before rushing in, trying to give you one last chance to do the honorable thing. I know if you do the right thing, I'll be proud of you. And rightly proud of my own efforts to talk you down. I'm something of a horse whisperer, as the old phrase goes. I soothe, soothe, and soothe, then gently work the bit in and the halter on, then BAM -- You're in the paddock, in the barn, in the pen -- clouds so swift, the rain comin' in, you ain't a'goin' nowhere, Mister Ed!

One last thing, lest anyone think Mister Ed is solely to blame for this national security fiasco. No, there's other horses in this race. He didn't just saunter in there and fill his saddlebag with 2 million documents without someone else being complicit, even if complicity is only measured in incompetence and lack of oversight. I remember many instances of dealing with government employees. They were sticklers for the rules. They wouldn't fudge on this form, this form, or this form, regardless of what common sense said. "You need this form of ID, this paper, and these records. Nothing less will do." But when Mister Ed was busy emptying out the mow, where was the thoroughness? Clearly, they were in their own stalls, dozing. Don't wake us when you're done...[snoring].

One more chance, Mister Ed, that's what you go, it's time to come home. Think how pleasant that journey will actually be. I know when we used to go horseback riding, ha ha, the horses were so used to the paths we took, they hated it. You had them going down the path, away from the barn, at a snail's pace. It took forever to get anywhere. But just you dare -- hope you're never this unlucky -- to get their nose pointed to the barn, then ... Whoa, Nellie ... they were deaf, differently advantaged as to hearing, there was no restraint. They zeroed in on the barn like a laser, and you were off at the same speed. I remember a limb coming at me at 60 mph, which could've taken my head off!

Please think of that, Mister Ed. Give yourself up, and come home.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Surrender, Mister Ed!

I was absolutely besieged with well-wishers and others singing my praises yesterday for my post, "We Got Bin Laden, We'll Get Mister Ed." I'm actually a little tired today because I didn't get much sleep last night. Readers from many time zones around the world kept me up. It was exhausting, but also very gratifying. It meant a lot to me.

And, I had to chuckle, there were even a few readers from Hong Kong, Moscow, and Ecuador who basically wrote, saying, "Please, get him out of our country or city!" It seems like they're afraid he'll get a job in their country next, then compromise their security by too much stealing. It just goes to show, whatever your nationality and whatever your background, you're paranoid about the same things as me.

But yesterday's gone. Now it's today. So I thought, you know, maybe I'd go to the well one more time, since I love your praise. The memories of it, after all, are still clear in my mind. My right arm -- my dominant arm -- is sore from the fist pumping. But it's a pain that I enjoy, because of how I got it, by pleasing you. Does that make sense? I really think I'm on to something: All I have to do is find some famous scoundrel in the news and publicly take him to task. And my blog really takes off! It's sort of devious, I know ... [devilish grin].


Mister Ed, I know you used to read my blog. You told me so that time you downloaded every entry of every blog on the internet and put them in everyone's individual file. As you recall, I was irate. The government I could handle. But you threatened to show it to my minister, thereby threatening me with excommunication. That was despicable. But I paid you off, and after a few months, it all went away. I can only assume you still visit here occasionally, although now that you're on the run, no doubt you have only stolen moments for savoring it.

So I will be brief. Mister Ed, all horsing around aside, the time has come for you to give yourself up. Do not make them have to capture you. If you give yourself up, that will be seen as a goodwill gesture, and things will be easier for you. They might even give you greener pastures. Only, please, whatever you do, for God's sake, give yourself up before you ruin our relations with the Ecuadorans. From there the dominoes could only topple, and we'd lose Mauritania, Togo, Texas, and the tiny island nation of Podunkia.

Honestly, Mister Ed, wither or not you'd admit it, you should've known better than to have (allegedly) stolen all our national secrets, including, you bastard, my data from the NSA, detailing all my alleged misdeeds, the foremost of which would have to be my spotty calls to my mom. I know the rap: You must be a terrible son, calling as infrequently as you do. And there she sits, with several diseases, staring almost hopelessly at the phone. And I know there's some stranger stuff in my file. Like when I called Al Qaeda. I swear, my call was nothing more than to ask them how they managed to have their name start with a "Q" and it's not followed by a "U." I didn't know that was allowed. It should be Al Quaeda, like that.

But enough about me. The government actually wants to geld you for showing the vulnerabilities of the NSA, that it's apparently overseen by three monkeys, See No, Hear No, and Speak No Evil. Whether they even have locks on the doors has not been established. They might've been "locking" the place with duct tape left over from the Bush administration. For you to have carried out over 2 million documents without a hint of suspicion sounds like quite a feat. I'm thinking back to that time I ripped one measly MP3 file off a neighbor's CD at 3 o'clock in the morning in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and the FBI was right there to pick me up, staying true to their warning label.

Do I relish the fact that you're in big trouble? you're wondering. You're damned right I do! It couldn't happen to a worse guy, after how you threatened me. And all my loyal readers -- you screwed them over too! Let's just say, you're something less than a thoroughbred... OK, Mister Ed, you get the message. Give yourself up today.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We Got Bin Laden, We'll Get Mister Ed

We got Bin Laden, We'll get Mister Ed. Even now, the world is swarming with agents trained in the mysterious arts of intelligence, top secret data gathering, and putting the finger on someone. Even if you're a needle in a haystack -- in this case don't eat the hay -- they'll find you.

Long live government snooping! Seriously, long live it. It's government snooping -- vast and broad -- that gives us the upper hand, the cutting edge, in the world. You think we'd know what was going on in North Korea if we weren't keeping track of things? And anyone who tinkers with government snooping, however slightly, or, as in this case, however enormously, needs to pay the price.

Good old Mister Ed thought he could stray from the barn, eat up all the crops, then gallop into the sunset, to the land of the rising sun, or close to it. Where, if I'm not mistaken, they sacrifice horses. But he didn't take into account that the world is a small place. There's no hiding place. There might've been one in 1900, when we would've have only a few blacksmiths looking for him. It doesn't work like that now. His being an expert in government power should've told him that. They'll soon have him back in the paddock.

Even the mighty bin Laden himself found he couldn't hide forever. Although we thought maybe he was dead. But they kept saying, "He's 7 feet tall and has a bad kidney." All we had to do is look for deliveries of extra large shipments of cranberry juice and the absence of bananas and soda pop. And that's where he'd be. Which turned out to be true. Not a banana in sight. Except it wasn't a cave, but a house somewhere over there. The bottom line: It was government snooping that got him.

Public enemy Number 1 went down. And now Mister Ed has nowhere to hide, neigh, withers 'o ever he may trot.

I truly believe Mister Ed's alleged crime, if he is eventually found guilty, would be a heinous one. (At this point, of course he is alleged to have done it. I would have even given Dr. Zachary Smith (Lost in Space) the benefit of a fair trial, were I one of the Robinsons, before finding him guilty and executing him, or leaving him alone to die on some godforsaken planet. My family needs safety more than a villainous plot device.)

If guilty, if Mister Ed had his way, we would be coming around the track, then entirely lose the lead we had in the war against terror. It wouldn't even be a photo finish, we would've broken a leg in the first turn. The war against terror, which, by some weird quirk in the nature of things was declared over about a week before these revelations, but which in all actuality rages on. Which might mean -- notice, I said might -- mean the destruction of every one of us. No one in the winner's circle. Although these catastrophes actually tend to never happen where I personally am. I've always been lucky like that.

Like I said, at this very moment the world is swarming with agents on the lookout. And we know our agents. They're familiar with all the usual suspects, not to mention every hooker from South America to Shanghai -- they'll find someone who knows something. Then, all bets are off, I wouldn't bet on that horse...

So what's the problem with Mister Ed's apparent actions? He stole our secrets and hoofed it on out of there. The simple fact of the matter is, some things are meant to be kept secret. Not to be flip about it, that's why we call it secrecy. We don't want anyone else to know. Whether you like the Patriot Act or not, the American people consented to it when we elected all the various assholes who were prepared to ramrod it through in our hour of panic. If you don't want such things, either quit putting scum like that in office, or stop panicking when something terrible happens. Look at things in context: 300,000 people die of cigarette smoke every year, we don't have to get so worked up over 3,000 that we instantly forfeit our rights.

I say we get the guy. Or conclude that the whole system is rotten to the core and do what you can to bring it down. Just don't look to me for support. Because I'll skewer you then just as much as I'm flogging Mister Ed today. And the only way I'd ever recant is if you happened to take over and instituted a Rein of Terror. Then and only then, for personal reasons, wanting to cling to life, even with my scruples so terribly compromised, I'd support you. Even though Rains of Terror, again, never seem to happen where I personally am -- I'm always left high and dry.

Now, does the government have any culpability in this matter? Yes. Mister Ed was several lengths ahead of them. Anyone so incompetent as to have him working there and downloading 2 million documents under their nose shouldn't be complaining. They're probably not smart enough to complain. Where's their horse sense? Search his feedbag at the end of his shift! Let government snooping begin right in the government's own office! Are you not paying attention, you dolts? Hell, he might've carried away the whole place before you woke up! I've worked at places where people noticed a sip out of their Coke, which turned out to be evaporation ... but the key thing is they noticed something was awry.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Mustang's Killing Us

Not to pick on the Ford Mustang, exactly... It's the representative car, that's all. That's killing us.

I've never had a Mustang, although certainly I wanted one, like every other brainwashed American male. In fact, I wanted one till just recently, until all this was presented to me about environmental destruction, the whole business. Still, even with all that, having one would be nice -- it's a very seductive car. It certainly was when we were young and foolish and unable to resist the slightest thing. Now I think more about the cost. The destruction of things.

Could we ever have foreseen at the time of the Industrial Revolution that it all meant Certain Death? I'm convinced that even I in my above average wisdom wouldn't have thought of it. I actually had cars for many years before it ever occurred to me. And even then I needed the talking heads of the mass media -- along with others who are respected, to repeat it every now and again before I realized it.

Had I been there in the Revolution, I'm sure I would have been one of the early adopters -- I'm honest enough to admit it. I would've said, "Three cheers for the Industrial Revolution," even though moths were changing colors and the whole bit. That should've been the 'canary in the mine,' warning us off, but naturally it didn't. We all know the ways of man, lose your head and rush headlong to your own destruction. Other animals basically don't do this, except we think of moths rushing to the flame.

Still, it took a while from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution till the time that we got cars. But what a predictable step it was! Motors, gears, lubrication, internal combustion, and ... exhaust. I hate exhaust. And I'm just as guilty of emitting it, driving as I do, virtually everyday. You can't see it coming out, usually, but there it is, everywhere, killing the world, every one of us. For the sake of a little bit of travel, we've accepted global suicide as a price worth paying.

That we should have left well enough alone and been content riding horses and camels and pulling wagons is now beyond dispute. Alas. Seriously, alas.

With all that in mind, you want to know something popular with the public that absolutely sickens me? Classic cars. What a mistake these are, but people are too blind to see it. They're old, they're still around, they're treasured, restored, and sold for big bucks. How smart! Our pride is placed in what should be seen as a testimony to our impending death! Death to classic cars! Most of them weren't good when they were new.

We know them from parades, driving by slowly, a beauty queen sitting in each convertible. They're old fashioned looking, and you could make the argument that some of them do look cool, like the '57 Chevy. My family had these at the time. I won't deny it. We've all had a part in the environmental destruction. I'd almost like to have a '57 Chevy today, just to make a statement by destroying it. It'd make a great protest that would make news: "Local Man Publicly Destroys Classic Car." I'd sledgehammer that piece of crap till it was nothing but scrap, seriously. Somebody buy me one and see if I don't.

I suppose I've said enough about it. But I have to tell you, I could go on. I also despise car museums. I went to one once and saw some of the very oldest rickety cars, the first ones, back when they had no good idea what a car should look like. They were open carriage and had a stick to steer with. The headlights were candles. For windshield wipers, they had--- Wait, they didn't have windshields. Then we advanced to the more mass produced models, ones we're more familiar with, ones you had to crank to start. You know where you stored the crank? In the crankcase. Crazy how we still use the term.

Today, cars have gone so far that some of them are made particularly with luxury in mind, for the rich. People throw away good money to have one of these idiot cars with all the bells and whistles. Conspicuous consumption. If you're that much a loser and feeling so insecure, get a damned penis pump already. At least you'll be working it in private and the rest of us won't be constantly psychoanalyzing you. Ticks me off.

But what can you do? Rage only gets you so far. It feels good at the moment, like now. My face is flushed, my pores a little more open with the sweat. But what's it worth? The same old world keeps spinning, and cars continue driving by. I can look up right now and see vehicles outside. Big metal cockroaches, and about as healthy.

It's vain -- it really is -- my rage. We're literally killing ourselves, but to speak truth to power is so often a thankless task. We're going to go on our merry way, that's for sure, until, finally, the whole thing breaks down. Then we'll call AAA -- I'm looking way ahead -- and no one's going to answer. Global asphyxiation. Global warming. Gases. Etc.

If we could only turn back time! If we could go back and be content to live more simply, to feed the horse, then stay home, that'd be better. Of course many of us wouldn't even be here, because some of us owe the mobility that came with the automobile to the fact that our parents even met. Or the backseat, where they first did it. Still, if we could make this major world fix, I know it'd be worth it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Part 3 -- A Lot of Legs, Six To Be Precise

PART 3 of 3

The vision of the naked child, having been revealed as signalling a potential rebirth of Father Time, seemed to mean one thing: Father Time was somewhere in the area.

In his last sermon, Walt promised the people they would kill Father Time, and further rallied them to, "Chase Father Time to hell and back if necessary. However far it is, however long it takes, we will ensnare him, and once ensnared, we will kill him!"

Then it all happened quite quickly. Father Time was just over the next hill, standing there on his one remaining leg. The leg Walt had severed with the scythe was a healed stump, which would've been tough to see under his robe, but he had hiked the robe up momentarily to scratch an itch. When he saw the people coming out with swords and staves, and Walt there in front, the most prominent, with the scythe, he showed his vulnerability by dropping the robe. By dropping the robe, I mean he dropped it to the ground, then on his remaining leg, hopped over it.

Father Time stood naked and proud! He seemed a sympathetic figure. The people stood there in a phalanx, not knowing what to think, while Walt proceeded forth alone. "You have come to kill me, haven't you, Walt?" "Yes, " Walt said, "and not only to kill you but to send your soul to damnation," not understanding the nature of anything. And with all those years of contemplation in the mountains! What a dope...

Without delay, then, in rashness, Walt charged ahead. But Father Time stood firm, yielding himself to the scythe, simply allowing Walt to hack him to death. That was simple, Walt thought. And he kept thinking it, until the pieces of old Father Time's body vanished, and a new Baby Time appeared in the same place, this time not just a vision. Walt had unknowingly reinvigorated Father Time, being lured into it.

The baby spoke: "I am Father Time. The idea of me ever being old, or for that matter, young, is nothing but a crock of crap. You cut off my leg, yes. But you see now I have two legs. And I could grow back six more if I wanted!"

The people in the phalanx suddenly sensed themselves withering away to nothing. They were being judged. They wrinkled up quickly, something fierce. In a moment, they were all dead. As for Walt, he was granted several minutes for his final contemplation, but death for him would also be swift. He complained, "So you got me, did you? Now I must die, having never had the privilege of someday seeing my great great grandchild graduate from college. If I have only one regret, it is that I ever thought of 'killing time.' Now I see, I should have set forth better goals for myself, then knocked myself out trying to reach them."

Baby Time aged quickly and was now Father Time again in appearance. He raised his scythe in a kind of salute toward Walt, sort of like what you see between bitter enemies in Star Trek, a nice recognition of spirit and life being held in common, regardless of how apart they are in values and background. But suddenly there was a frown on Father Time's face, and his grasp on the scythe was intense. Walt seized up in excruciating pain and fell dead.

Concerning the townspeople, it's very interesting that the ones who died were the more high-minded, involved ones of the town. Only the ones who'd been oblivious to the whole struggle of life, who didn't care, were able to live happily ever after ... till they would eventually die of such old age that they were content to go.

Finally, in the lore of all this, there went this saying abroad, that from now on Father Time would appear not only with his two normal legs but six other legs besides. But he had not said that he would grow six legs, only that "I could ..."

PART 1 -- Father Time Being Blunt
PART 2 -- Have Scythe, Will Travel

Part 2 -- Have Scythe, Will Travel

PART 2 of 3

Years passed quickly, lickety split. You know how time goes. Sometimes it seems like it takes forever, then 40 years are gone. Cute little kids are suddenly ugly adults. It's a slippery slope, like ice. No one likes cold, but what can you do? There's plenty of things I don't like, but I still have to put up with them.

Walt had his complaints, too, but he could only press on, clutching Father Time's stolen scythe in his hands. He was like a fugitive, his life completely changed, forever on the run, always looking over his shoulder, never getting too comfortable. Because Father Time's vow had been that he would kill him. And now that he had cut off Father Time's leg, it might be hard to get back into his good graces.

But then quite a few years went by, and in all that time he never once encountered the old man again, so he started to think maybe the scythe had great powers of protection. He toyed with the idea that the scythe was the source of Father Time's power all along. But he was never comfortable.

It went on like that. Then, after 10 or 20 years wandering and hiding, Walt sought to regain his confidence and went far up into the mountain, where he contemplated the whole thing. Then, while resting on a precipice on one knee, and watching a circling eagle, he came to an inner knowledge that his time of going down had come. His old fear was gone. So down he went, arriving in a small village and appearing in their marketplace. As the townspeople gathered around, he gave a sermon on time: "The idea of wasting time is a lie. Your ambition to redeem time is the true waste. Do whatever you want, it's all the same."

The people of the town figured he was just a crank who had been exposed to too much of the blistering sun, either that or he was crazed by love and feeling, and internal thoughts protracted among endless solitudes. And now he had come to ensnare them in the same craziness; that's why he came down, they reasoned, to give us this obviously false message.

But suddenly, in addition to the prophet being there with them, there was in a beaming vision a naked child in a barrel, who appeared in their midst without warning. Walt felt himself go faint, nearly a dead faint. Could it be? Was it? Yes, it was Baby Time in an unformed, nebulous state, like he was out there somewhere, craving to be reborn. The barrel covered him like the protection a turtle gets from its shell. Also, he had no scythe ... and was so helpless he wouldn't have been able to use it anyway.

None of the greybeards in the town had been able to silence Walt, but this naked child not only silenced him, he made him go completely mute. In fear, Walt raised the scythe, motioning the others toward the child, as if to say, "Let's get him!" But none of it worked, the people apparently transfixed and in too much fear.

In that instant, Walt's prophetic voice returned, and he implored the people. "It's you or him!" But the child vanished, leaving the barrel behind. The townspeople had now been worked up enough to kill the child, had he not vanished, but they could only destroy the barrel, breaking it down to its constituent parts, several staves, which also vanished as if they'd been mist.

Walt rallied their flagging spirits with one final sermon, ending with these ominous words: "He's out there somewhere! We shall find him! We shall kill Father Time!"

PART 1 -- Father Time Being Blunt
PART 3 -- A Lot of Legs, Six To Be Precise

Part 1 -- Father Time Being Blunt

PART 1 of 3

This story didn't happen to me. It happened to a guy I'm calling Walt. Walt came just that close to Father Time, he of the mighty scythe. Very close!

Father Time appears from time to time. Usually around New Year's, but that doesn't preclude other visits. When he appears, it's most often bad news. Like his own temporary death in late December. If he appears to an individual any other time, it is said, it's usually bad news for that person.

Well, Father Time did show up before Walt, scythe in hand, with a word: "You've wasted me. You spoke of 'killing time,' then followed through on it. I felt myself weakening, and it was only because of many other people, good people, passing me in the proper way, that I regained strength. Now you die!" With that, he raised his scythe...

Walt yelled, "Wait! You're Father Time, please give me just a moment. Let me explain. I thought I needed to waste time, for my own well-being. I didn't know it'd hurt you. By 'killing time,' I meant taking time for relaxation, chilling out, and taking time to play with the kids."

But Father Time would not be reasoned with. "Kids have all the time in the world. You were simply wasting your time playing with them. Let them go outside. They can play outside. They'll entertain themselves. You've made very unwise choices." Walt tried to object, but Father Time slashed his scythe through the air and nearly took off his head.

The old timer then paused, "I am stolid in my conviction that you should die. But I am also merciful. Use me wisely, or next time I won't miss! After all, you're the one who first spoke of 'killing' me. It'll be your turn to see how it feels."

Walt moderated himself, not wanting to incite Father Time any more than he had to, as he was clearly unhinged. He raised his hands, conceding the point. He thought, 'Give him his space. Keep calm. Let the old bastard state his case, then I'll get the hell out of here.' He asked, "What should I be doing?"

Father Time's will for Walt was this: Sleep deprivation, staying on the treadmill of life, burning the candle at both ends, striving endlessly, hungering to see another day, and creating meaningless goals. "Your prayer should be that you will live to see your great great grandchild graduate from college. Then knock yourself out in order to make it happen!" He further directed Walt, "And buy nursing home insurance -- you're going to need it."

Walt saw in this some kind of omniscience on the old chronographer's part. "So I will live that long?" Father Time was quick to answer, "I didn't say that. I'm Father Time, ever in the now, never looking ahead. I couldn't if I wanted to. But what I have said, I have said."

What an admission! He may as well have lifted his robe and just let one fly in the breeze. It'd be worth about as much. Walt concluded all at once that Father Time is just a worthless old personification of the inexorable slipping of one second to another. The old bastard doesn't know anything, and if he does, it doesn't amount to anything. Basically just a pompous old poser.

Walt was nothing if not bold. With that quick insight, and knowing he had the upper hand, he was quick to the ground and back up, throwing dirt in Father Time's eyes. In a flash, he grabbed the scythe, and with equal quickness whipped it through the air, cleanly cutting off one of Father Time's legs.

As Father Time writhed on the ground, a bloody mess, Walt ran away, yelling back, "I will waste you if I want, I will kill time! Your ideas of the future suck!"

PART 2 -- Have Scythe, Will Travel
PART 3 -- A Lot of Legs, Six To Be Precise

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Zero to 60 -- A Speeding Ticket Reverie

When it comes to crime, we're all thankful for speeding. There may not be anything too dangerous about it for society, like going 40 on a stretch where the speed limit is normally 40 (but it's been reduced to 25 for road work soon to begin), but it's a crime nonetheless. And that's free money for us, society, not only to pay the cops there on the job, but to fund other things.

Of course you hate it when it's you getting the fine. And maybe you feel for the other guy -- I personally don't -- but still, Better him than me / Better him than me / One thing I can say for sure / Better him than me. I myself haven't gotten a speeding ticket since the early '80s -- knock on wood -- so that's 30 years! Pretty good, huh?

What I should've been doing over the last 30 years, other than maybe getting married and having someone now to share my dotage, was putting back money in case I did get a ticket. Really, think how much I could've saved by now. Like if I'd only saved 50 bucks a year -- that'd be easy enough -- I would've had $1500! I can't believe I never thought of this till today. It makes me wonder what other great ideas I've overlooked...

If I would've had $1500, let's imagine, I could do all kinds of things if I suddenly got a ticket. Like mess with the cop's head, talking back, trash talking, etc. Acting like I didn't care, letting my dog out to pee on his leg, etc. I'm bubbling over here thinking of it! Plus, throw in that I had a wife or co-husband; we could be engaging in a domestic quarrel right then and there! With $1500 to work with, we'd put on a real production!

Here's what actually happened today. I'm coming over the hill and there's the cop. It's now a 25 mph zone and I'm going maybe 29. He's got the radar gun. There's other cars but I'm in front. I drop the speed slightly, but not to 25. I thought, "He's looking for someone faster." And, wow, before I went another 300 yards, he zipped out, lights going, and was pulling over some other guy. I sang my Better him than me song and proceeded on my way.

But what if it'd been me ... and I had my $1500 ... and a wife or co-husband? The idiot wouldn't have stood a chance! I would've dressed him down like the season's first deer and trussed him up like the last turkey. If you know what I mean. "What seems to be the trouble, Durwood, er, I mean Officer?" Then he tells me I was going 40 in a 25 zone, which till a month ago was a 40. "You stopped me to tell me that? Too much time on your hands, is that the problem?" Suddenly he notices my snotty tone, already over the top.

So there's the first ticket, a measly $45. I'm like, "Look, Durwood, I pay your salary. OK? And I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth. You've probably wasted $100 in gas just sitting there. $45? You're an idiot." He's very mad now. "Sir, just so you get your 'money's worth,' the fine has now doubled -- it's $90." But I'm only more enraged, "Anyone with half a brain would've tripled it." Now he's on to me, "I tell you what, I'll quadruple it. Your fine is now $180!"

The spouse interferes, in this scenario a wife. "You stupid pig," she says to me. I whack her, which brings a fine for domestic abuse. "It's $45 for whacking my wife? That's all? Fine, I'll whack her again!"

Just then, my dog jumps out, and has the cop by the pant leg. Big penetrating teeth, and a jaw that doesn't quit. Ripping it up the leg, what a sight. Then she pees on his foot. And if that isn't enough, she runs to the hydrant, forgets she's a girl, and pees Yellow River against that municipal plug. It's only a $90 fine for all that. Twice as much as hitting my wife one time! That's an insult to her and me each. "Either double the first fine," I demand, "or cut the second in half!"

Well, there's good news and bad news. He does double the first fine, the domestic. But the dog has other problems, missing her tags, her shots aren't up to date, and we left her leash at home. Hundreds of dollars in fines. Not only that -- at this point the story gets real sad -- she's running to the other side of the street and won't come back. Criminal trespass and failure to yield. The cop tells me that for public safety I need to get in my car ... now ... and abandon her.

I do so. Which turns out to have deadly consequences. Because, you see, when I got her she was a retired police dog. OK? She was trained in bomb-sniffing but got too old to do it 100% reliably. Well, no one knew this -- I had no way of knowing -- but at some point an actual criminal had rigged the cop's car with a bomb. And seconds after the cop told me to take off -- and we're still trying to figure out what really happened -- she came back toward the police car, and apparently sniffed out the bomb. But with her worsened ability to smell, she got way too close and detonated it, blowing herself, the car, and the policeman to smithereens.

The good news in all that, and it's something you really have to look for to find, is that the city's copies of my tickets were all burnt in the explosion. Meaning not only do I still have the $1500, but my driving record is as spotless as ever.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

She Died of Water Poisoning

First, there was no evil chemist, no pharmaceuticals, and no concoction that he made, pouring it into a vial that was then passed on to his friend, the woman's boyfriend. Nothing of the sort. The chemist is for illustrative purposes only, showing what might have been. Certainly no arrests are forthcoming in that regard, but with further investigation, I suppose anything's possible.

However, no one saw what the boyfriend may have had in his coat pocket. According to his own testimony, sworn testimony, it was nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing he'd confess to. No vial, no poison, no weapon of any kind. Just ordinary stuff, a napkin, his wallet, and a few buttons, all quite irrelevant.

This much is definitely established: The couple was eating at a pizza place. They had iced tea, but then, because the restaurant has a funky policy on refills, when the tea was gone they availed themselves of free water, available in pitchers by the silverware. The man offered to get her water, and went to the pitcher to accomplish the task.

He returns and she drinks. He says, "I figured you'd just drink it." "What was I supposed to do?" "I would've sniffed it to make sure it wasn't poisoned, which it was. You ought to see the effects of it any minute." She looked amused, knowing he was kidding. He was kidding, right? He had to be kidding! Wasn't he?

Apparently not, because he had the serious demeanor of a shark, an expression that looks expressionless. Big blank shark eyes. Teeth. He says blankly, "It should be any minute..."

Then it becomes a situation where she can't win. Everything she does, he's able to claim it as an effect of the poison. She knows he's kidding, or hopes he is. She laughs at him, an effect of the poison. She sticks her tongue out, an effect of the poison. She shakes her head in disbelief, turns to the wall, goes suddenly quiet, laughs again, rolls her eyes, straightens her hair, scratches her ear, and on and on, every single thing he claims to be an effect of the poison.

"The worst part of it ... for you ... is you'll be dead in ... exactly one minute." But one minute passes and nothing happens, she's still alive. Ha, ha, he was kidding! But she remained very quiet, when all of a sudden she lets out a shriek. Indeed, she feels the poison work its way up through her throat to her brain, like a cobra rising from a basket. It seizes her, she clutches her throat, and that's it. Her eyes roll back in her head and she's gone.

He -- we'll call him Walt -- thinks he might run, but of course by now a group has gathered around, and with her passing they're set to restrain him if he does. Someone calls an ambulance, and they call the police.

The police come in like gangbusters and take him into custody. They want to know what happened. Walt recalls the whole terrible story. She failed to sniff the water, then they spoke of it being poisoned. He faithfully recalls all the steps, all the effects of the poison, the head shaking, looking at the wall, going quiet, her laughter, and the rest. Finally, he remember the sad ending, she had dropped dead. Even though, he claimed, there actually wasn't any poison.

The tests came back on the water and revealed that he was telling the truth, there was no poison. It was ruled something like this, maybe the woman had a death wish, and Walt, with his serious-faced joking had triggered it. He probably shouldn't have. As he sat there in sorrow, he had a vain thought, if it could only be: "Next time, sniff the water." Even though -- how terrible -- there can be no next time.

Walt is single now, if anyone good-looking out there is looking for a boyfriend.

Crime Meets Group Dynamics

I read the crime news on a daily basis. I've always been fascinated how people "put themselves out there" to be criminals, despite the enormous risks they take for what so often is a relatively small reward. Is it really worth it, for example, even if you got $50,000 in a bank robbery, if there's a good chance you'll spend 10 years in prison? Even without a partner that's only $5,000 a year, and with a partner it drops. You could've gotten a paper route and made that much, with freedom to boot.

"Me?" the idiot argues, "I'd never get caught!" Oh yeah, it's foolproof! When there's video cameras everywhere, and they know which direction you came from and which direction you went before you left. They're not amateurs, they've done this before. Ever heard of radioing ahead? So there you are, at the end of a lonely dirt road, nothing in front of you but a raging river, and the cops closing in like mad. You decide to take your first and last look at the loot, which promptly blows up in your face with red dye. As one bank robber I read about said, "I just went home and waited to be arrested."

As for the life of crime, throw in a partner -- or several partners, a whole gang -- and naturally it's worse, because you have to depend on the nebulous code of 'Honor Among Thieves' holding up. Codes and honor are only as good as the people involved. If you're hanging out with pure scum, the scum of the earth, what kind of honor and code should you expect? I wouldn't risk it for less than minimum wage, certainly with the prospects of prison, getting to look at a big shower room and a wall of toilets with no doors. Then there's the barbed wire outside. The birds are flying overhead, and you've got five minutes till lock down.

Still, we're talking about humanity, right? That's the species we're thinking of, right? Well, like it or not, I'm ultimately not prejudiced when it comes to people and their need for good group dynamics counseling. After all, I've always seen a basic understanding of group dynamics as everyone's right, maybe even more so than food or air. Because what good are food and air if you can't survive your peers? You step into a crowded cell and say the wrong thing, "I'll take the bottom bunk," having no understanding, and, SLIT, you're a dead man. So criminals deserve at least this much, the basics.

Now, since you probably haven't got much time to live -- let's assume the worst -- I will keep it very basic. We'll put the "3 R's of Group Dynamics" out there as they relate to a gang of criminals. (I'm actually the originator of the "3 R's," which is in most textbooks on group dynamics, so I know what I'm talking about.)

OK, take a look at the above illustration. Looks very much like a free-for-all, a melee. I see a gun waving in the air and another guy with both arms up, frantic. Someone else has apparently struck the guy with the gun. And there's someone crashed on the floor against the wall. The scene captures a terrible moment. Which probably could have been prevented, in part if not entirely, with some knowledge of group dynamics. Let's say you're the gang leader. This isn't what you wanted!

How could a knowledge of the "3 R's" have made for a better situation? The "3 R's" are 1) aRrange, 2) Reconnoiter, and, 3) Ruminate.

A good "aRrangement," before anyone showed up, might have included some comfortable chairs. You as the leader, then, are going to elicit more support and loyalty from your underlings if you keep everything very even, such as matching chairs, not a bigger one for you or anyone else. Good lighting is critical, too, especially among criminals, not too low, not too bright. Also, you don't want a lot of shadows, which only serve to raise people's suspicions, leading to paranoia, leading to an eruption. Shadows are where things are hidden. And anything else you can do to establish a good comfort level, while also looking out for people's feelings, is a key part of "aRanging." Are there pitchers of cold water handy? Thoughtful aRanging is always the basis of a good meeting.

The 2nd "R," Reconnoitering, means your job isn't done with aRanging. Far from it. Reconnoitering means paying close attention to the group's needs as your time together progresses. With the criminal type, you will want to hone in on any change in the dynamics. Are they as comfortable 20 minutes into the meeting as they were at the beginning? Are you seeing any strange twitching, reaching inside coat pockets, hands hidden, sweaty brows? Are you hearing any heavy breathing, any muffled clicks of gun hammers? Reconnoitering will catch all that, without, and this is critical, without making it obvious what you're doing. At the first sign of trouble, instead of reacting directly to the threat, you should redirect simply, perhaps by freshening people's drinks. Give them a chance to stretch. Look for the least comfortable guy and compliment him for something, how you've always admired his skill set with munitions, or whatever it might be.

By the way, the word "Reconnoitering" literally means "knowing again." You're not leaving things to chance, you're knowing things again and again, you're keeping your awareness alert, and when you do, you'll find that you generally live to see tomorrow. No mad escape by diving through the window for you!

The 3rd "R", Ruminating, is one I often use in groups as a kind of post-meeting diagnostic tool. What could I have done differently? How could it have gone more smoothly? But Ruminating is also key to a meeting in progress, which can either loop back to further aRranging or further Reconnoitering. That's certainly how I would primarily use it in a meeting of criminals! In such a group, I'm not leaving anything for later; I'll handle it now, or sooner. Later may never come! For survival purposes, and also to ensure the gang's integrity as a gang, that it not erupt into a melee, you will Ruminate often. If someone is acting up in any way, use Rumination toward further aRranging. But once behavior is on track, use it toward further Reconnoitering.

Using these pointers, the basics of group dynamics, you will have more confidence to conduct your meeting in a successful way. Even with a gang of criminals! Then, and this of course is the ultimate reward, depending on what you as a group decide, which job to do -- a big robbery or rubbing someone out -- it's more likely to be a great success. I wish you all the best.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Caught Myself Nodding

Yesterday, I began reading a self-help book at the library. It doesn't matter what it is, I need all the help I can get. Going along, I caught myself nodding in total agreement: "Yes! Yes! Yes!" How is it that I myself didn't come up with these everyday, commonsense understandings of the situation at hand? It'd seem that almost anyone could write such things. The fact that it resonated so much with me, and indeed I was very enthusiastic, means any old idiot could've come up with something as good.

So let's say I have an idea for a great self-help book, "How to Read a Self-Help Book," and want to get it published. Would the publisher say, "That's a great idea, here's the money," or offer me some lame excuse, such as, "The very nature of self-help books, being the easily grasped truths of daily life packaged as grand principles, is that they're already easy enough to read. You feel you're benefiting from them even though they're merely telling you what you already know." ?

OK, if that's their final answer, Screw Them (!), I'll just publish the pointers on my blog ... free of charge. And then I'll stand back and receive the payoff. The only payoff I need is this: If I can help just one person -- just one person -- then I will have helped everyone who reads these posts from start to finish. Which, I hate to say it, is actually me, since not only do I write everything here, I also proofread it a couple times. So it's to my own personal benefit to remind myself of things I already know. For me, that's royalties enough!

Here then are a few of the pointers on "How to Read a Self-Help Book":

There's no need to read every word -- Skim it. You're not reading it for pleasure. But for one of the following reasons: 1) You feel desperate in that area; or, 2) You want to enhance what you already know. The self-help books we read are always about things we already know. But it's true, you can feel desperate. Please don't. Life has its ups and downs. Take a break, a breather, maybe a nap. Work through your problems one by one, the hardest stuff first. Be deliberate and disciplined, maintaining a calm assurance that everything will be all right. Look at it this way: They barely execute mass murderers, you're likely to live through it!

Scan the book before starting -- Is it a lot of everyday illustrations masquerading as profound truth? Do they mention the profundities of the Wizard of Oz on every other page? You already know that. Are their principles based on the great success of Warren Buffett? Skip those pages. Warren Buffett's already bought everything and you're not likely to be in his will. Be very discerning. When you get really good at this, eventually you'll be reading nothing but the cover and the blurbs on the back. But beware of the blurbs on the back. These are usually other self-help writers scratching the back of the author, knowing the author will one day scratch theirs.

Ignore any practical exercises -- Practical exercises, pausing 20 minutes to take stock of your life, and this and that, all that bullshit, are the book equivalent of breaking into groups with strangers at conferences and seminars. No one likes doing it. It's worthless. Plus, it's awkward and uncomfortable, at least the way I do it. It sucks to be elected "scribe," who then has to stand up and tell your group's "findings." There's two basic problems with "findings." 1) It's likely another reporting group will steal your thunder, leaving you floundering and looking stupid, and, 2) The "findings" are always so obvious that you're only wasting time, giving the presenter a break. The presenter, meanwhile, is thinking, "I'm getting paid for this and we just chewed up 20 minutes!"

Perform a sacrificial ritual before reading -- I think this is an obvious pointer. In life, if you're looking for any benefit, you need to give something first. I generally see this point as a mental "putting your inner all on the altar." But if you feel the need to go beyond the mental, you could always enhance it with something more physical. Of course, cutting is always an option (which I do not recommend), or offering a pint of blood extracted from your arm by any accommodating doctor. For something like this, however, I think it's preferable to offer up a sacrificial animal, killed according to religiously pure standards.

Read the bold print -- An author usually puts a few lines of bold print. These are like headers. They more or less sum up what follows. I've even borrowed the technique here. You will do just as well reading every other one. But please, definitely read the one about the sacrificial ritual; it's wild.

Remember the three most important words of self-help: 1) Application, 2) Application, 3) Follow through. You'll never get to your destination without the first step. And the journey of 10,000 miles is best taken by plane. Remember the famous musician Arturo Toscanini? Most people don't, but he was very big at one time. Toscanini knew music like the back of his hand. He could read most of the notes, he knew which instrument was which, and people paid good money to hear his performances. Well, one day someone -- a young aspiring musician -- asked Toscanini how to get to Carnegie Hall. I'll never forget his answer: "Look on Google Maps ... not Apple."

The Best Number of Slaps When Slapping

Here's a post for both classes of people, those into numerology and those into violence. It combines the violence of slapping with numerology and the "feeling" that goes with particular numbered sequences. Practically, in my opinion, if you were to slap someone, one slap is usually good enough. But beware, if you slap twice!

Two is not usually good, strange as it sounds. But it's something of a mystery how numbers work. So that if you slap someone twice, it doesn't seem sufficient. Two is more than one, of course, but two always seems to demand a series. It demands three.

Think of it in terms of its sound: "SLAP, SLAP" ... trailing off, it's wimpy. But add the magical third and you've got a series worth the time, and somehow completely satisfying. "SLAP, SLAP, SLAP." Topped off, perhaps, with a single dismissing word, "There, sir, now back to your place!"

Numbers are a weird thing. I'm sure it's mental, but maybe it's also cosmic. Certainly the mind has an uneasy feeling if numbers are left hanging. But it feels entirely satisfied when there's a beginning, middle, and end. The word 'denouement' comes to mind. If the second is your idea of a denouement, then clearly your idea of denouement is all screwed up.

Remember in school when they taught us outlining? They said outlining can have two items, but preferably at least three. However, for whatever reason, it can't have just one item. If you start with a Roman numeral I, you have to have II. I've often thought of the quandary, what if there is no logical second on a particular topic? You're left with the options, I. Don't Outline It, or, II. Make Up Something. Another option, making II, would be to subdivide I, since you could zoom in on almost any subject. As an example: Say you lived on Earth when there was only one super continent, Gaia, before continental drift. And your topic was "The World's Continent." An inappropriate outline would be: I. Gaia. That wouldn't do, even though you only have one continent to work with. But zooming in, you might put, I. East Gaia, and, II. Other Directions of Gaia.

But I want to get back to the SLAPPING thing. It's sort of like Zorro quickly carving his Z on someone's back. The "Z" has those three lines, so it's "WHACK, WHACK, WHACK". Had his name been VORRO, you can see the problem, "WHACK, WHACK." He'd have to do something else, like stomp his foot on the third. That'd actually be a pretty cool thing, because it could offer variety to the show. Vorro does the two whacks, then a different third each time. Stomp his foot, stab the door, yell his name, etc. And the same thing with the Lone Ranger: "Hi-yo, Silver, Away!" Stop at "Hi-yo, Silver!" and it leaves you hanging. Silver doesn't know what to do!

Now, in slapping, the third slap is the satisfaction slap, obviously. But what of a four-slap series? To my mind, it feels excessive. But it really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Maybe you want to truly cause damage, in which case the more slaps the better, certainly stopping before you hurt your hand and aren't able to slap in the future.

There's a whole thing you can read about in C.G. Jung's writings on the Trinity (3) and the Quarternity (4). In many cases, Jung saw a quarternity as more symbolically appropriate, not stopping short. Whether it be the godhead or a footstool. Be that as it may, and even if it sounds like a subject for me and other high-minded professionals, specialists of the mind and spirit, there are important implications for the rest of you, the common run of man. We might settle and say an odd three is good and sometimes four. Still, that even four might demand an odd fifth, because there's something intangible suggesting that those the beats of a slapping sequence need a final flourish, an ultimate slap, one standing alone.

Some of these things you can visualize without doing them, which would probably be best, not only for the other person's face, but for your hand. You get a sense of it in a flash, then if needed, for further appreciation, you could just move your hand in the air without making contact. That's all I'm doing here, and I find that in an experiment it works tolerably well.

I honestly cannot see much reason to go beyond five slaps. Unless, let's just let our imagination run wild, you're trying for the Guinness record in slapping, at which point the feeling of numbers is no longer germane. And simply trying for the highest number possible doesn't carry a feeling. Plus, it's all bogus at that point anyway, because they'd give you 53 minutes to slap, and 7 minutes break every hour, which to my way of thinking is simply dishonest. Either you slapped continuously -- this is the way I see it -- or you didn't truly accomplish something worthwhile. Anyone can take breaks.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bolt Upright In The Night

Thank God for government snooping. It helps me get to sleep at night and get my rest. Let me explain.

At one time, I would be sleeping, then dreaming, with the noises of the night mixed in. A truck goes by and clunks its load on the bump in the road. It's a critical moment in my dream, and I bolt upright in the bed. I'm in a terrible sweat, breaking into one, I'm shaking, and even itching. (If I wear long johns in the summer, my legs tend to itch.)

After much stirring, I get back to sleep. Then I start dreaming about a mountain of bills. A mountain of bills, things you could never pay even were you to have a good job. I'm stewing away over it: I might lose my credit rating, my game toe might get better and I'll lose my disability, I might lose the house! I bolt upright in the bed, a horrendous sweat breaking out everywhere.

I try to sleep, but sleep doesn't come. The whole night's terror continues to drill into my mind. I'm even praying now, "God, be merciful to me, a poor sleeper." Again, I'm stewing over it in my mind, all that could happen: Burglars are very stealthy; there could already be one in the house; Underbrush, my dog, has virtually lost her hearing, she won't bark. Car thieves are out there, too. And someone might be stealing the copper from my air conditioner. I'm not even asleep but I bolt upright, then get up and go to the bathroom and change my sweaty clothes and sheets.

Back in bed, I'm worried over my health. There's a few new aches and pains everyday. But I manage to doze off. The health concerns have now morphed into a terrible dream. There's monks flagellating themselves and trying to get me to take up flagellating. I, who think flagellating is totally stupid! But they convince me, so there I am, beating myself to death with chains. It's making me dizzy, I'm passing out, I see the signs of death everywhere. My arteries are clogged, I've got scrofula, halitosis, catarrh, rheumatism, and dropsy. And to make it worse, I'm getting a bad doctor's report. The terror builds ... I bolt upright in bed.

Once I get back to sleep, everything has shifted. Now my dream is of people on my trail. They're all trying to corner me in some way. I have few options left. I'm telling morphing inquisitors -- morphing from kindly priests to horror film beasts -- "Yes, yes, I'm guilty and everyone knows it!" There's two figures, like the Spy vs. Spy characters, with big beaks, and they're leading me to a field of bubbling tar pits, where they raise knives to stab me and dispose of me still alive. I bolt upright in bed, gasping for breath, hot tar everywhere.

At this point, I really feel like I need to work on my prayer life. But none of it helps. Then I remember, "God damn it, I live in a country where security is Number 1, top of the line, grade A. The government is keeping track of everything and everyone, and that includes me. They've got eyes in the sky, eyes in the street, eyes in the hills. They know what I've done, who I've met with, and what we've planned -- all quite innocent. No one, and nothing, is going to get me. I don't have to worry about it. Thank goodness -- seriously, thank goodness -- for that kind of security, both personal and the security we enjoy as a nation.

I consider it like that, the facts, and as I do, a great warmth descends upon me. From my feet to my head and back again, I feel the warmth. It's pervasive, a great warmth even though I'm not sweating. It is comfort, a feeling of complete comfort, like being in my dear mother's arms, little footies on my feet. And a drop seat in the butt should I need it. I find myself going into that blessed stage just before sleep, and all is well. I drift happily, then, easily into full sleep. Safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.

Burp Loudly for Comic Effect

I'm a normal guy at a normal boring event. There's a shuffling hunched usher, decorum is rife, and everything's nailed down. Things are so somber you could cut it with a knife. It's time for an enormous burp.

If we've learned anything from the movies, it's that comic relief is always welcome. It breaks the tension, it puts everyone at ease. You've got the sense to do it, too, to your credit. And maybe it's even you on the spot. They've called you on the carpet for something. The boss is dressing you down. What better way to get back into his good graces but to burp loudly, or even fart? Anything funny like that will bring the house down. It's uproarious.

Have you ever been there when a family's planning their father's funeral? They denied death so long, even though it was clear he wouldn't last forever. And that's all it is, denial. Brother stands against brother, the whole story. But then death has come and now they have to face it; it's not going anywhere. The funeral director's there, appearing concerned for them while guiding them toward making expensive choices. It's all somber as hell, because no one wants to appear cheap. Then one of them -- a wag -- emits a gigantic "BURP!" There's a few titters with the tears, then they're rolling in the aisles. You know how it goes.

Just writing this brings back a flood of memories to me, the memories you suppress or don't appreciate fully at the time. Think of the same brothers. The fact of dad's death has softened the edges of past disagreements. Then there's a little burp, followed by the eye contact of questioning, subtle facial gestures as if to say, "What?" Suddenly then, the years melt away, and they're kids around the family table of so long ago. There's a chuckle of recognition of common memories, then giggling, then pretty soon everyone's burping loudly. With the same going for farting!

Which brings us to Benjamin Franklin, our common American ancestor. Such a famous guy from so long ago, and he wasn't even president! As I recall, wasn't he America's top negotiator at the tables of Paris, France? We had some problem, let's say, with the French, so we sent over our top negotiator, our top diplomat. The same guy who, incidentally, is responsible for the book, "Fart Proudly."  And he no doubt burped from time to time, too.

So there he is, Benjamin Franklin, taking a boat across the Atlantic, about a two month trip at the time, engorging himself on boiled cabbage. By the time he gets there he's bloated up two times his normal size. With such gaseousness, of course he's going to break the ice. The French were putty in his hand. And I believe that's how we got the Statue of Liberty. He was at the table and brought the house down.

Finally, back to funeral planning for Dad. This is what Dad passed on to them. 1) He started the company. 2) He was Mr. Nature in the digestion department. Working for himself, as he did, he was not known for social restrictions. It was a loud burp, a loud fart every time. LOL, what memories! The joy of life is rediscovered by his delinquent children. It is theirs ... once again!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Vigor Vivus Health Plan

You know me and my philosophy of life. I live by the principles of Vigor Vivus. Vigor Vivus is a term for the dynamic heart of life itself. It's opposite, which we so easily slip into, to our detriment, is Rigor Mortis, the static principle of death. Here's some of my exciting "teachings" on the subject:

The Dawn of Vigor Vivus
Teens Reject Rigor Mortis
Vigor Vivus -- I Command the World
Rigor Mortis vs. Vigor Vivus
Your Basic Problem is Rigor Mortis
Unveiling the March of Vigor Vivus
The Unremitting Shield of Vigor Vivus
Vigor Vivus at the Dentist
Teen Talk: Rigor Mortis vs. Vigor Vivus
Rigor Mortis Nix, Vigor Vivus Best Way
Bin Laden Mortis vs. Obama Vivus

I put "teachings" in quotes, because even though I myself believe it completely and live by it, for legal reasons I have to insist that the whole thing is "For Entertainment Purposes Only." But, you know, wink-wink, I recommend that you live by it, too. Although, again, for legal reasons, let me insist that you consult a trusted physician, or any old pay-as-you go quack will do just as well. By merely reading this blog post, you do solemnly swear, or affirm, that you will consult a doctor immediately, before believing a single word.

OK, all the legalese and lawyerly wrangling out of the way, Vigor Vivus is what we live by when we're in the fullness of life, but Rigor Mortis is death itself even in the midst of apparent life. I have known both, intimately. In fact, even for someone as immersed in these principles, it's still easy for me to slip into a Rigor Mortis state of mind. I hate to say it, but I feel like I've just recently come through a rather stormy place.

The inner clouds gathered, the inner sun was dimmed, the inner darkness thickened, inner lightning struck everywhere, and finally an inner tornado came and carried away much of my inner peace. It was only through the inner mobilization of an inner FEMA that I was able to eventually take refuge in an inner tent, then bit by bit rebuild a more permanent inner dwelling. But live and learn. I've reviewed the inner storm chasers' tapes, and vowed I shall never go through that again!

Immediately, I turned back to the principles of Vigor Vivus, once again putting Rigor Mortis to flight. I looked at myself and I didn't like what I saw. I was out of shape, a big problem. I wasn't eating right, I wasn't getting enough exercise, and I had my annual physical coming up in two month. Since I hate hearing my doctor tell me to do the right thing, I decided then and there, It's time! Vigor Vivus, don't fail me now!

This is all true, and, by the way, everything I do in life is strictly cold turkey. I quit eating all junk food, all deserts, ice cream, cake, Rice Krispies bars, wafer cookies, granola bars, potato chips, soda, etc. Instead, I've been eating oranges, bananas, eggs, veggies, peppers, grapes, hamburger, that sort of thing, and I've cut down on bread. No more bacon! All this has been a big help to me. But you know what it actually is? Having my mind on Vigor Vivus. That's how you do things cold turkey. You replace the thought processes of Rigor Mortis -- "I need this, I deserve that," even though it clearly leads to a type of death -- with the thought processes of Vigor Vivus: "I shall live the Vigor Vivus way!" (Remember, consult your local quack.)

Then I launched into an exercise program. I actually just now got back home and I'm sitting here still sweating. I joined a health club, so there I am huffing and puffing on the treadmill, lifting weights, pulling on various bars, laying on odd equipment with places to put your feet while you're doing ab crunches, etc. It's great, not just to see my own amazing physique (I'm down nine pounds), which I can do anytime, but to see the other sweating, grinding, beautiful writhing bodies all around me, some of them being extremely hot. I keep thinking, "Oh, to be 40 years younger! And not so adverse to STDs that I wouldn't touch another human being with a 10-foot pole!"

The exercise is great. And I'm sure you could make a case, however flimsy it might be, that it's chiefly the exercise and the diet that is helping me lose weight and regain my sense of well-being. I will grant you that these things are good, insofar as they go. But what you really need, behind it all, underlying the whole thing, is a philosophy, something you firmly believe, something that guides your thoughts and decisions. For me, that's the dynamic truth of Vigor Vivus!

I could go on, because I do other things that help keep me on track. Like feeding our feathered friends and watching their little antics. Natural activities, walking by the lake, meditation, spirituality. But you get the idea. No matter what it is, its benefits, it's all completely enlivened by fixing your mind on Vigor Vivus ... and letting Rigor Mortis, at long last, simply pass away...

Monday, June 17, 2013

5 Scenarios How My Life Might've Gone

For this you gave me life? Was this your intention when you brought me into the world? Is this the life I'll always have or should I expect another? Woe is me!

Probably all of us, the frequency depending on how terrible things have gone for you, have considered our lives and whether they're all they could have been. It's just something you do, no matter how vain, no matter how fruitless, especially in those times of the greatest loneliness, heartache, and despair. I've done it many, many times, and I've got the bruises on my forehead and the damage on the drywall to prove it.

O! Could things have gone differently? Just a little tweak here or there, a road, a path not taken, a fork in the road I straddled! What would it have taken? More education, psychiatric help, lessons in elocution, or perhaps dancing? I'm as good as anyone else, right? Two arms, two legs, my only real flaw my painful game toe, but if I keep my shoes on, no one sees it.

We take stock like that, which basically comes down to comparing ourselves with others. Again, no matter how vain or fruitless it is. Because wish as you may ... the face in the mirror is always the same. Even though I still have the theory -- and I hope someone will back me up on this -- that if you sit and meditate strenuously enough that your inner essence will rise through your head and you can take possession of some other life form, be it animal, mineral, or another person. I've tried it enough. But my essence always ends up on the couch, looks around and gets scared, and immediately rushes back home.

Until I get that right, I really only have two choices: 1) Be content and even thankful that I am who I am and make the most of it, a very levelheaded approach; or, 2) Waste my life by stewing over it, always imagining, always wondering how life might've gone, if only ... Given the choice, then, and stating it clearly like that, and being fully aware that Number 1 is the only real option, I'm taking Number 2.

SCENARIO 1 - Things could've been much worse. I could've been born in an oddball place, to totally strange parents, and been a mangled physical wreck right from the start. Like some of the gator catchers, turtle catchers, cat whisperers, hog-fishers, and other assorted human vermin on current reality TV shows. Still, the advantage those folks have over me is that they do have TV shows, and they're making big money, because the weirder the better. But my advantage is long-term, because those shows will go out of favor someday, and in their despondency they'll get eaten.

SCENARIO 2 - I might've pursued a life in politics. They emphasized politics and government when I was in school, since it was a time when they were pushing for 18-year-olds to vote, and idealism was rife. We thought we could change the world; other kids thought that. Fortunately, I was one of the few who was able to look at it all askance, knowing that politics is a complete dead end. If you want to be instantly corrupted, go into politics! You're always in someone's pocket, your service is worthless to the general public, and no one likes you. Look at it this way: We've had politics forever and Republicans still exist. That's not progress.

SCENARIO 3 - I should've learned music. Seriously. I see someone playing the piano and I think, That could've been me! Or the guitar, which I can play half ass. Or the auto-harp, to me a complete mystery. Or the harmonica. I seriously think I could've been a major star, one of those guys who comes out with long tails and bows five or six times, lights his candelabra, and enthralls the people with yet another version of "Voices of Spring," which I know from the Three Stooges movie, Micro-Phonies. I often think of the Three Stooges when I hear other guys singing classical music, like arias, and how they shot grapes and bananas with their fingers into the singer's mouth. That might be why I never learned music.

SCENARIO 4 - I might've gotten a better education. As it was, I couldn't wait to get out of school. I think it was the 4th grade, after we learned arithmetic, that I figured up by addition precisely (more or less) how many days it was till I graduated. Then I stole about 130 rolls of toilet paper from the pantry and had it strung all over my room, so I could pull off one small sheet for each day of school that went by. It was OK till about the 8th grade, when my dad finally decided enough is enough. He came in and literally tore down one whole corner, and ended up wiping his ass with my whole junior year.

SCENARIO 5 - I could've run away and who knows what might've happened! It's just like in time travel movies, change one little thing and everything else changes. Let's say I had run away after my dad did that. I always had this theory that I could run very far to the north if I just set my mind to it. I sort of halfway tried it once and stepped on a thorn before I got out of town and had to go home and go to the emergency room. But my theory still stands. If I could avoid thorns, I could run far, far away.

Then I'd get a job with a carnival or circus, like Toby Tyler, and meet all sorts of interesting people. I might've charmed the Snake Woman and started a little brood of my own. Or, who knows? A wayward evangelist might've kidnapped me and taken me on the road, having me repeatedly saved and/or healed in his services. He could've performed the lengthening-the-short-leg trick on me. Then we would've sent KFC buckets through the congregation, getting enough love offerings to be rich.

At some point, no doubt he would've caught me in the embrace of a naked girl in a barn, and from there the imagination just has to assume my life would've been one happy ending after another, with her or others. Continuously rolling in the hay, all over the country, going from barn to barn. Which I'd still be doing today. Rolling in the hay and rolling over and saying, "Was it good for you?"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Horny Bastard's Day

I was walking downtown today with my old friend, The Imaginary Stud, .... [pause for his links]

The Imaginary Stud
The Imaginary Stud -- Something So Precious
The Imaginary Stud -- Johnny Peopleseed
The Imaginary Stud -- Your Biological Clock
The Imaginary Stud -- What's In A Name?

... when we saw a young woman lugging a big laundry basket of baby clothes up the sidewalk. He ducked in a doorway till she was out of sight. Then he says to me, "I haven't seen her for nine or ten months. I didn't even know she was expecting!"

I thought, "You horny bastard! That's all you're good for, eyeing all the ladies, then coming on to them, offering them drinks and a friendly smile, then it's off to your place or, more likely, the cheap motel on the north side of town! Love 'em and leave 'em, yep, that's your one goal in life!"

And really, when you think about it, that mostly what fathers are, or what they start out as, horny bastards. Which I say in the nicest way possible. Because they can't help it. The good Lord put it in our mind, thanks to His great system of evolution and natural selection, involving sexual reproduction, to scatter our seed far and wide, and wherever it lands, there it stays!

Life is the same all over, this planet anyway and probably the others. If you want to populate the place you could have 40 women and one man. That's why during hunting season you can shoot buck deer and cock pheasants, but not does or hens. Because deer and pheasants only need a few males, but a bunch of females. The same thing goes for bulls and boars, which is probably why these animals are so potent and heavy in the sack, because their lot in life is to be very busy.

Along with eating and killing enemies, horniness is the man's biggest drive. He can be 14, which means he's underage, although of course that's a socially-determined thing, or 90 and in the nursing home, and he will think he's gotta find a woman. Before the other guy! Whom he just might kill! Which might be why we have homosexual men. Nature's way of preserving someone thought to be non-threatening in case all the other men of the tribe get killed. Then he would step up to the task ... I know, I'm digging myself a big hole here, LOL.

It's hard to believe that evolution and the whole natural selection thing is still behind everything we do, but we're as primitive as ever, primitive meaning the same as nature made us. So dear old Dad, that balding guy with the pipe in his mouth, sitting on the easy chair, now with something of an old man's slump and a very bitter look, is still a horny bastard. He was a horny bastard when he was looking at Mom, all those years ago. And he'll be a horny bastard maybe to the day he dies, depending on certain things, like unless he completely loses his mind, or somehow he gets testicular cancer and has to have them removed, God forbid. At that point I don't know what happens next, and I hope I never find out...

Imagine how horny of a bastard he was back in the day. Mom was a teenage girl, a fox, and Dad was a teenage boy, a stud. Enough said. Then they had all the advantages you read about in sociology books: A mobile society, kids with cars, places to go to be away from the family, increased disposable income, an easier access to prophylactics, social upheaval after two world wars and the Depression, the questioning of religious strictures, and reading the racy Scarlet Letter in high school. It's a combustible mix, with the spark that sets it off being Dad's raging hormones, a seething and smoldering in his pants, and next thing you know Mom is lugging baby clothes out of the laundromat. (Editor's note: We will save an account of Mom's raging horniness for Mother's Day.)

The fact is, however, that a lot of men, unlike The Imaginary Stud, stick around and fulfill their responsibilities to the mother and his growing gang of rugrats. For that, we honor them on this greatest holiday in recognition of paternity, of horny bastards everywhere, Father's Day. Natural selection honors them, too. Their staying around protects their offspring, so they'll grow up and continue his line with horniness of their own.

NOTE: I notice a lot of my Facebook friends are wishing a Happy Father's Day to their horny old dads in Heaven. I'm afraid you are suffering from a little bit of ignorance, however innocent you may be. Father's Day in Heaven is not till October. Everything's pushed forward like that because Easter's a three-month long holiday in heaven. Jesus takes His Resurrection very seriously. Christmas is about the same, but with that at least we on Earth are catching up, starting in September.

A Log For My Grave

I visited the dearly departed yesterday. I had a few minutes to kill and decided to get out to the cemetery and see how things were hanging.

Every trip to this field of stones seems to have its own character, of course depending on what mood I show up with. Yesterday, I was in a solemn mood, for whatever reason, maybe guilt for having given them such a poor Memorial Day.

I focused in, like always, on the situation at hand ... Death is certain and final. But right there, only a few feet beneath the ground, are the earthly remains of whoever. Dad, old friends, old neighbors, and strangers. Some are the pioneers. The pioneers, just guessing, are now little more than dust. Maybe a few buttons, no zippers, the zipper being a relatively recent invention. Named because of its zipping noise.

The pioneers had it rough, I believe, very rough, depending on which wave they came in on. If they got there three weeks late, the true pioneers said, "Yeah, glom on to our coattails!" Giving them a complex, finding themselves between being a pioneer and a wannabe. Although probably they weren't thinking so much of being a pioneer, more thinking about just living their normal life, like I was yesterday. Certainly now it's all relative. If they lived anytime before 1900 they're a pioneer, whether they were or not.

Wandering the grounds there ... naturally I dashed from tree to tree, hoping some passing motorist would think he saw a spirit ... I kept it all respectful, as one should. If I saw someone's stone I knew, I paused and thought of them. A lot of my memories are very indistinct. I can't always recall mentally just what everyone looked like, but I believe I'd recognize them were I to see them again. One stone was for a kid I knew when I was a kid. We played together, and knew each other well, of course. He died within the last 10 years in a vehicle fire, all grown up. According to his stone, he had five kids. Which was a surprise to me, since the last time I remember seeing him we were teenagers.

The great thing about being in the cemetery, and dead, is that you're completely removed from everything happening here. No more worries about your truck, your bills, and what tomorrow brings. No one's expecting you to care. You've stepped beyond everything, up into the sainted, exalted regions, and that's all there is to it.

In the case of my old friend, being in a vehicle fire, that was entirely unexpected. So he's got one of the plaques about "No farewell words were spoken, No time to say goodbye..." That's a killer, because you know they meant it. Whereas, had he been on his deathbed, lingering, at least everyone could come in and offer up a final word. "Sorry you're sick ... get well soon."

My experience, though, on that count, is that the final words aren't always worth it. Because the person (and you) don't want to face the obvious facts directly. As for me, it'd be refreshing -- let's say I linger in my final throes -- to have people step up and say something along the lines of, "So you're dying. How does that feel?" Then, depending how it does feel, I'd tell them. It feels like crap, it feels great, it feels sad, it feels happy.

I imagine myself saying, "Tell me farewell, dear one, then go back and live your life, and let me have these last few minutes to myself." Because it's like my old olfactory hallucinations. It's a sensation only I can experience, and I'd like these last few minutes alone to train my attention on the anahata chakra and the rest, because I believe the brain-mind-heart is about to testify loudly to me that it was (and ever shall be) integral with the highest reality, and that complete Oneness was never a razor's edge away. "Tell everyone goodbye for me." Instead, of course, people want to tell you you're going to pull through.

Saintly, aren't I? Yes, I certainly am. I'm such a saint, they ought to put that on my stone. SAINTLY. 'Among the people I knew, he was the saintliest that I ever knew of those who walked the earth.' I guess that's one of the thoughts I had strolling among the stones, how saintly everyone appears, with the tokens of remembrance left, the inscriptions inscribed, and the many references to God. 

My thought on all this getting up this morning was how much cooler it'd be, instead of a stone, just to have a big log on your grave. The log would just be there, OK... How long does a log last? 50 years? I bet a log would last longer than that, even untreated. Anyway, however long it lasts, 50-100 years, that's all it's going to take for everyone who knew me to also pass away. Then 100-125 years, my log is just withered to dust. Most of it blew away from the strong winds we periodically get. Pieces get scattered in the dust, up against the fence, bugs carry it off. They're in and out everywhere you look.

Finally, a bug carries off the last scrap of my log, a tiny little piece that everyone else has overlooked. And there I am. I'm dead, my earthly remains (cremains) unseen, the grave clear of everything. Just clear, flat. Now every time the wind blows, it's unimpeded. No more log to slow it down. And at last I'm one with the pioneers.