Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Proving Someone Is a Duck


I'm always thinking things are not what they seem. Such as the feeling I sometimes have that we're actually ducks. Some of us.

You can always say "Quack quack" and see how they respond. You might be surprised. If they respond accurately to your quacks, then it definitely looks like, at some level, they're at least showing duck consciousness.

I was testing my theory with a friend of mine, whom I will call Subject A. I said, "Quack quack quack," with various inflections in the words, and he responded like this: fingering me and sticking out his tongue. Exactly as I believe a duck would do hearing those same words and intonation.

It doesn't take many experiments like this to get the sense that you're on to something. Subject A didn't think I was serious, and that it was all a joke. But I counseled patience, that we were on the verge of something big. "Surely a few more experiments wouldn't overly quacks your patience."

Then as Subject A relaxed, I said, "Quack quack qu--quack." He looked at me, then reached for a tissue and wiped his bill. My theory is the quick hesitation (nasal stutter) in the "qu--quack" told my young duck friend he was about to sneeze if he didn't wipe. I pronounced it a success, the result being exactly what I've seen in other ducks.

As we continued, I noted another finding consistent with mainstream findings on ducks, that they simply won't sit still very long. Subject A was fidgety, wanting to move, wanting to get away from me, maybe even fly south. I gave a stern "Quack!," in no uncertain terms, and pointed with my finger for him to stay seated. And he did, letting me know that ducks understand the imperative tense.

I thought this would be a good time for the "Rapid Fire" round, which normally spooks ducks, coming as it so often does on the first day of hunting season:

--"OK, let's get down to quack." "Business," he said.
--"Six of quack, half-dozen of quack." "Six of one, half-dozen of another."
--"Fourquacks and quack years quack." Strangely he didn't consciously know this, but waddled to the closet and adorned his little head with a tiny stovepipe hat anyway.
--"A quack in the hand equals two quacks in the bush." "One duck masturbating is similar to two ducks mating," he said. That was a true Quack! moment for me. "Eureka!" I ejaculated.

Later, making things more official and controlled, I affixed sensors to his scalp. Then came right out and asked him, "Are you a duck?" "No," he insisted. This was consistent with my prior finding that most ducks live in denial. The sensors agreed with me, singeing the feathers on his head and changing his answer to "Yes."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On the Bright Side, My Color's Still Good


The great blogging battle against my brother is over. He won. I lost.

So here I sit. It's all I can do to get up and take a small bit of liquid, then jot down these last few lines ... before ... I don't know what ... hope the lightning hits me and puts me out of my misery, perhaps...

I feel like cussing a blue streak. If only it'd do any good. Instead, I guess I'll just channel my disappointment, and this dreadful feeling of rage into a silence deeper than anything I've managed in a while. Seriously, this might just be a new low. "Christ!" I'm able to barely manage a curse, shaking my fist at the stormy sky before letting it fall aimlessly back to the bed. I look at my hand. On the bright side, my color's still good.

Some people go, "I wish I was in bed ... I'd be happy." Right, because you've never seen those commercials for bedbug exterminators or the ones for mattress stores. Did you know if you don't change your mattress every seven years you get a seven-year-itch of an entirely different kind? From bugs spontaneously generated from your own dead skin cells. Every bolt of lightning, like we're getting today, it's another million. Then there's bedbugs, in battle with these spontaneous bugs, trying to eat the skin cells before they spawn. All the while, as they bite one another, they periodically get you.

I'm resigned to it. I'm not stirring. I deserve it. I couldn't hold my brother off ... for three damned days. I thought I was the blogging champion of the family. Then I heard from my nephew that his dad was "catching up," and I didn't even know he had a blog. I thought yesterday, maybe -- a long shot -- those who like my blog, and the various readers I get everyday, might be able to put me over the finish line, to vanquish my brother once and for all. But it wasn't to be. They deserted me. Or whatever help they provided was far from enough.

The truth of the matter is likely this: They've all abandoned me. Leaving me alone, alone and blue, alone and bitter ... Well, to you, to any stragglers stopping by to see my reaction to this terrible defeat -- actually a rout -- take a good long look at what you've done. You ruined me. Me, the last guy I'd ever imagine to be in this position. I've always been an overcomer. But I couldn't overcome this. Thanks for nothing. Thanks for kicking a guy when he was down. Don't think I won't remember it. I vow, if it's the last thing I do, I'll ruin each and every one of you. You know who you are ... and if I can get my second wind ... and get these creaky legs to work ... and a few other things ... bug bites ... and get your address ... and drag myself across country ... well, I won't tell you what I'll do. It'll be my little secret.

Oh, man, I'm such a mess. I've already expended more energy typing this than I had. And I used the rest shaking my fist. In my brother's direction. Enjoy the fruit of your victory, brother! Maybe I can't take out my frustrations on my readers -- most of them live in places like Russia, China, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Canada. (I'm probably close enough to crawl to Canada, being only three or four states up) -- but I know where you live!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Brother's Blog's Getting Great Word of Mouth


It was just yesterday I asked all of you to help me get more blog traffic than my brother. Just yesterday. But the internet travels at the speed of light, or faster, so since then everything's changed. Instead of his traffic going down and mine going up, I'm looking at a disaster: Everything's just the opposite.

I'm kicking myself, really, for calling attention to him. Although I'm finding some relief in the realization that it was going to happen with or without me. I mentioned that he blogs about some of his business trips overseas, which, amazingly, is exactly what a lot of people want. Which makes sense in some weird, twisted way. Because they're also planning trips abroad and want to know the latest scuttlebutt on travel conditions, personal safety, and who's sleeping with which dictator.

As it so happens, I have never personally been anywhere except the United States. And I don't really even travel here. I'm always trying to save money, or I'm too busy, or the weather's bad, or something. It's always something. I did write the other day about walking to Edwinton and being bitten by a dog, but no one wants to know about that. It's no Gibraltar!

I've got something bitter to say to my "faithful" readers: Thanks for nothing. Although I'm sure there's a few of you who're trying your best. Please forgive me if you weren't here yesterday, if you have a good excuse for your absence. To the rest of you, I can only wish you'd taken my plea a little more seriously. Oh, if only it hadn't been such a huge imposition to help a brother, your fellow man in his time of need. So here I am now, dying. Where's the milk of human kindness? Was it a problem that I called you riffraff?

A helpful family member's been keeping me up to date on my brother's exploits, filling my ear with all kinds of things. For example, the Gibraltar stuff is lighting up the internet. Travelogue bullshit, in my opinion. Not worth the monitor it's printed on. Meaning, for me, that I better come up with something or all is lost.

We used to write "themes" in school on places we'd never been. Africa comes to mind, a land of savages, darkness, dense forests, and an occasional river, mostly well known for its animals, including the giraffe. I'm smarter now, I could probably fill a page like that on any country. They always say to writers -- one of which is me, if you write a thousand words a day, any old crap -- that you'll eventually come up with something worthwhile.

I could call attention to the fact that Gibraltar is very near Africa. Somewhere near the top there, and you can see it from Gibraltar. Likewise, you can see Gibraltar from Africa. Africa is an enormous place, though, and Gibraltar's a fairly tiny island -- except for its rock, the immensest thing for miles. Meaning, you can see a lot more of Gibraltar from Africa than vice versa. What you can see of Gibraltar is something, but what you can see of Africa is not worth seeing. A few more words and I've got a thousand...

In addition to travel, if I want to beat my brother, I could write about people. People like that. But that's tough for a loner. Although I know about people. I've been ducking them for years, which makes me a real expert. Streisand sings, "People who need people are the luckiest people." I've often disagreed with that in practice, but now that I need people (to help me beat my brother), I need to start mingling.

So, people, permit me to reach out to you. I'm making a gracious exception for this cause. I'm venturing forth. Please don't shame me. I need you! Help me keep up with his hits. Help me keep my brother from winning the blog war. Don't click on his links. Only click on mine, and as often as possible. He will never let me live it down if he wins. Just as I will stick it to him if I win.

Many thoughts are racing in my head on this battle. Most of them are indecipherable. The others are harder to explain.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Help Me Beat My Brother Blogging


I recently heard about one of my brothers, that he too has a blog. And it seems that he's been in a "friendly competition" with me without telling me. Meaning, of course, that I've been taking it easy while he's been going great guns. It all comes down to hits and popularity.

Well, I just happened to catch wind of this when one of my nephews messaged me on Facebook, and in the course of everything else he had to say, mentioned the existence of his dad's blog. And that he was "catching up" with me. You can imagine how I felt. Of course I was floored. First, I had no idea that he was blogging; that much in itself was a total shock. But worse was the strange, weird news that he had made the decision, secretly, to surpass me in hits. Talk about devious!

Shouldn't it go without saying that he should've told me he had this in mind? I mean, I'm all for competition, really as much as anyone, but I want to know there's a competition going on before I end up being surpassed. Once I'm surpassed it's a little late then to tell me. How nice is that? Leaving me in the dust before I even know he's there!

It goes against our history, as is typical with brothers. Even though we don't see each other much, we're still tight. At least I thought we were. The history was like this: We were competitive growing up, and he was quite capable. I am the oldest, so I had to trail blaze where there was no path. Once I had the path well blazed, of course it was a lot easier for him coming up. So, I'll concede, he had some abilities beyond me, having had the easier path. But when we competed the other person knew it.  None of this sneaking around.

So that's where we are. I don't know what else to say except I'm speechless. And getting a late start toward the overall goal of holding my lead and hopefully increasing it. I've seen his stats and they're pretty good. I'm tracing all this back to the time I was mysteriously unfriended on Facebook. It went like this. We were friends on Facebook and he was posting regularly. Then suddenly his posts became fewer. I thought nothing of it. Then they were nothing. But he'd simply unfriended me, leading me to think nothing was going on! I never dreamed he'd lure me into complacency, then unfriend me, all the while going for the upper hand!

Now, today, what I'm asking from you -- and I know I have 8-10 true readers on this blog, in addition to the thousands of casual riffraff -- is to read my posts. Even if it doesn't look that great, click on it and do your best. I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised, as I don't have a reputation for writing crap. Unlike ... someone I know. (I'm not actually reading his blog. But I've heard from various family members that a lot of what he's doing is writing about some of his trips abroad on business. For example, he was in Gibraltar, an island in the Mediterranean, for a couple days, but writes about it all the time ... the monkeys they have over there, the beautiful gardens, and of course their language, Gibrish. More power to him ... that'll only take him so far!)

What I really want -- what I need -- is to win this competition, and maybe if I do he'll become so dispirited that he'll simply give up, leaving the field open for me to represent the family in blogging, as I believe I was meant to do. He can carve out some other specialty, such as collecting postcards or whatever. Surely he picked up a few postcards in farking Gibraltar, he loved it so much. We can oooo and awww over his dime store treasures and he'll feel just fine.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Get Your Own Grandma Slump Blog


This is something I never foresaw. That my blog, that started out so little and unknown, would one day become so popular. But, for better or worse, it's true. I have it from a reliable source -- a dream I had last night -- that I'm somewhere in the Top 100 of visited sites. About ready to pass even Wikipedia! Which I've done without a single fund-drive.

I have to be honest about it. I never asked for this kind of scrutiny, and, in fact, it's not really welcome. I've always been a private individual, content to hide in closets, picking my nose and wiping it on the sleeves of suits I'll never wear, mostly Grandpa's old ones. The idea that now, suddenly, everyone wants a piece of me can only have a bad ending.

How all this anxiety came about is when I chose to Google myself one day. I wish I hadn't. Because I came across the above graphics, apparently websites based on grandmaslump.com that are now available for copycats, read likely scam artists.

One way I thought to address this was to buy up all the domains myself. But how am I to know they won't think of others? Frankly, though, I don't have the kind of money we're talking. The $10.99 ones would be easy enough, maybe, at least for a while. But if I suddenly needed to get my car fixed next year when they come due again, then what? I will have staved off the copycats for only a year, making it all in vain.

Obviously I'm not going to be able to snap up the higher end domains, however much I'd love to. The highest one, at $2,695, grandmalinda.com, would be damned nice to have. Not that I know any Grandma Lindas, but I'd like to have any possible buffer against the outside world. If the money's right. Which I'm not so sure it is.

I added up the premium domains alone, and it comes to $13,444. Sounds pretty bad, I know, till you factor in they wouldn't be that much next year. At that point they'd be mine and it'd only be the normal yearly rate of around $10.95, unless it goes up a dollar. But then my car breaks down, as I said, and I can't afford to fix it, especially with the front end expense of $13,444 that I'd be down at the outset.

The more I think about it the less I think I can do. Except to just throw my hands up and say, "Breathe in, breathe out, don't worry, somehow the Lord will see me through." He was there that time I got full disability for my game toe, and that time I learned to make apple pie from scratch, He'll be with me now. Just embrace the competition, maybe that's the answer; there's room in this big fish pond we call the internet for a big fish like me as well as all the little fish.

But I see a couple domains that'd be great, GrandmaSlouch and OldSlouch. You'd think those would already be taken. With the popularity of going ultra-casual that began subtly encroaching on propriety a few years ago -- when teachers quit making boys tuck their shirts in -- and quickly took over the world. Even me. I'm sitting here in blue jeans I've been wearing three weeks, socks that don't match, and a shirt with a big stain from food that fell on it last week when I was watching TV, eating but not at the table. My mom's ashes are spinning in her unburied urn even now that I'm in the same undies two days in a row. God forbid I might need an ambulance.

GrandmaSink sounds like an interesting domain. This brings up a funny point about my grandma. She could never say the word "sink," for reasons I don't know. Both she and Grandpa pronounced it with a Z, "zinc." That's not funny, perhaps, but it's true.

As far as "GrandmaGoes," now there's a cheaper one on the premium list, only $577. I could probably talk them down to $576; anything's possible. They'd be like, "What the hell, what's a dollar between friends?" The idea of Grandma "going" is likely a knock against anyone wanting this one. Because you should see some of the referring searches I get, every filthy thing that perverts can think of when it comes to Grandmas. Basically, every Google search that has "Grandma" -- sexual, scatological, or pertaining to animals -- I get.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Protecting My Girlfriend


It's been a great time in my life. The dates with my girlfriend are piling up. I think I've had two, three, or four. Depending how you define it. If it means the sun's down and we're out to eat, that's one thing. If it's simply going to the grocery store and picking up a few things -- bread, baloney, oysters -- that doesn't count.

But the exact count isn't important. What's important is that whatever we do, it's quality time. And whether I'm invested in the relationship. And I believe I have been, maybe even more so than anyone could've expected. With my previous history, completely undefinable.

At the store, I suddenly got the creeps -- I'm creeped out! -- that something might happen to her. And since I played hell finding a girlfriend, obviously I don't want to lose her easily, not after having played hell finding her. So I've been looking out for her safety. Nothing wrong with that, right?

She had a couple hours to kill this morning, so, hey, we got together. We were going to go out for lunch, when I mentioned we could go to the grocery store and buy food and have more meals for the money. It could've been a couple burgers at a burger joint for $18.00 (with fries), or $70-80 worth of stuff at the grocery store to make eight or ten meals.

It's when we got there that I started thinking of all the stuff that could go wrong and harm our relationship. The place hasn't got their parking lot entirely scooped out after the last snow, which is a danger. I dropped her off at the curb, the cleanest spot in the place, and she was able to walk in safely. I parked a little farther, trying to avoid one of the places next to the cart storage, to avoid getting my car nicked by someone. So she was left alone a little longer than is wise.

I got there in time, though, and all was well. Now safely in the store, I started thinking, and dwelling on, all the things that could harm her. Being bumped by other carts, having her purse stolen, being hit on by some creep, or crazed gunmen jumping out of nowhere, etc. We walked around the store. Her purse was in the cart, and I kept a good hold on it the whole time. Any time another cart neared us, I had her behind me and to the right. If there were any creeps in the aisle, I spotted them in advance and we went a different way. It went like that, something she appreciated. As for gunmen, we were there on a good day, as there weren't any.

No. What actually did her in was the price of oysters. We've had a couple "stay home dates," eating oyster stew. This is all true. The oysters we got at a particular place were only $1.98 a can. But when we were shopping at this place, they were a whopping $2.49 a can, a precipitous leap in price. If you figure that in percentages, it's pretty steep. She collapsed.

By the time we got to the exit -- and this really tried my feeble muscles, especially with the extra weight of a can of oysters in my coat pocket -- I was carrying her, scouting both directions and calculating the odds that there'd be danger. The Secret Service has nothing on me.

The store has stop signs as you cross into the parking lot, but honestly I had no reason to trust people to stop. So we waited a little extra time before going on. Then I wasn't so sure her nightgown was protecting her from the cold, so I stuck my gloves down her back. I helped her through the snow, got the door open, helped her in so she wouldn't slip, and finished off by helping her with the seat belt. Anything mechanical has hidden dangers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Boar Balls -- The New Family Fun Game


Here's a game I came up with became I had to come up with something! And you know what? It turned out to be a real hit! All the kids, my nieces and nephews, have been to the State Fair -- it's a family tradition -- so they know all about the horrendously large balls on the "Biggest Boar."

Every year farmers compete to bring in the biggest boar. They must feed them like crazy through the year, because they're the biggest things you've ever seen. They're so big, in fact, that you never see them stand up. Whether they could stand up, I suppose they could. But it's always so hot, it looks like they prefer to just lie there, their balls hanging out, exposed to a terrible swarm of flies. The two biggest boars are one of the main attractions at the fair.

Now, about the game. It came about because of a little serendipity. By that I mean, I have very sweaty feet, the weirdest, sweatiest feet you've ever seen. It happens like this: My feet feel like they're ice cold, while all this time they're sweating, making them even icier and colder. Consequently, if you see me walking around, I always have like three or four pair of fresh socks in my pockets. My pockets bulge out like a hamster's cheeks. It's quite a sight to see.

OK, next, it just so happened I was at the home of my nieces and nephews, and their kids, since some of them are getting older. This was at a birthday celebration for one of them. And some of them were looking curiously at my jacket, all bulging out, like maybe I was growing love handles. I was too embarrassed to tell them about my foot problems. So I thought quick and pulled out the socks so they could see it was all quite harmless. I said it was a game! But what?

Well, as these things go, one thing led to another. And next thing you knew, I had invented the game of Boar Balls. Which goes something like this: You have two teams. Each team has an IT. It is the teams' task, starting off about 12 feet away from the other team's IT, to ask questions of the other team. With a right answer, team 1 stays in place. With a wrong answer, team 1 advances one foot toward team 2's IT. Then, of course, the first team to get their IT smacked in the face with Boar Balls loses.

We've found you can make it a lot funner the grosser you are. Such as "Those are really sweaty ones coming!" Or "The flies are everywhere, swarming around!" And "How funky, very funky, those balls are!" You can picture how it goes: IT doesn't want to be smacked, because they're busy picturing in their mind an actual boar backing toward them. Which, if that really happened, it would be very gross and painful.

The day I made up the game I just happened to have 500 questions on small cards relating to true facts about hogs. Such as, "True or False, the boar is a male." I know, that sounds really easy, but some of these kids, with our educational system today, and their addiction to video games, don't really know what male and female even mean. Then there's questions that kids simply don't know because they're more agricultural whereas the kids are urban. Such as, "With the hog, it's a well-known expression that they're able to use everything but the __BLANK__." None of the kids knew this, again, probably a result of their addiction to video games and their lack of exposure to this fact. The answer is "The squeal." I also wrote in some gimmes, such as, "True or False, a groundhog is the same as a farm hog." That's false. The groundhog is different from a farm hog, the main difference its much smaller balls.

Since it's "The New Family Fun Game," naturally I'm sensitive that all families are not alike. There are some -- I'm thinking of our Jewish and Muslim friends -- who won't have anything to do with pork. For them, I recommend the same game, while calling it "Bull Balls." I've also written 500 questions on the big beefers.

My own family being at least nominally Christian, and not having any sensitivity about Boars vs. Beef -- frankly, we eat both, often together -- stick to the Boar version. Unless, and this is important, unless we've already memorized the Boar answers and need some variety, at which point we switch to the Bull questions.

No matter how you play it, it's both dreadful and yet kind of fun to picture that massive animal backing your direction, if you're IT, and having those huge balls smacking you solid in the face. As for me, even though I'm the guy that came up with the game, my imagination's working overtime and I don't want those huge balls in my face either! Crazy but true.

Valentine's Day -- My Date's Heartbeat


Note: It's Valentine's Day, so we're celebrating LOVE and all the accoutrements that go with it, including, between the lines, a dash of sex. It's great to "couple," however you do it, whether together in the flesh or in some other sense. I've had a few dates lately. She and I went out for our Valentine's Day date last night, to avoid the rush -- the crush of people -- on Valentine's Day itself.

--------------------

Remember a few weeks ago I said I had a couple dates? Well, guess what: It's true, lightning can strike in the same spot twice! We had another one.

The difference between this date and the others is that we know each other so much better. We have exchanged calls, texts, and Facebook statuses. I'm pretty well up to snuff on her love of funny cat videos and miniature horses. I appreciate the psychology behind liking miniature horses.

This time, again, we came together over dinner, for Valentine's Day. I did the traditional thing, which is paying for her meal. No dutch treat for me. I'm old-fashioned like that. My dad probably did it before he and mom were married, even though, as I understand it, he was something of a pauper.

Later, without getting into too much of the nitty-gritty details, I found myself in a position of resting my head on her chest, just under her chin. By resting my head, I mean sideways, definitely not my face directly buried in her chest. It was a touching moment, right out of the old song, "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." Which, after all, I am.

And she seemed comfortable with it. I was comfortable. It gave me a lot to think about, as you can imagine, about proximity and what it could all lead to. Of which, speaking of comfort, I'm not comfortable saying too much.

Then I started thinking, "I can hear her heartbeat." Thumpa-thumpa -- thumpa-thumpa, etc. It really did something to my thought processes, giving me the thought, "Good grief, this is a living other ... blood is flowing ... each cell is being nourished," and other things along those lines.

Then the more I thought the sillier I felt. Of course her heart's beating! There's nothing wrong with that, is there? It's just you don't hear it that often. I kept toying with the idea. She might've thought I was lingering a bit too long, but what could I do, being a motherless child and all? Who knows her secret thoughts, probably something about nurturing and me being clingy?

My silly thoughts went something like this: Hearts beating, hasn't it been done to death? All these years the same thing, we haven't risen above it. Even though they've done marvelous things with artificial hearts, they still haven't got one to sound as lifelike as this, I presume. I keyed in on how regular it was. She wasn't varying much from the same old thumpa-thumpa you think of as the heartbeat's basic stereotype. How exciting is it having me attached to her breasts, in that sideways manner of speaking? Obviously not too exciting... she had the same beat-beat regularity...

Continuing this lovely reverie, I noted to myself, Aren't heartbeats these days almost passé? We've denied so long that we're living things -- not willing to use a bathroom if another human soul is within 50 feet -- both because of the well-known reluctance to pass waste in public as well as the fear of being sexually attacked by truck drivers in the area -- why, at the end of it all, is a heartbeat allowable?

This woman is mortal! I exclaimed with my inner silent voice. Not the goddess I imagined. Someday, although God forbid, her heart will be stilled. And if we proceed down this path, I might be there, whether it's 10 years or 30 years later, when it happens. What will I do? What should I do? CPR? How am I to know if this mortal machine can be repaired either by medicine or mechanic?

I felt my own heartbeat quicken its pace, making me no more innocent than she. When a thought like that hits you -- you know as well as I -- it's a real bastard to shake.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Olympic Experience: International Whittling Champion

Even to this day, after all these years, I can barely stand to watch the Olympics. It's a very bitter thing to see, although of course I congratulate all the athletes who made it, and especially those few who take medals for being the best in their sport. Just don't ask me to watch it ... at least for very long ... they might eliminate the ski-jump while someone's in midair!

I've probably mentioned all this before; it's one of the defining moments of my life, although, thankfully, it's receding now farther and farther into the past; mercifully, time has passed; there won't be much time left for me to dwell on it, the shame, the heartbreak, the bitter disappointment. Someday, hopefully soon, I'll pass from this dark world, only to dwell on the heights, in the light, with other great champions. On Mt. Olympus, or somewhere better.

If you've been able to forget me and my experiences as an almost-ran Olympian, then, frankly, I can only envy you; it's something I've never been able to put behind me. I still see them whispering at the grocery store: "There's the guy ... the Olympics guy ... thinking he was going to be the international champion of whittling ... only to have his Olympics dream whittled down to size ... actually whittled down to nothing!" There's always a few chuckles, probably uncontrollable laughter once I've left the premises. Some time I ought to set my phone on record and leave, then come back and see...

My family always told me not to be bitter: God never gives you anything too big to bear. Which was definitely true, although maybe not in the way they meant it. God never allowed me to bear an Olympics gold medal around my neck! That's for sure! Hell, when it all comes down to it, I wish I had at least a silver or a bronze. Is that too much to ask? I sometimes scream, shaking my fist at the heavens. Yes, He whittled my ego down to size, that's something. Whittle this! I scream, extending a massive middle finger---- You get the idea.

It all started when I was a kid. I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. And what I wanted to do with my hands they said wasn't good for me. So I didn't know what to do, until Grandpa got me a set of pocket knives. Several different sizes. All the way from a tiny one piecer, with several larger one piecers, all the way up to a larger three piece knife, with a blade so big you had to screw it together for the full length. Custom made.

Of course at first I was like any other newbie, cutting myself, missing the wood block all together. But with time and patience and great effort -- sometimes sweating blood in my labors -- I was able to whittle pretty damned good, and I actually was doing intricate little sculptures. I whittled so many ships in bottles, in the Who's Who of America in 1967 they said I was responsible for what would've been the third largest navy in the world, if they'd only been full size. But by the time I went full size, it took so long to whittle entire ships, I had to settle for achieving only the 45th largest navy in the world.

Naturally they thought I'd be a shoo-in for the '72 Olympics. My family was busy hosting benefit dinners for my Olympic expenses. And I did my part to make them memorable, whittling toothpick holders for each table and the toothpicks themselves. That's tough work, because whittling something so small, each toothpick had to be tested for durability, leading to some very sore and bloody gums on my part. I couldn't chew for a month; I could only chew broth, nothing more.

Anyway, as everyone knows, the Olympics giveth and the Olympics taketh away. New sports are added, and older sports, deemed passe and utterly worthless (those bastards), are eliminated. And that's what happened to me. The word came down from on high in the fall of 1970 that whittling would no longer be part of the Olympics in '72. Remember all that trouble at the '72 Olympics? Turned out I wasn't the only one pissed off.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Poor Spirits Aggrieved by Shady Podiatrists


Some time back, after hearing of so many terrible goings-on, I decided at long last to put my foot down and seek information on the shady trade known as podiatry and the heels that do it. I've taken certain steps in that direction and I'm prepared to give at least a preliminary report.

So far it's just me doing the work. But I'm hoping that by getting the word out I can put together a team. I'm thinking of calling it TAPS, like on the ghost hunting show, but this time with TAPS standing for Those Asshole PodatristS.

In the past I've written about one other very shady industry, the whole fly-by-night carpet biz. They sell you carpet, you walk on it, it comes apart at the seams, and then they're gone. Now I'm revealing the truth of podiatry. In short, podiatrists are the fly-by-night carpet biz of the whole stinking medical world.

I've discovered one very interesting detail of these guys. Podiatrists always marry their receptionist, with the receptionist being the only employee, since she can't be forced to testify against him. That would be a concern if anyone could ever catch these guys. But they tend to set up shop, then disappear in the night. Probably the ideal situation for them, from their point of view, would be to set up in the back of a carpet store! They could all vacate together...

My work so far has been to visit empty office space where podiatrists once were and have now left. I've gone to a few of these places. I've used my natural sensitivity and intuition to communicate with the spirits of departed patients. It's not the case, however, that every one of these patients actually died. But in the agony of their treatment, they all left something of their spirit energy within those unfortunate walls.

Now, being only one man, and without the government's surveillance expertise, I don't know any of the actual patients by name. So as a workaround I play the odds. "Is the aggrieved spirit of Ted here? Calling Ted." Nothing but silence. I went through a list of common names. "Al? Mary? Clyde?" But there was nothing. Silence. Finally I hit on one: "Phoebe?" At that, I suddenly heard rustling, right where the chair had been! Then the telltale fragrance of foot odor hit my nose, and I knew ... Phoebe's in the house!

"Phoebe, I know you suffered heinously here. Flick your big toenail if it was an ingrown toenail ... treated without anesthesia." I was spooked, really taken aback, when she not only flicked it but let out a bloodcurdling yell. "So the pain hasn't lessened at all? Flick it again if that's a yes." I heard the same flick, and an even more bloodcurdling yell. "OK," I said, trying to nail down certain conclusions, "Flick it once more if your podiatrist was a son of a bitch, then flick it a second time if you wish you would've simply suffered with it the rest of your life than to seek out his worthless treatment." I waited as she no doubt pondered whether she could endure the pain. Then, flick, [SCREAM], followed by flick, [SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER].

I poked around the office a bit more. Under some rubble I found a poster of a foot, a cutaway view, with the skin, muscle, and bones on display. You'd think this would've been nothing more than artwork from a supply house. But I'm thinking it might've been a view of an actual patient's foot, possibly operated on in this very office. I called out to Phoebe, who verified for me that it was indeed her foot, this time with three nail flicks and three more bloodcurdling screams, growing in intensity as her pain increased exponentially.

Finally, just to satisfy my curiosity as to how the podiatrist and his wife are able to disappear during raids, I tapped around for a hideout. It didn't take long to find a cut out section of the floor, covered with a removable door. Obviously there had been a switch and wires on the wife's desk to unlock it. Pulling away the boards, I found a room big enough for various provisions and space enough to sleep if need be. Very clever!

But that wasn't all! I let out a scream of my own and nearly threw up when I saw a shelf with actual foot parts, severed toes, bone, curdled muscle, the whole bit! As I screamed, Phoebe's spirit was again with me, herself screaming. As I poked at some of the bits of a bloody toe on the shelf, her screams became deafening. This time I knew! She didn't need to flick her toenail for me to know ... some of this mess was hers!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Once You Go Ojibaway...


I heard the call from the shower stall two stalls down, "Ojibaway! Ojibaway!" Two things about it: 1) I didn't need three guesses to know what was going on; and, 2) I knew he'd be dead by noon. Another non-native Gone Ojibaway, sad.

And yet there's always the temptation, as I well know. Forbidden fruit, etc., trying to be something other than what you are. We've all heard the mythology that the Ojibaway are the studliest guys in the world, and they are inarguably culturally well-endowed. Who wouldn't want to be Ojibaway, if only for a day? Struttin', secure in yourself, always on the move, on the prowl, luxuriating in the wildest things, and taking names and kicking ass, and, of course, carrying out the terrible ritual murders of those who've Gone Them.

I for one have always taken pride in my own personal restraint. Naturally, I've been very tempted. But when it comes to temptation, by and large I simply keep it to myself. I don't make the various moves you have to make to make fantasy reality. I'm afraid of lots of things in life, and it's this constant fear, while taking away some of my quality of life, that has at least given me quantity; I'm busy getting old, always looking out for even imaginary dangers. But what goes on behind closed doors, as far as I'm concerned, even in hot showers, stays there, hidden and steamy wet. If I can get in on it, I'm very careful ... picky and choosy.

Likewise, I'm always amazed at the vast number of stupid guys who don't share my caution. And some of them, the ones I've known, I thought were a lot smarter than that. This one guy, whose white guy name was LeRoy, and whose Ojibaway name I don't remember, one day Went Ojibaway ... and that was it. We gathered at the funeral home and no one said a word about it. It was also the unspoken word -- the O word -- at his grave site. The only reference to it at all was the sudden appearance of a mysterious bloody feather atop his casket.

I'm sure I don't have to tell most of you, the Ojibaway don't mess around. Once you Go Ojibaway you don't go back. Because the Ojibaway are just that fast. They're on you like a ton of buffalo. Knife to the throat, knife to the back, knife to the heart, and a bit of poison in each ear. And speaking as one who's had plenty of ear problems, itching, I'm very worried about Ojibaway poison.

There are immense payoffs, they say, and I guess we'd have to admit it, to Going Ojibaway. The wild sex, first, and, second, those amazing dreams of tribal mythology that puts you right at the center of everything. For the few hours you have left, you're going to feel things, see things, and experience things you've never known before. But when the Ojibaway avenger gets there, you'll also feel things, see things, and experience things you've never known before. And that you'll never know again.

No, no, no, none of it's for me! Would I like to experience those few hours of ecstasy? Of course I would! But I'm very strong, as I said, and I do not give into temptation. That's why other guys like me are falling like flies and I alone continue on.

So beware ... Beware indeed! ... The Ojibaway lifestyle -- with amazing powers and satisfaction that just don't quit -- is uniquely for the Ojibaway who are Ojibaway by nature. Anyone else foolhardy enough to mess with it, schittttt [gesture and noise of your throat being cut.]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bitten by a Dog


Note: This post is based on a partial quote of Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa, found in the book, Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa, (Evans-Wentz), page 79. It is: "On the way I was bitten by a dog..."

I had to make a trip to Edwinton the other day. No one would give me a ride. There wasn't a taxi to be had, and, of course, thanks to modern transportation, these days the bus no longer goes to Edwinton.

The point of the trip was to file a restraining order against an evil neighbor, whose vicious dog keeps me awake nights with his horrible howling. And occasional barking.

Like I said, I couldn't catch a ride. When everything was denied me, I thought, Just my luck! And driving was out of the question ... for reasons I should keep to myself. All right, I swore in church that I'd go on a month-long car fast.

So I had to walk, which carried with it unforeseen perils. Little did I know my neighbor (this is my suspicion) had various Black Magic powers, because of _________. (Tibetan magicians he knew.)

At the north edge of town -- on my way -- a vicious black dog -- a big son of a bitch -- came out of the weeds and bit the snot out of my arm. But at the first full taste of blood, thankfully, something spooked him and he ran. This would've been a great time to kill and gut myself a dog, but, alas, no knife.

I kept going, Edwinton being a distant 30 miles. I neared a farm and turned in to use their pump; my taste-buds were dying of thirst. All was good till the first gush of water, when a vicious farm dog came rushing around the barn, attaching himself on to the backside of my pants, tearing a hole in them and removing enough flesh to make me scream in terror. I splashed a handful of water in his eyes and he ran away.

About halfway to Edwinton, I knew I looked like a mess. I was cutting across fields, streams, and through muddy bogs. I sat in the mud and allowed it to dry and cake, to obscure my rear nakedness. What I hadn't anticipated was a hunter being spooked and his dog lurching at me, biting me on the leg and clamping on. I threw my hands up for mercy and he called it off.

The last dog bite was just outside Edwinton. It was just this simple: The sentry at the gates tensed up at the sight of me. And dogs, being keen when their masters are fearful, his dog leaped on me like a lion on prey. He got my other arm and his fangs grazed my throat. The sentry, to his credit, shot the dog, saving me, while inadvertently peppering me with stray buckshot.

Once in Edwinton, I got the restraining order. They said they'd serve my neighbor the papers. And then, to avoid a repeat of my journey there, I begged a taxi guy to drive me home.  His taxi worked great, easily able to outrun a pack of dogs chasing us all the way.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day -- The Big Hunt


In case you've been wondering where I am, I'm back! It's just now early afternoon here, Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. And I've been out doing what you do on G.D., which is groundhog hunting. It's a big thing here. My family and I have been blasting groundhogs for many years ... and (not to get too morose after such a joyous day) I'm probably the end of the line for this side of the Slump family. After me ... who knows?

Anyway, it's still a lot of fun -- no doubt bringing joy to my ancestors in Heaven -- if you can stand the hours and the cold, which of course I can. I went to bed way early and was up in plenty of time to stake out the holes. Me and some other guys from town. It's on a parcel of ground my aunt owns south of town, a hill we actually call Groundhog Hill. We've been calling it that since 1965, when my aunt and uncle (he's now dead) and cousins moved there. Groundhogs were swarming it then as now...

Just a sidebar to that: The groundhogs were thinned almost to nothing around 1968, thanks to the relentless hunting one of my cousins did back then. Except for a few, I guess, burrowed deep in the bowels of the earth, there wasn't a living thing on that property, nothing but us. Birds rerouted all flights, it was that bad. It wasn't till my cousin married and moved that wildlife made tentative forays back. It looks now like the natural balance is restored. But we still love to get the groundhogs on this Day of Days!

OK, so there we were, way before dark, enduring the darkness and cold. My fingers were getting cold even through my gloves. There was one dramatic moment when I had to take my gloves off and simply blow hot breath on them. I mention that not so much to be bragging of my resourcefulness -- how would I know it'd even work? -- but to pay tribute to my dedication to the annual hunt. Few are more dedicated than I, and of course I pay tribute to the others as well...

Now, when do groundhogs come out? As you may guess, they wait till the crack of dawn. The sun rises literally just inches over the horizon and the first few come out. We let them sit a while and get secure. Then a few more come out, a little better. It's right at the end, then, that the fattest old grandpa pops out. He's more suspicious, sniffing the air for hunters. But being older and apparently having lost the power of smell, he doesn't notice us till it's too late. POW POW POW CRICH POW, that CRICH being one guy's gun jamming.

Picture the scene: Old grandpa, the fattest one is blasted back, eight feet from the hole. Even if he might hope to fall back in the hole and die in dignity, it's too far now. The others are massacred. Only one made it back in, so it was nice that we gave them a sporting chance. We were very happy! The only guy pissed off was the CRICH guy, one of my cousin Roto's grandsons.

I got a big whiff of the gunpowder smell, instantly taking me back to the glory days of my childhood, watching my own grandpa chuckling over a victorious hunt. What memories! I only wish I wasn't the end of the line. I should've married and had kids, if for no other reason than to keep our Groundhog Day traditions alive.