Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Company Mugs' Mugshots

Part 30 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

This is what the past looks like, formal pictures of guys from the neck up as far as the eye can see. Most of them being a link in the chain that goes back as far as we can imagine, the dark, the slime, the ooze, and that’s just their parents’ honeymoon. They came on the scene exactly as did we, humpa humpa, “Guess what,” Mom says to Dad. In that regard they’re no better or worse, but the same.

But Junior does his thing, climbing as high as President of the Firm! Busy making parts for machines, then as President overseeing the work, engaging salesmen, training them, getting the railroad on board for deliveries. And at the end of the day he sits back in his swivel chair and watches the smoke curling its way from the smokestack into nature’s loving arms. “This is the good life…” he thinks, then remembers, “Damn, Hilda was supposed to call the photographer to get everyone’s mugshot! Hope she did it. Everyone from me down to Buck Tinsdale mopping Warehouse Z, who said he 'reckons as how he can come up with a suit.'"

But all that's in the distant past. It's all done. We wouldn't know Buck Tinsdale from Rockefeller. And if he had a suit or not, no one really cares. I'm just scanning the picture, though, and it looks like everyone has a suit. No bib overalls spotted.

But now the only suit they have to worry about is the one the undertaker put on their lifeless body. And you know how they do that, cut the thing up the back and tuck it under your body. A simple earthquake and you'd be naked. But I guess they do pin it behind the shoulders and press the silk pillow in a little tighter.

Back to the picture: When it came time to assemble the portraits from the president down to Tinsdale, they needed to be arranged to show the pecking order, the hierarchy, without embarrassing anyone. Which was only a minor concern in those days, meant to encourage ambition and drive.

I wonder who the first 10% were to die. I could correlate obituaries with the names, but I can't quite make out the print. They seem to have been obscured somewhere along the line in the chain of custody of their memories. Perhaps out of jealousy in middle management, or later in the transmission of this data so that no one’s memory would be besmirched. I can see that happening. Like by the family of one of the guys, one of the last few to live, who bragged about him and besmirched the others.

A psychic could look at any one of these guys, especially if they weren’t obscured, and figure out their deepest secrets. But what goes on in the parts department behind the farthest stack stays there. Weird, the past has a veto over our knowledge of the future. Telling us in so many words, "You worry about you, let us worry about us. We’re dead anyway, so what do you want to know? 'Is there a literal hell?' We’re not saying, just let this suffice, bring fire extinguishers."

Wow, there wasn't a good guy in the bunch!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Maynard And The Blonde

Part 29 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Before I speak ill of dead Maynard, let me commend him first. It shows real spirit to do what he did. I only wish I were so bold, to show up dead at a party! I don't think I'll get any argument when I say, If you can’t be the life of the party, there’s always the other option. If it’s a Halloween party and/or a costume party, as above, so much better. Whatever heavenly robe you have, angel wings, halo, the whole bit, you'll still fit in, with everyone assuming you’re as alive as them!

If you can do it, that is. I don’t believe in anyone limiting him- or herself in decent pursuits, alive or dead, if you can do it. Right now I’m alive, and barring reincarnation being true, I’ve never been dead. Yes, there was a time I once wasn’t here — this is my feeling and if my parents are truthful it’s a fact — but I wouldn’t say I was dead, just not as fleshed out as I'd like. But when you mention it so starkly, it's kind of weird to have not been here but not to have been dead. Some people say they have memories that go way back; I knew a guy who remembered the radio in his cab ride home from the hospital; I presently don’t have memories like that. Just a big blank nothing.

So Maynard had it going on! But he was a fresh corpse, with his lifeblood and whatever else he lost in the wreck still in the car he drove up in! That’s dedication to the party spirit! And he’s able — still manifesting horniness — to approach a cute blonde and impress her with his angel clothes and even a harp! I’d be like, “Hey, baby, this party’s dead, your cloud or mine?” Get a few floor-mats to cover the puddles of blood in the car, and off we’d go.

It’s funny to me that the guy is swirling the dipper in a party bowl of red punch while at the same time telling the bad news of blood everywhere. Clearly a thirsty guy, not losing his happiness over an apparent fatality just outside. I’d like to think I’d be the same way, The Party Must Go On. People die everyday. I drive by funeral homes and don’t give it a second thought. Through those doors, turn left, 12 paces, you’ll be standing at the end of a long aisle. Look at the other end and you’ll see a box open, the dead in perfect repose, awaiting our kind memories and concentrated thoughts on his individual immortality. “Today we consign Maynard to the clouds, in our mind we see him flapping his arms, lifted up, beating the air and making his way toward the God's throne.”

That’s all after the present-day party, of course, Maynard and the blonde. Truly an interesting dead guy! If I had to speak ill of him at all, it’d probably be on this, How terrible it'll be for the woman when she realizes she was literally with a dead guy. OK? That should be clear. Put it right up front and be honest, “Honey, I am literally dead. Full disclosure. But if you’d go with me, I’d be honored to spend some time with you, wherever it leads.” At that point the ball’s in her lap, if she wants to play ball, that's her choice.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Thelma's Tom Died

Part 28 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

At this point Thelma hasn’t full processed the workings of fate, taking from her a spouse that was pretty good, but never as good as you’d want. That’s a common problem in marriages, when occasionally the spouse has a bad day and each has to return to their mutual corners. Who knows why?

Tom wasn’t a bad guy — not terrible, we've seen worse — and he was faithful and a good provider. But he had an odd quirk, being overwhelmed and doing stupid things when confronted with life's complications. You see, when the Good Lord created dumb Tom took his half out of the middle. Just thinking of him is to wish you never knew him. But let me hammer one important point his friends all make, he was a good provider; providing wasn’t an issue. Sure, others had a lot more, but Tom and Thelma did OK.

And it’s one thing to be crazy kids on your honeymoon, the love light always shining in your eye. It’s another to have the years pass mercifully along, your full happiness somewhere just out of reach. On that score it feels like everyone’s in the same boat. Although there’s a select few born with a silver spoon in their mouth. The rest of us get a ceremonial spoon as a wedding gift.

Certainly Thelma and Tom followed the same clock and calendar as everyone else, and time went by reliably, tick after tick, inch by inch. They were never exactly “stuck” in the same place, but if getting there is half the fun their lives were two halves drab. Thelma kept the wedding gown in the closet and checked it for moths once in a while.

She never wished Tom dead. Not just because that’d be wrong, but because “any old port in a storm.” There were few options in those days. Cheating and unceremoniously dumping the slug weren’t easily done, not on their budget. Which was always tight.

Then it happened, the great tragedy, Tom caught a particularly virulent bug going 'round the factory, and fell dead welding a bolt (some say hinge.) The details naturally aren't that important, but I think it was a bolt. You want a bolt to stay in place, never to swing back and forth; it’s a lot more likely you’d weld a bolt. But whoever says hinge, you have to think they’ve wisely considered the rarity of welding hinges, so that's obviously a sincerely held belief. Or obstinacy.

I heard from other employees who said it wasn’t beyond them to weld everything they came across, including lunch-meat sandwiches so no one would steal them! And it could be that Tom came down with the bug and might’ve said “To hell with it” and brazenly did start welding everything. You'd probably put it among the dumbest decisions of his life, just going by the talk. But I’m not his ultimate judge.

His ultimate judge, he soon met. Tom fell dead. Sadness ensued, the usual palaver.

A few weeks passed and Bill came into Thelma’s life. What Tom totally missed in the personality department, Bill more than made up for. A real charmer, but maybe lacking carefulness. I can certainly understand why they’d tell him to be more careful — who wouldn’t be? — after one husband dropped dead in uncertain circumstances.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

From Symmetry To Cemetery

Part 27 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I know it’s hard to say any one person deserves to die more than another — barring hideous capital offenses, crimes against humanity, and unrepented pigheadedness. But could we at least make an exception for the overly-fastidious and those with strange quirks? This is something I could head up, although my deep seated tenderness will eventually be the death of me. I can only resist it for a while, because nothing hits me like a sob story.

But of course there’s sob stories and SOB stories. Bob would be in the last category, a real SOB. Mostly because he's annoying, with a very pronounced longing, even demand for symmetry. Have you ever had the symmetry bug? An overabundance of balance? If there's a shrub on the left side of your house there has to be one on the right? That kind of thing.

There’s nothing more predictable than symmetry, which is why every freethinker's first impulse is to mess it up. Symmetry sufferers have too much thought for harmonious arrangement. To the point of even their shaving cream, wanting it to stretch nicely from ear to ear. If there's something neat about it's upper border, it needs an equal lower border. And maybe a dab on top of the head and one under the chin.

Do I personally have trouble with symmetry? I believe so or it wouldn’t upset me so much thinking of Bob. But I try to foresee it and work fastidiously to make things less harmonious. Take this blog post up until now. It started with a general beginning, introduced a particular case, and now I’m in the process of giving and taking, my own problems with symmetry. Even now I can see what it'd need for good symmetry to the end. Which, if Bob were writing it, would flow as predictably as sexual waste in a prison shower. But I’m going to purposely mess it up with something unrelated.

By the way, have you ever seen a prison shower in real life? I’ve never been “in” prison but I toured one. Our hands were marked with invisible ink visible under a black light. I had such fear that day. I even pictured a guy jumping me, cutting off my arm, stuffing it into his sleeve and going through the black light. With me bleeding to death in his cell and the rest of the tour group going on without me. Anyway, I saw their shower, just a big room, shower heads all around, a big old public shower for men. Thinking of it over 30 years later, I still get nightmares.

See, my prison story ruins the symmetry. Meaning, I'd get kicked out of Bob’s Club, him and his fluorescent shaving cream! I'm not sure how they shave in prison. They don’t want anyone cutting their throat and getting out early. Hey, do you think maybe Bob had a record? Maybe Bob “served time”? I hadn’t thought of that! I just thought he was a neat freak, but maybe he was sending prisoners a message...

Right there's a good enough reason for him pass on. With him dead we can sleep better, knowing he’s not going to be shaving his symmetrical arrangement and “accidentally” slipping and cutting our throat.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Umpire, You're Out Out Out!

Part 26 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

This umpire guy (probably another wannabe) could've very well been one of the umpires behind me in Little League. When I was whiffing at the ball after it’d been in the catcher’s mitt for two full seconds. The ump was screaming “Ouuuuuuuuuuuut” like it was a 16-syllable word instead of the short, simple, and to the point word I see when I write it out. Like that. Notice the simplicity, “Out,” compared to the jaw breaker, “Ouuuuuuuuuuuut.” Big difference.

I really wish I could go back and do baseball better. I don’t know why I was so wimpy. Just didn’t want to do it, I guess, or I didn’t feel near as good as the other players. But my parents still sent me to the park to do my thing, even though I was like, “This is going to be a disaster... Kids with my delicate introversion are better off taking their easel into the closet and painting stilllifes of Dad’s suit. Or Mom’s bra, which would’ve been a more marketable subject. Can you imagine that? I could’ve beat Andy Warhol to the whole pop art happening/Campbell’s Soup Can thing with Closet Wall In Repose and Mom’s Outgrown 38D.

It’s simply amazing how easy life is in hindsight. Meaning, we need to come up with a time machine very fast or I'm gonna die a complete failure. I actually still could be a success but it’d require changing the rules slightly. And even with that I’m not so sure. I’ve seen kids playing baseball these days and it’s just like I remember. They suck. But put someone with some confidence in there — like me today — and I could be the best Little Leaguer in the country. Especially if someone else would run the bases for me. Give me a bat; it’s not just your sex life where remarkable things can happen; it'd be with baseball like it is with sex, I’d swing at everything that moves. (You believe that, right?)

But the past cannot be undone, not with current technology. I was hoping like everyone that with the Large Hadron Collider they'd do something to help. In case you forgot what that was or never knew, you better look it up because I’m not sure either. It had to do with electrons going super speed to prove something interesting about the nature of existence and/or baseball. Maybe studying whether an umpire calling balls and strikes is harder if they're pitched at the speed of light. And even if they haven’t yet worked out all the conclusions, it's definitely known that any ball going the speed of light that you attempt to hit will likely slip by you.

Anyway, none of that does any good for my childhood failures at baseball and the mean-spirited umps we always had. I have one happy memory to share, though, in closing. It was the last game of the season. My team — the Dodgers — were winless, but on that last day — God’s honest truth — our forlorn team managed to win! And the coach took us downtown for a bottle of Pepsi. And who do I see sitting in the booth, moping? The Umpire... Who grimaced at me and muttered, “I'm really gonna get you next year.”

Somehow later that day, though -- a matter of perfect justice -- something came from outer space at the speed of light, avoiding the Hadron collider all together, and took out the ump and his truck with one strike. Rest In Peace, fool...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Not Afraid Of Grizzly Bears

No. 25 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I haven’t figured out yet what happened, the system of “more-enlightened” times. With hunting completely out. And gigantic elephants, tiger, lions, all the way down to the smallest things, rabbits, squirrels, and even rodents completely running amok. I remember, not very long ago, when a man could “put food on the table” by his own stealth. Sitting in a tree waiting for a deer. Seeing a rabbit in the ditch and hoping it didn't move till you got your .410 shotgun assembled.

But life is full of contradictions, so in the abundance of animals going to waste we continue raising and slaughtering others. Even though scientific people who don’t weigh as much as the rest of us — when they pick their teeth it’s always bio-engineered scraps— tell us meat is not only unnecessary but actually harmful. Say what you want about animals, as mean as they are, they make up for it by being delicious.

Anyway, it’s obvious true to a point that there’s danger in everything. And yes, we’re all going to bite the dust someday. If it comes from a lifetime of eating, what’s the beef? We’re hungry, of course we’re going to eat. Death is a fact of life period. Nothing to be denied, of course, but nothing to be so afraid of. I get lessons from friends passing. Whatever they died of, I avoid that for a week or so. If they had an unpleasant pallor, I use rouge. (I’m not a female impersonator all the time, I just like to look alive.) And if it’s someone close, I cry like a banshee. Until the pastor steps in, touches my wrist and says, “He’s in a better place.”

Still, friends don’t like friends to die. But we’re not beyond challenging each other. “If you’re a man, do such and such," take this challenge, live your life on the edge, and prove you’re tough enough to go the distance. When we were kids, though, that was the worst thing, being a wimp. It's illustrated there, the whole gamut of childish behavior. Feeling like you can do anything. You actually can, almost, if you get lucky. But when you grow up you realize, just because Superman jumps off buildings and is OK, there’s no guarantee you can. If there's doubt, the default assumption has to be, You can’t.

So they ask the kid, "You wouldn't be afraid to hunt grizzly bears with a club?" No. But if I kill one, that means I have to take on at least one more. Then the second grizzly swipes a big paw out and takes the kid's head off. That kid was stupid. Don't do it. And now that you've done it and died, don't do it again. There's nothing you can do about him. Dumb kid, real stupid. But pretty good skills, if you as a kid could actually kill the first grizzly. That's something to talk about, big praise.

As for the rest of the kids, his funeral meant a day off from school. So there was something worthwhile about it for everyone.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Rest In Peace 1911

Part 24 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I recently came across this graphic and didn’t recognize it, never saw it before. I have a whole room of hard drives and computers and there’s no telling what I might find. But a few years ago some guys who read my blog came over and were helping me catalogue a ton of clip art. Then we had a falling out, because there's zero nudity in antique clip art beyond the New Year's baby's butt, and they became disinterested. The cataloging process was halted and nothing more done.

But going through it the last few days, this one hit me. I was struck by the sudden realization that I never actually heard that the year 1911 passed away. Of course all of us know at a certain level that past years are no more and future years are still to come. But when we think in those terms — if ever — it's generally years we've lived through, and we have stark memories of them, for instance 1999. I remember buying a cassette boombox in 1999 in case the computer grid went down (Y2K), so I'd have something to hear emergency news on.

The truth is, I’ve been through most of the years of my life in detail, so I’m familiar with each one starting and ending. The other years I've heard of and am generally aware that they ultimately met their fate. Grandma was born in 1903, so I’m squared away on it. And Grandpa had his year, my various aunts, parents, and friends all had their years, as I’ve conscientiously observed: “Those years are no more. There's no bringing them back from the brink. They’ve shot plumb over the edge into the bottomless pit. A brink no longer looms, it’s attained.” Brinksmanship all the way. But somehow 1911 — miraculously? — sailed past my notice! Making me think it sneaked past me with an enemy's help. Which I'll be looking into, because I have some very clever enemies.

1911. It's a year I know nothing about. I do not know one historic thing that happened in 1911! But it was surely a year like any other. There were big cities, there were smaller towns, there were villages, farms, communities of people with hopes and dreams as real as my own. Back then one of their dreams might’ve been to imagine what 2010-2020 would be like, our current time frame. I suppose they imagined us in buildings that float, people with personal planes for getting around, and grocery stores where there aren’t pesky lines. Maybe the next 100 years will bring hovering buildings.

Anyway, 1911 died, awww, sad. So speaking ill of 1911, I can certainly say it is a nondescript year, fairly anonymous, and maybe shouldn't have wasted everyone's time. Just skip from 1910 to 1912. But let’s raise a tankard of JR anyway along with the old Father Time, an Englishman, and the semi-nude New Year's baby. It's 1912! 1911 is finally gone, may it Rest In Peace and in our precious memories with its ups and downs, the good and whatever evil it so maliciously cradled and nursed.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Pacyderm Packs It In

Part 23 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Did you know they used to enlist elephants for military service? Quite the thing. A family would raise one from a calf, then on the day of the Big War would say, “Horray, Jumbo’s all grown up and ready for war! Put a star in the window, let the whole town know we're patriots!” Sounds unlikely these days, I know. When the price of elephant food went sky-high, plus liability insurance, etc., it suddenly wasn't common for a family to raise them. Which is a damned shame, because if we'd been raising elephants, think of all the things that wouldn't have happened. 9/11 for starters.

Of course elephants have always been big, but they were larger than life in the days of the Roman Empire, when all kinds of crazy stuff happened. Back then they didn’t have everything we take for granted, cannons, bunker busters, bazookas, and gun shows. If they wanted to conquer someone they had to unleash an elephant. Yes, they had bows and arrows, swords, and spears. But it was elephants that trampled out the vintage and made the grapes of wrath flow. One big reason, they were hepped up on firewater, hootch, and booze, and went plain loco. Which was a good thing.

Personally, I don’t know entirely how it was done. For me to depend on an elephant to distinguish the enemy from us, that’d take a lot of trust. But it was accomplished like everything else, by experts. They pointed the way for them to go, they fed them a truckload of peanuts, and before you knew it, it was V-Day over the Huns! World War I ended! Hallelujah!

Am I glad we won World War I? Of course I am, I'm always for the home team. But at that time I wasn’t even thought of, nor were my parents, so I sat it out. Later, I took coursework in history in college, but most of the stuff I learned I've forgotten now. World War I, though, was a war to end wars. And elephants' days were also numbered.

It's hard for me to speak ill of an elephant that died. But keeping to the theme, let me think of something ill for this one. Looking at the picture for de-inspiration: What's the matter, you fool, staggering and stumbling like that, breaking through the fence, the cannon tipping over! Next thing you're going to make a mess! And next thing, the enemy's going to say, "That elephant's loco! Shoot the guys on top of it! We'll capture it!" So all that stumbling was a huge mistake, because you took a bullet right through the temple, a terrible place to be shot. Killed instantly. Very bad job.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Rich Shouldn't Risk Their Life

Part 22 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I had this idea for my Master's thesis: "The richer you are, the less you should risk your life protecting what you have." They said that was a given and the thesis not practical. I tried bullshitting them but they wouldn't budge. So I did some gas-lighting to prove my point, putting a great deal of psychological pressure on some of the top donors.

I was relentless over months with scary faces at their windows, creepy phone calls, and I even broke one guy's leg. The fear was so horrendous there were three or four deaths the first year alone! The university, always begrudging, finally saw the light and the degree's on my wall to prove it! But the families sued and the university lost so much money and prestige it sounds like they're sorry they ever heard of me.

But I hate crime and that's what I'm here for today. I really hate crime. Please don’t tell any criminals that you read this here, because they also seek revenge, but I wish they'd only give criminals “One strike and you’re out!” I know it changes the old adage about three strikes. But with the world's population exploding and crime everywhere, we can’t afford an unlimited number of three strikes. Change the rule: Just one!

It looks like the only good luck society ever really has is with the non-criminal population, and we're all dirt poor. We haven’t got anything to steal, so it's no use for criminals to attack us. Yes, they can break into our hovels and take our chewed up old blankets — my dog chews blankets and everything else — but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a pawn shop in the Big City that sells used blankets. My most valuable possession is a half gallon of paint from 10 years ago, but, again, it takes a lot of old paint to make one good gallon. With the colors always ending up potluck.

I'm definitely poor. I don’t take much comfort in things in my life; I can’t afford to. But at least I have some comfort knowing there are poorer people yet. Do I feel badly for them? I actually do. I was bit by the compassion-bug when I was a kid and it's a lifelong infection, because sometimes I feel guilty that my car runs and my backseat isn’t on my porch. But it'd be comfortable and very weather-resistant thanks to the plastic covering I bought with my inheritance after Mom and Dad passed.

Yes, even though crime usually affects people better off, I still hate it. Another reason, I watch the evening news, and I hate hearing about criminals breaking in here or there, robbing places, abducting people, dumping their bodies in the river, and all the rest. I cry out, “Can the police do nothing right?!” It totally screws up the fishing. Still, they speed by all hours day and night with their sirens. How about leaving the sirens off and sneaking up on people. This is one of my peeves. When they hear the sirens they drop the evidence and sneak out the back. What happened to stealth? Even the military has stealth planes. Something to try...

I’m looking at the graphic of Sir Reginald, one of the richest guys in town. He was worth a lot of money, going by how much he gave to every museum in town. But he didn’t keep it quiet either. His attitude was, “I’m filthy rich, jump me in the dark!” He probably took the dark way home just to brag about it at the Admirals Club. But in this case, his luck ran out. He was not only robbed but brutally murdered, bamboo shoots shoved in his hair follicles. Reggie was a rich fool, having every advantage but blowing it for bragging rights.

But he still got the last laugh; his family crypt's about the size of the mall. With lots of legroom, which he deserves, being so rich.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Death At The Witching Hour

Part 21 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Have you ever had witches for friends? I actually have, in a very limited since. They identified themselves as witches, and while I don’t know the full extent of their activities, I know they did things that modern-day witches do, which has to do with stones, incense, cards, their own texts, nature work, the days of the year, and whatever else. I wouldn’t mind doing it but I already have my own thing, and you should always do your own thing.

Those witches probably have something in common with the whole cartoon, movie witch culture, but at a more serious level. You can see I’m trying to tiptoe around everyone’s feelings and keeping it serious so I don’t end up with enough spells on my head to destroy me. Although, honestly, that’d be a totally interesting way to go. Put that on my resume: “2015-2020 Witch Taunter, taunting various covens and counteracting their spells against whoever.” The problem with that would be I would more likely identify with them, and their enemies would be my own. And I think they/we have a "First, do no harm" vibe these days.

OK, enough boring serious talk about witches. Imagine that, in this day and age we have to pussyfoot around with witches, when everyone knows the actual truth (Wizard of Oz) that witches are "mean and old and ugly." Glenda was even a good witch, but I don't know if water would affect her. Hopefully without the same problems as old shrivel toes or the water bucket witch. If you can’t stand a bucket of water, your other powers are probably pretty thin. A bucket of water and a rainstorm are the same thing. You telling me that old fool witch never showered? Wasn’t her body about the same percentage of water as the rest of us? Maybe not, since water creatures don’t shrivel quite that quickly; they just sizzle and ooze a bit, then melt. And even ice cream melts slower!

If you really could get on a broom and ride, ride, ride, that’d be good. I think I might’ve seen one one day. I was driving by a place decorated for Halloween — probably to attract witch traffic — and there was a witch crashed into a tree, seriously. The tail end of the broom was undamaged, but her smashed body was flat against the tree. One of the saddest things I ever saw. I called an ambulance, then ended up paying $500 fine for what they called a false report. OK, that’s the way it is, never again! Later, I went by a big accident in the country. Three semis smashed to bits, bodies strewn everywhere, blood, guts, and I didn’t phone it in. Might have been witch reenactors for all I knew. And if they didn’t believe me the first time, screw ‘em.

The witch I'm featuring today, Isora, in the pictures, this is a modern witch. She has a garage? How long have we had garages, the last 75 years or something. Anyway, it sounds like she has the same trouble with garage door openers I’ve had. You think it’s open and you drive up and it’s still closed. But when you don’t want it open, say, you accidentally bump the switch while reaching for your keys, it opens every time. The difference between us and her is we don’t go through the door until we see it's definitely open. And we don't usually get killed. That’s real similar to the one I saw wrecked in the tree. But this time a garage door. Bad deal, should’ve been smarter, make sure you’ve got a free path before proceeding, supernatural dummy.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Tsunami Warnings In Bali


Part 20 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Bali is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. The woman is Gede. The man is Komang. That’s all you need to know. It’s far-flung, way out there near the ends of the earth. Unless you’re there, and then it’s the same as my place, the center of everything.

Have I ever been to Bali? I’ve heard people claim I’ve been there, but I don't know why. I think they're just trying to confuse me. Because it’s not something I’d lie about. If I’d been there, I'd gladly confess it. I'd be so glad to confess it, people would run from me: "There's that guy that wants to talk about Bali all the time." But if I did something incriminating there, I wouldn't mention it. I wish I could tell you all the stuff I don't mention. If you never see a particular thing mentioned on my blog, I might be guilty of it.

It'd been nice if I had the kind of job where I was sent by an employer somewhere near Bali. Then instead of strictly taking care of the business, I'd make my way to Bali. The employer might connect the dots and I’d potentially be forced to repay him for a wasted trip. But none of that happened.

So I’m going on second hand information, TV as well as ordinary secret contacts around the world. Secret contacts were indeed my source for the report of a man’s death in Bali, and the show he attended. In which his fate can be traced to the witch doctor.

To me, even the word “witch doctor” cries out something to beware of! We hear the word and we think of someone in a high position of power with witches, delving into the higher mysteries, and now having the diploma to prove it, a doctor's degree. What was his project and his doctor’s degree based on, “Making Tourists Comfortable Enough In Storms” or “Bewitching Foolish Inaction Till It’s Too Late”?

Good thing I wasn’t there, because I might've been susceptible to hocus pocus. I’m very easily led. I’m such a trusting person, mostly because I’m honest and good. And I jump to the conclusion that everyone’s as good as me. Get a clue: They’re not! This guy is Exhibit A. What kind of psycho performs for tourists, then hopes, even conspires, to make them victims? I’d say his diagnosis is off the charts in the wrong direction!

But Kenneth the Tourist knew better than to trust a man with makeup. Even though the slithering dancing girl (Gede) doubtlessly added to his credibility. He’s got that big loin cloth, what’s he packing under that thing? I’m not trying to second guess the fate involved in this thing. But packing that much, I can see how Kenneth could’ve fallen for his act. When the truth is just the opposite. Sometimes the less you pack, the more trustworthy you are. You figure, People aren’t going to trust me, so I have to double down on believability.

Komang's message was soothing. The message was "It’s a great night, have a great time." And Gede backed him up with a plaintive plea for westerners to adopt her and take her home with them to engage in romance and housekeeping. Kenneth didn’t stand a chance. On the other hand, anyone dumb enough to fall for that native lingo got what he deserved.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Gooseberry Dies

Part 19 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I’ve had days like that, the weight of the world on me. All my vises equally tight. Squeezed like an elephant in a car wash. The pavement of my soul buckling in the heat. Everything I try, there’s something wrong with it. I hit a pothole and think I'm a goner. It’s the end of the world. Or something worse. Maybe a death in the family. A sniper downtown. The grocery store recalling bad fruit. Don’t get me started on a world of problems.

Again, the weight of the world. I wonder how big the actual planet is, how much it'd weigh if you got corralled long enough to step on the scales. Thanks to online resources I could probably find out stuff like that, stuff we used to guess at. Back then we had no idea of the immensity of things. I never saw the ocean till I was an adult. And even then it was such a small amount of it, one horizon’s worth, I can still only imagine how much I missed.

The guy in the picture could be me. I’m not completely bony, I eat normal meals. And my head doesn’t look like a ripening gooseberry, a delicacy I haven’t had in many years. (I prefer them green, and saw some plants on the hiking trail but they didn't have berries yet.) This guy makes me hungry for gooseberries, which to him might be a compliment, since he has the whole world against him, what’s the chances of anyone loving him like I could?

You have to remember, though, this guy — or who he represents — has to die, or has died as of this writing. He could be anyone, although his name is Daniel, like the Elton John song. Leaving tonight on a plane, the red taillights, the whole bit. Taking off around the planet, but it looks like the planet’s got him pinned. It’s metaphorical, of course, like another great song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. 'He’s got the little bitty babies and the big fat grandmas in his hands.'

In Daniel's case, he’s got the whole world in his hands. Which, going by the caption, won’t be a fair fight. He’s about the be crushed by a piece as narrow and insubstantial as the Baja peninsula. Deadly, but not quite as ignominious or painful as the Horn of Africa. The absolute worst part of the Earth rolling on you would have to be Mount Everest. It’d put an eye out if it didn’t absolutely crush you. You’d be saying, “But for the curse of geography lessons, I would’ve had no idea. I could have died more peacefully in ignorance." Half the sorrow is knowing what hit you.

Do I feel sorry for Daniel? Friends, I’ve seen so much death, it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone. I suppose at a basic human level, man to gooseberry, we would’ve gotten along. But with his meager frame, there in the nude trying to grab the earth by the ocean, that’s foolhardy beyond anything I can easily dismiss. Metaphorical, though, we shouldn't forget. I’m so literal minded in two ways: 1) When I’m tired; 2) When I’m hungry. Well, I’m tired of everyone’s problems, dying. And thinking of gooseberries, I am kind of hungry for them. But my family ate them green, never purple or reddish, like Daniel appears to be.

Try again, son. Come back when you're green.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bull vs. Bad Egg Magistrate

Part 18 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

The other case of a guy chased downhill by a bull was this guy, Thornton the Magistrate. Which could’ve been prevented. Let’s think of how:

You’re the only magistrate a county's had in 50 years and you still haven’t got a basic sense of the territory? You only know the town? Well, the country comes stocked with bulls everywhere, guarding their cows and from time to time mating with them. The fact that they’re mating with them means they’re sensitive to any posed threat. Yes, maybe the magistrate had no designs on the cows. He's never been known to be a swinger.

But the bull knows what he smells. If dogs can smell fear, bulls are equally good judges on horniness. Don't forget, they're bulls, with nut-sacks the size of parachutes. They live and breathe gonads. They get their daily news sniffing the air. You should never take a date to the country. Bulls out there are, constantly sniffing, and might tap your shoulder to step in like a guy at a dance. Or just take a big swipe at your head.

Then, the idiot magistrate goes to the country in a red suit? Which part of bullfighting did he miss growing up? When they came to the part where the guy holds up a red flag just before being attacked and having to kill the bull, was he shaking a pan of popcorn in the kitchen? Then he gets back to the TV, the rodeo still on, and asks the family what he missed? Of course they’re not going to tell him the embarrassing details, a bull and a red-nosed clown are about to have a baby. If he wanted to see the mounting suspense he should’ve stayed!

I guess those are my main judgments against Thornton. Except just to throw in, the guy was a bad egg anyway and this likely was merely his day for divine justice. With the servant of the Lord in this case being a mindless bull, possibly even a blind bull, and maybe neutered at that, that didn’t care anything about the red suit and wasn't the slightest bit jealous about the cows. Just divinely led to wipe out any and all magistrates, be they corrupt, conceited, or new to the job and harmless. But, really, would anyone wear a suit and hat like that if he weren't conceited? Should've toned it down, dead man.

But I’m fairly sure the magistrate was out there to enforce some unfair judgment against an innocent citizen. Boo, hiss! That's why you don't see any citizens. They're hidden away somewhere in the cellar or attic. And playing their hand pretty well, in my opinion, making the magistrate circle the barn a few times, calling out their name, and flashing his red suit. Perfect for the bull to get him! Which just coincidentally happened to out of his locked pen!

OK, Thornton the magistrate, RIP. I'm sure his death was a loss to the widow, but magistrates are well-paid and diligent. You really have to claw your way up to be magistrate. So he had good money and good life insurance. And the widow will be better off, maybe even with a million dollars! The old man couldn’t outrun a bull? Ha ha, his loss, everyone else's gain!

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Bull of Attainder

Part 17 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

The first case I know of a guy being chased downhill by a bull was with a guy we called Judge. Judge was a judge, which you can probably tell by his stupid dumpy look. And, speaking of bulls, he might pass on a bull of attainder — sounds highly technical — which was a summons from the judge one step up, as much as saying, “I’m the judge one step up and you will do as I say, and if you don’t, we’ll get the judge one step up from me and he'll make you.” It’s like kids double-dog daring, triple-dog daring, and if that doesn’t work, just going full bull, at which point the opponent is gored and leaks when he's out swimming, blood out, stagnant water infecting the wound in.

Essentially this is the stuff they teach you the first day of law school, right after clearing up the point about No. 2 pencils being preferred to other numbers. The computer needs it that way when it reads your essays and reports. It’s been a while since I applied for law school and was rejected because of outstanding parking fines. Memo to any kids out there, make sure you’re up to date on licensing your cars, dogs, and if you’re married to a beautician, her certification. Or they’ll issue a bull of attainder and you’ll be working that punch press at the factory for life. Until you lose a hand and your reason for living.

Anyway, back then the Judge naturally had to hand-deliver the various bulls he was in charge of. And that meant going there fully looking the part, keeping his Judge costume on everywhere he went. He'd be at your door, your barn, your garage, the other out-buildings, the fishing hole if you were down there. And up and down every field between there and the county line if that’s what it took! These rural areas, don’t look on your phone to find your way around; you're either born there or you're lost. If you were born there there’s no mystery at all — or if you’ve been out there hunting over the years. Then you just look at the back of your hand and you're there.

So there goes the Judge, proud of his get-up and the respect he instantly commands by his great role in society. He inspires fear, trepidation, and envy. Personally I wouldn’t want a son or daughter who was a judge. It's like this, I’m such an egalitarian guy I wouldn’t want any favors from my kin, because others would then be jealous and hold a grudge. But with my perpetual good cheer, they’d still think I was getting favors and hold it against me. They’d be right in my face, barking, “Why don’t you ever get any bulls of attainder?” And the true answer would be, “I take care of my affairs as I go, so I’m never in arrears.” They’d be nodding their head, their eyes rolled back and their mouth indicating they still think I’m getting favors from my kid.

And when you call a man a liar in those areas of the country, that’s as good as wishing for your own death sentence. I might issue a bull of my own, a bull to chase you downhill, kind of like the one that got free and chased the Judge downhill. Something Judge never did much of was exercise. So it was his own fault that the bull easily caught up with him and … That was a bull of attainder, easily attaining enough speed to gore the Judge straight through. A fitting sentence.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Marie's Temper, Thar She Blows

Part 16 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

It’s a constant wonder to me — I’m fascinated that I’ve lived so long — that you can die from nearly everything. I read the death news everyday and think, "Yeah, that could happen," meaning to myself. But one of the few things you can’t die from is holding your breath till you turn blue. One of our early fears. Because, as experience tells us, we always choose to breathe. Whether it’s choosing, that’s probably the wrong word; there’s some impetus toward breathing that takes over. And as far as I know, you can't even turn blue willfully. We’re built with an inborn awareness that breathing's good.

Something we certainly can do (and do do) is engage in persistently bad behavior and eventually die from it. For me the biggest problem is worry. I worry about everything and will probably die from it. But at least I'll be able to say I worried about it so much I saw it coming. A murderer leaps out from the bushes and kills you to steal your watch, I didn’t see that coming. But I've actually worried about it even though I don't have a watch. (The guy would settle for other stuff.) Anyway, I'm guilty of worrying too much about worrying too much. And if you pile up a string of worries about what you’re worried about you can see why it could be fatal.

This lady, Marie, the power that was overwhelmingly subtracting from her lifespan was a terrible temper. It’s fine with me that she’s dead, although I would've never said that to her face. Her temper was so terrible, she’d bite your head off if she heard such a thing. So what a relief now to say out loud, "Marie’s dead, and she brought it on herself!" Not suicide, of course, except the slow motion kind that a lot of us commit. Like me from worry. There are coping mechanisms that help, though, mostly reminding yourself that things always seem to work out, whatever the problem.

But with her temper, I don’t think there were coping mechanisms. Having a temper from hell is a thing you apparently have to accept, no refusals. It's ingrained. Picked up, probably, in childhood. The kid who stamps her feet and cries about every disappointment. That's the sort of thing you need to deal with at the time. Although I don’t know how. Reasoning with people with temper (or proto-temper) is often futile.

In childhood psychology, though, I’d guessing you would take away some of the disappointment by granting her wishes selectively. So she'd grow up knowing every wish fulfilled isn't how life works. And that to react with a bad, steaming bad temper is not helpful or appropriate.

But it's not my place today to conduct a full post-mortem on Marie. I’m sure the undertaker was up to his hips in worthless temper dripping out of her, but that’s a science too unpleasant to describe. We’ll just take our place on the other side of the curtain and say — temper or no temper — Marie is now dead, whatever the cause of death on the report, probably listed as a merely physical and not psychological thing, maybe brain implosion. A collapse of the head, now the size of a pea. Like a mine shaft shrinking inward from forceful molecular packing.

It certainly cleared the air for the rest of us. Now we can breathe freely instead of facing Marie's terrible wrath for every little thing. And that’s a good thing, coming not a moment too soon!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

If You're Poor, Stay Poor

Part 15 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

As I sketch out the sad story of Geoffrey, there's huge storms in the area. Lightning strikes everywhere, big bright bolts zapping the terrain and monster faces at the windows. It's frightening. It seriously might be Judgment Day! With demons unleashed, and I could be in for the shock of my life if I softball this blog post...

Could it be that my insights into the errors of society and the dictates of heaven above -- BOOM! Another Thunder-Boomy! -- are the only thing standing between You, Me, The Fence Post, Society's Judgment, and Breakfast? It definitely looks like it. And it's only 5:30. I just got up to pee, the lightning knocked out the toilet's electricity, so here I sit, stoved-up but typing.

I was actually half-expecting this, if truth be told. And, no, it's not all that idiot Geoffrey's fault, but there was a fault line that ran right through him, because it's when he started misbehaving that I had the distinct fear we were all in for trouble. This is a bad day. If the lightning hits this computer and I erupt in flames, I can't be held responsible for my mood.

But there's something going on, and while you might think it's "good clean fun," think again. Geoffrey's mistakes are a lesson for us all. He couldn't keep his hands on his money, his palatial estate, his clothes, his strictly heterosexual lifestyle, and other identifications. It's true, the message is: All variations, shades and flavors of "fluidity" are out! If you've got it, don't flaunt it! If you want it, stick with what you've got! Keep your seat, keep your place in line. The kind of storms we're getting today is part of it, and it's bad. I just heard on the news that Greenland slipped under the ice last night and is gone! If we're going to survive this, it'll take all of us hewing the straight and narrow, no more "fluidity."

Temptation always starts by looking around. And getting your identity screwed up to the point of not knowing who you really are. Say you're a round peg and you suddenly identify as a square screw, there's only so many times you can be pounded into a rectangular hole before it's screwed beyond repair. Geoffrey had it all ... and it's gone.

Instead of keeping the tried and true -- his destiny -- he allowed himself a sick drive and desire for more, for different. In his confusion, the whole swirl of our present-day mix-master of destinies, drives, and desires, sucked him in. Which probably did feel good in the short-term. But what of the consequences? His personal death! And now Greenland. Which really isn't gone. No, it sunk but it'll bob up somewhere. Let's say it comes up under Asia. The tidal waves will sink us all and Mount Everest will likely take out the moon. Any valuable paintings you have, get them to the attic!

It started just like that. A rich man dabbled in poverty. With identity confusion tossed in. He veered into full-time poor-enacting, got a taste for it and ended up losing everything. Then being actually poor, there was no one to help him and things went downhill, literally ... He rolled downhill in his barrel and crashed against the rocks. What could they do but heap his body on the charnel wagon and boil him down to make candles?

I can actually see why a guy would hate being richer than everyone else. I'm not dirt poor, and even me, my first uncomfortable thought meeting someone who is is, "I hope I can squeeze by this guy without him asking me for something." And if he does I pull the old card, “No speak English," till I’m out of sight, then cuss him a blue streak, the lousy SOB, in perfect English. Geoffrey’s story isn’t based on me, in case you’re wondering. I don’t know how people accumulate.

Part of Geoffrey’s thing was he was an only child. That’s great for keeping the inheritance to yourself, but bad for a kid's identity. But there he was, alone with a bunch of stuffy adults, forbidding him to play with poor honyocks like I could do freely. So right there we have a fluidity issue. People used to have more kids, now they might have one. See what's happening? Get busy, have more kids ... yesterday!

And definitely be happy with what you have, folks. If you've haven't got anything, be happy without it. The rest of us are depending on you to keep your place. Inert is the new uppity, value it.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dancing Girls, Horde Mongoling

Part 14 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I'm usually intrigued by people who get into reenacting things. Or intrigued about them is probably more accurate, wondering what's wrong with them. But it's still kind of cool. Of course I don’t do it. Just in my imagination on a smaller scale -- everyone does that. You see someone especially lovely, handsome, whatever, and mentally reenact their honeymoon, say, with you in it. That’s normal stuff. We go out to eat and she insists on paying for everything, good stuff, too, steaks the size of my back...

Then there's obviously things that'd be stupid to reenact. I go grocery shopping every week, usually on Monday. I do the whole thing, picking a cart doesn't wobble my arm to sleep, avoiding people as I go through the aisles, looking for things and getting used to where they keep them, etc., and finding a line for checkout that doesn’t have a dozen people in it. But I never reenact grocery shopping later in the week just for something to do...

There's war reenactors, and who knows what all, various historic things like maybe the Lincoln assassination, the pursuit for John Wilkes Oswald, and everything that goes with it, his back story, posing with the rifle in his backyard, nearly defecting to Russia, and the barn burning. And there's other reenactors, like the Titanic. And lesser known shipwrecks, the Minnow, carving a shortwave radio from a coconut, etc.

Here’s one I never heard of, Palace Intrigue reenacting, including a cast of thousands, dancing girls, clowns, regents, kings, queens, jacks, aces, harps, and buildings the size of palaces. Enough floor space to be a sea of glass. See the circle of dancing girls (crouched), that's the actual center of the piece. There’s another row beyond them of flute players, trumpeters, dancing girls clothed and nude, jacks jacking in the corner, and sellers of purple crying out, “Sale today, one day only, half off all purple!” A big deal for royalty.

Maybe I've never heard of it because it doesn't happen... Wouldn't it be too big? If so, this would have to be some kind of wormhole, time machine, or whatever... With the actual people coming back, appearing at random... The real historical scene reborn! With a time portal, an actual historical scene could be witnessed just as it was, and all the intrigue and relationships. You could be there a few seconds and maybe it'd seem like years. Or you'd blink or step away and it'd return to its original stream. Very awesome.

OK, if it's the real thing, there'd have to be life and death issues afoot. My imagination of intrigue always just scratches the surface, but in fascinating ways. With one of the biggest and most unfortunate problems back then being elephant stampedes. That'd be tough to look up and see elephants stampeding at you and causing commotion. Followed by Mongol hordes, anxious to make their mark in the world and not afraid of a bad reputation. Then flames bringing the walls tumbling down, the curtains evaporating in an upward inferno -- quite the disaster, but a potential wienie roast for survivors.

Most of the folks you see in our royal setting died that day. Which seems sad, but of course it's no big deal. 1) Most of them were rotten people, rotten to the core; and; 2) They were from so long ago -- centuries -- that they would’ve been dead of something else anyway. This at least gave them something interesting to do between deaths. One bad thing would be the people of their time wondering where they went. But, again, what can you do?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Power-Hungry, Crazy Ambition

Part 13 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I'm sort of a fan of big ambition. But I admire it from afar, since my own ambition -- while it exists in seed-form doesn't always sprout. Because I'm picky; anything I do, I want to be the first. Anything else and It's been done to death. If I can't come up with a fresh take on a thing, why bother? No one likes an imitator. Go big or go home, or just stay home. Maybe eat a big meal, wait a few hours, then go big.

So without big follow-through I'm a guy with just a little drive. I'm no Dr. Frankenstein, for example, who wanted to bring people back from the dead or piece together one guy out of multiple bodies. But his problem was like the guy in the graphic -- the danger of messing around with lightning. Thinking, "No pain, no gain," then proceeding, "If that's how it's done, that's how it's done. Gotta do what you gotta do. Let's get it in one take. If I'm gonna get knocked on my ass, I only wanna do it once..."

In Frankenstein, his book and movie, lightning reanimates a corpse and they basically live happily ever after. Yes, they had a few problems. A little girl was unfortunately frightened, but nothing terrible, about the same as if she turned over a rock and saw a spider.

But in the graphic, it's a different guy -- we're calling him Samson -- with big ambition, who undergoes the pain involved in achieving it. Because grabbing lightning is dangerous; it either kills or heals you. With a big payoff in Power, Force, Strength, and Endurance if you beat the odds.

It would be fascinating to watch Samson do it. With me standing far back in safety. He's got a huge ego, he's too big for his britches and not afraid to show it. He's stomping 'round the ring like a professional wrestler. He's cursing all heavenly powers, lightning bolts are going off everywhere. His grandma rolls up in a motorized wheelchair and shakes her cane at him, telling him to stop. A bolt of lightning strikes his head and he channels it out his arm toward her, blowing her across the arena. It's a mess, but there's no stopping him. Unfettered ambition!

He reaches his hand up and knows this terrible enterprise is the same as stealing fire. He has a grasp on several bolts. But he needs as large a dose as he can get, so he's got the bolts and he's wringing them dry, with prodigious quantities of Power, Force, Strength, and Endurance spilling everywhere. Someone brings in a huge funnel and bucket. But there's no telling what happens if it's all carelessly combined.

What should he do? You mess up, there's no Take 2. Grandma lies dead on the floor, he sees no use in stopping short of complete ambition and fulfillment. "Bring it down!" he commands, with the heavens responding in an enormous eruption. He gets the sense he can do all things. This is uncharted territory. But what happens is, If you have that much force flowing through you -- and all of it being carelessly combined, no isolation -- you are literally blown to smithereens and immediately declared dead, even in the absence of recognizable pieces of a human body.

So Samson's death is a death we can all celebrate. Anyone that bad ass who succeeded would've raised the bar way too high for the rest of us. We don't want a guy like him around. We want to get dates, too. Had he succeeded, he would've been proverbial, and every time anyone said, "Go for it," and you were afraid, they'd compare you in a negative way to him. Now as it is, he's the failure, and those who avoid such stupid ambition are seen as having enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Good riddance, Samson, and the same goes for your idiot grandma! Thought you were better than us, huh?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Terribly Bad Explosive Temper

Part 12 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Here's some sad hotheads, Helen and McClellan, who in the end couldn't stand each other but never really broke up, perhaps going for some dubious award. We hear such stories occasionally but never expected it of someone we actually knew.

Of course I would've preferred they got along perfectly. The way it was at first for Helen and McClellan. Feeling up each other all the time. Bragging how they were made for each other. The only dinner guests I've had french-kiss at the dinner table. But it was a fairly wanton restaurant, the waitresses with their outfit down to here and shorts tucked in, a little wedged in back, a cute look.

For years they said McClellan completed her and Helen him. And everywhere Helen went, McClellan was sure to go. If McClellan ordered butterscotch tutti frutti, Helen chimed in, “Make it a deuce!” If Helen put a log on the fire, McClellan had a chainsaw near and ran out to fetch a single stick at the very least. Neither thought he was better than her, and her idea was just the opposite but the same. And each had a beautiful voice for lowly yodeling when the magic moment arrived. I overheard this singing down the hall a couple times, gladdening my heart. Only ruined by the squeaky bed springs; by itself it would've made a great ringtone.

How tough it was, then, to have them suddenly at loggerheads. It just started, no one knew why. They just bumped heads over every trivial nothing, and their hearts were beaten and battered in unnecessary struggles to the point of threatening one other, with his or her voice in full-throated derisive minor chords: “You go your way, I’ll go mine!” Countered with, “I will go my way, you go yours!” A tough read for anyone who knew them, his devotion, her devotion, and the devotion they had in common. Like two halves of your heart -- opposite sides -- shriveling up and dying.

And now more bad news. They're gone. And I don't know which I’ll miss more. McClellan was a friend. We were friends from our youth. Then there was my friendship with Helen, which started out me trying to avoid her as much as possible to keep McClellan's jealousy under control. But it turned out Helen was the most jealous, because I was more naturally drawn to McClellan as old friends. And boy to boy friendship action shouldn't have been an issue, because it's easy to be a friend without there being anything more. I wouldn’t cross that boundary for love or money, as crazy as Helen turned out to be.

But now it’s all gone by the boards. The days of what-ifs have passed. The time for finger-pointing’s still here but to no profit. Nothing, absolutely zero net unless it’d just be one of life’s lessons worth learning. That if you’ve got a couple of hotheads, it doesn’t matter what “love” they have for each other, they're going to eventually explode, and there’s always the danger that they'll both be foolishly annihilated.

It started out like nothing. But built from there. Each surreptitiously, completely on the sly, neither one suspecting, and their friends suspecting nothing, managing to accumulate an arsenal. And they studied up on homemade bombs. Someone should’ve known! Then rented out adjacent abandoned malls, such a huge unexpected undertaking that they could do it in plain sight without anyone realizing. Then coincidentally, without synchronization, each lured the other to their respective mall and each ... [if only I could've stopped it] .... plunged the plunger.

Yes, it happened, leaving a hole in our state the size of Wyoming, making the news. So now, after so much mushy romance, they’re dead and gone… Finis, done, outta here, BOOM! I have huge regrets. Seeing how mismatched they turned out to be, I myself probably should've killed McClellan and gone after Helen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Electric Chairs and Wart Removal

Part 11 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

In all my studies and firsthand experience with Death, I’ve never heard one person admit that he or she deserved to die. And we're not talking saints, but people who are clearly bad, their offenses running from pernicious littering all the way up to pigheadedness of the most stubborn type. Whatever the offense, they cling to the false claim that they deserve immortality. 

Food for thought as far as I'm concerned. In its absurdity. We should merely shake our head in disbelief and in the next few moments flip the switch. Bye bye. Or if they got an unjust reprieve, appeal it immediately, then with the likelihood that things are again stalled, hope fervently that all-consuming Nature quickly performs its perfect will. The best of both worlds.

I sometimes think about my own looming demise and wonder how I’ll face it. Probably like other problems, like in 2nd grade when I had to have a wart removed from my thumb. Pull in a few deep breaths, shed a few tears, and brace myself with all the peace I can find. Since then, no matter how terrible things are, I tell myself, “See, that wasn’t so bad.”

I don’t have all the facts about the guy in the electric chair. But it's something serious; they don’t use chairs like that for wart removal. It's the sort of chair they use when you "get the chair," an execution. They execute you, then the executor of your estate parcels out whatever arsenal you’ve amassed, or furniture. When you’re up for the electric chair it’s for something terrible. Making your life story: “My Terrible Horrible Miserable Despicable Unnameable Not Very Nice Crimes Against Humanity,” subtitled, “I Got The Electric Chair and They Wouldn't Even Charge My Phone.”

My favorite part of this one is the unshakeable devotion of the friends. It’d be great to have friends like that if you ever faced the chair. The rest of the world hates your filthy guts — I’m as supportive as anyone you’ve ever met and I hate you — but Ben and Frank think you’re OK. Look how they hold your hat in a sentimental way, like you're there and the three amigos are again a thing. You hear the encouraging promise that they'll carry on without you as best they can. Maybe your hat will be in a museum even if your body is thrown to the rest of Death Row to mangle. But there's not much encouragement when you remember the full story. It’s despicable.

Still, it's something! Wish I had that kind of friends. His head no longer in his hat, their hands showing a brave face through it all. One's gold, one's pink, the lonely blue hat carries on without a head. I just shed a tear, choked up by that innocent hat's uncertain future. Whatever the guy did to deserve the death penalty, it's too bad. But there’s no way to turn the clock back and have your happy hat.

We hear his loyal friends calling to him from the waiting room: “Stay Strong! We Believe In You! We’ll Take Care of Your Hat Till You Get Back!” It’s the last absurd bit that gives the greatest agony. Because he's already wearing a different hat, a metal beanie, not his own blue felt. "Give it up, guys, I got what I deserved," the condemned man finally calls out, a virtually impossible admission. To which the rest of us, speaking ill of you even in life, say, "Got that right!" The metallic bonnet starts in with a subtle tingling, followed by the most massive jolt of voltage.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Neglectful In Negligee

No. 10 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I don’t care who you are, a two-bit hustling chick on the sidewalk or Mrs. Worthington herself (!), the self-absorbed heiress killed a few years ago, it pays to maintain at least a passing awareness of your surroundings. You're looking in a mirror at your great beauty, maybe also think, "How am I going to maintain my beauty if an idiot rushes in with a knife?"

We know well these days -- I've known it since the time I peed my pants in 4th grade -- anything can happen to anyone at any time. I like the example of chipmunks, which you don’t see very often. There's a good reason for that; they had the good sense to move to the wilderness for self preservation. When we used to see them they were constantly on the lookout. Are any predators nearby? They’d duck in their hole. Kids passing through? Down they went. Sometimes I find myself a little neglectful. I’m walking the dog and there’s a close call, someone squealing their tires around the corner too fast and they just miss me. But usually I'm very alert, like a chipmunk.

When Mrs. Worthington was killed, no judge or jury could ask her if she was in any way to blame. No, of course not, she would've said, it was all the fault of the gardener and his fool dog. But, really? Fool dog, idiot gardener? Is that right? I don’t think so. Yes, Corky could’ve left the dog home that day. But hindsight’s like assholes, and if you’ve ever stood behind a dog with its tail up, you know that’s true. And even if you're smarter than Corky, accidents still happen. I take my dog out and I don’t know what might happen. But at a minimum we don’t dawdle.

So look at her: Mrs. Worthington was obviously a snooty woman very self-absorbed and hence a sitting duck. It wasn't a priority, she didn't have it on her list to monitor her surroundings. Big mistake! Because being aware of your surroundings is not a contradiction of dedicated self-absorption. Just the opposite. Self-absorption demands awareness of your surroundings for purposes of validation. You’re Number One and you're going to stay that way! If riff raff's anywhere near, your mind focuses on all looming threats. But look, she even had a rear view mirror and didn't use it for her survival. Maybe she wouldn't have seen the dog, but that big lunk Corky's always big enough to detect.

So here he comes with a knife, chasing his dog! It’s Oswald all over! The threat was obvious, even the barest bones laziest half-assed security plan pieced together by blind morons or monkeys hanging upside down could've seen at a glance the security threat he posed. But no! Then there’s Corky and his dog. Corky had the right idea, chase down a security threat with his knife. He may have failed but he was still better than the entire Secret Service of the United States of America. Just not good enough to keep the dog from clawing its way up Mrs. Worthington’s gown. And the fact that he stabbed her to death, that was pure mindlessness...

Mrs. Worthington, alas, is gone. Stupid high society dunce, wasn't she? Should’ve been watching better...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Down In Front, Idiot!

 Part 9 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I won't give precise details about the neighborhood I grew up in. Except there were certain female creatures of approximately my age and species known for beating up boys. Not often, you couldn’t find a schedule for their attacks, and there was very little evidence left when the job was done. But it did happen. I was this close to the clubhouse one particular day and came this close myself to dying.

I believe the basic problem then came from the unfortunate fad of giving your kids a clubhouse. If I had kids, knowing what I knew then, they'd never get a clubhouse. And if I heard of clubhouses in the neighborhood, that'd be places my kids wouldn’t be playing. Because I wouldn’t want to see anyone beaten beyond recognition. That’s a good reason! Or for that matter, beatings less severe. One, it can do something to their self image (minor); 2) It can mean certain death, since bruises are nothing other than coagulated blood, that, if it reaches whatever brain they might have could be an aneurysm!

But I do remember a group of boys lead like prisoners to the worst switching of their lives in a clubhouse. The girls had knives and not only had cut switches off trees but had them honed. And no doubt they learned from one another the worst switching techniques before luring them to their near-death experience. I went out of my way to avoid everything about it. I once was in one of the clubhouses and heard girls coming, and but for a fire diversion — tossing a match into a pile of leaves and burning down half the town — I’d be dead today.

Now, let's take a look at our fiddler friend. He looks a lot like our Fiddler on the Roof friend from the movies, if memory serves. He's got a sort of an ethnic headpiece, not an attractive adornment in my opinion, feet like a platypus, a devil-may-care grin, and excellent fiddling technique. But something must be wrong with his hearing. Because those blocked from seeing the dancing girls were catcalling him — nicely at first — to be more considerate of their view.

Then going by the caption, it sounds like someone even called out, asking nicely but with a little more oomph, “Down in front, Idiot!” I don’t like that kind of talk, really, since you can get more honey — how’s that go? The sweeter you are the more people will like you? No, you can catch more bees with honey than with a net? The point is, If you deal with people gently you’re more able to manipulate their behavior, bend it to your will, than if you’re too direct and mean, coming on too strong. Plus bees.

Well, I think they had the right idea. Because the dancing girls, like dancing girls everywhere, also want to be seen. Their legs start just above the toes and go all the way to the promised land, next is the hips and everything above that. Dancing girls, professional women, never know if there’s a great agent in the audience with the keys to the kingdom of show biz looking to feature them in a Las Vegas revue or maybe even a feature film, a Hollywood tycoon.

Whatever they were thinking, things got hairy fast when the fiddler was accidentally kicked, fell and hurt his leg and had to be removed stage left. There’s no telling what all happened then. No one could match one foot with any particular bruise. Then the coagulation. And the problem really might have included sandbags as the dancers averred. You can trip over a few sandbags and buy the farm. Which still doesn't explain the fists. And possibly switches, clubs, and at the farthest extremity (only rumored) a battering ram, now missing.

We may never learn what the range of murder weapons included. We do know Moshe is no longer with us. And until Central Casting comes up with another Fiddler on the Roof guy, one with some good judgment, at least an iota of sense, they're using a CD of fiddling music -- an improvement in my opinion since everyone can now see the girls. And with the improved view, a few of the ladies have indeed been cast in Hollywood, some old time crime films, murder, mayhem, the whole shebang. More power to them!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Bolt From The Blue

Part 8 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Old Pa Murphy was in the field on a sunny hot spring day, closely attended by his dog (not pictured), working the horse up and down the rows. And just so no one has a heart attack from suspense, Pa died that day.

Pa was very used to the heat and work, so one day was like any other. He was used to the exercise, the field and everything to avoid, a little ledge at the edge, a big rock, etc. The horse was also used to every nuance of land and of man, Pa’s whoas and giddyups. You might say man and horse were pretty much equal, with the dog also in the mix, also knowing the ins and outs of the house, giving him a leg up.

You really get used to tilling the land when it’s always the same old field. You know exactly how long it’s going to take, where you’ll be when it strikes noon, and where the shadows will be. Some things you just know. Pa thought, “At 3:30 I’ll be pulling off my boots, stretching out.” He had it down to precise seconds.

I like to plan my day, too. But as a friend of the Murphy’s I can say my life hasn’t been as tough. Whatever field plowing there is to do, someone else does it. You go up and down the road and each of those squares of land is some other guy’s. Mrs. Clary has a hired hand to plow her place since Butch died. Because what can you do? Fields don’t stop for anyone. They’re either going to sprout up with weeds or crop, whichever takes hold first.

So it was just another day for Pa Murphy — he was thankful for it, that wasn’t a problem — one in a sequence of days and a span of life that would likely go on the same till Judgment Day. And if not, there’s always a place in the church cemetery for residents of the area. The country's nice. I should move there. I have a place in the Big City, but the neighbors aren’t quite like the Murphys or Clarys. My neighbor confronted me here one day, telling me in strangely harsh tones, “You stay over there and I’ll stay over here!” indicating the property line. We haven’t spoken since.

Well, I’m no fan of the neighbor guy, but the country's not heaven on earth either. So let’s just get to it, the suspense is killing me. But it ain’t killing me as much as it did Pa Murphy. Sweet, tender, Pa Murphy. People said, What’s going to become of Ma? It’ll be just like the Clarys, she’d have a few more expenses getting a handyman, but it was still easier than me having Big City neighbors.

The horse was tired and halting. The sun beat down. Pa brought his sleeve up to wipe the sweat off his brow. “It’s a hot one,” he called to the horse, which rared back its head like it understood. It wasn’t a full minute later but Pa looked up toward the big blue sky and thought he saw a parting, an indescribable vision of something astir. When, amazingly, of all the things in all the world -- the Earth is fairly big -- a random piece of space junk arced across the sky and zipping down hit Pa Murphy right in the head, killing him! Pa's last thought was, "Could've been a fender from Skylab or maybe the dashboard of a Russian craft, headed this way at a good clip..." CLUNK! It was a big deal. The ambulance was there, stretching him out, boots, etc., and waiting for the slightest twitch. The horse and dog were fine, just singed tails.

A few years later the church went out for a christening service when the new folks moved in. Who named the field — they had an actual field-naming service — “Pa Murphy Memorial Space Junk Landing Site.” The authorities said that sucker came in at over 17,000 mph!

If there’s anything I can speak ill of Pa about, it’s this: 1) If it was hot out, he should've taken a break before that thing fell; 2) In the end, he had maybe five seconds, six at most. Instead of looking up at the sky like an idiot, he should've run for the hills.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Idiot Disses Tiger's Orange Coat

Part 7 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Everyone's a critic these days. Take this guy, Richard. Before he died, he was pretty vocal with the attitude, "I make good money and have a good life, a life I'm proud of. I worked damned hard to carry a decent walking stick, these gloves are the envy of the world, and this nice coat, it's the nicest richest coat anyone's ever seen!" Then he's in the zoo and sees a tiger and thinks, "Nature, it's been done to death. Sure, you're a tiger, you have a majestic orange coat, big deal!"

These days we're very appreciative of animals. I've frankly always been in awe of the bigger animals, tigers, lions, etc. But of course I can see the point of a guy like this who's worked hard. His coat wasn't just default on his back but acquired through a good work ethic and following through to achieve various goals, to have a nice coat and gloves. Still, it's distasteful to be so vocal about it; I mean, why brag? Most of us work hard and have clothes to wear. Tigers have their own system, we have ours, there's no competition, no reason to be jealous or proud. And, frankly, no reason to even give it a second thought.
I hate to say how Richard died. Except it's pretty obvious. If anyone reading this is blown away at the fact that the tiger lashed out and killed him, don't be. That's nature's way. You get too close to the cage and you've got your fat lip full of nasty sass, nature has a way of leveling the playing field. Fangs, claws, muscles like steel, the ability to transfix its prey with eyes staring into one's depths, purring, then lashing out. Richard saw the bars and took false security from that barrier. Big mistake.

Maybe this isn't the time to compare coats and see whether Richard had a point. I honestly don't see a coat like his being that great. It looks way too thick. Yes, it'd feel good if it were 30 below, but that doesn't happen very often. In average temperatures, you'd roast in that coat. It's thicker than anything I'd like to wear. I can see myself immediately shedding it and maybe even giving it to Goodwill. Or throwing it away if I didn't want to drag it around. Summing up the point, I wouldn't be caught dead in a coat like that, unlike Richard.

His attitude puts me on the tiger's side. It doesn't matter if Richard wasn't "big" on orange coats. The tiger has the coat by nature. He can't help it. It's not a fashion statement, it's his body and natural color. Orange doesn't come and go in or out of style. It's like if we were all born with red hair. It wouldn't be extraordinary or noteworthy, that's just the way it'd be. That the tiger has an orange coat, what do you expect? (Although there are some with white coats.)

Richard didn't know we were watching him so closely. He stood there bold as bandits, a very assured pose, posh blue gloves, a walking stick like a javelin, and a derby hat custom-fitted to his assuredly noble head. The casualness of his demeanor betrayed not one whit of his nasty personality, which erupted putrid as anything can be, his filthy words showing a complete disregard for nature. To be succinct, I'm not personally ruing the judgment of fate against him.