Tuesday, September 30, 2014

30 Days Hath Chicken Cacciatore

I almost forgot I have a past! I've been riding the wave of the present moment -- recently doing some rereading of Eckhart Tolle -- and for the most part I succeeded in putting my illusory past behind me. I've never done very much of evil, you should know, so that's not why I forgot, but like everyone, Adam and Eve, whoever, there's things I'm not proud of. But that said, there's also things I'm very proud of. Pride is good.

One of the biggies -- I used to think of it more often than now -- is the past of this blog. It's changed over the years, as I've aged, matured slightly, and all the rest. But all of a sudden, on some kind of lark, I decided to look back, and was reminded of a certain vibe that, with maturity, has been missing lately. A kind of "devil may care" attitude and acting on my impulses.

Two things became very apparent in this backwards glance, if I had to summarize it, to narrow it down to just two, as representative of those earlier days and years. That I basically love two things in life: The last day of September and chicken cacciatore. So there you have it! It's stark, I know. Seeing it in print like that -- I'm looking at it right now -- it's very abrupt, stark, and to the point!

It's not family, faith, my country, even the earth itself. It's not loyalty to abstract ideals, any kind of pride, spirituality, or any kind of adherence to values. Of course it's not sports, although, to be honest, I've wasted a lot more time in recent years watching sports. Heh, this is the first year in my life I've paid attention to the baseball standings! What a waste! Way back when (this goes way back), when the other boys were deeply devoted to baseball, and really sports of every kind, I was off in my own little world. Which, now, as I distill it down, having reviewed my blog archives, as well as my past as a boy, revolved (and presently revolves) around those two great things, the last day of September and chicken cacciatore.

The last day of September, for some odd reason, has always been a little different. With this difference, that I don't think about it a lot till it gets here. Whereas, with Thanksgiving and Christmas and even my birthday, I know they're coming weeks and months in advance. My birthday's a biggie, Christmas is a biggie -- especially back before most of my family died, and Thanksgiving's a little smaller, but still good sized. I still love seeing turkeys bound tightly, totally trussed.

Thanksgiving and Christmas always get big press, of course, apart from my interest in them. But the last day of September -- 30 Days Hath September, the way I learned about the calendar and time itself! -- isn't wildly celebrated. Except by me. I used to love it, and I still love it. So Happy 30 Days Hath September Day, everyone!

Then there's chicken cacciatore, the hunter style Italian dish that is so good. Look it up, it's fascinating: Cacciatore means hunter in Italian! Somehow they had the foresight to make that happen. Chicken cacciatore is good stuff, delicious to the very last bite.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

9/18 -- I Don't Care About 9/11 Day

Editor's note: I realize this will be my most controversial post since the debacle of me reducing Johnny Law to a simmering pile of ashes, when I lost one follower and three others refused to speak to me for two days. That and death threats from every police force in Missouri. But I feel the time is right, and America can now bravely face the plain truth, that it's time to move on from 9/11. If you also think so, and are ready, as I am, to undo the knots our little panties have been twisted in, then join me in celebrating this, the first 9/18, now and forever to be known as "I Don't Care About 9/11 Day."

This is going to be a great thing, undoing the knots America's little panties have been twisted in, and getting America back on track. It's been one week since 9/11, the day that everyone's sadly been conditioned to "really care about," aka Patriot's Day, ignorantly so-called. But today is 9/18, when we declare that we're over it. Imagine how it might be on September 11 next year. No more vigils at the Tomb of the Unknown Stranger, no more reciting the names of people we don't know, no more cheap yellow ribbons, and, best of all, no more replays of George W. Bush and his idiot bullhorn. I feel better already!

Right away, I know the objections. A little under 3,000 people died on 9/11. To answer that, there's more than 3,000 people who die everyday, from one damned thing or another. Or, you're being insensitive, because the nation faced a huge trauma on that day. True, if your little panties are all bunched up and you find a lot of joy in that, you'll want to nurse your traumas along. Or, how about this, 9/11 reminds us to be alert to the dangers facing us in an ever-threatening world. If you need a particular day to remind you to watch out for yourself, you pretty much deserve what happens. Beware always, we don't need a reminder. Minutes ago I was patrolling the shoe store for potential shoe bombers. You know 'em because they're learning to tie their shoes but not untie them.

The original 9/11 is now a long time ago. And just because we "remember" it doesn't mean we need to linger. I remember lots of traumatic things in my life, but if I carve out a whole day for each one, there's no time left for normal stuff. We don't need it, leave it behind. We took a licking, but kept on ticking. We're just giving the bad guys more glory by keeping our little panties twisted in knots over their deeds. Those who do you harm, you should wipe the dust of your feet off against them and press on with your journey.

Therefore, you and I and every intelligent, right-thinking, clear-headed, guts-and-glory, true red, white, and blue American, must advance past this. I know there's some contradiction in making a day in response to a particular day. But sometimes you need to take two steps back to rediscover the correct path, then go around an obstruction. Therefore, yes, after a while, "I Don't Care About 9/11 Day," we trust, will be superfluous. That day has not yet come, with our little panties still so terribly twisted.

At this point, though, proclaiming it on 9/11 itself is not a welcome thing. So many folks are into it, as we see from our Facebook friends. They're putting up the various icons of that day, firemen looking at oddly askew flags or holding children in remorse, folks in prayer, beams of light, tangled girders, yellow ribbons, and the aforementioned Bush and his aforementioned idiot bullhorn. Yes, it makes us gag, but these people can't be reasoned with in the heat of the moment. By the time of a week's passing, though, they've sobered up a little, and, I would hope, they're subconsciously (at least) thinking over the folly of the observance. Bush with a bullhorn ... That evokes something other than complete revulsion?

This is going to start small, OK? You and me and a few other right-thinking Americans. I purposely keep my blog small and insignificant for occasions like this. To address huge mental issues, widespread societal insanity. That way there's no gigantic reaction against common sense. Our better angels can appear and bring hearts and minds back to sanity slowly, untwisting our little panties as we go, which is always how it is in the best therapy.

So my counsel to you is to share this occasion with a few trusted friends, those most open to reason and intelligence. In their strength, and in our strength together, perhaps over years, we will help America find her guts again and methodically untwist her knotted panties. The only people who seriously counsel licking old wounds are themselves feeble-minded, or, more nefarious, profiteering bastards.

We have better reasons than they for not caring about 9/11, so we'll have a generally healthier outlook in life. Join me today, on 9/18, the day we proclaim, "Our little panties have been twisted in knots far too long! We're through! We simply don't care about 9/11!"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Classic Monsters Face Environmental Crises

I've been diligently reading some very good esoterica stuff, alt literature, alt thought, alt reality, and alt non-reality. It's really done something to my thinking. Like with conspiracies. At the worst times of the day, everyone's out to get me. Then I recover and realize no one's out to get me. I get so lonely I can barely stand it. Here I am! Someone somewhere, anyone out there?

One of the things I've focused on is the reality of the classic monsters. These are the guys I grew up watching, and idolizing. Dracula, blah blah, always wants to drink your blood. And Frankenstein, the big guy, a man of few words, made of the parts of dead folk from the area. Who exactly started out with his head, I always wondered. One other classic dude is the Wolf Man, whose plea to the director had to be, "Don't forget my face," hence the closeups of him in swift transformation. I should mention the Mummy, although I hate the Mummy. My proclamation, first made at the tender age of 15, remains accurate today: "No one's yet made a decent Mummy movie!"

I'm not afraid of what anyone says about me when it comes to monsters. I not only believe they're real, I know they're real (except for the Mummy). They have to be real, they're so monumental, you might say Universal. I'll make another proclamation: "If they're not real, show me the proof. I'll never believe it!" So you can see, I fit right in ... in the esoterica subculture.

What I'm writing about today has been a growing concern of mine ever since I heard of the world's various environmental crises. My first question is, How will all this affect the classic monsters? There's terrible things happening. The melting of glaciers, the collapse of ice shelves, enormous volcanoes, La Nina (El Nino), near-miss asteroids, tectonic shifting and earthquakes, tsunamis, rising tides, Antarctica calving in half, a thinning ozone, sunspots, higher bacon prices, solar flares, and the alternating of night and day in unpredictable ways. I'm very concerned, in a panic. If I had one wish, it'd be that the Industrial Revolution had never happened! If not for my own safety, then the monsters'. I have a feeling they're screwed.

Part of my concern finds its roots in daily meditation. When I started meditating, the intention was to enhance my life, make me a little more clearheaded. Well, to say it worked is a huge understatement, because I'm so clearheaded now it's ridiculous! It's come to my clearheaded attention that the monsters aren't handling it well. They're like us, only more so; they need a predictable constancy in life. One big constant, as far as they're concerned, has to be the regularity of day and night. Instead of what we've witnessed in recent years, the sun and moon unable to maintain themselves in their circuits. With the coming and going of day and night being unpredictable.

It's too much. Dracula, to cite one obvious problem, can't even come out but at night. A few more slip-ups and he's a goner. He shows up, let's say, he's about to bite someone, drink their blood, trying to keep body and soul together (nothing wrong there), when the plates of the earth shift, the sun pops back to life and drives away the dark. It scares the devil out of him. He can't cope. He has to take cover. In the transition he loses massive mojo. No one benefits. As for Frankenstein, with his monstrous shape and need to be hidden, he prefers night. And the Wolf Man, it's hard to know you've got 5 o'clock shadow when you go directly from noon to midnight. The Mummy? Who cares...

All the old fashioned things of nature, if scientists can somehow get them back, we will be so grateful. I myself need regular biorhythms, dependable sleep cycles, breakfast at the same time every morning, and all the rest. I'd guess you do too. If that's so, doesn't it stand to reason that it's ten times worse for monsters?

DBKundalini Ass-kicking Service

Today's a big day for me! It's the one year anniversary of my business, DBKundalini Ass-kicking Service. I have to tell you, I was a little nervous when I started out. I had a number of friends who foresaw nothing but doom and gloom. They thought they were being cute when they said I'd be the one getting his ass kicked. Well, they were wrong. Business is good, I'm keeping busy.

It's frankly amazing the things that have happened in one little year. I have a few guys in town who simply enjoy having their ass kicked, hard. I do the best I can, although, to confess, I have a little arthritis in my kicking foot (I'm rightfooted). But I'm saved because mine's the only ass-kicking place in town. I do all I can to send them out with a smile on their face and a sore bottom in their pants.

I don't mind the arthritis so much when I'm making money, as you can well imagine. But I made a major mistake in this regard trying to gin up business. You know those discount cards civic groups sell? They list a business, then there's a freebie or discount. The pizza place gives a free order of break sticks with purchase of a pizza, the bowling alley gives a free half hour of bowling with the purchase of 5 pitchers of beer, and of course a hair salon offers a eye wax for a measly $5. Notice the common denominator there? They're buying something, unlike mine. In my ignorance I offered three free ass-kickings period. It's tough, since the average person with an ass is content with three kickings.

Still, life is good. To make up for that, I get lots of recommendations from doctors and lawyers. It turns out doctors are more frustrated with their patients than they let on. A guy drinks more than he should, for example, you'd think that'd be good for the doctor; he's going to need more care. But doctors look toward a more distant horizon, keeping the patient on the hook as long as he can. Early mortality (as in drunk driving) means lost money, especially when you consider the true bonanza they're look forward to, an average of 14 surgeries for every guy over 80. So they find "something wrong" with their ass and send them to me for $20 to $25 worth of kickings. I like that.

Lawyers are about as good, as they're usually acting on behalf of an aggrieved spouse. The guy's been cheating, the wife wants a divorce but wants the husband's weekly paycheck. She agrees to keep him, but only if he knows there's an endless stream of severe ass-kickings in his future if he misbehaves. The husband knows he has to submit, because it's cheaper occasionally denying her expenses while married than divorced. That leaves more money for his mistress. I don't care who wins or loses. I just take the money, kick his ass, and let it go.

One of the big surprises in the last year, something I didn't expect in my wildest dreams, has been a contract with the university for their losing sports teams. Basketball is entirely successful, but football is a total bust. Which is bad for the town but great for me! Because written into their scholarship is a nasty little agreement that at "the coach's discretion" they agree to "counseling, verbal or physical, as he shall choose, excluding the death penalty, of course, but including ass-kicking." This is amazing stuff. I have these huge guys who could kick my ass east, west, north, and south, if provoked, and there they are, lined up, getting their ass kicked by a wimp like me. Big bucks, too, university standards ... they pay five times the normal therapeutic rate! I just keep my fingers crossed, that they win enough to make the kickings seem beneficial but still lose enough to keep them necessary.

I've had to turn down a few clients. One thing I will not do is kick the asses of kids. Unless I'm personally and severely provoked, and even then I haven't been able to catch the little shits. Again, my arthritis, and, at the end of an average day my leg's dead tired. Which they know. I came home one day and these kids had picked every pussy willow off one of my pussy willow trees, and had them stacked up on my fish-cleaning table. I went limping toward them, moving my foot in a slow swing, and they dashed out of the yard quicker than snot. Still, like I said, I've turned down clients. Home school parents are often frustrated, and they're always calling me. "Junior's falling behind in his scores." I'm all like, "Then get him a different girlfriend ... I'm not kicking kids' asses!"

One whole year. And now, if my leg holds out, I'm going for two!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 -- The Dirty Bird of Days

Nobody knows what to do with this day. The usual rules don't apply. You go to the diner and Trixie isn't herself. She's muted her usual boisterousness, her usual lust for life. The past comes rushing in on us. However long ago it was -- perhaps we could look it up -- doesn't matter. The same somber tone, the same unwelcome sobriety descends upon us, one and all, and once again we're beside ourselves.

Once we were beside ourselves with terror -- utterly perplexed, finding devils in the smoke -- and now it's with reflection and a shaking fist, at the sky, at somebody, as we chant, "Never again!" I remember the first time I heard that familiar chant. We adults were stoic, standing stolid in complete silence. I remember my own stolid stance, the evil wind of that day moving my hair, that's it. I didn't know what to say, no adult did. The chant started then, wonderfully enough, with a little kid, maybe not more than four or eight, something like that. He or she raised his or her little fist, and with an angelic voice, as if from the clouds, he or she started in: "Never again! Never again!"

Other than that, does anyone really remember what they did? I don't. I remember my first day of kindergarten, my first Valentine, my first kiss on the playground, my first school lunch, my first (and second) Cub Scouts pins -- Fox and Bear, actually the only ones I ever earned, the day LBJ had his surgery, and the day I lost my virginity to myself. But that day, that terrible day, so long ago and yet as fresh as today to so many, is a weird blur, a distant nightmare that I mostly remember only because others remind me.

I know this much about it, though, the world hushes itself in its presence. Every lip is sealed, every voice struggles, every eye sheds a tear. There is no laughter. The decree goes forth, binding on one and all, "Let laughter subside!" Give it up, let it be, a pall falls, and that same dread we faced, and have pretty much repressed, returns to the fore, and what seemed so proper just yesterday -- Ha! Ha! Ha! -- is at once set aside, perhaps never to be heard again ... We just don't know. Can we make it? Will anything ever be the same? I don't think so...

This is now the dirty bird of days. You know the dirty bird. The dirty bird emits droppings on everything in its path. Straight below it, around the yard, around the block, then the town, and finally the world. Joy and happiness are far from its path. It may be the most joyous occasion of all, a picnic, a birthday celebration, the day of your first marriage. But when the dirty bird gets hold of it, it's nothing anymore, a waste, a void, something to be buried and forgotten. Your happiness that seemed permanent and set to endure, in the twinkling of an eye, is turned to despair.

Have you washed your hair? The dirty bird passes, or lands, and again it's a mess, as though it were never washed. Were you proud of your car, the sheen, the shine, the glint of the day's noonday sun beaming on it? Passing is the dirty bird, doing what the dirty bird does, and your car's just as crappy as ever. Or you have a brand new set of shingles on your house. You're showing it to your priest, but even he has to turn away -- he's who's heard every squalid confession there is -- as the dirty bird passes, emitting, dropping, and bombarding everything in its filthy path.

Let introspection reign, then, on this day of days, the day of the dirty bird. May each heart be gripped with moroseness, completely seized up and bound. As for me and my house, we're staying in today. And now ... to silence.

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Scenic Train Ride - "HIC! HIC!"

It's probably true that most folks like riding the scenic cruise trains you see around the country. I've found it's a good relaxing time for an old guy like me, not given to too much excitement and preferring to take it easy.

We've come a long way since the hobos rode the lines and had to sleep under bridges in hobo jungles, scarfing mulligan stew and fighting for every bite. Now they bring us a lovely three course lunch, starting with the salad and bread, then steak/potatoes/veggies, whatever, then the dessert. All the times I've ridden, I've never been hungry enough to beg from passersby afterwards.

Something they have plenty of now, as well, is alcohol. And some of the folks (not me) get pretty lubed. The last time I was on board there was a party of six, three women and three men, and the men were completely lubed. Bubbling over. And carrying on, too, pawing their wives. One of them even saw me -- a gnarly 61-year-old man -- in the vestibule, the space between cars, and thought I was kind of cute.

Shortly after, my having eluded him and maintained my virtue, we were back at our tables in the dining car. I sipped a Coke and these guys were enjoying spiked coffee, topped with about three inches of alcohol-enriched foam and even a cherry on top soaked in whiskey for six weeks.

The real fun came, then, when the guy who runs the train line came out to narrate the more picturesque sights along the way. These guys, still running up their liquor tab, were generally well-behaved, but with those unfortunately loud, involuntary "HIC!" noises more common in taverns. The train guy was trying his absolute best, but I could see a look of frustration on his face, being so rudely interrupted as he was.

"On the left, you'll notice the Golden Mountains, the single source of our nation's great riches----" "HIC! .... HIC! .... HIC!" Sometimes they hicced in threes like that, one per man. We veered around a corner and the Golden Mountains receded from view, but I'm given to understand everything in Fort Knox came from there.

Going down a steep incline, the train guy started in again: "Ahh, the majestic Valley of the Kings!," he said approvingly, "who mystically appear at the fog line whenever--" "HIC! .... HIC!" That was one guy hiccing twice, and his wife gave him a major league jab in the ribs. That led to laughter from the other guys, which degenerated into their own "HICcing" fit. I'd actually forgotten the Valley of the Kings was anywhere near here. Now I'll have to look it up, what causes the mystic Kings to appear and where precisely. Because the train man didn't get it out.

Soon we went around a beautiful curve, supposedly the biggest curve in the world since Ethel Merman's death, and there was shimmering Lake Diamond, home of splendid magical jewels that are gathered on the beach by true believers, if your heart is certified properly righteous. The train guy started in, saying, "And here is shimmering Lake Diamond," then abruptly gave up mid-sentence, anticipating a loud chorus of "HIC! HIC! HIC! HIC! HIC!", all three men going at it in discordant guttural belches. The train veered around a corner, leaving Lake Diamond out of sight.

It went like that, then it was time for Happy Hour, before pulling into the station an hour later. I watched the wives leave with their husbands staggering toward their cars, and with my hand over my lips, emitted a tiny, silent HIC of my own. One little drink at Happy Hour.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Get Your Degree in Violence

I've been watching the arc of history closely, keeping track of how things are going, and now with over 60 years of experience, it seems to me things are getting a lot worse in terms of societal violence, quite a bit worse. Either that, depending on how you look at it, or things are getting better, a lot better. Because of course there's lots of great opportunities for somebody no matter what happens.

I too can see some great opportunities. Gun sales, that's keeping a lot of folks employed. Then on a larger scale, we have defense contractors, who are always prosperous. There's plenty of opportunities to work in the military. And with guns here on the home front there's plenty of openings to teach folks how to shoot, gun safety, and, my favorite, how to ensure a kill shot at any shadow moving around your house at night. Be they burglar or, maybe not as desirable, family.

One huge opportunity (and maybe someone's already doing it) would be in the more advanced educational field, offering a college degree in Violence. That'd be a cool way to get the upper leg on things. Imagine the deeper philosophical background and how much practical value that would be for you, being able to develop new and better techniques of defense, plus offensive maneuvers. Obviously you're not going to get that at the gun range! And this isn't just the namby pamby stuff they teach at places like West Point, which, frankly, has more to do with the niceties of saluting and keeping your uniform clean than anything else.

In case you're thinking this is just general education classes with a few hours of Violence courses, let me assure you, it's not. There's no general education hours. English, math, even the history of warfare, you don't need that. Instead, it's one useful course after another:
Introduction to Barbarism;
Stockpiling the Perfect Arsenal;
Beheading -- The Cutting Edge;
Bombs -- From Backpacks to Mack Trucks;
Terrorism's Secret: The Buddy System;
Plus lots of smaller stuff:
Hold Ups;
Truncheons, Bludgeons, and Pikes -- Your Personal Toolbox;
What Color's Your Chainsaw?
and, Pyro -- Not Just for the Fourth of July.
I'm excited already. I wouldn't mind signing up for some of this stuff myself. If anything, it'd boost my personal confidence. Yes, I've had troubles in my life. I remember this one time in the '70s a big drunk grabbed me on the sidewalk, thinking I was someone else. I was lucky to wriggle away and for the fact that he couldn't run. But with a little training I could've wasted him, then when he woke up he would've regretted--- No, he would've been dead.

It might, however, be dangerous for the professors. The students are going to want to really prove themselves. They're not going to just skate by. The practical implications, having a guy like me able to wriggle away, could be deadly. So when the professor calls for role playing, you honestly might end up dead. And the same goes for the professor. So the school will need the biggest, baddest, ex-con, cyborg, armed guys with hairpin triggers, the whole bit.

The implications are crazy. Because I don't think you could have students start the training, get disgruntled, and drop out. They'd be giving away all the techniques (and philosophy). And then how would students have a leg up? No, if you're a student and you can't cut it, you'd about have to be one of the victims during the demonstrations or practicum stuff. Say you're defending your thesis; you might need several victims.

Violence is increasing. It's getting dangerous even to go out and get the paper. That happened the other day, a drive-by shooting. I bent down to get the paper and a barrage of bullets took out the ass of my pajamas. Was a good thing I was reaching at an angle. But how much better it would've been had I been trained. I could've cleared the road with some mortars before going out, then got the paper and got the hell back in.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Big Shoot Out at the Police Academy

I have to say, I definitely love the policy of the Police Academy: IF YOU SURVIVE, YOU PASS. Speaking as one with a lot of anxiety in school, the assurance was comforting. It didn't matter about the quizzes, group discussion, participation, or the final exam. If there's a notebook to hand in, original research, or book reports, none of it counts, skip it.

I always wanted to go through the training. Yes, I heard it was a bastard of an ordeal, but the mere fact that there's policemen on the street told me it was more than theoretically possible to survive. And so I did ... the only one this year ...

The first day came, the opening of Police Academy! They told us the policy and I immediately knew what had to be done, which was basically to bide my time. Everything would work out in the end. It would just be a matter of playing it smart and accumulating what I needed. After all, if you survive, you pass!

Right away, I saw the others were doing it all wrong. These guys over here were diligently taking notes. A couple of female cadets were winking at the lecturers. Most of them were doing lots of research, putting it on 3 x 5 cards. I saw some impressive piles. They taught us about taking a good defensive stance, of having the right ammo for the particular gun we were handling, and how it might help to memorize the Miranda rights, just in case we failed somewhere along the line, etc. Failure? I wouldn't have it!

My favorite lecture was the one where they had a big body outline on paper. The lecturer pointed at the various appendages. The top two were arms, the bottom two legs. Those are not kill zones. Everything but that, see, constitutes what's left. And of that, everything from the waist down is non-trunk, leaving the remainder, except for the head, as trunk. The head is the head. With all that in mind, every shot goes for the trunk or head. Simple! There's no crotch kills.

Then there was the mantra, drilled into us: SHOOT TO KILL OR DON'T SHOOT AT ALL. There's nothing ambiguous about that, which is how I like it. Nice and tidy, easy to remember, easy to do. I've always been amazed how they don't do this on TV shows. I'm sitting there watching the cops shooting at random, poking the gun around the corner and shooting. And I'm shouting at the TV: "Wait for a good shot, then shoot!" It's not like you have all the ammo in the world; it's much better to end up with more than you need.

So we had that policy, and the other one, IF YOU SURVIVE, YOU PASS. To me that said there might be shooting. Someone would go crazy and start in. I immediately made up my mind that when that happened, I'd be ready! They wouldn't deny me my certificate! That's where I got busy, accumulating guns, other weaponry, building a formidable stockpile, charting out the auditorium, the side rooms, etc. I knew the access points, the whole layout. And I was ready.

The last day came and anxiety was building. Who was going to blow? And why? It turned out to be something simple, some idiot clown pissed off that all the homework he did, the notebooks, the stacks of cards, the original research, the kissing up to the lecturers, the homemade book covers from paper sacks, none of it mattered. He complained about the other guy who ignored everything and did nothing -- he was referring to me -- would get the same passing grade. So he erupts -- see? -- and pulls out a gun and is shooting wildly. That means everyone else, trying to defend themselves has to shoot to kill or not shoot at all.

The place was ablaze with fireworks, bullets flying, life and death. I see cadets falling everywhere. One of the lecturers, a smart guy, is behind a table, waiting it out. Just as I was waiting it out, but I had taken the excellent precaution of stationing myself behind a huge metal plate (meant for the sound system) up in the rafters, with my entire cache. I looked out and just missed getting hit by a shot hitting the top of the plate. Half the class was dead, the other half was checking their notes as to how to do it right.

Now it's down to the last eight to ten guys -- the survival of the fittest -- and they're piling up bodies and ducking behind them, anywhere they can get. The lecturer's ducked down, but I have a line of sight on him. He spots me and shoots, just missing. Here's where it gets good, because I've seen him behind the table so much, I can picture precisely where his head and trunk have to be. True to my scruples about getting it right the first time, I zero in for a head shot and watch him drop.

The bad part of this shot is it alerts the others to my position. But right away in the hubbub, having also anticipated this, I'm able to get decent trunk shots on four of them. That left five or so others. My position, however, being what it was, I could afford to wait. I mentally raced through all the possible diversions I've seen in old shows, telling myself I couldn't be fooled. If someone threw something across the room, I ignored it. If someone called for a ceasefire, I knew better. But as for them, no one could move without me seeing.

Just then I looked down and this one asshole's crawling under chairs, exposing himself a second at a time in the gaps. Three rows and I had it timed, a nice head shot. Another guy was desperate and ran for a door in the chaos, but this is where the gun in my left hand came in handy, right in the back, heart-side. That left only a few survivors, whose cries for compromise I simply ignored. In the Academy it's kill or be killed, kill first and ask questions later, if there's anyone to answer.

Now they're calling to one another, trying to gang up on me, making a pact. At which point I'd just about had enough. I lobbed a grenade, not meant to kill but only to flush them out. Which worked. They're scampering along, tripping over bodies, slipping on blood, out of their minds with fear, the whole bit, and I picked them off just like that, bam bam bam bam.

OK, at this point, if I had less intelligence I might've come out. But I have that extra something, that extra mental oomph, what I like to call Moxy Power, moxy on the ball. So I waited and waited and waited, listening for some sign, just in case there was someone nearly as smart as me still hiding. I spent my time meditating, "Aaaaauuuuuuummmmm," just mentally working on that and other helpful mantras, keeping me on my toes, part of my Life Divine studies. When what do I hear? A very tiny hushed sneeze, someone sneezing into the thickest part of his shirt.

It was my meditation that gave me the extra Moxy Power to locate the sound, on the left side of the hall, 3rd row back, 4th seat from the end, on the floor. Here's where I was tricky. I heaved a grenade to the opposite side of the room. Which worked. The guy thought I was off my game and he could take me by surprise. So up he pops, gun in hand, with a quick aim. But not quick enough, with my 30 ought 6 rifle already trained where he had to be. I sent a slug immaculately through his head, right between the eyes.

So I survived! Yea! And I passed. I stepped over bodies getting to the front and found a bloodied sheaf of certificates by the dead lecturer, rifled through them, so to speak, and found mine. Now it's just a matter of passing the strength and agility training and I'll have a job with the local police department! Wish me luck!