Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trash-Talking a Cinnamon Roll

The spirit has hit me once again -- OH YEAH! -- to lay into something, to filet and gut it, to trash-talk it till it can't go on. I love the feeling, the surge of power, in taking a domineering stance and daring the damned thing to get up and fight.

This time I'm lording it over a cinnamon roll, that, frankly, struck me the wrong way. You don't want to get on my bad side, believe me. Maybe I don't like your attitude, maybe I don't like your look -- whatever it is -- you're goin' down, sucka!

Let's take a look at the cinnamon roll in question. A particularly disgusting looking sample. If the average cinnamon roll looked as pathetic as this one, there never would've been a demand for the thing. In the annals of desserts, there would've been a rather gaping hole, made better by no one ever knowing what was meant to go there.

My basic argument with this guy is its drizzle. Let's look at photo A14. Seriously, was this your plan? You had a little bit of drizzle and you decided to strike on your own, and show everybody how bad you were? Ha! But then when you got your motor running you couldn't even make it to the plate? Look at you, you're a waste of space. You got that far and ran out of juice, dog. You thought you could do it, I guess. I don't know why you thought that, since the juice wasn't even there to start with. It's stupid to think what you did. Maybe a little kick in the pants would've done you good ... before you even started!

Photo F361 takes us leftward. Here the apparent ambition of the roll was to fill up the plate with drizzle. But again ... Was that your big ambition? You thought you were going to impress the world, huh? You were gonna show everybody how amazing you were! And, yes, that would've been very amazing ... that is, if you had what it took to get the job done. Which obviously you didn't! You sicken me. Let's take a look at why you thought that. I don't why you thought that. It doesn't look like you have any brains at all. Is that what it is? Sure, yes, anyone can make a mad dash for the plate, but if they haven't got what it takes to get the job done, they probably should've just stayed home.

In T899 we shift rightward again, right between the two despicable drizzle failures, and here we see a section of the roll that somehow simply failed. Look at you! I may owe an apology to the others, for their failure to execute a proper cinnamon roll drizzle maneuver. Because you have a rather embarrassing bald spot -- extremely dry -- right where your drizzle should've been! And that's much worse. No one wants a bare naked cinnamon roll. Why'd you even bother to come along for the ride? You didn't think we were gonna notice this shameful display? How could we miss it? It's gaping, disgusting to see, and I'm sure, if I wasn't smart enough to pinch you off and throw you away, I'm sure I would've spat you out with revulsion and prejudice.

Z7 shows how the two drizzle points I lambasted are the only drizzle points. Z7, as a picture of the whole cinnamon roll in one view, shows how the damned thing had a lack of organization and presentation from the get-go. How much better, roll, if you didn't have the drizzle to coat your top if you'd had the intelligence not to waste it at the points of A14 and F361! Where was your head at when this was going on? Did you not spend even one moment considering how terrible you were going to look? What is this, the giving-up spirit of a runt, knowing it's a runt, and not worth its place in the litter? I don't know, you tell me! You're the one that stepped out and said you were a cinnamon roll worth eating! I didn't say that! But a cinnamon roll worth eating also has to be a cinnamon roll worth looking at. And on those points, my friend, you failed miserably.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Disastrous Mind-Reading Tour

Just last Thursday, I shared the glory of my waving tour. I was super-happy with the great reception I got in the various neighborhoods. As I recall, some of those cul-de-sacs don't see five cars a year -- and those are just criminals scoping it out -- so they're grateful a nice guy like me takes time to come through.

Well, it's Thursday again, and this time, darn it, it didn't go as well. I thought, I need to get out there for another tour, but this time something more in depth than waving; this time would be a mind-reading tour. What are people really thinking? We all want to know that from time to time.

Admittedly, I've always had mixed results with mind-reading, going way back to school. Different ones knew I could read minds, so I had a hard time fitting in. One time I got involved with the wrong crowd, and could only get out of trouble by testifying against the others. Yes, they were pissed. But fortunately I could read their minds about what they wanted to do to me. There were obvious cues, including knives and truncheons. My worst memory is of one big bruiser with a motorcycle chain wrapped around his fist. And such a mean look.

It's a gift I don't say much about, but if my motives are entirely good, you know, I figure, What the hey? I'm going to get out there and duplicate the joy I had with the waving tour, I'll get a good reception and everything will be great.

But what happened? I got nothing but negative vibes from the folks. I started on the west side, the ritzier part of town. A lady came out with her little chihuahua, and she thought I was likely a criminal, probably thinking dirty thoughts about her, and sure to be trouble. I considered getting out and having it out with her, except, of course, any hostility would only reinforce her thoughts. Still, I couldn't quite control myself and flipped her the bird, which she returned, lustily. Her little dog also looked spoiled!

At another house at the end of that block, there was a guy mowing his yard. He saw me and was thinking he should probably double check that he'd locked the door, because, "This guy looks like trouble." I should say mind-reading requires intense concentration and staring at the subject. Mere glances give poor results. The guy ticked me off so much I was thinking maybe I should wait till he got to the other side of the house, then come around and steal his gas can. Except, as above, it would only reinforce his thoughts.

In the mid-region of town -- not too rich, not too poor -- this one guy had all kinds of thoughts. According to him, he'd been suspecting his wife of cheating on him on Thursdays, a day he normally works. But he decided to stay home today and catch a glimpse of the bastard. Obviously, he thought it was me! A guy who respects the sanctity of marriage. I continued however to read his thoughts, as he pictured his wife naked at the door meeting some guy. She didn't look bad! Meaning, just to get back at him, maybe I should come back next Thursday.

On my way to the poor side of town, I passed a couple of cops, whose thoughts of me included some insults about the quality of my car, and whether they should pull me over. They reasoned, We've got a quota and there has to be about a million things we could ticket that slob for. But -- and I know it sounds stereotypical -- the donuts they were working on had about three minutes left of peak freshness, so I escaped the dragnet.

On the poor side of town, I also got some bad thoughts. First it was kids, thinking they'd send their little brother into the road. Then when I stopped for him they'd run over and lie down against my tire, looking like I hit them. They'd work out a deal with me, knowing "an old mark" like me would jump at the chance of paying them off. I flipped them the bird too, and called out, "No pay off today, suckers!"

Just then, Mom comes to the door of the house, two other kids hanging from her breasts, and calls them over. She can see they were thwarted, then turns over the thought in her mind that she knows me and might be able to get me for child support for the youngest pair. I'm thinking, "Honey, I've only been drunk one night in my life, the night you were stripping at The Filthy Bird, and you ain't gonna pin those kids on me! You ain't got a DNA sample and I'm gettin' the hell out of here!"

Crazy people and their crazy thoughts. It goes to show what they say is true: Nice guys finish last.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Go Whole Hog!

My family's philosophy when I grew up was, Anything worth doing is worth doing whole hog. Go long, go deep, or go home. Lukewarm doesn't cut it, we'll spew you out of our mouth.

Now I'm old, and kids come to me for advice. (It's true, here and there you find stragglers.) And I tell them, much like Joseph Campbell's "Follow your bliss," whatever it is, go whole hog! They look at me, with doubt in their big innocent Walter Keane eyes. But I get a stern look on my face, and in my agitation point toward the door, snarling, "Now!"

I've been going whole hog all my life, and except for the dangers of always being ALL IN, it's been a fairly good ride.

But, let me say, I used to have a secret grudge against some in my family. Even though we believed in going whole hog -- and this is literal -- I'd still catch them buying half an animal. Know what I mean? That's one of three things: Shortsightedness, absentmindedness, or hypocrisy. I don't think it was hypocrisy, because they still went whole hog in everything else.

I'd think, "What's the use of buying half a hog or beef? Especially if it means letting the other half go to waste. Buy the whole thing!" And lockers back then were meant to handle the whole thing. These were people who went through the Depression. When times were good they built meat lockers like you wouldn't believe, the size of football fields.

In more recent years, though, as you'd probably guess, some of our sicklier friends stopped eating vast quantities of meat, and that didn't help. Guys at the locker threw up their hands and went out of business. The enormous freezer units were pulled out -- electricity also went up, taxes went up on the larger buildings, etc. Leading me to one conclusion: Life is nothing but a big conspiracy to screw us out of decent sized meat lockers.

There were still folks who needed lockers -- thank God -- but they had to do with smaller ones. My family, I regret to repeat, had a part in this devolution, buying half an animal when a full animal would've been better.

You never know what your actions might be if you don't go whole hog. But I've seen it happen. That's one of the benefits of old age. The wisdom of going whole hog. The chief detriment is they think you're crazy, depriving themselves.

A long-haired (bald on top) guy marches around the square with a protest sign, "Buy the whole animal." But across the lawn, a bunch of PETA women are stripped naked and painted like tigers. You tell me, who draws the crowd? The old man can do nothing but go home in tears. That, and prepare himself for even smaller lockers. Tell you what I'll do, I'll double down on buying personal freezers, energy crisis be damned!

Sorry I went on and on about it. There's very few things I care passionately about; meat lockers just happens to be one of them.

Anyway, people come to me. And that's what I say, Go whole hog. The ironic thing is, I myself have never ventured very far from my old comfort zone. But when I chose this path, I went whole hog. And so here I've been, in my comfort zone, at my grandparents' old place, vegetating and chilling, chilling and vegetating, but always doing it, strictly, whole hog.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beware the Ides of March

It's the Day of Days, folks, the Ides of March! I may sound happy about it, but really I'm not. Because if I learned anything in school, and I'm not saying I did, it was to be careful on March 15. Because if anyone's going to knife you, stab you in the back, it's gonna be today.

So I got up, kept my eye on the dog, watched out for neighbors when I had her out, and was even wary in church. The church has numerous hallways and hiding places. And a few of the folks aren't crazy about my completely dismissive attitude toward theology. A quick knife to the back would make short work of me, and even be divine justice of a sort.

Fortunately, though, I survived today -- I knew I'd survive through the offering at least -- and lived to tell about it. Not that there's that much to tell. Had I actually been stabbed, but not fatally, that would've been a hell of a story. Guess what, I was stabbed in church, right after the offering. This after an earlier argument on how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. This one guy comes at me, yelling, "Dance on this, heretic!" This isn't really beyond the realm of the possible, since the subject of angels and dancing on pins in fact came up within the last month.

But no, it didn't happen today, thankfully. Although back in literary times, of course it was common. Like in the days of Julius Caesar, when the other guy stabbed him, and Caesar said something in Latin, "Et tu, Brute?" In literary times they were always talking the Latin, you know, like when the guy shot Lincoln, "Sic semper tyrannus," literally translated, "I'm sick with distemper, like a dinosaur!"

Ever since that first tragic Ides of March we've been whooping it up when it comes along. Reminding me of the old story of "The Husband and the Wife":

One year the husband comes in and wishes his wife "Happy Ides of March," and immediately stabs her in the back. She falls to the ground. The next year it's the same thing, she immediately goes down. The third year rolls around and there he is again, "Happy Ides of March," she's stabbed and goes down. But the fourth year comes and she's smart enough to leave home and come back the next day. The husband shows up, says, "Happy belated Ides of March," stabs her, and she dies.

I hope that doesn't happen to you. And if it does, I hope you're smart enough to leave the guy after the first year. Call the police and send him to prison. You don't need a guy like that ruining your life. I should know, for I am the husband in the story. Maniacal laughter here ... and fade to black.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Slovenly Family

There was a slovenly woman who had a slovenly husband, and they lived in a house that was also slovenly. They had a slovenly dog, upset that there was very little to mess up.

They had three slovenly friends who often dropped by. One spat, one drooled, and one regurgitated.

The family's slovenly dog would carry out his food and drop it in the mess. The slovenly wife saw it all and burped, worth her weight in garbage. The slovenly husband listened to her burp and also managed an emission.

The slovenly husband often thought, "Why are we living like this, so slovenly?" He said to his slovenly wife, "We could do better. We're careful enough to keep our popsicles cold in the fridge, the wrappers could go in the can, not on the floor." But that passed.

The three slovenly friends came over, one spitting and one drooling. All eyes were on the third, who had a sudden look of queasiness. It couldn't be long now, and ... there it is, a recent bite regurgitated. The slovenly dog was happy.

The slovenly wife felt the need to burp and scratch. Being so slovenly, she scratched so much that when she wasn't scratching, she was burping. She dismissed her slovenly husband's question with a shrug, tossing a popsicle wrapper to the floor, burping and scratching as well. Bugs were afraid to land on her.

Their TV was always on, also a slovenly mess. The slovenly dog chewed the remote, so it was stuck on one channel. All its colors were drained, so the flickering picture was forever green. Once a green cartoon was clear, causing one friend to spit with happiness, the second to drool with joy, and the third to lose his lunch.

One day, the slovenly house, having lost its will to remain, collapsed around them. The slovenly family and friends sat in the open air, burping, scratching, spitting, drooling, and regurgitating. The dog ran to the bush and peed. A powerful wind stirred and blew the house clean of popsicle wrappers.

And there the slovenly family sits, to this day, hoping against hope for whatever.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Great Waving Tour

Everyone knows my blog as a worldwide sensation. I have readers in literally every country on earth, and that even includes North Korea. Blog mules have been hand-copying posts and smuggling them in in packs of cigarettes; Northies are so eager to get this vital information they unroll the cig papers and throw away the tobacco.

You could say I've specialized in the world, which is not to say I've neglected my local presence entirely. Maybe a little. My next door neighbor knows me, and a few others. Meaning, obviously, I need to "take a sad song and make it better." So I had the idea of a waving tour. Drive around waving and let people know I'm here. And I'm thinking of them. And how friendly I am.

It went really great, too. Although, to be totally honest, I got some suspicious looks, and several wouldn't wave back. The very first one, I'm leaving a dead end neighborhood of nice houses and a lady comes out to do something in the front yard. She sees me, I lift my hand tentatively and wave, and she doesn't wave back. She probably thought I was bad news, probably reading the blog and thinking I've taken more of an interest in the Ukraine (which I have) than my own town. I'll do better, ma'am.

In fact, quite a few folks looked like they were harboring various resentments, also refusing to wave, even though I had my best face on, very friendly. It could've been I was hitting too many dead ends and cul-de-sacs. But my theory was the folks on the wide open avenues see so much traffic they're not looking for waving tours. But the others, they don't get much traffic.

But the same theory -- I know this from reading the paper -- is something criminals know. A lot of cul-de-sacs in town have in fact had something of a crime wave. Enough break-ins to go around, practically everyone's had one. So on the surface of it, it seems like they'd be glad to see a friendly guy driving through the neighborhood waving. If they knew anything. Try to put 2 and 2 together folks: the criminals are out in the afternoon, I've waving when it's morning.

It wasn't long till police cars were lingering in the area. Being a nice guy, and not thinking of my own safety, I even waved at the police. I say that, because, you know -- it's touchy -- the police lately haven't got the best reputation. You don't want to appear to be too chummy with them, because you don't want any of the animus to rub off. Some of the donut shops even have them using the drive-through only.

I came upon a couple schools and as luck would have it the kids were out for recess. This was around the noon hour. So I thought, you know, start 'em out young, realizing there's actual decent friendly people in the world. I waved at them like I would anyone, appreciating the look of joy on their faces. Although, disturbing at it sounds, many of them looked like they didn't want to wave back at a stranger. Me a stranger? I've lived in this town all my life!

A bunch of the kids looked like they were running back in the school to get their friends. That warmed my heart. But when they came out with the teachers I knew the real truth... Teachers need love, too, so I waved at them. They got their phones out and were calling, apparently their own friends. Except pretty soon the police were back in the area, patrolling. It made me wonder, maybe some of the crooks knew it was afternoon and so had returned.

I kept driving, looking for friendly folks, kids, nursing homes, and honking and waving in the hospital area, waving at terminal patients looking out for their final view of anything. It was a real blessing for one and all. Then toward the end I felt honored to have a police escort, directing me toward home, where I ended up.

It's great to get out and feel the love, and to know I'm a Very Important Person, someone the entire town can be proud of.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tough Fishing at Silage City

FISH AT BARGAIN PRICES -- I've got an inside line on a great value on fish, if you can manage to get it home. (I have an idea how it could be done, more on that later.)

This is at Dick's Thrifty Econo-Valu Food Smartmart up in Silage City, so not too far from anyone. Not to be confused with Maude's Discount Groceries & Pastries of Walter Falls. Entirely different place. Of course Dick's has the full cash register and moving grocery conveyor and Maude has the cash drawer and table for your things.

Anyway, Dick's has this really sweet special on fish, but only for a limited time -- it's been going on six months now -- at 79 cents a pound. What's it called? I don't know, it's sort of flat bony fish with a spine that doesn't quit. Very flexible, you're not wasting sacks getting it home, it folds up real good.

The big problem -- if that's what you want to call it -- is the game warden in Silage City is on the look out for anyone with fish who doesn't have a valid fishing license. And not just the plain old state license, it needs the Silage City stamp. You haven't got the stamp, it's a $100 fine.

The guy who told me about this special, and 79 cents is a killer price, got stopped right outside of town. Just like the guy knew he was coming. He's leaving Dick's, headed east, when the light comes on and he's stopped. "Are there fish in this car?" the game warden asks, and of course it leads to the sack and the wrapped up fish. The short version of his complaint is this, "How do I know you didn't catch those fish and wrap them up yourself?" Which indeed would be a good way of rigging the system in your favor!

"But it has the price sticker right there and it says "Dick's." "But how do I know you didn't take that off other groceries and paste it there?" Great question, and for that matter how does he know you didn't just print it on your printer? I can see the game warden's point, even if I suspect foul play on his part. "But I don't have a fishing rod with me?" "How do I know you didn't hide it down by the lake?" It's tough to come up with answers, isn't it!

So the guy gets a $100 fine, which takes away, obviously, some of the savings he counted on when he took advantage of the 79 cent special. That's a sad thought.

But I've got a happier thought, which is this, how we could get away with it. One, I show up at Dick's with a very smokin' vehicle and simply outrun the game warden. I think he's still driving the old standard issue green truck he's always had. That's dicey, though, because he might send word ahead and you'd be paying other fines. Probably a better plan would be this, for a bunch of us to show up, buy fish, and all of us just take different roads home. He couldn't catch us all!

Whoever gets caught's a rotten egg.

Here's another issue. Who do I think is alerting the game warden? It's a huge mystery. But my first suspicion has to be someone at Dick's store. Maybe Dick himself, since they're cousins.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

It's a Phlegm Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

I've been noticing ads on Facebook for T-shirts featuring your last name, with the strong hint that there's something very distinctive about your family.

Your name might be Smith, so your T-shirt says, "It's a Smith Thing, You Wouldn't Understand." The rest of us are on the outside looking in, saying to ourselves, "The Smiths, now there's a distinctive family, with mysterious ways, way too mysterious to grasp." What they've got going on seems to be vaguely familiar, like the lives of everyone else, but who would know better than they whether others would understand. Same thing with the Joneses.

Of course it's not just huge names like Smith and Jones for whom this is true. In fact, I'd almost guess they'd get fewer orders from those whose names are so extraordinarily widespread. You introduce a guy named Smith to another Smith and they never look at each other like, "What's your dad's name?" or "Where are you from?" My guess, the Smiths would hardly ever buy the shirt.

But there's lots of other names that aren't so common, and it's those who probably do believe they're so different it's worth bragging about. Like my family, the Slumps. Look it up, we're few and far between. And it's not that we haven't been horny enough to have babies. It's just that they're either girls who marry and insist on changing their name, according to tradition, or impotent boys, carrying traces of the scourge of first cousins Billy and Polly from the '20s. It's definitely a Slump thing, a taint that's mixed in with the DNA and now affects us all, living and dead. You wouldn't understand.

There's all kinds of things that can make a family go haywire. Cousin Andy sits on an infected toilet seat, comes home and infects the whole family. Or they're all drinking from the same ladle, like we used to do. Add to it, some of our wells have an excess of rust, which is just metal gone sour, and when a family infection hits it, it's magnetic, passed from one Slump to another at a distance.

Obviously there has to be some good reason that I've had a hard time passing on my genes. I'm 62 and haven't managed it yet, unless, and I'm still holding out hope, some of my early romantic forays bore fruit they didn't tell me about. I know that happens. There used to be a guy up the road who came back from World War II, one of the Butlers, and they say he had so many babies by French women it was scary. His T-shirt would say, "It's a Butler/Fifi's Dad's Mad Thing, You Wouldn't Understand."

All that to get to this, the company could expand beyond just names to talents, hobbies, and conditions. Occupations and hobbies are obvious.  Model trains, comic books, or how about fracking for an occupation? Drawing of a mountain shaking off its foundation: "It's a Fracking Thing, No One Understands, Another Hundred Earthquakes? Oops."

How about health conditions? I don't want to sicken you anymore than I have to. But we have a guy who's always coughing and spitting, an endless thing, his throat's in overdrive. They thought it was pneumonia, now we know he was hijacked by phlegm. "It's a Phlegm Thing, You Wouldn't Understand." Hack, hack, hock, spit!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Truth and Tobacco Spit

To me, the picture says it all. It's the age-old story, as old as time itself -- Abel and Cain -- yet told again and again, ever new: Two brothers of the same flag who can't get along, try as they may.

These two guys share the same story. There's good and there's evil, one who lives for truth and one who lives for chewing tobacco. As far as I'm concerned, there's no competition; truth wins every time hands down, because I have literally never been a fan of chewing tobacco. And I had the chance!

The man I grew up with, other than my dad, my grandfather, was a dedicated follower of the unholy chewable weed. From the time I was a boy, I just assumed refrigerators came with a tall stack of small cans wrapped in brown paper, his brand being Copenhagen. I never really "discovered" it, since it was always there, part and parcel of life itself. And grandpas chewed it.

In my Grandpa's case, he seemed to have little bitsy teeth, perennially stained with the juice. Here, there, and everywhere, he was chewing, and spitting. Out fishing, working in the yard, and driving, that was his thing. Which never became my thing. This is one of the so-called "temptations" of life that I can honestly say I never felt, and so never acted on. Not even the tiniest smidgen. It's never entered my mouth. Meaning, you'd about have to agree, that I'm a person of truth, not tobacco spit.

That's a great feeling. I hadn't thought of it in quite those terms before. Being never tempted. Because, had I been tempted (and I've never yielded to every temptation I've had), seeing it as a solo venture, I'm sure I would've tried it. But chalk it up to me being a person of truth, at least in this one instance, and not tobacco spit. I'm proud of it and I'm not proud of it, know what I mean?

I do, however, think it's a good lesson on life, because there are those two options; that's indisputable. Truth or tobacco spit, what's it gonna be? You can be a person of truth and your brother can be a person of tobacco spit, obviously, and you're still brothers in every sense of the word, and under the same flag. As long as you don't let it drive you apart.

The illustration shows the terrible division that can come if the negatives of your relationship are allowed to fester. I think the story goes something like this: The brother of truth shared with his brother the dangers of tobacco chewing. Back in Grandpa's day we didn't realize there were consequences to our actions, but today we know, you can get in some serious trouble based simply on choices and the things you do. Tobacco chewing can cause mouth cancer, and who knows what else.

The brother of truth, as the saga goes, elicited a tentative promise from the other, who was to seal the deal by getting both professional help and options other than chewing tobacco. These would include gum, mints, and you know something else that's good to chew, although most people have never heard of it, these licorice sticks that are almost like wood. They make an interesting chew. I remember talking with a man in the early 2000s who chewed these, but then soon died of other causes. True story.

You've probably guessed the end. The evil brother never "found the time" to set up an appointment for professional help, vowing on their common flag that he had the strength to end the habit on his own. But what happens when the good brother comes home? He finds him with a plug the size of a cantaloupe! Going at it with everything he can muster! If he'd had jaws of steel and pistons in place of mandibles he couldn't have chewed it with more gusto!

They came to verbal blows, the one calling the other a damned fool, and the evil brother -- it's sickening to think of it -- willfully spitting close to a gallon of spit, like a reservoir, and coating his brother. Then, predictably, one went one way and the other went the other way. And that's it, they left behind their common flag.

I don't know if you're a tobacco spitter or a person of truth. You alone have to live with the consequences.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Old Shaman


I was into mythology a number of years ago -- I've since backslid -- and the stories I most "thrilled to" were the tales of the old shamans. Probably because, no big secret, if I was going to be anybody in their world, it'd have to be a shaman. I wouldn't mind being one right now, frankly.

These were/are the guys with the inside track on the divine. They know the ins and outs of how to deal with people. They're busy discovering the secrets of life, then discreetly, I'm guessing, keeping them hidden until they're needed. And they're never fully needed, meaning they're always holding something back, making themselves men of mystery and therefore needed. In the Bible, I'd say Moses filled that role in the stories. And that's why they had a law about killing witches, because they also had the inside track, but with it, their own mind.

If I were to drop down into one of these communities -- thatch roofs and all -- I believe they would immediately take to me, just like that. The people would gather around, I'd be passing out Wrigley's gum, and everyone would love me. Except for the shamans. Their guardsmen would drag me to their quarters, where we would have a great stare down. Then, in looking into my fantastic eyes, they would look deep, then deeper yet, then deeper still, until realizing they could never plumb the depths. You with me still? And that's when they'd give up, commit suicide, and name me new shaman.

Until that happens, though, and I'm not like Margaret Mead or someone, always traveling, going off to these little villages and making a nuisance of myself, I'll be here. The shaman I'm writing about today, one I heard of, had nothing to do with Margaret, insisting he was a self-mead man.

This guy had all kinds of powers, like they all have to have. Whatever it was, the heights, the depths, the widths, everything in creation, he seemed to have an in on. What about sickness and health? He was there too, any disease: gout, bad back, sore leg, winnebago, nagging cough, cold feet. And of course he had the in depth knowledge the community needed for their continuing prosperity, mental and physical.

One of the big concerns mankind always has is about the weather. It's still a concern we have today. I was thinking of the weather earlier today when it was snowing. It meant I had to get out there with my snow-blower and wake up the neighbors. It was supposed to get warm and melt it all off. So I was amused to see the parking lot scoop guys out early, knowing if they didn't hurry it'd all be gone and they'd make nothing.

Here's how the shaman thing works with the weather. A householder comes to visit him. He walks outside, he looks at the color of the sky. He licks his finger and gets it real wet, then he sticks it up into the wind. He looks straight up, he looks straight down. He climbs up a ladder and looks to the horizon. And so forth. Anything he can do, he does.

Then they go inside, and he considers the evidence well before making his pronouncement. If I say this, this might happen. If I say the other thing, something entirely different might be the result. These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your mind when you want to tell all, but you have to be very considerate. How's it going to affect me if I get it wrong? Then he clears his throat and gives the townspeople his best advice, in the unique Pig Latin his tribe speaks:

W3A3T3C3H3 G3A3R3Y3 L3E3Z3A3K3'3S
R3E3P3O3R3T3 O3N 3431 A3C3T3I3O3N N3E3W3S3.

(Omit the 3s)