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Thursday, September 16, 2021

INVOLVEMENT

 The Alien C.W. was très upset. I could hear him from the next room.

“Shtoo++pitdazoles+,” he said, loud enough to be heard outside. I walked in and found him shaped much like a middle-aged Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

“Say what?”

“Foul increment,” he practically screamed it at me.

“Bitte?”

“Listen to my GUT,” he said. I heard his Galactic Universal Translator begin to hum.

“Never mind,” I said. “I think I get the picture.”

“What is it with your species?” he said, aiming the question at me like he thought I might answer.

“¿Qué?” I like to screw with him when he gets like this.

“What does it mean,” he said, “when one of your leaders talks about waging a war with ‘no boots on the ground’ in some foreign country peopled by your own species.”

“It refers to using war to settle international differences with another country without actually having our military personnel involved in that country, so to speak.”

His GUT hummed and he listened. “And how is this accomplished?”

“Remotely,” I said. “We can send planes from ships and unmanned drones from Iowa, wiping them out like cleaning a windshield.”

“To settle differences?”

“Yes.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“Then we send troops.”

“And who comprises these troops? Do they hunt down individuals to conduct these ‘boots on the ground’ operations?”

“Uh, no. They rely on volunteers now.”

“Such as the children of the leaders?”

“Uh, no. Others.”

“Like you?” he said. “No, I remember now. You actually volunteered for war, didn’t you?”

“Kinda sorta.”

His Gut hummed. “Elucidate.”

“I reluctantly volunteered for what I thought would be an assignment that wouldn’t involve my boots being on the ground, i.e. naval forces.”

“So what happened?”

“They sent my boots and my ass to be on the ground.”

He thought for a moment. “Can you see why Falloonian Elders think your species might need recalling?”

Sunday, September 12, 2021

A HOME

 The Alien C.W. and I were walking about the farm talking, he in his best impression of Albert Einstein and I as, well, I'm stuck with myself. We were taking bets on whether we could solve the pressing crisis in the availability of affordable housing.

He had been silent for a spell, but then turned and began to speak. “Someone once said that ‘the poor will be with us always.’ Is this not true?”

“What? That someone said it or that we are stuck with the poor and huddled masses that Lady Liberty welcomes with such graciousness?”

“This is no time for levity,” he said. “Did someone say that?”

“Yes,” I said, “the Galilean is credited with that bit of wisdom.”

“Was he correct?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he missed it this time. Or maybe he’s changed his mind during the last two thousand years.”

“You are familiar with this Abraham Maslow and his so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ are you not?”

“A passing acquaintance,” I said. “We’re not joined at the hips, or anything like that.” I forgot about his beloved shape of Lefty and Lucky, the conjoined twins.

“You know… you are still being pissy.”

“I think you mean ‘pithy’ don’t you?”

His Galactic Universal Translator hummed. “I’ll stand by what I said.”

“You always trust your Gut, then?”

“Consider the need for basic shelter,” he said. “That was one of Herr Maslow’s most basic needs, am I right?”

“So far so good.”

“I’ve done some research,” he said.

Oh hell. I hate it when he does this to me. “And?”

“The places that currently have affordable housing available are those where many people do not want to live.”

“To a large extent. Some neighborhoods in pre-Katrina New Orleans broke the pattern, and ‘pre-gentrification Greenwich Village. A few still exist.”

“And the places that need affordable housing are the places where many want to live.”

“One might say so.”

“Ostensimately in order to have homes that appreciate in value along with basic retail and services?”

I think you mean ‘ostensibly’ but yes.”

He consulted his GUT. “Ostensibly, they want services, but don’t want the service workers nearby.”

“One might say so.”

“ And if we could  build affordable housing in those very places to which people are fleeing in such droves …,”

“That’s not a likely prospect.”

“Why?”

“Another day. Another walk.”

“If we could place said affordable housing there on the free market, experience indicates that it will not remain affordable for long.”

“That seems to be the case.”

“Then why does a new study indicate that if we just made it easier to build low-cost housing in high-growth cities, the problem would solve itself?”

“Because the study was done by east-coast grads of ‘Ivy-League Schools’ and not by people who need basic shelter or those who profit from housing.”

He stroked his chin and drew on his pipe. After exhaling a dense, choking cloud of smoke he said, “That doesn’t make any sense. Helping the poor from a comfortable room on a full stomach doesn’t actually scream empathy, now does it? Clichés will not solve the affordable housing crisis, only bold action that has, to this point been only voiced by prophets, philosophers, and penniless preachers. Am I correct?”

“Let me get back to you on that.” He was on a roll but I was wearying of our talk.

“I mean, wouldn’t that be like appointing a group of women to create laws addressing this sexual addiction among the males of your species? Is this how you seek the truth?”

I turned to look at him. “Hey,” I said. “Let’s go check on the football scores.”

Friday, September 3, 2021

CHOICES

 The Alien C.W. had been hiding from me since that incident over the antique sewing machine. I was looking for him.

“Oh wow.”

I heard that from my work area and knew it meant trouble. Surely enough, I walked in and found Arnold Awesome at my computer. Yeah, it was the Alien himself in one of his favorite shapes. He turned and saw me.

“Hey sir,” this is beyond awesome. Come look.” he said, pointing at the screen and seizing the initiative in one swift move.

I looked. “What? And don’t use the word ‘awesome.’ It makes you sound like a sophomore.”

“I am a sophomore,” he said. “But never mind that. See here?” He pointed at the computer screen.

“It’s just the daily news,” I said. I’ll read it later, after you have straightened up your mess in the sewing room.”

“Mrs. Big Dope said for me not to worry about it,” he said. “All is forgiven. Now check this out.”

“What?”

“I’m special.”

“No way.”

“Way.”

“How?”

“I’m a man, least I will be in four more years. This is, like, great.”
“Don’t insert ‘like’ into your sentences. It makes you sound illiterate. Besides, you are an alien.”

“Exactly.”

“Elucidate.” He loves that word.

“Means I have choices now that I didn’t have.”

“What choices?”

“In Falloonia, we have no choice about ‘Shtukwida++kreap,’ don’t you see?”

“With what?”

His Galactic Universal Translator hummed. “What you might call ‘marriage’ in your society.”

“Ahh.” I sipped my coffee.

“So look what I can do here. Your Elders say so.”

“What?”

“What are the main two things in choosing a mate-partner?”

“You tell me.”

“Making sure you like them and making sure you can procreate with them.”

“That’s the way you see it?”

“Yeah, but the order is important for us men.”

I felt my eyes start to roll but controlled them. “How so?”

“Some guys tell me that it seems that you like one until you procreate and then find out that you were wrong. By then it’s too late. You are left with all sorts of responsibility.”

“And?”

“Your Elders say now we can procreate first—a man like you or me can—then decide if we like them.”

“I’m confused. What happens next?”

“If you don’t like them after the unit is born, you just try another choice. What is it you say, ‘No harm, no foul’ or something like that?”

I sighed. “And what happens to the object of your first attempt?”

“Who?”

“The other half of the species required for procreation?”

“What do you mean?”

“The non-male bearing the child from the experience.”

“Oh,” he said. “They aren’t among the chosen.” He closed the computer. “Look,” he said, “I have to run. I wasn’t being exactly truthful about Mrs. Big Dope forgiving me. I’m lighting out for the next territory over with some buddies.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, we’re trying out for parts in a movie they are filming there.”

“A movie, you say?”

“Yeah, it’s one of those ‘coming of age comedies’ about a boy like me spending his summer vacation seducing his girlfriend to win a bet with his pals.”

 

 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

POWER

 I worry when he gets like this.

The Alien C.W. was buried in a pile of papers and notes this morning looking much like a harried professor at “publish or perish” time. He paid no attention to me. I sat, sipped my coffee, and watched. Actually, I sometimes like it when he is quiet. We are still under a restraining order on account of the “garage band” he started despite the fact that we have no garage.

Anyhow, he finally looked up and saw me. “I’m busy,” he said.

“I can see.”

“Minor assignment for the Falloonian Elders.”

“Don’t mind me. I’ll not interrupt you.”

“Good,” he said. He returned to his work.

He shuffled papers, wrote a note, and turned back to me. “It’s a report tracing the development of mental cognizance in your species, from the end of the Neanderthals to present. Pardon me if I’m too busy to visit.”

I nodded. Minor assignments require concentration as well as major ones.

He struck through some writing and looked at me. “It was developing well for a while, cognizance was. Now excuse me.”

I nodded.

He retained his stare. “You were making great progress.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Your ancestors discovered that dances didn't make it rain and sought the physical facts. This led to findings that allowed the Egyptians to forecast flooding phenomena that led to a stable civilization lasting for a longer time than that which has passed since their last great empire. Now if you will excuse me, I’m busy.”

I nodded.

He didn’t return to his work. “I found it amusing at first that your ancestors tried to turn lead into gold.”

I nodded.

“But then I discovered, from reading this,” he held up a worn copy of The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer, “that this seeming folly actually led your folks to a development of the Scientific Method in research.”

“So our development went well?”

“Not really. I’m sorry. It faltered, but I can’t go into it now.”

I nodded.

He put the book aside and turned to me again. “Seems apparent to me that religion hindered the development.”

“Oh? How?”

“Can’t you see I’m busy?”

I nodded. He started to go back to work but stopped.

“Seems that religion led to an understanding of power, and how to use it, as opposed to the seeking of knowledge.” He reached and held up a copy of the Bible. “These folks weren’t very high on knowledge.”

“No,” I said. “No they weren’t. You can ask Paul of Tarsus if you happen to run into him during one of your enphasngs. ”

He ignored me. “That set the stage for rule by force, over rule by reason, as a method of retaining power.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, all because of religion. When the dark side of politics joins the anti-cognizance stance of religion, all hell, pardon the allusion, may break loose: darkness and destruction, with the aid of religion as a tool. Now you’ve bothered be enough. I must work.”

“Fine,” I said. “But I wouldn’t publish your findings here on Earth.”

“Are you kidding?” he said. He buried his nose back into his notes.

Friday, August 27, 2021

FAME

 I came through the living room and C.W. was reading news on my wife’s Ipad. He was in the somewhat unusual shape of a well-dressed, and very attractive, teenage girl. He/she was shaking his/her head.

“What’s up,” I asked.

Seelishkrepi++sar,” he said, being himself, the alien. Then I heard his Galactic Universal Translator hum.

“Say what?”

His Gut was Telling him something.

“Bizarre,” he said.

“What?”

“There’s a feature article in your news source about the passing of a woman who became famous for having sex with every member of a Rock and Roll band in one night. The lead singer mentioned it in one of their hit songs.”

“I seem to remember,” I said. “So?”

“Did you know her?”

“Someone pointed her out to me in a bar once,” I said, “but I can claim neither acquaintance nor recipience.”

“And she was famous for that act?”

“Well, that and stories she told about performing same-same for other bands and famous musicians who came to town. They call them ‘groupies’ and she was the national heroine.”

“So what worthwhile achievements garnered her such notice? How did she earn the acclaim?”

“Just being famous, I suppose. You aren’t the first visitor who asked me about her.”

He retreated into his character.

“So,” she asked. “If I do the same, can I, like, be famous? I mean, like, you know, for, like, having sex with a famous person or maybe more than one.” The eyes that looked into mine were as blue as a quiet winter’s sky and beaming from a face as fresh and innocent as a newborn lamb’s. “My friends, like, tell me I should become somebody, and I’m, like, I don’t know how.”

“Why don’t you read something besides the news,” I said.