Sunday, October 30, 2011

65. Observations

Hello all. This is C.W. the Falloonian Heartbeat himself. Big Dope stayed up late working on one of his guitars and sleeps yet. So I snuck in and fired up his computer. He is having what you call a “birthday” this week so I will surprise him by producing this week’s piece. After all, it can’t be difficult, if he does it, right?

This will be like firing upon aquatic creatures in a cylindrical container of hydrogen-hydroxide, as you say.

In Falloonia, we call it “labsinacra++seck” which roughly translates to “seducing a prostitute,” or … relying on absurdly simple stratagems. Like influencing one of your politicians with campaign money.

That was a joke. See, I’m funnier than he as well.

Let’s move on to the matter at the appendage of digits on the forelimb. I have collected a few random observations on the modern condition of your culture. To wit:

I read recently where one of your political aspirants announced, rather gravely I might add, “the government cannot produce a job.” Now, I ask you … is this not going to come as a hell of a shock to the CEO of the Halliburton Corporation? Just sayin’ you know. See, I’m working on your culture-speak.

Now I also read this week that your scientists are coming under increased criticism. Seems that they are grasping, greedy creatures who produce nothing of value and only undertake their work for personal gain. Sort of, if I might make this comparison, the stock-traders of academia. Further, they persist in deluding the poor public with their untruths and cruel deceptions, like asserting that the development of antibiotics has been a benefit to humankind.

May I assume that this is why you pay your football coaches more than 20 times more than you pay your science teachers?

Now, along that line, I present the most difficult assignment I will have to face upon making my final report to the Falloonian Elders─and feel free to help me here. Why is it, that people who can develop mechanized means to transport one another by spacecraft all the way to the Moon (okay, I’m acting a little felinely here) insist that any candidate for higher office first assert: “I believe that a woman once talked to a snake?” Wouldn’t a Parrot work better?

One less terrorist thanks to the heroic John Ashcroft
Enough of the heavy stuff, let me continue on the topic of anniversaries. In current news, along with Big Dope’s annual advancement in temporal longevity, I scanned your media for other milestones. Seems this month marks the anniversary of the enactment of the Patriot Act and the 40-hour workweek. From my subsequent interviews, it appears that one has brought the average American an immense increase in personal happiness, fulfillment, joy, and contentment.

The other, as I understand it, resulted in the imprisonment of a comedian named Tommy Chong for selling something called “bongs” on the Internet.

Must run. Peace and adieu.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

64. Contradictions

Had some out-of-town visitors last week so I put them up in our condo and I stayed in the spare one. My wife had gone to check on her animals. I had some time to kill so I was sampling a bit of Maker’s Mark, reading some Mencken, and enjoying our city’s skyline when I heard a knock on the door. I assumed it was one of our guests with a question.

No such luck.

It was a man dressed as a priest so I new it had to be C.W.

“Come in,” I said.”

“Thank you my son.”

“Give me a break.” I had already begun to resent the intrusion.

“Blessed are those who seek righteousness,” he said.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Answers to questions.”

“Such as?”

He reached into his robe and produced a worn copy of the Christian New Testament. It had multiple bookmarks and “sticky-notes” waved like little pennants from every edge. He flapped it in front of my face for effect.

“This Jesus that so many of your species claims to worship.”

“Yes,” I said. “What about him?”

“A truly remarkable person … if all this is true.”

“I suppose.”

“Do your people really claim to revere his teachings?”

I sensed a trap. “Many do,” I said cautiously.

“Have they ever read this?” He flapped the volume in front of my face again.

“Would you stop that?” I said. “I don’t know how many have actually read it. I suspect not many.”

“Well I have,” he said with a great show of pride. “Want to know something?”

“I am quivering in anticipation.”

“Assume not ye the guise of fools,” he said. “For they do not find grace.”

“Where does that appear?”

“Oh, that’s mine,” he said. “But look here.” He leaned into my face and took on a solemn tone. “Want to know what three things really got his goat, this Jesus?”

”Of course.” I was hoping this would hasten his exit.

“Rich people, divorce, and dumb thinking.”


“Oh yes, especially the last. I mean the disciples flat drove him up the wall.”

“I seem to remember that.”

“So,” he said. “I have a question for you.”

I sighed. “Fire away.”

“Name three things that your species is really fond of … that they practice above all else.”

You folks got some "splainin" to do.
  “Well, they don’t exactly work at dumb thinking, do they?”

”Have you not watched any of the presidential debates?”

He had me there. “So what is your point?”

“Just this. I have to make my quarterly report to the Falloonian Elders and I must still state that the greatest single ability of your species is to hold completely contradictory beliefs in your heads with no apparent damage.”

“Well we have to be good at something,” I said, returning to my Mencken.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

63. Warriors

C.W. pulled a new one last week. He not only “enphased” as he calls it─presenting himself in an historical context─but he appeared as someone from my personal past. It was more than a bit scary.

I was sitting on a bench in the park, this time with a purpose. There is a new bridge across the river and bicyclists had been terrorizing pedestrians. I was hoping to catch one in the act.

Then who should sit down beside me but a beloved professor from my undergraduate days, Dr. Ben Kimpel. He was a kindly, portly fellow, a lifelong bachelor if you know what that implied back in those days. He once told me that I had to read all of Proust but not simply read him, read him in French, including the earlier versions of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Of course I haven’t, making it both a shocking and frightening experience to see him sitting beside me.

“Still underachieving, are you son?”

“Is that you, C.W.?”

“Tell me at least you remember this one.” He produced a worn volume of the collected works of Aristophanes, that wily old Greek.

“What can I say?” It was an admission as much as a question.

“You had some promise,” he said. “Not much, but much more in the potential than in the achievement.”

“Don’t you have something better to do?”

“I want to know about your species and its fondness for war.”

I thought. “It’s a major preoccupation, that’s all.”

“Well you remember this, don’t you? Please tell me you do.” With this, he opened the volume to Lysistrata.

“I wasn’t that negligent.”

“So the plot was?”

“No more war or no more sex.”

“Have your country’s women ever considered that?”

“I’m not sure. Many of our women are more warlike than the men.”

“What if your countrymen simply decided not to fight anymore?”

“That’s pretty much illegal.”

“You went to war, as I understand it.”

“Reluctantly. Very reluctantly.”

“Did you consider disobedience?”

Oh yes. I was once to the gate of a compound where they helped reluctants get to Canada.”

“And changed your mind?”

“And changed my mind.”

“Decided to help protect freedom, eh?”

“Let me assure you that I was not protecting anyone’s freedom, except maybe the workers at the Remington and Boeing plants.”

I once went to war, to save a dying land.
Had an army of ten thousand,
And a big sword in my hand. - Gary Dan Toler 1965
“So why did you change your mind?


“How so?”

“I was afraid that someday I might have to face my mother again.”

Sunday, October 9, 2011

61. God and Football

It was a pleasant morning so I elected to go for a walk. Among the pleasantries: brisk fall weather, a welcome absence of aches and pains, and a rewarding weekend, including the fact that my alma mater’s football team was victorious. It was a day of true epochal harmony.

Then C.W. joined me. He appeared as a young boy of 12 dressed in a gaudy cowboy suit, complete with a bright red hat laced in white with a drawstring under this neck. He walked in silence for a good ways before speaking.

“I heard about it on television,” he said.

“Heard about what?”

“That God gave your football team the victory yesterday.”

“He did what?”

“One of the players told us.”

“Told you that?”

“Yes. He personally thanked God for giving his team the victory.”


“Well it created a few questions, if you don’t mind.”

“I am sort of busy right now.”

He ignored me. “First, is this a technique confined to your Judeo-Christian God?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I haven’t heard Allah being thanked for soccer victories.”

“Oh, please.”

“Second question.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Aren’t the kids still starving in Darfur?”

“Last I heard.”

“Is there the slightest possible chance that this might take precedence in the mind of a god over deciding the outcome of a football game?”

“Why are you dressed like a cowboy?”

“I dunno. Just seems to me they were better role models than football players.”

“Oh, Jesus.”

Hoppy says winning isn't important. Justice is.
He snapped around. “Now there you go.”

“What do you mean?”

“What possible interest could he have in our conversation?”

“You are irritating the hell out of me?”

“That brings me to my final question.”

I chose to ignore him and stopped to examine a group of plants. Then my curiosity began to uncurl like the blossoms of one of the young flowers. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“So what is your question?” I was hoping for an end to it all.

He looked at me with all the earnestness of which a young child is capable. He blinked, and then spoke.

“Exactly what did the other team do to piss Him off?”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

60. Tests

Last weekend I was in our nation’s capitol attending the National Book Festival hoping for a weekend free of aliens and pesky questions. No such luck. I had secured a good seat in the History and Autobiography tent and had 30 minutes or so to wait for the first speaker when who should plop down beside me but C.W. himself? I knew it was he, for who else would show up at this event wearing a white coat with a stethoscope draped over his shoulder? He appeared as a studious young man in his twenties.

“What’s up, Big Dope?” he said as I pretended not to know him.

“Waiting for the first speaker,” I said. I began to study my program.

“Can you help me while you wait?” he said.

“Help you what?”

“I’m preparing for a test.”

“What kind of test?”

“Just a test,” he said, thrusting a sheet of documents into my hand. “Just ask me the questions and see how well I do.”

I glanced at the sheets. They contained a series of multiple-choice questions. Then I looked back at him.

“Just ask me the first one,” he said.

I read aloud the first question listed. “The patient should be positioned (1) on his stomach, (2) on his back, (3) on his side, or (4) It doesn’t matter.”

“Number two,” he said. There was genuine excitement in his voice. “What’s the second one?”

I looked, and confusion began to set in. “What is the optimum length of the first incision?” I didn’t bother to read the answers.

“C.W.,” I said. “What the hell is this?”

“It’s a test for doing an appendectomy,” he said. “I want to get licensed in case I might be needed.”


“I want to be approved for conducting appendectomies so I made up this quick test to prove I’m ready.”

“You what?”

“I just need to pass a test,” he said. “So let’s get busy.”

“C.W.,” I said. I didn’t know where to begin.


“You can’t be permitted to conduct an appendectomy by passing a test.”

“Why not?”

What could I say? “It’s idiotic,” I said.

“Isn’t that the way your species’ education system works?”

I didn’t know how to answer. In a federal building some four or five blocks from where we sat, experts are promulgating that exact methodology.

Why must I study the skeletal system?
I just want to do appendectomies.
“Can’t I learn to take out an appendix by studying for a test?”

“No,” I said.

“Why?” I can learn exactly how to do it in just a few hours,” he paused. “Particularly if I have a guide for taking the test.”

“One thing,” I said.


“Experts tell me it takes four years, a great deal of supplemental learning, practice, and considerable experience combined with contemplation to know what to do if something goes wrong.”

“What could go wrong?”