Sunday, September 29, 2013


C.W. is worrying me to death with questions. Actually, I’m already worried to death about my country and he is increasing the burden. At least I can say he has chosen a serious shape in which to torment me. He calls himself Vic the Veteran, and appeared in full uniform.

“Tell me,” he said when he first appeared and interfered with my solitude. “How does your species go about elected its leaders?”

“You know perfectly well,” I said. “We’ve been through this before.”

He thought for a moment, a practice that is quite unusual for him.

“No,” he said. “I mean where do the candidates come from?”

“From the people,” I said. “From where do you think they come?”

“Judging from the actions of some,” he said. “from the darkest corner of what your religious folk call Hell.”

“I’m sure they would disagree with you,” I said. “They are quite certain that they are doing the Lord’s work.”

“By starving the poor and neglecting the sick and wounded?”

“They think that makes them stronger.”

“Themselves or the poor and sick among us?”

“Both, I suppose.”

“There you go again,” he said. “Now tell me, is there a Perwhoppacruci Office in your government?”

“A what?”

“An office that punishes those who say things which indicate being slow of mind.”

“You mean those who say stupid things?”

“As I just said.”

“No. Do they punish Falloonians who say stupid things?”

“Yes. They must clean the Clistacitrd stalls on during their time off from studies and mind expansion.”

“That’s bad?”

“You don’t even want to know.”

“Oh,” I said.

“So back to this habit of saying that which is ridiculous,” he said. “It permits one of our military officers to say ‘The only way to save that village was to destroy’ and not be chastised for it?”

“We don’t chastise ourselves for saying dumb things.”

“Someone could get away with ‘One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is to be prepared.'''


“As the rich get richer, money will trickle down to the poor?”


''Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.'' 


“We are going to have peace, even if we have to fight for it?”

“Quite so.”

''When the President does it, that means it's not illegal.''

“Oh yes.”

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."

“We elected that one twice.”

“And,” he said. “he is the father of my personal favorite.”

“Which is?”

“Facts are stupid things.”

Why is it that the youngest among your
species is often the most prescient? - C.W. 
“Stop it,” I said. “You’re about to make me laugh and this is not a time for jollity.”
“Oh no?”

“No. A group of the worst of those among us are about to shut our government down and perhaps destroy our economy.”

“And you are not laughing?”

“Of course not.”

“That’s odd,” he said.

“What’s so odd about it?”

“Oh,” he said. “It’s just that your species has kept us Falloonians and the rest of the galaxy in stitches for years.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013


We were in the midst of one of our marathon question and answer sessions. They wear me out, but it’s what C.W. is here for so I can’t avoid them. When he appears as the Prudent Student, complete with thick-lensed eyeglass, a backpack and a shirt pocket full of pens of every color imaginable, I know I’m in for it.

We had already covered the subject of paying a football coach whose team loses games a salary in excess of $3million a year, why we place such emphasis on winning, and why we seem to be phasing science out of our high school curricula. He was getting exasperated and I was becoming despondent.

“Now,” he said as he selected a purple pen from his pocket and poised it over his notepad. “tell me about this new decision by members of your congress to quit funding the bringing down of one's foot heavily on food.”

“Say what?”

“Don’t you read your newspapers?”

“Not always. It scares me and I can’t sleep.”

“Hmmm,” he said and he made a note on the pad.

“A foot? On food?” I said.

“It’s all over the news. Your state’s four congressmen just voted to cut funding for it.”

“Do you mean ‘the stamping’ of food?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

“You need to adjust your Galactic Universal Translator again," I said. "It is undependable.”

“I trust my GUT,” he said.

I rolled over laughing. He falls for it every time.

“What?” he said.

“I think you are talking about food stamps,” I said.

“Precisely,” he said. “Now why do your congressmen find them so repugnant?”

“I dunno,” I said. “Someone told them to, I suppose.”

“Aren’t they designed to help the poor and, how do you say it … the ‘least of those’ among you?”

“The congressmen?”

“No. Food stamps. Please be serious.” He was getting testy now so I focused on the question.”

“That is exactly what food stamps are designed to do. Help the poor.”

“So,” he said taking notes again. “if I am a mother of three children whose husband suddenly departs the scene by accident or choice, and I am, how do you say it … ‘without the basic necessities of life’ …”?


“Of course. So I am one for whom food stamps are intended.”

“One of the types, yes.”

“Or, say,” he said. “that I am a father who is stricken with a sudden illness and can no longer earn money to feed my family. I might rely on this expression of love and support from my fellow humans?”

“Something like that.”

“Perhaps I am the brother of a man who is killed along with his wife in a terrible accident and I take in his children and need help feeding them.”

“Society to the rescue,” I said.

“A damaged veteran of one of your many wars?”


“Children of your so-called Mississippi River delta who cannot escape their poverty?”

It seems to me that what your species needs
is a philosophy that teaches love for the poor. - C.W.
“Can we talk about something else?”

“One more question please.”


“These congressmen of yours … they made this decision while well-fed and comfortable?”

“Quite so.”

Rarely does C.W. shift shapes in my presence, but this was one of those times. As I watched, he changed from a bright-eyed student into a tired old man. When the change was complete, he looked at me and I’ll swear that I saw a long line of tired and hungry people marching across his face.

“I have much to learn about your species,” he said. “I only hope my heart can stand it.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


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Sunday, September 15, 2013

167. Explanations

“Look here Big Dope, you’ve got to help,” C.W. was saying. “I’ve got some explaining to do.” He reached and grabbed a strand of grass and began to chew on it. We were walking around our farm checking the fences and getting some exercise on the first nice day of early fall. He had assumed the form a hick farmer, complete with a depression-era straw hat and overalls.

I was hoping nobody was watching us. “What do you have to explain now?” I asked.

“A bunch of stuff,” he said, pointing the stalk of grass at me. “The Elder Council on Falloonia is considering recalling me.”

“Recalling you? What have you done?”

“It ain’t me,” he said. He reached down and pick up a dried segment of cow manure and held it up for inspection. He eyed it carefully and seemed about to take a bite of it.

“Put that down,” I said.

He sailed it across the pasture like a flying saucer. “It’s your species,” he said. “Your behavior has them stupefied as with alcoholic drink.”


“That’s what I said. It confuses me when you repeat my words.”

I sighed. “So what have we done now?”

“Where do I start?” he said. He stripped a small branch from a gum tree and began to swish it through the air. “What about this tendency some of you have to vote for individuals to run the government who hate the government?”

“Not all of us do.”

“Enough to arouse galactic curiosity.”

“I see. Anything else?”

“There is this thing called ‘The Prosperity Gospel’ that has some elders scratching all three of their heads.”

“Three heads? You have three heads in your natural form?”

He stopped and turned. “Forget I said that. I was just speaking  in the nature of or involving a figure of speech, especially a metaphor.”

“You may have been speaking figuratively but you distinctly said that Falloonians have three heads.” I giggled.

“I’ll be in trouble if this gets out,” he said.

I couldn’t stop laughing. “What do you call yours? Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod?”

“This isn’t funny,” he said.

More laughter. “Moe, Larry, and Curly?”

“Stop it,” he said, swinging his gum tree branch at me.”

“I know,” I said. “The Fadduh, the Son, and the Gallactic Ghost.”  I was practically rolling. I stopped laughing when he spun around and stalked away. I ran after him. “I sorry,” I said. “Go ahead and tell me about your troubles with our religious doctrine.” He slowed down and let me join him.

There are three things about your species that worry me:
- Your inability to think in linear fashion,
-Your complete lack of logic in making decisions, and
- Your disregard for the rational method. - C.W/
“We wonder,” he said. “How your thoughts get around the inconsistencies of preaching wealth from the teachings of a prophet who despised riches.”

At this moment, the Dark One himself must have invaded me. “Which one wonders,” I said, “Huey, Dewey, or Louie?” I doubled over laughing.

This time he did stalk away. As he did, he yelled back at me. “Go ahead and laugh. Then you can explain why a man wearing a twenty-five thousand dollar watch preaches the gospel of a man who never even had a home to live in.”

“Wait, Athos,” I yelled after him. “Porthos and Aramis are coming.”

Some travels with the Alien are more fun than others.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

166. Logic

I love it when C.W. does his Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich thing. (Yeah that was her real name). That is I love it except when he (she) tries to light up. That’s a no-no and we both know it.

Anyway, she comes in and takes an elegant position on the couch while I’m trying to pay some bills, so the distraction is welcome. She was attired in her famous pant-suit outfit and her dark eyes sparkled. I felt chills.

“I’m bushed,” she said.

“Oh? From what?”

“From tinkink,” C.W. has her precious accent down perfectly.

“Thinking what?”

“Vy your speeshies has such problems vis logic.” She reached for a cigarette but I waved it off. She made a pouting face. “Vee invented logic you know. Vee Germans. Your people.”

“I thought it was the Greeks.”

“Oh, zem,” she said. “That vas not logic. It vas simply complex tinkink.”

“Oh,” I said. “So what has you so tangled up in logic today?”

“Vell,” she said. “It concerns your concept of Zee Almighty.”

“The Almighty?”

“God, Jesus, vatever. I’m named after his girlfriend you know.”

I let that one pass. “So what has you concerned?”

“Haf you seen dis commercial, on your TV, about a lover-matching site on zee internet called ‘Christian Mingle?’”

“Once or twice. I don’t pay much attention since I made my match 41 years ago.”

“Vell,” she said. “You remember how it claims to allow you to ‘meet God’s match’ for you?”

“I seem to recall.”

“Do zey tink that Zee Almighty is zat hepless?”


“Yah. Hepless?”

“In vat, uh what way?” I said.

“Zat he, she, vichever you choose, couldn’t send zee proper match directly to a person?”

“I see,” I said. “Without the assistance of ‘pay to match’ company?”

“Yah. Egzacly.”

“Maybe The Almighty gets busy with some other things, like world hunger or our seemingly endless appetite for war.”

“And needs help makink sure vee marry zee right person?”

“I suppose.”

“But zee ad says that Zee Almighty sends zee person. Zat person must simply be routed through zee vebsite.”

“Well, it’s a cozy arrangement, I must say.”

“Does Zee Almighty get zee commission or zomezink?”

Now this would be a great visual
image of a superior being. - C.W.
I was growing weary. “Why don’t we leave the workings of The Almighty to The Almighty,” I said. “I have bills to pay.”

“One more zink,” she said.

“Okay,” I said. “What?”

“If Zee Almighty iz zo concerned about zame-zex attractions, vy not just make us all straight?” She leaned back and waited for my answer like a child waiting for her next birthday present.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I simply don’t know.”

With that, she stood, straightened her pants, shook her hair and wandered from the room singing “See what zee boys in zee backroom vill haf, and tell them I’m haffink zee same.”

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Small Victory in a Lost War

By Jimmie von Tungeln

            If the old woman hadn’t come on after the stripper, things might have started a little smoother. After all, who would want to follow a tall, dark Eurasian woman who took off nearly everything she had on in front of a thousand horny service men? And I do mean all she had on, except for a tiny strip of gauze—Tony Grant would claim the next day, “I swear I could see that bitch’s nipples from where I was sitting”—across her bosom and a triangular patch covering her “Forbidden Garden.” The USO waltzed out some weird acts back in those days, some deliberately designed, it seemed, to drive men crazy. The generals allowed it and then wondered why men were so hard to control out in the jungle.

            Anyway, the stripper was through and she wasn’t coming back out. It would have been dangerous, too much heat and too much beer. This was an enlisted men’s club in the I-Corp and not a gentleman’s joint in Manhattan. The next act better damn sure be a good one though. Feelings were running high. A half-decent rock and roll band would have been nice, anyone who could do a passable version of the Vietnam Vets’ National Anthem—“We’ve Got To Get Out of This Place.

            But no. Out walks this tiny woman of indeterminate age, at least fifty, in a long sequined black dress that fell from her tiny shoulders almost to the floor. Her hair was clipped short and showed some signs of gray. Cheap-looking ear rings hung nearly to her shoulders. Her makeup looked as if it had been applied by a first-week beauty school student. Christ almighty!

Tiny and aged as she was, though, she had spunk. She walked up to the mike like she was at Carnegie Hall and waited for her piano player to get seated. The place was quiet for a moment, from sheer disbelief I suspect.

            Then the rumbling started and you could here someone yelling for the stripper to come back out. I heard a grunt scream, “Get that old bag out of here.”

            The shouts of disapproval were so loud that only those in the first couple of rows could hear her when she said, “I know I can’t compete with that last act. I only know a few old songs, some Irish and some not. Maybe you’ll enjoy one or two of them.”

            With that, the piano hit a strong, commanding chord, and from that frail tiny body soared a sound so linear and pure that one could imagine it piercing the back wall of the club and flying straight into the jungle and beyond.”

Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
My Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.”

The sounds emerging from that ancient (to us at least, young fools that we were) face were so strange and haunting that those nearest the stage hushed immediately and this allowed the full force of her voice to carry further.

“Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And l'd give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.”

A wave of silence undulated across the room as the voice filled it with an assurance formed, no doubt, by many years of knocking about places with forgettable names and long-forgotten faces.

One never knows what to expect, does one? -C.W.
"Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby.

            By this time her voice was challenged only by the soft movement of hands moving cans of beer and heads turning to watch. She finished the song and, in perfect timing, the piano player led her into “My Wild Irish Rose.” A few in the crowd began to move with the music. Some even hummed along with the song.  She finished it and looked at the crowd and smiled. It was sort of an impish smile if you can imagine. Then she dropped a shoulder, thrust a bony hip toward us and pointed a blue-veined foot directly at those in the front row.

“I hate to see, that evening sun go down.”

            The piano player supported her with a sweeping blues chord and she was off. Somehow she didn’t seem as old as she had when she started. The crowd just watched in disbelieving approval. She finished this number and than stopped and looked us over as if to say, “What do you think now, boys?”

Now these weren’t college boys or Irish rovers. Twenty-four hours earlier some of them had been killing Viet Cong, unsuspecting villagers, or water buffaloes—anything that got in their way. But their minds sure weren’t on killing now. The applause started in the front and moved over us like a rolling artillery barrage. The building shook like it might fall at any moment. She just kept singing.

            Who can remember what all she performed that night? It seemed over before it started. Each time she finished a song, the room erupted and hundreds of beer cans pounded on tables. As she came out for her third encore, she thanked us and we knew we would never hear her sing again. Those USO shows moved around quickly and we were only there for “365 and a wake-up.”

            “I’ll leave you with this, for that special one back home,” she said and looked at the floor as if it had some secret message written on it. Raising her head, she looked at each one of us and smiled.

            “I’ll be seeing you,” she sang.

            “In all those old familiar places.”

            You didn’t dare look around at a goddam soul for you knew you were about to start bawling and then they would too. We couldn’t cry, though. Hell, we were supposed to be killers. And tomorrow we might be. Not tonight, though. Tonight we were just a bunch of homesick boys enjoying a moment of peace in a world that seemed to have forgotten about us.

In that small cafe …that park across the way…

Life does have its moments, and I’ve never forgotten that one.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

165. Civility

It always brings me mixed emotions when C.W. appears in his favorite form. Yes, I mean Lucky and Lefty, the conjoined twins. Their funny way of walking amuses me and this recent time proved no exception. I was resting under a tree from the summer heat when I saw them coming. It took awhile to reach me as they, as usual, would stop every 20 steps or so and spin in circles for a few seconds changing directions each time.

When they finally reached me, Lucky was complaining about the heat. “Goddam planet is like Venus this time of year.”

“Now Lucky,” Lefty said, “Remember...”

“Why don’t you blow it out our …,” he said, then caught himself. “Of course you are right, brother of mine. I forgot.”

“It’s only natural,” Lefty said. “It must strain your little half of our brains to remember anything.” Then he too, seemed to catch himself as Lucky turned his head quickly in his direction. “Ooops.”

“I would certainly think so,” Lucky said. “We each must be more diligent.”

“Quite so,” said Lefty, smiling toward Lucky.

“Peace be with you,” Lucky said.

“And with you,” Lefty said.

I groaned. “What the hell?”

“Pray be nice to us, Big Dope,” Lucky said.

“Now brother,” Lefty said.

“Oh yes,” Lucky said, looking toward me. “Mr. Big Dope.”

“Fellers,” I said.

“Yes?” They answered in unison.

“Mind letting me in on your secret? Or joke? Or whatever?”

“Why, what can you mean, dear friend?” Lucky said.

“We are your friends, aren’t we?” Lefty said.

“And what has brought about this sudden burst of nicety? I thought you guys despised one another.”

“Us?” Lucky said in mock surprise.

“Yes you. What’s up?”

“If you must know,” Lefty said. “We are trying to set an example.”

“A good example,” Lucky said.

“A good example of what? Hypocrisy?”

“Oh dear friend, you don’t really mean that,” Lefty said.

“Okay,” I said. “You are trying to play nice. Why?”

“We are concerned,” Lucky said.

“He’s concerned. I’m alarmed,” Lefty said.


“The current lack of civility among your species,” Lucky said.

“I see,” I said. The fog was beginning to lift.

“The Falloonian Elders are deeply bothered that your government is planning another shomachocratask” Lefty said.

“Another what?”

“Another war adventure” Lucky said.

“So you are proposing?”

“A world-wide week of civility,” Lefty said, beaming.


“Yes,” Lucky said. “Civility, Everyone must be nice to everyone else for a week.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Have you ever seen an old movie called ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still?” Lefty said.


“What would you do if we told you that it was more accurate than you could possibly imagine?” Lucky said.
My earthling friends, you can't imagine the
consequences of this pervasive hostility. - C.W.

“I would be nice to everyone for a week.”

“Our brother,” Lefty said and they held out all four hands.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Would I have to be nice to the ‘pistol slappers’ as well?”

“If you are referring to our dear cosmic kinfolks, the Second Amendment Enthusiasts, then yes it would,” Lucky said.

I didn’t answer.

“Now go forth and sin no more,” Lucky said.

With that, they left me struggling with conflicting emotions as I watched them walk away, stopping every few steps to spin in a circle, first in one direction, then the other.