Sunday, June 28, 2015

258. Strange

C.W. actually asked for my help yesterday. I was taking a break from working outside in the summer heat (he had declined to assist—claiming an important deadline). In walks this … person I suppose, looking every bit like a rodeo clown.

“I’m stuck,” he said. “Like a pig playing the Paganini Violin Concerto, I find my fingers unequal to the defined piece of work, sometimes of short or limited duration.”

“You mean ‘unequal to the task?’”

“That’s exactly what I said. You have this problem with your Universal Decoder Device and Receiver.” He gave what appeared to be a sigh. “Your species always has UDDER problems.”

“So what kind of help do you need?” I said, ignoring him.

“I’m making a report to the Falloonian Elders.”


“There are some things I just can’t explain to them. Perhaps you could help.”

“Such as?”

He pulled a sheet from a pocket of his baggy pants and read from it. “This rich man with the funny hair,” he said, “who says he is running for president.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Explain please.”

“I can’t,” I said, “and neither can anyone else. Don’t you have abnormalities like him in Falloonia?”

He looked at me and thought. “Don’t be silly,” he said. “I’m serious.”

“What’s your next one?”

He read. “These followers of a religious figure who said, ‘Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers, …”


“And what?”

“What happened? Now they are saying “Blessed are the rich, you burn in hell, and let’s all go to war.”

“I don’t know. Maybe they changed their minds, some of them.”

“Strange species,” he said. “And speaking of that religion …”

Oh no.

He continued, “It seems to particularly glorify a king who wanted to gubmpinnicht with his best friend’s wife.”

I leave it to the reader to understand the meaning of that Falloonian word.

I prepared for the worst. “Yes?”

“So he sends his best friend to be killed in order to clear the path to the boudoir, so to speak.”

I shrugged.

“Strange standards for a religious icon,” he said. “How do I explain that?”

“What do you have next?”

“Explain to me the act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite or desire, especially for alcoholic drink or sexual intercourse.”

“You mean abstinence?”

“There you go repeating me again. Should I have a look at your UDDER?”

“No,” I said, “I think you best leave my UDDER alone.”

“I do that, you know.”

“Do what?”

“Check UDDERs. I’ve advertised my services and everything.”

“Have you …,” I struggled for words, “gotten any business yet?”

“Not a bit,” he said, “and that is very strange. Can you explain that?”

“Uh, no,” I said. “Now what is this about abstinence?”

“Why do you want young girls to avoid reproductive activities?”

“Oh,” I said, finally feeling I might help him. “We believe young unmarried women may not be physically, financially, or psychologically prepared for motherhood without the help of a loving mate.”

“You want them to marry first?”

“Well,” I said, “we think it is a safer route for young girls to mature and marry before having children. It’s more a guideline than a rule.” I looked for recognition of this humorous allusion. I saw none.

“So you actually teach it—abstinence—as the cure.”

“Some advocate teaching it, yes.”

“They believe that pure strength of will can counteract an urge created by five billion years of natural selection?”

Sad to say, the Falloonian Elders seem
to view your species this way at times. - C.W.
“Yes.” It came out a little weak.

“And how is it working?”

“Not too well.”

“Maybe it would work better,” he said, “if your species selected, as one to spearhead your efforts, a person other than a young, inexperienced, uneducated and uninformed person who, herself, is now working on a second example of the failure of abstinence only.”

“C.W.,” I said, “where are you coming up with these examples.”

“From your most reliable national database.”

“Our what?”

“The thing you call ‘VisageDocument.'”

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

257. Writing

It is uncertain as to whether I have mentioned this, but C.W. exhibits a tendency toward imitation. I think it is part of the training he received on Falloonia prior to coming here. Anyway, he sometimes goes to great lengths to imitate things he sees Earthlings do.

For example: he remains impressed by the fact that I have written a book and am on the verge of completing another. Evidently, reading is considered an admirable pastime on his home planet.

"How would a species that doesn't read ever expect to explore our marvelous galaxy?" he says. Good point.

So it was no surprise when I caught him, or at least him as Johnny Ray, the adolescent student, busily blasting away at my computer and muttering to himself.

"There you go," he said to the computer, "thrust it in and rotate. That'll make her scream. She loves it."

"C.W.," I said, yelling to get his attention. "What are you doing? Mrs. V can hear you."

"Now she's moaning," he said, ignoring me. "You got her motor purring now. She'll take you anywhere you want. Oh baby, baby."

"Johnny Ray, " I said. "Stop it."

That finally got his attention. He evidently wasn't answering to "C.W." today.

"Wait one," he said, "This gal is hot and ready to go."

"Stop it," I said. "What are you doing."

He finally looked up at me. "Writing," was all he said.

"I can see that," I said, "but what are you writing?"

"A novel."

"About what?"

"A time machine," he said. "It's creator has just inserted the rod that energizes its engine and it is becoming operational."

I covered my face with my hands. "And where did you get the idea for a novel? And what is it about, other than a time machine?"

"From reading the news," he said, "and it is about victors and victims."

"As in?"

He leaned back and smiled. "It's about the future."

"I thought that might be the case," I said. "What about the future?"

"It's like this," he said. "The powerful class has eliminated education and intellectual curiosity from among the victim class."

"Now where did you get that idea?"

He ignored me and continued. "And they have created a race that just prances around clueless all day, never questioning their fate or purpose, totally trusting in a mysterious higher power."


"The power class becomes so depraved from all that unrestrained power that they even hate the illuminating power of sunlight and have taken to living underground."

"I see," I said. "Would you be interested ..."

He interrupted me. "That's not the best part."


"No, the ruling demons feast on the helpless above-grounders, since food can't grow underground. It's a metaphor for symbiotic relationships among the classes: pleasure and sustenance and all that. Bound to be a best-seller." He leaned back and crossed his arms.

"I hate to tell you that it's already been done," I said.

"What, taking education from the masses, disempowering them, and devouring them?"

"Well," I said, "we'll talk about that later. What I mean is ... that book has been written."

"It's what?"

"Afraid so, by a man named H.G. Wells, back in the late 1800s."

Earthlings need to remember that their
future rests completely in their hands. - C.W.
His face fell. "Drats," was all he said.

"Sorry," I said.

"No sweat," he said. "I have a backup plan."


"Yeah. A novel about a bunch of animals with no moral foundation other than self-enrichment taking over your farm and running it."

"Oh," I said, "that sounds like a good one. Go for it."

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

256. Taxes

Hopping mad isn't the word for it. C.W. is apoplectic. And why?
"Taxes," he said, screaming at me when he came in to the room. "What's this deal about taxes?"
He looked a lot like one of those political candidates we've been seeing so much of lately. I didn't know what to say. "What kind of taxes?"
"This thing called sales tax," he said. "It is showing complete lack of thought or common sense."
"Isn't that what I said."
"I guess," I said. "But what has you so upset about sales tax?"
"I thought," he said, "that I had almost enough to pay for my new computer."
"The salesman told me how much it would be with sales tax included."
"We've go to sell some more ads and books."
"The story of our lives," I said.
"Whose idea was this sales tax caper," he said. "Some college professor?"
"Actually no," I said. "Those in academics think it is a cruel tax. They call it regressive."
"Because everyone pays the same amount, no matter how rich or poor they are."
"If they don't like it," he said, "why do we have it?"
"It's the most popular tax with the people," I said. "It's easier to enact."
"You've got to be kidding," he said.
"No, really. Rich people like it for obvious reasons. Poor people like it because they don't notice paying it since it is taken in small amounts, and they aren't able to buy as much anyway."
"No wonder," he said. Then he looked at me with his most serious face. "Your species has a one-way ticket to Palookaville," he said. "You know this don't you?" (We've been watching some old Brando films lately). Don't ask.
"You may be right," I said.
"So you're telling me," he said, "that if I buy a computer and that Walton woman ... what's her name?"
"Yeah," he said, "the rich one. So she and I pay the same tax if we buy the same computer?"
"Uh, yes,"  said.
"But she could buy a computer factory easier than I could buy a computer."
"It gets worse," I said.
"How so?"
"If she bought a computer factory, the government would give her money."
"Tosttigadumfulsindicher," he said. That's a Falloonian term meaning ... well maybe it's best I don't tell you what it means. Let's just say it isn't a nice term.
He wasn't finished. "So one of these rich farm corporations around here would pay the same sales tax on a computer as I do?"
"It gets worse," I said."
Big Dope thinks this is funny but I don't. - C.W.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015


Oh my goodness … the Alien C.W. has locked himself in his room and won’t come out. “Because of the news,” he says. He swears we must be manufacturing the news, much like The Onion or that Fox Channel. “Everyone is doing it now,“ he says.

I can’t tell what shape he has assumed this morning. It sounds a lot like the character of “The Beaver” on the old TV series.

I tried reasoning with him. “Come on out, and let’s talk about it,” I said.

“Go away,” he said. “I’m sick of earthlings.”

“Whatchew mean?” I said in a feeble attempt at humor.

“Are you pretending to be African-American?” he said.

Oops. Not a good approach. I tried another. “Let’s go for a walk with our neighbor George,” I said. “He wants to come over.”

“Did you say, ‘He wants a comb-over,’ like that comedian in New York?”

“Uh, … what comedian in New York?”

“The one pretending to be running for President.”

Oops, again. Another poor choice.

“Oh come on,” I said. “Let’s go out for a cup of coffee.”

“I’m afraid someone will shoot me if I go into a coffee shop.” I distinctly heard him sniff, then say, “It ain’t safe for a man out there.”

“Then change to a woman.”

“Like that athlete did?” he said. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“You’re really upset, aren’t you?”

“Are you seriously asking me that? There isn’t a country on a planet in a galaxy in this universe that could think up the crazy things that your news reports. I want to go back to Falloonia.”

“Look,” I said, “maybe you need some quiet time. Let’s go sit in the church down the street for a while and meditate on things.”

“Ooow,’ he said. “A church? Haven’t you seen what just happened in Charleston?

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

254. Flags

Yesterday proved surprisingly contemplative for C.W. We agreed to let him go with us to a Flag Day celebration at a park across the street from our condo. We prefaced this with a long talk. The faithful reader will understand. C.W. doesn’t always behave at public functions. Remember the time he snuck off and rolled a soccer ball painted to look like a human head down the steps from the top of the pyramid at Chichén Itzá? This time he gave us his “declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen,” as he put it, straight from his GUT. (Galactic Universal Translator)

So we took him at his “word” and let him go with us. A wind symphony presented an hour of stirring patriotic music as a troop of Boy Scouts distributed free ice cream and flags. Kids frolicked, flags waved, and the band played on. All in attendance enjoyed themselves.

Afterwards, he and I had a quiet moment on our balcony overlooking the city, he in his most faithful Norman Rockwell form and me as, well … just me. We each enjoyed a cigar, which he has taken to relishing, and I enjoyed a glass of wine, which makes him nauseated.

“You know,” he said, blowing a cloud of smoke toward a peaceful city, “your species never ceases to amaze and confuse me.”

“How so?”

“Every time I am forced to file a report to the Falloonian Elders implying that the time for the dompetallendich of your species, a time like this comes along.”

Oh dear. That’s a Falloonian word for final solution that you, dear reader, don’t even want to know about. “Please,” I said, “the ladies might hear you.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “I think events of late have redeemed you for a while, despite those horrible political candidates you are breeding.”

“How so?” I was most anxious to change the subject.

“Did you see the enthusiasm for your country that people expressed?”

I nodded.

“Enthusiasm,” he said, “generated only by the comradeship of a crowd and the effects of music.”

“Amazing, isn’t it?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “and this only a few days since all those remembrances of the brave young men storming ashore on the beaches of France, willing to face annihilation to rid the world of the dark forces that had emerged on your planet.”

“That was one of our finest moments,” I said.

“We’ve also remember in June,” he said in a somber tone, “some people of your country who gave their lives in seeking civil rights for your brothers and sisters of color, including Medgar Evers, James Chaney, AndrewGoodman and Michael Schwerner.”

“Quite so,” I said.

“Did you know,” he said, “that your country began the so- called Berlin Airlift’ in June, 1947, saving hundreds of thousand German citizens from starvation?”

Please remember, Earthling friends, that your flag flies
 over all your actions, both the just and the unjust - C.W.
“Of course,” I said, squirming a bit. “everyone knows about that.”

“The Civil Rights Act, women’s suffrage, the care of your poor and elderly, the moon landing, the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the MarshallPlan, and the Emancipation Proclamation,” he said, “not to mention the stand by the brave few on Cemetery Ridge that spelled the end of the dark forces of slavery in your country.” He paused for a breath, and said, “I’m glad old John Adams did it.”

“Did what?” I said, still stuck on thoughts of Gettysburg.

“Got his resolution passed on June 14, 1777. Don’t you read history?”

“Uh, yes,” I said, “but I forget at my age. What resolution was that?”

“Dope,” he said, "...that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

“Oh yeah,” I said. “That one.” I took a sip of wine and he blew cigar smoke toward me.

“Your flag means something to an alien visitor,” he said.

“And what is that?”

“It means your country can be a great one,” he said, adding, “When it wants to.”

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mid-week Musings

Dear Friends and Followers:

Big Dope is doing outside things so I have borrowed his computer (still saving for my own) and will offer a few observations of your rather odd, at times, culture.

I notice where the Attorney General of your state who, if I remember, ran on the platform that she would shoot people more readily than her opponent, offered some insight on one's right to "pack heat" openly, as Big Dope describes it. She says it is fine unless you intend, with your openly displayed weapon, to hurt someone or commit a crime. I'm confused. Why else would anyone want to strap a loaded weapon on their hip? They aren't particularly attractive. Big Dope says it is complicated and involves the size of certain organs, the level of paranoia, grandiose thinking, and a dramatic lack of understanding about one's ability to fire a weapon under pressure. He points out that a trained police office once, in a highly sensational incident on the University of Texas campus, emptied a six-shot revolver at a sniper from 50 feet away and never hit him even once. Oh well. I'll not report this to the Falloonian Elders because they wouldn't believe it anyway.

Then I read where a couple is planning to get a divorce because their country is going to recognize marriages between two consenting adults of the same sex. Seems it offends their religious sensitivity as followers of Jesus Christ. Now ... I haven't been able find in any translation where the figure of Jesus, whether one accepts him as literary or spiritual, said anything about same-sex marital situations. He was, however, from my casual reading, real clear about getting divorced as stated in your Book of Matthew: "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." I submit this couple has their spiritual cognizance in complete disarray.

Now I see where your military branch has lost over a trillion dollars that can't be accounted for. That's a lot of money and they still want more. I heard one of you politicians say one time that your government ought to be run like one would run a business. Not only is that belief bizarre on its surface, it seems to me igovernment ought to be run more like a family's operation. Any teenager losing a relative amount like that would probably have her or his allowance cut.

Well, I see BD coming back, so I won't have time to get into your lack of understanding of the concept of the limits of exponential growth. Maybe next time if they don't pave over the city for freeway lanes.

You seem to think somehow that
you can just keep building them forever. - C.W.


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Sunday, June 7, 2015

253. Longings

Oh no. It was happening. On a sleepy early spring day, C.W. was homesick. He gets that way every couple of months when he starts thinking about his native planet of Falloonia. He assumes the shape and demeanor of a pretty young girl of thirteen or so with sad eyes and a look of longing to be somewhere far away. He, she, lounges aimlessly on the couch and won’t eat, read, or even watch TV, all odd behavior for a teenaged girl.

That’s not the worst part.

 He yodels.

Yes, yodels. He says it is the closest thing on earth we have to what Falloonians call music. Any dogs that may be hanging around flee the moment he assumes this mood. My wife locks herself away. We’ve actually had neighbors call to see if someone is having a seizure.

Sometimes, not always, I can tease him out of his mood by discussing current affairs. So, on this day, I gave it a try. In between yodeling episodes, I interjected a question.

“Been keeping up with the news?”

“It’s all, like, boring,” he said. Then he let loose with a shrill vibrato that bounced around the room like musical marbles.

“But what,” I said during a brief break, “about the man in the news who admitted to molesting his sisters and some other young girls when he was a teenager?”

The yodeling stopped.

“He what?”

“He sexually molested young girls.”

“Like me?”

“Well,” I said, “like what you appear to be at this moment.”

He shook his head and a long, blond pigtail swung into his face. “What does that mean, ‘he molested them’ anyway? It, like, sounds creepy.” He drew a breath to begin yodeling again.

Quickly, I said. “It means that he touched them in places that were inappropriate for him to, uh, touch them.”

“On their heads?”

Oh, I forgot to tell you that, in the Falloonian culture, it is considered a grave insult to touch one of the heads of another creature.

“Oh no,” I said. “They weren’t Falloonian girls.”

“Where then. On their gudascnifamoor++?

“You know our species doesn’t have those. We detect smells through our noses.”

“Oh,” he said, “I, like, forgot.”

“No,” I said, “he touched them where their mammary glands will be when they mature, and where they will produce babies.”

There was a long silence, then, “Euuueew.”

“Quite so,” I said.

He looked down and crossed his legs, smoothing his dress and scooting back on the couch. He eyed me with a look of suspicion I had never witnessed from him. “I thought,” he said, “that was considered, like, a crime in your culture.”

“Oh, it is,” I said. “It is.”

“So the perpetrator is in jail now?”

“Uh, no,” I said.

He began to yodel again.

Sometimes I just don't understand
the human species. - C.W.
“But,” I said, interrupting him in mid screech, “he did lose his job.”

The yodeling stopped. “What job?”

“He had this high-paying job with a group that exists to teach us proper moral behavior.”

He started yodeling again, this time with more enthusiasm.

“And,” I said, “apparently he was given a stern talking to.”

“Was he, like, painted bright orange and driven from the tribe with ‘ribbons of remorse’ draped around him?”

“Not exactly,” I said. “We don’t follow that tradition on this planet. His tribe blamed the whole thing on the girls.”

This time I knew there was no stopping the yodeling, so I joined the dogs outside.

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