Sunday, November 29, 2015

296. Acting

“Well then there now,” C.W. said and I groaned. He was in his “James Dean” mode and you know what that means.

Oh, you don’t?

It happens every time he watches Giant or Rebel Without a Cause. He walks around all day in a red windbreaker and mumbles lines from movies of the 1950s. On this day, I had about one nerve left and it was waiting for him to get on it. It was raining and we had been locked up with him for more than 48 hours. My wife had chased him out of the kitchen with a knife, so he escaped to where I was trying to read.

“Can I have some dirt too?”

“Why don’t you read a book?”

“You are the boss.”


“You know it too, don’t you?”

“C.W., you are not James Dean. He was an actor, and he is dead. You are an alien. Why don’t you come back to earth?”

“I’m rich, Big Dope,” he said. “I’m richer than all you sons of b…”

“Do you want to go outside in the rain and play? You have the whole farm.”

“Someday I might just put a fence around it,” he said. and call it Little Reata.”

With that, the James Dean, or Jett Rink, or whatever, persona, left him and he sat. “Tell me,” he said, “what is thing your species has with actors?”

I looked up. “What thing?”

“The way you worship them and all.”

“What do you mean worship them?”

“You hang on their every word,” he said. “Even when they aren’t acting.”

“They are popular,” I said.

“Some of them are incredibly dumb, too,” he said, “when they aren’t on script. Have you ever heard one during a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of a person from whom material is sought for a story?”

“They are about as good at interviews as political candidates,” I said, not knowing why I would choose to defend either politicians or actors.

“What about Mrs. Big Dope?”

This got my attention. “What about my wife, and don’t let her hear you call her that.”

“She worships them too.”


“Actors, at least one of them.”

“What makes you think that?”

“When you’re not here,” he said, “she puts a framed photograph of that actor ‘Matthew what’s his name’ on the counter while she cooks.”

“Maybe his picture makes her think of me.”

“And who does that picture of Big Bang’s Penny on your desktop remind you of?”

I changed the subject. “We just appreciate actors for their talent, that’s all.”

“So why does Mrs. Big Dope want us to become actors?”

This took me by surprise. “What makes you think she wants us to be actors?”

Now this fellow would turn a straight
 man gay in a New York second. - C.W.
“How many times have I heard her tell you to try and act your age?”

“Well …”

“To act like you’ve got some (expletive deleted) sense?”

“Uh …”

“To at least act like you care.”

“I …”

“To act like an adult.”

“Well what about you?”

“Haven’t you heard her ask me to act like I fell off a space ship instead of a watermelon truck?”

“Oh yeah,” I said.

“But do you want to guess what the most confusing one is?”


“It’s when she tells you to stop acting like a damned alien.”

“Come on,” I said. “It’s quit raining. Let’s go ‘Jett RinkWalking’ around the farm. You like doing that. And if we’re lucky, a deer hunter won’t shoot us.”

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Act of War

Found Big Dope napping today with this on his computer. Thought you might like it.
Your Friend,

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ask The Alien: Revenge

Dear Ask the Alien:
During Happy Hour the other evening, my wife revealed to me that there were some events in her life that she had never shared with me. This bothers me quite a bit for we have been married for what seems like a thousand years. And ... it makes me more convinced than ever that she threw away my "Slim Whitman" album years ago and it wasn't really the only item taken during a burglary like she claimed.
My question is this. Should I retaliate? She has a ZZ Top CD that she is extremely fond of.

Dear Vengeful:
No, I kinda like her ZZ ... uh ... oh ... I mean from the way you put it, she is a person of great patience and ability to plan long-term. If you ever intend to sleep all night again, I would counsel restraint. Of course you could buy a Jennifer Hudson CD and begin playing it at top volume, but I doubt if any jury would convict someone of murder as a means of avoiding such screeching. Best learn to appreciate "Gimme All Your Lovin'"
The Alien C.W.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

295. Clarity

His name is Furlough Thompson—Mayor Furlough Thompson. He was born in November of 1943 while his dad was in the United States Army, which may explain the unusual first name. He governs the small town of Potluck, Arkansas (population 1,236) and he delights in comforting me when I am afflicted and afflicting me when I am comfortable, as they say.

Actually, “he” is the Alien C.W. in one of his favorite shapes. He remains fascinated by the thought of my profession as an urban planner and delights in showing up as the Mayor on occasion to torment me, or as he terms it, “To hep yuh better understand thangs of an urban nature.”

At least that’s the way he explained his sudden appearance this week. When I questioned his assumption that a Mayor of a city of less than 2,000 souls was the place to start understanding urban issues, he had a quick response.

“Assumptions,” he said, leaning back in his chair. He is a tall man in his 70s, still maintaining a full head of brown hair. He ran a hand through it and repeated, “Assumptions,” he said. “Now you just take the first three letters of that word and think of BeyoncĂ© Giselle Knowles-Carter.”

“BeyoncĂ©?” I began to mouth the letters he had specified.

“As in, some are better’n others,” he said.

I stopped and didn’t say anything more.

“Now,” he said, “You have to understand that, as we say in in Potluck, ‘If a hound dog couldn’t howl, he might as well be a pig.’”

What could I say to that? You are correct, so I just listened.

“If you’re fixing to (editor’s note: i.e. if you plan to) be a consultant on urban thangs in the South, you’re a gonna have to work on your u-fer-isms.”
“My what?”

“Your u-fer-isms. Your,” here his expression changed, “use of a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”

That stumped me for a minute. Then understanding settled on me like peace on an Arkansas family that had just enjoyed a good “bate” of turnip greens.

“Do you mean euphemisms?”

“Ain’t that what I said?’

“Okay,” I said. “So give me an example.”

“You can’t keep telling folks they can’t have this or that ‘cause they don’t have the money and they might have to raise taxes.”

I just stared.

“You remember what happened last time?”

“Getaway cars are nice,” I said.

I simply love the way that your so-called
conservatives explain economics. - C.W.
“Revenue neutral,” he said. “That’s what you tell them. It has to be revenue neutral. That’s what your Governor says when he proposes something that the state can’t pay for and he won’t say you have to raise taxes to have it.”

“Revenue neutral. And that means?” I asked.

“That they can’t have it, somebody’s ox is fixin’ to get gored, or somebody's gonna have to crap money.”

“Hush,” I said. “My wife is in the next room.”

“And,” he said, “you can’t keep telling folks that their city won’t grow because their schools have too many n…”

“Stop it,” I said. “We don’t use that word here.”

“Non-whites attending classes,” he said, ignoring me again.

“So what must I say?”

“That it is a necessity these days to have a ‘good school system’ in order to grow your population.”

“A good school system,” I repeated.

“Yep,” he said. “Everybody knows what that means. And,” he said, “drop terms like neighborhood of concentrated sociological problems.”

“For what?”

“Inner city. They’ll understand, and know who you’re talkin’ about.”

“What about white flight?”

“Forced busing,” he said.
“Income inequality?”

“Takers and givers.”

“Ambivalence toward urban problems?”

“States’ rights.”

“Vestiges of past slavery?”

“Benefits of our national guest worker programs.”

I laid a trap. “Undocumented aliens?”

“I have papers,” he said. “Want to see them?”

I gave up. “I’ll bet,” I said, “you could find a term for child and spousal abuse.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “Do you mean a return to traditional family values?”

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

294. For The Least Of Those

C.W. was in a philosophical mood. I could tell because he was wearing this cap and gown he claims he received when awarded an honorary doctorate from some school I never heard of, the Ozark Mountain Graduate University. I suspect its credentials, since the gown has an ad for STP motor treatment on the front along with the school motto, Non Postulo Scio Usquam, which, best I can tell, means “You didn’t need to know it anyway.”

He was in the form of a middle-aged man with a flowing mustache carrying a pipe he would have been smoking save for the memories of my wife and the last time he did.

“I’ve been thinking how great your society is,” he said.

“That’s a switch,” I said, looking up from my computer. “You have been somewhat critical lately.”

“Ah,” he said, “but I’ve been conducting a study of how you maintain a statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need—your programs of ensuring health, safety, and prosperity for all.”

I thought long and hard. “Are you talking about welfare?”

“Yes,” he said, “the glory of your society: assistance to the needy and disadvantaged.”

“I hate to tell you this …”


“Some people don’t think so.”

“How could they not?”

“Some call it ‘taking’ and think one should be ashamed of seeking assistance.”

He stood up straight in his chair. “Horse flat growths forming the plumage of birds.”

“No horsefeathers. For real.”

“You’re telling me that some don’t believe in assistance to the least of those among you?”

“I’m telling you that some find it so distasteful that they want to force anyone seeking it to suffer the degradation of a drug test before receiving help. Peeing in a cup and all that.”

He thrust his unlighted pipe into his mouth and scanned a sheet. “Surely they don’t mean to include the 39 percent of children who receive assistance.”

“I think,” I said, “their motto is, ‘If you’re old enough to pee, we’ve got to see,’ and that’s it.”

“That’s a lot of urine,” he said. Then he laughed.

“What’s funny about that?”

“Oh nothing,” he said, pointing at the school motto on his gown. “I was just how some of our instructors use words like ‘youren’ and ‘oursen.’ It’s real folksy.”

I was glad to see his mind distracted and, perhaps, moving away from this topic.

“Oh my goodness,” he said as he grabbed his pipe.

“What’s wrong?”

“Children,” he said. “What about the elderly?”

“Along with the children.”

“The disabled.”

“We pay. You pee.”

“Is this what the man on TV meant by the word ‘takers’ that he almost seemed to spit out?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“So anyone receiving public benefits and not paying taxes to support them is a taker?”

“It would seem so,” I said.

“Holy urine sample,” he said.


“Churchgoers,” he said.

“What about them?”

He consulted a paper. “Oh my goodness,” he said.

“What. What?”

“Churches receive all public benefits, right?”

“That’s correct.”

“And don’t pay taxes for them?”


“Holy welfare,” he said, examining another sheet. “That’s 71 billion dollars a year for 60 million people.”

“If you say so.”

“Just consider the logistics,” he said.

“Of what?”

“Collecting all those samples.”

I had never thought about it and told him so.

“I guess those who offer communion could…” He stopped. “No. That wouldn’t work.”

I'm speechless in the contemplation. - C.W.
“No,” I said. “Why don’t we talk about something else?”

“Oh,” he said. “Those ‘Pay for Glory’ churches could have the samples turned in and collected with their donations.”

“I think Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer could afford to do that,” I said. “That takes care of part of the problem.”

“Not all, though,” he said. “I see some tough situations.”

“Like what?”

“Those churches up around where my university is located.” He pointed to his gown again.

“What about them?”

“They all handle rattlesnakes during their services.”


“I don’t think they would have a lot of urine left afterwards.”

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- C.W.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day Revisited

Here is a repeat of one of our most popular posts in honor of Veteran's Day.

There are times when C.W. can break your heart. I know, he broke mine this week when he appeared in his saddest form yet.

It was late when I answered a knock on my door. There stood an American soldier in the kind of Class A uniform they made military personnel wear in public back in the day.

I say American soldier. Truth be told, he looked more like a kid dressed up like a soldier. He said later he was 18 but could have easily passed for 16.

He was white, thin, and his skin seemed to glow with paleness from deep in his soul. His uniform, though impeccably arranged, hung from his frame like a sheet on a clothesline.

“What the h…,” I began.

“May I come in?” he said.


As he walked into the room in a slow, funereal gate, I observed him closely. His uniform sported a single PFC stripe and a black nametag that simply said “Armstrong.” The highly esteemed Combat Infantry Badge was pinned above a field of ribbons that seemed to weight him down. They included the two Vietnam service awards and a Purple Heart. Another badge identified him as a “Marksman.”

He stood until I offered him a seat whereupon he sat stiffly and stared at me.

“Your species behaves more strangely at some times than others,” he said, after straightening his trousers and checking his highly polished shoes. Then he stared softly into space.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Vietnam Veteran.”

”Vietnam casualty,” he said. “The last day of January, 1968.”

“The Tet Offensive.”

“I had been ‘in-country’ for two months,” he said. He picked a thread from the sleeve of his blouse. “And there were a great many places where I would have rather been.”


He nodded. “Twenty-five percent of us were.” He looked at me and cocked his head. “We accounted for 30.4 percent of the combat deaths.”

I said nothing.

“But that’s not why I am here,” he said.

“Why then?”

“Questions,” he said. “I see where the Supreme Court of your country is considering passing a law that the government can’t mandate that someone do something they don’t want to do.”

“Well, they don’t call it passing a law,” I said. “They call it …”

“I know,” said. “You love to play with words. As your famous writer William F. Buckley Jr. once observed, we could call the act of sodomy ‘following too closely’ but it wouldn’t change much.”

I looked at him closely for a glimpse of a smile but saw nothing but more sadness.

“So what is your question?” I asked.

“Why didn’t they come up with this before 1968?”

“I don’t know,” I said. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Seeking to change the subject, I nodded at his nametag.


“Of the Charleston, West Virginia Armstrongs,” he said. “Did you know our state had the highest percentage of combat deaths in Vietnam?”

Can't your species find something better
to rail against than health care? - C.W
“No,” I said.

“It’s true,” he said. Then stared away again. “They say that when Momma heard the news about me, she shouted and prayed all night long and, as long as she lived, she would tell anyone who would listen that they didn’t know what real sorrow was.”

As I say, he can break your heart.

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- C.W.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

293. Accountability

As much as C.W. annoys with his get rich schemes, he can worry one to death with what he calls “negative cognitivy pods.” Don’t look it up, it’s his translation of a Falloonian term for which we have no direct counterpart. It has to do with facets of American life that make no sense and would, as he puts it, be normally "forbidden by law, rule, or other authority.” We don’t prohibit them. We not only tolerate them, we laud them, and—at least some of us—profit from them.

We were walking along the riverfront in Little Rock. He was in a favored shape, a striking resemblance to the late broadcast giant Edward R. Murrow. He was enjoying favorite pastimes, testing my patience and flipping lighted cigarette butts at bicyclists, a practice that began when one yelled at him one day to “Get out of the (expletive deleted) way.” He had just sent one cascading over an embankment and landing in a wetlands lake.

“It’s this whole accountability thing,” he said. “Why do you suppose your species has abandoned the concept?”

“What makes you think we have abandoned the concept of accountability?”

He didn’t answer. He took a long drag from a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew the smoke from his nose.

“Why,” I said, “just the other day our legislature tried to pass a law requiring a woman wanting to protect her body first to have a long plastic probe thrust up her …”

He interrupted. “I’m not talking about women or children,” he said. “I’m talking about male and corporate humans.” He finished his cigarette and another cyclist left the sidewalk.

“Would you stop that?” I said. “You’re going to get us arrested and, besides, you’ll ruin your health.”

“I have health insurance, don’t I? Besides, I can disappear in an instant.”

I thrust my hand into my pockets and kept walking.

“Let me give you an example,” he said.

“Pray do,” I said.

“Your so-called ‘for-profit’ universities.”

“What about them?”

“It’s pretty much agreed that they provide no useful result, right?”

“So I understand.”

“But public programs allow young people to borrow vast sums of money to enroll in them.”

I began to see where he was going. “Yes,” I said. “Vast sums.”

“Sums which can’t be paid back.”

“Afraid so.”

“So are the alleged schools held accountable for non-payments?”

“No,” I said. “It’s the taxpayers eventually.”

“What about,” he said, “realtors and bankers who load young folks with mortgages they know can’t be paid. Then immediately sell those mortgages to avoid the consequences?”

“What about them?”

“Who pays the goods transported by truck, train, ship, or aircraft?”

“Society pays the freight,” I said, “and you need to get your Galactic Universal Translator adjusted. People aren’t going to understand you when you talk.”

“That’s their problem,” he said. “My GUT is fine. Now about this plastic probe …”


“It’s pretty much a punishment applied to a female for an indiscretion, right?”

I thought. “Yes, that’s right.”

“So, according to all the known laws of the Universe of which I am aware, it takes more than the female to create this indiscretion, right?”

“Correct,” I said.

“So is the plastic probe applied to the male half of the act as well?”

“Of course not.”

“So he has no restraints, from an accountability standpoint, to avoid the practice that causes the indiscretion?”

“No, no accountability whatsoever. So, you are correct, we have a problem with, with, … whatever.” To tell you the truth, I found myself distracted, for I was stuck with the image of that plastic probe. Then we walked by some youths playing a game, new to these parts, in which bags were tossed at holes in boxes with slanted fronts. I fought images, and we walked in silence for a while.

“So you do agree your species suffers from a negative cognitivity pod in this area of accountability?”

It seem to me that if you must have wars,
veterans should be honored more than
once a year. Just my opinion. - C.W.
“I tore my thoughts away from the children’s game. “Well, yes,” I said. “But it is our problem and shouldn’t concern the rest of the galaxy.”

He started to flip a cigarette butt, saw that the cyclist was a police officer, thought better of it, and handed it to me. For some distance, he didn’t speak. Then he turned to look at me in deep thought.

“Tell me,” he said. “Whose children does your country send to war these days?”

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Finally, buy Big Dope's book so he'll shut up about it.
- C.W.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Ask The Alien: Happy Confusion

Dear Ask the Alien:
My gorgeous wife has the cutest routine during a moment of intense emotional exuberance, actually when we are making love. She starts out by yelling “Oh Matthew, Oh Matthew,” then she goes into a mode I can’t describe herein. She ends by almost purring “Thank you Matthew,” in my ear and falling asleep. The experience is so wonderful that I find myself dreaming about it later. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, and have begun to look forward to it.
There’s only one drawback.
My name isn’t Matthew.
Should I worry or just keep enjoying the fun?

Dear Misnamed:
Are you kidding me? The worst possible scenario is that somewhere there is someone named Matthew who is getting a much worse deal than you are.
Your Friend,
The Alien C.W.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

292. Lies Are Us

“You’re what!”

“Calm down.”

“Look, how many get-rich schemes have you tried over the last five years?”

“This one is different.’

“In what way?”

“Give me a moment.”

“C.W.,” I said. “The fans and readers are getting sick of your ideas for making money.”

“There you go again. You’ve just proven my point.”

I felt stupid. I was talking to Richie, the Young Conservative, one of the Alien C.W.’s favorite shapes. “What point,” I said, “have I proven?”

“You just told a lie.”

“What lie?”

“You just introduced or worked in gradually that my fans are not loyal.”

“I insinuated that your fans are beginning to think you are insane and careless with the facts.”

“My point exactly.”

“What point?”

“That," he leaned back and smiled, “your species delights in using falsehoods for achieving their ends.”

I thought about if for a moment. Actually, he had a point. I considered all the ads I had seen proclaiming how Windows 10 was a step forward in human evolution. “But how,” I said, “are you going to make money from falsehoods?”

“By giving them away.”

“Say what?”

“Got you, didn’t I? Of course I won’t give them away. I’ll just pretend to. Haven’t you ever heard of a Love Offering?”

My head was spinning. To whom will you sell, give away, or whatever, lies?”

“Not corporations,” he said. “There are firms that already have that business sewed up.”

“To whom then?”

“Politicians of course, you silly boy. Haven’t you noticed what they have been getting away with?”

“So,” I said, after a moment’s reflection, “what sort of lies will you sell?”

“Harmless ones.”


“Ha,” he said. “Got you again.”

“Maybe,” I said, “you could give me an example.”

“I thought you would never ask.” He produced a notebook and began to read. “How’s this?” he held up a picture of a current presidential candidate and read, “My opponent inherited a fortune and never had to work, but says he thinks you and I don’t work hard enough. Isn’t that a beaut? My company, ‘Lies Are Us’ will make a bundle from that.”

“Except for one thing,” I said. “It’s the truth.”


“It’s true, I said. You can’t sell that for a lie.”

His face fell. Then he brightened and held up another photo and read from his notebook. “This candidate,” he said, “operates on the brains of living people, no doubt using antibiotics to prevent infection, but claims that the most basic and underlying principles of natural science are tools sent by something called “Satan” to ensnare us into a life of sin. What do you think? It’s a little over the top but I think it will sell.”

“I’ve got some bad news for you.”

“You are kidding,” he said, after I explained. He tossed the photo aside with a dejected look. “Well there’s this one,” he said, hold up another photograph while he read, “My opponent’s party once elected, as President of the United States of America, this candidate who had to have his daily schedule approved by his wife’s astrologer.”

I shook my head slowly.

“Know what?” he said, dropping the photograph.


“Facts are stupid things.” Suddenly his face brightened. “Say,” he said, “I could sure sell the lie that a presidential candidate once said that on national TV.”

We're lucky this man is not around.
He would try to tell us that our
President isn't a citizen. - C.W.
He almost cried when I told him.

“Maybe I’ll have to face the fact,” he said slowly, “that no American political party would ever  follow the premise of the propaganda minister of another country, who said, ‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’"
He smiled at me with a kind look. "Your species,” he said, would never do that.”

“Now,” I said, “you’ve hit on one.

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Finally, buy Big Dope's book so he'll shut up about it.
- C.W.

Available at major on-line retailers, or