Sunday, July 31, 2016

332. Names

If I hadn’t known better, I would have said it was John Wayne in a navy officer’s outfit who joined me in the backyard of the farm. He pulled up a lawn chair and dusted it so as not to soil his crisp white uniform and sat.

“You are a Navy veteran, I understand,” he said.

“So have you heard the latest?” He crossed one leg over other and looked at me with despair in this eyes.

“Heard what latest?”

“Our Navy is going to name a ship after the late Mayor of San Francisco.”

“First of all, C.W.,” I said, “it is not ‘our’ Navy. I’m not even sure they would claim me and I’m sure they wouldn’t claim a deranged alien. Second, I have indeed heard of plans to name a ship after Harvey Milk.”

“Isn’t it a bit odd to name a ship after a …”

“A Californian? No, they named one after Ronald Reagan.”

“That man who secretly sold all those weapons to our arch-enemy Iran?”

“That’s the one.”

“Odd,” he said. “But back to our late friend. Wouldn’t it be strange to name a ship after …”

“A naval officer? No, they do that all the time, and he was one.”

”But Harvey Milk was also a ..”

“A mayor? He may very well be the first mayor to have a ship named after him. I think Grover Cleveland had been mayor of Buffalo, New York and there were reports that the Navy’s first fully submergable nuclear aircraft carrier would be named after him. But that turned out to be a joke.”

He thought. “What was the joke?”

“I think the whole thing was a joke, but one could certainly go broke from dismissing wild ideas about what the military might build.”

He began to swing his crossed leg slightly. “But really,” he said, “don’t you think it strange that the United States Navy would name a ship after a man with a different …”

“Political background? Lord no, they’ve named ships after Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson for goodness sake.”
I understand that many American
sailors are ecstatic about the news. - C.W.

“After all the Americans they had killed?”

“After all that.”

“But,” he said, “this Harvey Milk was active in the fight for …”

“Human Equality? So was Caesar Chavez. They named a cargo ship after him, though he probably wouldn’t have approved. I seem to remember his saying that the two years he spent in the U.S. Navy were the worst two years of his life.”

“Was that true for you too?”

“No,” I said, “the worst two years of my life were the two weeks I had to spend in Vacation Bible School while my friends were playing Navy on the bayou.”

“Sad story,” he said. “But listen, let’s get down to the real point. Now when all is said and done, don’t you think would be the saddest thing imaginable to see, on a United States Naval vessel, the name of a man who was …

“Assassinated for his beliefs? No,” I said, “that would be the USS Abraham Lincoln or the USS John F. Kennedy.”

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Morning Thoughts

We were walking along the river, C.W. and I. He chose his Edward R. Murrow shape so he could smoke a cigarette as we walked. He likes to flip them at rude bicyclists. I try to discourage him but a “get out of the way,” will result in a speeder with a butt in his ear every time. Anyway …

“What is the thing you call a ‘single issue voter,’ in your political races,” he said.

“It refers to,” I said, “someone who decides their vote upon one issue and who pretty much ignores the others, no matter how important they might be.”

“Single issues such as?”

“Abortion is a big one,” I said, “and guns, and Bible quotes.”

“Bible quotes? Just a single one or the entire Bible?”

“Oh,” I said. “Just a single quote or passage. You get into the whole Bible and it gets too confusing.”

“I can see that. Take this marriage thing. Is it one man and one woman or one man and a passel of women? And in one place, someone says don’t get married at all unless you can’t withstand your sexual urges. And another implies you better choose carefully because you mustn't get a divorce. Which is the controlling quote?”

“Depends on who you ask,” I said.

“So you also have,” he said, “one place that says, ‘an eye for an eye,’ and another that says ‘blessed are the peacemakers.’ I’m assuming that a single-issue voter can pick either one?”

“I suppose so,” I said.

“But,” he said, “some seem to pick both. One of the more difficult things for me to explain about your species is an individual specimen’s ability to harbor two contradictory thoughts at once and not go insane.”

I laughed. “Who says they don’t go insane,” I said. “Haven’t you noticed anything about the man running for president?”

“Out of the way, assholes,” someone shouted from behind us.

Seconds later there was a crash as the bike rider attempted to swat a lit cigarette from the collar of a shirt with the words, “Peace, Love, and Harmony” printed across the back.

“Now,” C.W. said, “since you and I are the gentlest of souls, tell me about this gun thing.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Morning Thoughts

C.W. came into where I was drinking coffee just now and demanded that I come and see what he had found while surfing the net. I followed, half-awake and fully annoyed. He looked like a young Boy Scout with rusty hair and freckles, though, so I couldn’t stay mad.

He sat in front of the computer and and turned toward me. “Who was Voltaire?” he asked.

“A Frenchman,” I said, still trying to clear my head. “He was a philosopher and writer during the Age of Enlightenment.”

C.W., or “Rusty” if you will, pointed at the screen. “Look at this,” he said.

I looked. On the screen was a painting of the famous man and a quote. It said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
“So?” I was still trying to awaken fully.”

He shook his head as if to pity me. “Don’t you see?”

“See what?”

“This is what is wrong with your species.”

“What’s that?”

“They have become divided into groups, each one hating the others, and all their ideas, to the point of seeking mutual destruction.”
So what is one supposed to do?
Lead by example or something? - C.W.

I said, “What exactly is your point?”

“That’s not the way the advanced species of our galaxy think.”

“And,” I said, “How do they think?”

“They think,” he said, “that the goal of civilization is progress, not victory.”

I thought. Good point.

"And," he said, "you can quote me on that."

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Morning Thoughts

C.W. came up with a good one today. He calls our current presidential race, based on the two conventions, as "The Party of The Attitude" versus "The Party of The Beatitudes."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

331. Fear

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

I woke to the sound. It took several seconds to focus. I had been sitting in an easy chair reading a book on the Battle of Little Big Horn and had fallen asleep. I thought I was alone, since the rest of the family had gone grocery shopping. The voice had come from nowhere. “Be afraid,” it said again.

When I could focus, I saw what seemed to be a replica of Gandalf from the movies made of the Tolkien books—a wizard. “Close your eyes,” it said, “and be very afraid.”

“C.W.” I said, “what the hell are you doing?”

“Sush,” the voice said. “You are asleep, and you are very afraid. Go ahead. Give in. You are very afraid.”

Crap. There go a peaceful few moments. I straightened in the chair, closed the book, and stared at this apparition. “What the hell are you doing?” I said again.

“Now you’ve gone and ruined everything,” it said.

“Ruined what?”

“My practice.”

“And just what are you practicing?”

“Mind control. I have this new job.”

“Jumping Jehoshaphat.” I said. “What kind of job do you have now?”

“A political one.”

“A political one doing what?”

“Scaring people,” he said. He raised a hand in front of my face and rotated it. “Now close your eyes and be very afraid.”

“But I’m not afraid,” I said.

“You have to be,” he said. “My job depends on it. Do you want me to hear those dreaded words?”

“What dreaded words?”

“You’re fired! Now close your eyes and be very afraid. The French are coming to take your daughters.”

“I don’t have any daughters.”

“Oh?” he said. “Have they already been here, those fearsome French?”

“The French don’t come for peoples’ daughters in this country.”

“Oh yes,” he said, “they will. So be very afraid. And I must take your guns.”

“I don’t have any guns,” I said.

“So be very afraid when they come for your job.”

“I don’t have a job. I’m retired … comfortably retired.

“They will come and make you go back to work,” he said. “So be very afraid.”

“Afraid of what, exactly?” This seemed to catch him off-guard and stopped him for a moment.

“Just afraid,” he said. “You accept the emotion and we’ll fill in the blanks. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

“You might be the one who should be afraid, if my wife comes back and catches you like this.”

“Be very afraid of her,” he said. This seemed to inspire him. “Women are our biggest fear. A strong woman is the work of the Dark One and she will lead him to you. Be very afraid.”

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
But not for the reasons you have heard. - C.W.
“A strong woman?”

“A strong woman is more fearsome that demons,” he said. “But we will save you from her.”

“You will?”

“We will. So be very afraid, but know that we can save you and make your home happy again.”

“My home is already very happy.”

“Be afraid,” he said. “Be very afraid. We are the strong ones. Be very afraid and trust us. Be afraid of the strong woman, but trust in us to save you from her.”

Just then, I heard a car returning. It stopped in front and I heard the sound of a car door opening.

“Got to go,” he said. He waved a hand and disappeared with a loud bang. I looked for him but there was nothing there. Just smoke.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Morning Thoughts

Oh no. C.W. swears that he has gone into the future and seen Donald Trump's acceptance speech. So I'll let him post whatever he wants this morning.

Thanks Big Dope:
Here it is friends ... get ready.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Morning Thoughts: July 19, 2016

Dear Friends:

The Falloonian Elders have given me a tough job and Big Dope refuses to help. I’m supposed to demonstrate to them how your election process evolved from a supposedly intelligent (by our “Third-Planet Classification”) species. They are, of course talking about the present election and not past ones. The assignment is certainly proving to be an objection or query as to the truth of something, often with an implicit demand for proof. (Editor’s note: He means “a challenge.”

The only way I can explain is by sending them examples of your popular media to illustrate the various forces shaping the way your species is about to elect a president of the most powerful country on your planet.

1. Masculine Mythology: I sent them movie clips illustrating the character whom actor John Wayne played in movie after movie: the strong, ultra-patriotic, manly icon. Actually, I understand that the real man was a bully, an alcoholic, and one who wouldn’t even take part, as other actors did, in War Bond drives during your second world war. But, the myth  has buried the man and so some candidates seek to "channel John Wayne," as you say.

The original "Loathsome Braggart," pro
wrestler George George. I won't say he
reminds me of a current candidate, but
you are free to if you wish. - C.W.
2. Unsupported Braggadocio: I’ve sent clips of your TV obsession called "professional wrestling." They seem to provide the best guidance for many of the current candidates.

3. Uneducated Bigotry: Clips of All In The Family. Who represents prejudice toward strangers better than Archie Bunker?

4. Fear: Of course it is The Day the Earth Stood Still, the original, not the shoddy remake. It was already well known on Falloonia. It is actually used in our education system there to teach our young how substandard species operate through distrust and hatred of those outside their own tribes.

5. Ignorance: I had many sources for your present slandering of education and the premise that ignorant, uneducated, and clueless masses could actually run things best. I chose The Beverly Hillbillies as the characters were supposed to come from my present host state.

So … that’s my start. Feel free to offer suggestions. I have gotten one response back, a short one. It just said, “That’s a hell of a way to elect a leader.”

Your Friend

The Alien C.W.

See also:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

330. Confusion

We were having a nice stroll, the Galilean and I. That’s becoming one of C.W.’s favorite shapes. He’s now shortened both the length of his robe and his hair, but he is still eminently recognizable. At my request, he lightened his skin tones. It’s not advisable out in “fly over country” to be seen in public as a dark-skinned middle-easterner. Other than that, he was in his normal character.

We were walking in a landscaped area at our country place, a quiet spot we call “The Grove.” They made molasses there back in the day and there is a legend that a civil war unit once camped there before burning the farm for some malfeasance or other. It is a peaceful spot now and he likes it.

He was smoking one of my cigars and about to finish a Dos Equis beer. He took a long swig and began looking around. “Don’t throw that bottle down out here,” I said. “Remember what happened last time.”

“She thought you did it,” he said. “And besides, it didn’t hurt her lawnmower.”

“No, but it ruined a tire.”

“Collateral damage,” he said. “Can’t be helped.”

I said nothing.

“There’s going to be a lot of that if your species continues on its current path.”

“Why is that?”

He looked around. “I need another beer,” he said. “You want one?”

“Sure,” I said, and sat on a piece of antique farm equipment until he returned with two bottles.

“She’s rebuking me again, Mrs. Big Dope is,” he said.

I ignored him and he sat beside me. He said, “She doesn’t like cigar smoke in her kitchen.”

“I could have told you that had you asked.”

“On the topic of rebuking,” he said, “wasn’t I pretty clear about divorces, when I visited earth the first time?”

“You were against them as I remember.” It's best to play along when he is like this.

“Explain this fascination your voters seem to have to have with someone who’s had two,” he said.

 “I can’t.”

“Loving money,” he said. “I told Paulie to be real specific about the dangers of that. Why wasn’t he?”

“I think he was.”

“He warned about coveting riches?”

“Best I can recall.”

“Did he include the part about piercing themselves through with many sorrows if they erred.”

“In all the versions that I have read.”

“Good,” he said. “Paulie tended to get distracted when Timothy was around. ‘Pierced with many sorrows.’ I made that up myself.” He paused, took a sip of beer, puffed his cigar and blew smoke rings into the grove.  “Many sorrows,” he repeated, savoring the phrase. “There,” he said. “Is your collateral damage. It seems that too many of you are set to vote for a man to run your country whose only qualification is that he loves money.”

“They also say they like him because he speaks this mind.”

When he spoke his mind ...
the conservatives crucified him. - C.W.
He rolled his eyes and sighted. “Oh please,” he said. “That last visit, I spent half my time driving demons out of people who spoke their minds.”

I thought on this. He continued. “You know I cared a great deal for the poor and meek,” he said, “and the peacemakers.” He tilted his beer up and took a swig. “And those who mourn, the merciful, and some others. I think I specified eight in all. I have trouble remembering. It was hot as hell they day I spelled those out.” He drank more beer. “Eight, I believe.”

“I think you have it right,” I said.

“This guy, the one with the orange face and yellow hair … he and his bunch hate all eight, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “But they don’t stop there.”

“Well,” he said. “At least the followers I have left here among your species will denounce him soundly.”

That got my attention. “Uh,” I said. “You mean you haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

“I have some bad news for you.”

“Crap,” he said. He stuck his cigar in the corner of his mouth. “You might as well tell me.” He stopped and held an empty bottle before me. He spoke around the cigar. “But it’s your time to get the beer. You go fetch us a couple of cold ones and I’ll sit here in the garden alone.”

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Morning Thoughts: July 16, 2016

Hello Friends. Big Dope and I are swapping thoughts this week. Today is his turn, so give him a read.
- Your Pal,

Guess I shouldn’t comment on D. Trump’s many bankruptcies. I’m from a family that endured one. When a tornado ripped through our community south of Pine Bluff, AR in 1947, killing more than 30 people, my father opened his little country grocery store, which had been mercifully spared, and said, “If you need it, come and get it, whether you can pay for it or not."

People came and he fed them until the groceries ran out.

He went broke and had to start over.

The local newspaper, in a nice article, said there should have been a monument erected to him.

The little town of Lonsdale, Arkansas saw the newspaper article, took a collection, and sent my father $45.00, all the money he ever received for his act of humanity.

Gee, that reminds me of The Galilean. Does anything about D. Trump suggest The Galilean? For some unfathomable reason, the evangelicals think so. They have announced plans to support him and his third wife for President and First Lady of the United States of America.

What has happened to us?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

329. Slang

It’s never my favorite day. Once a month, C.W. sits me down for what he calls “Idioms for Idiots” training, or sometimes. “slang for the species.” I can always tell when the time has come since he shows up in his college-professor guise—his version of how he thinks a professor would look: dark-rimmed spectacles, a small goatee, and a mismatch of clothes set off by a sport coat with leather patches on the elbows. No … really, the full nine yards.

Anyway, it was time and I dreaded it, for in these moments he can worry the horns off a billy-goat. He eased in cautiously, an unlit pipe in his hand. “I think,” he said, “that Mrs. Big Dope just insulted me.”

“Oh? I can’t imagine that. How?”

“She said that I ‘made her ass want a dip of snuff,’ and I don’t think she meant it as a compliment.”

“What was your first clue?”

That stumped him. He said, “She didn’t offer any clues, she just said …”

“I know. I know. I think she meant that you were getting on her nerves.”

He pondered this. “How does on ‘get on’ a bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs?”

“It’s a saying.” I said. “You have to take it with a grain of salt.”

“Sodium chloride effects this neurological miracle?”

“Let’s just say that I think you were bugging her.”

“You mean I turn her into a suborder Heteropera of the order Hemiptera?”

I sighed. “Why don’t you just give her some space for a while?

He bristled. “One doesn’t give away space. One travels through space.”

“Do you have any other terms that are making your pillow lumpy?”

“That would be pillows, plural,” he said. “I like to sleep in my natural state. I order them on-line and they are never lumpy.”

“Whatever. Now what terms are giving you trouble?”

“Well,” he said, pulling a notepad from a coat pocket, “I did overhear this in a bar.”

“You’ve been going to bars again? I thought we put that notion to rest.”

He started to respond, thought better of it, and read, “I don’t know where that ‘thang’ has been.”

“You heard that in a bar?”

“More than once. What does it imply?”

“Uh,” I said. “It probably implied that someone wasn’t going to get lucky that night.”

“Lucky? It wasn’t a casino. It was a bar.”

“Do you have another one?”

“Let’s see … oh yes, ‘She was squirmin’ like a worm in hot ashes’ or something like that. What’s that all about?”

“I don’t think you need to know what that is all about,” I said. “Don’t you have any examples from normal conversations?”

“Let’s see.” He read down. “Oh,” he said. “Here’s one. Two men are talking and one says to the other, ‘That farmland I own is as rich as five feet up a bull’s ass.'”

“That means it is good land,” I said. “The best.”

“Why didn’t he just say that?”

“Do you have more, or are you just jerking me around?”

This seemed both to confuse him and hurt his feelings. “I only do this,” he said, “because the Falloonian elders make me.”

“We all have our crosses to bear.”
Something tells me that she isn't falling for
that, "Did you fall from Heaven?" line. - C.W.

He brightened. “Now,” he said, examining his notes, “I heard that expression in a bar.”

“A bar?”

“A bar.”


“A man told a woman that he was trapped in an unhappy marriage and she told him …”

“That we all have our crosses to bear.”

“Yes,” he said. “What did she mean?”

“She meant,” I said, “that he wasn’t going to get lucky that night.”

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

328. Hope

For all the years that I have known him, I had never seen C.W. like this. Oh, I had seen him serious before. Even a visitor from another galaxy gets serious when looking at what he calls, “the collective state of hate and anger” of our species.

But this time proved different. He was, one might say, somber. His appearance was even low-key. He had assumed the shape of a middle-aged man with a receding hairline, dressed well and moving with a fluid grace as we took a slow walk on the city sidewalks. If I had to say he resembled any real person, it would be the late newsman Walter Cronkite, with a bit of President Jimmy Carter thrown into the mix. He said nothing for a while and then stopped, looked towards the river, and turned to me.

“Sad day,” he said. He nodded as if approving his own thoughts, and continued walking. “Sad day indeed.”

“Mind telling my what’s on your mind?” I said.

He kept walking but gave me a look that expressed surprise and disappoint, all at once. “Elie Wiesel died,” he said. “Haven’t you heard?”

“I heard,” I said, “but I had no idea that you would have known of him.”

He stopped so suddenly that a bicyclist swerved around him, lost control, and careened down the bank and into the river. He watched, and for the only time that morning, a faint smile appeared on his face. It disappeared as quickly as it had come, and he looked at me as if I had said something that offended him. “Know of him?” he said. “He is one of the few of your species whose thoughts are taught to the young on my home planet.”

“Oh,” I said. “I had no idea.”

“You have no idea about a great number of things,” he said. Derision dripped from his craggy face. As I say, I had never seen him quite like this. Then he softened. “Hope,” said. Then he continued walking. “You think your species is the only one in the galaxy that encounters despair so profound that hope is its only salvation?”

It was my turn to be serious. “Even in advanced civilizations such as yours?”

“Particularly in advanced civilizations,” he said. “The more advanced, the more aware of circumstances and the more fearful of possible consequences. Species such as yours have the built-in defense of stupidity.”

That put me on the defensive. “Aren’t you being a little harsh? Some of us understand, at least some of us. We know the dangers that lurk in the future.”

“I have only one word to say on that,” he said. He stopped, stooped, picked up a discarded Styrofoam cup, and carried it to a waste receptacle. He continued walking for a few steps, then said, “Donald Trump.”

“That’s two words,” I said.

“No,” he said. “It’s one word describing a phenomenon for which you and your species are profoundly guilty.”
Now you can see why this great man
is a hero on my home planet. - C.W.

“Now wait,” I said. “Only maybe 30 percent or so of us are guilty. That’s a statistically reliable segment of our society, the segment that thinks Elvis is alive, that Lyndon Johnson murdered JFK, that George Bush bombed the Trade Center Towers, and that a snake talked to a woman.”

He shook his head and sadness seemed literally to drip from him. “What percentage of Germans,” he said, “do you think were active Nazis?”

That stumped me. Before I could speak, he said, “On a more positive note, what percentage of colonists actually took an active part in your American revolution?”

“You’re mixing things up,” I said. I started to say more, but at that instant, the really scary thing happened. As he turned to face me full on, his features morphed, first the nose, then the mouth, then the eyes, into sad globes that opened to display the width and breath of human suffering. A shock of unruly hair completed the look. Elie Wiesel stood before me.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference,” he said. “The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”

He stopped, turned and continued walking along the river, a river that flowed "somewhere safe to sea.”

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