Sunday, April 23, 2017

370. Respect

Ah, the sun had come out after several days of rain, and I was enjoying a pleasant morning with C.W. You might ask whether all mornings are pleasant with C.W.? Actually, no. Some are, some aren’t. This morning, though, he was honoring the late Don Rickles, his favorite comedian, the one who died a couple of weeks ago. His likeness was excellent and we were both in a jolly mood.

“So, he really, didn’t know which way his warships were headed?”

“Apparently not,” I said. “They were some 180 degrees or thereabouts off his announced course.”

“Who do they get to open child-proof pill boxes for him? His Secretary of State?”

“Are you kidding? I think they have to hire a child to come in and do it for them.”

“Hey,” he said. “Good idea for a new business: Rent-a-Child, Inc. Motto: Never have to chew the top off a bottle again. Hire one of our experts to open it for you.”

“Sounds promising,” I said.

“I’m busy right now, tough,” he said.

“At what?”

“Another sure-fire winner.”

“And that is?”

“Tear-Away Garments, Inc. Motto: ‘Double the income from your next humiliation, girls.’ It’s a winner if I ever thought of one. The first ad is ready. Theme: ‘You’ll have them all wanting to grab your money-maker.’ What do you think?”

“I’m not sure what to think,” I said. “What exactly are you selling?”                                                                                                   
 “Tear-way clothing for the ambitious woman.

“Say again?”

“It’s designed to be the clothing of choice for airline travel.”

I said nothing.

“In case you’re dragged off the plane,” he said.


“The clothes tear right off. Then you make money two ways.”

“Two ways? How?”

“First from the lawsuit. Second from the model-royalties.”

We had a good laugh over this.

“Do you think,” he said, “Mrs. Big Dope would be interested?”

“Well,” I said, “why don’t you just ask her?”

He thought for a moment, then said. “Maybe not. She wasn’t wild, as I remember, about my ‘President’s Dream’ line. And I thought that would even be a better investment.”

“Oh,” I said. “I remember. The line of see-through women’s apparel you wanted to market?”

“That’s it,” he said.

“The one you wanted her to model?”

“Yes,” he said, rubbing his jaw. "She didn't approve."

“I think it was the slogan you suggested for the line,” I said.

“I don’t remember,” he said, still rubbing his jaw.

“Of course you do,” I said. “It was, ‘Designed to aid his aim,’”

He appeared ready to change the subject. “Speaking of him,” he said, “Did he really invite Ted Nugent to the White House.”

“Yep. You got a problem with that?” (Sometimes I play his straight man).

“Not as long as they still sell heavy-duty fumigators in Washington.”

“Well,” I said. “He can invite whom he pleases. His predecessor invited the cellist Yo-Yo Ma.”

“Isn’t that,” he said, raising an eyebrow, “a bit like equating ‘When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries … ,’ with, say, ‘There once was a man from Nantucket …?'”
Wouldn't you know it?
He has to die just as the most
 humor-creating administration
in the history of he country
comes into office? - C.W.
“Shh,” I said. “Wherever did you learn that?”

“From the book of Shakespearian sonnets by your desk.”

“No,” I said, “the other one. My wife might hear you.”

“Your wife knows that poem,” he said, rubbing his jaw again. Then quickly, “But back to him again, did he really fire the Surgeon General and replace him with a nurse?”

“Apparently,” I said, glad to be changing courses, like a ship at sea headed in the wrong direction.

“And it is now Nurse General?”

“I suppose so.”

“That’s comforting,” he said.

“How so?”

“Simple,” he said. “It means that he might fire the Attorney General and replace him with a Paralegal General.”

I began to think about this.

“You know,” he said, “someone well-versed in the law.”

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Morning Thoughts: Sailing Along

C.W. and I were talking …

“I read in your bio file that you served in the United States Navy,” Left Head said.

Middle Head leaned forward to hear my answer.

Right Head giggled and said, “Avast there, Matey.”

I said, “Yes, that’s true.”

“You carried a rifle,” Left Head said.

“For a year.”

“Then what?” it continued.

“Then, I completed my enlistment on board the USS Hunley.”

“Ah,” said Middle Head, “that’s what we would like to converse about now.” For some reason that it never explained, it began talking with a heavy Irish accent.

“Carry on, lad,” Right Head said, though I wasn’t sure whether he was talking to me or Middle Head.

I waited.

“So you served on the old girl for over two years, give or take?” said Middle Head.


“And her commanding officer?”

“Captain S. G. Anders.”

“A good man, was he?”

“A very good man, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Never quite made to the Board Room.”

“And why not, do you suppose now?”

The Irish bit was putting me off, but I played along. “It was a bit of a jump in the Navy, into the Board Room. They didn’t really use the equivalent rank of brigadier, so one had to jump from “Full-Bird” or “Captain” to two-star. Big jump, and Captain Anders never made it. They say that, when he retired, he put “Commander on his business card so people wouldn’t mistake him for an army captain.”

“Well shiver me timbers,” Right Head said. We all ignored it.

“Was he a good sailor now?” Middle Head asked.

“Yes,” I said. “All in a clove hitch. Now where, exactly is this going?”

“Under his command, did the grand ship ever sail in the wrong direction?”

“Never. Why?”

“Was there ever a time at sea that the president of your country didn’t know where the grand girl was headed?”

“Are you crazy? Never.”

“And am I correct in supposing that she always went where she was supposed to?”

“Of course. If directed to Spain, she went to Spain, directed to Guam, she went to Guam, directed to Puerto Rico, that’s where she sailed to, directed to Fort Lauderdale …,” I stopped as a warm blanket of memories settled on me.

“Now,” Middle Head said, “would Herself be interested in what you might be thinking now, me lad?”

“Uh,” I said, “probably. But where are you headed with this?”

“How long was your grand vessel commissioned?” it said, ignoring my question.

“Over thirty years, I think.”

“And she never got lost, even a wee bit, in all that time?”

“Off course not.”

Right Head interrupted us. “And the wives of the crew members,” it said, “did any of them ever ‘drag their anchors’ so to speak, while the ship was at sea?”

“Shut your Stinkletingep,” Middle Head said, reverting to Falloonian in his anger. “You’re supposed to be ‘tinkin’ of a new slogan for the grand Navy this lad served in so proud-like.”

“Oh,” Right Head said, “I’ve got it, jack me off with a bilge pump and call me a snipe, if I don’t.”

“Then let’s hear it,” said Middle Head.

Right Head stared dramatically and said, “Today’s Navy, still honoring the proud tradition—give me a fast ship, for I intend to go somewhere.”

I groaned.

Left Head said, “I’ve got to get back to my database.”

Middle Head turned to Right Head and said, “By jove, lad, I be thinking you have it, now.”

Right Head did the equivalent of a smile, and said, “Anchors aweigh, we’ll let you know where to.”.

USS Hunley - AS31
Our Proud Slogan:
"Always Sailing In the Right Direction"

Sunday, April 16, 2017

369. Poetic Justice

Well, he was a pretty good imitation of the kid Anthony in the famous Twilight Zone episode called It’s a good life. Only he had orange hair for some reason. It was going to be a long morning. As the sky lightened, I thought of all the sunrise services that folks were attending this Easter morning, at least the true believers among the Christians. But I had to deal with Anthony, or C.W. if you prefer.

He was reading from a book and taking notes. Oh, and he was muttering to himself. He looked up as I walked in, pointed his pen at me, and said, “I don’t like poetry. Poetry is a bad thing and I don’t like it.”

“Oh,” I said. “What don’t you like about it?”

”I don’t like things that make no sense to me.” He pointed to a section of his book. “What does this mean when it says, ‘April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the barren sterile land,’ for goodness sake?”

“I think it says breeding lilacs out of the dead land.”

“That’s what I said. I don’t like it when people disagree with me. I can read for myself.”

I started to say something catty in return but a feeling came over me. “It’s good,” I said, “that you can read for yourself.”

“So, tell me what it means.”

“I think,” I said, “the author is referring to the ancient belief that the earth died in the winter, and had to be coaxed back to life in order to be reborn in the spring, reborn by the shedding of blood, human sacrifices in fact, hence the reference to cruelty. The poem was also written not long after a world war in which over 17 million people died. Quite a shedding of blood in order to renew the earth.”

“I don’t like it when your species sheds blood for no reason,” he said.

“It’s good that you don’t like it,” I said.

“How did they do it? This shedding of blood to make the earth come alive?” He paused. “That’s a pretty silly idea, isn’t it?”

“Very,” I said. “It probably seemed less silly to those who weren’t shedding the blood. But, to answer your question, there were countless ways. Sometimes they sacrificed a beautiful young virgin girl, sometimes a virile, handsome young man. Sometimes they had men fight to the death, and the winner was king until a younger man came along and dispatched him.”

“That’s stupid,” he said. “I don’t like that at all.”

“It’s good that you don’t like it,” I said.

“Are you making fun of me? I don’t like it when people make fun of me.” He pointed a small finger at me. “You’re a bad man, a very bad man, and your species is very bad.”

Seeking to divert his attention, I said, “Well, we don’t sacrifice virgins these days. We’re much too sophisticated for that. We don’t make men fight to the death, either. Why don’t you quit reading poetry for a while? Go talk to my wife about something.”

“She won’t talk to me,” he said. “She’s watching something on her television set about very young girls in something called a ‘beauty pageant,’ and she’s upset and angry. She said something about sending me to a place called 'the cornfield' if I bothered her.”
People who enjoy killing other
people are bad, very bad. - C.W.

See also
and click some ads, C.W. needs books.

“Oh,” I said. “Then maybe you can watch the one in here.”

“Good,” he said, “Let’s watch that show about wrestling.”

“I don’t like shows about wrestling.”

He turned on me and pointed. “I don’t like it when you won’t watch wrestling with me.”

“It’s good that we watch wrestling,” I said.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Morning Thoughts: Explanations

C.W. and I were talking …

“Did you hear the latest from Sean Spicer,” his left head said.

“Oh yes,” I said. “About Adolph Hitler never using gas on his enemies?”

“That one," he said. "Do you have an explanation?”

“No,” I said, “I don’t. It is quite unbelievable that one human being, so incompetent, could have a job at all, much less one with national prominence.”

The right head started giggling.

“What’s with it?” I asked the other two.

The right one looked puzzled, and said. “Don’t you know?”

“Know what?”

“All the Nichtacraniems are like that.”

“The what?”

“After all,” left head said, “they are from the Farstonian Galaxy. It’s not like they are in what you would call the mainstream of cosmic society.”

“You mean …?” I tried to assemble my thoughts.

“You thought he was one of you?” Middle head looked at me in disbelief. Right head giggled again. "He certainly doesn't hold his species in high regard," he said to the other two. They both guffawed.

“But, but, how?” I said. “How did he get in with this new president?”

Right head shook back and forth. “Do you mean you don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“The Nichtacraniems and the Penceldikeons always hang out together. Nobody else in the Universe will have anything to do with them.”

Don't worry. I hear he is going home. - C.W.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

368. Ratings

 Sometimes C.W. likes to torment folks, on purpose. Take this morning. He shows up in the form of one of my least favorite people on the planet, Bill O'Reilly. I wasn't bothering a soul, just reading an article about my country’s entry into World War One. I looked up and there he sat.

“Mornin’ Sport,” he said. “Thought I’d stop by. Been a good week, eh?”


“I’ve felt real good this week,” he said. “You should have too. Your state, Arkansas, has made the world news. I’m even recommending it for a Fox News Civic Responsibility Award.”

“What for?”

“We’ll call the coverage, ‘Eight Empty Cells,’ and we expect a big sweep in the ratings. We’re working arm in arm with your governor.”

"Oh no. Are you referring to …?’

“You got it, your state is planning to whack eight condemned prisoners in ten days. ‘Eight In Ten,’ as your governor terms it. We plan to have that printed on souvenir fan hands, along with ‘Arkansas Is Number One In Somethng.’ Can't you just see all those big fingers poking toward the sky?”

“I hadn’t heard about that.”

“Just the thought of all those excited folks makes you feeling like grabbing for joy, doesn’t it?

“You can ask Joy about that, but eight executions in ten days doesn’t seem like a cause for celebration to me.”

“Are you kidding? There hasn’t been the chance for ‘pub’ like this since Hillary Clinton got caught in bed with that dead girl scout.”

“Hillary Clinton didn’t get caught in bed with a dead girl scout.”

“Did too.”

“Did not.”

“Did too. Our team covered it for over a month.”

“So, you see some chance for high ratings in this … this … this, ‘execution euphoria,’ as some are calling it? How will the people at your network contain their excitement?”


“Uh, … on what?”

“Your people.”

“My people?”

“Yes. We’ve heard that your governor is having trouble attracting enough fans for the show.”


“Oh, the liberals call them witnesses. On Fox, we call them fans. Anyway, last we heard, not enough people have signed up to watch, even with our inducement package.”

“Inducement package?”

“Oh yes. We’re offering chances to draw for souvenir cotton swabs. The ones they use to swab the condemned's skin with alcohol before they insert the needles.” He paused. “What’s the matter? You look pale.”

I said nothing.

“We’re also considering a ‘Seconds to Flat-Line’ pool. Big prize to the winner. We think this association between our network and your state will set a new, and a much higher standard, for public-private partnerships, in addition to helping me personally.”

“You? How?”

“Diverting attention away from some things and toward others.”

“How so?”

He seemed to be groping for an answer. “They tell me I’ve written a new book and it’s about to be published. Anyway, your state is on a roll publicity-wise.”

“The eight in ten isn’t enough?”
Franklin Graham is insisting that we
include some women in the next eight. - C.W.
“Oh, no, there’s the fellow who shot one of his balls off fiddling with his pistol while trying to walk down a hotel corridor. Oh, and don’t forget about Bill Clinton getting arrested for cashing hot checks.”

“Bill Clinton didn’t get arrested for anything."

"Did too.”

“Did not.”

“Did too. How many times do I have to tell you that you watch the wrong news channel? You missed our entire series about Barack Obama being a secret cross-dresser. And you didn’t even know about President Trump healing all those crippled children. What’s the matter?”

“Eight in ten.”

“Ain’t it great? Your state was it dire need of some favorable publicity since the Central High furor died down.”

Just then, a female voice roared from the kitchen and I turned toward it, “Tell that son-of-a-bitch I’m coming in there,” it said, “and, if he has any ideas, I have a ruler in my hand that I haven’t used since I taught grade school.”

When I turned around, he was gone.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Morning Thoughts: Distractions …

C.W. and I were talking …

“Amazing,” I said. “Simply amazing.”

He raised one of his heads from the newspaper it was reading and looked at me. It was the leftmost head, the one designed primarily for data retrieval. “What’s so amazing?”

“You’re reading the paper,” I said. “What do you see?”

“That your species has an uncommon fondness for handguns,” he said. The middle head, the one designed for logical analysis, nodded. “And PTSD.”


“Personal telecommunication screen devices,” he said. “What you do without them?”

“You could ask Albert Einstein that,” I said, “if he were still alive.”

“Oh,” said the head on the right. “I think they are so precious.” He, of course, follows the emotional path. He held up his own cell phone to show us a picture of a cat striding back and forth on a piano with the opening lines of “The Moonlight Sonata” patched in as a soundtrack. “Have you ever seen anything so cute in your life?”

“My point exactly,” I said. “What are you reading about this morning?” I asked Left Head.

“Murder, war, hatred, distrust, partisanship, anarchy, genocide, and the obstruction of all altruistic tendencies. Normal stuff for your species.”

“Analysis?” I said to Middle Head.

“Your species is on the eve of destruction.”

I turned to Right Head. “Other than cute cats, what does your PTSD tell you?”

“Most everybody is exercised over some basketball game, whatever that is. That has even pushed the waltzing kittens and the belching puppies off.”

“See,” I asked Left Head. “How amazing it is that, with all that’s going on, a basketball game is our chief topic of conversation?”

He shrugged. “I only report. You’re the decider.”

"I think we have our collective heads in the sand."

“I don’t agree with your conclusion,” Middle Head said. “With all the negativity, your species needs a distraction. Why not let them have a basketball game? Better than a human sacrifice. It sooths them and takes their minds away from fear and loathing, except for the other team and those men in striped shirts, whoever they are.”

“Not so fast,” said Right Head. “I think your species is on the verge of being distracted to death. Want to hear about an experiment I carried out the other day?”


“You know that college where you teach?”

“Of course.”

“I walked all the way across it in the shape of that wrestling man they call The Relatively Hard, Naturally Occurring Mineral.”

I thought. “Do you mean ‘The Rock?’”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

“Sure. Go ahead.”

“Well,” he said with utmost gravity. “The Rock walked all the way across campus buck naked and how many students noticed, do you think?”

“I’d hate to guess.”

“One,” he said. “And he just looked up, sniffed, said ‘far out, man,’ and kept walking.”

“Maybe you should have tried Beyoncé,” I said.

“Oh,” he said. “I bounced, wiggled, strutted, and skipped. Tried everything. Not a soul would look up. The PTSD was just too strong.”

“None of you are making me feel better.”

"We thought you would enjoy our 'Change the Shape' game," Middle Head said.

“I have a question,” Right Head said.”


“What’s the vapors?”

“The what?”

“The vapors. That’s what Mrs. Big Dope said she had when I walked in as Matthew McConaughey.”

That created a smile.

“That’s better,” Right Head said. “How’d you like to meet Charlize Theron?”

Hey! Maybe the day wouldn’t turn out so bad after all. After all, beauty trumps fear and loathing.

If he won't get your attention,
what will? - C.W.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

367. Questions

Oh no. It was going to be a “Why? Why? Why? day.” C.W. bounded in, having assumed the shape of Little Ricky, the troublesome ten-year old. I tried to sprint from the room but he blurted out, before I could escape, “Why do they want me to buy gifts on every day we celebrate something?”

“Have you been watching commercial television again?”

“Yeah, the UFO Channel.”

“I didn’t know there was a UFO Channel.”

“They used to call it the History Channel,” he said. “Why do so many of your species believe in aliens from outer space when they watch TV, but they don’t believe in me when they read your attempts at humor.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do they think aliens would come to Earth and just fly around forever and not land?”

“Because they think the aliens know that we would kill them the moment they land.”

“Why don’t they understand that is impossible? Your species hasn’t invented the Cosmological Ossifying. Neutralizing, Desensitizing, and Unifying Mechanism yet?”

“I don’t understand why that is important.”

“Didn’t you know that CONDUMs are the only defense against unwanted aliens? Why doesn’t your species understand more about science?”

“We are busy with other things.”

“Such as creating bizarre television commercials?”



“To sell things.”

“Why do they make automobile commercials featuring men and women driving cars on public highways at two or three times the legal speed limits?”

“I think it satisfies some innate desire for mastery of the universe.”

“Your species wants to be master of the universe?”

“Quite so.”

“Why? It’s not a very manageable place. Your people could get drawn into endless conflicts that would drain your energy and resources.” He stopped, thought, shook his head, and said, “But that has never bothered you before. Why?”

“Why don’t we stick to television commercials?”

“Why don’t they make movie ads that make you want to see the movie?”

“To keep the crowds down?”


“I was kidding.”

“No, I think you might be right. Now, why do the food ads feature meals of two or three thousand calories when your country has such a profound obesity problem?”

“We love to eat.”

“Why? Species in other galaxies regard it as simply a refueling necessity.”

“We orient our lives around eating.”

“Why? It just makes you fat.”

“We don’t care.”

“Then why are all the models on TV commercials so thin?”

“We love diets, too.”

“So why do the diet commercials say you can eat all you want and lose weight? Why has your species abandoned any sense of understanding science?”

“So many of us believe in a higher truth than science.”

“Why? There's no such thing.”

“Just because. Maybe it makes us more manageable.”
This child just discovered how
you elect presidents. - C.W
He thought about this. Then he said, “That reminds me. You still haven’t answered my question about this gift-giving obsession that the marketing segment of your species has.”

“What got you off on that?”

“Your religious holiday called Easter is coming up.”


“I just saw this strange ad. Why would gift-giving be related to Easter?”

“You saw an ad for gift giving related to Easter?”


“What did it say?”

“It said, ‘While you wait to celebrate The Resurrection, why not resurrect your marriage with a gift from Jay’s Jewelers.’ You’ll be her savior forever, and remember, resurrection is contagious.’ Why?” He looked at me and waited for an answer.

I wasn’t sure what the question was, and could only offer, “It seems that our country is out to test the absolute lower limits of propriety and good taste.”


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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Morning Thoughts: Crime

C.W. and I were talking …

He reminded me that the governor of my state had decided to execute eight prisoners within a few days of one another. He had scant reason to remind me, but I expect he knew that already.

This was true, the plans for executions, but what was his point?

He was on a fact-finding mission for the Fallonian Elders and wanted a typical Earthling's take on this practice of executing criminals.

There really is no such thing as a typical Earthling's response, at least not an American Earthling's. but, he pressured me into offering mine. So, here goes.

I’m like an author I read once, Paul Theroux I think it was, who considered capital punishment at length and came to mixed conclusions. It's hard to make a "bright-line" statement.

I feel there are monsters who have no right to live in civilized society. But having watched multiple episodes of “Investigation Discovery” on TV, I know that equal punishment under the law is a major failing of our judicial system.

For example, I’ve seen two almost identical episodes. In the first, a man stalked his ex-wife, shot her, chased her into a neighbor’s home, found her, and executed her. In the second, a man stalked his ex-wife, broke into her home and executed her with her baby in bed beside her. The first man was executed by the state for his crime. The second was placed into some rehabilitation program and later, owing no doubt to some undisclosed political connection, was pardoned by Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, allowing the man to walk the streets today.

It’s not always easy to spot the monsters.

There are, in my opinion, heinous crimes that not only go unpunished but enjoy the praise and approval of many Americans. Consider the awesome abomination of infecting a young child’s mind with the primal fear of eternal damnation and unbearable torture in a fiery pit.

How about a politician, who, for no defensible reason, orders bombs to rain down on a peaceful city one morning? How about the scene from the Michael Moore documentary of a father running through those bombs carrying his son who had obviously soiled his pants from shear terror?

How about the politician who hides behind his or her Bible but orders the destruction of a planet that his or her god has provided for the comfort and solace of all creatures? People who stage fights between innocent animals, or a person who shoots them for pleasure and cuts off their tails for souvenirs? People who cheat the elderly out of their life savings? People who turn their head aside and approve dangerous products or conditions to enhance profits? People who preach morality for the poor from the comfort of a warm room and a full belly? And so it goes on and on, day after day.

I’ll support capital punishment on the day I feel I can fully identify the monsters.

What is the appropriate punishment
for damaging this young mind? - C.W

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Morning Thoughts

C.W. and I were talking …

“Know what happened 44 years ago, today?” I asked.

“You probably made Mrs. Big Dope mad about something.”

“Well, probably,” I said, “I do have a talent, but no. On this day in 1973, the United States left Vietnam after having front-line troops there for over eight years, of which over 50,000 were killed.”

“So folks were happy it was over?”

“Some people were. Many corporations, which are now considered people, weren’t.”

“Did you go to the victory parade?”

“Uh,” I said, “there were no victory parades.”

“Wasn’t there a famous photograph of a sailor kissing a woman? I always thought that might have been you.”

“No, that was World War Two.”

“Didn’t they make a big sign out of painted rocks at the Golden Gate in San Francisco, saying ‘Welcome Home Boys’ or something like that?”

“No, that was World War Two.”

“Didn’t Bing Crosby record a famous song for you?”

“No, that was World War Two.”

“Well they had to do something for you. What was it?

“They pretended we didn’t exist.”

“I guess that was something. Your species tends to pull some strange stunts from time to time. At least your government learned something from the experience.”

I said nothing.

“Well, didn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I said, “it learned that it is easier to wage wars and send young people to die in them if you don’t have to draft them first.”

Bet the company that made helicopters
hated to see this come to an end. - C.W.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

366. Shapes

Oh boy oh boy! It was “New Shape Saturday.” I had a fresh rum and tonic and a new cigar ready. C.W. and I were alone in the back yard of the farm and he was in high spirits. One head wore a construction hat, another a police officer’s hat, and the third a Sioux chieftain’s headdress. He, they, looked strangely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place them.


He had chairs sat up under a tree and would disappear behind a storage building, wait a few minutes, and emerge as his new shape. I would try to guess who he represented. This is always fun, or it is sometimes. It makes my wife nauseated, so she was off visiting a friend. Hot dog! I lit my cigar and yelled, “Ready.”

A middle-aged man, well dressed in a business suit emerged and took a seat. “One hint,” he said, “TV pundit.”

“Expert?” I said.

“Very much so.”

“Education and background?”

“Bachelor’s degree in business administration and 30 years of military service.”


“Went in as a second lieutenant. Came out as a major.”


“Come on,” he said, “you’ve watched the news. Make a guess. I can’t provide any more information than that.”

“I give up.”

“Expert on military affairs,” he said. "On that so-called news channel named after a wild animal."

“But you retired as only a … ,” I began, but he had already departed. “A 30-year major hardly qualifies …,” I said, mostly to myself. Then he yelled over his shoulder.

“It’s television, dummy. That’s today’s theme. Truth in television.”

A few seconds later, and a great new shape appeared. A disheveled character with a shaved head and long beard came in and sat in front of me. He had divided the beard into two prongs, each held by a rubber band. “Expert,” he said.


“Community college in Charleston, West Virginia. Associate’s degree in restaurant management.”

“Current job?”

“Consultant, on the cable network that you call the History Channel.”

“Previous jobs?”

“Fast food trainee programs … several.”

“You are a janitorial consultant?”

“Get serious. I’m a featured star.”

“I can’t imagine. I give up.”

He took in a breath, expelled it and said, “Scientific consultant. They identify me as a UFO expert.”

That stunned me. “So, you use your real expertise as a visiting alien to educate the viewers?”

He frowned. “Get serious. I can’t divulge that information. Educate our viewers? Jeez. I just say whatever I feel like saying. The show’s motto is ‘We make it up and you lap it up.’ Can you imagine getting paid for blowing stuff out of your …?”

I interrupted. “Now cut it out.”

“Accumulated superfluous storage,” he finished. Then he disappeared again.

A few moments later, a buxom blond with hair teased to a height of a foot above her head, and billowing across her shoulders, sashayed in and perched in front of me. She teased the front of her blouse to allow more of her ample cleavage to show, and then tried to cover her nether regions with a skirt made from no more than a yard of material. No luck. Glimpses abounded.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said.

“I doubt it.”

“That’s right, you’re wondering what I do for a living.”

“No,” I said, “I’m wondering if my wife knows about this.”

“Exactly,” she said. “You are man of the world. You’re from the big city and you married your childhood sweetheart.”

“Born and reared in the country, and I didn’t meet her until we were both grown.”

“Precisely,” she said. “And something tells me she was from the city too.”
I just know that all my fans would
like for this woman to advise them
on investing in the stock market. - C.W
“A farmer’s daughter,” I said.

“That’s right,” she said. “And don’t you forget: something tells me she still dreams about getting that education she always wanted.”

“She has two college degrees.”

“Like I told you. Now,” she said, leaning back in her chair as I tried not to look. “You’re thinking that you wish I would tell you what I do. Don’t ask me how I know that. I just see things. That's all.”

“No,” I said, “I’m just hoping my wife doesn’t come home before you change shapes.”

“I knew it,” she said, “I just know things, see? That’s what they pay me for. Speaking of shapes, you are going to love this next one. It’s going to be the best shape you ever saw. It’s going to be wonderful. I have this plan, and it is a great plan, the best plan ever, to astound and amaze you with this next shape because it is going to be wonderful. And you will love it.”

I was never as happy in my life to hear my wife’s car coming down the drive.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

365. Games

It was as close to walking into the living room and seeing the famous comedian Jack Benny as could be. How C.W. found out about that icon of comedy remains a mystery, but there he was.

He turned with that famous deadpan look, “Just what is this?” He turned toward the television screen.

“It’s called basketball.”

“And, the purpose? Oh wait … .” On the screen a player stopped dribbling and held the basketball squeezed above his middle, moving it back and forth. “It must be an exercise to strengthen stomach muscles.”

“No, when the player quits bouncing the ball, or dribbling as they call it, he must throw it to someone else.”

“That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t your species worship private property possession above all?”

“It isn’t exactly his property.”

“Whose then?”

“Oh, maybe the school’s. This is a college game.”

“Oh, so it is an academic exercise to teach decision making skills?”

“Maybe. Sort of.”

“What do you call these students?”


“They come to college to study game theory?”

“They actually come to college to win these games for the school.”


“Uh, prestige, honor, fame, the sort of things that encourage rich men to make donations to the school.”

He turned and did the deadpan again. “You’re telling me that rich men turn loose of their money for things like this? That’s going to come as a surprise to all those hopeful models in New York City.”

“You heard me.”

“And how many years of college study does it take for these young players, as you call them, to learn the necessary gaming skills to enhance their life choices?”

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“How good they are.”

“So, the better they get, the longer they stay?”

“Not exactly. The best ones stay less than two full semesters.”

“They learn pretty fast?”

“Something like that.”

“How long do the others stay?”

“Some as long as a little less than eight full semesters.”

The deadpan again. “And I thought it took Hope and Crosby a long time to learn the business.”

After watching for another three hours, he turned asked, “How long is this going to last?”

“There’s only five minutes left.”

“Good, I haven’t been so bored since the first time I heard a Milton Berle routine," he said before turning back to the screen.

An hour later, he began to fidget. “Is this nearly over?”

“Only three minutes left.”

A player threw the ball in and, immediately, another player slapped him. They exchanged words, and a referee stepped between them. This elicited a response. “I see now,” he said. “They’re learning the skills involved in conflict resolution.”

Picking a family at random, even
this typical family is bored,. - C.W.
“Something like that.”

An hour later, his patience was exhausted. “Will this go on forever?”

“Just one more minute left.”

As another player, after having been slapped, walked to attempt a free-throw, he turned once again with the most solemn look you can imagine.

“This is worse than watching Fred Allen trying to solve a math problem,” he said. “Good thing nobody else was forced to live through it.”

“Yeah, right.”

“At least the female of your species has better things to do.”

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

364. Greatness

I walked into the living room of the farm and stopped in shock. There, believe it or not, was Frank Lloyd Wright sitting on the couch. He was sitting cross-legged with a pad on his lap sketching with a furious intensity and muttering to himself. I caught the words, “nincompoops,” and “assholes,” but not much more.

Could it be? Of course not. “C. W.,” I said. He ignored me. “Want to tell me what’s up?” He continued sketching. I sat in a chair in front of him and stared until he finished with a flourish and looked up. I said nothing.

“What?” he said.

“You tell me.”

“I’m preparing plans for some improvements to this place,” he said. “I’m going to make it a great place to live in again.”

“Oh,” I said. “so you think it is worth saving?”

“With my talent and your money, yes. It has many nice features.”

“Such as?”

“The simple roof design is very functional,” he said. “Simple and functional. And,” here he winked, “you know that, with both women and buildings, form follows … ,”

“Function,” I said. “What else?”

“The great front porch,” he said. “Perfect for sitting and entertaining guests. Imparts a cordial personality to the place.” He made a note. “Make north entry great again,” he said as he wrote. Then he looked at me.

“Anything else?” I asked.

“The security windows. It is most wonderful to feel safe in a home.”

“That’s nice. Anything else?”

“One must mention the spacious feeling afforded by the high ceilings. Evokes the comfort and ease of an era of light and air.”

“So. What’s next?”

“Next,’ he said, “we make the home great again with some wonderful improvements I have planned. You’ll love them.” He dug into the pile of papers and produced a writing pad. After flipping a few pages, he asked if I’d like to know the changes.

“Of course,” I said.

“First,” he said, “I plan to flatten the roof. As it stands now, it is too high-peaked to allow the chimney required for the massive fireplace I’ve planned for the west façade.”

“But,” I said, “I thought you said … ,”

“Quiet,” he said. “Never interrupt a genius while he is talking.” He consulted his notes. “Next, the front porch has to go. It’s a complete waste of space.”

I started to speak but he silenced me with glare that would have penetrated a steel wall.

“Next we’ll remove those security windows. They mar the historic character of the building. They didn’t have security window back in the 1800s when they built this place.”

I was too shocked by now to speak.

“And,” he said with no small amount of pride, “I plan to lower all these ceilings in order to save on heating costs.”
Maybe we should just tear it down,
and build something different. - C.W.

I struggled to find my voice.

“I’m going to make this home great again,” he said, lowering his pad.

The returned my voice to me. “By destroying the very things that made it great in the beginning?”

“You’re going to love it,” he said.

“Have you talked to my wife about it?”

“He pulled a pipe from his coat pocket and thrust it into his mouth. “You seem to forget that I’m the genius here. I’m brilliant.” He produced a match and lit the pipe. Taking a puff and exhaling, he said firmly, “And you mustn’t forget that you are the supreme leader of this house. If Mrs. Big Dope says one word in disagreement, you should just … ,”

A female voice erupted from the back of the house. “All right. Who took out this window?”

I had turned toward the voice. When I turned back, the architect of my troubles was gone, leaving only a pile of papers and a faint wisp of smoke.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Morning thoughts … Books

C.W. and I were talking …

He was reading the newspaper with one head, watching the network news with another, and staring at me accusingly with the third. It was unnerving to say the least.

“I see,” he said, “where your state is adopting the Holy Bible as your state book.”

I couldn’t form an answer, so he continued.

“Given what is happening in America now, it seems understandable that your state would choose as its “official book,” one with such delicious passages as Himself’s orders to the Jewish soldiers as to how to treat the conquered Midianites: "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves." - (Numbers 31:17-18) It’s only the Bronze Age equivalent of “Grab them by the … what did he call them?”

“Don’t you, … y’all … have something better to do?”

“Oh no,” he said. “This is top notch. The whole galaxy is watching this.”

This guy is stern. - C.W.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Morning Thoughts … Facts

C. W. and I were talking …

He had been missing for a few days and I asked him where he had been. Turns out he was working on his Atomitizing Neutron Universal Scudcraft, the devise that transported him here. He keeps it hidden in an abandoned school building near here. He says it's perfectly safe from prying eyes there. Anyway …

“I’ve been modifying my ANUS to do specialized tasks,” he said.

“I think we’ve talked before about using that term,” I said, “but go ahead and tell me about what new things your, uh, spacecraft will go.”

“Skywriting,” he said.


“Yes, the Falloonian Elders ordered a two-part experiment.”

“Such as?”

“One,” said, “is how fast your so-called “alternate facts’ can travel, and two, the breadth of their belief-base.”

“And skywriting?”

“My colleagues in Texas have found out that musicians Willie Nelson and Keith Richardson plan to collaborate on a new musical album. The title will be The Good Dope and they expect it to sell millions of copies. Only a handful of trusted associates, and my people, know about it.”


“They plan secretly to disappear for several months in order to produce it in peace and solitude.”


“Can’t you see what kind of news coverage such a disappearance will cause?”

“And skywriting?”

“That’s my part.”


“A couple of months after they disappear, I’ll quietly write a message in the sky to be visible over all major population centers.”

“What message?”

He fumbled for a sheet, handed it to me, and I read:

“Dudes! Like, The Rapture has occurred.”

Perhaps it's time for an intervention.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

363. Accounting

“Debits on the left and credits on the right … or is it the other way … credits on the left …, oh bother!”

What? I rounded the door and came into the living room to find a wizened man wearing a pair of green eye shades studying over a pile of papers and muttering to himself. He was making notes on a yellow pad with a Number Two pencil.

“Hey C.W.,” I said. “What’s up?”

He looked at me and frowned beneath his eyeshades. He looked down, wrote something on the tab, and looked back. “Quiet,” he said, “I’m working on a project.”

“What kind of project?”

“A financial one. For Mrs. Big Dope. Real important. Be quiet.”

“You’re working on a financial project for my wife?”

“Yes. Top drawer stuff. She’s excited.”

“Stop, stop, stop,” I said. “Look at me.” He straightened up, laid his pencil aside, and glared.


“You tell me.”

“I’m preparing a budget for your family.”

“A what?”

“A budget. Your wife hired me to do it and you will love it. She says you’ve lost control of the finances and we’re going to make your family solvent again.”

“Oh really?”

“Quite. But you’ll love it. Want to hear some of the neat expenditures she’s budgeting for?”

“Why not?”

“Okay. Here goes.” He read from his yellow pad. “A new home with a five-acre dog pen and ten heated dog houses; a twelve-hundred foot workshop for you; a complete set of Powermatic tools and equipment for the shop; a ‘round the world cruise; a caretaker’s cottage and full-time caretaker; a fully equipped gazebo for ‘Happy Hour’ with total temperature control; a full-time maid and a full-time cook; a guest house for her dog friends; a library and writing studio for you; and a separate cottage and new car for me.”

“Will you get serious?”

“Oh, I am. We're going to make your family happy again.”

“And who is going to pay for all this?”

“No problem,” he said. “We’ve got it all worked out. First, we’ll cancel your guitar lessons and double your time between haircuts. We’ll make your family balanced again.”
Many accounting schemes are tried,
None succeed, unfortunately for us all. - C.W.
“You think that will balance the budget?”

“Of course not, silly. That’s just phase one.”

“What’s phase two?”

“The genius of our plan is phase two,” he announced with pride in his eyes. “We cut the family income by directing twenty percent of your monthly revenue from all sources to donations for the Sheriff’s Department to help in protecting all our treasures. We’ll make your family safe again.”

“That is the most illogical thing I’ve ever heard. Can’t you see the insanity in saying you’ll pay for more with less money?”

“Well,” he said in a huff. “Nobody says so when the President of the United States says it.”

Then I heard a female voice from the next room. “How’s it coming, my little financial genius?”

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