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Sunday, June 17, 2018

429. Peace

Came in this morning to find C.W. in one of his favorite shapes, Reggie the Young Conservative. He was fairly bubbling with enthusiasm, humming a pleasant melody and typing away on my laptop in rhythm with his tune.

“Hey Big Dope,” he said. “Are you in the presence of an important person or what?” He punctuated his question with a one-finger punch to the keyboard.

“Important?”

“Very important,” he said. “I’ve been given what may be the most important job in the history of the world.”

I took my coffee to the couch and sat. “And what might that be?” I said.

“I have been tasked to write up quotes for the president in the leadup to his Nobel Peace Prize nomination.”

“Oh really? How did that come about?”

“Partly because of my internal data retrieval system. I can access all the major speeches and quotes from history and use them as guides. My job is to make our glorious leader sound, well, like a leader.”

“Oh. I see.” But I didn’t really.

“How’s this for starters?” He picked up a sheet and read. “My good friends, for the first time in our history, an American president has returned from abroad bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

“Uh,” I began, but he interrupted.

Reading again, he said, “I believe it is peace with honor.”

I tried again, “Do you …”

He overrode again, “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”

“Would you wait …” I tried again, but he was on a roll.

“Here’s one for his critics,” he said. Lifting the paper, he read, “I tell you that I'm not dictatorial, I'm not intolerant, I'm not overpowering! You're all wrong, wrong, wrong, I tell you! I'm the most relaxed and understanding of people! None of you, I insist, must ever say I'm dictatorial again!” He lowered the paper and smiled, then said. “That’s some real presidential sounding stuff, is it not?”
“May I …”

“Here’s one of my best,” he said. “Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of the world, for the removal of those suspicions and those animosities which have so long poisoned the air. The question of North Korea is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it, I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.”

I groaned. He said, “That’s a good one, isn’t it?”

“Perhaps you should know,” I began.
 
Peace for all time? - C.W.
He interrupted me again, reading, “I am resolved that my method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern us, and I am determined to continue my efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of the world.”

In one fluid motion, he grabbed another sheet and read, “Whatever the lengths to which others may go, my American government will never resort to the deliberate attack on women and children and other civilians for purposes of mere terrorism.”

He looked at me as if he were a minister finishing a benediction. “Peace in our time,” he said. “That’s pure gold, don’t you think.”

“I think,” I said, “that you have just stated minor variations on quotes by Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England in the 1930s,” during the leadup to World War Two.”

Es macht nichts,” he said. “Who reads history anymore? Our folks sure don’t. Waste of time. Waste of time," he repeated. Now, do you have anything else to say?”

“No,” I said. “I think you are right on top of things.”

Uber alles,” he said. “Uber alles.” He stopped and thought, having had, it seemed, a brainstorm. He grabbed a pad and started making notes. I sipped my coffee and smiled.



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Sunday, June 10, 2018

428: Conflicts

In an unusual move, C.W. came waddling into the living room this morning unshaped, that is to say he was in his actual form. That’s always a surprise. He spread himself across the couch as best he could and relaxed. I waited.

“We have a question,” Right Head said.

“Yes, a tough question,” Middle Head said.

“Do you have any ice cream?” Left Head said.

“Is that the question?”

“No,” Middle Head said. He looked at Left Head and back at me. “We have a serious question.”

“I’m your man then,” I said. “Shoot.”

Right Head and Left Head both looked at Middle Head. He looked at Right Head. “You tell him. It’s your problem.”

Right head nodded. “It’s like this,” he said. “This one,” he nodded at Middle Head, “is disrespecting us.”

“He’s being a real asshole,” Left Head said.

“Going out of his way to alienate us,” Right Head said.

“Being a real jerk-off,” Left Head said.

“I’m just tired of being the pocket book of ideas that these two idiots draw from,” Middle Head said. “I have the greatest mind in the galaxy and they add nothing to the deals I make.”

“See what I mean?” Right Head said.

“What a douche bag,” Left Head said.

“I don’t need them,” Middle Head said. “I do the greatest things in our galaxy without them. They just hang around and profit from the things I do. I’m more attractive than either of them, too. Don’t you think?”

I swallowed hard and tried not to think about such things. “I’m not exactly an expert on concepts of Falloonian beauty,” I said.

“You’re as pitiful as they are,” Middle Head said, nodding at each in return. I have thousands of heads wanting to share a body with me. They know I’m the greatest head around. They would line up to be with me.”

“How long have you three been together?” I asked.

“How the hell should I know?” Middle Head said.

“Approximately four million Scheruntshoolters,” Right Head said. “Maybe six hundred Earth years.”

“That’s a long time to be associated with Shit-For-Brains,” Left Head said.

“How could you manage without one another?” I said.

“I don’t need anyone,” Middle Head said. “Haven’t you been listening? I’m the greatest and I tell it like it is. People love that in a head. I tell them, ‘Just kiss my head and you’ll see glory.’ That’s the greatest motto ever thought up.”

“Uh,” I said. “I think I would be a little careful with that if I were you.”

“You’re just as pitiful as they are. Everything you tell me is fake.”

“If you don’t trust me, and you don’t trust the other two heads who have been your friends for so long,” I said, “whom do you trust?”

“That’s the problem,” Right Head said.

“Yeah,” Left Head said, “Just listen to who Scumbag has buddied-up with. Have you ever heard of Wunewphelplaeze?”

“Where’s that? What does the word mean?”

Three GUTS whirled. Right Head spoke first. “Anus Mundi,” he said, then, “No, wait. I hit Latin by mistake.” He started to speak but Left Head cut him off.

“It’s where,” he said, “and I hate to say this, but it’s where the planets in our galaxies used to send their malformed and maladjusted units to keep them from breeding with the normal units.”

“Only one problem,” Right Head said.

“What’s that?”
Does this look like the face
of a man of menace? - C.W
.

Left Head broke in. “They started breeding with one another and now they have their own civilization, even have their own leader, the worst unit in the galaxy, one called Ahhlchileya,” a real piece of excrement.”

“A piece of excrement who now has a new best friend,” Left head said. He and Right Head looked inward in unison.

“Fake facts,” Middle Head said. “Cheap lies. He’s had no charges brought against him.”

“Dormantatized units can’t bring charges,” Right Head said.

“He buys Doodo-Head expensive things,” Left Head said. “Where do you think he got that new Les Paul guitar that he plays when he makes us shape up like Slash?”

“Enough, enough,” I said. “I see disaster on the horizon.” I looked at Middle Head. “Can’t we reach a compromise?”

“Compromises are for those who can’t cut the pungent yellow condiment consisting of the pulverized seeds of a selected plant.”

I looked at the other two. “Can you report him to the Falloonian Elders?”

“Hell no,” Left Head said.

“He’s been buying them expensive gifts with funds Ahhlchielya gives him,” Left Head said.  “The Elders have gone bad and will support him no matter what.” The three began to argue incoherently.

I arose and left them there. I walked to the door, opened it, and walked outside for a breath of fresh air. Off to the west, some menacing black clouds were forming. I walked out to our farm pond, sat on the bank and studied the pond. By its waters, I wept when I remembered the good times.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

427: Books

“You want to have some fun?”

“Not particularly. Actually, I having fun, just sitting here reading this book. Why don’t you try it?”

“That’s boring. I don’t read books.”

C.W. was in the shape of a 30-something, a male with short cropped hair and preppy clothes. He’s been trying it out for several days. Each day, he’s gotten a little more unbearable.

I said, “If you don’t read books and things, you may end up being uninformed.”

“I don’t care.”

“You should. You wouldn’t want to end up like Kanye West, would you?”

“Who’s he?”

“He’s a man who doesn’t read books.”

“Is he successful?”

“To hear him tell it, he is.”

“There you go.”

“Don’t you,” I said, “want to know the importance of history and current events?”

“Why?”

“So you can sound intelligent and informed.”

“I can do that already.”

“How?”

“I just make stuff up and then make it fit. That’s the greatest way ever found to sound like you know things. There is no better way. And I am the greatest person at it that there ever was, in the history of the world maybe.”

“What if someone asked you about a famous author?”

“What do you mean?”

“Say Virginia Woolf.”

“Who’s Virginia Woolf.”

“A writer. Do you know anything about her?”

“I know she was a horrible writer until she met me. She was missing the benefits of having a strong man in her life. After a few months with me as her lover, the greatest lover she had ever known, she got famous with her writing. People love her, all because of me. I’m the greatest gift that a woman could experience, you know. Just ask Virginia Woolf.”

“I can’t. She’s dead.”

“Of course. She couldn’t stand life without me. Ask me about someone else, or something else.”

“What do you think of the Truman Doctrine.”

“I helped him with that one. We patterned it after the work of President Putin in Russia. I’m the greatest friend Vladimir has, and we helped, uh, what was his name?”

“Harry Truman.”

“Yeah, Harriet Tubman, I was his best friend too. Anyway, I helped form his doctrine of helping Russia expand its influence in America and we have, to date, created a million new jobs by working together. Working peacefully, I might add, as peaceful a Jew and an Arab.”

My head was beginning to spin. “What might you have to say about Charles Darwin and his writing on natural selection?”

“His what?”

“Natural selection?”w

“Oh,” he said, regaining his confidence. “I helped him with that.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. He came to me and asked me to help them select a new pastor for his church. He’s a deacon there, you know, a real man of God. He and I got along real well together. I helped him a lot in selecting a new man.”

“How?”
 
.
Why read when I can make facts up? - C.W.
“Told him what traits to look for in a preacher.”

“Grace, love, and brotherhood?”

“Oh heavens no. That’s old-timey stuff. People don’t want that. We need preachers, men preachers by they way, who can stir folks to anger at those who don’t think the way we do. Like that Franklin Graham man says, ‘Hate is the trait that makes us great.’ That man’s church has added five thousand new members since they took my advice. I’m the greatest thing that ever happened to them. What do you think about that?”

“I think I’m going to go sit somewhere in the shade, somewhere nice and quiet.”

“That’s fine,” he said. “I’m going over to a meeting at party headquarters.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, they’re having a little ceremony for the Science-Education Committee members.”

“Something important? Are they planning to cut funding again?”

“Not now. Maybe later.”

“What are they celebrating now?”

“I’m not exactly sure, but it’s the greatest honor a politician can get. It’ll produce tens of thousands of new jobs.”

“And what, exactly is this great honor for this committee?”

“One of its members is getting something called a GED.”



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Sunday, May 20, 2018

426. Newscast


Sometimes C.W. likes to pretend he is a news analyst and give me a recap of the week. He has this shape he likes when he does it, very grave and serious. He looks more like one of the great newscasters of the past. He always starts the same way, as he did yesterday.

“Good Saturday to you. It has been a week of weeks here in America, I’m Charles Wellingham here to tell you all about it.”

I don’t move, as a general rule, that is, until he makes a gaff. He records the broadcast and I worry that someone might see one.

Anyway, back to yesterday. He took a deep breath.

“Sad to say, my fellow Americans, our country seems to continue sinking into a hole from which it may never emerge.”

I listened.

“What kind of hole, you ask? That depends on you, fellow citizen. Some call in a ‘hole of despair.’ They see your species adopting attitudes that draw social lines that may never be crossed. ‘Where,’ they say, ‘did civil discourse go?’ We may never know. A species that wears baseball caps on backwards can’t be expected to contemplate complex thoughts, or follow the tenuous paths of reason.”

He looked at me for approval. I nodded and he proceeded.

“Others don’t speak of despair. They sense a moment of triumph. They see our country as being directed by more spiritual forces. The only hole they see affecting America is what they might like to term ‘a glory hole,’ and they praise its promise.”

“Uh.”

He had started to speak again, but stopped. He looked at me and said, “What?”

“I’m not sure I would use the term ‘glory hole’ if I were you.”

“You’re not me, but why? Too religious?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Okay.” He made a note and continued. “We leave our holy-roller friends to their thoughts and continue.”

“Uh.”

He sighed.

I said, “I don’t thing they like to be called ‘holy rollers’ anymore.”

“Well, you can’t please everybody. Let’s continue.” He consulted his notes, assumed his camera-face, took a breath and said. “We lost some more of America’s school children to gun violence this week. That’s getting to be a ‘below the fold’ occurrence in our country. We may stop reporting it entirely, except perhaps in the community news. That would become a sad non-commentary, don’t you think?”

He looked a me. I nodded. Pretty good. He continued.

Oddly, the president of those dead school children refuses to address this whole culture of gun violence. Some of you may think that’s queer.”

He looked at me. I nodded again. He was getting into his groove.

“It’s queer, all right,” he said. “You might say the president is acting as queer …,” he searched for words, “…, let’s say queer as a three-dollar bill.”

I straightened. “Uh.”

“Now what?”

“Not sure I agree with your journalism work there,” I said. “Try a different simile.”

“Why?”

“Because I said to.”

“Okay.” He made a note and continued. “The president’s behavior seems to puzzle nearly everyone these days, everyone that is except the man we journalists who cover government are calling ‘The Walrus.’”

I let that one pass. It seemed to fit.

“We have learned from a trusted source inside the White House that fellow staffers don’t refer to the president’s most trusted advisor as ‘The Walrus’ but as,” I could tell he was undergoing an internal translation, “a small syringe for douching the vagina, especially as a contraceptive measure.”

“Wait,” I said. “Why don’t you just leave out that part?”

“Is there a better translation?”
 
Oh dear. - C.W.


“No, well, yes, but I think it’s best avoided on a formal broadcast.”

“Damn,” he said, making another note. He continued. “Rumor has it that the president, whom most staffers now lovingly refer to as ‘The Cheeto,’ called the Walrus in last week to discuss reports that the Catholic Pope was getting concerned about our warlike actions in the Middle East.”

He made that motion newscasters use when they turn to face another camera. “What, you might ask, was the response from the Walrus? Insiders report this: ‘How many nukes does the Pope have?’ The Cheeto thought that was cute, sources also say.”

In further news, we have learned that the Walrus and the Cheeto have eliminated several governmental functions. One of those was the office of the command center for dealing with disease outbreak. He termed the office, if our sources are correct, ‘As useless as mammary ducts on a boar hog.’ Fox News science expert Sean Hannity agreed, praising the action as ‘draining the area of low-lying, uncultivated ground where water collects.’”

He made the motion of returning to the original camera.

“Now for international news, we regret to inform you of another outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa.”



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Sunday, May 13, 2018

425. House Guests


“C.W., get in here right now. “You,” I pointed to a group outside the door of our farmhouse, “stay right where you are.”

“Can’t come right now,” I heard a voice say. “I’m packing,”

“I’ll pack you for a one-way trip home if you don’t get in here.”

“May we come in now?” the apparent leader of the group said. He was a thin man with a ludicrous goatee and close-cropped hair. He wore patched jeans and a work-shirt opened in front. A large tattoo of an eagle filled his chest. He carried a suitcase in one hand and a large grocery bag folded at the top in the other. Behind him stood a slovenly woman with a face that might, at some point long ago, been attractive. Now, both her face and bosoms sagged, and a large expanse of belly hung over the tops of cut-off jeans. Two pale, emaciated men stood with her. Each had a grocery bag, similar to the leader’s, in each hand.

“No,” I said. “You may not come in. If fact, I would advise you very strongly to depart the premises before my wife gets back.”

“But we’re paid up,” the leader said.

“C.W.” I yelled over my shoulder, “I’m not telling you again.”

I heard a rustle behind me, and Reggie the Young Conservative walked into the room. “Oh hi,” he said to the group as he straightened the collar of his shirt. “I see you found the place.”

The leader looked at me with a nervous twitch, and said to C.W., “There seems to be a problem.”

“No problem,” C.W. said, “I’ll be finished packing in a moment and the place will be yours.”

“What the godalmighty hell is going on here?” I queried.

“Fundraising for the campaigns,” C.W. said. “You know we’re all going off for the long weekend.”

“So? I thought we weren't going to publicize that.”

“There’s this place on the net,” he said, "and they rent your house for you when you don’t need it.”

I turned to him. “So, you rented our house to these people?”

“No, the place on the net did. Isn’t that neat? The money will buy a lot of Nancy Pelosis.”

“A lot of what?”

“You know, campaign brochures with her picture on them. We can’t use the ‘jigaboo’s’ picture anymore, so our folks are running against the Evil Grandmother. You do know she has a secret chamber under a Methodist church near Golden Gate Park where they force young boys to have sex-change operations and then use them for sex slaves, don’t you? It’s been all over Fox News.”

I turned to the ones standing outside the door. “There has been a mistake,” I said. “This, this, …, this creature has no authority to rent our house.”

“The website said it was okay.”
 
I guess I was lucky after all. - C.W.
“And how did you find the website?”

“A guy in ‘county-lockup’ told us about it,” one of the young men said.

“Shut up,” the leader said, turning to the young man. I saw the woman punch him in the ribs at the same time.

“And what,” I said, “do you have in those grocery bags?”

There was an audible crunch as several hands tightened.

“Oh, just some, uh, uh, …,” he struggled. Thinking must have posed a degree of difficulty for him.

“Religious tracts,” the woman said. She brightened, “Yeah,” she said with more confidence, “we planned a weekend of religious study.” Her whole being seemed to glow with the joy of explaining. “We vote the same political party as,” she nodded toward C.W. and said, “Mr. Trunce here, that’s the religious party, so it seemed like a great match-up.”

“Religious tracts, eh.”

“Yes sir.”

“Tell you what I’m going to do,” I said. “I’ll leave you with, uh,” I looked at C.W. and then back at the group, “Mr. Trunce, and I’ll call a friend of mine with the Sheriff’s Department. He can come over, and when my wife gets back, the two of them can review your religious tracts. If they approve, our house is yours for the weekend.”

I would say their faces paled, but they were so pale already that any incremental change would go undetected. I turned to C.W. “Mr. Trunce,” I said, “may I have a word?”

I took him out of sight, motioned for him to lean an ear toward me, and said, so only he could hear, “You are in a world of shit if my wife catches one sight of them. Now you go and tell them.”

He nodded and walked back toward the front door. He had only taken a few steps before he turned and said, “No need. They’re gone.”

I heard a sound from outside and went to a window. Two unknown cars had pulled up in the driveway. From one, a long-haired man with no shirt on yelled, “Parteeee time.”

The group’s leader stopped him, and an animated conversation ensued. The group piled into a decrepit van and the entire caravan sped away slinging gravel everywhere. I turned to C.W. He said, “May I borrow your Bible? I’d like to be reading it when Mrs. Big Dope gets back.” 



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Sunday, May 6, 2018

424: Science


Oh my, I hadn’t seen anyone smoke a pipe in years. Didn’t know they still made them. But there was C.W. puffing away on one, sitting at a patio table. His shape was a lot like the late playwright Arthur Millar. He had books and papers scattered in front of him.

He motioned for me to join him and I did.

He waved a hand across the pile of material before him like he was giving it his blessing. “I think,” he said, “that I’ve about figured it out.”

“How to look anachronistic?”

He ignored me. “Why your species is so unwilling to move into the future,” he said.

“Elucidate.” I could tell he was in one of his serious moments, and I enjoy those.

“Do you ever think about the monumental and complex problems facing your planet?” he said.

“All the time.”

“Ever thing of what it will take to solve those problems?”

“Probably things that we haven’t thought of yet.”

“Precisely,” he said.

That made me feel good. He rarely acknowledges that I know anything.

“Continue, please,” I said.

“Ever wonder,” he said, continuing in a questioning mode, “why one of the world’s richest families, emanating by the way,” he said, “from your own state, has joined hands with major religious institutions and a dominant political party in a plan to abrogate your current system of educating your children? Ever say, to yourself, what do they have to gain by denouncing reason, science, and the ability to address problems in a cognitive way?”

“You are right. It doesn’t make sense.”

He smiled, nodded, and picked up a large book from the table. “Ever read this?” he asked. It was a worn copy of The Golden Bough, by Sir James George Frazer, a Scottish social anthropologist, influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion. He is often considered one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology.

I nodded and smiled myself. “Yes, but it was a long time ago in a different lifetime.” A flood of memories washed over me. “I credit Frazer with freeing me from the shackles of mythology forged on me as a child.” I was sort of screwing with him by resorting to flowery language.

He ignored me. “Then you know how he recorded humankind’s cognitive process, beginning first with magic as a method of controlling the environment.”

“I seem to remember.”

“Then,” he continued, as it gradually dawned on your species that dances and incantations weren’t really able to change things, and that people didn’t suffer because you made a doll-like image of them suffer.”

“Go on.”

“So,” he said, “the thinkers of that time decided that external forces must guide their world. They chose religion, assuming there are personal agents, superior to man, controlling nature.  It has been said that this is a far more complex notion than that of magic, and requires a much higher degree of intelligence.”

“This is getting a bit deep,” I said.

“We’re almost there,” he said. “Hang with me.”

What else could I do?

“We are now at the point in the evolution of your people at which they thought that reliance on a divine source might be the best technology to be used in controlling the environment.”

“And some still do,” I said.

“Oddly enough,” he said. “This troubles the Falloonian Elders to no end.”

“I can see. What happened next?”

“In simple terms?”

“In simple terms, please.”

“In simple terms, religious contemplation led to complex thinking, and complex thinking led to science.”

“Science?”

“Science,” he said. “And as science emerged, your species hardened in its belief that the world had to be controlled, and, to a thoughtless few, that control had to be carried out on their terms, and for their ends.”

“And?”
 
Oddly, someone once suggested that
alchemy led to the scientific method. - C.W.
“Well hell,” he said, “can’t you see?”

“See what?”

“How science got their way.”

“I think maybe I do.”

“Let me help move you along,” he said. “I haven’t got all day.” He puffed on his pipe until he started the smoke flowing in bullous clouds. It was aromatic and not unpleasant. “Humankind can conceive all sorts of weird ideas and proposals. The problem, then, is that science can test those ideas and proposals.”

“And?”

“And how do you exert control over people with ideas that science can prove wrong?” He puffed again. “Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to make people satisfied with their state of poverty. So, you tell them you’re going to cut their source of revenue and that will increase their income.”

“That sounds a bit familiar.”

“Doesn’t it though? Now, the problem is, as you well know, a second-year college student majoring in mathematics—some call that science—can prove that proposition false in a few moments. How do you maintain your control? You can’t kill all the college students.”

“No,” I said, “but how do you exert control over people with ideas that science can prove wrong?”

“Simple,” he said. He blew a huge cloud of smoke my way and I inhaled a bit of it. “You kill science.”

“But how?”

“First,” he said, “you kill all the teachers.”

I rose and walked away, staggering just a bit.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

423: Optimism


“Did you know,” the figure before me said, “that during World War Two, your military did a survey of something we might call ‘promotion satisfaction’ and got some amazing results?”

“Oh?”

“Yes, the soldiers in the foxholes, the so so-called ‘grunts,’ faced very slow advancement in rank, hardly moving up the promotion ladder at all, except to fill the ranks of the fallen.”

“Oh?”

“While,” the figure said, “those GIs in the newly forming Army Air Corp received the fastest rate of promotion. Zoom! Right up the ladder they went.”

“Oh?”

“Want to guess which group found satisfaction with promotions?”

“Not really.”

“I thought you would. Yep. The common foot soldier thought the promotion system was fair.”

“Oh?”

“And the ‘flyboys’ thought it was horribly unfair.”

“Ain’t that something?”

“I knew you would find it interesting.”

“Did they ever figure out why?”

“Something about equity. Seems that no matter how fast someone in the Air Corp was promoted, he knew some else who had been promoted faster.”

“Oh.” The figure proposing this bit of knowledge was a new shape C.W. had devised of late: Happy Hornibrook. He was a thin, bespectacled fellow with a receding hairline. Looked much like a henpecked husband. But he was ever the optimistic soul, sort of a Falloonian Pangloss.

“Did you know,” he said, “that the number of people in your world in extreme poverty fell by 137,000 since yesterday?

“No.”

“Every day for nearly 30 years.”

“But I still don’t have a Les Paul Standard guitar, and my rich nephew, who’s 30 years younger than I, does.”

“Did you know that the world is about 100 times wealthier than 200 years ago?”

“No.”

“That the share of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and half a percent of the toll in the second world war?”

“No.”

“That during the 20th century Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job?”

“No.”

“That in every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a whopping 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago?”

“Even the home-schooled and the so-called ‘young-earthers’ out there?”

“There are anomalies.”

“Are you purposefully trying to drive me crazy?”

“Don’t you find it interesting that children are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900, while ‘outside the schoolhouse,’ analytic thinking is encouraged by a culture that trades in visual symbols (subway maps, digital displays), analytic tools (spreadsheets, stock reports) and academic concepts that trickle down into common parlance?”

“Whoop de do.” I left out one extra word that would have hurt his feelings.

“I can’t believe that you would be unmoved to know that, two centuries ago, only one percent of people lived in democracies and, even there, women and working-class men were denied the vote. Now two-thirds of people live in democracies, and even authoritarian states such as China, are freer than they once were.”

“But we still have no cure for nausea.”

“You can understand their interest.”

That got me. “Who’s interest?”

“The Elders.”

“The Falloonian Elders?”

“Yes, I sent them some facts like this, with documentation, and they wrote back.”

“What did they say?”

“That it sounded like the world, and your country in particular, is making progress.”

“That’s good.”
Good news: The number of nuclear bombs
in world has fallen by 85 percent since its peak.
Bad news: It only takes one.

“No, that’s bad.”

“Why?”

“They sent another message.” He pulled a paper from his pocket and unfolded it.

“What does it say.”

He read it and thought. I could hear his Galactic Universal Translator humming.

“Just tell me what your GUT is telling you.”

He took a breath, exhaled, and said, “This is a rough translation.” I nodded, and he read. “Then find out why in hell they are pissed off enough to elect a professional wrestling promoter to go and sexually intercourse things up.”

See also:
Enjoy these at all? If so, order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw PressAmazon, or other book sellers. It will make him so happy. Also, click on an ad. It earns him a little and costs the advertiser, sort of a win-win.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

422. On Writing


Sometimes you just have to get a little bemused over one of C.W.’s shapes. This morning was one of those times. Ye gods!

I think he was trying for Kurt Vonnegut Jr., but ended closer to Rasputin. Anyway, he was at the laptop typing furiously. He punched a key and said, “Good morning my son.” The printer whirred and a sheet slide forward. He took the sheet, glanced at it and placed it upside down on a pile.

Not having the heart to ask, I just watched. Without looking at me, he said “Sit down. I just need to finish this chapter." He continued to type.

"And what are we working on?" I asked.

“You are working on interrupting a genius at work. I’m working on writing a novel.”

“And what kind of novel are we writing?”

“Murder mystery.”

“May I take a look?” I motioned toward the stack of printed sheets.

“Knock yourself out. Just don’t get them out of order.”

I picked up the pile and took it to the couch. I set my coffee on a table and read from the beginning. It wasn’t long before I stopped. “Chump Williamson?” I said.

“What about him? “

“That’s the name you chose for your hero?”

“What’s wrong with ‘Chump’? We’ll brand him as an international star-detective. Simple name. Easy to remember.”

“Hmmm,” I said, as I continued to read. Then I stopped. “Wait,” I said.

“What?”

“You can’t have your hero making fun of a woman who’s just had a miscarriage.”

“Why not? She was getting on his nerves.”

“And he mocks her in her moment of distress?”

“Yeah. But he’s a good detective. Didn’t he say so when he told her to quit bothering him? That builds his character as a person who doesn’t get distracted. My fans love that.”

I read some more. I stopped. “This must be a misprint,” I said.

“What?”

“He tells the judge that he saw the suspect running from the scene of the crime.”

“So?”

“You had him across town at the time.”

“So?”

“He lies?”

“Wouldn’t you, in order to get what you want?”

“What kind of hero are you creating?”

“One that will get the job done. Read on. He says so. That is just one of his many gifts.” He motioned toward the stack I was holding. “Read.”

I started back. Two pages later, I stopped. “C.W.,” I said.

“What?”

“The hero of a novel can’t rape a witness he was questioning.”

"Why not? She was asking for it.”

“No she wasn’t.”

“Didn’t she come to the door in a tight tee-shirt and short dress?”

“Well yes, but ….”

He interrupted. “She might as well have said, ‘Take me,’ and he did. What’s wrong with that?”

“I don’t think your more religious readers will like it.”

“Bullshit. Haven’t you gotten to the part where Chump meets Franklin Graham?”

“Don’t tell me Chump teams up with the evangelicals.”

“Yeah. Like Chump says, ‘You grab them by their Bibles and they’ll do anything you want.’ So you just mind your own business and read.”

I took a deep breath. “Hey,” he said. “Is ‘nasty’ spelled with a ‘y’ or ‘ie’ do think?”

“Nasty?”

He glanced at the passage he was writing. “Yeah, as in, ‘After he and Marge finished doing the big nasty, he jumped up and started dressing. She wasn’t quite finished but he didn’t act like he cared one way or the other. He had to go beat a confession out of a witness. He was wasting time.’ That’s some pretty nifty writing don’t you think?”

I was aghast, as one might imagine. “Who is Marge?”
The broads ... they really
love my books. - C.W.
 

“That’s the one woman Chump truly loves.”

“And you describe their lovemaking as ‘doing the big nasty?’ Isn’t that a little grossly put?”

“Nah. I originally had it as ‘making Mr. Two-Backs,’ but my fan base ain’t into Shakespeare.”

No, Dear Reader, you’re not imagining things. He was sounding more and more like a Mickey Spillane character.

“And your hero gets confessions by beating witnesses?”

“Yeah. It saves time, you know. He has this terrific conviction rate. They say his fans may even get tired of all the convictions.”

“You really think this may work, this ‘Chump Williamson’ thing?”

“Are you kidding me? Look at who the serial killer is whacking.”

“Public school teachers? Do you really think that will sell?”

“You shittin’ me? Walmart’s already pre-ordered a hundred thousand copies.”

See also:
Enjoy these at all? If so, order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw PressAmazon, or other book sellers. It will make him so happy. Also, click on an ad. It earns him a little and costs the advertiser, sort of a win-win.