Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Short Nonfiction

THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION
by R.L. Johnson (abridged version) :

Monarch underestimates the anger of the peasant class. Monarch's head ends up in basket. New leader pledges to do better, but soon falls in love with power. Head, basket, repeat.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

I stopped by my local Safeway this afternoon to pick up a small Easter Ham. Then things got weird. As I hopped out of the truck… One should always hop at Easter time. It’s in the Scriptures. No, I don’t remember where. Ask Donald Trump... Anyway, as I hopped out of the truck, the sky opened up and sunshine flooded the parking lot. Three people dressed like Sailor Moon walked past me, and the sound of a French horn playing You Are My Sunshine filled the air. Yes, that happened... But wait, there’s more.

Inside the store I headed straight for the ham and then quickly to the express register. After placing my carefully selected Black Forest Ham on the conveyor belt, everything came to a stop. The cashier was searching for a key to open up the lottery scratch ticket case for a woman. The line grew longer, but this lady wasn’t moving without her scratch tickets; so, unable to find the right key, the cashier borrowed one form a nearby register and the wheels of capitalism began turning again. The lady purchased what appeared to be a few of every kind of ticket in the case. So far everything inside the store is normal, but, when the cashier tried to hand Scratch Ticket Lady her free Safeway Monopoly game piece, the women abruptly gave it back announcing that she didn’t want it because she’d, “never win”. I don’t know if anyone else in line was entertained, but the irony amused me enough to make the wait worthwhile.

After getting my ham and my free Monopoly game piece, I headed toward the door where a man asked me, “Do you play that Monopoly game?” He had a hand full of tickets so I figured he wanted mine too, but without thinking I said, “My wife does”. Then he gave me all of his tickets. I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “Thanks. I’ll tell my wife a nice guy at the store gave me these”. Then he started laughing, “Nice guy!” he said, “I need to do this more often… Nobody ever calls me a ‘nice guy!’” Doubly amused, I continued on.

Next thing ya know I’m back outside and the French horn music is audible again. This time I see where it’s coming from. There was a busker woman a few doors down, sitting on a chair, playing her heart out to an empty sidewalk. I never know how much to drop in a busker’s case, so I appreciated this one making it obvious. She was sitting outside The Dollar Store under a sign that said “Everything $1.00”. So I walked on down and got me a song for a buck.

...And as it turned out, that “French horn” wasn’t quite a French horn. But it was from the French horn family its owner told me. I don’t remember what she called it, but it was like a French horn except its big bell stuck straight out instead of curling around like a sleeping dog. Speaking of sleeping dogs, it’s time to take mine for a walk.


Good Friday everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Red Hot Pokers

Today as I was ripping out old stalks and leaves without mercy or precision from the dozens of Red Hot Poker plants (kniphofia uvaria) that grow around our house, I realized… These things must be suffering from some plant-form of Stockholm syndrome. I mean, they’re held captive within the confines of my yard, neglected and abused, yet they grow like crazy. They’re peed on by the dog, gnawed on by the donkeys, and everything short of water-boarded by me. The ground is dry and rocky in the summer, and half flooded and rocky in the winter. The only thing they can count on are the rocks. Believe me, the grass is both figuratively and literally greener on the other side of the fence.

A four-man landscape crew with implements of perfection and a full array of plant-spa services show up every week across the street, and the Red Hot Pokers never cry out. They bloom and attract hummingbirds for me each summer, gathering moisture from God only knows where to keep the hummers happily humming. They grow so well I’m constantly hacking them in half with a shovel and replanting chunks of them in places that other plants have given up on… and the chunks flourish. As fast as they grow they could easily grow themselves into a giant “SOS” that could be seen from a passing airplane… but they don’t. They could commit suicide like so many other plants in my yard have… but they don’t. A hydrangea shot itself in the head just last week.

Yes, they’re definitely sick. Not from pesticides, or chemical fertilizers like the poor lush green perfectly pruned plants across the street. No, they’re clearly sick with some sort of mental disorder… but in their weird way, they seem to like it here… and we like having them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Houdini’s greatest trick recently rediscovered:

Lost to history for nearly a century, a written eyewitness account of Harry Houdini’s greatest trick is now being reviewed by scholars. According to a just-released document: On August 3, 1921, Houdini was dressed before a live audience in soaking wet clothes. Each article of clothing, from underwear to outerwear, was pulled from a barrel of ice cold water on stage. His outermost layer consisted of a pair of high laced leather boots, a peacoat jacket, and wool gloves, all drenched. Houdini was then hand-cuffed and put into a large wet gunnysack.

The dripping sack containing Harry was then shoved into a large tumble dryer. The powerful clothes dryer (a precursor of today’s modern home version) caused the audience to gasp when it was turned on. George Sampson, inventor of the metal drum tumble dryer, and two of his assistants stood by in case of emergency. Harry was tumbled on medium heat until dry.

Approximately 90 minutes after being shoved into the dryer, the door was opened and Harry tumbled out. He was still in the gunnysack. He was still in the boots, jacket, and gloves, and he had not escaped the handcuffs. But upon closer inspection it was discovered that one sock was missing... ta-da!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Superman - The Later Years

Chapter One (Which begins with a very long sentence)

As a lethargic Lois Lane, now likely late for the luau, was laying languidly in the leaves of the landscape on Lower Lena Loop Lane behind the lanai of the library with a lacerated leg and a lost left loafer, but otherwise looking lovely (Despite being in her sixties now, Lois always looked lovely); Clark Kent was cavorting at a cautious cadence (as a man who was once very spry and adept at cavorting would tend to do after reaching the age of seventy) carrying a container of caramel creamers across the carpet of his cozy cabin in search of a cup of coffee last seen on the kitchen counter. Lamenting her lousy luck Lois labored to locate her lost loafer. Little did she know, it had landed on the lawn of the librarian Lill, just up the hill, where she took her spill.

The clock struck seven.


Chapter Two (Where Superman is called into action)

Clark, craving caffeine, was completely unaware of Lois’ location, or situation, and in his frustration he had forgotten all about the luau he was supposed to attend that evening. His memory was failing and his alliteration was slipping badly, but a couple recent rhymes seemed to buoy his spirits.

Suddenly Clark thought he heard a familiar cry coming from outside. Through the double doors and onto the deck he dashed deliberately, followed by a dubious dachshund dubbed Dagmar. The fresh air felt exhilarating, and even seemed to perk up his alliteration a bit. Dagmar remained dubious.

Clark’s cabin, on the crest of Cooper Canyon, was within earshot of Lower Lena Loop Lane which ran along the Cooper Canyon Creek directly below. He heard the cry again. Having dashed enough for one evening, Clark hurriedly dawdled back inside to the closet where he found his old cape and tights. “This is a job for Superman!” he announced to Dagmar.

The last phone booth in Cooper County had been removed several years ago, so Supe slipped into the bathroom and squeezed into the now iconic red and blue outfit. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror Clark noticed the outfit needed to be let out a little in the seat. He made a mental note to stop by the cleaners in the morning.

A few minutes later back on the deck Clark was trying to remember why he went out there. Then Superman thought he heard a familiar cry. To the railing he rushed, and with one hand cupped behind his ear he leaned out and listened. Hearing nothing but ear hair rustling in the wind, he leaned out a little farther.


Chapter Three: (The rescue)

Lois pulled Superman out of the hedge. “That was quite a fall you took,” she said, helping him to his feet.

“I flew,” he corrected her.

“Yes, maybe, but all the same it was quite a crash.”

“I’m a little out of practice,” Superman answered. Then as he brushed himself off he added, “I’m here to rescue you. Oh, and I saw a brown ladies loafer on my way down the hill. Is that yours?”

“Yes. Thank you it is,” she said, wiping the injured leg with her kerchief.

As they walked up the hill together Lois began explaining what had happened. “I was just stopping to pick up Lilith,” she said, “and I slipped on the wet grass and fell over the bank. Oh goodness, I’ve made us late! We were supposed to meet Clark at the luau.”

“Oh crap!” blurted Superman, “I mean…”

“Hello!” called Lilith, waving from her porch. “What happened?”


Chapter 4 (The Conclusion)

After assuring Lois that he’d explain the whole situation to Clark, Superman began the long trudge up the hill. “Don’t rush!” he called back, “and take care of that knee. That could get infected!”

“What was that all about?” asked Lilith, “and why is Clark wearing that ridiculous costume?”

“It’s a long story,” answered Lois.
   

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Yes, It's Election Season Again

FOX, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC: I’ve about had it with your dumbing down of the American electorate!

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, which means he believes that people should be informed and engaged enough to cast votes for what they feel is best for their society… And here’s the astonishing part – Bernie believes people’s votes should be counted and acted on!

Now before you have a Cold-War brain-fart about the word “socialist” just think about this for a minute: When is the last time you heard a wealthy Washington politician call himself or herself a Democratic Capitalist? The term exists but you don't hear it because today’s Washington capitalists aren't all that interested democracy. They’re not interested in the vote count, but rather the dollar count. The Supreme Court’s decision that “Money equals speech” has replaced the concept of “One man one vote,” or to be more accurate, “One person one vote”. In fact, "One person one vote" (i.e. Democracy) has become so unpopular that many wealthy capitalists are doing everything they can to suppress the vote of the people! Why? Because the lower voter turnout is, the easier and less expensive it is to buy elections and pull the strings of government!

Please consider that the next time you hear somebody question Bernie’s allegiance to American democracy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Executive Action

Thank you President Obama. Thank you for taking action instead of taking the cash that has corrupted Congress and crippled our government. Thank you for standing tall on behalf of the children of Newtown, and thousands of others. Thank you for your thoughtful, rational, and impassioned speech to a nation half-listening.

...And thank you Paul Ryan. Thank you for responding to the President's speech before it was even over. Thank you for demonstrating with your knee-jerk quickness and blanket statements that you are unhindered by reason. You did the NRA proud (Your check is in the mail). Now, just like you Mr. Ryan, Republicans across our nation who did not listen to the President's words today (let alone try to understand his reasoning) will refuse to even consider balancing their "right to bare arms" (Damn the "well regulated militia" part) with their fellow citizens right to live in a safe and sane society. They, like you will rail against reason, against facts and statistics, and against humanity. They will worship and hold high their holy firearms as they demonize their President for having the audacity to suggest that the right to be armed and dangerous is not absolute, and does not trump all other rights.