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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Sleepy Prune with Large Calves

The question most writers dread is the one they are asked the most often. “Where do you get your ideas?”
Now I haven’t been asked that question yet, but I’m hoping that someday I will be famous enough that someone will. When that day comes, I WILL HAVE AN ANSWER!!
I get them in the shower. It’s usually when the water is hottest, and steam fills the bathroom. In other words it’s when a computer or tape recorder would corrode, paper would wilt and when ink would run.
I get them when the lights are out and I’m so close to asleep that I’m not sure if I’m even awake. It’s when my legs are half under the covers and half walking a woodsy trail I walked when I was a child. In other words, it’s when I can’t possibly get up and fire up the desk top.
I get them when I’m walking, far from home and only when I have no mobile device, pen or paper. It’s when a mockingbird or noisy brook is telling me a story with the kind of magic that will break if I breathe too hard. In other words, it’s when I am absolutely certain that I can take nothing from my experience but memories.
It’s also usually raining.
So when I’m in the shower, or about to fall asleep, or walking by a brook, I do my best to remember the brilliant idea.
And I usually forget most of it.
Muses, being frisky sorts, love giving writers – or at least wannabe writers, glimpses and teases, without any possibility to them getting the entire picture down in print.
Or maybe they just want us to be clean, well rested, and properly exercised (but not exorcised.)
No – I think they’re just frisky.
Muses are allergic to the practical. Muses want to haunt the writer, not give dictation. They want you to forget your dentist appointment on Tuesday, and that you need to make a deposit in your checking account by 3PM to prevent the check you wrote to the Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance (my favorite civic organization,)
from bouncing. They want your entire attention, all the time; because if you stop listening, that’s the moment they’ll whisper their best stuff – too low to hear.
So now you know why writers step out in traffic, zone out at dinner parties, and wear outfits that were obviously chosen at random. We’re paying attention to another world, a world of ideas populated by practical jokesters. Our laptops are crammed with thousands of files – most of them shorter than a paragraph or two, waiting for the moment with the muse will relent and give the rest of the story.
But that rarely happens. Usually the rest of the story is constructed by the badly abused and poorly dressed writer, building his superstructure of paper-mache onto the muse’s tiny foundation of gold.
And it usually sucks, and gets relegated to the “needs work” file which always far exceeds the “ready to publish” file.
And you hear the muse giggle.
Some day a sixteen-year-old at a dinner in one of those rare moments when I’m paying attention will say to me, “I’d want to be a writer, but I’d love to know where you get your ideas.”
“Would you; would your really?” I’ll ask.
And I’ll giggle in conjunction with a chorus of muses dancing around my head and braiding my nose hairs.

Misery loves company, so they say.

And sometimes, as in the movie, Stranger than Fiction, the muses really mess us up.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dirk Destroyer Part 35 Chapter 17

Any similarity of the characters to persons (or jerks,) living or dead is protected by some lawyer stuff somebody told me about one time.

Chapter 17
The Speaker Monster

I must have slept because waking up was not pleasant. My eyes had reacted to something in the air, and were swollen and gunked up. Dirk, who never had that problem, told me that it was a system in my body that thought I was under attack from pollen, or dust. All I needed to do was flip my inner switch and it would go away. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take me into my area of switches the way he could take me to the school of amazing stuff.
I picked off the piles of gunk and hoped I didn’t look as bad as Mage-e-not. The paste that never came completely out of his shirt, had now plastered it to his body. Form-fitting was not a good look for Mage-e-not.
Lip Ton Tease, dripping and radiant, looked at each of us back and forth. “Showers,” he said, pointing in a more precise way than non-monks pointed. The point was so precise, that for a moment, I thought I saw a red dotted line form across the landscape. I wiped my eyes and looked again. It was gone.
“I prefer baths,” said Mage-e-not.
But we figured the monk was probably right – a shower would make life much better for us and the people we traveled with. We trundled off to where Tease had pointed so precisely. We trundled there because Mage-e-not and I shared the joy of trundling, just as we disliked clambering. I realized that Mage-e-not was becoming a friend.
Maybe a shower would wash that away.
The showers were impressive. A line of personal-sized waterfalls fell from forty feet above. Carved in stone above each fall were symbols which on reflection became words in my mind, “freezing, cold, cool, tepid, warm, hot, scalding,” and “are you kidding?”
“Are those words?” asked Mage-e-not.
“No,” I said. “They’re >#@%*’s.”
“Of course,” said Mage-e-not. “How do you spell that?”
“Exactly,” said a Showr Rinn master we had not noticed till that moment. “Contemplate that while under the waters, and you will reach enlightenment.” He produced a loofah and broke it in three sections with one hand. With the other hand he rebound and braided the seven cords of his braids with two fingers while healing the wings of a wounded butterfly with two others.
His thumb just sat and contemplated the experience.
The monk gave a section of loofah to Mage-e-not and another to me.
I was about to thank him, but he had left or was no longer visible. In my hand was a full sized loofah.
“Wish I could do that,” said Mage-e-not.
“Maybe you should join the Showr Rinn.”
“Nah, I like baths.”
Mage-e-not took two steps toward the tepid shower, and I was contemplating the scalding when I saw the naked form of Akwar showering beneath it.
There’s got to be a switch in my head to erase that.
That’s when we saw the speaking pair.
I had heard of the speaking pair, but hadn’t run across them before. At first glance they appeared to be two beings, the first a salamander-like creature with a long tail. The second being was a man of sorts, immediately behind the salamander and with a bright orange face.
“I don’t want to go to the ‘are you kidding’ shower, said the man with the orange face. I would like to go to the tepid shower.
The salamander flamed, and it became clear how the man acquired his orange face.
“Look,” said the orange-faced man, “I’m very important. I’m more important than you are now. You haven’t been speaking for years.”
The salamander just flamed again.
The man reeled, and the pair nearly knocked over Mage-e-not.
“What’s the problem?” said Mage-e-not.
“Grinchking here wants to use the ‘are you kidding,’ shower, but it’s too hot for me,” Said the orange-faced man.
“I know you,” said Mage-e-not. “You’re Jonma Burner.”
“That’s me,” said Jonma Burner. “I’m very important. I’m much more important than Grinchking.”
Predictably, the lizard flamed again.
“So why don’t you each go to the shower you prefer?” asked Mage-e-not.
I knew the answer. The salamander’s tail, though it appeared to be only wrapped around Jonma Burner, actually was connected to the man at the naval. Jonma Burner gave the tail a tug which made his belly bulge.
“I could have lived without seeing that,” said Mage-e-not.
“It’s only temporary,” said Jonma Burner. “As soon as he becomes completely irrelevant, I’ll be able to stand on my own. Then you’ll hear some powerfully moderate middle-of-the-roading that will get me fire from both sides – not just his backside.”
“Good luck with that,” said Mage-e-not.
The lizard dragged the Jonma off towards the ‘are you kidding’ shower, and the thought of Akwar made me abandon any thought of scalding and settle for the warm shower next to Mage-e-not’s tepid. “There seem to be a lot of Jonmas around,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Mage-e-not. “We’re close to the Ton That Needs Washing where all the dirty politics happens. Politics produces Jonmas, or attracts the ones that are already produced. I haven’t figured out which.
“Loofas are great, though,” he said.
I had to agree.
I came out of the shower feeling much better, though Mage-e-not and I still seemed to be becoming friends. I guess even showers and loofahs can’t fix everything.
We returned to the campsite and Ono eyed my loofah. I handed it over to her without her even having to ask, and she ran off towards the shower. Lustavious tried to grab Mage-e-not’s loofah, and the little man showed surprising back bone by putting it out of reach. Swampy landed on Mage-e-not’s shoulder, mangling his shirt, though not defecating on it, and nearly pecked Lustavious’ eyes out.
“Pretty bird?” said Mage-e-not uncertainly.
“Yeah, right,” squawked Swampy, and flew off after Ono. Tease, apparently unable to resist a chance at a second shower, grabbed Mage-e-not’s loofah.
While we waited for Ono and Tease to shower, I made algae bars which we covered with the last of the celestial tomato paste. I saved two for Ono and nobody complained. She seemed to be the only one able to enjoy them.
“I wonder what’s on the menu at the school today,” said Mage-e-not.
“I’m not going back.”
“Why not? You even have something to put food in besides my shirt,” he said waving the shiny silver bag which Ono had left behind.
“The custodian banned me.”
“Owww,” said Mage-e-not, “the custodian with his mop of glory! It’s very frightening.”
“You go,” I said.
“I can’t,” he pouted.
“Besides,” I told him. “This whole party is gathered together to banish my brother and me to oblivion. Do you think I should be expected to cater the affair?”
Mage-e-not was silent after that, and I held out hope that a budding friendship that loofah couldn’t crush, might get destroyed by algae bars. I performed a ritual that Dirk told me brought luck, taking my middle finger and laying it across my index finger.
“We’re late getting schtarted,” sputtered Jonma Claim after Ono and Tease returned. “Lesh get moving.”
“Where?” said Mage-e-not.
“Light Bringer?” said Jonma Claim. “Your prey is close. Which way do we go?”
Lustavious looked very pleased and dramatically held his lit finger above his head. It might have been more dramatic after dark, because Lustavious being so tall, and the morning sun so bright, it was hard to tell if the finger was lit at all.
But it was dramatic, and Lustavious was pleased, so that was probably the only thing that really mattered.
“This way!” sang Lustavious, and he began humming a hum that sounded like heavy horses, clad in armor with incredibly large and blond warriors on them. It was a pretty ambitious hum, and Lustavious pulled it off very well.

So we all followed the hum.  

   Whenever we fall into despair concerning the American government, we can always cheer ourselves by listening to the Brits.  Where did they get this crowd - from the lock-up during a soccer (yes, I know you call it football,) match?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Animal Nature

   Animals aren't just window dressing.  We don't like them because they are pretty or interesting.  We like them because they have personality.
   Sometimes that personality is dangerous.
Hmmm, the main course holding the appetizer.
 A good run builds the appetite.
Run him over this way, bear.
We believe in eating with the little folk.
Though sometimes the little ones bite back.
And sometimes they don't know they're little
Dangerous?  What's dangerous about lil ol' me?
   And sometimes their personalities are fearless.
You wanna come out and play?
We could romp in the garden.
Or splash in the pool.
If I can cross this scary road and get past all the cars, there's a butcher shop across the street.
Crossing the road?  I cross the just to get to the other side.  THIS is the real scary place.
   But we love them best when their personalities are just weird.
   What do you mean duck-billed?  Fedoras have straight brims, silly.
People think I'm nuts when I do this.
Those cans look tasty, Mom
Hey, you're from Labrador, not France!
What do you mean, weird?
   The real question is how do the animals see us?

Maybe we need to work on our personalities...
Before they give up on us.

Maybe we'd be less annoying if we didn't grow up.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dirk Destroyer Part 34 Chapter 16

The Fellowship of the Bring has come close to its prey. Dirk McFarland, more commonly known as Dirk Destroyer has been spotted, shared a smoke, and played a duet with two members of the fellowship.
It’s not that tight a fellowship, really.

Chapter 16
Never Compliment Your Girlfriend’s Nasal Passages

Things must have deteriorated between Mage-e-not and Jonma Claim while we were gone.
“Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!” Jonma Claim was standing over Mage-e-not sputtering vociferously. I looked for signs of foam, and wondered if that might indicate the sickness you kill wolves for – at least when the planet Two still had wolves.
Mage-e-not had no ability to stand up to Lustavious, or Akwar, but he didn’t seem to have the same problem with Jonma Claim. I knew that would drive old Uriculous crazy.
“Elmer,” said Mage-e-not, “you settle this. I say…”
“We saw my brother,” I said.
That got everyone’s attention. Even the frozen face of Jonma Carry turned in my direction.
“He gave me this scratchwing,” I told them. “We talked, we played some music, and he left.”
“And YOU,” sputtered Jonma Claim, pointing at Ono, “you didn’t cast them both into oblivion when you had the chance?”
“How?” said Ono.
Jonma Claim fumed; Lustavious leered, but neither answered Ono’s question.
“May I see the instrument?” asked Lip Ton Tease.
I handed it over.
“Be careful,” sputtered Jonma Claim. “You don’t know what evil is found within it.”
Tease meditated upon the instrument, then lifted it to playing position and began to play glorious and dizzying runs from the scratchwing. I’d never heard such powerful playing since the days of Yeccky Pearlguy.
“Wow,” said Mage-e-not. “So what’s the verdict? Is it a normal scratchthingy?”
“I don’t know,” said Tease. “I’ve never seen a scratchwing before.”
“It’s possessed!” shouted Jonma Claim.
Lustavious started laughing. “That’s the Showr Rinn for you. You should hear the music a freshly-showered master can make with an acorn and two pine needles.”
Tease took what might have been a serene bow and handed the instrument back to me. I had thought I might play some folk tunes for the group. It’s a sobering experience to go from the only – and therefore, the best scratchwing player on the planet, to a second-rate player in the matter of minutes. I looked down on the instrument as if it had betrayed me. It made no response.
“But I was right!” said Mage-e-not loudly enough to almost be a shout. We are here. There’s no reason to travel around. This is where the Destroyer is.
“This is where the Destroyer was,” corrected Jonma Claim. “Sleep now. We have a long way to travel tomorrow.”
“But that makes no…”
“Sleep,” said Lustavious.
“All right,” muttered Mage-e-not. Jonma Claim shot out a look of disdain and mouthed something that was obviously foul, and it looked like it was aimed more at Lustavious than at Mage-e-not.
It was only a couple hours till daylight. I settled down on the ground, and Ono, with Swampy back on her shoulder settled near me, but not with her head on my stomach. I guess the nostril cavity thing was still bothering her.
Dirk was also bothering her. He was bothering all of us in different ways, but tomorrow I’d get some answers from my famous younger brother. Tomorrow night I might finally understand what was going on.
Of course I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was Swampy talking in his sleep, “Stay with Elmer; stay with Elmer.” I couldn’t tell if he was repeating something he heard, or if he was talking to Ono.
But would she stay with me? Did I want her to stay?
Of course I wanted her to stay. I wanted to protect her from Lustavious. I wanted to make a home for her, provide her with algae bars, tomato paste, smoked sausage and cigars for the rest of our lives. I wanted her to live thousands of years like I did, or for me to start aging and live a handful of decades more like everyone else. Either was preferable to being without Ono.
This time the second chance wouldn’t give me any options even if I could get past the custodian to use it. Could I go back five thousand years and keep Uriculous from changing everything? Could I go back a couple of days and instead of coming with Akwar to the ministry, just grab Ono’s hand and run off somewhere… anywhere?
No, nothing would work – nothing I could think of, anyway. Thinking was never one of my strengths. Enduring was my strength. I had endured a long time – maybe just waiting for my life to make sense.
It made sense now. I finally knew what I wanted, and now I had to endure one more day for my ancient baby brother to appear and tell me if that was possible.
There was something wrong about that – something unfair. Maybe if I was the smartest guy on Two instead of the oldest, I might have been able to figure it out. Instead, I had to endure – find my opportunity, and take action.

I just hoped it wouldn’t take me another eight thousand years.

Yes, I admit that Argus Filch, the glorious custodian is my favorite Harry Potter character.  But at least Ben Folds Five seems to agree with me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tender Vitals 2: Rabbit Run

Tender Vitals 2: Rabbit Run
by Headley Hauser

Ha!” shouted Dancer, “beat you again!”
Putrid Peeps!” cursed Skittles, as she dropped Mopsy’s ears. She knew she could have gotten more speed out of the rabbit if she’d applied the hard thistle on the heel of her slipper, but she couldn’t bring herself to do that. It didn’t matter anyway. Mopsy was a quick little bunny, but she could never hope to match Sneaky Pete, Dancer’s mount.
The two fairies were at Spriteful Intent 2016. It was quasi-military training convention set up by the Imperial Military Protectorate, or IMP, for short. Dancer and Skittles had spent all their frequent flitter miles to travel to the event in the brush lands of York. With all the feral cats patrolling the American east coast, they felt their lives might depend on such training.

Soldier!” shouted Puff’n’Pout, their drill gnome, “that thistle isn’t on your foot for a little late snacking!”
Gnomes were uncommonly fond of thistle though Skittles couldn’t imagine eating the hard wood-like fibers. Gnomes were a hard folk – so hard that they were frequently mistaken for ceramic statues.
It didn’t matter,” said Skittles. “Even if I hurt her, Mopsy couldn’t beat Sneaky Pete.”
Didn’t matter?!” shouted Puff’n’Pout. “Didn’t matter? Maybe it wouldn’t matter if tabbies were eviscerating you and your mount right now! Then your squad would have to decide if they want to put their wings on the line to pull your tushy out of food dish!”
Skittle blushed at the word, tushy. Drill gnomes used such salty language!

I don’t see why we train on rabbits anyway,” Skittles complained later in the fairy barracks, “foxes are faster.”
Dancer laughed. “You want to trust your life to a fox?”
Or maybe a badger,” said Skittles, ignoring Dancer. “They aren’t fast, but at least they’re strong and hard to kill.”
Fairies don’t survive by armor,” said Dancer as she cleaned his thistle of fur. “It just slows us down. Rabbits are fast, and they do what they’re told. There are no better beasts for fairies to ride.”
What about swans?”
Dancer tested the point of her thistle on Skittle’s hiney. “Airborne tactics are next week. Face it; you’re not going to find a ground beast better than your little Mopsy.”
I bet I can,” said Skittles.
What do you want to bet?”
How about a whole package of SweeTarts?”

You’re on!”
The next day at training it looked more like Skittles was riding a flowering bush than a rabbit. Her mount was encased in a weave of branches so thick with flowers that the only thing visible was the twitching bunny nose.
What’s this then?” barked Puff’n’Pout.
I decided my mount needed some armor.”
Waste of flowers,” said Puff’n’Pout, who as the son of a garden gnome was very sensitive to wasting flowers, “all it will do is slow you down.”
Why don’t you start us and see?” said Skittles.
Puff’n’Pout lined up Dancer and Skittles on the large oval path and struck the wind chimes – tinkle-tinkle, and they were off.
At first, Skittles ran zig-zagged and Dancer pulled ahead on her very fast Sneaky Pete.
C’mon, Jack,” said Skittles. “I’ll let you eat your armor if you win.”
Zoooom! Skittles and her mount took off, just barely catching Dancer and Sneaky Pete at the line.
I win!” shouted Skittles.
I don’t believe it!” shouted Puff’n’Pout.
I don’t believe it, either,” said Dancer, “but I still owe you a package of SweeTarts. That’s no regular bunny under all that shrubbery, is it?”
Skittle’s mount leapt into the air and twisted so that the weave of branches broke. As he came to earth on his long back legs, and dipped his head with long ears, he began to eat his armor.

That’s right,” Skittles admitted. “Sneaky Pete is fast, but I beat you by a hare.”

And now for educational purposes...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dirk Destroyer Part 33 Chapter 15 Part 2

So last Friday Dirk showed up. If that doesn't mean anything to you, I don't think I can summarize what's happened so far without asphyxiating. What? You take more than one breath when you summarize? (Wheeze!)

“All right,” said Dirk. “I’ll talk now.”
“Oh,” said Ono, “I blab Mister McFarland that I gaggle with the Light Bringer party. We slither and sniff you, then pop, squish, and swoosh you into oblivion.
Dirk just nodded his head. “I can see what you see in her,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You’re in love, Big Brother,” said Dirk.
“How can you tell?”
“I know you, ‘Mer,” said Dirk. “Anytime you start admiring a woman’s nostril cavities, you’re in love.”
I couldn’t argue with that. Ono covered her nose with her non-cigar-wielding hand and I felt like I was a lascivious voyeur.
“So Mister McFarland,” said Ono with a bit of a nasal quality as she was hiding her nostril cavities, “The Light Bringer and Uriculous the Great don’t rattle, quake, or jangle you?”
“You boing, block, and boomerang magic to plink, zoom, and whish you and Elmer from doom?”
“I didn’t say that,” said Dirk. “I just said I wasn’t worried.” He stepped back into the bushes and returned with two instruments, a scratchwing and a bellow. He handed me the scratchwing.
“I already tuned it,” he said. “Do you remember Fassentinker’s third?”
“Of course.”
Ono’s pretty features were still covered with… no, obscured by… that’s not it, somethinged with concern, but she sat on a rock as Dirk and I played a tune we’d been playing since before the beginning of either income tax, or fanny packs, and that’s a long time. Thankfully, neither the scratchwing, nor the bellows required the player’s mouth, so we smoked as we played, and if I say so myself, Fassentinker never sounded better.
Whatever the somethinged was that was somethingizing Ono’s face with concern, unsomethinged, and she began to relax, and even hum along. It was old, old music, but it was new to her.
For this one moment, the world was perfect. I had everything I wanted. I wanted to be smoking a cigar, playing good music with my brother, and have Ono there with me, enjoying the moment.
It didn’t last. I guess that’s why they call them moments – but I’m not sure, because I don’t know much about the origin of the word, moment. I could have meditated on that, but I didn’t want to spoil the moment – but it was too late; the moment was over.
“I have to go,” said Dirk after the waves of Fassentinker had finished washing over us. “I’ll look for you tomorrow night, ‘Mer. We need to speak confidentially.”
“That means alone?”
Dirk made that face he so frequently makes to let me know I’ve said something stupid.
“It’s all right,” said Ono, who must have found the music very relaxing because she wasn’t using her sound words. “I mean, you’re brothers, and you have a lot to catch up on since you last got together… a hundred and eighty years before I was born.
“And there’s the whole… I’m part of the enemy thing too.”
“Oh Ono,” I said. “We don’t think of you that way.”
“My brother’s right,” said Dirk. “You seem like an okay sort to me, but you’re right. I have some things I need to discuss with ‘Mer.”
I handed the scratchwing out to Dirk, but he held up his hand. “No,” he said. “You need to hold onto that. I’ll explain it all later, but it’s important.”
“Oh,” I said. “All right, so I should just wander off tomorrow night and you’ll find me?”
“That’ll work,” said Dirk.
Ono and I headed back to camp. I was sorry the moment had been broken. I felt there was a divide between Ono and me, even though it made perfect sense that Dirk would need to talk to me alone.
“He likes you,” I told her. “I can tell.”
“He’s very nice,” she said noncommittally. “He said I was okay sort. What’s an okay sort?”
“Must be a phrase he picked up in oblivion. I’m sure it’s a good thing.”
Ono took my arm and leaned in. We walked in unison, we were even inhaling together. Then Ono stopped and pulled away.
“Do you really like my nostril cavities?”
“They’re very pretty.”
She scrunched up her face, then shrugged and grabbed my arm again, and we continued on to camp. I looked down at the scratchwing in my hand. It was a fine looking instrument, and it had made some good music.
Why did it feel so ominous?

No, I don't know what a scratchwing sounds like.  Anyway, here's my favorite percussionist, Lionel Hampton leaving his signature vibes to show us what a drum solo should really be.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Momma Done Told Me

Happy Mother's Day!

   Yes, I know I'm 2 days late, but they tell me I was born three weeks late, so from my perspective, I'm catching up, but I will never catch up with the sweet, gentle, and wise icon of our society - the mother.
Not all mothers have children
Some Mommas aren't even women
But they're all wise
Okay, the wisdom is not always obvious
I'm pretty sure those are Dad hands.
Wise Mothers are always ready to give advice in different categories such as...
Wisdom that can follow you even after she's gone.

   Here's a song from BB King I first heard on Mother's Day this year.