Aardvark Al's Other Bag

February 25, 2005

If I'm so Nasty, What's Your Foot
Doing Under the Tire of My Car?

The next day dawned bright and sunny. The sky was laced with a steely hue flashed brightly with a blue, steely brightness known only to dawns flashing steely blue and, not to mention sunny. Did I mention it was sunny? How about steely blue?

The word spread like wildfire through Mooburg that I was going to attempt a second incredible dive into the Moo Gorge in a desperate effort to free myself from my cow body. By eight o'clock AM the parking lot next to the Giant Lint was filled with onlookers, picketers, and out-of-work bicycle mechanics.

Because the town was the Lint Capital of the World, Mooburg's forefathers had erected on this spot (the aforementioned Moo Gorge) a fifty-foot statue of a piece of lint. Not as sexy as Paul Bunyan or the Great Sudbury Nickel, but it brought the more boring and fastidious class of tourists to the town in the dog days of summer. No, the statue of the Giant Dog was in Gravity Falls, just ten kilometers away.

I mentioned picketers. There were cows picketing the fact that I was dishonoring the State of Cowhood by wanting to get rid of my cow body. And there were aardvarks protesting the fact that I was an aardvark hiding in a traitorous cow body. And there were picketers protesting the fact that there were picketers in town.

Apparently, the Great Aardvark Dive had turned into an international event. There were representatives from Spain, France, Great Britain, Russia and a smattering of other countries, fresh from the embassies in Ottawa. They didn't have any stale representatives. If they had had them, they would have sent them, because this was what you call a minor international event. Something on a par with the Global Flea Circus, held recently at the Remember the Mange Pet Store and Tuxedo Rental on Cud Street.

In the crowd, I spied Marge Slaf-Kabnecier, voluptuous as ever in a daisy-smothered frock. Our eyes locked and she lifted the daisies invitingly, exposing a little provocative calf. The provocative calf's name was Buster, well known for distributing seditious leaflets outside the local five-and-dime.

With a sigh, I wished that things had turned out differently for Marge and me. I remembered those moonlit nights at Nelson's Lookout, my 1976 Mustang Convertible, and Marge mooing at the moon. I really miss that Mustang. I remembered the senior prom at Aardvark High. I never forgave Marge for renting that cheesy tuxedo. I didn't think the flowery pink chiffon did anything for my legs, either.

But there was nothing I could do to turn back time. The crowd had gathered. The itinerant vendors were selling hot chocolate and Beaver Tails (don't ask) from hastily-constructed stalls at the lip of the Gorge. I had made my bed, and I was just going to have to lie in it. A loud boo reverberated across the Moo Hills, and I realized that the crowd wanted me to get out of bed and jump into the Gorge.

I closed my eyes and stepped into eternity.

On my way down, my life flashed before my eyes (a manual process, since I had forgotten to buy an automatic life flasher at the local drug store). My birth as a young aardvark under the name of Charles Butterfat on 11 January, 1910, at South Bandicoot. The trip to England to be educated for my future role as a great spiritual teacher. My many exploits in Hollywood, turning out 26 pictures for Warner Brothers and receiving some 10,000 fan letters a week as one of Hollywood’s top stars. My retirement in 1957 in Burbank with a pink poodle half my age...

With a sinking feeling (about 32 feet per second), I realized that someone else's life was flashing before my eyes. Dang! It was Rin-Tin-Tin's Life! I always hated his movies.

I looked back, noting that the East Germans had given me a 3.8, which I thought I didn't deserve. Mind you, that was for artistic merit. Technical was 4.3. Two seconds before I hit the water, a smile crossed my face as I remembered that the East Germans didn't exist.

One second before I hit the water, I had an overweening desire to know what had happened to Britney Spears after her mother ran their car over a paparazzi's foot outside a Santa Monica pet shop.

But to no avail. I had a date with destiny. My date with Marge Slaf-Kabnecier would have to wait until I returned from Aardvark Heaven.

February 24, 2005

Why Truth Wears a Loincloth and
Lives in my Glove Compartment

Having been knocked rudely out of my non-bed, I hastened to get the number of the intemperate bulldozer that had done the knocking. Unfortunately, it was an unlisted bulldozer.

Then, with a flash of horror, I realized that it was Thursday: Decision Day. I had to decide whether to step up to slugdom or to slouch into one of Bill Gates' discarded bodies. (Apparently, he only uses each body once. Kind of the incarnate version of Handy Wet Wipes.)

As I said, it was a tough decision, so I turned to my email for help. To my everlasting joy, I had received a missive from "Frankie Moreno" (I struggled to suspend my disbelief that this was some kind of nom de spam), who had demonstrated his consummate compassion on me and about 10,000 other computer owners by sending me this advice:

"Make the decision to move forward, NOT stay the same or worse, backwards!

Since many Opport-unities on the Net are of dubious nature, it's getting noticeably catchier to filter out the good, legit ones! Ask for detailed Information that helps you make a firm decision in the future! Remember: Always do your Due Diligence first! This Approach will save you from Horrid disappointments."

God knows, in this critical juncture in my life, I desperately needed Frankie's f.r.e.e Help and Education about this essential topic, and wanted to avoid Horrid Disappointments if at all possible, so I gave him a call.

"Hello?" He sounded half asleep. I wondered what time it was in India. At the same time, I fumbled around in the drawer of the end-table. I know I put about a half pound of Due Diligence in there last Friday.

I explained the problems I was having with my cow body, and the slug-Gates body quandary.

"Are you, steady email customer, some kind of idiot? It's three o'clock in the morning!"

I made a notation on my wristwatch. It is three o'clock in India.

"So you think timing is essential here for me to grasp this Opport-unity?"

"Look. I'm hanging up now, and if you come again, I'm going to call the police!"

(Sound of distant telephone falling into grace, if not into Frankie's wastebasket.)

I'm not stupid. This was not getting me the f.r.e.e Help and Education I was expecting. Quickly, I threw on my yellow Florida shirt (aardvark standard issue #835) with the brown and green palm trees and rushed out the door regretting the fact that I had accidentally pushed Redial. I could hear Frankie screaming obscenities as I glided my Hupmobile (lovingly manufactured by the Hupp Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan in 1938) out of the driveway.

I had decided to go directly to the Axis Mundi, the True Oracle of All That Is Right and True...Yes, you guessed it, my Glove Compartment Guru. Unbeknownst to upwards of 93 percent of the general public, most 1938 Hupmobiles were equipped with an optional Guru, sort of like GM's OnStar in a loincloth.

I pushed the button and the glove compartment flapped open, spilling the bulk of my Pupi Campo trading cards onto the floor.

"You rang, O hopeless initiate?" said the Guru.

I explained to him yadayadayadayada...

"The answer is obvious, O Aardvark of Minimal Brain," he said, smoothing his loincloth. "You must refuse both options and follow your hearts desire, which is to remain Aardvark to the end of your days."

He was spot on. It felt right. I was suffused with an effulgence of rightness. I quivered with rightness for about three seconds. I threw the guru a peanut, then popped open the cell phone. It was shouting obscenities at me.

"Sorry, Frankie," I said, and dialed the Big Giant Eye. He took an eternity to answer.

"Eternity Help Desk! We don't answer the phone! Stop trying to jump the queue!"

"Hey, Big Giant. It's Aardvark Al. I know you're there, so stop trying to act like a recording."

Suddenly, the sky opened up...big fiery clouds...huge burgeoning pillar of lime-green Jello, yadayada ad nauseum.

"Have you made your decision?" said the Big Giant Eye. He had eaten something with garlic for breakfast.

"Count Chockula with Garlic Buds," he opined. "What's the scoop?"

I told him the Glove Compartment Guru's advice.

"Man, that smarts," he said. A giant tear rolled from his eye and rearranged my wardrobe. "You're up a crick."

"It can't be that bad."

"No, I mean that literally. Up the Moo Crick. The only way you're going to get an aardvark body back is to jump off the Mile-High Mooburg Gorge again and hope like hell you land in Aardvark Heaven."

I had forgotten about Aardvark Heaven. The problem is, I had been a bad little aardvark for most of my life.

I was up the crick.

February 23, 2005

Wherein My Wastebasket Does Bavarian Rap
And I Live to Regret it

The hole in the sky filled in, the mountain of lime-green Jello dissolved in a puff of smoke, and the Giant Eye Transubstantiative Support Desk Person left me with a mind-numbing decision to make: did I want to spend the rest of eternity as a slug? Or spend it as a clone of Bill Gates?

It was a tough choice.

On the one hand, Bill Gates had a gazillion bucks. On the other, the slug choice might be taking the moral high ground. At least it was better than being an NHL hockey club owner, which was the runner-up choice.

The Giant Eye gave me one night to think it over, so slept in the cud silo. I always think better if one of my six stomachs has a good supply of cud.

Not much happened during the night, except for the sack of money that fell off the Brinks truck. That doesn't count, because it happens with astounding regularity since I put the speed bumps in the road.

Oh, yes. During the night, I had a conversation with the silo's wastebasket, who picked that night to begin English lessons.

I know what you're thinking. Here he goes again. Throwing the old bull. But in actual fact, the wastebasket did talk, and it turns out this is not an uncommon experience.

According to page 2,068 of the pocket edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (soft-cover edition) wastebaskets have been known to speak ever since Sir Geoffrey Nomenclature revealed in the British Parliament in 1837 that in fact his views on reorganizing the fur trade were not his own, but were dictated by a fairly erudite
oak poubelle in his downstairs den.

Apparently the poubelle had been silent for years, but felt it had to
speak its mind since it was passionately convinced that beaver hats, which were out of fashion by this time, should be right back in. Its views had something to do with a chance encounter with a rabid beaver on a caravaning trip in the Lake Country.

But I digress.

At this point, you, gentle reader, are probably muttering under your breath: "For crying out loud, what did Aardvark Al's wastebasket say?"

And you would be well within your rights to ask.

The aforementioned basketspeak occurred, mind you, in the dead of night (about 3 am) in pitch dark, and it appeared to be a quotation from a book, to wit: "Keimt ein Glaube neu, wird oft Lieb' und Treu, wie ein boses Unkraut ausgerauft" (with apologies for unexpressed umlauts.)

Which just goes to show how little I knew about this wastebasket. I had no idea he was French, but when we looked on the bottom the words "Made in China" were plainly printed.

This nocturnal verbal burp reminded me of a passage I had read recently in Freud's Psychopathology of Everyday Life concerning various types of parapraxes, such as bungled actions and slips of the tongue. This, of course, set me to making the connection to Saint Parapraxus, patron saint of wastebaskets, and it all began to fall temptingly into place.

This knowledge placated me, and I dozed peacefully off to sleep. It seemed like mere moments later when I was surprised by a bulldozer pushing the silo over onto the ground and knocking me out of bed.

I was surprised, because we don't have a bed.

February 22, 2005

There Ain't No Machina
Like a Deus Ex Machina

Needless to say, I was overjoyed to hear that I could shuffle off my bovine coil. To put it mildly, we were by no means overstocked in the underjoyed department.

"When do I start being a slug?" I said.

Slug. It sounded heroic, macho. Where you gonna go Saturday? I'm going to the Slugfest!

After a quick look at his database, the Giant Eye said:

"I'll just open a new ticket for you and see if you have gold, silver or bronze support."

And then he said:

"Oh-oh."

"What oh-oh?"

"Unfortunately you have balsa wood support. You've heard of 24/7? Well this is 1/100. We can support you one minute out of every 100 years."

I took a few minutes to cry a lot...

"If it's any consolation, I can tell you that you were misrouted at the Superstore-at-the-End-of-the-World. You were supposed to pass down to the wrathful deities at the Meat Department."

Damn that Ken and his rutabagas. What was I supposed to do now?

"Well, you could start by vocalizing your thoughts," said the Giant Eye. "That way, I could hear you better. But no matter. We do have an instant preview feature to this Help Desk. I could let you get a sneak peak at the joys of slughood, of which you may be able to partake sometime in the next 100 years."

In an instant, I was a slug.

Immediately, I had an overwhelming craving to wiggle through mud, which, thanks to my abysmal housekeeping, I found under the sofa.

After a few minutes of wiggling, I got bored.

"That was fun. Now what do I do?"

"Well, that's basically all slugs do. Occasionally, you get to destroy garden vegetation, but then there's the carpet-bombing with nematodes, Metaldehyde, and Rotonone."

"That doesn't sound like much fun."

"Well, sometimes they just set out a dish of beer."

"Woo-Hoo!"

"But then you fall in and drown."

"Man, this slug business really sucks! I want my aardvark body back!"

"Well, I'm sorry we just can't...What? What ho?"

He made a few stabs at his keyboard.

"There seems to be a flag on your account. Hold on..."

I took advantage of the intervening moments to classify my brachiopod fossil collection, specifically Hebertella occidentalis and Platystrophia acutilirata, securing them neatly to a piece of cardboard with pins. This is actually hard to do, since they are made of limestone.

"Well, according to the flag, you are our one millionth disaster report."

"What does that mean?"

"It means you get one free wish."

"Woo-Hoo! I want my aardvark body back!"

He stabbed at his keyboard again.

"Well, there's a slight hitch."

"What hitch?"

"It seems they destroyed your body after you left the planet Flidlap."

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it was.

I decided, right then and there, to make no mention of the curd dumplings with sour cream, nor of the dish of pig's fry that was served with the soup, nor of the turkey with plums and raisins, nor of the dish which greatly resembled a boot soaked in kvas.

I didn't mention them because they didn't exist.

"However," he said brightly, "We do have an oversupply of Bill Gates bodies. Handy. Disposable. Easy to hack. Never been used."

February 21, 2005

Never Let a Blowtorch Salesman
Sharpen Your Horns

I've been back in Mooburg for three days now, and have settled into the routine of stuffing an aardvark's consciousness into a cow's body. Apart from the fact that Mlouise insists that I sleep in the barn, I have discovered that there are pros and cons to being a cow.

I have six stomachs, so I no longer have to remember to chew my food 30 times before swallowing. (However, I now consume six times more Pepto Bismol than I used to.)

I never have to worry about what to eat. (Unfortunately, what I eat is cud, which tastes like chlorophyll-and-dung-laced dry Shredded Wheat.)

I get along really well with the girls down at the Cud Store, as well as at the Bovine Paraplegic Supplies Wonderland -- "Everything you need, from bedpans to walkers, right in the heart of downtown Mooburg". (But if I have one more chat about udder supports, I'm going to scream.)

And this Sunday, at the Mooburg Winter Carnival, I came in second in the Miss Moo Snowqueen contest, not to be confused with the Miss Moo Milkmaid contest, which is held in August. (Second Prize was two weeks in Pittburg. First prize was one week in Pittsburg.)

But to tell the truth, I'm getting fed up with being a cow. Getting up at 5 o'clock AM for milking is the pits. And I can never find enough quarters to feed into the computerized Dutch self-milking machine, which is damn cold on a winter morning. I don't care what Dr. Mandy Carnivore-Vegetarian-Pipkin has to say about it.

Right about then (7:16 AM) there was a knock at the door. This time I answered it, because I knew who it was. It was Mwilliam Butler Fullmoneybackguarantee, the local blowtorch salesman. I had met him earlier at the Winter Carnival. He had tried to sharpen my horns, but I told him I was otherwise engaged.

Mwillian (or Mbill as his friends call him) is well-know throughout Mooburg for his butane-powered ice sculpture depicting the Rites of Spring. Sort of the sculptural equivalent of Baked Alaska, because the butane flame kept melting the ice.

Mbill is also well-known for his exploration of Blowtorch Cookery. His Blowtorch Lemon Meringue Chili was a big hit. The jury is still out on his Caesar Salad Brûlé.

But today, Mbill is here to install blowtorch modules on my milking machine. No more cold winter mornings for me!

"But is this going to be safe? I don't want to char my naughty bits."

"Absolutely," he said, digging a trench in the living room floor. "Completely foolproof and free from risk, danger, harm, or injury and, I might add, absolutely guaranteed not to eject any flying particles."

No sooner had Mbill uttered the dreaded phrase "flying particles" than all hell broke loose in my living room. And when I say "in my living room", I mean "in the sky above my living room" because the ceiling and the roof above it dissolved in a massive cloud of smoke, and I was thrown skyward on a pillar of fire and lime-green Jello.

As I stood quivering at the pinnacle of everybody's favorite gelatin dessert, I was aware that I had become strangely ghostlike in a miasma of flickering three-dimensional holographic luminosity (try it with buttered scones -- it'll make your mouth water).

At the same time, the clouds parted and a Giant Eye appeared, framed through something that looked like a celestial flat-screen monitor.

Shielding my eyes from the intense glare of this apparition, I fell to my knees and cried out:

"O God! Why is this light given to an aardvark that Thou hast hedged into a cow's body?"

And the voice said:

"Sorry. You can't talk to God. He's doing lunch with Mr. Rogers."

I wept voluminously, for no apparent reason.

"You'll have to talk to me," said the Giant Eye. "I'm your Transubstantiative Support Desk. I see we have a ticket lodged against your Return as a Cow."

I traced the origins of the Etruscan language, for no apparent reason.

"Yes," he said. "Sorry. The Interbardic Server keeps knocking over. It appears that you were supposed to come back as a slug."

"Does a slug have to eat cud?"

"No."

I guess Mr. Rogers was right. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

February 18, 2005

If This is a Wrong Number,
Why Did You Materialize on my Ottoman?

The way back to Mooburg was so simple. I'm surprised we didn't come up with it before. The idea was to convert ourselves to Graviton particles, call home (the telephone was the only thing in the hotel room that worked) and then transmit ourselves via fiberoptic cable to Mooburg. We could worry about transforming ourselves back into ourselves when we got there.

"Perfect," I said.

"Not so perfect," said Smike. "I've done this before. You've probably noticed that I now look like a chicken."

"You laid an egg this morning. It was good with the rye toast."

"And yesterday?"

"Hmmmm. You did eat a lot of oats and hay. And you kept whinneying in your sleep."

I saw what he meant. Once you turn yourself into a graviton particle, there's no telling how you'd end up each morning. It was the downside of the new Electrophotonic Fluid-Glide Shapeshifting Miasma technology now sweeping the Gamma Quadrant.

Still, it was better than hanging around the "Thumbs Sized While You Wait" Hotel and 24/7 Black Sabbath.

Here, generally, are the steps for transmitting yourself back to earth from Fridlap (the name, we learned, not only for the molton-hot volcanic sinus drippings found around here, but also of the planet itself) to earth:

1. Call room service and order a 50-gallon vat of Fridlapian zgwaotch. Zgwaotch is sort of a cross between crunchy peanut butter and bomb-grade plutonium. It tastes like road tar, and you have to be careful when spreading it on your toast.

2. Cover your entire body with zgwaotch (not forgetting major orifices). Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, or the Fridlapian equivalent. If the experiment doesn't work, at least you'll smell good.

3. Go down to the hotel's laundry room and have yourself passed three or four times through the sheet-ironing machine. If you don't have a sheet-ironing machine, go lie down on the street and wait for a steamroller to show up.

4. Rent a 4-million-megahertz Atom Smasher. We were lucky enough to have one in the lobby. They were using it to dispense ice. If you don't have an Atom Smasher, look in the Yellow Pages under Smashers, Atom.

5. Climb into the Atom Smasher, push the button, and get smashed. This stage is in no way similar to your high school senior prom night.

You are now a Grade 2 Graviton Particle. The rest of this is pretty technical, so I'll just zoom right through it. Standing as close as possible to the telephone speaker, we were sucked through the hotel switchboard into the fiberoptic distribution system and from there into the Intergalactic Cable System to Earth. You'd be surprised how many space vehicles get hung up on those cables. Not to mention those complex orbits! It's a truckload of spaghetti out there.

To make a long story short, we were downloaded as a modem burst to my home phone, leaving a faint image on the phone's display of an aardvark screaming.

Fortunately the dog was there to pick up the phone. In two seconds, out popped two slightly compressed Graviton particles. I was home at last!

Suddenly, there was a knock on the front door. (Sound of running Graviton energy field. Sound of door opening.)

I know what you're thinking. He's going to open the door and it will be the Manitoba Minister of Tourism standing there, and he'll suck the stupid aardvark back into outer space. Right?

Not on your tintype! It was Mles Shoescrapings, a local vibrating fluid bed salesman in a plaid suit.

"Good Morning Mrs. Graviuton Particle," he said, putting his foot in the door. "Could I take a few minutes of your time to demonstrate our new, top-of-the-line Acme Electro-Shift Vibrating Fluid Bed?"

He brushed past me into the living room, took out a bag of dirt, and poured it on the living room carpet.

"We could have used you a couple of days ago." I said. "You're going to clean that up, aren't you?"

I don't think he heard me. He was chattering away about passing a process gas directly through a bed of solids via a perforated plate and the new, improved recirculated gas and closed-loop systems available for solvent recovery when I noticed a look of unbelievable horror pass over his face.

At the same time, I heard a sound like one of those multi-armed balloons being blown up.

I looked down and I seemed to be growing, with astounding speed and volumitude, an udder.

"Smike," I said, sprouting a horn as I spoke. "I have met the enemy, and he is me!"

February 17, 2005

Other Than The Volcanic Eruption
How Did You Like The Room?

We brushed the dung-colored dust off our leotards and, pausing only to read a restraining order from the city of Pittsburg, we set out to explore the planet we were now on.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of heavy metal. (I made a mental note to leave my lead shoes home for my next junket.)

Unfortunately, we discovered that we were on the same distant oxygen-deprived planet where Black Sabbath, Cream and the remaining members of Queen had resurrected just a few hours before. They were screeching out the lyrics of Fairies Wear Boots:

Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies...


A philosophy that jibed perfectly with that of the City of Pittsburg, which was effectively telling us that Pittsburg jokes were definitely off limits. If we wanted to pick on somebody, we could go pick on Gary Indiana, so nyahhh!

I paused momentarily to wipe the nyahhh! off the restraining order.

Either the solar wind or the sheer volume of the music pushed us across the dusty landscape to the only recognizable building on the planet, the "Ao noordelijk twee bordos" penned in what we later discovered was the local language. Roughly translated, the "Thumbs Sized While You Wait" Hotel.

As we wafted hotelwards, I had the distinct impression that the planet had an average temperature ranging from -70 to -100 degrees C, and a hot internal core that could cause geysers to push water up through the crust. Then again, I could be wrong.

As soon as we breezed through the Hotel's revolving doors, we were met by a polite liveried footman.

"Welcome!" he toothed. "I am Raoul, your multi-lingual Guest Relations Officer. While you relax and sip the cool welcome drink, I will assist you with our fine check-in procedures. We recommend that you deposit all your valuables in our safety deposit boxes."

He pounded ferociously on a bell sitting on his desk. After he got down off the desk, he said:

"There! You see? Friendly porters are at this very moment ensuring that your luggage is safely in your rooms after check-in."

The porters were, in fact, doing double duty. They were both carrying our bags and engaged in a game of Jai-Lai in the halls.

The little rubber ball said: "Pocketa pocketa."

Where had I heard that sound before, and in such indifferent profusion while lying on a couch?

Well, the service was friendly enough. But the room sucked. The beds were concave and lumpy. So was the TV. The only thing playing on all channels was Black Sabbath singing Hand of Doom. Why should we fork over for pay-per-view when all we had to do was open the windows? Sure, there was the slight detail of breathable air...

Then there was that incessant pocketa-pocketa sound in the halls. I went out in the hall and realized that the sound was now coming from the room across the way.

Someone with round purple-lensed glasses passed me in the hall. It was Ozzy Osbourne.

"Man, like this gig sucks," he said.

Taking that comment to heart and without knocking, I burst into the room-across-the-hall unannounced (which is what usually happens after you don't knock. Either that, or you just meekly walk back into your room with an unrealized knock tacked onto your karma. I, to my everlasting shame and tooth whitening, chose the former.)

"I say, do you mind?" I burped. "It's three o'clock in the morning. I have half a mind to call the gendarmes!"

In the room, a small weasel-like man in a trench coat huddled over some kind of mechanical contraption. The machine was saying: "Pocketa-pocketa".

"I was just oiling my pocketa-pocketa machine," said the weasel in a gutteral Serbo-Croatian. "As for the state of your mental completion, I would be willing to bet serious money that you do indeed have half a mind."

He produced a folded sheet of paper from his breast pocket. It appeared to have been stamped by the Feldreichsmarshal.

"You see? I have a permit."

"OK. But keep those drapes closed! You know we're in the middle of a blackout! We don't want those Jerries to know what the Tommies are doing, unless of course you're one of the Jerries, in which case forget I ever came in here. Do you hear!"

"Jawohl, mein führen-füßiger Rosenkohl!"

"OK. Just don't let it happen again!"

I was so tired from affecting an Austrian accent that I went back to my room and fell into a swoon. Fortunately, we had remembered to pack our portable swoon.

And in this swoon, I dreamt a horrible dream. Someone was sending me messages from (of all places) a remote island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Something about buying coleslaw in the Safeway produce department... The horror of it all -- coleslaw! And I bet it was the creamy kind.

I awoke with a finish (they were fresh out of starts on this planet). Smike was talking to someone on the phone with a low, suspicious voice. (I made a mental note to call the front desk and have them fix the phone's voice.)

"Yes," said Smike surreptitiously. "That yellow tape probably means you have an unconscious desire for a desk job somewhere in the British Isles. The giant dragon might suggest Wales..."

"No, I don't think we're talking psychotic jackhammer syndrome. Not yet. But if you begin getting signals from your cookie jar, call me immediately."

Smike saw that I was awake. He looked at his watch which, a half hour ago, wasn't there.

"Oh, it looks as if our hour is up. Yes... You don't say... You don't say..."

He hung up.

"Who was that?"

"She didn't say."

We stayed the night. Not much to do since the TV was stuck on Black Sabbath and we got tired of ripping off Spike Jones. Things were relatively peaceful, except for the volcanic eruption which occurred at 3:16 am. We lay for a while in our concave beds, stupified and terror-stricken, expecting we knew not what hideous destruction, the room vibrating violently, and endured a gigantic and flaming mass of molten fridlap. (Why is it that you can never find a vibrating fluid bed de-fridlapper when you need one?)

About 4 am, I called the front desk to see if we could get some grilled cheese sandwiches. Raoul, who was smiling over the phone, said the kitchen was closed until six. But he said he would send his cousin over to the volcano with some cheese and bread.

That was last Thursday. If Raoul's cousin thinks he's going to get a big tip, he's woefully mistaken.

February 16, 2005

The Heartbreak of Veggie Enlargement, or
The Strange Case of Ken's Rutabaga Envy

Having been sucked by my own gluttony into the Superstore-at-the-End-of-the-World, I partook of several free samples (strange bits of cheese, small chunks of toast spread with breakfast cereal) as I flew through the entrance area. I had the faint impression that this food had been set aside specifically for me. That impression may have been prompted by the sign on the sample table: "Have some cheese, Aardvark Al."

Is it possible that someone knew I was coming?

Every time I thought the word "possible", a noise outside like the rumbling of a thousand thunders rang in my ears. I made a mental note to get unlisted ears.

I peeked outdoors through the display of bags of road salt. There was nothing except the murky black emptiness I had come to know and love.

"Do not cling to your past perceptions, whether through fear or terror." said Smike, licking his paw. "Take heed instead of the natural sound of reality. Alternatively, you could just adopt a chimpanzee and carry it around on your back."

I decided not to take him up on the chimp idea. That sounded too weird, and much like something my dog might say.

"Are you sure you're not a dog?" I hissed.

"No."

I'm glad we cleared up that ambiguity. Still, I had to ask. Everybody knows they put cat's ears on dogs these days.

I looked around. Inside the Superstore, the ceiling was a deep starry blue. I was in the Fresh Produce department. Bins were piled high with fruits and vegetables. There were vast cataracts of warm, fuzzy, ready-to-eat cling peaches, $1.99 a pound. Red Seedless Grapes, $1.29 a pound. Mangos, 99 cents each. Even the Customer Service Manager, a former taxi dancer named Mabel, was not that expensive.

On a platform high above the turnips and rutabagas was a redfaced man with a brush cut and a Fu-Manchu mustache. He was dressed in a red jacket and red-and-black plaid pants. He was seated upon a Lion throne, and held the Rotary Club wheel in his hand. Suddenly, the combined membership of the Lions and Rotary clubs drove up in a taxi and Mabel danced on top of it.

Taking no notice of this buffoonery, the Fresh Produce Manager (as I was later told to call him) raised his hand in greeting.

"Hi, I'm Ian, Pleased to meet you."

"Hi. I'm not sure what I'm doing..."

"We buy only top grade number one quality produce. That makes the job of giving customers a great produce experience a little easier."

"I don't really want to buy any..."

The man sitting beside Ian interrupted me. He had a slightly longer nose and a toothy smile. He wore orange spangled tights and a lime-green tutu. However, he wore a manly blue tie adorned with a 15-year service pin.

"Hi, I'm Ken, Assistant Fresh Produce Manager," he said. "I judge the quality of my produce by my own high standards. Making sure that my customers can choose from the freshest possible produce every day is my number one concern!"

By this time I was fairly sure that these two guys weren't listening to me. Except for the way they were dressed, Ken looked suspiciously like Ian, except that Ian had a beard and Ken was wearing a blonde bouffant wig. They both had broad, wax-bean smiles and tight, Simonized faces. I made a mental note to wax my face when I got home.

Suddenly, Ken stood up and launched into a long apology about the size of the Rutabagas their suppliers were forcing on them. Apparently, there was a drought in Rutabaga territory. Then he flipped a switch, and a colorful video splayed across the back wall, showing a man fitting a mechanical contraption onto a subtly smiling rutabaga. A voice-over said:

"Now, you too can enlarge your rutabagas without invasive surgery or embarrassing doctor's appointments. The VeggieExtender will increase the length and girth of your rutabagas right in the privacy of your own home! The VeggieExtender uses the very same proven principles as the extender invented by Dr. Hugo Chickenstirfry, a certified horticulturist and specialist in Rutabaga Epanouissement in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, and then back to Denmark before withdrawing all of the cash and taking a fast flight to Argentina..."

Somehow, I had the feeling that Ken was compensating for the bad karma involved with his disappointing rutabaga shipments. As if in anticipation of my thoughts, he shoved his thumb into his mouth and blew on it until he turned blue, causing an intense blue aura to radiate from the Seedless Valencia Oranges.

"And you thought oranges glowed naturally!" he said, lurking back to his lair behind the nuclear power plant.

At the same time, Ian turned his head, shook his Rotary symbol majestically, and coughed.

Immediately, Smike and I were caught up in an immense swirling cataclysm. When the dust and fruit settled, we realized that we had been whipped to an airless planet with a dung-colored sky, two moons, and no professional hockey for at least a year.

"It could be worse," said Smike.

"What could be worse?"

"According to my i-Pod, our luggage is on its way to Pittsburg."

February 15, 2005

Never Trust a Cat Who Licks Driveways

Mesmerized momentarily by the overwhelming phosphorescent aura of the Fluoridated Whitening Payphone, I awoke with a start. I didn't have a choice. Awaking with a finish doesn't mean much and is just plain confusing.

I had been lost in a reverie wrapped up in an enigma tossed out in a garbage bag. I was dreaming that I had gone to a travel agency (no, not the funeral home) to book a trip to the Land Beyond the Great Waters. Fortunately, they were all out of flights to Pittsburg (aptly named though it is). Instead, we had gone into the back alley behind a pool hall, and there to find what has been called by People magazine "the world's most sincere manhole cover."

But as I say, it was just a dream...

I was standing instead in front of the gigantic scintillating Superstore. The fractionated Graviton particle had disappeared. In its place was a cat. A cat who looked strangely familiar. It was a cat we had owned years ago, one who had died a horrible death. It was playing about on the rim of a giant vat of hand cream, fell in, and softened to death.

The cat's name was hyphenated because he had had a brief fling with a poodle from three blocks away named Xochmilco. Since the dog's given name was Popocatepetl Teotiuachan, the name on his passport is Popocatepetl Teotiuachan-Xochmilco. We called him "Smike" for short. We almost never called him "Fred".

It should be noted that this is not the same pitiful Smike from Dickens' novel Nicholas Nickleby. No, actually the cat's name was "Spike", but I have a speech impediment under certain bizarre vowel combinations.

As a test, I asked Smike a complex philosophical question, based on bitter personal experience. The cat answered:

"Weiners are sold by the dozen because they go by the Universal Meat Standard, which is part of the Imperial system of the late 1780s. Packages of buns, on the other hand, come in eights because the number eight represents a level that is higher than nature, and above time. This is the level of the miraculous, which is not bound by the laws of nature."

"So...what should I do? Buy two packages of buns and throw four of the buns away?"

"You should eat tofu."

It was Smike, all right.

Not only was he a vegetarian, but he was also a brilliant cat. On the other hand, I remember he used to lick the neighbor's driveway after their garbage was picked up.

"Forget the garbage episode," he said. "Like it or not, I'm going to be your mentor, guru, and guide to this next phase of your journey."

We walked into the store. I was immediately blasted by a large, clear light. It was, in fact, the clearest light I had ever seen. Not white, not even eye-soothingly Soft Cool Amber. Just clear. I could truthfully say I was dazzled by the light. And by the blinding wall-to-wall day-glo neon and plastic lawn chairs, tables, and barbecues. Not to mention those Everyday Low, Low, Prices.

"How do you like this light?" said the cat.

"It's OK, as lights go."

"You should investigate this light. If at any time you feel inclined to surrender to the will of this light, don't let me stop you."

But I was distracted by the broadly grinning payphone. I fumbled for a coin and inserted it in the slot.

"I'm sorry," said the payphone. "We don't accept Canadian money."

I turned to Smike.

"Do you have any change?"

"Do I look like I have pockets?" he said, licking the floor.

Since I had forgotten my cellphone in my other shorts, it appears I was doomed to remain isolated from my beloved Mooburg. (I made a mental note to wear my other shorts at my earliest convenience.)

In a basket near the payphone was a Superstore flyer. Just one. You know, the kind that advertises prime ribs of succotash for only $3.99 a pound. Only this flyer was really odd. It had a photo of a lineup of smiling employees at the top, each a winner of the 2004 Award of Excellence. Which reminded me of a funny story about my Uncle Succotash.

But I digress...

What struck me was that each of these grocery managers had a red jacket -- and a cloven hoof.

The cat eyed me from across the entranceway.

"That flyer was for me," he said, his eyes giving off a faint reddish glow. "You weren't supposed to see that."

A chill ran down my spine. I was standing in front of an ice cream vending machine. Chills almost never walk down your spine.

At the same moment, I stepped on something that made a crunchy sound. It was a pretty flat fortune cookie. I picked up the little strip of paper and read it. It said: "You will soon see the essence of emptiness, where all phenomena, pure and impure, are dissolved. All phenomena will arise from this clear and luminous source."

That sounded like a really good deal, since I'd never been to Pittsburg. I started to walk toward the clear light, but the automatic door swung open and I was sucked inside by my own epicerine gluttony.

I made a mental note to visit Canadian Tire and have my gluttony adjusted.

February 14, 2005

I Learn That There's Nothing Worse
Than a Payphone with Bad Breath

I'm writing this blog from...well, dammit, I'm not sure where I am. The last thing I remember is that Morton Slaf-Kabnecier and I hit the water like a ton of bricks and then everything went black. Nothing ever goes white under these circumstances.

As a matter of fact, everything is still black. It's blacker than lost-in-the-woods-on-a-cloudy-night black. It's blacker than hide-and-seek-in-the-closet-after-everyone-else-has-gone-home black. It's even blacker than driving-your-1986-Mazda-with-no-lights-in-a-coal mine-during-a-power-outage black.

And when I say really black, I mean not exactly absolute black, because there are these strange little whisps of grey -- kind of mould-you-get-on-your-toast-when-it's-been-sitting-under-your-used-sock-pile-for-two-weeks grey. And the strange thing about these whisps is that they have flavors.

I'll have to back up for a minute (sound of shifting gears).

I've been walking along this smooth black endless slab of something that feels like crunchy granola under my feet. (I make a mental note to clean out my socks.) The sky is not really a sky at all, but a sheet of black peach fuzz stretching up and out at an incredible angle. And yet it all seems to be one piece. It's a matched set of black weirdness. It's like walking through a very creepy breakfast cereal without milk.

In front of me are the little grey whisps, dancing around. And they seem to be flavoring to me. Like, if chocolate ice cream could talk, what would it say? Only it's not talking. It's flavoring somewhere inside me in such a way that I know it's not vanilla. I make a mental note to avoid conversations with ice cream.

But this grey-whispy flavor is kind of a mishmash of different flavors, like Peanut Butter Surprise, Pineapple, Warthog's Armpit Supreme, and Chicken Fat Ripple. Espece de Yuchh! And this is what the flavor is saying inside me:

"Gaak! Harumph! Is this mike on? Gaak! Testing: One, Two. Testing. Ladies and Gentlemen, could you please be seated? ...Thank you."

I knew that flavor. It was Erstwhile Eagle, Mooburg's most insufferable blowhard...

"As you know (continued the flavor), we are gathered here this morning to pay homage to the late Mal J. Maardvark, who passed away last Friday after a damned hideous fall from the former abandoned castle of Sir William Longchamps of Chartreuse, which now lies a wet hunk of debris at the bottom of Mooburg Gorge.

"As was reported in the papers, attempts were made to rescue Mardvark Mal and his arch-enemy, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, on Saturday and Sunday. However, the search was called off when it became evident that no one could have survived that fall, and that the bodies had undoubtedly washed down the Moo River, and from there to the ocean beyond.

"Understandably, the good citizens of Mooburg were distraught, almost as distraught as when my Uncle Parcheesi lost his leg. He had had terminal gout for several years until just last April the doctors at Moo Hospital decided that the leg just had to go. Unfortunately, Uncle Parcheesi did not survive the operation. Something about complications of the fantod... It doesn't matter. Anyway, the hospital somehow misplaced Uncle Parcheesi's body. On the bright side, however, they did return his leg to us...

"I don't think this is the appropriate occasion to guffaw... You in the back row! Put a sock in it!"

"At any rate, we are therefore gathered on a great battlefield of the Mal-Mort arch-enemyhood, so to speak, to extoll the life of one of the town's greatest aardvarks, a devoted husband to the good MLouise J. Aardvark, and a loving father to all the MLittle J. Aardvarks. Rumors that he may have been in some way responsible for half the population in Mooburg are greatly exaggerated. Maardvark Mal was a devoted Odd Person of the local 682 of the Oddfellows, Head Lion at the Lion's Club, past Gearbox of the Rotary Club, yadayadayada...

"Well, enough about the deceased. Let's talk about me for a change..."

Wait a minute (said the real me)! That can't be right. I'm still walking around and breathing. I can't see a damn thing, but I'm still breathing. I had to get to a payphone and call somebody in Mooburg. (I make a mental note to avoid mental notes.)

I search through my pockets. To my relief, I have a quarter. Unfortunately, it's a Canadian quarter. But where can I find a payphone? I flip through the Payphone Atlas tatooed to my elbow. Fortunately, it's written in braille.

"Could I be of some assistance?" says a voice. This time it isn't a flavor. It's a brilliant point of light at my feet about one centillienth of the diameter of a Graviton particle. I'm well known for my small feet.

"Yes, kind Frationated Graviton, could you direct me to the nearest payphone?"

"We'll get to one, as sure as you can say Jack Robinson."

"OK. Jack Robinson."

"Not so fast. We're still building the next scene. OK. Now try it."

"Jack Robertson."

Nothing.

"No. You said it wrong. It's Jack Robinson."

Suddenly, there appeared before us a gigantic Superstore, shining brilliantly like a thousand South-of-the-Borders on your first drive-all-night-nobody-sleeps trip to Datona Beach. Inside the entrance is a phlorescent payphone. On it is a sign: "Maximum Strength Fluoride Telephone. Not only builds truly effective protection against tartar, but also cleans and whitens your conversations. (Recommended for adults and children over 12.)"

I stepped back to admire its smile.

"Oh, dammit!" said the Graviton particle. "You were supposed to say Jack Robinson, not me! Now everything's going to come out all wonky."

Encouraging words, I thought. Especially for a Monday morning.

February 11, 2005

Wherin Our Aardvark Meets La Fin Du Monde
And Finds It Wanting

Fortunately, the sharks were staying in the men's room, where the tips were better.

But I had something even worse to worry about. The water level in the bowling alley (swollen by the deluge from the upstairs aquarium) was almost up to the ceiling. Fortunately, aardvarks have vestigial gills in their snouts (manufactured by the Vestigial Aardvark Gill Co. of Canton, Ohio), so I had at least fifteen more minutes of air left to perfect my underwater bowling ball heaving.

At that very moment, however, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier himself burst into the Fear and Loathing Bowling Lanes (minus Aquarium, which had by this time enacted a liquid corporate merger with the bowling alley).

"Aha!" he said, picking a small mackerel out of his teeth, "throwing bowling balls at my wife when I'm not around, are you?"

At the time I remember wondering how Mort could have burst through the door without causing the aquarium spew to gush out in the other direction. I rashly thought it was the strength of his "Aha!" that held the water in check.

But I was distracted by the murder in his eye. It was a look I had not seen in Mootown since the Mfrank Floorpolishingwhileyouwait scandal almost fiteen years earlier. Mfrank (who, like all Mooburg residents, had to lug an M in front of his name) was a local viaduct-and-castle construction contractor and a married man of rather unsavory reputation.

Not long before the incident of which I am about to speak, his wife Mbetty made a complaint against him for non-support. To avoid the law, Mfrank left town and was gone until Mseptember, when he was arrested for lethally assaulting a handicapped mailbox (the incident of which I am now speaking). Mfrank was convicted and sentenced to the Moo County penitentiary for six months, but his counsel, Mbartholomew Tort, appealed the case and he was out on bail pending, well, whatever they had lined up in the pend department.

But I digress...

"Again I say, AHA!" said Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, holding up a bizarre sign featuring the word "FLYING", and evidently waiting for me to respond to this cue.

I racked my brain. What flying? Flying with Your Dog? Flying Down to Rio? Flying Omelettes? Miscellaneous Flying Photos? Flying Without a Net? Flying Particles?...

No sooner had I thought "Flying Particles" than the universe exploded and all hell broke loose, sending the entire watery contents, assorted fish, bowling balls, and Incomprehensibly Burning Luggage out through the door and down Main street. From there, while I made a mental note not to mention the phrase "Flying Particles" again, a series of boring conversations flashed through my brain:

Q: Did the heretofore mentioned (M)al and Mort (said he, careening unabashedly into the third person) avoid being flushed through the car wash at the end of the street?

A: No, but they enjoyed the benefits of the Executive wash, followed by a light rinse and the optional Carnauba wax job.

Q: And did our flailing hero and his dastardly antagonist crash through the abandoned Acme Buggy Whip factory at the edge of the mile-deep Mooburg gorge?

A: Yes, and various Mooburg citizens on their way to Thursday night Bingo saw them whooshing across the rickety abandoned viaduct connecting the buggy whip factory to the abandoned castle of Sir William Longchamps of Chartreuse who, as the story goes, was so angry at being interrupted at dinner by his butler (just as Miss Tyler, intoxicated and wearing a red taffeta frock, brandished a candlestick) that he chased him (the butler) upstairs and dispatched him forthwith.

Q: Was this the same Sir William pardoned by King Ray-o-Vac II providing he could invent an effective aardvark muzzle in two days' time?

A: The very same. You will recall that Sir William was shut in the Tower for two days and then summarily attacked by a pack of carnivorous aardvarks (who in those days could not write blogs), whereupon he flung his newly invented muzzle over the lead aardvark's head (explaining why today the muzzled aardvark is prominent on the Longchamps coat of arms) and Sir William escaped unharmed.

Q: And were Mssrs. Mort and (M)al rammed by the force of assorted fish and bowling balls up the castle's winding staircase, forcing both Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel to an early retirement, and leaving our two arch-enemies clinging to an arrass hanging out of the tower window and locked in a titanic hand-to-hand struggle?

A: They were. And yes it was, indeed, a fearful place (he said, veering irresponsibly back into the first person).

The torrent of bowling balls, swollen by a misadvised interconnection with the municipal water system by a civil engineer in training who shall remain nameless, geysered through the tower windows and plunged straight down into the yawning (but still awake and waiting impatiently for the eleven o'clock news) abyss below us. The spray from this deluge rolled up upon us (as we broke into a chorus of "He Who Would True Valor See, Please See John's Bunions") like smoke from an erupting volcano. The precipice itself was lined with glistening coal-black granite, and narrowed into a roiling, boiling pit of incalculable depth.

At the same time, the Incomprehensibly Burning Luggage that had followed us from the bowling alley set the tower roof on fire. Blazing timber and debris fell asymptotally (spacetimewise) about us, and the sounds of bursting rocks assailed our ears.

At that moment, I recalled that the contractor for the castle construction was none other than Mfrank Floorpolishingwhileyouwait, convicted mailbox killer and -- to my everlasting horror -- defrocked businessman and oft-sued tower builder. And, as the stones gave way around us, I remembered that long-distant (timespacewise) court case, in which alleged faulty construction had caused a tower to collapse, sending the Plaintiff and his biting, kicking arch-enemy plummeting head-first into the depthless chasm below...



(OMG!....)

February 10, 2005

Wherein Mort's Wife Madge Dodges Through the
Seven-Ten Split of my Heart

I left Miles Limitedlifetimewarranty behind in a cloud of dust, because, well, Miles was wearing his exploding Dust Suit. But also because I'm angry as hell and I'm on my way to meet the most hated man in Mooburg, my arch-nemesis, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, owner of the Fear and Loathing Bowling Lanes and Aquarium.

Mooburg (here's the town's website, if you're interested) is a small speck in the eye of Ontario (a painful geographic image), far off the beaten track (a painful incident of track violence). Almost nobody here bowled until the town was taken over by cows, who especially like bowling (they have built-in bowling bags). But the real bowlarama started when Mort Slaf-Kabnecier moved into town.

To keep his expenses down, Mort sets all the pins himself (there are only two alleys, and he's too cheap to get automatic pin-spotting). Then, to drum up business, he drives slowly along Main Street and insults everybody he meets. They get so steamed they run to the Fear and Loathing Lanes, quickly rent shoes and an alley, and angrily hurl three-holed balls at Marvin. Not roll. Heave. He eggs them on by cackling maniacally behind the flying pins.

I'm beginning to think the people of Mooburg aren't very bright. As for myself, I usually stay off Main Street until Tuesdays, so I get a discount on bowling shoes.

A brilliant cow of good birth, Mort was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Heidelberg (New Brunswick), author of a treatise on cud chewing vectors (The Final Problem), and lectured across North America on the hallucinogenic properties of udder cream (he could say "OK, well I'll benzodiazepine your methamphetamine" with his mouth full of popcorn) -- theories so advanced that few could understand their far-reaching consequences for cowkind.

But then Mort got hooked on bowling. He began hanging out with vicious gangs of high-roller party animals. He began to tell people that the NHL players were going to settle with the owners and, when he saw a glimmer of hope on their hockey-parched faces, he ran away cackling cruelly. (Mort cornered the cackle market several years back.) He began jostling the elderly and smirking about Bed Posts, Cheesy Cakes, Dinner Buckets, and Splashers. (If you've never smirked about a bedpost, you should try it. It makes you light-headed.) It's pitiful, really, what bowling does to perfectly normal people. But that was only the beginning.

Mort has become, of course, ruler of the Mooburg cow underworld, and is rumored to be the kingpin of the contraband cud market -- worth more than $12.6 million on the street. (An important detail for people who eat off the street.)

So it's come to this. It's high noon. Someone has to stand up for decency. As I mount the sidewalk in front of Mort's hangout, I check my undershorts for cleanliness in case I have to be embalmed before sundown.

As I said, the Fear and Loathing Lanes are below an aquarium, Mort's second legitimate business. He just plasticized the walls and floors of a six-bedroom upper duplex and filled it with water and tropical fish. (For Won Ton, you pay extra.) Add nutmeg and a bit of chive and simmer over a medium-hot coal for 20 minutes.

I storm in through the swinging doors, only to learn Mort is out of town. Probably a cud run. I decide to bowl a few frames. The storm I brought in doesn't have any shoes, so I have to bowl alone.

I am heaving balls semi-angrily at Mort's wife Madge, who is not particularly offensive as she picks up the pins (in fact, she very nicely sent me flowers last Valentine's day) but who fills in if Mort is busy elsewhere. But my heart is only half in it (only half of the flowers she sent exploded). And I have to admit that I find her artful dodging mildly provocative.

I notice a fish flying slowly by. Then I realize the fish is swimming. At first I think that the Jute Mill has erupted again, but it turns out the aquarium has sprung a leak.

That would explain why I was having trouble breathing.

It would also explain the sharks in the men's room.



(To be continued...)

February 09, 2005

Loinwise by Owl-Light: Or,
How the Etruscans Saved the Playoffs

I was taking a cold shower this morning in anticipation of stomping over to the bowling alley, loins frighteningly girded (dragon decals: $14.95 from Canadian Tire) in hopes of trouncing Morton Slaf-Kabnecier once and for all, tarring and/or feathering him and riding him out of town on a suitable facsimile of a rail (Mooburg having lost its train station and most of its tracks during the last Glee-and-Perloo riots. As I remember, it was a disagreement about a parking space.)

I checked the shower stall for rumbling pipes, but the noise turned out to be someone knocking on the bathroom window.

It was Miles Limitedlifetimewarranty, our local Etruscan Language merchant.

"Is it too much to ask for some privacy?" I eeked, knowing full well that Miles had been hospitalized six months ago for exposure to eeking beyond the threshold of endurance.

"I knew you don't answer your front door any more. Sorry about the hole in the window," said Miles, re-installing his kneecaps.

The Etruscan language (you will recall) erupted in the ancient region of Etruria (currently Tuscany in Italy). Fortunately, no one was standing under it at the time.

No complete translations into modern languages have yet been produced. However, some partial scripts do exist. What there is, Miles sells at bathroom windows.

These are based on an inscribed stele, found behind an ancient Coke machine in a gas station on the island of Lemnos, and dated to the 6th century BCE. The Coke machine is now at the National Museum of Hoboken, where it gets lots of offers, but no dates worth writing home about. The 6th century date (his last one) is certain because the Greek general Bioflavonoides invaded Lemnos at that time and ensured its low-carb status for the coming millennium. The stele bears a low-relief depiction of a Palm pilot, and is inscribed in an alphabet similar to alien alphabets brought back to earth by the often-abducted Milt Stroganoff, a real estate agent from Peoria. (It is a municipal offence in Mooburg to have a first name beginning in any letter other than "M". I, for example, am known in my hometown as "Maardvark Mal".)

The phrases, which run left-to-right then right-to-left as do most law-abiding Etruscan inscriptions, are reported in Hans Meyer Schweinschwandt, Farginbastiches Handbuch des Etruskischen, pages 284-292. They are as follows:

Verse 18, line 3: "I (will) have the (the) veggieburger (L. vegus, Fr. vegetable; It. Veggimaestro 2000) (but) I do respectfully (L. respectare) pray thee to hold the fries (L. patato, patatas, patate, potamus, potatis, potatant. Fr. poutine)."

Verse 23, line 14: "I command (thee) to assemble/bring together (L. coeo-ire-iv-itum) the food (L. escarius) of eternity (L. aevum-in, n. a. aevus-i, m.), but no onions or halapenos, please. I (have) a date (L. datus-ire-iv-itum) later on this evening."

Verse 56, line 2: "The land (L. ager, agri) suffers a heinous blight (L. blitio, blitere, bliti, blitum) since the (%#*#&!) pop machine will have produced (L. productere; third person singular subj.) mostly bubbles."

Verse 93, line 16: "Dost (thou) want thy fries? The cup of Stanley he hastens (L. haereo, haerere, haesi, haesum) to contest it not (It. no, adv. no, not; Fr. non, adv. no, not) and woe/alas! (L. ai!, oh! interjection of grief) the playoffs I miss! I venerate (L. pio-are) the Calgary Flames (L. flamus; hence, refuge, protection) but abjure (L. abjurere) the Leafs."

Unfortunately for Miles, I have three rooms full of unused Etruscan phrases, and I am in no mood to dally (in fact, my dallying license has recently expired). Consequently, I climbed out of the bathroom window after him, rocketing in a Mortward direction, making first sure that I was modestly (modesto, modesterere, ohthehellwithit) girded, loinwise.

(To be continued...)

February 08, 2005

Wherein I Discover My Mission in Life
Not to Mention a Half Pound of Girds

I don't know if any of you get broadcasts from WCOW, our local radio station. Probably not. It has a broadcasting radius of about, oh, 50 feet. This causes problems because we practically have to park right next to the broadcast tower to get the news. Here's a picture of the broadcast building, taken after the last Jute Mill explosion and flood. That's me not rowing the boat.

There are a couple of things you have to know so you can make sense of the picture. The name of the town used to be West Aardvark, which was what it was when there were only aardvarks living here. That was before 10,000 Holstien cows moved onto farmer Angus Probendary's farm, led by the leader of the cow faction, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier (he was rumored to be of indefinite eastern bovine lineage). Mort was the first cow to move into the downtown area, soon to be called Mooburg. He bought up the local bowling alley, then he and a faction of other cows took over the radio station. Apparently, he wanted to bowl in stereo.

The takeover of the radio station was sneaky. They broke in at night (the last broadcast is at 12:00 AM), and covered the walls with cat food. I think it was Friskie's Salmon and Tuna Dinner. The next day, the radio station was inundated with about a thousand stray cats, who licked the walls with great gusto, then settled down in the reception room and demanded Fancy Feast Gourmet Truffle Surprise.

It took the city council (still a majority of aardvarks) weeks to locate the object of the cats' demands (Gourmet Truffle Surprise being available only in Belgium). By that time, WCOW was forced to suspend live programming due to an infestation of fleas. Unfortunately, a big flea convention had been scheduled at the Aardvark Inn that weekend. Small fleas were arriving two weeks later.

"WCOW announces (said the press release) that due to the immediate need to spray its studios, we will broadcast recorded aardvark yodeling until 2100 tonight, with news on the hour."

The ensuing cat, flea, and fumigation uproar caused terrible personnel problems, forcing the aardvark owners to recruit hundreds of workers on short notice. Instead, they simply sold out to the cows at a ridiculous price. The cows said: "We're not going to pay you anything at all!" And the aardvarks said: "That's ridiculous!"

But sell they did. And did the cows recruit hundreds of radio workers? Nein! Instead, they went high-tech and bought a mechanical parrot named Salty with a 1500-word vocabulary, mostly Portuguese swear words, and alleged telepathic powers. Apparently, he could pinpoint the exact location of Peak Frean's Wheaty Assortment at a distance of a hundred paces.

This act (the parrot caper) whipped the town's already highly-charged tension into a fever pitch. Imagine driving several miles into the countryside just to hear recorded mooing (Cow Rap is simply incomprehensible, at least to aardvarks) punctuated by aaawwwking demands for crackers and peppered with poignant Portugueseries such as "Quem arremessou a isso o matey freaking?", "Batten abaixo os portais, você bastich do fargin!", and "Tirita eu madeiras, você furo do gelo do rei do fu!" Now imagine them driving out there several times. The people of West Aardvark really weren't very bright.

Things were obviously getting out of hand, so the local aardvarks held a meeting in the one place the cows couldn't get to: the third floor of the City Hall (this was before they installed the Zoom-O-Guernsey escalator).

In short, I was the aardvark charged with running Morton Slaf-Kabnecier and his pack of bandits out of town.

So, I'm writing this blog, sitting at home stewing about all this, basically girding my loins for the great out-kicking endeavor. To be very honest, I had no idea that I had any loins, so I spent several hours this morning hoofing around the house looking for them. After a few calls to the local hospital, it turns out I'm packing them somewhere not too distant from my pockets. Another couple of hours and I should be able to come up with some girds, if I can just get the refrigerator open.

(To be continued...)

February 07, 2005

Mea Culpas for my Blog (thump!), my Blog (thump!),
My Most Grievous Blog (thump!)

So many people have phoned in during the past 24 hours complaining about the previous blog that I feel it necessary to kneel before my combined readership (all two of you) and beg forgiveness. It seems I am an equal opportunity offender, since I have offended just about everybody in the free world.

1. First of all, I want to express my sincere apologies to the black polybutylethylenestyrene clothing industry for suggesting that there is anything strange about wearing their products. True, Uncle Ponsonby wore polybutylethylenestyrene, and he is rather strange, but then he's dead. Not that I mean to imply that there is any affinity between polybutylethylenestyrene and death...

2. Secondly, I am sorry for offending the licorice manufacturers. The fact that I stuff their product into my shoes should in no way be taken as proof that their product is so rock-solid hard that no one without steel-reinforced mechanical teeth could digest it. I am sorry if I gave that impression.

3. And not to forget the Slumbering Acres Funeral Parlor and Travel Agency, which I called evil. I should be more mature in my assessments. In truth, they are not so much evil as they are commercially rapacious, morally challenged, as well as mean, rotten and stinky.

4. Moreover, I apologize to the prople whose bathroom I demolished. Not having enough toilet paper is no excuse for bathroom decimation, nor is it cause for reducing their house to a pile of rubble and shipping their lawn to Labrador.

5. I owe also a note of regret to the heirs and creditors of Mrs. Mabel Kropotkin, rest her soul, for inflicting a most grievous typographical error on them. I should have said message parlor, not massage parlor. As for my reference to her frilly pink teddy... What? Could you speak up? ...Well, as it turns out there was no mention of a frilly pink teddy at all! I was referring, of course, to her friendly pimp Freddie.

6. No apology would be complete without a bit of bowing and scraping in front of the hot dog industry. I never meant to equate hot dogs with furnace duct scrapings, although my mouth is beginning to water as we speak.

7. And how could I forget my heartless slur about the city of Sudbury, Ontario. The fact that this greasy mining products town looks like the backside of the moon is more than offset by the fact that Sudbury has the world's only fifteen-storey nickle and, consequently, the world's tallest payphones.

8. And let me be stricken down with terminal scrofula if I ever again imply that God sends me manna from the sky. In fact, God does not send me manna from the sky. However, I do enjoy those nice fruit and cheese baskets at Christmas. But a little less limburger next year would be nice, seeing that it gives me gas. However, if it be Thy will that I have gas, I most heartily acccept Thy limburger.

9. There were, of course factual errors in my reportage: Last September's Pillar of Fire in fact took out two neighbor's houses, 14 mailboxes, 53 chickens, and the entire faculty of the University of Toronto, whose bus happened to be passing by our house on a slumming tour of non-Mensa neighborhoods. I am greatly sorry for the factual error.

10. Apologies also go to the entire book of Exodus, to its authors, and to everyone involved in the filming of the Ten Commandments, including Mr. Cecil B. DeMille himself, although I thought the stick-turning-into-a-snake bit was shamefully hoakey.

11. And finally, for an even penultimate dozen, I apologize to the legions of people who carried their worldly goods across the Sinai desert on oxcarts, led by Charlton Heston. In fact, I've placed a phone call to Mr. Heston, which should be coming through right...now!

(Sound of phone ringing. Sound of feets doing their stuff.)

Hello?...Mr. Heston, sir! Yes, I called to apologize for my scurrilous reference to you in yesterday's blog... What's that?... Aardvark Al...It was totally uncalled for.... What's that?... No, I don't own a rifle... No, not one of those either. ... No, I can't say I've ever used one of those to explode anything... Well, you don't have to use that language... I like big booms as much as the next fellow...Hello? ... Well, I'm calling to apologize for my scurrilous... Aardvark Al... No, I don't own a rifle...

February 06, 2005

OK, I'll See Your Pillar of Smoke
And Raise You One Golden Calf

Many of you have written in to ask:

Q: "Uncle Aardvark, how come you have so much time to sit down and write these atrocious things when the rest of us have lives. Are you chained to your computer?"

A: Yes, I am chained to my computer. But then, I also wear black polybutylethylenestyrene clothing and put licorice in my shoes.

Q: "But wait a minute, Uncle Aardvark. You've been zapped to the ends of the universe and back, thrown in jail, crushed in a garbage truck compactor, and zoomed above Yuma Arizona at giganormous speeds."

A: Fortunately, I have a jet-propelled laptop, which enabled me to bail out of the end-of-universe thingy and the break-the-sound-barrier fiasco, much to the chagrin of the evil Slumbering Acres Funeral Parlor and Travel Agency.

Q: "And the garbage compactor?"

A: Well, I have an expansive personality.

Q: "But wait a minute, Uncle Aardvark. We're not going to let you off quite so easily. If you don't do anything other than sit around all day chained to your computer, how can you afford to live?"

A: I'm sincerely glad you asked that question. First of all, I don't just sit around stroking my computer. Why last Friday, I demolished the bathroom of somebody who lives not far from me in Gravity Falls (about 40 kilometers north of Mooburg). This was no easy task, mainly because these people didn't want their bathroom demolished. You'd be surprise how difficult it is to demolish a bathroom with people hanging on your arms screaming. But it serves them right for not having enough toilet paper. And, fortunately, I have a heavy-duty laptop, so it came in handy wanging off those last stubborn bits of plaster.

Q: "Stop beating around the bush. How do you pay your bills?"

A: Well, fortunately, the mortgage on the house has been paid off, thanks to Mrs. Mabel Kropotkin, late of 555 Morningdew Lane. Thanks a bundle, ducky. Best of luck to you in that great massage parlor in the sky.

Q: "Hold On. You have to eat, don't you?"

A: Ah, yes. Food. Apart from the usual comestible colony of ants, aardvarks eat a range of disgusting insects, fly parts, and furnace duct scrapings. Understandably, we love hot dogs. But for the every-day, dependable nosebag, I just go out in the back yard, look up, and yell: FEED ME!

Q: "Wait a minute. I'm confused. I'm totally confused."

A: Yes, you are. What's your point?

Q: "I don't get the yelling at the sky."

A: Well, I just yell FEED ME! and about ten seconds later, I see a tiny speck in the sky somewhere in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri. The speck gets bigger and bigger until it becomes a five-ton hunk of manna crashing into my Kentucky Bluegrass. On the negative side, however, the back yard has started to look like Sudbury.

Q: "Do you expect us to believe that God sends you manna from the sky?"

A: Well, it might be Mrs. Mabel Kropotkin, but she was more into finger foods and fuzzy raspberry dacquiries. And then there was that Pillar of Fire that kept showing up.

Q: "Oh, sure. Now you're going to.."

A: Took out the neighbor's house, a mailbox, and four chickens last September.

Q: "But..."

A: And there were those legions of people carrying their worldly goods across the desert on oxcarts led by Charlton Heston..."

Q: "I'm getting out of here. Nurse! NUUURRRSE!! Could you unlock this door, please?"

A: How they got Charlton Heston hooked up to an oxcart, I'm not quite sure...

February 04, 2005

A Way a Lone a Last a Loved a Long
Oh, Hell With It! Pass the Velveeta!

The dog and I were classifying our nicens little Baby Tuckoo CDs when there was a knock at the telephone. I wafted the diaphonous blower skyward.

"You're not dead yet?" said a voice.

It was the Slumbering Acres Funeral Parlor and Travel Agency again. Apparently, business had slacked off considerably since they laid off 25 employees in some pretty snappy mahogany and brass caskets. Now plumb out of in-house customers, they've taken to this rather tasteless dinner-time telemarketing campaign to beef up the funerary coffers.

"No, but I have the sniffles," I said, defensively. I had to say something. Telemarketers make me so nervous!

In the wink of an eye, there was a knock at the door. (This maneuver, in fact, requires a tremendous amount of concentration and physical dexterity. Try it. I dare you.) I wasn't born yesterday. I know what crappy things happen when I open the front door, so I climbed out the bathroom window.

It was a liveried footman (no, not that kind) with a stretch hearse waiting at my front door.

"I said I had a cold!"

"Close enough!" said the funerary representative, sharpening his spade.

Stately plump, I convinced him to drive me instead to the Pearly Gates Drug Store and Karaoke Bar to purchase some nasal spray. Mooburg is a small town. Everything on main street does at least two things at the same time.

"Sniffles, eh?" said the druggist, adjusting his carburetor. Things were a little slim in the drug and karaoke trade, so he was freelancing tuneups behind the blood pressure machine.

He led me over to the sniffle department and handed me a small container.

"Die-ox, eh? Is it good for sniffles?"

"It's good for just about anything. Sniffles. Scrofula. Asphaltfoot. Chilblains. Fantods. Not to mention Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy."

"BSE! Isn't that a cow disease?"

"I said not to mention it."

I asked him if Die-ox had any side-effects. He listed the usual suspects. Dry mouth, labored breathing, dispepsia, projectile flatulence, broken leg, sporadic heart attacks, stroke, spontaneous combustion, and the occasional reincarnation as the Antichrist. Simultaneously, on his shirt, someone was projecting images of healthy people with re-treaded smiles holding hands and running through the forests of the anti-diluvian wetlands.

"Wait a minute!" I said. "This package has been opened!"

"The product is so effective that it has to be aerated continuously," he said, looking for a side exit.

"And there's a dead Junebug inside."

"You'll notice on the label that the product should be taken with meals. If you don't like Junebug sandwiches, you can substitute tuna."

That made sense. I'd heard of medicine you had to take with meals. I may be gullible, but I'm not stupid.

I bought the sniffle medicine, took one with a glass of Velveeta and prune juice, then left through a side door. At least I thought it was a side door, but it turned out to be the Karaoke part of the business. Hundreds of people (who turned out to be the Aardvark Tabernacle Choir, late of our bedroom) were sitting at tables, singing. Someone thrust a microphone in my hand. I was on stage. There was nothing else for me to do but follow the bouncing ball, which I hoped would eventually lead me toward home.

Everybody, now...One and a two and a three! Here comes everybody, now!

Four quirks for Mustard Murk!
Sure he'll have to stop driving his benzedrine Merc
And his bickley's sure muxtured without all his perks.
But O, Finagle Al-Aardvark, he's a sodova jerk
If he shrinks we won't nolvatice dark of his shirk
And him flipping those Great Speckled Burgs with his dirk?
Hohohoho, multi-Murk!
The clyven-foot spry-ox of the Miltownic kirk!
And you think you've the ring of the load of the work!
Jigger's up! Dristan's the dry-nosed clerk
The celebrecksed dead-eye of benadrilled red-eye
Yet him seldame wonking the tale of his wet-eye
And that's why hellbutrin Wethuselahs lurk.

Beats me what it meant.

Fortunately I didn't have to squeak out the second chorus because the projectile flatulence started early. Most of the gathered guests lost interest in music and left through various windows. Fortunately for me, the druggist had an extra pair of roller skates, so I was jet-propelled homeward, so to speak, and didn't have to hail a rent-a-hearse.

Fortunately again, I wasn't reincarnated as the Antichrist until early evening. So I got to watch my Seinfeld re-runs.

But the dog burst into flames after eating his kibble. He had a harrowing night.

February 03, 2005

The Return of the Incomprehensible
Letter of Uncle Ponsonby

I must admit I am innocent of the term "roflmao!!", except to hazard a guess that it means "rolling on the floor laughing with the former Chairman of the Chinese People’s Republic". And corndog, I'm amazed that anyone still currently alive knows what "plus-fours" are. But it's appropriate to the Sam Sneed symbolism. I'm not sure whether you're an aging golfer or a frustrated English major, but I'll let it pass...

At the risk of being a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, I think we should move on now to the second bedroom, which features a sunny bay window for a dreamy sunshine seat and leads on to a third hideaway that could be an office retreat. We're walking...we're walking...

Careful not to mind the wee transparent folk dancin' about the radishes in the gaaarden outside the window. They're on strike, they are, for more mistletoe and better conditions when settin' the table for the divil with the pooka abroad as i'tis so that the fetch of their future lover may come through the window and eat of the food except for the blackberries, which the pookas have spoiled and paralysed the cattle so we won't be after havin' any blackberry-and-beef sandwiches at all at all.

We open the door of the den, and what do we find but (no, not hockey players selling girl scout cookies) a letter sitting on the dusty rolltop.

Along with the usual unpaid bills, this morning's post brought a letter which I had returned unopened a fortnight ago Tuesday, but which the post office, in its usual vindictiveness, has delivered again -- this time attached to a piece of flypaper which proceeded to stick to my hands, nether parts, and any scrap of furniture I could scrape it off on.

The letter, it turns out, is from Uncle Ponsonby, now living in the Bay's "Spring Fashions" show-window in Gravity Falls. (Bored with the retirement home, Uncle Ponsonby struck a deal with the store's owners to replace one of the "Mature Snowbirds" mannequins damaged in the last of many Jute Mill explosions and floods. Although busy remaining perfectly immobile in public view, he occasionally finds time to write.) The letter is a short one, so we quote it completely:

"Mae bys Mary Ann wedi brifo a Dafydd y gwas ddin yn iach. Mae'r baban yn y crud yn crio. A'r gath wedi scrammo Johnny bach. Sospan fach yn berwi ar y tan, sospan fawr yn berwi ar y llawr. A'r gath wedi scrammo Johnny bach."

We had no idea that Uncle Ponsonby felt that way.

We quickly took up our Etruscan dictionary to pen him a return letter (he has steadfastly refused to speak anything but Etruscan since the Grand Duchess took off with the footman. No, not the Eternal footman), but alas, the words wouldn't come. There isn't very much you can say in Mary Ann's situation, and she would probably be better off giving Johnny a wide berth at this juncture, judging by that "a'r gath wedi scrammo" comment. But there just is no accounting for people's eccentricities. And you really can't give advice to people.

On a lighter note, they have since rebuilt the Jute Mill, absolutely no Inuit have died of snakebite so far this year, and the seal population in Saskatchewan is doing just fine, thank you.

February 02, 2005

How Do You Like Your Snicker, Sam?
I Like My Snicker Sneed.

We got another call from the snicker lobby -- you know, the World Brotherhood of Snicker Practitioners (WBSP). When one wants a professional to snicker up one's sleeve, they, apparently, are the people to call. Unfortunately, I didn't answer the call. The rabbit did. We'll have to rethink installing the cordless phone in his cage.

Apparently, the WBSP is looking for a new Snicker Regulator in our region and is offering me the job. It pays multitudes of hay and carrots. Mind you, this is based on the rabbit's reporting of the call.

This would be a big jump from my current position of doing absolutely nothing at all, so I thought I would get a bit of guidance counselling. I headed to the offices of Dr. Sam Sneed, head of Sam's Medical Center and Tire Emporium in downtown Mooburg, and no relation whatever to the long defunct golfer.

"What you need, Mr. Aardvark," he said, withdrawing his mashee from his bag, "is to get in touch with your inner advisor."

He then placed an orange golf ball on the floor and whacked it so hard it careened wildly about the room like a fly trapped inside a summer porch light.

"Just lay back on the couch and relax. Find an imaginary quiet place."

Suddenly, I am on a small island in the middle of a calm, blue sea. The sky is blue. The grass is blue. There is a small blue sea gull resting on a blue log. I pause momentarily to adjust the color on my imagination.

"Now, are we all relaxed in our quiet place?"

"Yes."

Whaaaak! Pocketapocketapocketapocketa... (The golf ball's part was the least rewarding one.)

"Now look around for a friendly creature that can act as your advisor. Bambi the deer, or Chuckie the chipmunk. I'll give you another ten seconds..."

Whaaaak! Pocketapocketapocketapocketa...

I walked up to the sea gull.

"Do you mind doing this advisor thingy?" I said.

"No problemo," said the gull, whose name was also Sam. It turns out this is his job. He hangs around the doctor's office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, hoping for the odd animal advisor job. He confirmed that I was probably the oddest animal he had advised. On the way back to his nest, I tripped over a hunk of salt that had washed up on the beach.

Then a strange thing happened. It was as if suddenly I were in the sea gull's mind and he in mine. He was thinking: "What am I going to have for lunch?"

I was thinking: "I wonder if that girl on the Morton Salt box has salty footprints?"

I explained to the gull my quandary about the Snicker Regulator job.

"You should talk to my uncle, Rhadamanthus."

When we reached the nest, I shook wings with Uncle Rhadamanthus, who, in his spare time was also the son of Zeus and Europa and brother of Minos, king of Crete. Driven out of Crete by his brother, Alchazeltzer, who was jealous of his popularity, Uncle Rad fled to Boeotia, where he wedded Alcmene, but was just as quickly turned into a sea gull by Zeus.

Naturally Alcmene got on the blower and anulled the marriage toute suite. But I digress...

"Yaaaas," said Uncle Rad, leaning back and stretching his suspenders "in the old days back in the Elysian fields, we had a few Snicker Regulators sitting around playing harps and generally making nuisances of themselves. Mostly, we just had a lot of Judges of the Dead. Too many, I thought. Everybody and his uncle wanted to be a Judge of the Dead. Who could blame them? The pay was good, hours were short, and (seeing that there was a bumper crop of hedonists that year) you got good commissions depending on the number of people you condemned to eternal damnation.."

These days, Uncle Rad has the East Coast franchise for variable angle reflection tools.

"You probably need one," he said. "They're easily adapted for specular, ATR or diffuse reflection spectroscopy. And you can operate them over a broad range of angles without changing the polarization of the incident beam."

I quickly changed the subject.

"What about those Snicker Practitioners?" I said, desperately.

"Well, there are two camps, snickerwise," said Uncle Rad.

Immediately, a vision of T.S. Elliot flashed across the low-lying clouds. The poet spoke in a thundering voice:

"I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker."

I suggested that he try tipping at least 20 percent. Being a footman for eternity must suck royally. Personally, I'd rather be reincarnated as a sponge. You could live off your Uncle Arthur for eons.

However, the image passed. In a twinkling of an eye, Uncle Rad turned into the shade of William S. Gilbert (recently escaped from Sullivan) who summarized the snee value of the snicker thusly:

"And on his knees fell he/ As he squirmed
and struggled/ And gurgled and guggled/ I drew my snickersnee!"

I looked wearily at Uncle Rad cum Gilbert. This was not helping much.

And just as suddenly, the crisp air was rent with a giganormous sound...

Whaaaak! Pocketapocketapocketapocketa...

I made a mental note to oil my Suddenly Button.

"I'll be with you in a minute. Just let me get on the seventh green..."

"Clever lines, Mikado Writer," I thought to myself, "but too long to fit on a bumper snicker."




February 01, 2005

Gabriel Faure Never Wore Tank Tops
But His Friend Erich Had a Remarquable Sackbut

This will be just a short note today because we're all abuzz here in the Land of the Frozen Toes.

Today is the good Louise's birthday (she's 103 and still counting). We and our 43 children are going to go out to dinner and to a movie. The check will be picked up by a special lottery struck by the Province of Ontario. If you've ever struck a lottery, you know it can be painful for both the striker and the strikee.

My heart is even more gladdened by the late-breaking news that, sometime this year, Black Sabbath, Cream and the remaining members of Queen are going to resurrect, hopefully at the same instant and on the same distant oxygen-deprived planet. But Corndog will be happy to know that their first set will revolve around Faure's Requiem played on ancient bagpipes, shawms, sackbuts, and ginnyhoofers.

And Frankysbride, we are all relieved to hear that you wear tank tops instead of sleeveless blouses. I do too, under my parka and downfilled pantyhose.

Thanks for the Steppenwolf quote, Alcet. I hadn't remembered that one. It's been about 89 years since I read Steppenwolf. I should probably read it again. In recent years, I've just been buying his CDs.

If you feel you were born to be wild, you can purchase Steppenwolf tanktops at Steppenwolf.com.

As far as I can find, nobody is wearing any Gabriel Faure tank tops. Although on the same web page on which the Royal Ballet is touting their version of the Requiem, you'll also find a mindblowingly confusing photo of a bronze "Young Dancer Statue with PinkTop (Danskin racer back tank top with inner molded contour cup bra and black piping)." It's here.

And finally, I feel it's only right to correct the Al Gore quotation included in the above blog. Apparently, Smiling Al didn't say "He who laughs last laughs last."

What he said was "He who laughs last probably didn't get the joke."