Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Moron Fills In

The Moron slammed his shiny red sports car into third gear and planted his foot. The engine screamed, the car's chassis tilted slightly under the influence of the torque, a rush of air blew his hair back, and the Chevrolet Cavalier behind him blew its horn. He glanced up from the tachometer.

The light was green. The Moron quickly shifted into first gear and let out the clutch. He turned the fan down and watched the Cavalier shrink in his rear-view mirror. A sweaty little frog of jealousy reached out from its dank cave and fondled his heart as he wished aloud for perhaps the hundredth time that he had bought a Cavalier instead. They were so cool, and the rusty ones looked even classier. Like a distinguished gentleman graying at the temples.

He wanted one sooo bad. Preferably in a nice shade of mauve with whitewall tires and a big ironing board spoiler and a really loud fart cannon exhaust and those blue halogen headlights, and...

Whoops. That was the street he needed. He was going to be very slightly late now. Normally this would not bother him, but today was special. Today he would not be rocking the socks off his own job, but filling in for his girlfriend at the barber's shop. As he spun the car into a tire-smoking U-turn, his vision blurred and the windshield full of angry motorists turned wavy, then dissolved altogether as the flashback chimes sounded, and he was once again standing in his boxer shorts in his kitchen.

"You're going to need that sock's mate if you're going to work for me today, candypants," his girlfriend was saying.

"Grappling hook!" the Moron said for no reason, and looked down at his feet. They were indeed only 50% socked. "Periwinkle!" he added.

"Be that as it may, you're going to have to be dressed for this job. I don't know what your dress code is like at The Company, but it's quite strict over at the shop." She ducked back into the bathroom to remove the scaffolding and finish the work on her hair.

The Moron allowed the arm holding his mug to relax. Coffee dribbled onto the floor as he prepared a professional office-person statement about The Company's regulations regarding employee wardrobe.

"I wear whatever I want!" he hooted. "I'm a professional, and as such I am permitted to garb myself as I see fit. I even wore a bowtie one day, but it fell into the document shredder." He crossed his arms and dumped the remaining coffee over his left shoulder.

"...regulars who expect me to remember their last cut. It's in this bag here. I really appreciate you doing this for me, hon," his girlfriend continued.

Evidently she had been explaining something important while he was defining his territory.

No matter. He'd figure it out. The Moron tossed the empty coffee mug skillfully at the dishwasher, watched fondly as it bounced off the closed door and rolled across the linoleum, and stalked off to find pants. As he reached into the laundry basket, its contents blurred, became wavy, and suddenly he was back on the road, in his car, drooling on the gauge cluster.

These flashback sequences weren't strictly necessary, since the events encapsulated therein took place less than an hour ago, and they tended to be more trouble than they were worth. The Moron made a mental note to tell his doctor. He then made a physical note to get a doctor.

With the confidence of a born Office Professional, The Moron shoved open the glass doors of Dude's Barbershop, and propelled himself toward the row of chairs with a poot he hoped wouldn't linger.

Two young ladies standing behind a short desk with an LCD screen on it looked up. The brunette nudged the blonde.

"That guy's only got one sock on," she whispered.

"Relax, ladies! Your substitute barber has arrived!" the Moron boomed.

His chest expanded, chin jutting, arms thrown back and his feet planted exactly three feet apart, he stood astride both the Dude's Barbershop floor and the monumental responsibility housed within like a posable action figure left out in the sun.

The brunette was pointing out various barbery bits around the Dude's shop, but she was one of those soft-spoken girls, and the music in the place (played over a system that sounded like a public restroom full of $20 clock radios) was rather on the loud side.

"With the reliant bums in, sneak them in a mile and back-slap their bike with a worm trowel," he heard.

The Moron understood that she felt an obligation to explain everything, but wished she wouldn't bother. He was a professional. Professionals knew how to do things already. That's what made them professionals.

"Thank you very much, Abby. Which one of these recliners is mine?"


"No. Recliners."


"Step on you? Why?"

She moved closer. "Steff-UH-nee. That's my name. Since you're filling in for Megan, you use her chair. Over here." Stephanie guided the Moron to a chair close to the shop's plate glass front window. Some dimwitted, surely unprofessional, putz had painted the text on it all backwards. It was a wonder this place got any business at all, poor souls. This seemed like a good time to buoy their spirits by showing them that he had come prepared for anything.

"I brought my own scissors," the Moron said, his tone deep and soothing, like a bottle of confident cough syrup that wanted the best for everybody. He tugged a pair of scissors from his back pocket. They had what the Moron considered to be very impressive fluorescent green handles, one of which was bigger and more elongated. This was part of their dark mystery, as the Moron had yet to discover what purpose this served, but he would have to do that research on his own time.

He had bigger problems to deal with right now.

"Oh, um. That won't be necessary. Megan left all of her supplies in her toolbox here, and..."

Stephanie's voice sounded like it was coming from deep inside an empty oil drum in the next room. The Moron was busy staring at his scissors. There was a problem with them. They had somehow developed a sort of sickle shape he couldn't remember them having before he left the house.

If one is to transport something in one's back pocket, it should be something that will not bend and take on the contours of one's buttocks, the Moron wrote on his pad of mental Post-It notes with a liquid-ink, rollerball thought-pen.

It was this kind of throughness that made him who he was, so it was not surprising that when inspiration struck, the Moron did not duck but took it right on the chin. These scissors are not broken. They're enhanced!

"They're contoured to follow the curvature of the skull!" he bleated, flourishing them like an infomercial huckster. "Bang. Productivity increased by ten to sixty-four percent right off the bat. Where are your Snickers?" He flexed the scissors mightily and one of the handles fell off.

"All the stuff you'll need is right here in this box," she said, patting a steel Craftsman toolbox.

Snickers, the Moron thought. In a toolbox. How grand. I must search for them. He cracked his knuckles in anticipation. There were few things in the world that the Moron enjoyed more than a good rummage. The big red toolbox, with its multitude of drawers and cake-like layered design was ripe for rummaging. His fingers twitched and he began to vibrate and drool.

"I've gotta run to the bank and get some change for the cash drawer. If you have any questions, just ask Hailey."

"Mm hmm."

The Moron waited for the door to close behind Stephanie before he scanned the toolbox for weaknesses. Perhaps one of those little drawers in front. A bit of spastics, and he'd be right in. He twisted his right hand into a claw, and coiled his arm like an arthritic cobra that could only bend at the elbow. Suddenly, his hand darted out and hooked a drawer open. A confetti cloud of clipper parts burst from the drawer and rained down all around him, disappearing forever under chairs and sinks.

"Hee hee," the Moron chuckled. "Parts."

A chime sounded. The Moron was deeply mistrustful of chimes, so he immediately put his rummaging on the back burner to investigate. The chimes were located above the entrance to the shop, and as he swung to recon that area, he noticed the door closing.

He heard footsteps.

The Moron followed their sound to the man making them. The man was talking to the girl (probably this "Hailey" character he'd heard so much about) behind the low desk with the LCD screen on it. Now he was writing something on a clipboard.

Hailey looked up from her LCD. "Your first client!" she said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quandary in Chromaticity

The bar room in Barfley's Pub was a sea of earth tones. Deep reddish mahogany tabletops varnished to a mirror finish reflected the light from the green-shaded lamps above. The low-burning incandescents washed the ceiling in emerald and the rest in a warm amber. As Joey Zetetic allowed his unfocused eyes to sweep the room, he caught flashes of copper and brass from the polished fittings. It was like watching a field on an autumn evening; a blurry one filled with metallic fireflies.

Every few seconds, the scene was gilded in silver by the headlights of a car passing the big plate-glass window.

"Wow. You look like crap."

Joey looked up. He willed his tired eyes to bend their lenses and provide him with an image he could work with. In a few seconds, he recognized the stocky man standing next to the table.

"Walt? Hey, man. What brings you down here?"

"Same thing that brought you, I suppose. This place sells beer. Mind if I join you?"

Joey stretched out a leg and nudged the chair opposite him out from underneath the table. "Go right ahead. What'll you have? It's on me."

"What's good here?" Walt asked, seating himself. "There a menu around here? What's that in your pitcher?"

"Yak Cider. It's just hard cider, but it sure beats the taste of Guinness. Hold on. I'll get you a mug."

Joey crossed the room. As he moved, he cast a whole baseball team's worth of shadows, spread out around him like the blades on the pub's lazily spinning ceiling fans. He watched his own approach in the mirror behind the counter. The bottles, on shelves just in front of the mirror held their own tiny, distorted versions of the room, some deep green, others burnt caramel or raspberry red. He flagged the bartender over and hooked a thumb over his shoulder at the pub's only other customer. The bartender nodded and handed him a clean mug.

Walt poured himself some of the pale cider. A pair of passing headlights projected a miniature rippling lake of amber through the pitcher onto the tabletop as he did. "So what's up? That little bit of exercise you got on the walk to the bar didn't seem to do you any good. You still look like crap."

"She left me," Joey said into his mug.

"Who did? Violet? Violet left you? Geez, man, that's rough. Do you mind if I ask why?"

Joey sighed. This was always the hardest part. Taking the block of facts from a relationship that seemed to make sense at the time, and trying to grind and chisel away at it until it fit into this new and updated reality.

"I dunno. It was so sudden. I guess it was mostly a difference in beliefs."

Walt swallowed a mouthful of Yak Cider. "Whoa. You're right. This is good stuff. So what beliefs didn't you two share? I mean, what would be serious enough to split you up? It seemed like, you know, a pretty solid relationship."

"I don't believe in color," Joey said.

Walt put his mug down. "What?"

"It's not that I don't respect people who do believe in color. It's just that I can't make myself go in for the whole thing."

Walt glanced around the room. Green lampshades. Red curtains. Neon signs. Brown wood, brass rails and chrome taps. The Rockola® jukebox alone was a garish monument to the screamingly obvious existence of color.

"I'm not quite sure I understand, Joey. You're not color-blind, are you? What color is my shirt?" Walt was wearing a dark blue button-down with fine white vertical stripes.

"I'm not color-blind. At least not that I know of. Which is kind of the whole impetus behind my lack of faith. How could anyone tell? As long as I can distinguish between different wavelengths of reflected light, and learned the words for them, then nobody could. Your shirt is mostly blue, by the way. Or at least that's the wavelength I was told to call blue."

Walt clapped his hands and leaned back in his chair. "That's it then! You can see in color, so color exists. End of story."

"Not quite. There is absolutely no way to tell that the way I see blue is the same as the way you see it. We may both be able to tag a specific wavelength with the word 'blue,' but the picture in my mind may be different from yours. Unless someone figures out a way to let me see through your eyes with your brain, it's impossible to tell for sure. Until then, it's all just hearsay. It also might explain why some people find certain paintings or patterns attractive, and some don't, now that I think about it."

"So that's it? Just because you can't prove that my blue is the same as your blue, you're going to give up on color?"

Joey brought his mug of Yak Cider to his lips, and held it there. He smiled over the rim at Walt. "Well, I'm more what you might call 'color agnostic'. It's not that I think its existence is impossible, but I do think that it is at least a little unlikely. Nor is it necessary. I still enjoy what I think of as 'blue' as much as I ever did."

Walt poured himself another mug of cider. "Did you want the rest? There's about half a mug in here."


"That's why Violet left you? Because you had this crazy view on color? That can't be it, man. She put up with your weirdness for this long without breaking a sweat. Why would something like that push her over the edge?"

Joey added the last of the cider to his mug and set the pitcher down. A little bit of foam clung to its sides and bottom. On each of the tiny bubbles' surfaces was an upside-down, hypertensive replica of the pub's bar room, overlaid with a shifting cloak of rainbow.

"Kids, mostly. She didn't want her kids raised without faith in color. She said that she wanted them to know of green and orange and red and blue, like she was taught when she was a kid. I can understand that. It took me years to shed my belief, and it wasn't always painless. I mean, I still have the same favorite color I did when I was little, but now I know that I really can't trust it. It kind of hurts sometimes, as you can imagine."

"And she didn't want her kids to be exposed to that kind of uncertainty, huh? Well, man, I'm sorry. But it sounds like she's standing by her old faith, and you gotta respect that."

"No, I don't. But of course I do."

"What is your favorite color, by the way?"


Walt tipped his mug back, emptying it. He smacked his lips. "Dang. This stuff really is tasty." He paused, a mischievous smile lighting his face. "Of course, how could I know for sure that I taste it the same way as you?"

"Exactly," Joey said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The FooDaddy Zodiak

Disclaimer: To any readers out there who actually take astrology seriously, I apologize for mocking your belief that the sky dots or placemat monkeys are telling you what to do. It sounds like more of a neurosis than a strategy to me. Go lie down for a while.

Anyone who gets a newspaper or has eaten at a Chinese restaurant has probably seen a table of zodiac signs before. Personally, I like the Chinese Restaurant Zodiac the best. I looked for my birthdate on there, and I'm a boar. Or a pig, depending on where they had their placemat printed. I am chivalrous and noble and have common sense when it comes to mortgage rates. All the characteristics one generally associates with swine. One Web page I looked at also says that Boars do not "shimmer," which is kind of disappointing. I had plans to.

My favorite part about the placemat zodiacs is the compatibility list. Every sign has other signs that it does or does not get along with. I always get a kick out of reading "Beware the monkey" while I'm waiting for my curry chicken. I want that on a bumper sticker.

While the Placemat Zodiac is divided up by your year of birth, the FooDaddy Zodiak will be by month because it's easier that way. There are far fewer months than there are years, you know.

The FooDaddy Zodiak

January - Sincere Weasel

The Weasel is kindhearted and true, and would never steal any of your honey roasted peanuts because they are extremely scrupleful. Weasels enjoy long, totally harmless chats with other Weasels, and are generally well spoken of in society. Especially among other Weasels. Avoid the Swine and make fast friends (read: business relations) with the Finch and hire a Hamster for P.R.

February - Developmentally Disadvantaged Goat

Here's a sign that everyone can love! Goats make wonderful after-school specials, and feature heavily as pivotal and kind-hearted savants in Stephen King stories. Turn that frown upside down and have a handful of Skittles! It's time for a parade! Beware the Weasel and Finch, because they can't see just how special you are. You will make sparkly paper hats with the Pony.

March - Shimmering Swine

All Swines are chrome-plated and awesome. They shimmer and dazzle all they want. All Swines are sarcastic in an endearing, sweaty sort of way, and would make wonderful grandparents if equipped with canes. A Swine will generally not come right out and criticize your stupid values or moron choices, but they will drop infuriating, needling hints. Swines should MapQuest a route the hell away from the Pony and Sloth and visit a Squirrel instead.

April - Crenelated War Badger

Badgers are extremely aggressive and protective of those they love, and would like nothing more than to punch the rest of the Zodiak in the ear. But only if they annoy the Badger enough to make the Badger yell. For while all Badgers would love to pass a law legalizing road rage, they are mostly fair. The Badger would make damn sure nobody picked on the Goat and will roundhouse kick any sign that tries.

May - Giggling Pony

Tee hee! Like, Ponies are so awesome! They are the kindest and prettiest and bestest kissers! Ponies totally love writing poems in their journals about flowers and clouds, and reading Anne Geddes books, but are so totally deep too. Like, when a Pony watches a sad movie, that Pony is not afraid to cry. Ponies should never develop crushes on the Smurf, but they do. Ponies say they want a Swine because they really value a sense of humor, but they don't.

June - Addlepated Platypus

Platypuses never seem to know exactly who they're trying to fool. They have personalities composed of bits of other peoples' that they are merely leasing. They can be extremely agreeable conversationalists, because they're extremely agreeable. Tell a Platypus anything, no matter how preposterous, and they will readily agree. A Platypus should make friends with the Smurf because this Zodiak heard that it was a good idea, but please don't lease from a Sloth.

July - Exploding Firetailed Patriot Finch

Finches love their country, and anyone who doesn't can just go the heck right back to Frenchylvania, or wherever. The Finch can't prounounce the name of yer crazy foreign country, so y'all should make up a new one in God's own English. If anyone questions the Finch's patriotism, that person is probably a terrorist, and is liable to catch an ass-whuppin'. Buy a big ol' flag for your Hummer H2, take advantage of the Badger if you deem it in the national interest, marry a Pony and have fifteen children.

August - The Smurf

Smurfs don't really exist. They are the perfect friend and they are the worst enemy. Smurfs tell lies about lazy co-workers to those co-workers' bosses and elect incompetent politicians. On the other hand, Smurfs
are personally responsible for leaving you a parking spot right in front of Bob Evans. Ninety-eight percent of dating relationships carried on via Instant Messenger are between a Smurf and a real person. Don't tell the Goat about a Smurf, because the Goat will be very disappointed.

September - Caffeinated Ground Squirrel

Squirrels are very outgoing, but cannot stay on topic for an entire sentence. When captured on high-speed film, fine analysis of the Squirrel can reveal actual deliberation, but--hey! Is that a peanut? Squirrels love peanuts! Circus! I went to one once, but it smelled like poop, and--whoa! Did you see that? That car had a thing on it. Should the Squirrel grow a beard, y'think? Squirrels should always attend pizza parties with the Pony or Swine, but might want to stop poking the Sloth.

October - Crepuscular Goth Sloth

All Sloths have more originality in their labret than you have in your whole body, and don't even pretend to like that band you like. The Sloth liked it first, and all you're doing is popularing it up. Don't look at the Sloth like you think you're better than the Sloth, because the Sloth doesn't give a crap what you think. The Sloth was born with only one crap to give, and it used it for choosing a brand of cigarette. You should befriend other Sloths, but only share your power crystals with the ones that are just as different as you.

November - The Carp

Nobody likes The Carp. You're just the kind of person nobody likes. No shame in that, but if you can't be bothered to bathe or to stop leaving your nose pickings right in the middle of the tablecloth, then the rest of the Zodiak is going to have to ask you to go home. You may find that shadowing a Badger keeps you out of trouble, and in your free time you should hang around the Pony because the Pony deserves it. The Sloth will find you interesting because you're differentish.

December - Snow Hamster

Hamsters are very sweet people. They will bake you cookies and they will help you eat them, and any cookies left over are stored in the Hamster's generous cheek pouches in case you want more later. You want to hug a Hamster. Seriously, you do. Look at 'em! Who wouldn't want to hug a Hamster?
A Hamster is always the first person to give a handful of Skittles to a Goat or Carp, and are pretty much the only ones with a calming effect on Finches. Hamsters make good friends with everybody but the Sloth, because being nice isn't part of Sloth programming and it gives them headaches.

There you go, time-wasters! I hope this little guide enables you to get more out of your lives, now that you know exactly what to expect and whose names to keep in your cell phone. Get this Zodiak tattooed on your forearms, and life will be thwarted by default every time it tries throwing you a curveball.

Disclaimer: If you were born under a sign that does not, in any way, describe you, keep in mind that the FooDaddy Zodiak is no more binding than any other. Go lie down for a while.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Return to Gray

As the Buick LeSabre trundled us back to my home in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, bringing my three-day sojourn to the Lake Superior coast to a close, I was assaulted in the eyeball with increasing amounts of gray. I was unsure where to place the blame for this.

Could it have been psychological? The very tail end of a vacation, like a skunk's, is always the least fun. The most emotionally bland. Time to put on the cruise control and barge all the way back home, where live my responsibilities and cats.

"They're going to have pooped on the floor. I just know it," I said to my girlfriend/navigator/travel planner.

"Your responsibilities poop on the floor? How very impossible of them. Or were you being metaphorical?"

I suppose that would have worked either way. Moving on.

The resurgence of the Gray Army could also be put down to simple geography and social engineering: there's just more people and cars and buildings in the L.P. More pollution of every variety leads to an increase in smudgy, slate-coloredness.

Too simple. There has to be more going on behind this North-South gray-dient, and I think I have it.


The ones in the LP are sort of brownish, and the ones up North are black. Coincidence? I think not. The Upper Peninsula squirrels are absorbing the gray! They're like twitchy little smog sponges, and they perform this miracle seemingly without any ill effects on their own physiology. I think we need to scoop up a bunch of them and ship 'em down here. If we just sprinkled a trail of stale graham crackers along the edges of the Mackinac Bridge, they would ship themselves, even.

I did remember to bring my camera and its batteries and memory cards, which is fortunate, as photography was the major impulse behind the trip. I was like a DSLR ninja up there. I swooped in and snatched about nine and a half gigabytes of pictures, and left before the stunned vistas knew what just captured them.

The pictures themselves? Well, I'm glad you asked! They are to be part of a project I'm working on--a picture book. But not the kind you'd give your sticky little toddlers. No, this is going to be a stunningly-rendered, full-color pictureography of my glorious two-landmassed state, complete with a vibrant historical account told through the keyboard of an octogenarian.

In other words, it will be stunning and full color, but the rest will be total and utter falsehood. I can guarantee that it will at least be entertaining falsehood, so everyone should definitely start saving money for their own eight copies when they're available. Personally, as this project combines two of my favoritest things (photography and making crap up), I cannot wait for it to be completed.

Now...back to Photoshop.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Report from No Man's Land

I'm not sure how much I can say, for fear of this transmission being intercepted by the dreaded Wisconsinites. I will keep it brief.

The troop and I have made it safely to Mackinaw City, where we have holed up in a curious bunker called Best Western. The enemy has tried to flush us out by providing us with horrible "bar" soap, but the joke's on them. I brought liquid foamy soap of my own, so a gunky, rubbery rinse-off is not in the cards.

We made a recon tour of the island. It appears to be badly fortified, despite having its own fort. Insertion points include...pretty much anywhere. Beware of snakes, however. They will not hold still long enough for you to get a decent photo.

My troop and I are planning a push into the Northern Landmass today, although I cannot mention specifics. Details to follow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michigan; A Primer

Good afternoon, audience! I am going to assume that it is afternoon outside your windows, wherever you are, because it's my favorite time of day. It is also afternoon outside MY windows as I am writing this.

It is also Michigan outside my windows. Inside, too, technically. You know Michigan? If you've been watching any news reports about the economy, I'm sure you've heard mention of my state. They usually represent it by showing a bunch of people in line at an unemployment office. It used to be by showing video of cars pinballing around on an icy stretch of road. Those were the days!

Regardless of the condition Michigan is in ("lousy"), I am still relatively proud to hail from it. In fact, this coming week, I will be embarking on a road trip to the Upper Peninsula (geographer's term for "upstairs") in order to capture its natural beauty with my digital camera. I set the camera to the Adobe RGB colorspace because I read that it has a wider grayscale gamut.

If I encounter any color, I can always change it.

What this means is that if I am unable to get to an Internet connection, Ambient Moronics will go on a brief hiatus while I'm burning petrol getting lost up there. I apologize to my reader.

So what exactly makes Michigan Michigan? Other than incompetent automakers? My trip up North will focus mainly on scenic vistas of natural splendor, so I shall mainly focus this post on that.

First, you have Michigan's wildlife. This consists almost entirely of ducks, sparrows and moose. I have provided a picture of a duck in order to illustrate this. You will note that the only other animals to appear in this documentary-quality photograph are other ducks. This is no accident, as Michigan's duck population is set to overtake its human one in 2011 if trends continue. They are everywhere; movie theaters, lakes, ponds, swamps, bars, clubs, rooftops, basements, convertibles and playgrounds. Their diet is 97% stale bread, 2% cigarette butts with the remaining 1% split between gravel and dead minnows. They have to compete with migrating flocks of seagulls for the cigarette butts, which is hilarious.

It is lucky for The Duck that he has a prodigious reproduction rate, as the vast majority of them die off when Old Man Winter comes stomping around, swinging his ice cane and shouting unpleasant things at the top of his snowy lungs. It is a common myth that ducks fly south for the winter. This is what the ducks would have you believe, but it is impossible for a bird to fly the distance needed to change climates.

Squirrels, on the other hand, are capable of making the trip. They just don't.

Those ducks that haven't fattened up on bread during the tourist season and gone into hibernation in their duck burrows inevitably perish. This cycle is nature's way, and it is strangely beautiful.

Given the peak seasonal size of the duck population, it is may seem odd that Michigan's leaders have selected the sparrow as the state bird. The reasons given on the Michigan state website, however, make a lot of sense.

The Sparrow's indomitable spirit and ability to thrive in any environment is a fitting homage to the Michigander's own resilience. Its stubborn refusal to relocate during the state's harsh winter months puts to shame all the pussies that spend those months in Florida. And like the cars built here, the Sparrow is ubiquitous, rust-colored, short-lived and spends a lot of time under gas station canopies.

Which brings us to the most rare of Michigan's creatures; the moose. Certain adorable skeptics have told me time and again that there are no moose in Michigan. "Honey," the skeptic has said, "that was a deer."

Preposterous. There are no deer in Michigan.

The moose makes its home in the remote, forested areas of the northeast. Subsisting on little more than dew and wisdom, the moose dispenses its knowledge only to those sophisticated enough to see the path of light they tread. Hunted to near-extinction by philosophers and new-age twits in the 1980s, their population has rebounded somewhat, but they remain scarce and well-hidden.

So where might you find this veritable Noah's Ark (or at the very least, Noah's Dinghy) of Michigan's fauna? Why, in Michigan's flora, of course! The state is home to a great many lakes, teeming with fish and aquatic moose. These lakes abut beaches replete with sticks. In fact, in the state's Stick Museum in Ann Arbor, one learns that Michigan has the greatest diversity of sticks in any of the Lower 48.

All of those sticks have to come from somewhere, and that is where Michigan's bountiful forests truly shine. Here, in these sun-dappled expanses of lush evergreenery, sticks grow by the truckload. They dapple the ground and the sides of old-growth timber like the dapples on the majestic dapplepotamus (extinct, sadly, since the 1700s). Dapple trees are particularly productive, resplendent with sticks year-round in addition to their delicious fruit. Friendly farmers with large dapple orchards often allow visitors during the harvest season, welcoming them to sample and purchase dapple cider and home-baked dapple pies. Dapple pasties are also available, but nobody ever gets within ten feet of them.

Well, folk, I hope you have enjoyed your little tour of Michigan and its splendidness! I shall return in mid-October, laden with pictures and chiggers, which I cannot wait to share with you all!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

12 Step Program

“My name is Rodney, and I’m a terrible person.”

“Welcome, Rodney!” the group shouted back in unison. Rodney took his seat.

“Simply admitting that you have a problem is the first step, Rodney. Congratulations. My name is Steve, and I was once a terrible person. With the help of Assholes Anonymous, I’ve been jerk-free for three years now. I know the system works, because it worked for me. I’ll be leading our discussions. Are there any questions?”

Rodney looked around the room. The small Lutheran church had been kind enough to let them use its basement meeting room. There were fluorescent lights on the ceiling, doughnuts and coffee on a table in the corner, and about twenty people in folding chairs sitting in a circle.

“Yes, please, I have one.”

“What is it, Rodney?”

Rodney made another quick count. Yep. About twenty people.

“I just kind of figured that there would be more people in a group like this.”

Steve smiled. “Well, a lot of people don’t know that they’re terrible,” he said.

“Doesn’t that kind of make them even more terrible?”

“Yes. Yes it does.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Time-outs for Terrorists

Detective James Breckenridge glared angrily at his coffee as his leads disappeared into the ether around him one by one.

"Darg! There goes another one!" He slammed his fist down on his desk, causing his music to skip and his oscillating fan to oscillate right onto the floor.

"Angry, much?" asked an infuriating man.

"Yes," James replied brusquely. "What gave it away?"

The infuriating man formed himself an annoyingly patronizing little smile, which he applied to his clean-shaven face. "It's hard to make an MP3 player skip. And you've been eating paperclips by the handful. Anything I can help with?"

James doubted it. It kind of depended on what he meant by "help". The rookie was always prancing around the place offering advice and suggesting new ways to solve crimes. The worst part about it all was that his ideas had merit. In fact, the rookie could singlehandedly replace every man woman and K9 unit in the room.

If he wasn't such a whinging little twit, that is.


The infuriating man seated himself primly on the edge of James' desk. "Oh, come now Jim. I'm sure we can find you some new leads if we work together. I feel that this would be a good opportunity for the two of us to develop some synergy."

"I feel that this would be a good opportunity for you to see if you could stuff yourself down the break room sink."

"Quick! There goes another one! It went under your mouse pad!"

James steadfastly refused to look down at his mousepad. He gritted his teeth and focused all of his hate on the infuriating man's belt buckle. He clenched his fist. He couldn't take it anymore and he yanked the mousepad up by a corner.

"DAMMIT!" Another lead scurried down the side of his desk and disappeared into the ductwork.

"These are bad men who hate America, Jim. We have to find them and deliver swift and pointy justice before they can spread their hatred like the disease it is." The infuriating man was actually saluting his wall calendar. It was July, and there was a picture of an American flag on the top page.

"There are only two of these wackos, and when we raided their apartment, it was obvious that they had been gone for weeks, maybe months. They're probably not even in the country any more. And I say good riddance."

"They might have friends, Jim," the infuriating man said, looking away from his calendar flag briefly to arch an eyebrow at James.

James watched another lead hop off the stack of papers in his inbox.

"Somehow I doubt that. They were planning to bomb the public library because it contained too much knowledge. Not gonna get a whole lot of support for a crusade like that."

The infuriating man wingtipped around behind James' desk and inspected its surface. He slid a picture of Mrs. Breckenridge behind the computer monitor, setting in its place a Captain America action figure.

"They will stop at nothing because they hate our way of life. They hate our freedom! Freedom you and I have to fight for every day."

"If we're constantly fighting for it, it's not really freedom, is it?"

"There there. I know you're angry, but that's no reason to start talking like a Communist, Jim," the infuriating man said.

Another lead skittered into the adjacent room. James could hear the splash it made as it threw itself into the toilet.

He didn't care.

"You know what? It's time for a chicken pot pie. You can go yell yourself red about the terrorists. I'm going to treat them like the children they are and let them scream and holler and hold their breath while I ignore them. And that goes for anybody else who wants to forgo intelligent discourse for explosives and flag-waving."

"You're playing right into their hands, Jim!"

"Then I'll personally take a dump right on their palms. Get off my desk."