Ne’er-Do-Well


I

Meticulous electricians developed this lovely method for measuring their professionalism by throwing oil-soaked towels out of their respective windows at variable rates, unbeknownst to their long-suffering mothers and clergymen.

II

Once upon a time, our heroes of stage and craft built an anomaly that would mortify the ne’er-do-well karma wankers until no measure of cigar-stoppage could unravel our collective albatross leanings (as uncharted as it would seem to any non-intellectual types out there), and we sorely apologize for any bruised egos.

II

Ether assists in the quarantining of hostile entities, it sure does. If we hadn’t discovered this inexplicable gassy juice thing, we still would have been muddling along in Tommy’s sauna, insisting that no level of gallantry or goofus-ery could upend our preconceived notion of how to get down when faced with a horde of potbelly pigs. Now, potbelly stoves I could handle. They tend not to move for years on end. I could easily prepare for a stove rebellion. But pigs? No way in hell, my hypothetical friend.

Mile a Minute


Tainted ivory beats the scoundrel flagon,
peregrine cheaters flocking
to those most savory passes,
wafted there
upon the sea’s rippling intentions
that (as of May 14, 2013 and October 9, 2016)
match the price of a bodega avocado–
and for what?
One pound of lighter fluid (yes, measured dry).
No scale available? Substitute
a week’s worth of third grade valentine cards
(read at the rate of roughly one mile a minute).

Significance assured,
we must set our sights on the next horizon,
where our assertions flourish,
undeterred by argument and bolstered
by the chaos of existence (or
existence of chaos, whichever floats your boat).

A rainy day soiled the arid week,
flash flooding the earth’s
hard-earned cracks (as though
temperamental life’s perpetuation
were the goal here).

Kicking Around


A shrewd entrepreneur would–should–do anything in their power to corner the intuitive market of scarcity designed for the particular demographic concerned with–for example–how many hands reside on their watch face. Two is the bare minimum, three is optimal, four is impractical and irresponsible.

Along with this peculiar and pragmatic market segment, several other significant archetypes are not to be left behind (popular categories are conveniently located in your handbooks for perusal at your leisure). As their respective facets are revealed, it will invariably be identified that many of these have indeed been kicking around since the dawn of history, let alone the beginning of the free market economy.

When pressed to demonstrate our knowledge of these groups, exercising our right to dissect this polarizing slice of modernity, we must admit to ourselves that stereotyping can be dangerous if taken as truth. All of a sudden our watch-hand-obsessive type takes on a bit more humanity. Did you know that a noticeable amount of people within the watch-hand-obsessive grouping prefer their toasts unbuttered, substituting a liberal helping of sliced avocado? The algorithms never lie.

Recall


Artie told me one day something about the importance of swallowing twice to signal yes for some particular mission. I lost everything after that, my money, my mind, my family, essentially all articles of existence worth living for (I’ve been told), but I know that a person named Artie told me one day about swallowing twice, some thing lodged in his arm when he was saying it. I couldn’t figure out why he was telling me something about swallowing when some thing was just jutting out of his arm. But then the world went black and I came to–

a different person, where all I knew was that Artie told me something about swallowing while his left arm was being attacked by a pointy fish of some kind as he tried to swim away to safety, and I couldn’t understand why he would be telling me something about swallowing while fleeing for his life. Was I swimming? I can’t remember, because the next thing I knew, everything went black. I woke up to the knowledge of only Artie. Or was it Archie? No, definitely Artie. He had a rifle pointed at me, resting it on his forearm like one of those old black and white cowboys. Told me something about swallowing twice to make it all stop, my mission from God? Mission from something, I can’t remember because everything went black and I awoke–

Archie was sitting in a temple as I watched from my bed. He was somber, very intentional with his movements, as I could always recall.

Crux


Feel free to experience the soul’s consciousness for as long as you can possibly bear it; don’t make excuses to avoid or replace it with cheap thrills designed to siphon thought into a tawdry funnel of spent emotion. You’re better than that, Deandre. I’ve known you since you were a budding young talent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m your biggest fan. I can only imagine the potential you hold in your incisors and between five to ten fingers, depending on your level of ambidextrousness. Do not fret! Fretting will get you absolutely nowhere. I’m saying no man’s land, ya dig? Many people have been in your position plenty of times in recorded history, and the issue lies in their penchant to alienate themselves until their perception of life comes from an internal gyration that’s out of tune with the common perception of just what it is that seems to make life so special in the first place. If you can answer me why it is that life is at all special (with a nod to my unflappable inner cynic, mind you), I will reward you with the knowledge that comes along with the essence that could be construed as the crux of Johnny Cash’s “A Satisfied Mind”. Just listen to good music, dear, and don’t worry about forming your own tastes and possibly offending others with your assertion of the importance of personal expression.

Are you going to eat that applesauce?

Spitballing


I may be a temperamental weirdo, but at least I don’t refuse to bathe for fear of shortening my lifespan. I don’t profess to have an alter ego, and I most certainly don’t carry a blank-loaded revolver with me to scare off adoring fans. Then again, I don’t need to worry about fanatical admirers breaking down my door to get an autograph (or even just a good look at me), so perhaps I’m taking my relative anonymity for granted here. In my heart of hearts, I suppose I’d like to achieve at least a modicum of notability for my extended creative efforts, but if that daydream actually came to fruition, I’d need to come up with a nutty character quirk to demonstrate to the masses that I’m a one-of-a-kind talent. I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here, but maybe I could carry a straw and small scraps of easily-moistenable paper with me, to ward off rabid devourers of my work. I could develop the habit of high-pitched yelping, you know, to emulate the sound of a wounded woodland mammal. Or I could carry around a “pet” with me that I talk to all the time, like a bottle cap or wooden bowl. All of those ideas are crap, I know, but if I hit on a good one, I’m pretty much guaranteed to go down in history as one of those “oddball eccentrics” that the normies can have fun chuckling about at their potluck dinners.

First Things First


Nobody will tell you that religion is simply an iteration of our innate human ability to question and ascribe meaning to the phenomena we encounter in our immediate surroundings. Being able to alter our environment with the level of skill we’ve come to develop over the past few millennia, how many of us ever stop to wonder about the first moment our species graduated from nature’s master class in manipulation? Let’s not forget, we were once as defenseless as all the other beings to inhabit this planet, but we took great measures to ensure survival at all costs, to the chagrin of the very globe that fostered our greedy development.

Now here we are, coughing up smog and trying to figure out how best to colonize our moon (Mars is still a pipe dream). Hopefully we can find a way to bring our religion to other regions of our solar system, and perhaps even to the rest of the universe. As chosen (not brainwashed) people of God (not a fictional authority figure fabricated to alleviate the guilt that forms when we commit genocide and snatch unsuspecting people’s land), it is our divine duty to carry out HIS WORD. The wool has been removed from over our eyes (with the rug soon to be pulled out from under our feet), and there’s a whole universe of sinners who need the salvation of the LORD!

Now first things first, does anybody here know how to build a rocket ship?

Pickle Man


Please do not panic whilst amongst the pines, the savory pigeon screams floating from bough to bough.
And we, all along (as it turns out) have the seat to a thrill of a cheap movie quote tucked neatly into a blender and rather liquefied, I’m afraid.
First, the lack of effort and segmented pinstripe suits are not a good combination at all. Pretend I didn’t tell you that was a good idea.
Oh, whose idea was it? Probably the Pickle Man’s. The Pickle Man has lots of ideas from time to time. Come to think of it, he was the fella who invented the ladder so I could get my cat out of that tree last Tuesday. Praise his ingenuity and impeccable timing–he surely [surely SURELY] must be a good and decent man.

And so, the Pickle Man jotted off in his notebook and came up with methods for legal gambling that no one would ever suspect. There’s no loser (aside from the mark), and I’ll never have to go paycheck to paycheck. Not once, certainly not again, you understand me? I sure hope you can recover your sense of decency while I’m lecturing you, young people. I have seventeen issues to share with you regarding class warfare from the Middle Ages. In this unit, you will learn to conquer your fear of dissection. Here’s how I was able to dissect my first frog, boys and girls–a spritz of balsamic vinegar to make the air more culinary. Isn’t this place just stale and offensive? Are there any windows down here at all? Are we in the basement? How far down are we? Pickle Man?!

Catalyst


Extraterrestrial nervous systems never had been my cup of tea (in fact, I never thought I could be privy to such a phenomenon) until I managed to get my mitts on a real live corpse. Yeah, you heard me right. One night as I was driving home from an average day of pushing papers around, I received a call from an unknown number. I’m not sure what possessed me to answer it. I rarely answer the phone while driving, let alone from strange numbers. I just recall having an inkling that the intention behind that attempted connection was more or less benevolent. Funny thing to hear myself say, but that’s definitely what it felt like. Anyway, I answered the call and put it on speaker, only to hear a sequence of hisses and beeps in an unpredictable pattern of multiple tones. As I attempted to speak with whomever had just contacted me, the call abruptly ended. Weird, I thought, but I didn’t think anything of it. As I was pulling into my garage (I always back in for the sake of convenience when I’m leaving in the morning) I looked over my shoulder and saw a limp body in my backseat, gray and slender. Not from here, you could say. Well, as a man of science, I was immediately overcome with more curiosity than anything. I immediately schlepped it to my house–it was much lighter than I thought it ought to have been–to get my bearings. While clearly not hosting a living being, it would seem that even after an extraplanetary individual has ditched their meat vessel from the previous life, there remains a kind of intact life force within the remains, as though awaiting a new passenger. I had that corpse under around-the-clock surveillance and never once saw a breath enter or leave. Nevertheless, I didn’t detect any of the decay one would find on Earth, and there were still trace electromagnetic signals that confirmed beyond a doubt that these… physical manifestations, for lack of a better term, are perpetuated by a force yet unknown by our primitive race. That anomaly was the catalyst for my lifelong study of the biology of such foreign bodies, to the chagrin of every person in my life who, up until that discovery, had held me in high esteem. Ah well, screw ’em. They’re just afraid of the things they can’t explain.

Irrational


If only the irrational beings on your planet could grasp the true necessity of bureaucracy… those poor, poor mammals with their heads in the clouds, constantly chasing pie-in-the-sky dreams and never settling for pragmatic compromises. The fools who believe in their deepest intellects that art is the greatest contribution to the history of the universe (or creation, whatever they’d happen to call it) are deeply flawed in their logic. With what logic would beauty correspond? There is no rational way to extol the virtues of well-placed paint daubs on a piece of stretched canvas; the beholder is the only source of validation. That kind of subjective viewership is much too volatile for any global civilization if it wishes to thrive in the greater cosmic community. This application must unfortunately be rejected at this juncture. If you would like to try again, you may wait 2,200 Earth years and submit new paperwork at that time. We very much appreciate your interest in becoming a member of Galaxion Gardens, have a nice millennium.

Consumer Product


Incentivized Dingle-Doos have long awaited their time in the sun, enduring hardships inconceivable to the average consumer product. The first problem presented itself when the naming committee notoriously skipped their meeting and all mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again. It’s odd when seven people all simultaneously vanish off the face of the planet–their only earthly connection a superficial marketing gig–as though they’d all played hooky to go out on a spontaneous committee-planned ice fishing trip, subsequently sinking beneath the ice due to the sheer quantity of seething boredom localized within a single shanty. But nah, they all individually had bizarre tragedies befall them just in time to miss the fateful meeting that would undoubtedly lead a promising product prospect down the road to obscurity. The money people, being the beancounters that they are, decided it would be best to stick the interns with the project while they frantically worked up ways to acquire new creatives as cheaply as possible. And thus they landed at Incentivized Dingle-Doos, apparently satisfied with the subpar effort. What did this poor amenity of modern life ever do to these people–these SCABS?! Nothing! That’s at least what the shareholders thought when their stock prices plummeted over the successive fiscal quarter.

Taking a Bath


You scuff up one iota of my shortbread icon brittlemaker and I swear to god I’ll puke all over the place with rage. That may seem a tad impassioned, but I’ve always been bad at hiding how I feel about futuristic kitchen appliances. Anyway, here’s the kicker on this thing: it makes all kinds of brittles! Myself, I enjoy the wellspring of nostalgic feelings that crop up with each new batch of shortbread icon brittle. Images of Lorna Doone and Shirley Temple flash across my personal confectionery concoction hatch when this baby gets whirring.

I really do get worked up about this marvel of modern technology, and perhaps I need to cool my jets a bit here. I mean, it cost me four grand to get the custom brittle module, so I’m entitled to a little rooftop-shouting, right? Pretty much any flavor combination imaginable can go into the preparation of your brittles. I found my favorite combo and stuck with it because I’m really not that creative. But I swear, you could have hours upon hours of entertainment just from thinking up unconventional themes. Once you’ve made your selection, the whisper-quiet mechanism takes care of all the rest. This thing is perfect for you and the family, your office, an open house, wedding, funeral, holiday party, National Phlebotomists Day… the list goes on.

Sorry, I’ll bet you think I’m coming off like a used car salesman. The god’s honest truth is I’ve been trying to unload it, but nobody’s biting. A mere $2,750 is all I’m asking for it. I mean, it’s a steal at that price! All the components are in pristine condition (I’ve only used it twice). Come on, you know you want to give it a whirl. I guarantee that if you’re not satisfied with your first five batches of custom brittle, I’ll refund all of your hard-earned dollars. Don’t you see I’m taking a bath here, people?! You’d be stupid NOT to take me up on this!

Notch


This here is something new now;
you can set your watch to it, buddy boy.
I have a guaranteed method
for extracting blood from a stone, though
I’d prefer not to if I didn’t have to.

What are you to do when
your life is perpetual lie, led by
any number of personalities at any given time?
You can get more prepared
for the next time you may need assistance,
or you can develop a plan for attack,
take charge of your own blueprints for once!
Go north, young man! Where? To where the air
breathes thinner and you don’t have to
pack your SCUBA gear everywhere you go.

“To the brink of extinction we go,” I tell myself
on the eve of each weekend’s wet dream.
Supernintendo Chalmers can hold a candle
to me bumming around
with the aristocratic whodunnits and whosaidits, see.
Because what else can be said
about this heroic figure
at the end of the day, other than
“he led a sedentary life, not unlike that of a sloth
or lesser carnivorous apeworm”?
I have the change purse emoji all queued up
for my perusal, making no bones
about my time as a brown stork
being misconstrued as an attempt to curry favor
in the minds of our largest benefactors.
I tend to lose my bearings around those of whom
most able to make or break a person’s entire life,
and the scale of such a project
goes into the hundreds or even
thousands of individuals at a time,
unscrupulous, unmanipulated. Pure, cold destruction
of well being for the purpose of adding
a notch or two to the ol’ portfolio.

We Monkeys


Denominative integers willingly defy the overall forcefulness by which we enter life, that succulent foe of knowing all things on a benevolent basis–at least from our pseudointellectual standpoint here on earth. We monkeys, swept from trees to town squares in a seemingly-overnight fashion, gave nobody any time to appropriately enter our problematic pituitary case into the annals of the intergalactic community. Our brash attempt to circumvent the necessary bureaucratic process–filling out the appropriate paperwork, having it notarized, sending it to local legislators and mailing one of 13 official public access stations for broadcast–demonstrates the jury-rigging, bootstrapping mentality that may have endeared us to our own species, yet alienates everybody else. When you apply simple rules to us, we seem to be inclined toward throwing tantrums. You know as well as I that our current behavior won’t fly with the more-evolved entities out there. If conducted efficiently, the contact broadcast process would be complete within a business week. So now, the more time we waste without adhering to measured standards, the more likely we are to fall altogether as a global community. Our “home” planet will slough us off before too long, tired of the countless indignities suffered at the hands of fools.

Malady


The malady of present day: succumbing to the “Us vs. Them” mentality being thrust upon us from all angles, when we ought to know damn well that we’re all a product of the same origin, swirling around inside the same cosmic whole. In weaker moments I find myself doing nothing but comparing myself to the achievements/accolades of others and wondering why I’m “inferior”, even though that term is a perfect indicator of the steady regimen that the xenophobia-fabricating beancounters have been peddling for millennia. And to what end? Special treatment, of course. It may have started with something as simple as demonstrating specialized value for an extra piece of bread in daily rations, and its most recent manifestation comes as the president of the United States. Oh, what a trepidatious path we’ve been suckered into following.

Madder-Hatted


Sneaky Patrickia–that madder-hatted individual with the gallstones to match their acerbic wit–had no idea what kind of hoop-jumping routine would be required of them for this year’s science fair project. The looming deadline seemed to sneak right up–same as always–in the shower, that pang of guilt just a blink before rinsing the caustic excuse for a shampoo out of their hair. Only around science fair time does Sneaky Patrickia feel they’re getting the uniquely invigorating scalp treatment extolled by the well-crafted copy on the back of their trusty shampoo brand. No other prickly nervous sensation has consistently proven to facilitate scalp exfoliation in quite the same way.

Maybe this year old Sneaky P. would finally put in the time necessary to derive the evidence that could back up their hypothesis of shower-based cold sweats exponentially increasing the accuracy of the semi-outrageous claims found on the backs of popular scalp-purifying shampoo bottles.

Maybe. But more than likely, as borne out by the results of P’s 142 previous science fairs, it would end up being some diorama about a vertebral circulatory system (bovine, ovine, simian, you name it). Our ageless friend very much enjoys detailing mammalian blood flow concerns, at the expense of variety.

His Loss


She came on through, a skirted blanket with banquet stains galore and more than her fair share of Ogden memorabilia to her name.

It would pain her to see the overworld mantra being abused so unabashedly, “be your own friend” repeated ad infinitum by a guy who really doesn’t understand “that whole mantra thing,” (his words), aside from what he deems most obvious: short phrases that are fun to mutter over and over again. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s more a fan of the exercise’s soothing qualities than anything else; doesn’t see how he could possibly transcend the mortal coil and commune with the force that led him to occupy that particular sentient meat vessel in the first place.

Oh well, his loss.

Hi-Fi


Less-than-adventurous timebending intricacies (transcending our 3D simian roots) twiddle thumbs like the activity could possibly go out of style, were it not for these beings’ innate knowledge that thumb twiddling is the #1 commonality between all of the highest orders of primates (at least throughout all natural phases of thumb functionality as they occur along their respective evolutionary arcs).

All of this just goes to show that you shouldn’t leave an enthusiastic philosopher with nothing but the clothes on their back and a few days to kill. Without the assistance of distracting stimuli, they will inevitably be enveloped in an endless cycle of boredom and batty hypotheses, recklessly abandoning the true reason why they’ve been put here: figuring out how to better configure a universal remote for Todd’s new hi-fi setup. It’s been a real bitch and a half.

Marching St. Evers’s Day


“And on this, the bicentennial of Marching St. Evers’s Day, we shall all gratefully lose our footwear as we plod through our town’s humble main drag in accordance with the man whose name graces the gates at the original northern and southern boundaries of what we now know as Everston, ‘The Friendliest Town in the World!’ according to Volume 47, Issue 3 of Weekly People Quarterly.

“To get a sense of this hallowed day’s magnitude, if natural mud has not populated the grounds prior to the event, we shall have some ready-made for the occasion, so as to harken back to the infamous time that old St. Evers himself trekked from the north to the south end of town in desperate need of a pub open in the wee small hours of that particular horrid winter morn. In the midst of all the squelching, his boots slipped clean off and sunk into the good country clay, but he was not deterred, nay! He continued along his harrowing haunt, on a mission to wet his whistle before dawn cracked and the drones began their scurrying for another day, reminding him once again of our puny species’ fleeting existence.

“So as the story goes, Old St. Evers (known simply as Tony Evers back then) happened upon a house at the very southernmost point of town, which–at the time–was yet comprised of simple farmhouses sparsely scattered few and far between. He was just one more setback away from packing it in for the night, about to abandon hope for a watering hole that could quench his very soul. He beseeched the landlord to spot him with a wee drink, letting him in on the gory details of his arduous trudge, expecting a sympathetic ear. The landlord would have none of it, promptly kicking the inebriated Mr. Evers back into the road, “ya lousy old souse!” Our hero tripped and fell backwards into the damnable mud, made worse and worse as the morning haymakers began their bustling to and fro, whipping up a froth that slowly but surely engulfed the poor man.

“All these years later, St. Evers’s remains have never been recovered (though that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from continuing to try). Some folks claim the tale is a complete hoax, and the townsfolk were just coming up with new kinds of drinking holidays to pass the brutal Winters. Regardless of whether or not this unfortunate soul lived and died in our beloved little town, we all still take the time once a year to celebrate his story.”

“Gee Dad, that’s a cool story and all, but why do we have to camp out here so early?”

“Son, there aren’t many times in life when you can be a witness to the history that shaped your town and very way of life. Trust me, one day you’ll be telling your kids about how you got a front row seat with your dad, how you learned not to abandon your fellow man when he asks for a wee nip of the house brandy.”

“I have to pee.”

“Just soil your britches, son. I’m not giving up this spot on account of your wee bladder.”

Bunting


Over the horizon, the Club-Footed Gremlin stood, mouth agape, contemplating the future for his beloved Wiener Hutch (as well as the unprecedented preponderance of bunting; bunting as far as the eye could see). Surely this most recent sequence of events would serve to demonstrate if and why God exists, thought the Club-Footed Gremlin (who really preferred to be referred to as a regular gremlin, but he was never given the satisfaction, as he’d been universally-pigeonholed as that one-dimensional character pretty much from the get-go without any kind of consultation or fanfare).

Business at the Wiener Hutch had truly gone to pot over the past several years, which had proven too much to bear for the community surrounding the celebrated–at one time ubiquitous–hot dog stand responsible for the Kansas City Treat, Tempura Half-Marathon and Coney Island Smackdown, to name just a few of its innovative recipes. What the beleaguered snack joint needed now–more than ever–was a change of scenery, the greener pastures of stripmall suburbia (lunch specials and all). After being praised with an honorable mention for Most Intriguing Recipe Book at the 2017 Rural-to-Urban Restaurant Expo, it was now time to break out of that sleepy old comfort zone and join the big boys in the major leagues.

But in the meantime, what in the hell was all this bunting about? It seemed to have just dropped out of the sky without so much as a howdy-do. The Club-Footed Gremlin grumbled and rubbed his achy knee, perplexed.

Damn


Charming, as they would usually say. No, not “they” as in those gum-toed nutjobs who always go around making their piddly business the front page news for the neighborhood. I’m referring to the more discerning whackadoodles. You know the ones, the jobbers who really grind your corkscrews. They just get your goat so profoundly that it becomes insanely difficult to express your displeasure with standard colloquialisms.

Stormy in-beveraged descrutinizers wallow merrily, filthier than the average pear, sleazier than a locomotive (though we never quite figured out just how sleazy a locomotive could be until we took a cross-country trip by rail–what a lovely jaunt that was, a trek for the ages; we ate cheese and discussed crouton dissection techniques).

Blorn out and hungstraddled, a ginger poof of plume-riveted magic lit its last-ever candle with no background fanfare whatsoever. Nobody gave it a second thought, save the ghost of the mouse that got crushed in the grate while it was only trying to scurry on along, minding its own business. But the rodent business ain’t as lucrative as it used to be, friend. I should know, I read it in a book at some point. I’m a regular Reading Rainbow enthusiast. Ain’t you heard? Damn.

For Shame, People


Delicate breakfast sandwiches rarely win the race for bubblegum’s affection (or even attention for Christ’s sake), but I’m not so sure we should be concerning ourselves with that in the first place. Why would such a substanceless substance call the shots over a much more qualified and fortified adversary? It makes no sense, and these meddlesome “critics” are letting their imaginations run wild. Are we really that disconnected from what’s good for us?

Well this reporter simply has no time to bandy this mincemeat word stew about, to and fro, over the graves of countless visionary gourmets past. I’m shrugging and moving on. Don’t you realize that we have more pressing matters at hand?! I’ll be damned if we get into a candy vs. food argument for a third time this afternoon. It’s disturbing to think that an entire subset of the economy is devoted to this pointless dreck. We still haven’t addressed the mosquito net shortage in Lesser Zambiblia. It’s been nigh on seven weeks now without so much as a stitch sewn. For shame, people.

Taken Care Of


Listen up, people. The latest intelligence is just rolling in now, and we’re in a bit of a pickle (to say the least). We may only be certain at this time that the entire town proper unknowingly lies in unprecedented peril. The warning signs have been more subtle than we, the clean, god-fearing citizens of our great nation-state could have ever imagined–or even dreamt. Damn it all! If it weren’t for our massively-overfunded team of quantum physicists, we wouldn’t even have the means to begin strategizing. Money well spent, gentlemen–AND WOMEN (apologies)!

I need to be blunt, as time is of the essence. We must gird ourselves for the continuous unfolding population of non-native spongemonkeys, who have been granted the upper hand in lower east side pedway algae management. Since they have no natural enemies in this particular environment, they will continue spreading through all urbanized environments, unabated, until someone develops a plan of attack to at least curb their reproduction.

Every man, woman and child currently tasked with this difficult (some would say oppressive) undertaking have overwhelmingly speculated that at this current pace, it could take several decades for the infrastructure to accommodate a well-regulated spongemonkey population in balance with the area’s indigenous species. The first several generations of these… things… will serve as a barometer for the viability of future population management. Left unchecked, these godawful walking carbuncles could render urban inhabitance more of a bother than it’s worth.

Are we or are we not the most important invasive species on this planet?!

Damn straight. Let’s get this taken care of.

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Space [III] – Fred Radlers, DDS


We enter upon the peculiar timeline of one Mr. Fred Radlers. Well, he actually prefers to be addressed as Fred Radlers, DDS (or simply Dr. Fred if you’re not into all that formality). Once universally-acclaimed as a top-notch oral surgeon and overall consummate professional, he doesn’t earn a living that way anymore, and most likely never will. Any friend or loved one (hell, even any basic acquaintance) of his will be the first to tell you–in an attempt to save you some time and sanity–that he’ll never let you forget that he is and always will be a masterful doctor of dental surgery. There are numerous theories floating around as to the origin of this personality trait, but it’s all conjecture (and makes for rather dull conversation anyway).

It’s commonly known that Dr. Fred once attended regular psychotherapy at the peak of his rat race involvement as a measure of forestalling a sizable psychotic breakdown (which we’re not sure was averted anyway). It’s quite probable that he used those sessions to unpack the underlying condition responsible for the inevitable failure to relinquish that irrelevant arrangement of capital letters after his name, but he has very clearly chosen to keep that information close to his chest these days. Hey, to each his own.

The overwhelming majority of folks facing Fred’s predicament would simply drop the professional distinction as a measure of removing any unnecessary hassles or hindrances from their overarching tranquility while they navigate the remainder of their compromise-laden lives, but good ol’ Dr. Fred has held steadfast to his vision ever since he made a promise to himself in a vivid dream involving the darling buds of May and sugarplum fairies in a strange kind of pageant/dance-off judged by three carebear-esque beings of contrasting colors (so you know they’ll be fair and impartial). I recommend that you don’t bring it up with him, unless you’d like to be berated with his ideologies for a solid ten minutes without the ability to sneak a word in edgewise.

Dr. Fred now spends his time as a rogue backpacker in the Belgian countryside, sampling magnificent beers along the way. His teeth remain immaculate.

Whims


Threatened marsupial populations instinctually flock to higher ground to avoid becoming dinner for frenzying snapdragon yarn munchers.

Most people will tell you that they obtained this particular knowledge from watching one of any number of educational nature programs, because they choose to take in the world through someone else’s lens, satisfied with a few pretty pictures and a soothing voice to assure them that they’ve made the right choice.

Well, I’ve personally witnessed this phenomenon on more than one occasion, and I’ll be the first to tell you that it is most certainly preferable to stay home and leave it to the professionals. I’m just plain tuckered out after all that adventuring and subsequent hiding from those malevolent snapdragon yarn munchers, the inconsiderate beasts. Take my advice, kid: we humans aren’t equipped to withstand Mother Nature’s whims the way we used to (when we had no choice in the matter anyway).

Cute to Be Clever


A clunky oxford comma won’t save your hide this time, youngling, I’ve personally seen to that. My crack team of professional writers and editors has just completed debriefing your current (and long-suffering, from what I understand) creative writing instructor on the grammatical and stylistic negligence running rampant through your work, and all she could do was shake her head. Apparently you’ve only ever provided her with “disjointed exercises in irrelevant futility” (her words), and haven’t even attempted to link your compositions to the innovative writers before you. You know who I’m talking about, those mental giants who made your layabout lifestyle possible in the first place. We are all appalled, to put it mildly. This will most assuredly sound harsh to you, seated right in the midst of the most comfortable generation, accustomed to automatic rewards for any and all efforts regardless of actual merit.

Sure, I can accept your indignation. After all, you’ve never met me and probably believe in your heart of hearts that this intervention is unwarranted, but listen carefully, buddy boy. Having written three iterations of the great American novel, I would say I have some sway in this arena.

Now before you get smart with me here, I’m going to level with you in the hopes of changing your mind (or at least getting you to listen). When I was young and impressionable, probably just about your age, I was perpetually writing my guts out and getting nowhere. My very finest examples of literary achievement were all uniformly rejected by “The Man,” and I had absolutely no recourse. It was the absolute darkest time of my life, let me tell you. It was only then, when every day seemed like an endless moaning trudge through a soundproofed cave with no entrance or exit, that I began listening to reason. I snapped out of my loathsome little pity party and made it my new duty to read every example of classic literature that I could get my hands on.

Some time into this ritualistic behavior, I once again took up the immortal mantle and began emulating these immortal techniques as though my life depended on it. Only after three solid years of daily classic consumption and imitation did I have any basis for penning my own opus, and even then, I had no idea where to start. Six more years passed before I’d amassed enough material to complete my first manuscript and submit it to all the most prestigious presses for consideration, and it was uniformly panned as “uninspired and unoriginal.” I’d spent so much time absorbing previously-written works that I essentially boiled them down into one book of derivative nonsense that felt like twenty well-known stories smashed together. Now, in this situation, where nearly ten years had passed and I had virtually nothing to show for it, you’d think that I’d just want to hang up my gloves for good, never touch the stuff that brought me so much abject humiliation and self-loathing. Well then, you clearly don’t know me well enough. It was then and there that I sprang into action, dissecting my 1,200+ page manuscript and reassembling it into the three seminal works that have buttered my bread ever since.

Throughout that decade or so of tedium, I circled around the ultimate truth of craft so many times that it eventually became my every thought: “nobody wants to read your overly-complicated contemporary stuff, so just write something vaguely reminiscent of the literary canon and pretend that you organically reached those concepts.”

I know that most young people will stand up and scoff at such a notion, but they’ve never lived through a dark period of endemic illiteracy. So before you write me off as just another handsome eccentric on your eclectic road through life, remember that you’ll never get anywhere if you think it’s cute to be clever.

Management


PLEASE DO NOT TRY ON THE FLOOR MODELS!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION! :)
-MANAGEMENT

I apologize, but I’m simply unable to consider purchasing this hat before trying it on to see how it frames my face. Look, Darryl–can I call you Darryl? Oh, it’s Steve? My mistake. Listen, Steve. I know what you’re thinking. I’m not really that kind of guy. Man to man, I personally would have no issue letting that floor model policy slide, but I have certain principles to uphold in front of my son, and smart shopping is right up at the top of that list.

I promised my wife from jump street that I would be an equal partner in upholding certain principles in order to prepare our Montavius for the rigors of the wider world around him. Now that she’s gone, I’m doing my absolute best to honor her wishes.

How about it, Steve? Do you think you could let it slide just this once? If it helps you make the decision, the natural oil content of my hair is pretty low. I shampoo it practically every day, which I know they say is bad for it, but it’s become such a routine at this point that I don’t even think about it anymore. Point being, you can tell your manager that their precious floor model chapeau has nothing to fear when it comes to my head.

-One brief storeroom chat later-

No dice, huh? And they wonder why brick and mortar hatteries are going the way of the passenger pigeon. Another perfectly good father-son Sunday wasted on account of out of touch merchants. I didn’t think it would have to come to this, but you forced my hand. Let’s go, Monty. Dad has no choice but to order a so-called vintage fedora from someone’s arts and crafts website.

I didn’t think it would have to come to this, Steve, and I know you didn’t have any say in the final outcome here, so I’m gonna level with you. I can tell that you’re basically a good kid, and I wish nothing but the best for you in the future. A bit of advice for you, young man: Don’t let the establishment stand between you and your happiness. Just remember that.

Brought to the Fore


Isn’t there a smugness associated with camping out in the corner of a neighborhood coffee shop, where the people truly don’t give a leech-tempered scrotum nodule about appearances–if you’ll pardon the indiscreet language–and even if they kinda do, it’s only surface level and they understand the insignificance of such a worry?

The answer does happen to be yes, but don’t you worry about wondering why such a question was even brought to the fore. All you have to do is sit in your favorite chair and estimate how many jelly beans I can stuff up my nose before the Willie Nelson impersonators have their semi-annual hair tie clearance sale.

Now,
all of our futures are riding on this predictive ability, mind you. You think I’m joking? Cute, Delores, cute. Just wipe that smirk off of your face and give me something–anything–to keep me from strangling this piece of string cheese. Why? Trust me, this shifty little dairy twine segment gave me a weird look just a second ago (while your back was turned, no less), and I’m just about this close to dancing the bifurcation mambo, givin’ it the ol’ squanta-manoo, tearing up the sheets and declaring war on the irresponsible regime impoverishing a resource-rich nation with a notoriously-underserved and widely illiterate populace.

You know, a beheading. Do I have to spell everything out for you? I don’t know why I’m surprised, It’s just like you to space out when I’m talking about capital punishment. You really remind me of your mother right now. I remember I would used to see her standing out on the balcony trying to count the pigeons down below on the sidewalk–67 stories above the ground–pointing out that they looked even more minuscule than ants, those pointy-headed fucks.

I know, I know, I’m projecting here. She never called them pointy-headed fucks, but she did seem to have a particular tone of voice when referring to those little exoskeletal drones.

At any rate, she’d be standing there on the balcony, looking down at the majesty below her–she should have been looking up–and that’s when the muse would visit her. One time in particular has been seared into my memory. I was doing my daily toe-touches by the open door when I heard her mutter “I really should have canned that giardiniera about a day or two earlier if it’s going to be ready for the September to Remember sockhop/bar mitzvah/charity ballyhoo, but that’s okay, because I have my man and my Delores.”

It damn near broke my heart, were it not made of secondhand galoshes hastily stitched together during Frankenstein’s monster’s greatest time of need.

Perfectly Honest


The very notion of blending a stereotypical extra-helping son-of-a-gun with a monkey’s uncle, if disseminated properly, should just about rehydrate the masses with the piss and vinegar they’ve been sorely lacking in this age of interpretive incontinence (one would think). There’s really no excuse at this point to bank on any other outcome, if we’re to be perfectly honest with one another.

Sure, there are plenty of other theoretical outcomes, but when practicality comes knocking at the door, the ensuing scramble for pragmatism will inevitably result in the mating call of the perpetual compromiser: “let’s just call it a day, shall we? It’s not as though anyone else is really doing much to stall this circus of mottled indiscretions anyway.” Okay, so maybe that’s a bit too contrived to be the universally-accepted mating call, but you get the picture.

Each generation faces the ever-present tumult of failure-studded progress; the wisest among us will inevitably batten down the hatches and continue practicing their craft, content to further their own life’s work while the turbulence around them blows itself out.

Nothing Quite Like


Checking all the AC units in an underfunded public school for gremlins
or
building a steakhouse out of cotton swabs and earwax
or
charging a rhinoceros with grand larceny for the theft of pretentious stereo equipment
or
engineering the perfect dinner party, only to lose your sole lucky sock twelve minutes before the first guest’s arrival
or
a quick spritz from the produce section while you’re on your way to the local rock opera group’s weekly public dress rehearsal
or
notching your belt for no reason in particular, other than to impress strangers who are peculiar enough to examine your belt for such markings (you run in a strange crowd)
or
listing the daily indignities experienced by your average woman artist as you’re also trying to figure out the way to San Jose
or
just being the stagnant kind of person who won’t listen to reason when faced with the unfettered opinions brought forth by the more stable individuals in your life.

Afire


We lit afire a pile of tires.

Now hear us out before you pass judgment. We figured there was no other way to adequately dispose of them in here this neck of the woods, having already thrown together a hasty pop-up shop in an attempt to somehow sell those tires (in the wake of that huge indy car race to end all indy car races–I’m sure you’ve read about it somewhere, what with all the invasive media in our modern lives). We knew we definitely had the market cornered when it came to tire-related memorabilia, and seeing as how there would be no more of these particular sporting events (primarily due to environmental concerns), we figured it would be a good enough idea to set up shop and see what kind of interest we could generate with a genuine tire fire sale.

It was almost as though the universe had pre-ordained this turn of events. We didn’t have anywhere in particular to go for a couple of weeks, since our boss basically gave us no choice other than to take a bunch of PTO hours for the sake of our sanity. I suppose we’d been burning the candle at both ends while balancing on a tightrope suspended over a lion’s den, so he had a point there.

Anywho, we gave the fine local people eight full days to come over and check out our wares, but not a single customer even graced us with their presence. In retrospect, they really would have had to go out of their way in order to find us. There was probably a better chance of someone stumbling upon us accidentally while hiking through the woods, though that sequence of events didn’t transpire either.

There were thousands of tires left lying around in the aftermath, resigned to living out their years ensconced in weeds. No way, we thought. We had to rescue as many of those fallen warriors as possible, to give them a grand send-off. Now, without a large body of water on which to conduct a proper viking funeral, we just looked around for locations where we wouldn’t inadvertently start a forest fire due to our shenanigans. It took us–working in perfect harmony–about three days of scouting and schlepping, to the point where if there were only one of us to undertake something so ludicrous, it would probably never have gotten done.

The actual ignition of the blaze was rather anti-climactic. We’d been anticipating it for so long at that point (not to mention working ourselves half to death) that we were just plum out of accessible emotions.

We still had a couple days left before we had to retreat to the city and our anthill tendencies, so we tossed a dead raccoon atop the smoldering rubber and burnt some rubber of our own, back to Metropolitan Anyplace, USA (home of the ever-wilting inner-child disposition). We envied that raccoon.

Ahs and Ums: Coincidence?


Intermittent ingenuity from industrial interchangers investigates inebriated inchworm investments, though we hold these truths to be

so self-evident

that any other painstaking rendering of rhetoric could possibly stall the rising tide of jumbled up (or jumbled down) cookie cutter manufacturers–finally represented in the florist’s factory of flour fandangos–fired up for the filet mignon we’ve justified as the most important, least-treacherous teachable moment perpetrated to generate genuine love of the written word as less of an unnatural amalgamation of sounds and sorry emotions, and more a living canvas of the interchangeable ideas that could, in proper combination, ring up the governor and slap him in the face with his own stupid ahs and ums.

Just try to think of that the next time you’re third in line at the convenience store and all you want is a candy bar–so you think you should have the top priority among these other schmucks–but you have to follow the traditions set forth by our more civilized foreparents; such an unexpected period of time in line leads to thoughts of buying a pack of cigarettes for the first time in something like five years, and all of a sudden you’re diverted into thinking about the capitalist structure you’ve been bred into, with a certain cigarette supply being sold in the same location where candy bars are also widely sought after. Coincidence?

Still Unknown


Belly extravaganza profundities topple otherwise insatiable plethora-averagers, which is no small feat in and of itself. Anyone who’s tried already knows that attempting to persuade a passionate professional to cease determining the median amount of objects or entities in an absurdly large grouping can never end well. On paper you can theorize all day about the efficacy of diverting attention away from pervasive pet projects, but not until they’re put to the test may you then see the sheer pragmatic impossibility of such a notion.

Only at such a juncture may an enlightened individual step back and re-evaluate. This is a state in which all manner of solutions have been reached throughout human history. You know, those moments that could only have been reached through sheer trial and error–with some luck tossed in (if you want to call it luck).

Benny Goodman (no relation) was one of the unfortunates tasked with upending those pesky plethora-averagers, and he knew all-too-well the dangers of intentional plan-making in this particular arena. Benny was provided the impossible project because of his special ability to judge all passions and purposes objectively, separating societal expectations and mores from what is ultimately to be determined the optimal conclusion. With all this in mind, he took a page from his namesake’s book and let the solution come to him through improvisation. We may never know whether it was a stroke of genius or just sheer dumb luck that brought him to the doorstep of the belly extravaganza profundities; we can only be certain that Mr. Goodman was the right man for the job.

Why all this plethora-averaging had to be stopped is still unknown.

Sweet Lady Science


Where do I even begin? Well, we stopped dropping the snakes down the hole and letting them just smack their bellies on the ground because this here sarcastic douchebag decided to get sensitive one day and say “geez, we sure do like hurting snakes!” We all looked at him like he had three or four heads, the favorite number of heads to picture an alien having when you’re gawking at this here guy who all of a sudden gives a damn about snake welfare.

They’re just damn snakes, they’re cold blooded. They’ve lived unchanged for millions of years now and they don’t give a damn about being slammed on the slab if it means we can sleep in peace. That’s right, sentient snakes who have been telepathically communicating with me for a good… seven years now. Wow.

So anyway, go on ahead with your little protest, we ain’t changing these rules for nothing or nobody.

—-TWO WEEKS LATER—-

BREAKING NEWS: SNAKES FEEL PAIN
Scientists Everywhere Urge Citizens:
“Discontinue Dropping Snakes on Slabs”

Jesus, what are the odds? We’ll probably never find out just how this study was started or funded, or how it coincided so perfectly with that sensitive douchebag making his impassioned plea down at the firehouse, but Sweet Lady Science has spoken, and we must heed her words.

Executive Decision


This particular set of tambourine excruciations lacks the comeuppance factor that my quarry companion would typically dish out. I’m so used to thinking of my submissive bud as “not without its sassy comebacks,” but this time it’s waxing heavily depressive, not even bothering to mount a modest reprisal.

I’ve made the executive decision to leave it to its own devices; I don’t need a triggered sidekick lollygagging around and confusing me more than normal. Such a distraction could undermine the very essence of my oh so lucrative pastime. I’ll just let it take a little time to itself (I’m generous that way) so it may sort out its existential concerns of its own accord–mainly because I just don’t want to be subjected to the ceaseless whining. And when I say whining, I mean good ol’ fashioned day-in day-out grumbling unlike any other you’ve ever seen, the very peak of which generally verging on psychosis.

Boy, I sure do know how to pick ’em. Of all the quarry companions made available to me, I just had to choose the one with the watery puppy dog eyes. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now I have a flat out martyr on my hands who professes to be a beacon of emotions for its less-gifted brethren of the oft-neglected sedimentary sidekick school. All I want is a cheerful little buddy that I can count on to occasionally get me out of scrapes. Is that too much to ask?

Far-Fetched


Stern army fandanglers initiate the bizarrest of letterbox rituals as a way to compensate for their minimal internal squawking about where in the hell to buy a caramel macchiato during a Thursday afternoon rush hour—it’s definitely the most congested freeway seen around these parts in quite some time, the rubbernecks all out in force and jamming up the left lane to catch glimpses of a minor fender bender where the only detail of note would be the involvement of a clown car. Fortunately, no actual clowns happened to be in or, indeed, even around said automobile, or traffic would surely would be at a complete standstill.

The question remains: why is there a clownless clown car on the road? A rational observer would surmise that it’s headed to the shop, getting an oil change or tire rotation, or perhaps being treated to the periodic hand car wash and wax (one of Flopsy® the Clown’s numerous contract stipulations). Suffice it to say that none of these scenarios would benefit from the presence of a real live clown, unless some sort of clowning industry discount were to apply to these local auto-maintenance establishments, which seems utterly far-fetched (yet plausible if our society only knew who pulled the strings).

Never gonna get that got damn macchiato…

Subsequent Scientists


Ukulele tragedies beget other instances of monstrous buttress shattering, save the few modern conventions we [the contemporary sample-chompers of northwest Indodelphia] have been taking for granted lo these past several weeks.

But fret not, a squalid interpretation of the Menomenina Walk of Fame will never sully the legacy set forth by the downtrodden experts who sought the anthropological understanding previously granted by theologians–and subsequent scientists–throughout the generations, only to come up short when confronted with the fickle nature of exaggerated Middle American townsfolk, their collective backs up against their respective walls and in no position to exercise caution anymore.

By All Accounts


As a younger man–though old enough to know better–I once navigated a rather cryptic epoch during which I chose (wholeheartedly or pigheadedly) to stick with my plague-rich mentality of promotional ice cream lotteries, confident in my god-given ability to strike it rich. With my trusty two and a quarter inch nail at my disposal, I scribed the five luckiest numbers ever known to man and beast in my favorite subterranean cave, positively declaring an end to the ceaseless turmoil of fumbling around in the cosmic muck for a few measly digits that–at one of my lower points–I thought would elude me as long as I were to inhabit this particular body. I then hastily chucked good ol’ Rusty (that’s what I called my long-suffering galvanized friend, knowing that his kind doesn’t rust for decades–a joke we shared on countless occasions) into the nearest ravine, a flourish that would–by all accounts (payable or otherwise)–bring this self-imposed trudge to a meaningful conclusion.

Boy, what a boneheaded mistake. No sooner than I’d comforted myself with that symbolic nail toss, a magpie hopped on by and casually reminded me that the most lucrative lottery drawings typically have six numbers. I wept, knowing that I’d severed the most rewarding relationship of a lifetime under the false pretense of a free scoop of rocky road at a participating Neddy’s® Frozen Custard.

I shaved and went back to my old CPA job.

Smidgen


Don’t knock the verdict ‘til you’ve read the effervescent love stories of an older gentleman who reminds us all that a lake of justice may only be multiplied by itself as many times as would be appropriate for a spam wrangler embroiled in a cosmic prayer for guidance.

And not that we’d have to succumb to the specious reasoning
subjecting border collie manifestations to undue criticism
simply because of their perforatory nitrous oxidation theories;
as hair-brained as they may sound to the unindoctrinated few
with access to local channel 16.17–WESC: “The Glaring® Sound
of Beatniks All Around”–a smidgen of trust
for our ovine-herding counterparts will doubtless reveal
innumerable quality chicken sandwich sources within
a seven-mile radius, and for that we should stand and applaud.

Bonanza


Gordon George’s
Estwing Bonanza

tweaks recognition, that
underrepresented showcase
of carnival barkery.

At its finest,
you’ll see Jeffrey Finito——
attractive man of misery
and attentive sham of Mister T——
slaloming
down the underweather pass to
transfer schmaltz patterns
to his underwater dentist’s
cauldron collection,
one schmutz at a time.

Mission to Distract


Beefy,
indeterminate
scraps of litter
parade around
like they have a
mission to distract
from the vague commissary indiscretions
plaguing our unions and,
indeed,
up-and-coming
generation of handicraft hamburglars
and overwrought Jangle-Changle Men——
together
while they can still stand

Algorithms


Goodman-gambling jam-a-matrons sorting flame-retardant restraint algorithms——with a turkey atop the sundae for maximum flavoring——would be the thing I like to observe on the days when it’s rainy and there aren’t any suitable forms of chocolate pudding lying around on the ground floor with a tambourine satchel hanging from the rafters like a discombobulated raccoon taking steroids to prepare for the big race (which, sadly, may never come).