Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lost Chapter from Stranger in a Strange Land

“Because it’s fun!” Jubal expounded.

Mike had not yet grokked the concept of fun. He was bewildered at the amount of effort that this race devoted to entertainment. As a nestling his sole concern was surviving the harsh Martian landscape. Once he was admitted into the nest what free time he had after doing the Old One’s bidding and cleaning the nest of his water brother’s excretions was spent grokking the fullness of the universe. The idea of a fair baffled him as Martians had no such events.

“Oh Mike, it’s a wonderful place full of rides and games and sweet cotton candy.” Jill squealed.

Mike digested Jill’s comment and did not grok sweetness. When he ate his first shirt whose primary material was cotton the primary sensation was not one of sweetness.

Duke threw in his two cents: “I hear this fair has a naked lady completely covered in tattoo’s from the neck down. And the only thing covering her is a big ol snake. Yowza.”

“Duke, he doesn’t need to see that!” Jill reprimanded him. “Mike you just need to try the food. It’s a wonderland of stick mounted edibles. You'll then see how wonderful that carnival is.” She added.

“It will be good for you to get out and see some of the real world and meet some people other than this crusty old goat and my three lazy assistants.” Jubal said.

“Front!” Jubal bellowed.

Dorcas came running in still dripping from the pool with the steno device. “Yes, boss. What’s up?”

“Take this down,” Jubal Commanded. “New hit show for the networks titled ‘Cletus: The Early Years. No, strike that. Title it: ‘…But you can’t take the Hill out of Billy’. It will be about the amusing adventures of a hillbilly boy taken from the backwoods of Kentucky, who has never met anyone other than his family, and dropped into New York City.”

“Boss that sounds an awful lot like the Beverly Hillbilly’s” Dorcas pointed out.

Jubal looked at Mike and thought for a minute. He then announced: “What makes this fish out of water story different is it will break all sorts of societal taboos”

Duke wondered what kind of societal taboos that an inbred hillbilly would break and if they needed breaking.

Jubal continued to ponder out loud. “It’s still missing something. What is it? I got it! Cletus has two heads and an old Winnebago. It’s genius! Put out feelers to the networks and get a bidding war going.”

“Now lets gat back to the fair, Mike.” Jubal said.

“We’re going to the fair?” Dorcas asked with delight.

“Not unless I decide that you and your two accomplices stay here and get some work done for once.” Jubal chided her.

“Oh come on you old fuddy duddy. I’m going to go get the girls and get dressed. There’s a big ol pickle on a stick calling my name” Dorcas said.

Both Jubal and Duke thought of particularly inappropriate responses to the pickle reference while Mike attempted to grok the brining process.

“Duke, bring the hover car around. Jill, find Mike some clothes that will somewhat hide his identity. I don’t mind him getting pick pocketed at the fair, but if they realize that The Man From Mars was there he’d be mobbed by hordes of fairgoers wanting to see someone famous and dozens of unbathed carnies looking to hock their wares.” Jubal commanded.

Duke landed the Hover Car carefully avoiding Jubal’s roses. He had made that mistake only once. Jubal, Mike, Jill, Dorcas, and Jubal’s other two secretaries Anne and Miriam loaded into the hover car. There was a sense of excitement in the air as Jubal Harshaw did not take flights of fancy like this very often. The conversation drifted back and forth between what skewered food would be devoured and what ride they would take.

The Man From Mars marveled at the varied landscape of this planet. He saw great beauty in all the things his eyes took in. He was considering going into one of his trances to grok this landscape when his waterbrother Jubal spoke to him.

“Now listen Son. There will be people there willing to offer you water in a variety of flavors. Don’t partake. They are dirty carnie folk that want to make a quick buck. They know nothing of water sharing and would take advantage should they ever know what water sharing meant. Plus they wash their underwear in the lemonade water.” Jubal instructed Mike. “If you don’t grok just ask Jill or I what to do.” He added.

“Thank you Jubal. My water is your water.” Mike replied.

The Hover Car landed at the Fair and the group unloaded. They quickly entered the fair and split up with Jill staying close to Mikes side. They walked up to the softball toss. Mike saw that the circumference of the softball was large enough to prohibit any throw to go into the large metal milk containers unless it arrived in a very specific trajectory and grokked that this is wrongness and made the containers disappear. The carnie operating the booth started screaming at Mike and Jill deciding someone had to be blamed over his milk cartons and he was dang sure it wasn’t going to be him. He suddenly found himself in a cloudy place standing next to his milk cans.

Jubal wandered over to the food trailers and decided that his sweet tooth needed to be satiated. He ordered a deep fried Snickers bar. As he bit into it, he was overcome with the need to express his feelings in poetry.

“Front.” He yelled and Anne came up behind him

“Yes sir.” She said.

“Are you ready to dictate?” He asked.

“Always sir” Anne replied.

Jubal cleared his throat. “It’s a poem that we’ll sell to Harper’s. “

“Dark lava flowing down.
Snow sprinkled over hearts delight
The nuts of my love mingled in joy
Damn the molten nougat
Damn the molten nougat”

“That’s great boss, but is that Harpers materiel?” She asked.

“Good point Anne. It’s too good for that rag. Call up my buddy Bruce at Rampant Loon and see if he wants it.” Jubal replied.

Meanwhile Miriam had grabbed Mike and wanted to take him on the Gravitron. The line had been long which had bothered Miriam, but not Mike. She knew that he had patience greater than any person she had ever known. They loaded up and the ride started to spin. Mike grokked the machine and realized the machines capabilities. He wanted to make Miriam happy and began to spin the machine faster and faster. Not understanding the difference in screams of joy and screams of pain he continued building G Forces until eye balls started bursting and blood started flowing from the various orifices of his fellow riders.

Mike sensed injury in Miriam and healed her.

Miriam told Mike “We need to get out of here and fast. Let’s go find Jubal.”

As soon as the ride was over, they bolted out and past a fat sweaty carnival manager who was passing out carnival bucks to the bloodied patrons.

“Remember all rides are at your own risk. The signs are posted everywhere. You can’t sue us.” He barked out to no one in general.

Miriam and Mike ran to the food trailers and found Jubal chowing down on some Jamaican jerked platypus on a stick.
“Mike my boy! Come on over and lets eat. It’s time you expanded your culinary universe.” Jubal yelled out.

The variation of food was another part of this planet that Mike had not yet grokked in fullness. Eating was viewed as a necessity on his planet, and other than the joy they received from grokking a waterbrother that had discorporated, there was little happiness to found in partaking of the rectal excretions of the Nest Provider.

“I think we are going to start out slow. I don’t think you are ready for stick based carnival food, so we will start with a nice plate of fish and chips.

This excited Mike to no end. He had read of these amazing creatures that lived in the water and was sure that they were his waterbrothers as well and would relish partaking of their flesh.

Jubal placed a large mound of fried fish in front of Mike. Mike ravenously ate the deep fried filets. He did not grok these waterbrothers in fullness yet.

“Might I have more, a lot more?” Mike asked.

“You can have as much as you want.” Jubal laughed.

Plate after plate of the fish was placed in front of Mike who ate every last morsel until a funny feeling filled his stomach.

He looked at the huge pile of empty plates and realized that he had achieved fullness and felt he could discorporate at any moment from the sheer joy of it.

“I finally Grok. Thou art Cod.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Bat and The Baldy

There’s been a lot of pondering lately on the relationship between Metropolis’ resident genius billionaire, Lex Luthor, and the prince of Gotham, Bruce Wayne. The truth is that there is a connection. Their histories intersect at a particular point in the not too distant past.

They say that most heroes and their arch villains start off as friends. This story is no different.

Some years ago both men were young captains of industry, swashbuckling their way into massive sums of money. They were handsome men, their hair and clothes always impeccable. Bruce Wayne took his fathers fortune and turned it into several fortunes and Lex Luthor took his gift of genius intellect and took the Gotham Stock Exchange by storm, building up and selling off company after company.

It is though these activities that these two became friends. A billionaire has particular stresses that even millionaires can’t fathom. It’s only natural that they gravitate towards each other. They spent many nights cruising the Gotham nightlife together. Of the two, only Bruce harbored a secret so big that even his best friend couldn’t know about it. It was a dark winged secret.

While Bruce maintained an even keel even in the wildest of social circumstances, Lex on the other hand had let his intellectual superiority and business acumen swell his already large ego. It was his disregard for those that he felt were beneath him, which included pretty much the entire population of Gotham with the exception of one man that led to his descent into madness.

On that fateful Friday afternoon, Lex knew that him and Bruce had a long weekend of carousing ahead and wanted to get his hair trimmed to look good for their intended prey. The barber did and adequate job. He was quick and efficient and even Lex admitted to himself that it looked good. However despite his vast fortune, he was a notorious non-tipper, feeling that should they want a tip, they should build it into the price of the service. No one tips him so why should he bother tipping other. He thought it to be a notch above those hoodlums that play that awful folk music down in the park begging for change.

What Lex didn’t know is that he was the 4th person today, the 22nd this week, the 115th, and the 3468th person to refuse to tip in Wally Jergin’s completely mediocre career as a barber. This also happened to be Wally’s breaking point. He shut his shop down and immediately began to formulate the plan that had been festering in his skull all these years.

When Bruce got home that afternoon his butler, Alfred, informed him that according to the local news his friend, Lex Luthor, had been kidnapped by some lunatic calling himself The Follicle. Bruce immediately went down to his secret lair and suited up for another mission.

His superior detective skills soon led him to an abandoned beauty supply warehouse. He jumped down from a roof window landing near The Follicle. Lex Luthor strapped to a barbers chair, and an assortment of evil minions. Bruce briefly wondered to himself where all these minions always come from. Maybe there is a temp agency that farms them out he thought.

“Don’t come any closer Batman. Ol’ Lexy hear has got himself stuck in a hairy situation,” The Follicle announced followed by his best evil cackle. It was a little higher pitched and lacked the menace that Wally had hoped for, but he figured this was a work in progress.

“Let him go. You can’t just kidnap innocent billionaires” Batman replied.

“Oh really? He gets to sit up in his ivory tower with all of his rich buddies, while us lowly slaves waste our life serving him and his ilk, hoping that he might spare just a few crumbs of his bounty with us. But no, he chooses to deny us our hard earned money. Well no more, my winged nemesis.” Wally said. With that he grabs a large bottle the size and approximate shape of a 2 liter of soda and lifts it up. “With the formula that I created, I will get my revenge upon the uncaring men and women of Gotham City. I will dump this into the local water supply causing every man, woman, child, and animal to go bald. No one will ever stiff me again because they won’t need to worry about getting their hair cut ever again. The narcissistic prideful fools so full of bluster will become sheepish wimps ready for subjugation. Muwahahahahaha” Wally was much more satisfied with that evil laugh. He was surprised to find that he quite enjoyed that monologue even though confessing his plan probably wasn’t the wisest thing after all, he isn’t the first bizarre bad guy that Batman’s gone up again. He wondered if other villains ever did the same thing.

Lex started laughing. “That’s it? Your plan is to make Gotham go bald? That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I can’t believe I got kidnapped for that. Someone of my stature deserves a better villain than this guy.” He said.

“Shut Up! It is not stupid. This will bring me revenge,” Wally screamed.

Suddenly Batman attacked. He tore through the minions and ended up in an epic struggle with The Follicle. He desperately tried to wrestle the bottle away with out breaking it. It was during this struggle that the unthinkable happened. The bottle flew out of their hands and flew through the air and landed on a still tied up Lex Luthor who was unable to stop it. The bottle broke on top of his head and its entire contents spilled down over him causing his hair to fall out immediately. The scream he bellowed out in horror could be heard for miles.

Batman subdued the villain, dispatched his henchmen and disappeared as quickly as he appeared leaving Lex to hold down the fort until the police could arrive and take The Follicle to Arkham asylum.

His hate for Batman began to burn with a white-hot passion. He would destroy Batman for what he had done to him. But how, he wondered, and slowly he began to realize that any plan he could think of required him to go out into the public, where his pride and huge ego would never let him go. How could he been seen like this, a hairless freak? And then he began to see the genius of Wally Jergin’s plan. He would have to leave Gotham and take his fury out on some other do-gooder. His pride would allow nothing less.

And then he remembered overhearing a conversation on a street corner waiting for his limo to pick him up. He remembered the two men talking about a new super hero appearing in Metropolis and saving some new reporter from a crashed helicopter. Metropolis would be ideal. No one there knows me there other than by reputation.

What did they call that superhero he wondered? Then he remembered. Lex said the name out loud. “Superman”. He would be the surrogate for the pain that I wish to inflict upon Batman. He would miss his friend Bruce Wayne, but in Lex’s mind he was no longer his equal and not worthy of his friendship.

“Metropolis and Superman’s death it is”

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Weekend

Weird thing happened this weekend. My wife became a bigger RockBand freak than I am. If you knew my wife, you would know this is a strange but awesome development. SHe has been wary of every video game system I've brought home regardless of the fact that the PS2 got played maybe 4 times and ended up used as a DVD player and the Xbox I finally brought home got played even less. We know plenty of couples that video games become a serious issue because of the time spent playing instead of time with the family.

This is great because now I can play and my wife is cool with it because she's throwing down as well. Plus she rocks at it. She scored the first 100% I've seen on vocals Saturday night. I even got her to sing some Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. It was so frickin sweet.

As far as the music front goes, this weeks album is Lacuna Coil's Karmacode. Absolutely killer album. Heavy, heavy music with a dual threat on vocals with the hardest rocking woman in all of metal, Christina Scabia, who is complemented by Andrea Ferro, who is a dude, but they are italian, and in Italy you can have a chicks name and still kick arse.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Schools out, The Friday Challenge is in

I’ll share two experiences that have underlining morals that defined my completely average academic career and set a course for my life.

It was the last class of another boring 7th grade day. The class was choir. I'm not sure why I took choir because I have no musical ability whatsoever, but I enjoyed singing and the teacher was cool. I mean you didn't get to warm up to James Brown in Geometry.

I knew that the year was ending soon and we weren’t doing much in the class that day so I asked the teacher if I could go clean out my locker. I was pleasantly surprised that she said yes. I spent most of the period digging out my locker.

Soon the bell rang and the day was over. It wasn't till I was on the bus for the ride home that I learned that that was the last day of school. I had no idea. I was completely oblivious to that fact. If I didn't feel like goofing off that day I would have lost all of my crap that I had stored in my locker all year.

What did I learn from this near miss? Sometimes it pays to goof off.

Story number two is my favorite finals story. In my 10th grade history class we were given our choice of finals to take. A single question essay test which was basically what did we cover this year?, a 10 question essay test, and a 100 question multiple choice test.

Well I figured the 10 question essay test was the way to go. It would be much easier to fudge my way through since I never did homework and never studied. Most of the class took the 100 question test, but there were a few others that took the 10 question option. No one was dumb enough to try the 1 question test. Although the cajones it would take to accept that challenge probably would have garnered at least a B on principle alone.

Well I slammed my way through the test making sure my answers were long and wordy. I knew the answers thanks to my magical lazy ability to remember from listening in class relieving me of the chore of note taking and studying. I figured since it was an essay test, I should make it an essay. The paragraphs were all fluff with a kernel of truth in the middle.

Of course I was done with it by the time class was half over. The teacher skimmed it over and gave me an A+. When the girl sitting in front of me turned hers in with tiny one and two sentence answers she got a B. When she asked why she got a B and I got an A+, the teachers reply was what makes this story a classic in my book. The teacher looked up at the girl and said “Did you see the size of his answers?”

What’s the moral of this story? A strong ability to BS will pave the way to success.

And this, my friends, is why I ended up a sales person.