Category Archives: Satire/Humor

Who’s Crazy Now?

 

munchscream

“The Scream,” Edvard Munch

 

The following story has been rejected by both Analog and Asimov’s science fiction and fantasy magazines, so I’ve reverted to my most reliable publisher, myself, to give a wider audience a chance to reject it, too.  I think it’s amusing and somewhat reflective of my philosophy of life, such as it is.  If there is a target of the satire, it would be The System as it exists today, one that creates mental illness by feeding it through an interconnected web of perverse incentives.

 

 

I am a visitor from a different future.  They label me schizophrenic, not the paranoid type.  My official diagnosis in 21st century mythology, is “disorganized schizophrenia.”  In the past, this form was known as “hebephrenic,” from the Greek, meaning “youthful mind.”  In real life, it means I laugh a lot, for no apparent reason.

I have been hospitalized, this time, because I went to the emergency room on a cold rainy night and told them I wanted to kill myself.  Everyone in the ER knows me.  They ask my name anyway.  This time I say “Gunga Din.”

They write “Charlie Appleton” on their clipboards.  If they already know, why do they ask?  I play along.  I practice my postures in the hall. The ballerina pose.  The dog pose.  The boxer pose.  It makes them smile.  I talk back to my voices and laugh at their jokes.

When I laugh too loudly, they usually give me a shot of haloperidol, an anti-psychotic.  This makes my body slow but my feet restless, so I dance to music played by my friends in our shared future, music only I can hear.

If I’m lucky, they give me another shot, this time of lorazepam, a benzodiazepine and addictive relaxant, but on days Nurse Bully Bozo (not his real name) works, he substitutes diphenhydramine, a sinus and allergy medicine, for the lorazepam.  He gives himself the feel-good shot in the medical supply room.

I know this because I see it in his aura.  Where I come from, we all read auras, only we call these “energy fields.”  They are as visible to everyone as the clothes they wear. It’s impossible to keep a secret, so no one tries.  We could see through clothes, too, if we wanted, but nobody bothers. The clothes are more attractive than the flesh.

I’ve attempted to explain all this to the hospital staff, but there are no words in any Earth speech to describe unimaginable concepts, like alternate futures.  They write on their clipboards that I’m “delusional.”  It helps them sleep better at night.

When I threatened to tell Nurse Bully Bozo’s supervisor that he was giving himself the feel-good stuff, he hit me, then told everyone I’d run into a door.  I tried to tell them the gash on my temple came from his ring, but no one believed me. He has an evil-looking ring with spikes on it, but he hid it after the incident.  When I started screaming that the ring was in his pocket, they strapped me to a table for a full day to keep me safe.

I’ve quit telling people I see their secrets.  I merely laugh when the psychiatrist’s deceased mother carps at him during his interviews with me.  She is too, too funny.  She wanted him to be a surgeon, instead of a psychiatrist. She nags him and gives him no peace. “Psychiatrists aren’t real doctors,” she says.  “I knew you would never amount to anything.  Just like your good-for-nothing father.”

I almost feel sorry for him, having a mother like that.  No wonder he became a psychiatrist.  The more she harasses him, the angrier he gets.  His face gets red, his jaw sets, his knuckles holding his pen turn white, and his hand begins to quiver.  I know he can hear her, but he pretends otherwise.  I’m supposed to be the crazy one, in this past Earth I’m visiting.

“Where did I go wrong?” Dr. Gunn’s mama moans, winking at me.  I try hard not to laugh–he thinks I’m laughing at him and ups the dose of my medications.

“Do you still feel like killing yourself?” he asks.

“I’m already dead,” I reply, and laugh again.  Now his deceased father has joined his mother in his energy field, and they are arguing.  They are blaming each other for the fact that their son is a loser.  “He wouldn’t be an alcoholic if you weren’t,” his mother says.

“He might have a family by now if you hadn’t soured him on women.”

They are bickering so much that I have a hard time hearing his next question.

“Do you hear voices?”  Dr. Gunn asks.

“Everyone hears voices,” I say.  “Voices, choices, they make noises,” I chant, trying to drown out Dr. Gunn’s parents.  “I hear your voice right now.”  I dare not tell him what else I’m hearing.  His mother is mad with him because he blew his inheritance on a floozy, who ran off with his best friend.  His father holds a grudge for the time Dr. Gunn had him arrested for slugging his mother.

I hate seeing secrets nobody else sees.  If they only knew what a burden it is, to carry all that baggage.  At least Dr. Gunn is trying.  He understands how widespread these secrets are.  He knows his upbringing was pretty normal, in this past Earth’s time.

“Please, stop,” I tell his parents.  I cover my ears.  Dr. Gunn thinks these are my voices.  He’s so used to hearing his parents bicker that he doesn’t even notice anymore.  It runs in the background, like machine noise, but it drives him to drink after work.

“Stop what?” the doctor asks me.

I try to distract Dr. Gunn from his parents’ argument.  When he’s angry or hung over, he takes it out on me, the staff, and whoever is closest.  At the moment, I’m the closest, and I’ve already had enough feel-bad drugs to knock me bonkers.

“Stop de wop de boppedy bop,” I say, getting up, twirling and chanting.  Dr. Gunn’s parents stop yelling at each other and watch me.  They start to smile, so I whirl faster, then invite his mother to dance with me.  When I slip up and call her by name, Dr. G freaks out and calls security.  They haul me to a padded cell, my favorite place in the hospital.  They watch through a thick, plexi-glass window as my movements slow, and I fall down.  I drift off into my alternate future, where my friends laugh and applaud.

We gather around the instrument panel that monitors my past Earth body and discuss the effects of feel-bad psych meds on it.  We analyze the past Earth energy field and how it affects the hospital staff.  We pass the Spirits around and congratulate each other on having made the right choice in the Earth-split.

My best buddy, Henry, winces as he scrutinizes the scanning monitor and looks admiringly at me.

“They sure walloped you this time,” Henry says.

“This assignment is harder than you let on,” I reply.  “Those people are crazy.”

“That’s why you’re there.  They are suicidal, determined to annihilate the Earth and everything on it, to prove their prophets right.”

“I know, I know.  I’m supposed to prepare them for the coming Earth-split, when probable futures split off like sparks from a cherry bomb.  Different people ride into different futures, depending on their beliefs.”

“They believe in evil,” says Henry.  “At least some of them do.”

“So do I, after what Nurse Bully Bozo did to me.”

“It didn’t hurt.  You have evolved beyond pain,”

At the moment, Henry is beginning to look like Dr. Gunn, only uglier.  He sees my thought and smiles.

“You don’t feel my pain,” I reply, almost smiling, but not quite.  I have a slight crush on one of the other nurses, Nurse Bleeding Heart (not her real name).  She claims to feel my pain.  Her breasts graze my arm as she changes the bandages on my temple.  The cut, which required three stitches, isn’t healing as quickly as they want.  I gouge at the stitches when I get the chance, claiming they are worms eating through my brain.  No one has noticed I only do that on Nurse Bleeding Heart’s shift.

“I don’t feel your pleasure, either, Lover Boy,” Henry says.  “So quit whining and pass the Spirits.”  I give up the bottle, reluctantly.  It’s a great antidote for the anti-psychotic.  It allows me to communicate with my future home and future friends when I’m operating in the Earth past before the split.

We turn away from the instrument panel and sit down to a lively dinner.  I eat like I’m starving, because I am.  That past Earth food is more poisonous than the drugs, so I’ve been refusing it.  White bread.  Soda pop.  Baloney.  Limp lettuce.  Bottled dressing.  Ugh.  We discuss my work assignment for the next day.  Rather, the others talk while I eat.

In the future Earth I inhabit—when I’m not on assignment to the past—everything is free, and money doesn’t exist.  People work because they like it.  They gravitate to areas of special interest or ability naturally and slip into their niches, like so many jigsaw pieces in a puzzle.  Each is unique but integral to the whole.  There is no competition and no overlap.

My future friends voted unanimously to place me in this assignment.  I was the most evolved, they said.  I was normal enough to pass for crazy.  If I couldn’t bring the alternate future to the past, no one could.  The integrity of the Earth split depended on me.

I look suspiciously at them.  I decide they tricked me, set me up, and are having a whale of a time at my expense.  Henry sees my thought and grins.

“You are the most evolved, you know,” he says now.  “I couldn’t do what you’re doing.”

“I agree.  You’re not smart enough to play dumb.”  I know Henry has doubts about his intelligence, but I’m lonely on this assignment.

“I could use some help,” I say now.  Henry passes the Spirits back to me.  I take the bottle.

“Thanks for the uplifting Spirits,” I say, “but I’m talking about companionship.  When I’m strapped down, or in a strait jacket, I have to do therapy on myself.  ‘It really is them,’ I say.  ‘It really is them.’”

“We know,” Henry replies.  “We hear you.  We’re there for you, just not physically.”

“Don’t I know it.”  By now, the past body is waking up and I know time is short.  I must return soon, lest they decide I’m catatonic and use shock therapy to jolt me into consciousness.

“You nag all day long, all of you at the same time.  It’s enough to drive a past person crazy.  There’s so much static in my brain I’m surprised other people don’t hear it.

“They do hear it, but they pretend not to.  You push the envelope on crazy, so that they feel normal.”

I look skeptical, so Henry continues.  “We’re all very grateful to you, you know.  If you weren’t there then, we wouldn’t be here now.”

 

 

Advertisements

My Version of Hell

roscoe0908

St. Roscoe Rooster, 2/7/2008-12/25/2009  “May we rest in peace”

There is no better therapist than a personal journal.  A journal waits patiently, doesn’t interrupt, argue, criticize, judge, talk back, condemn, nag, or gossip.  It’s there on your terms, when you want it, and it’s essentially free.

It’s also fun and sometimes embarrassing to re-read and see how perspective changes, or how memories differ from the written version.  I’ve kept a journal on and off throughout my life.  I’ve lost some, burned some, and some were stolen.  I prefer writing by hand, as I sit with morning coffee, because there’s no urgency, no need to correct typos, and there’s something inherently satisfying about low-tech pen and paper.

Ten years ago this month, I had entered early retirement, had acquired my first batch of chickens, and was watching my stock investments fall below the value of my medical school debt.  I was considering whether an individual could secede from the United States and not be owned by any country.  I was reading a lot, as always, books, magazines and newspapers.  I was beginning to pay attention to the FDA’s periodic food scares and seeing a pattern.  I was philosophizing about how things ought to be.

Now, in 2018, my views have evolved, but not too much.  I’m more offended now than before by the path the US is taking but am resigned to it.  Ten years older, I feel the squeezing of time into fewer remaining years.  Ambition and goals seem less important.  I’ve recognized that many dreams may never come true, nor will some nightmares.  Day to day existence goes on automatic pilot, most of the time, with less to interest or inspire, but more enjoyment from unexpected events, like a sunny day after a week of clouds and rain.

Here are some entries from November, 2008:

INDEPENDENT OF COUNTRY

Sunday, November 2, 2008–I may secede from the US.  Why should I be a citizen of any country?  I’m still a taxpayer if I live here.  Does that make me illegal, if I was born five miles from where I live?

As an independent country, I am a citizen of the planet.  How’s that?  I belong to no government, and no government belongs to me.  I make up my own laws as I go along, and if I break them, nobody cares but me.  My own government is self-governance.  It costs me nothing in taxes, and it provides generous returns on my investment.

I wonder about the expectation that anyone should be a citizen of any country.  What’s the point of citizenship except to vote and pay taxes?  If I were a foreigner, I would still pay taxes, and if I owned property, I would pay property taxes, so I would be contributing to government services, such as they are.

Radical revolutionary that I am.

WORK ETHIC

Thursday, November 6, 2008—The internal nags don’t let up.  The work ethic is so heavily instilled in me that I feel worthless if I’m not accomplishing things.

I avoid the study and the computer, and the piles of written words that await me there, my own files, and books and newspapers and magazines.  So much information, much of it misleading, descriptive of a value system, and set of beliefs I don’t share.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

Saturday, November 8, 2008—I can’t blame anyone for the fact that I attract problems.  I’m the solution all the problems are looking for, but do the problems want to be solved?  No.  They would lose their identity as problems, because they are ego-attached to being problems.

Maybe I’m ego-attached to being a solution, but I’m letting go of that.  I worked myself out of a psychiatry job by declaring crazy normal.

I am neither solution nor problem, because both are traps.  The concept of problems and solutions is as suspect as strength and weakness.  Relative to what, I ask.  My “solutions” bring new “problems,” and my ‘weaknesses” help develop “strengths” that then become “weaknesses” in turn.

MY VERSION OF HELL

Saturday, November 8, 2008–My version of hell is having to put up with miserable people forever.  I can hear the whiners now:

“It’s your fault you’re here.  You murdered me.  You deserve to be here.”

“So why are you here?”

“It’s a mistake.  I’m appealing God’s decision.”

“God made the right decision, alright.  Why do you think I murdered you?  I did the world a favor.”

“Hell wasn’t such a bad place, until you got here.  The beer is free.”

“The beer is free?  In hell?

“Yep.  Keeps people from wanting to go to heaven.”

“Why do they call it hell?”

“Why do you think?  It costs money to get to heaven, and nobody would buy into it if they knew they could get free beer in hell.  Everything is free in hell, because everyone just takes what he wants without paying, anyway.

“But it’s so hot.”

“We drink a lot of beer and pass out so we don’t feel the heat so much.”

“Has anyone asked the Devil to turn down the heat?  It’s not energy efficient, you know.

“You could ask him, but he gets cold easily in this drafty cave, and he is thin.”

“He could put on a sweater.”

“Why should he?  He’s supposed to be torturing these people, and he’s afraid of losing his job if he doesn’t cause them enough pain.”

“That’s true in all government jobs.  So the Devil isn’t self-employed?

“Hell, no.  Who in his right mind would pay to spend eternity with the Devil?”

“How does he pay for the beer?”

“He steals it, of course.  He sends his hellions topside whenever supplies run low, and they bring back everything people have ordered, including nuclear power plants, to help keep the Devil warm.”

“Sounds like the government.”

“Government is hell.  I thought you knew that”

“Why do we have it?”

“To keep people out of heaven, of course.  Heaven was getting crowded, what with all those people resting in peace.  God ran out of bedrooms and couldn’t wake anybody up to build more, so He created hell to take the heat off Him.  He sent Lucifer down to manage things and wake people up, but he steals beer for them instead.”

 

 

 

 

Global Warmists and Thought Forms

The global warmists are making summer last too long.  Today, on September 29, a week after the autumnal equinox, the temperature at my house is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now the “scientists” of the world–in this latest religion of abstractions that supposedly controls the cosmos–agree that man is responsible for “climate change,” and we must do something about it.  Even the psychiatric establishment has linked arms with the “scientists” to advocate for a “call to action,” “educational initiatives,” “alliances with other organizations,” “leadership,” “evidence-based advances,” “special responsibility,” and “radical measures” to spread the word that climate change poses a threat to public health, including mental health,” according to the September 7 issue of Psychiatric News.

Well, the climate changes every day and every minute, and each square centimeter of the earth has a different climate.  This could be proven by sticking a thermometer in the ground or hanging it in a tree or dunking it in an ocean.  Where in this scenario is the climate not changing? This simplistic grasp of science is too easy for the “climate scientists” to comprehend.

The fundamental precepts of modern “science” require hypotheses that can be tested, according to the “scientific method.”  This method requires inclusion of a “control group,” which is identical to the test group but without the experimental intervention.  It also requires that the experiment must reduce variables to one, so that the test is high in selectivity and specificity.  That is, the test must measure what you want to measure (selectivity) and only that variable (specificity).

The notion that the climate is changing and that man is the cause, contains two hypotheses, neither of which is testable under the scientific method.  This makes it “political science,” which employs its own methods.

It is at least as valid for me to claim the global warmists are extending summer temperatures through misguided thought forms.  I’m not the first or only person to claim man can and does influence the weather through thought.  This was the province of the shaman in some tribal cultures, and the premise behind Native American rain dances, and of mystics and seers around the world.

The idea of “thought forms” was popularized in the book Thought Forms: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation by Annie Besant and CW Leadbetter, of the Theosophical Society, in 1901.  The book asserted that people’s thoughts, experiences, emotions, and music have an  ethereal substance that can be perceived by the psychically attuned.  The book contained paintings of thoughts related to devotion and devotion sacrifice, three types of anger, three types of love (undirected, directed, and grasping) and jealousy, intellect and ambition. The authors claimed that the quality of a person’s thought influences his life experience and can affect other people.  The book had a strong influence on modern art and literature.  Kandinsky, Yeats, TS Eliot, Malevich and Mondrain, especially, were charmed by Theosophy.  Wikipedia notes that Annie Besant and CW Leadbetter played a pivotal role in shaping the globalized culture of East-West mysticism and rationalism, sound and sight.

While the book refers specifically to individual thought forms, I’ve also read and believe there are group thought forms, too, akin to what psychiatrist Carl Jung called “archetypes,” “the collective unconscious,” or universal symbols.  It could be argued that the terms “most people” or “society,” or even “we” refer to a type of mass mind thought form, the generally accepted notion of what humanity as a whole is like, what it believes, or how it thinks.  Perhaps television or the mass media reflect the mass mind thought form and its assumptions.

It’s never clear how those who refer to “most people” arrive at their characterizations.  I know of no one who has interviewed “most people,” yet these terms slide easily off lips and are just as easily accepted.  Who are these nameless, faceless, creatures so easily packaged into stereotypes such as “liberal,” “conservative,” “black,” “white,” and all the labels “we” use to lump individuals together in so much featureless protoplasm?

The “scientists” only acknowledge what they can perceive with the five senses they admit to, or with sense-extenders, like microscopes or spectroscopy.  They have yet to prove life exists, or that the mind exists, and they have yet to prove the universe has only three dimensions.

If the mind exists, I would dearly love to see the “climate scientists” use theirs to bring fall weather to my back yard.

Rain and Mosquitoes

Anyone who believes humankind is at the top of the food chain does not live around mosquitoes.  In fact, if you believe my former microbiology professor, we have 1012 human cells, and 1013 microbial cells, so we are only ten percent human.  Perhaps we are merely mini-universes for the skin and gut flora, and the viruses and bacteria that make our respiratory tracts and other organic neighborhoods their homes.  Bottom line is humankind’s highest and best purpose may be to provide food and habitat for insects, viruses, and unicellular organisms.

This brings me to monotheism, the anthro-centric belief in a male-like supreme being who is detached and dominant, competitive, and paternalistic, omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect.

What does the monotheistic tradition have to do with mosquitoes, a reasonable person might ask.  Well, this God, according to tradition, has placed man above the animals, nature, and certainly above the lowly insects, bacteria, and viruses.  This God also must think cruelty is funny, because He torments man and woman with these miniature vampires that He could eradicate with a flip of a life-switch, if He so chose.  No, instead, He puts humanity in the position of alleviating his own misery through insecticides like malathion, or genetic engineering to produce sterile male mosquitoes under patent, for release in Key West, Florida.

In other words, this control-freak God, who seems to enjoy stirring up wars between the competitive monotheists descended from The Fall, must love mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, sand gnats, horseflies, lice, mites, and other fast-mutating species, more than He loves man.  This preference for more mutable life forms is charmingly depicted in Rats, Lice, and History:  The Biography of a Bacillus, by Hans Zinsser (1934), the original author of the microbiology textbook still used in medical schools today.  In it, Zinsser claims lice and other microbes win more wars than armies.  In any case, it offers even more proof that man has not evolved to the point where he understands how stupid he is to fight Mother Nature.

Speaking of Mother Nature, I recently finished reading The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell, with Bill Moyers.  This book was derived from a PBS documentary aired in 1988.  Campbell was a professor of comparative mythology at Sarah Lawrence College, well versed in the various beliefs around the world. He made a clear distinction between the monotheistic God as above-it-all creator; and the mother-goddess traditions in which the goddess is “within as well as without.”  He claimed these earth-centered traditions placed animals equal to man and sometimes superior. As mothers generally have unconditional love for all their children, the mother-goddess traditions evolved as naturally compassionate and what we might now call “eco-friendly.”

In the “deistic” or “animistic” belief systems of the Native American mythology, for instance, the natural and supernatural worlds are intimately interconnected.  While some of the ritualistic religious ceremonies may seem brutal now, they respected man’s role as a part of and totally dependent on nature’s bounty.   The primary food animal of a tribe was revered, respected, and often deified.  Feasting ceremonies prayed to the spirit of the animal, asking it to be re-born to provide food again.

Another of my books describes the Hopi Snake Society rain dances.  In these, dancers hold rattlesnakes in their mouths, as part of the ceremony appealing for rain.  The snakes are then released, in order to appeal to the rain gods on humankind’s behalf.  The book claims cloudbursts often follow.  (National Geographic Society’s Indians of the Americas, 1955).

A few years ago, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, responding to drought conditions, prayed for rain.  His prayers were followed by torrents in the mountains which caused flooding and a couple of fatalities.

I figured he prayed to the wrong God.  He should have prayed to Mother Nature, who loves all her creatures, even people, and knows that the right amount of rain at the right time and place benefits all equally.

So, for those interested in “climate change,” perhaps we need to redefine the problem and re-work the strategy, and turn thoughts toward changing the climate in more desirable ways.  Even Seth of the Jane Roberts series asserts that man’s thoughts influence weather.

While I haven’t resorted to dancing with rattlesnakes, I have made appeals to Mother Nature for a milder summer, here in the swamps of Savannah.  I have asked the plants and animals to join me in this weather-making experiment.  My chickens seem particularly good at it.  I’ve even reminded Ma Nature that it will help mosquitoes.  This latest twist on “climate change” is a conversation starter and actually elicits a few smiles.  That we could perhaps influence the weather in universally beneficial ways may be the stuff of science fiction today, but the concept is as inspiring as a rainbow, should you choose to believe.  And, no government help required.

Down home, this summer, we have had more rain than in recent years, along with more cloud cover and more breeze.  Even the little blood-suckers have held off, for reasons only known to Ma Nature, but I thank her nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe’s Nightmare

December 29, 2017–In a slight divergence from my normal posts, I’d like to present here the first five pages of my novel.  This magnum opus has been over 30 years in the writing, keeps getting shelved, evolves, and may be coming into its time.  I call it “speculative fiction,” describing visions that leap-frog over the Armageddon the sooth-sayers are so ominously predicting.

It’s About Time, Bud, Beon and the Bots, begins with “Joe’s Nightmare.”  Protagonist Joe and his doctor friend Marian are sitting at Mack’s  Bar and Grill on a busy Friday night.

I present this opening here, to WordPress friends and would-be friends, seeking correspondence of ideas and imagination.  I hope to entertain, tell a story, express a philosophy, and inspire the forces of vitality to all who are touched by it.

CHAPTER 1

JOE’S NIGHTMARE

Marian glared at Joe, but he didn’t see.  He was slouched low in the booth, staring at his beer. His faded white shirt hung loose over thin shoulders.  His brown eyes, usually bright and inquisitive, were dark, brooding, and sad as those of an old, dying dog.  His eyelids drooped, and even his large, floppy ears seemed to sag.  Marian chuckled at his woeful appearance.  Joe’s eyes didn’t move.

Her eyes followed his to the glass, then scanned the room.  Mack’s Bar and Grill was hopping, the Friday night crowd jubilant and loud.  Tiffany lamps interspersed with hanging plants sparked with bejeweled light.  The misted window beside their booth gleamed with trails of glittering raindrops outside.  Mack’s mirror collection covered the walls, giving an impression of friendly spaciousness that Marian found refreshing.

As people swarmed, eerie, surreal shadows played across Joe’s face.  Televisions with muted sound in front and back showed sports highlights.  A dank, musty smell rose with moist heat from the milling bodies.

Marian leaned back and closed her eyes, absorbing the lively mood.  Occasional bursts of laughter here and there rolled over her like waves.  A loud gruffaw from the center of the room startled her, but Joe’s eyes remained fixed on his glass.

She sat up and sipped her wine, watching her strange friend.  As narrow as a line in his personal life, Joe was a genius when it came to science.  More than a genius, he was a wizard.

But tonight even the bubbles in Joe’s beer showed more signs of life.  “Joe!” she almost, but not quite, shouted.  He jumped.  His knee hit the booth’s underside and jostled the glass, but he caught it before the first drop spilled. He held the beer and glared at her.

“Where are you?”  she asked.

“I’m here, of course,” he retorted.  “I live inside my body.”  He put finger to pulse with a flourish and closed his eyes. “My heart is slowing now,” he finally said.  “Had me worried for a minute, a minute and six seconds, to be exact. It was racing at 144 beats, after you so rudely interrupted my experiment, but it has calmed to a mere 86.”

He released his wrist and blew on the chilly glass.  “I would fog a mirror if I had one, so I appear to be breathing.  Would you like to see? I didn’t bring my blood pressure cuff, this time, but perhaps you have one in your purse.”  He chugged half the beer and thunked the glass on the table.

“What experiment?” Marian asked.

Joe gave her a disgusted look.  “I was calculating the volume of air coming out of an invisible speck.  I was counting the bubbles, of course, to multiply their spherical volume by the number.  Then, I was going to add another speck and keep track of its air volume.  From that I was going to determine how much CO2 was dissolved in my beer to see what effect it might have on global warming.  Why?”

Marian sighed.  “I wondered if something was wrong.”

“Nothing but the ruin of my experiment.”  He chugged the rest of the beer.  “Another scientific failure.  Now we may never know how we could save the world by dissolving more carbon dioxide in beer and drinking fast.”

He waved his glass high in the air, exposing a thin wrist bounded by a frayed white cuff.  A passing hand with rings on every finger swept past and escaped with glass on tray, leaving a trail of french-fry smell. When the next beer arrived, Joe slumped into bubble-counting position, his head at eye level with the glass.  His feet struggled to find room under the table.

“Quit kicking if you want me to be quiet.”

“OK,” he said.  “Sorry.”

Marian was left to her thoughts.  Marian wasn’t sure when she first noticed Joe.  Like a cloud, he had eased into her awareness, emerging as if from thin air, until one afternoon he was sitting on a barstool at Mack’s in full flesh, still and silent, his stiff brown hair forming spikes around his head, unshaved chin jutting over a coffee mug. He sipped coffee and stared at the back bar mirror, which revealed the scene behind him, of booths, mirrors, and windows lining the restaurant’s long side.

Over the ensuing weeks, Marian noticed Joe sitting on the same stool every afternoon, drinking coffee, staring into the mirror above the bar.  She liked relaxing at Mack’s, too, where she, exhausted from a long day of writing prescriptions and ministering to other people’s ailments, could let Mack alleviate suffering instead.  Most days she watched, sipping herbal tea at her favorite barstool near the cash register.  Here, she and Mack exchanged ideas on economics, as he collected low-overhead money for treating customers’ problems.

Mack’s Bar and Grill was an independent country, the front door claimed, the “State of Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism.”  It pictured a lion with Mack’s face lapping beer out of a mug.  It declared Mack’s roar the “Loudest in the Land.”  So far, no one had challenged his independence, and the local police were some of his best citizens.

Mack claimed the lion was the ideal free market capitalist, king of the jungle, who sleeps 20 hours a day, eats two hours, and makes whoopie the remaining two.  Also, he gets his harem to do the hunting and killing for him. Mack complained that Linda, his wife, didn’t understand lion thinking.  She thought he was too fat.  “You have to work for your supper,” she told him.  As for the harem, she only smiled and shook her head.

Until the day Marian noticed Mack’s limp, she could have believed Joe knew only three words.  “Just coffee, Mack,” was all he said.

But Marian’s interest in Mack’s arthritis brought Joe out of his trance.  He jumped into their conversation and regaled them for nearly an hour on the anatomy of the knee, physiology of muscles, histology of bones, the causes of inflammation, and all the current treatments.  Marian was awed, because he was accurate in every detail, and his knowledge seemed infinite.

Who is this strange creature, she wondered.  He looks like he lives in the street.  Over time she found that his aloof manner discouraged personal questions, but Joe was always eager to discuss medicine, technology, and science.  Now Marian took his wizardry for granted and followed him from topic to topic with delight.

“How do you know so much?” she asked tonight.

Joe’s eyes didn’t waver from the glass.  “I’m a curious person,” he said.  “I read a lot.”

Suddenly, a hot dish of fried calamari landed in front of Marian.  Joe looked up.  He glared at the calamari.

Marian offered Joe a sample but knew in advance his answer.  He knew everything about squid, except the taste.  He explained its biology, physiology, anatomy, life cycle, mating habits, and preferred habitats the last time she ordered calamari.

“Fried food is bad for you,” he said now.

“That’s what they say,” Marian replied.  She dipped an offending morsel into tzaziki sauce and popped it in her mouth.  “But I believe in homeopathic doses of lard, from time to time.”

Joe’e eyes followed her hand, glanced at the TV screen, at Mack behind the bar, then looked briefly at Marian’s face before settling back on the beer. He spoke as if to the bubbles. “I had a nightmare,” he said, his voice barely audible.

Marian laughed.  “Is that why you’re so gloomy?  I thought it was something serious.

Joe ignored her.  Marian sighed.

“Is there anything I can do?” she asked.

“Shoot me,” he said.  “That might help.”

Sermon on the Mound

CHURCH OF THE HOLIER THAN THOU, INCORPORATED

A for-profit religion where nothing is sacred, and human sacrifice is obligatory

 SERMON ON THE MOUND
Eve of 2007

The following sermon was delivered at a 2007 New Year’s Eve bonfire

burncollage0706

Dear Worried Souls:

Take Heart! the Worst is yet to come.  Witness this miserable mound of machine age offal.  Wasted resources compounded daily–advertising, packaging, junk mail, paperwork, broken equipment—a sorry heap of worthless Trash reviled by all.  The costs have become unbearable.

It does not live so cannot die.  We must dispose of it anyway, and we aim for the Sky.  We plead for help from the great Mother Earth and Father Sun. Open our senses to the stench of Burning Plastic.  Burn our Lungs with Particulates and Smoke. Singe our eyes with the Motes we scatter.  Spread sparks of Common Sense wherever Smog may go.

On this eve, the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated ignites this sacrificial pyre, in humble apology to the Planet we call Home.  As long as we can live and breathe on this speck of Cosmic Dust, we give Thanks for our Success and Vow to Make Sin Pay.

Thank you, Mother Earth, for deflating false profits and reducing their costs. Our debt to you is incalculable.

Thank you, Father Sun, for your clean nuclear power, the solar system’s eternal source of centralized energy output.

The Loving Lambs of Church of the Holier than Thou, Inc. have watched in Horror as the TechnoDemons befouled the Earth.  Their numbers numbed us.  Their profits (er . . . prophets) preached Winning by Losing, and promised Eternal Hell.  Machine Noise rocked the planet and rattled the Tectonic Plates.  We Bleated in Horror, Fear, and Rage, but there was Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.   We prayed for Peace and Quiet.

We sighed as they Drowned Porpoises, Paved Neighborhoods, Spilled Oil, Dumped Chemicals, Bulldozed Wildernesses, Polluted Oceans, Pipelined Tundra, Gobbled up Farms, Obscured the Stars, and Obliterated the Sounds of Birds and Breeze.  We cried for Mercy as Global Temperatures Rose, Tempers Flared, Ice Caps Melted, the Ozone layer dissipated, and Dynamite collapsed mountains and hills.  We watched Mutations and Health Problems Created for Profit and spreading like Cancer.  We searched in Vain for Recycling centers, Compost piles, and Locally produced goods.

This Mound of Refuse–papers, plastics, boxes, wraps, junk mail, bubbles, baubles and bills–represents countless Murdered Trees and Earthly Treasures that died for junk mail, propaganda, advertising, photo-ops, cellophane, and disposable containers.  Swallowed in the glut (er  . . . gut) of Human Consumption, these plundered assets Writhe in Pain.  Their pitiful Pleas reach us from Roadsides and Garbage cans, raising Taxes for waste removal.  “Stop this Plague upon our Souls,” they cry in tortured sobs.

We at the Church of the Holier than Though, Incorporated, know a Natural Solution when we see one.  We will find a way to uplift this junk into Something Useful, so we can Make Sin Pay.

Yes, the Savvy Saints of the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated have lit the solar flares, at last, but we are weary, wary of yet another trick, a Light too Bright to be Natural.  But Fear no longer.

The TechnoDemons’ Hot Stocks have Cooked their Geese.  The Gold weighs heavy in their Stomachs and Blocks their Bowels.  Take Pity, and sell them fresh Vegetables.

We at CHT, Inc. mean Business.  We will grow the Economy to Scale.  Green leaves and Roughage will prevail.  Put methane in cars, corn in stomachs, trans fats in wheel bearings, and soy in tofu.  Put the mercury back in thermometers and the lead back in batteries.  Shade roofs with solar panels. Generate energy from Landfill. Triple postage rates on junk mail. Clean the ditches with tax collectors. Hire prisoners instead of illegals.  Transform scrap metal to passenger trains.  Make synthetic hormones from oxidized plastic.  Sift sand for silicon.  Collect rain on roofs, or whatever it takes, to Make Sin Pay.

We Lobby you, great Mother Earth and Father Sun, to grant our request for Survival Skills Technology.  Light our way through the Sewers of Human Degradation, as we seek Natural Markets for these discarded Treasures.  We pray for a Healthy Return.

May Sparks from the Fire of this Pyre seed new Trees of Knowledge, wherever particulates drift.  Too cumbersome to be mulched, too poisoned to nourish, too diseased to be safe, this Trash has no Market Value, no place to Go but Up.

With a Match and a Blessing, the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated–where nothing is sacred and human sacrifice is obligatory– sets this Sacrificial Offering ablaze.  We Pray this Fire will spread Sparks of Enlightenment wherever the Smoke may Blow, and dispel the Mind Pollution that hides the Bottom Line.

Skull & Bones

August 19, 2017
I love my journal.  It’s the best therapist imaginable, free, doesn’t interrupt, argue, talk back, gossip, nag, or second-guess.  If more people kept journals, the world would be a saner place.

Ten years ago this month, when George W. Bush was still president, I purchased a “Collectors’ Edition” of the US News and World Report on “Secret Societies.”  The following journal entry was my take on “Skull & Bones,” the Yale club that claims the Georges Bush as members, among other famous power-brokers

secsoc0807

Sunday, August 26, 2007
katharineotto.wordpress.com
writerbeat.com

I bought a “Collector’s Edition” of the US News and World Report.  “Mysteries of History–Secret Societies.”  It has articles on the Masons, Rosicrucians, Skull & Bones, and numerous others.

Skull & Bones, the secret society at Yale that boasts multiple notable members– including George W. Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush–interests me only because it is an excellent example of a Good Ole Boy clique.  The article gives fuzzy details but for this:  Skull & Bones “puts its members through some strange activities and centers its program around ideas of death, power, and devotion to a goddess.  The influence of Skull & Bones is particularly noticeable in the area of public service, although it does no community service.”

I figure the public service is all done with other people’s money.  This is the plutocracy.  I wonder which goddess, or did they invent their own?  Is this some kind of Satanic cult American taxpayers have elected?  Is this the anti-Christ we’ve been waiting for?  Bush does walk around with a dazed look, as if he is figuring out he’s being perceived as the anti-Christ and doesn’t quite know how to play the role.

A skull and bones is the symbol for poison, so why would anyone choose to associate with a group that brags about being poisonous?  The flag that pirates carried?  I embrace life, not death.

Also, “Bones has each candidate recite his or her [?] sexual history right off the bat (September of his senior year).  By forcing them to share their most intimate confidences with each other, Skull & Bones binds its members together.”  Sounds like a cult of perverts, as well.  How does anyone know if they’re telling the truth?  Anybody ever refuse to join?

But America elected Bush, as well as others of this cult’s members.

What amazes me most is that anyone takes them seriously.  If this is what they’re learning at Yale, I withdraw my taxpayer contribution to education.

Secrecy is shame and shame secrecy.

The concept of Skull & Bones representing poison bears closer scrutiny.  My issues with public policy are strongly domestic:  The mis-management on the home turf, with poisons being pushed on people’s bodies and into the planetary ecosystem in massive quantities . . .

A more interesting article was about the Illuminati, an organization that may or may not exist, kept alive by belief that it does and that Jews are behind it.  Whether it exists is irrelevant to me.  The world is dominated by people who think they are smarter than everyone else, including each other, as current events show.  If they want to reassure each other that they are illuminated, just because they want it to be true, fine with me.  Just don’t expect me to pay for it.

Now Skull & Bones makes a big deal of public service with other people’s money, in true Plutonian style.

I would really like to know which goddess they pray to.  No wonder public policy feels like a gangbang.  Not enough women to go around.

I suspect they are all homosexuals and pedophiles, anyway.  Maybe the goddess they pray to is the one who can give them erections.  Someone more exciting than little boys.

skullbonesshield0807

Their symbolism is interesting.  They adapt several masonic symbols having to do with building.   There are three “5”s in a triangle on their shield, which is a coffin.

They have west facing up – sunset – a 90-degree counter-clockwise shift of the south pole in a horoscope.

So that’s what we’re seeing on the world stage:  a group of self-proclaimed world leaders intentionally leading the world into self-destruction.  It makes no sense to me.

These people think they are smart?