Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category

Tranquilizing Tubular Tabbies: Furry Sedatives for the Airborne

Forget about Snakes on a Plane. Cats on a plane is where it’s at.

Air travel can be fraught with lengthy TSA lines, final boarding calls and piddling little snacks even the Donner party would refuse. And that’s why after a whole minute of careful consideration, I propose the FAA reduce stress levels to the flying public by mandating that at least one highly trained service cat be placed aboard all domestic flights of over 2 hours. These soothing service kitties will go a long way toward tranquilizing a fuselage full of jittery passengers. I mean who among us would not be comforted to board a plane full of calming cats and watch the fur fly?

 

If boutique bookstores can have cats lolling languidly about the hardcovers, reminding us of our tranquil nature, why shouldn’t 737s have cats on seat backs and tray tables reminding us that maybe humans were meant to fly after all? What better way to soothe a fuselage full of fidgety fliers than to have a serene service cat entertain and relax them just by their presence. Each cat would be fully trained and tailored to their mission. For example, on overseas flights to Asia the airlines would employ Siamese Cats. In flights to Transylvania, Air Romania would use Scaredy Cats and in flying to San Francisco they’d use cats suffering from gender dysphoria. You get the idea. Heck, in Egypt, whose culture lionizes cats already, Egypt Air has actually qualified cats to fly in the 2 seat. And while lionizing cats may seem redundant, it’s more sensible than hero worshiping at a deli.  

 

Much like service dogs, these specially trained cats would be very companionable and instead of wearing vests that read “Service Dog, Do Not Pet”, they’d wear vests saying, “Service Cat, Do Not Lick.” That is, except when they’re in Ireland flying on Aer Lingus. On Aer Lingus using your tongue is not only acceptable, but is actually encouraged. As you can probably sense, the rollout of this “Flying Tigers” program will be problematic – littered with litter and filled with fur balls. 

 

Not just any cat would be allowed to join this litter box version of the mile-high club. Qualified fuselage felines would be composed, mature cats who’d pitter-patter down the aisle with their tails high and their dander low. Vetting these little flying tigers would be rigorous. But who would do the vetting? Why veterinarians of course. But not just any veterinarians. Retired military veterinarians. In other words, veteran veterinarians would vet. Read the rest of this entry »

Osgood Stickler: Modern Day Truant Officer

A fresh, young face in the exciting field of Truancy Enforcement. Don’t be late. Start your career today. But seriously, be on time. It’s one of the requirements. 

Hello everyone, my name is Osgood Stickler, and in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a stickler. My father was a stickler and his father was a Stickler. He’d better be. He was born Johann Stickler in Bavaria. Well, in Munich actually. In fact he was born in a second floor back bedroom on 1352 Manheim Strasse in Munich at a latitude of 48° 8′ 13.7544” N and a longitude of 11° 34′ 34.0464” E. See, I really am a stickler. So is it any wonder I’d gravitate toward the not-quite-a-policeman field of a Truancy Enforcement – a profession to which my persnickety nature and exacting expectations are well-suited? Some might argue that if my last name was Vlasic I’d gravitate to a job in the field of cucumbers. But it’s not. So I’m a Stickler, not a pickler. 

 

Now there’s a vast difference between a stickler and a person who suffers from OCD. I’m the normal one. I don’t nitpick. Oh sure I might enjoy coloring inside the lines more than your average bear, but then again, what do we really know about average bears, let alone how they might color something. It has always been my tenet that if you do your duty and keep your nose clean, you’ll succeed. And it’s not just the nose. It’s other body parts too. But I think it’s important to start with the nose…and maybe include the ears. Basically you should keep clean any uncovered body part another person can see. The hidden parts, not so much – unless they start to smell worse than your average bear, but then again, what do we really know about the smell of average bears?  

 

My interest in enforcing truancy laws began in the early 80’s when Dr. Stephen Hawking’s less cosmic brother Ralph, published his groundbreaking book A Brief History of Truancy. Alright, it was groundbreaking to me at least. In this special interest book Ralph Hawking deconstructs the salient epochs of truancy and brilliantly relates the enforcement of attendance requirements to the universe as a whole. In this masterly tome, Ralph Hawking traces a general history of absenteeism, enforced attendance and just plain being AWOL. It’s broken down by distinct Truancy eras:

  1. Truancy in Later Hominids: 40,000 BC-10,000 BC
  2. Truancy Before the Beatles: 10,000 BC-1963
  3. The Beatles: 1964-1970
  4. Truancy, Truancy, Truancy: Truancy in the time of Marcia Brady: 1971-1974
  5. Truancy in the time of Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: 1975-present

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Someone’s Gotta Do This. And I Am that Someone.

A Pandora’s Box of temptations? Pearls of Wisdom from a cultured oyster? English expressions of ephemeral ideas? A disgorgement of mental freneticism? A Hobson’s Choice to be sure.

It is often said that to lead a happy life you should, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” I get that. But with a twist. What brings me joy is to, “Write like nobody’s reading.” And based upon my Google Analytics of late, that statement has never been truer. There’s no denying what brings us joy. The heart wants what the heart wants.

So as I bathe myself in literary pixie dust in preparation for a writer’s journey into rapture, I find myself in my element. I’ve got my backlit keyboard, my predatory imagination and I’ve just cracked open a fresh ginger-hibiscus kombucha. I’m not only in my element, I’ve become an element: Hardimanium – a rare psychoactive literary element consisting of all Higgs bosons and a knowing smirk.

Now as I gently loosen the tethers mooring me to conventional and unspectacular wisdom, I feel the motivating presence of a million eyes not reading this. Such exquisite freedom. My gatekeepers have been put on administrative leave and in their absence no bureaucratic censor exists to burden my thoughts. The swirling excesses of my cerebral vortices are tamed only by the limits of the English language. 

Yes, it’s the perfect literary storm and the NWS (No, not the National Weather Service, but the Narcotized Writers’ Sanctuary) is calling for a lacerating Category 5 hurricane once the literary storm travels up your optic nerve and saturates your consciousness. But please don’t evacuate yourself just yet. I promise to keep you securely within the eye of Hurricane David, at an observationally safe distance from its high-velocity humor and killer premises. You might get a little wet, but that’s only in keeping with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who mused so eloquently: “Into each life some rain must fall.”

I thank you for the absence of your presence. How else can I write so uninhibitedly?

 

Cutting and Pasting My Inner Dialogue

What if the Pep Boys were Impressionists and not Auto Parts bobble heads? Instead of Manny, Moe and Jack, they’d be Manet, Monet and Jacques.

 

Are there boats that ship dead people to ports of final call? And if so, would that ship be a place where corpses are berthed? Cuz I would think it would be pretty difficult to berth a corpse…I mean the gestation period alone.

 

Amazing Feet: Marathoner wins race 7 years running.  

 

So I guess “new train smell” is just something I’ll never experience.

 

Things not often thought about: At the height of his popularity Elvis was drafted into the Army. And he actually had to go. No dispensation for the King of Rock & Roll. Can anyone imagine Eminem or Jay-Z having had to serve a 2 year hitch in the Army? “Nope, I’m sorry Mr. Mathers you’ll need to guard an ammo dump at Fort Benning for a couple of years.” Or…”Tough luck Shawn Carter, these potatoes won’t peel themselves here at Camp Granada.”   

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Disney Reinvents Vacation Bible Schools

Separation of Church and State – yes. But nowhere does it say anything about separation of Church and Mouse. Witness Disney’s all new Promised Land theme park.

These days most kids view Vacation Bible Schools as a sentence to endure rather than a vacation to enjoy. They hope to avoid the drudgery of Deuteronomy by kidsplainin’ to their parents, “C’mon mom, there’s an app for it now.” For many people, Vacation + Bible + School just doesn’t add up. While to some it’s a celebration of scripture, to others it’s a well-intentioned holiday in hell. Separately each word of Vacation Bible School has great merit.  

Vacation: Good. Who doesn’t like a nice long vacation?

Bible: Also Good. Even though today’s modern reader must factor-in the ancient mindset of the benighted authors of the day who had no idea Tater Tots would forever change the way we think about potatoes.  

School: Mostly good. It’s an educational place where you can learn important things like how to ask out girls without having your voice crack.  

So separately the words are all good. But put them all together and what have you got – a recipe for “Is my sentence up yet?”

I doesn’t matter what you call it: Bible Boot Camp, a Vacation with God or a Holiday in Heaven, the words Vacation, Bible and School just don’t fit together – kind of like Reasonable Attorney Fees or Non-Stop Flight. So what is to be done about Vacation Bible Schools’ sagging attendance by an increasingly secular audience? As you might expect, the Walt Disney Company has an answer.   Read the rest of this entry »

St. Peter Reissues CC&Rs for the Gated Community Known as Heaven

“Just let me check your credentials and I’ll let you right in. You do have your credentials, right?”

While it’s true that Heaven’s eligibility requirements have remained unaltered since God first sneezed the Cosmos into existence 15 billion years ago (6,000 years ago for my orthodox Christian friends), a growing chorus of HOA members have begun to proclaim the right to print their own Golden Ticket to Heaven. HOA President-for-life and creator of the gated community, our Almighty Lord, was at a loss to explain the misunderstanding – especially since he thought he’d been preaching to the chorus the whole time. Through his chosen emissary and longtime Pearly Gate bouncer St. Peter, the Lord reminded us that, “The laws of the Cosmos are unbending and universally applicative. There isn’t some ‘Yeah, well Heaven’s requirements might apply to faceless masses toiling in the fields, but surely not to sophisticated, self-aware souls like me who were into the whole craft beer thing before it became mainstream’.” 

St. Peter went on to explain: “There is no work around for entitled souls that will catapult their privileged asses into the vault of Heaven. Your karmic résumé must reflect balance, otherwise you’ll be catapulted back into another birth till you wake up and smell the karma. Sometimes it stinks to high heaven and other times it’s your best friend to break you out of the illusion of separateness. It will even out. It must. It does. These are not my laws inasmuch as they are the laws. Don’t blame the messenger. I’m just passing it on. This link may be of aid: Paths to God (not preachy) Read the rest of this entry »

A Laplander’s Lament

No Joke: This is Lapland’s Coat of Arms. Why he’s almost naked is beyond comprehension as is the cold up here in “The Land that Heat Forgot.”

Hallå, my name is Dàvvet Østend and I live in Lapland – the frozenest place on earth. Actually “live” might not be the operative word to describe existence here. “Survive” might be a better word. Lapland is an icy and forbidding landscape located on the fringes of Scandinavia, well north of the Arctic Circle, where nothing should be located except imaginary lines and Norse mythologies. Lapland is not a God forsaken land. It’s just a forsaken land – God doesn’t even bother with us. Neither does Google. They won’t even map us. Then again, aren’t God and Google really the same thing, except Google knows more about you than God does?  

 

Lost in Frost

Growing up here in “the land that heat forgot” my body temperature never rose above 95°. Hypothermia was the norm and 95° was the new 98.6°. I lamented the depths of my frozen plight to wise old Uncle Anders. And this esteemed tribal elder bestowed upon me his Nordic wisdom, born of years of frigid deprivation: “You see Dàvvet, up here in Lapland, we’re all just in between bowel movements. No more, no less.” As I slowly backed away from my dear old uncle I realized that the constant cold had left both his philosophies and his potatoes half-baked. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bible: If It was Written by…

 

… IT Technicians

Genesis: The Book of DOS

Inspiration is where you find it. Interpretation is quite another thing.

In the Beginning there were vacuum tubes. And from that darkness emerged transistors. And God swept over the face of these primitive semiconductors and lo, the silicon chip did appear. The Almighty, whilst toiling in his garage in the constellation of Palo Alto Minor, did build his Earthly platform from whatever he had laying around: chicken wire, roofing shingles and old Playboy magazines. Yea verily. He built it he did. And he saw that it was good. And on that first day of Build 1.0 he proclaimeth the Earth as an ethically-sourced, sustainably-produced, fair-wage platform suitable for populating with his children. And so it was. And he programmed them so that they were fruitful and multiplied. Some fruitier than others – especially in the area known as San Francisco.

But all was not kosher in Denmark. His vast design was soon deconstructed and copied by angels who had fallen from the vault of heaven and became known as “hackers.” They pirated his Will and twisted it into a gross caricature of his original intent. Thus was born Original Malware. And so the world grew, strewn with good and bad which was expressed as long strings of 1’s and 0’s. The once pristine World Wide Web, a platform of limitless potential, had become a saturated thicket of cat videos and ads for penis-hardeners. And mankind began to lose his identity and fall back into the illusion of his separateness from his source. So much so that when purchasing things online, he was required to tell Big Brother, “I am not a robot.” Man reminding his father he is not a robot – how poignant. Read the rest of this entry »

New Netflix Series Reviewed

Internet (Net) and movies (flix, for the flickering light once associated with silent movies) have been combined in a cuckoo hip way to form what we know as Netflix. I pray you understand that.

As a savvy and demanding public of cord cutters continues to fragment the entertainment industry, Netflix has attempted valiantly to reconnect these fragments with prestige shows featuring ever more obscure premises. For example my neighbor Sam is actually in contract with Netflix for a show called Guess What I had for Dinner Last Night? And although the shows thin premise will appeal to a demographic limited to the people in Sam’s immediate household, apparently Netflix’s business model has found a way to make it profitable. These are shows you’ll never see on network TV because, ummm, who sees network TV anymore. Well that and the gratuitous use of swear words.

As a man of serious leisure and humorous disposition, I’ve taken the time to catalogue and review this year’s offerings from Netflix so you may more productively spend your hard-earned discretionary time. Incidentally, if Netflix finds this presentation entertaining, they say they’ll finance a series called It’s Fun to Play Make Believe Featuring David Hardiman and His Imaginary Friends.     

And so it is with lightly-bridled joy and many grains of salt I take great pleasure in presenting my review of new Netflix series.   

 

I Married an Eggplant

After matrimonial laws are changed in Massachusetts, vegetarian Trudy Lessing marries a very special eggplant from her secret garden. All is not well however in the Garden of Trudy when Roger (the eggplant) develops second thoughts about their marriage when he discovers Trudy is a vegetarian and is eating all his brothers and sisters. In an effort to improve their relationship Trudy becomes a strict carnivore, but then runs afoul of her militant PETA friends. It’s just one thing after another as no good deed goes unpunished in this odd couple romance. In Season 2 Episode 8 Trudy discovers Roger spooning with a curvy cucumber which leads to a very awkward threesome. In the season finale the Animal and Plant Kingdom become one when Trudy gives birth to a well-adjusted baby “egg man.” And when a teary-eyed Roger first holds his little sprig of joy he sings, “You are the egg man, goo goo g’joob.”       Read the rest of this entry »

Hardiman Reviews Designer Marijuana

Today’s thermonuclear pot pellets will take the top of your head off if you’re not careful. So be careful. Here’s how.

Reefer madness is back in a big and legal way and agribusiness (or the Agri-ceutical Business as I call it) is scrambling to expand their market share by creating more designer strains of weed than you can shake a ganja stick at. In appealing to recreational users in underserved niches growers have formulated some highly customized experiences bordering on the absurd. Accordingly, this sincere satirization of those formulations also borders on the absurd and is in keeping with the general weirdness of marijana experiences to begin with. So even though this is a work of fiction, it’s never too far from reality.

My purported purpose (yes – a purported purpose) in writing this piece is to help the uninitiated select a designer pot that’s right for them. Having said that (I love to say that), my real purpose is to generate the knowing smirk we all exhibit when we become momentarily free from years of accumulated struggles. For some it takes the power of an NDE (Near Death Experience) to convince us that all is not as it seems. But usually this knowing smirk is generated more prosaically.

For example sometimes this kind of liberating interruption visits us when we’re right in the middle of doing something very human – as in this case, optimizing our reefer choices. Perhaps your knowing smirk may appear between sentences, or maybe as you look away from the words and all your pretense vanishes. It may not come at all even though you know it’s there. Sometimes you just can’t get there until you’ve plowed through enough of life’s buffeting experiences and finally surrender into, “Alright. Enough already. I get it.” And then we may get that window on the marvel behind all creation – and this isn’t the pot talking either.

I’m holding out for a lot here, and the medium I’ve chosen (a silly faux review of designer pot) is perhaps not the most direct route to this level of self-awareness, however rest assured, whether you feel it or not, it’s all happening anyway – is this coming through? Alright I’ll get on with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Just Because It’s There, Doesn’t Mean I Have to Climb It: On Not Climbing Everest

They paid to do this. A mule train of mountaineers searching for their peak experience on Mount Everest.

Mount Everest is 29,000 ft. tall, but assaulting the summit actually begins at Base Camp which is at 18,000 feet. So in reality it’s an 11,000 ft. climb. But please, do not think I’m trying to diminish this redoubtable feat. Far from it. Successfully summiting Everest involves a mighty confluence of endurance, planning, money and oxygen. And let us not forget that even though Base Camp is at a lofty 18,000 ft., airplane oxygen masks drop down at 14,000 ft. – that is, “in the unlikely event of cabin depressurization.”

 

And not too diminish the majesty of Mount Everest; but due to a geologic quirk in the earth’s Jello-ey innards, Everest is not even the highest point on earth. That distinction belongs to Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, sticking up at a pedestrian 20,703 ft. So even though Mount Everest has a higher cardinal altitude, Chimborazo has the distinction of being the “highest mountain or point above Earth’s center,” because Earth is not a sphere. It’s an oblate spheroid and bulges in certain areas (like most of us do) rendering Mount Chimborazo “closer” to outer space than Mount Everest.

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