Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category

♫ A Day in My Life ♫


Don’t think. Just remember.

It’s 1969. AD. I’m 8 years old and happily ensconced all alone in the cozy confines of my downstairs game room where I’m playing pool and groovin’ (yes, groovin’) to Beatles music on our state-of-the-art Magnavox Quadraphonic stereoI’m the best company a boy can have. And the beauty part is I’m never without me. And while I appreciate the company of other people, I especially like mine. I always seem to know exactly what I want to do and I never have to wait around for me to show up so I can do it. I’ve always been there for me. I have no choice. And being with myself in this special way (in the basement shooting pool and listening to the Beatles) was like a divinely choreographed yogic practice.


Sometimes the downstairs game room became my sacred subterranean sweat lodge. A place where I’d forget the world and remember myself. A place where sinking the 9-ball in the corner pocket would take on new meaning when set against the backdrop of John Lennon’s seductive lyrics, “I’d love to tuuurn yooou ooon.” Here in this sacred little kingdom I began to resonate with the background radiation of the universe. Tucked so serenely beneath the predictable tumult of a chattering world, life’s challenges didn’t need to be overcome because they didn’t exist; having disappeared into the side pocket by a combination of my trusty pool cue and a satisfyingly eerie dose of A Day in the Life. This downstairs sanctuary became a swirling meditation of colliding spheres and enchanting sounds – a microcosm of the universe with me at the center of my own time zone. And, like an ordinary iceberg whose superficial display belies its unseen massivity beneath, you’d have no idea any of this exalted stuff was going on if you happened to be outside looking in.


When the ethereal opening strains of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds began to permeate the overly-paneled game room, I’m transported to (or reassume) that naturally happy place I remember from before. And like the uncontaminated soul I was, I just assumed everyone was familiar with this place. As an 8-year-old you assume a lot of things and loving ubiquity is one of them. It’s a wonderful life when there’s nothing to fear. Judgments morph into ♫cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over your head.♫ I was still open to the possibility of all things. Or should I say I wasn’t closed to the possibility of things yet. My hard case (aka my cranium) had not ossified sufficiently to block out the honeyed joy of my source. The Beatles helped me remember that place – the place I had left just 8 years earlier. Sgt. Pepper’s had a way of evoking that memory.


There was something so magical and mysterious about some of those Beatle songs. In a very cool and unintentional way they were pointing to a more substantial place. Not this clunky earth, which I admit is a great place if you’re suffering from RPS – Restless Penis Syndrome. But it still seems so makeshift and temporary – like some kind of put-up job for me to buy into and play my part. I can’t explain it (obviously). And I don’t know why I interpret it as I do. It’s not like I took any hallucinatory drug (unless you count a couple sleeves of Oreo’s). There was nothing cross-wired in my head beyond a preternatural urge to rediscover that power behind the curtain. Put another way; as welcomed as my mother’s corned beef hash and eggs were (and they were f*ckin’ awesome) no earthly attraction could contend with the calling of a million suns yearning to radiate from my pineal gland. Y’know, that place just behind where the Hindus put that red dot. Well they put it there for a reason.


The Beatles spiritually incendiary songs didn’t seem to be so much created, as they were plucked whole, from a vast ocean of shared experience and presented as the sonic essence of the unseen multiverses at work – not an easy thing for a thin vinyl disc to do. Circling the pool table with what seemed like the cunning mastery of a seasoned pool shark, I absorbed the insistent musical expressions of those Liverpudlian minstrels and felt clothed in the immense power of a warm and knowing presence.  


So all this is going on in my head while I’m stroking billiard balls on my grandfather’s pool table. The green felt pool table we inherited when he died in 1969. Shoot pool and grove to the vibe. It’s all I wanted to do. It’s all I needed to do – I didn’t need to Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out. I didn’t need to Be Here Now. I Was There Then. I knew. I remembered.


After a spell, this tendril of easy rapture would retreat. And in various turns I’d try to recall it, like those colorful snowfalls I remembered from the other place. Back within the klutzy confines of monochromatic earth I was crestfallen to see white snow falling. Especially when I knew the colorful snowflakes were just a click away. After a rousing session of enlightening BeatlesPool in the downstairs kiva, I loathed to reenter the bumptious outside world of drama, calamity and ♫silly people who run around and disagree and never win and wonder why they don’t get past my door.♫ From where I reposed in the buoyant joy of my downstairs amniotic sac, it was getting better all the time. All else was either intrusive or a pale imitation of what it could be. But it was the only game in town – at least the town of Syracuse where I lived.


My downstairs basement (as opposed to the upstairs basement) was, at times, a serene and contemplatively glorious Walden Pond where I played Walden Pool. With enough Oreos I could hold out there all night. I’d groove to the grooves on the 331/3 rpm LPs I stacked one atop another. I felt supremely alone and yet totally connected – the sublime contradiction undressed. My brother or sister might come home from a night out. They’d bound down the stairs and I’d see their whole experience before me while my sonic séance was unfolding in the sanctum of my groovy grotto. I inherently understood their scene (their concerns, their loveliness, our shared experience being in the same family). It wasn’t the 8-year-old that knew this, but rather the soul (call it what you will) within that understood it all while it revolved at 331/3 rpms.


I was fairly pure back then and seeing things as they were wasn’t anything I tried to do – it was just done. Inherent. As time marched on I accreted the obfuscating rime of everyday life – its praises, its patterns, its reproofs – and the next thing you know old Jed’s a millionaire. That’s not exactly what I meant to say, but you know what I mean. You can fill in the blanks. Remember them? I know you do. It’s twilight. You’re in a small body looking out the window at all the colorful snowflakes falling from the sky. Your dad pulls into the driveway. There’s an outline of presents in the back seat. Presents for everyone. Your best angels are right there and you remember yourself.


Anyway, it’s something like that. Be happy I (or anyone else) can’t describe transcendence in its full dimensional clarity – it’s better than that. Its grace to be savored and experienced, not understood through direct observational perception. It’s that thing you forgot you knew. But don’t worry. Don’t ever worry. The amnesia is only temporary. Meanwhile how about a game of pool? I’ll put on some records. I’ve got’em on mp3 now. And no talking. We’ll just shoot billiards and listen to the waves on Walden Pool.

“News of the Universe” Reports a Stunning Discovery in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

News of the Universe is a weekly digest of newsworthy events materializing in the entirety of our Cosmos. It is published by the Powers that Be – a subsidiary of the Almighty. News of the Universe has been covering everything in God’s creation since before the Big Bang. Yes, they’ve been reporting ever since that lesser publicized, but very enabling Little Bang got the whole singularity expanding in the year 3000 BBB (Before the Big Bang).


As one might expect, News of the Universe (NOTU) is a star-studded publication with a stellar reputation and an astronomical reach to its far flung, extra-terrestrial audience. It’s available everywhere except on Rigel-7, where Wi-Fi is spotty owing to disruptions in the space-time continuum courtesy of renegade Black Holes that simply refuse to play by the settled laws of physics. News of the Universe is a decorated periodical that has won a Parsec Pulitzer Prize for blowing the lid off unseen, hypothetical matter and exposing the truth about this invisible material in their spotlight series Dark Matter Matters.


The following article is the second most popular article from this week’s publication with over 38 X 1065 hits. In case you were wondering, the most popular and ogled section was the Alien Illustrated Swimsuit issue. 


From News of the Universe May 4th 2023:



Miracle in the Milky Way


~ Billions of Humans Found Alive on Planet Earth! ~

The planet earth, previously believed to be incinerated in the Milky Way’s supernova of 1054, has been found intact and teeming with 8 billion so-called humans, living unsupervised in something they call a “society.” The cosmic hierarchy was stunned to find these orphaned children of God mostly healthy and seemingly insensible to their predicament. The rediscovery was made quite by accident when heavenly accountant Coopers & Lybrand’s was performing their annual inventory of the 2 trillion galaxies for the Almighty. Read the rest of this entry »

Stonehenge Unhinged

I love my little ancient clock.

Stonehenge, the most overbuilt monument to ancient calendaring ever created, would’ve been one of the Seven Wonders of the World if its boosters had only been a bit more spirited. Instead, their efforts flagged and the richly deserving, colossal chronometer landed at #8. It was squeezed out of the coveted 7 spot by the underwhelming and easily curated Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It hardly seems fair.


In 800 BC, Mesopotamia wasn’t so much a nanny state as it was a nursery state. This trifling Wonder of forced landscaping was really nothing more than Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II ordering his duty-bound subjects to dangle floral greenery from public buildings like so much Banksy graffiti. Then they all genuflected in dutiful awe at the Royal Gardener’s 40,000 drooping spider plants. “Our King has the greenest thumb in all of the Fertile Crescent.” they crowed in mandatory praise. Big Deal I say. Growing thousands of house plants on patios in warm weather is no Wonder.


Compare this leisurely horticultural jamboree to the triumphant feat of the underfed and overburdened Druids. They built a massive sun-earth clock by heroically hefting 25-tonne stones in a precise geometric configuration that is still accurate today. Yet as great as Stonehenge’s celestial clock is (and don’t tell the Druids this), I hear it’s about 10 minutes fast. But still, they accomplished this zodiacal timekeeping in 2500 BC, using only rudimentary tools and without any Claritin to be had in all of the shires. They withstood such hardships with stoic grace and drippy noses. And in the end, nobody wanted to vote for the achievement of a bunch of snot-nosed hooded pagans. Instead, the 1878 Seven Wonders Committee chose Middle Eastern couscous over Middle England’s mucous.


Stonehenge’s exclusion seemed preordained owing to the clout of the 19th century Nursery Lobby (you can’t make this stuff up – although I am). Stonehenge’s supporters were few and feeble – just some Quarrymen from Liverpool who threw their inconsiderable weight behind Stonehenge. Plus, their marketing pitch was less than stellar: Visit Stonehenge: The Gloomiest Place on Earth.  Because of marketing blunders like these on the part of Stonehenge’s boosters, it’s no wonder it’s no Wonder. Read the rest of this entry »

Jokenetic Testing Proves It – I’m the Funny Father

Everyone thought this batch of newly birthed jokes were unrelated – orphaned one-offs tossed out into the jokesphere by any number of anonymous quipsters. However, through forensic jokenetic testing, 23 and Me proved beyond a cackle of doubt that all these jolly jests had a common ancestor – me. Each quip had my unique comedic markers: too clever for their own good, amusing without being actually funny and mildly offensive without being redeeming.


I was initially chagrined by the charges brought in the Joketernity suit. And I vowed with insincere legalistic platitudes to “Vigorously defend my innocence and show that blah, blah, blah…” But now, having read the outstanding material contained in the suit, all I can say is…guilty as charged. I accept 23 and Me’s ironclad verdict. And since I am a responsible comedy writer, I’ll raise them as my own and pay joke support for each and every gag my fertile mind conceived. I don’t want these orphaned witticisms growing-up out on the streets, hustling for cheap laughs or getting enticed into a van by an evil jokenapper and being taken to a secondary location for hours of meaningless canned laughter.


As part of a joke-bargaining agreement I reached with the Court Jester, the court sentenced me to the opposite of a Gag Order. I was issued a Publicize Order, so my offspring jokes would see the light of day and be broadcast to as many people as possible. I’ve consented to take my offspring out on visitation days and expose them to a polite and chuckling society. In keeping with the spirit of this sentence I herewith, forthwith, and with withering wherewithal present my witticisms to the world.


Like a vegetarian mathematician, may these jokes be fruitful and multiply:


These are All My Children


The Lambshank Redemption


Lambshank Prison: Prison dieticians who fed prisoners shredded coconut found their recidivism rate no different from prisoners who were fed slivered almonds; thus concluding, “They’re both kinda nuts.” Read the rest of this entry »

Should I Get Onboard with Amtrak?

Some say being a lover of trains is a choice. Others say it’s an interest you’re just born with. This argument is often applied to other deeply-seated orientations. The point is, I can no longer deny my interest in trains and I choose to express it publicly, despite the risk of becoming a social outcast. I believe my passion for trains is healthy and hip, but the trainophobic think I’m off the rails here. They worry I’ve become trainsgendered. For too long I’ve been a closeted train admirer – practicing my secret passion with other nerdy train enthusiasts in dark basements on small scale equipment while sipping on juice boxes. No longer am I willing to operate on the fringes of society while living this double life. Therefore, I hereby publicly declare my love of trains. I’m finally “coming out of the caboose.”


We all have hobbies we’re drawn to for reasons known only to our original manufacturer. For me, that magnetic force has been trains. Why I have such an affinity for these steely behemoths that lumber through the night, is a question for Dr. Lionel, my train whisperer (and my psychologist). Dr. Lionel and I have held many earnest and penetrating discussions on trains. We’ve covered everything from the dichotomy of sitting backward while moving forward, to the carnal symbology of trains entering tunnels. I cherish Dr. Lionel’s sage advice as he guides me through the mixed signals and missed switches of railroading. As you may have surmised, trains are a very moving topic for me. Still, I find it hard to believe, that in all the time Dr. Lionel and I have spent together, he’s never once failed to bill me for each session.  


I can’t account for my unbidden fascination with trains. All I know is that train has left the station and I’m forever enchanted. In fact, at this juncture railroading is so appealing to me, that even at the advanced age of 62, as I begin collecting Social Security, I nonetheless seek employment with Amtrak as a conductor. More on this later.


So, let’s go for a ride and hope I stay on the rails in describing the depth of my railroading passion and the height of my Amtrak adoration. In any event, near the end of this story I solicit your opinion in helping me formulate a mighty decision. Much like Dr. Lionel does, may you offer me sage advice; in addition to maybe some parsley, rosemary and thyme.   



New Train Smell – A Whiff of Heaven or a Hint of Hell


“You haven’t lived until you’ve inhaled the magical must of ‘new train smell’,” declare railroad enthusiasts infected by the train bug. “Once bitten, you’re forever smitten,” say these inveterate train buffs. However, some wonder if there is, or ever has been, “new train smell.” It’s hard to tell these days because Amtrak hasn’t put new trains into service in so long, there is no one left alive who remembers what new trains smell like.


Complicating this is that not everyone has the “new train smell” gene, enabling them to sense this alluring aroma. It’s kinda like the “asparagus” gene that way. Sadly, these scent-deficient souls will never know the pleasure of this intoxicating sinus sensation – and no amount of training can change that.

A train by any other name…

…would smell as sweet.











Neolithic carvings from the Olduvai Gorge indicate that the last person in the conga line was known as the kaybus, which eventually morphed into our present-day caboose. This theory of the “new train smell” gene mutating in the conga lines of God-fearing hominids has become known as Critical Nose Theory and has become a flash point for present-day cultural warriors.


Neolithic carvings from the Olduvai Gorge indicate that the last person on the conga line was known as the kaybus, which eventually morphed into our present-day caboose. This concept of the “new train smell” gene mutating in the conga lines of God-fearing hominids has become known as Critical Nose Theory.



What is New Train Smell?


Nosey railroaders describe the heady bouquet of “new train smell” as, “an intoxicating swirl of stamp-pressed steel, outgassed Naugahyde and delicate notes of diesel vapors culminating in a transportive smellucinogenic aroma.” Admittedly, it’s a developed appreciation. This salmagundi of smells, this obstinacy of odors, all come together in a crescendo of bracing olfactory satisfaction. It summons a vestigial calling within me that says, “All aboard Amtrak!” Then again, maybe that’s just my inner-hominid speaking.



Train Besotted and Loving It


I’m hesitant to admit all this because you might think I’m a little loco, but in my narrow-gauge railroad mind, there’s nothing as nostalgically charming or kinetically gratifying as train travel. My loco-motive for telling you all this, is to share the shiver of infantile delight that shoots through my body while chugging along the tracks in the protective womb of my train car (as long as I’m not in India). When I’m warmly embraced in compartmentalized comfort I feel like a little baby traveler, all swaddled snuggly in Amtrak’s ever-lovin’ rails. Alright, so maybe I am a little loco. Read the rest of this entry »

Cannibals: Harmless Humanivores or Evil Eaters?

Cannibal Quarterly (CQ), a taboo publication found on the Dark Web, is geared towards normalizing cannibalism. Its target market is primarily people concerned about overpopulation and those who view cremation as an unnecessary expense. CQ is a very esoteric and a very expensive publication. Although subscribers complain CQ costs an arm and a leg, most are very willing (almost enthusiastic) to pay it. Those who can’t afford an arm and a leg, instead pay through the nose, and they seem happy to cough it up.


In a poll of CQ readers asking what was their favorite TV show, 99.9% voted for the ghoulish Twilight Zone episode where the technologically advanced outer space aliens present humanity with a book purportedly designed to improve and advance their society. The title of this helpful book, written in an alien language, is roughly translated as “To Serve Man.” As the friendly aliens insinuate themselves into Earth’s society, everything is progressing wonderfully – until the macabre discovery is made that “To Serve Man” is in fact a cookbook. By then it’s too late and humanity has been reduced to livestock. Egad, ghoulish beyond measure.

As to the other 0.1%, they voted for that Hogan’s Heroes episode where Col. Klink is outwitted by Hogan and his band of brothers (wait, wasn’t that pretty much every episode?).  


Although cannibalism has been gaining favor in some quarters, the LGBTQ community has turned down a request by the FYC (Fine Young Cannibals) to graft a “C” onto the LGBTQ acronym. When pressed for comment on the request, an LGBTQ spokesthem said, “Hard pass. We’re currently working our own acceptance issues and while we identify with the plight of minority groups, this one’s a bridge too far.”  



In the latest issue of CQ, it’s editor and cannibal-influencer Dred Taint writes in the introduction:

Cannibalism is something that’s always been eating at me. I never knew quite what that was until I realized…it was my wife. Gloria had been eating at me, behind my back – where I couldn’t see. By the time she told me to ‘get over it and turn the other cheek’ (because she hadn’t finished yet), I knew something was wrong.

People ask me all the time, “Why do you stay with her?” and all I can do is throw my hands up in the air and say, “Eats me.” My wife…she’s a real maneater.

And while we at CQ recognize this long-proscribed topic is anathema to most sane people, it hasn’t prevented dispensaries from formulating specialized strains of cannabis. Cannibal cannabis is a boutique gummi designed to give users the munchies for humans. It creates an atmosphere where “consensual cannibalism” can be practiced by consenting and lunatic adults in a safe and insane asylum – Eat your hearts out normies.

This issue of CQ features an article on the lens through which fellow-cannibals view the world. It’s a fun and nourishing piece called How a Cannibal Sees Celebrities. Enjoy and bon Appetit.

~The Editor



How a Cannibal Sees Celebrities by Dredge Rivers

While the human race is a target-rich environment for us cannibals, celebrities are doubly prized for their tender feelings and tender thighs. Human carnivores have long run in my family. In fact, they run as fast as they can to get away from each other. That’s just the way that it was, growing up in a clan of cannibals (aka clannibals). I had 5 brothers and 3 sisters, but by the time I was 10 I was down to 3 brothers and one sister. We were a close clan. We ate together every night. Some at the table, some on the table.

The following is a list of cannibalized celebrity names as seen through the eyes of flesh-eaters. See if you can reverse engineer the cannibal name to determine their real name:

The Talk Show Hosts

  1. James Corden Bleu… One classy Brit
  2. Jimmy Kibble.… He’s gone to the dogs
  3. Jimmy Phallus…. Guy is such a dick
  4. Seth Meyer Lemon…. Tart humor
  5. Stephen Cold Beer…. Gotta wash it all down with something


  1. Edith Pilaf…. She’s quite the dish. A French side dish.
  2. Adelecatessan…. A tasteful English singer. A very tasty singer.
  3. Parmesean Connery…. I have a special Bond with this celebrity
  4. Drew MoreBerries…. Quoth the Raven, “Barrymore”
  5. Robert Donner Jr…. The Ironman and his party get stranded in the mountains
  6. Tom Cuisine…. He’s a Maverick
  7. BBQ Pitt…. Shoulda stayed with Angelina Jelly
  8. Robert Redfish…. When he’s deeply tanned, they call him blackened Redfish.
  9. Frank Sinbeans…. The Chairman of the Board likes simple fare
  10. Lin-Manuel Melba – He’s the “Toast” of Broadway



Epilogue: This entire story is just food for thought – so to speak. Don’t think about it too hard. It’s just a little something to chew on.

Full disclosure: I pieced this story together by cannibalizing other stories.

Titillating Tales of Tinseltown

Joan Crawford’s luminous peepers light up this Oct. 1931 Photoplay magazine.

These anecdotal accounts of movie mogul misbehavior are both appealing and appalling. They’re drawn from the annals (that’s annals, with 2 n’s) of Hollywood’s Golden Age – back when actors in films were shot in epic fashion; and not accidentally by Alec Baldwin. It was a less enlightened age of entertainment when men were men and women were scenery. It was a time when Photoplay magazine ensured movie stars twinkled brightly in the folds of its pages. It was also an era when fiendish Hollywood reporters (like me), looking for a scoop, sought to expose the seamy and sordid side of the silver screen.


However well-behaved actors were on the screen, they could never fig leaf the apostasies going on behind the camera. A Pandora’s Box of apostasies I’m going to blow the lid off (albeit 100 or so years after the fact). That’s what people like me do. My name is David Fescue of the Hollywood Reporter and if you don’t like what this David is doing, then Fescue



Gung Ho-llywood


Hollywood has been making movie magic ever since Mr. Edison et al perfected the Kinetograph machine in 1892. Undoubtedly there are more comprehensive histories of early Hollywood, but none would be as fun to read as this one. It’s short, funny and laden with gooey, carbohydrate-rich phrases that satisfy the pleasure centers in the hippocampus or wherever that place is in the brain that makes us roll our eyes back and breathily exclaim, “Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. It’s so good!”

And now that I think of it, I believe a hippocampus is a place where hippopotamuses go to school.   


No one covers Tinsel Town like a Hollywood Reporter. This one from 1936.

The cerebrally chubby may be wise to avert their eyes from this sinfully caloric Cinna-bon mots. However, you’d be even wiser to make popcorn, turn down the lights and watch these entertaining words go by. Focus groups all agree, that after reading this tawdry tell-all, you’re going to say, “Not only do I not want these 6 minutes of my life back, I wish I had another 6 minutes to contribute. And that’s why God created sequels, so stay tuned.


Meanwhile, now that the credits are out of the way, enjoy the rest of the show. At the risk of mongering too much gossip or butting too much scuttle or raking too much muck, I’ve decided to tattle on the less savory side of Hollywood – a scandal sheet of celebrity secrets laundered in the purifying radiance of backlit computer screens. So, without further adieu, I mean without further ado, David Fescue presents:



Trivial Tales of Tinseltown: A Tattler Plies His Trade


Whatever It was, Clara Bow had It.

A celebrity is often defined as someone who’s known for being famous. Back in the day that included personalities of marginal talent, such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Arthur Godfrey or Hedda Hopper. Whatever that elusive quality is that makes someone a celebrity, Jazz Age actress Clara Bow had It. In fact, she had so much of It that she was known as the “It Girl.” Appropriately, her epitaph at Forest Lawn reads: That’s It Girl.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Schrödinger’s Cat and Pavlov’s Dog: An Unlikely Love Story

Sadie and the Tramp

Two of the most famous animals in the field of experimental psychology were Schrödinger‘s cat Sadie and Pavlov‘s dog Tramp. But what most people don’t know is that these two pioneering pets met and fell in love when Drs. Schrödinger and Pavlov attended a conference at the pet-friendly Grand Budapest Hotel in Hungary – or as Pavlov called it “The Buddha Pets Hotel.”


Dr. Schrödinger

Dr. Pavlov

Whenever these eminent doctors traveled they often brought their pets with them – Schrödinger his elegant cat Sadie and Pavlov his mutt of a dog Tramp. That two animals from such different walks of life could forge a loving relationship is testament to the adage “opposites attract.” Schrödinger’s cat Sadie was a prissy pussy from Paris and Pavlov’s dog Tramp was a mangey mongrel from Minsk. Legend has it that their romance may have been the inspiration for Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp which featured canine love from opposite sides of the tracks.



Brief Bios of the Bygone Beasts


Schrödinger’s cat Sadie, a dainty calico, was the instructive feline that catalyzed Dr. Schrödinger’s theory about the paradox of quantum superposition. In quantum superposition, Dr. Schrödinger reasoned, a hypothetical cat unobserved in a closed box may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead – and its location uncertain. This was big news in the1930s. Not so much nowadays with all the cat videos, but back then quantum superposition was a big deal and we owe Sadie a great debt of gratitude for getting into the box and germinating Dr. Schrödinger’s “Eureka” moment.


The above is a quick cat’s claw sketch (as opposed to a thumbnail sketch) of darling Sadie. Tramp, on the other paw, was less refined and kind of an overly alarmist pooch – y’know, the dog who cried “woof.” By regularly pairing the ringing of a bell with a blast of meat powder on the tongue, Dr. Pavlov caused the poor slob to slobber like Niagara Falls. In fact, what Dr. Pavlov discovered was that even in the absence of food, Tramp would salivate like an open fire hydrant whenever he heard a bell ringing. This reinforcing psychological technique is called Classical Conditioning and for a time was the safest way to feed Mike Tyson.


Being born in the old Soviet Union, Tramp may have rightfully expected a short, brutish life – especially after being born the runt of the litter. And how fitting that was, since Sadie was also the runt of her kitty litter – so to speak. When Dr. Pavlov saw Tramp in the window of a “No Eat” animal shelter in famine-ravaged Minsk he knew if he didn’t rescue the lovable Tramp it would dog him forever. When the famine subsided “No Eat” shelters reverted to “No Kill” shelters. In any event Dr. Pavlov was attracted to the marvelous mutt and brought him home to his wife Seraphima, who took one glance at the bedraggled hound and exclaimed, “Great, dinner.”


“No, no,” countered Dr. Pavlov. “This animal will change everything we think about pairing conditioned stimulus (a bell) and an unconditioned stimulus (food) to produce a conditioned response (salivating). This conditioning is destined to become a classic. I can feel it.”

“So were not gonna eat him,” Seraphima asked? “OK. It’s borscht again.”



A Feline and Canine Entwine: Enter Zsa Zsa


Zsa Zsa dahling.

Budapest resident and future glamor gal Zsa Zsa Gabor, then an 18-year-old underemployed Hungarian ingénue, was working at the Budapest Hotel’s Pet Day Care Center where she regularly superintended Sadie and the Tramp’s visits. The middle Gabor sister chaperoned and fed them with great care; even going so far as to conduct her own matchmaking culinary experiment. Zsa Zsa prepared and fed them a big plate of pasta consisting of a single long strand of spaghetti. She gave each of them an opposite end to chow down on. As they hungrily slurped and gobbled the spaghetti from each end it was only a matter of time till Tramp’s slobbering jowls met Sadie’s delicate whiskers. And when they did, it was kismet (actually it was more like kiss-met). When Sadie and the Tramp got to the end of their ropes his snout met her nose and after a moment of recognition, they nuzzled like long lost Eskimos. After Zsa Zsa’s romantic dinner Sadie and the Tramp were inseparable.


And there they’d happily commune. In the pet parlor of the Budapest Hotel where they would frolic with unbridled glee and mutual acceptance. Sadie would overlook Tramp’s torrents of slobber and Tramp would forgive Sadie’s penchant for being both dead and alive. Evidently location indeterminacy was no barrier to Tramp’s passion, and pools of drool none to Sadie’s. It seems when love is your unconditioned stimulus, it conquers all.



Eva. Another glamorous Gabor.

Incidents and Anecdotes


And in a curious sisterly coincidence, Zsa Zsa’s younger sister Eva (of Green Acres fame) would go on to do the silky, exotic voice of the bougee cat Duchess in Disney’s The Aristocats.


There was a noteworthy incident at the Budapest Hotel’s Pet Day Care Center one day when Dr. Schrödinger went to pick up Sadie and couldn’t find her anywhere. He was wracked with anxiety until he saw her little eyes just peeking out over the ö in Schrödinger. So cute he thought – there she was, hiding in an umlaut. Who else but Sadie could cloak herself in a diacritical mark? Amazing! Sadie was eerily adept at quantum superposition. In fact, Dr. Sigmund Freud, who was attending the same conference as Drs. Pavlov and Schrödinger, heard of the cat’s disappearance and wryly observed, “While it is possible Sadie may have been hiding above the ö, sometimes an umlaut is just an umlaut.”  


While being interviewed by Popular Quantum Mechanics magazine, Dr. Schrödinger was asked about Sadie’s little nighttime outfit resting there on the bed. He glanced over at them and replied, “Oh those? Those are the cat’s pajamas.” He pawsed and continued, “It kinda hurts me to talk about the cat’s pajamas. In fact, me ow.”


In Pavlov’s It’s a Wonderful Life world, every time a bell rang, an angel started to salivate. In Schrödinger’s “Wes Anderson” world every time a cat disappeared you didn’t know for certain if it was dead or alive. Could two animals from such different backgrounds bond together without driving each other crazy? No wait, that was the premise for Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. Nope, it wasn’t that either. Their story was the basis for the unlikely pairing of another more recent Eastern European romance: The Lady and the Trump.


Dr. Pavlov was a Nobel prize-winner and was celebrated for being a self-made man. He had no choice. His parents never had sex. As the time passed Dr. Pavlov grew fond of Dr. Schrödinger and would tease his colleague by peering into Sadie’s litter box and observing, “Look! It’s Schrödinger scat.”


Years later when Dr. Schrödinger was asked about Dr. Pavlov’s experiments he famously responded, “Pavlov? Pavlov? The name doesn’t ring a bell.”



They Really Did Live Happily Ever After


Sadie and the Tramp were by now deeply bonded and this intense affection was recognized by Drs. Schrödinger and Pavlov who agreed to keep them together. They would summer in Minsk and winter in Paris. And although a litter of offspring was out of the question, it never stopped them from trying.


It was brave of Sadie and the Tramp to express their cat/dog love at a time when the mixing of the species was frowned upon. There were laws against this kind of co-mingling – especially in 1930s Berlin and the Deep South.


There was something greater at work here between Sadie and the Tramp. Something trite but true – that love conquers all. Now that may be a hackneyed phrase, but it also has the added virtue of being true. And I’m not hiding behind hollow clichés. If you’re looking for me, I’m hiding behind the é in cliché. I’m in a really good position. You might even say I’m in a quantum superposition.

My Freedom Bowl Rapture

First, a Few Words on Rabbit Holes, Then Our True Story

Rabbit holes have gotten a bad rap lately and sometimes with good reason. Unwary rabbit hole-goers often don’t discover they’re lost in one of these time-wasting tunnels till it’s far too late; and the hole-goer wishes they could have that wasted time added back to their life. Of course it’s not this way with all rabbit holes. There is that rare rabbit hole one tumbles down and comes out the other side much elevated by the experience. And this is my true story of just such a rabbit hole  – of my disappearance into and emergence out of, an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime rabbit hole located right next to Disneyland.   



We Begin in My Dim, Misty Past


I’ve been a rabid Syracuse University football fan since 1973 when as a 12-year-old some switch was activated inside me and I became enamored of this team located right there in my hometown. Much like puberty, it was found gold. My rabid feelings for the team were the good or nerdy kind of rabid associated with Star Wars and not the bad or face paint kind of rabid associated with storming the Capitol. Unfortunately, when I began following the Orangemen, they were at their gridiron nadir, prompting Sports Illustrated (the preeminent sports publication I subscribed to in the infinitely smaller media world of the early 70s) to publish an article entitled: When You’re Standing on your Head, Syracuse is No. 1. That’s how low the fortunes of these once mighty Beasts of the East had sunk. Syracuse University, the collegiate incubators of Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis and future NFL Hall of Famers Jimmy Brown, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka, were ranked a morbid #101st in the country, but they were #1 in my little boy heart – a heart that still resides in this big boy body today. Suffice to say I followed my team with prodigious avidity and even tribal intensity depending on how much Tang I’d drunk that day. 


Cut to 1989 when I’m living in Southern California and Syracuse’s football fortunes have experienced a notable uptick. Following an undefeated 1987 season and a stellar 10-2 mark in 1988, the 1989 Orangemen stood at 7-4 and teetering on a bowl bid. But where might that bowl game be? It set my fertile mind turning and potential rabbit holes multiplying.  Due to being marginally employed, I had time on my hands and began exploring bowl possibilities Syracuse might play in. One bowl venue candidate was right down the road from my San Fernando Valley apartment – the Freedom Bowl played at The Big A (Anaheim Stadium) not far from Disneyland.


As was my penchant for idle exploration, I ferreted out a phone number and called them on a landline and, in the days before phone trees, spoke directly with one of the Freedom Bowl principals. I queried a Mr. Rob Halvaks as to their interest in inviting the mighty Syracuse University football team to their bowl. He said Syracuse was in the mix, but that their East Coast origins, might not be the best fit for a West Coast bowl game. In other words they were a Plan C at best. It was a pleasant and extended conversation that touched on a variety of college football related topics in which we were both most conversant.


Again having more free time than is healthy for a 28-yr-old to have, about a week later I called Mr. Halvaks again to see if the bowl landscape had changed. It had changed and the ‘Cuse was on the outs. He commiserated with me and even gave me the pre-announcement scoop, the Freedom Bowl had enticed the PAC-12’s Washington Huskies and the SEC’s Florida Gators to faceoff in that year’s bowl. We continued talking animatedly and, sensing my keen interest and understanding of college bowl games, he suggested I come down to the stadium for a visit – that perhaps I might apply my acumen to this post-season collegiate endeavor.


What the Freedom was happening here? WTF indeed. I was on the cusp of something previously thought unimaginable – an intimate window on the inside world of a major college bowl game and Mr. Halvaks was perhaps interested in me helping them out in some capacity. The possibility of my full-fledged involvement in a college football bowl game from an insider’s administrative perspective was bewildering. This supreme opportunity was a bucket list item I didn’t even know I had. It had magically populated my bucket in the flash of one phone call. Read the rest of this entry »

NDEs (Near Death Experiences) and Other Easily Understood Stuff

Perhaps the fastest (though not the pleasantest) way to journey to the “other side” is via an NDE or Near Death Experience. NDEs are a transformative event where the souls of temporarily flatlined stiffs leave their bodies, behold otherworldly dimensions and then are miraculously ushered back to their once lifeless bodies. Some say an NDE removes all fears about death and replaces it with an unshakably affirming knowingness, more real than anything found on Earth.

  • Pinterest user Sally Klein, who had a near death experience when a blowfish recipe went terribly wrong, said of her NDE, “OMG. It was like you were permanently perfumed with pumpkin spice. Can you imagine? It was no longer seasonal. It was Pumpkin Spice fulltime! Fulltime all the time!”
  • Comic Con fanboy Calvin Turlock said of his Marvel-ous NDE, “The Marvel Universe is real. Superpowers are real – I took down Dwayne Johnson.”
  • Amazon boss Jeff Bezos recounted his NDE, “It was amazing. I compared my financial situation with the Almighty’s and it turns out I have more money than God…no wait. That was my regular life here on earth.”


When we go over to the other side it seems we all go where we expect ourselves to go. Hmmmm. What if we had no expectation? Where would we go then?  



Whose Side Are You On?


“Man, I have got to stop eating so many gummies before bed.”

Well currently we’re all on this side – at least for now. But eventually we’ll all be on the other side where we discover it’s all one; and there really isn’t, and never has been, an “other side.” Are we clear? NDEs are just the miraculousness of experiencing everything, everywhere, all at once. But is all this heavenly hyperbole really miraculous? – Meh. It’s only miraculous to us earthbound creatures pondering it all from this side.



It’s Just a Job


I’m sure the entities that superintend this cosmic function of bringing souls into and out of this world, don’t come home teeming with tender stories of mythic miracles like NDE experiencers do. More likely they come home smelling of the souls they’re shuttling back and forth all eternity – like a fishmonger might come home smelling of fish or a florist like flowers. It’s a hazard of the profession. Hustling souls in and out of the 3rd rock from the sun is just a job for some. This supposedly extraordinary bookkeeping process of managing departed souls (of which NDEs are probably just a kinked glitch in the system) is only a portion of the overall operating system of the universe and merely the bailiwick these superintendents oversee. (You don’t have to believe any of this, but it’s probably true anyway.)


We poor slobs however, marvel in wonderment at this-couldn’t-be-happening-to-little-ole-me experience. NDEs are not something special happening to you, for you. I surmise NDEs are just part of a process to move souls in and out of bodies around the cosmos. There’s no reason to feel special or anointed if it happens to you. Don’t underplay it either. Just consider it. You’re a big part of the whole shootin’ match whether you think you’re tragically inconsequential or fabulously magnificent. You see the truth doesn’t require your belief. And I mean that in a good way. You don’t have to believe in something in order for something to happen. For example, I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I still get presents at Christmas.  


On this earth, where we tend to get lost in the need to make permanent our personal identity, we’re regularly privy to maybe 2% of all the magnificence operating on the other side. Why this magnificence of the hereafter is so apparently distant and hidden from us I’ll never know. But it is – generally. The hereafter (hereafter referred to as the hereafter) is kinda like electricity. Most of us relate to electricity through on and off switches; barely cognizant of the humming transmission lines, generating plants and the eons it took to produce the gas, coal or oil (fossil fuels) firing them. The hereafter contains all the hidden electrical infrastructure. We aren’t allowed to see all of God’s electrical magnificence so we can stay focused on our jobs here on earth – whatever that may be. This model I present might not accurately describe matters, but it does provide 2 dimes – I mean “a paradigm.” That’s my 2 cents anyway. Moving on. Read the rest of this entry »