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Sunday Paramecium Blogging

First nine of a thousand words: “Hello, my name is Jwer, and I’m a paramecium.”

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Saturday Chupacabra Blogging

A picture of the chupacabra is worth a thousand words.* That’s more content than you can shake a stick at, Content Challenge!

* The first nine of those words are: “Hello, my name is Jwer, and I’m a chupacabra.”

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Friday Cat Blogging

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101 Reasons to Be Happy

Yesterday, at Rob’s impetus, we watched the original One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which I had never seen before. I also don’t have any experience with Dalmatians in general except for the one on the next block that once ran into the street to attack Goblin, so I spent the whole movie trying to reconcile that stupid and aggressive beast with the brilliant and loyal breed that ran for miles in an attempt to rescue their kidnapped puppies. In the end, but for her love of fur, I would have been the most enamored of Cruella De Vil, who had a winning personality and fabulous hair. But since I am strongly against wearing furs, I think it’s appropriate that this poor woman, who only wanted a nice new black-and-white coat, is reviled with the worst of the Disney villains, most of whom were bent on total global domination. (Although given the chance, I think Jafar would have also leapt at a floor-length Dalmatian-skin cloak.)

Fur is murder, people. Disney knows it, and now you know it, too.

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Gourmet

I hear the pitter-patter of little feet on my roof. It is not, unfortunately, Santa Claus, who might bring extensive repair work for free because I am a good boy.

Good morning, America. How are you? I’m feeling as if I might have a productive day. I can finally move my car again, at least, and later, I will glide through the streets of Baltimore in search of a cheap telephone. C’est la vida loca.

Last night, at the mall, Rob and I discussed crock pots. He is in favor of them because, as he said, when he goes out of town, he could leave me a “bag of stuff,” which I could empty into the crock pot and “have a nice meal at the end of the day.” But when I’m alone, I don’t want a nice meal. Two days ago, I had kettle corn for dinner (although, if kettle corn came out of a crock pot I might be willing to give the whole idea a second look-see). Yesterday, Rob was in town, so for dinner I had ice cream and a salad.

He spoils me rotten.

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Cara Made Me Do It

I was always going to run away from home. Not because of any physical abuse or neglect, but because I started out as a cherished only child, and my parents managed to produce four other contenders to the throne within just a few years. My brothers were noisy and crude and thoroughly overshadowed me in the arena of my parents’ attention. I learned early on that if I pretended to be a nice little boy, my mother’s mother would treat me as if I were special, but this was not enough, and by the time she moved to Florida, I was already in the habit of packing and repacking my miniature Washington Redskins satchel and drafting painstaking versions of the note I was going to leave behind when I left.

I don’t know where I got my romantic notion of Running Away, which was especially ironic considering I never imagined what life might be like if I left my own block. Perhaps that particular paradigm originated with the plucky youths in the books I read, some of them secretly aliens, who were always escaping harsh or humdrum situations and, after a series of adventures or misadventures, stumbling into an esteemed existence. The fires of this fantasy were stoked by my only friend, Deena, the trashy girl next door with whom I maintained an elaborate system of make-believe. Even in that friendship, I didn’t shine-I always played the Tonto to her Lone Ranger or the Priscilla to her Elvis-but I was impressed with the freedom she had even as a prepubescent, allowed to wander around the neighborhood at night or curse in front of her parents. Games played at her house, the architectural twin of ours except going to ruin in a weed-choked tract, always ran the risk of her mother wandering in naked and, it now occurs to me, as high as a kite. My own mother, who made chocolate-chip cookies from a Bisquick recipe and was able to keep track of which pasta shapes each of my brothers loved and/or refused to eat, viewed her slatternly counterpart with revulsion. One of my only vivid memories from that period involves the two of them shrieking at each other from their back doorways, over a chain-link fence.

My parents may not have believed in birth control, but they worked extra hard to make sure that their platoon of children had an idyllic suburban childhood in that hazy era just after Vietnam and Watergate. I vaguely recollect forming secret clubs, building forts, and even riding my bike down to play at the nearby creek, and our road trips to the beach or to Disney World were the stuff of legend, or possibly of cautionary tales, depending upon how large the car was and how prone my brothers and I were to attacking each other at any given time. My constant desire for escape reflected not in the least on my parents’ efforts but said a great deal about my own inability to be satisfied and the growing sense of alienation I was feeling from the world. These are themes that could have easily done me in early on, as I have seen happen to many others who became lost in addiction and hopelessness and wasted potential. I think what saved me was that I ultimately didn’t want to run away from the familiar as much as run toward some grand and special destiny. I was weary of being one of five, of being the Tonto, the Priscilla Presley, or the secret alien. I longed to disappear into a land where I was the hero, the rock star, or the king. My bag wasn’t packed in preparation for a journey down the street so much as for a trip through a magic wardrobe or a transporter beam to an orbiting spaceship. Essentially, I was a damned fool, but this penchant for fantasy and escapism served me well later, when I started the torture chamber called junior high and life became almost unbearable.

Twenty years later, I have changed so much in every conceivable way that this story of my murky origin might as well refer to some nameless ghost. But through decades of turmoil and reinvention, the one constant in my life and the source of virtually all the support I ever received has been the people I stupidly tried to push away at the start.

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Give a Hoot

The roofers came this morning but didn’t have the properly sized ladder to get up there. This is turning into the hot new trend of the two thousands, as the same roofer didn’t have the properly sized ladder twice before, and another roofer didn’t have one at an earlier appointment. As far as blunders go, this isn’t up there with “They’ll greet us as liberators,” but it isn’t doing a lot for my overall faith in humanity, either. Most of the houses for miles around are the exact same height as mine, so this isn’t exactly rocket science.

Anyway, we all get to try again tomorrow.

I think the worst part of all this is the bait-and-switch the company pulled, not with their ladders but with their roofers. The ones who came earlier on to estimate the job and do some preliminary patching were gorgeous, but the ones from today were obviously scraped out from the bottom of the barrel; all my dreams of whisking one down the chimney for a high-priced afternoon of man-hours have vanished in a puff of smoke.

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Nomenclature

Content Challenge, you are a cruel mistress. I almost went to bed without paying homage, and there you were, crouched in the corner with a whip. Another time, another place, another gender, and I might not have minded, but come on! I’m exhausted, and the roofers are coming tomorrow at seven ay em. I thought having a house would be easy; it is if you don’t count keeping it not looking like the trash compactor room on the Death Star, or having to clean up when the roof sends gallons of rain pouring into my bedroom or gallons of sewage burbling up from that little hole in the basement floor.

Speaking of the Death Star, they had my buy-in when I was a kid, but now I just don’t know. According to the most recent movies, the evil Galactic Empire was formed in the same way that our own evil empire is currently being formed: the citizenry was not paying attention, and the legislative branch of the government-inspired by patriotism during an artificially created war-signed its powers away to the Emperor. All of this is familiar enough to us and just good fun according to the alien slug version of Rush Limbo (which, remarkably, resembles the Earth version of Rush Limbo down to the last molecule), but what about the Death Star? If Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader wanted to quell the suspicions of their subjects and paint the Rebel Alliance as the enemies of galactic peace, why would they name their planet-killing battlestation “Death Star”?!?!?! Wouldn’t they have named it something like “The Fluffy Bunny Mobile” and painted it a nice, cheerful light blue? Perhaps the alien slug version of Karl Rove was on a vacation when they dreamed that one up. Even Republicans are smart enough to name their battleships things like “Liberty Eagle” and “Freedom Eagle Wings” and “Giant Boob-a-licious Shocking Happiness.”

Anyway, I was just wondering.

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BLOG SCOOP!

I am totally scooping this woman, this man, and this man by telling you this, but we just waited in line for like an hour for a funnel cake. Then we went to sit down on a wall to eat it, but the wall was crawling with Esmerelda wannabes, so we ended up sitting on a bench in the dark.

It was totally worth it, wasn’t it?

Also, when I was walking Goblin this morning, a guy wearing a top hat on his head and a live spider monkey around his neck asked us where Park Avenue was, and Goblin asked him if he knew the way to San Jose.

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Esmerelda

Content Challenge, you are going to be the death of me. Well, you and Goblin’s willful behavior and cholesterol. Crash is here, Art is here, Funnel Cakes are here.

Also, Goblin has a new roach friend named Esmerelda.

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Press Release

Dear World,

Is it only Thursday? Jesus god, it feels like it’s next Wednesday or last Tuesday. I am so ready to disintegrate into a pile of goo or gulp down a glass of chardonnay.

Here is what is happening with me:

My bookkeeper vanished and turned up again days later, although not with amnesia or any other soap opera malady.

Art continues to invade my neighborhood, along with the sound of trucks backing up and the ravenous anticipation of funnel cakes.

My left foot is still stiff.

No one has yet expressed an interest in buying my car, even though it’s a really, really good car.

Crash is arriving at nine seventeen on Friday night.

I got a new pimple on my eyebrow.

I have a haircut scheduled for tomorrow, even though my hair has not grown a millimeter since the last time I got it cut.

That is all.

Love,
Me

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The Cosmos Is a Bit Dimmer

Scotty died today. Also the guy who invented TV dinners. What else can I say about that? Content Challenge demands more, but I would just like to have a moment of silence.

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Ich bin Kunst

I have just been reading the archives of this web log and have come to the dispiriting conclusion that I was a much more interesting person when I was unemployed. These days, as I work my fingers to the bone, I have to stretch buying a new Harry Potter book into three days of material. Damn you, Content Challenge!

In my neighborhood, they are setting up for a large annual street fair called Artscape. In the name of Art, the streets around my house have been transformed into an impenetrable maze and a number of precarious sculptures litter the landscape as if they fell from a passing flying saucer. I like Art as much as the next guy, but come on. The only good thing is that Crash is coming to visit. Also, there will be funnel cakes.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be an artist. Actually, despite my lack of talent, I wanted to be a comic book illustrator. In this, I did not receive much encouragement. When my father and I toured prospective colleges, he would tell the admissions staff that I was interested in architecture.

“But I want to major in Art!” I protested.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.

In the end, I majored in English, then Modern European History, then English with a minor in Modern European History, then Writing. My master’s degree is in graphic design.

As my life spins lazily around Art without actually approaching it, the mountain has decided to come to Mohammed.

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It Has Turned

Rob is downstairs feeding the worms. Every night, he grinds up the vegetable peels and rinds in the blender and takes this revolting mixture out to the worms in the back yard. He pours it down on them and then comes back and tells me what they did. If someone poured liquefied vegetable peels and rinds on me, I can tell you what I would do, and it ain't pretty. But the worms seem to enjoy it, and they are growing to an enormous size. I'm afraid of the day when we eat out and have nothing for them. We'll come home to find they've forced their way into the house and are rooting through the refrigerator, or that they've leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent to the press.

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Molesting My Inner Child

I finished reading the latest Harry Potter book this morning, within thirty-six hours of purchasing it. It has a weaker plot and feels “flabbier” than the other five, but there are some very interesting things going on with the characters, and now I only have to wait about two years for the next one. I do about as well with suspense as I do with germs and seafood, so it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

How are you? I am fine. I also went to the movies this weekend, to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you didn’t know better, you’d think I’ve done nothing but engage my inner child for days. Actually, I’ve been working almost constantly, but that’s no fun to relate. Who cares about all of the catalogs I’m reading, budgets I’m making, meetings I’m trying to set up, and plans I’m trying to put into motion when I can watch Johnny Depp imitate the love child of Michael Jackson and Carol Channing?

I don’t know why I feel so impossibly old. It’s not from looking in the mirror.

Speaking of which, I think by the two thousand tens, Photoshop will work on mirrors, and by the two thousand twenties, it will work on actual skin.

Too bad I will have been Raptured up to heaven by then.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Idea

Late last night, Rob and I drove out to the bookstore to endure—I mean attend—the Harry Potter book release party. Wandering around a huge bookstore in middle of the night was certainly a thrill. It would have been even more thrilling if all of those other people weren’t there, too. Children were everywhere, running, yelling, and carrying on in other unspeakable ways. Some wore costumes and seemed to have mistaken the event for a Halloween free for all, while their parents clustered in the coffee bar and made no attempt to impose order. At midnight, the bookstore employees swept self-importantly up the aisles, pushing carts laden with the literary treasure. Pandemonium ensued as the cashiers frantically began ringing up sales, as if they were Scotty stoking the warp engine during a Klingon attack. “We’ll have ticket numbers one through twenty-five in line now,” announced Mr. Chekov. My ticket number was nine hundred thirty-five, and it was a long wait, but I did get my pristine copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I’ve only read about sixty percent of it so far. Some of us have work to do, after all.

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Testy

I went to the Johns Hopkins University at a time when they were proud of the fact that they did not inflate their grades. If you got an A, you earned it, and some professors prided themselves on being extra tough. Once, when I told Jean McGarry that her then-husband Mark Crispin Miller gave me a B-plus on a paper, she said, “That’s like an A-plus from anyone else.” Gee, thanks. For that I got up at four-thirty in the morning so I could get a spot toward the front of the class registration line.

Because they kept us on tenterhooks about grades, a wicked competition arose among the more mercenary students. Getting an A wasn’t enough . . . you also had to make sure that nobody else did. Thus arose the famed Hopkins “throat” culture, short for “cutthroat.” Some of this had to do with science classes graded on curves, but the bloodthirsty air wafted even into our writing workshops, where we competed to see who could make the nastiest comments about each other’s work. Did you think I got all of my zingers from “Murphy Brown”? I’m telling you, it was dog eat dog in there.

Anyway, our food safety class this week culminated in a multiple-choice test about scary bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites-and the myriad temperatures for dissuading them from growing in your food. The material was actually quite difficult, and my mind refused to memorize a single fact. I had just about given up hope, comforted that at least Amy would save our little establishment from total disgrace, when the hideous little Hopkins student burst out of the basement of my psyche, grabbed the number-two pencil out of my hand, and finished the test in fifteen minutes flat. I was out the door faster than Goblin could devour a piece of chicken she found on the sidewalk. At least, I hope that was chicken.

But anyway, I may have lost the power to incinerate everyone else’s ScanTron sheets using only the power of my mind, but for one, brief, shining moment, in the multi-purpose room of the Maryland State Restaurant Association, the throat culture lived again.

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The Word of the Day is “Discipline”

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the second time because I forgot what happened from when I read it the first time. Tomorrow, I will brave a hideous herd of children (or perhaps a herd of hideous children) to purchase the sequel. J.K. Rowling is richer than the queen, and she deserves every penny. Not because of her writing, per se (plenty of people aren't as impressed as I am with the Harry Potter series), but because she has managed to write thousands upon thousands of pages in the exact same amount of time it has taken for me to write one hundred thirty.

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Madcap

Send me my medical degree, for I have diagnosed myself with chronic fatigue syndrome. This is a fancy-fancy way of saying that I am tired all the time. I don’t know why . . . my job is a lot of work, but it’s not as if I’m chopping down trees. Yes, that cursor isn’t going to move itself, but I might as well be doing it by telepathy. And yet, I am fatigued. Chronically so.

My therapist fired me today. He told me to call if I needed anything, but I don’t think I will. Speaking of effort, it takes a lot to sit in a room with a psychologist and pretend you’re not crazy, even a tastefully decorated room. Think of how many rock walls I can climb with the energy I’ll save.

I received yet another Goblin song today. These are going to start turning up on the Billboard charts, soon. This one is from Brian, who gets extra points for tracking me down on Friendster and sending an application to become my stalker. These usually get held up in the bureaucracy of Goblin Foo’s rubber stamp, but I am putting in a good word with her because I have already seen him naked. He’s as good as lurking in my bushes.

David’s Foo, sung to the tune of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”:

David is a blog- ger, I know he’s bloggin’ all the ti-ime,
But lately something’s changed he ain’t posting like before
David’s got himself a dog and I want to make her mine

And she’s chasing sneaky squirrels
And she’s dressing up in costume – Wonder Woman
Yeah ‘n’ he’s giving her new na-ames (odd, odd new names)

CHORUS:
You know, I wish that I had David’s Foo
I wish that I had David’s Foo
Where can I find a Goblin like that?

I read along with the masses, sometimes I have to make a snarky comment
You know, I feel so filthy when she eats her own poo
I wanna tell her that she’s nasty, but her wings are so damn cute

‘Cos she’s writing her advice column
And she’s acting in Thanksgiving plays (strange, strange plays)
And he’s drawing her an existential comic

CHORUS

Like David’s Foo, I wish that I had David’s Foo
Where can I find a Goblin, where can I find a Goblin like that?

And I’m writin’ Goblin Foo-ooo all the time, wondering why she don’t respond to me
I’ve been linkin’, I’ve been sendin’ tons of hits
Ain’t that the way blog crushes should be?

Tell me, where can I find a Goblin like that?

CHORUS

This is a lovely song. The lesson here is that you can’t buy friends like Brian, except you can, and thank god he accepts credit cards. The other lesson involves pigs’ blood raining down from the ceiling onto a Scrabble board, but that’s from another textbook.


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I Know What Causes E. Coli

If you thought I was obsessive-compulsive about sanitization before, look out. Amy and I just spent two whole days in food handling class, and now I have confirmation of all the microscopic horrors I have too long only suspected. I told Rob I was going to follow him around the kitchen with a citation book from now on, a turn of events that will likely see me eating a lot more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, but only if the peanut butter and jelly have been received at a temperature of forty-one degrees or lower, and the bread does not contain mold or rodent droppings.

So how are you, world?

I am in a good mood because on Sunday I climbed a twenty-foot wall while blindfolded. Considering that I can barely climb a twenty-foot wall while not blindfolded, this is an accomplishment worthy of greeting cards and lots of expensive gifts. Really, I’m not very good at climbing, and there’s no particular reason I should be considering I’m clumsy as hell, have no sense of balance or physical strength, and am afraid of heights. But I’m sort of proud of myself for keeping up with this, at least until my investment in those hideous climbing shoes is outweighed by the amount saved in renting hideous climbing shoes that have touched other people’s sweaty feet.

I’m also in a good mood because another Goblin song has arrived in my inbox. Goblin is floating on air, or possibly methane. This is from someone delightful named Alan:

To the tune of the Robin Hood theme:

Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, running through the street
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, on her pretty pink feet
She finds a stick to chew
And slobbers on your shoe
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo

Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, loved by all the girls
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, chases all the squirrels
She’s very very bright
Like Orville (or Wilbur) Wright,
What a sight, she’s quite slight, Foo’s alright

Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, gets plenty to eat
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, lean and juicy meat
She gobbles it all down
Then poops all over town
Never frown, fools around, Foo’s a clown

Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, running through the street
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, on her pretty pink feet
She’s faithful and true
And she loves David too
Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo, Goblin Foo

That about says it all.


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Where do Finger Puppets Sleep?

Just squeaking in under the deadline. I spent much of today learning about the hideous effects of not washing your hands. Not firsthand (so to speak), but in a class that is also supernaturally concerned with the temperatures of various substances and, in one inexplicable instance, finger cots.

In other news, on Saturday, I heard a call-in show featuring a serious discussion about the agenda of our alien overlords.

It was the most sensible thing I have ever encountered on AM radio.

I am going to dream of aliens wearing finger cots tonight, I just know it.

*

This great new Goblin song is by someone who calls himself (or herself) Herr Lipp. If I stopped to make a pun about that, I will miss my Content Challenge deadline, and so we carry on . . .

To the tune of Charlene’s “I’ve Never Been to Me”

Hey Goblin, you Goblin, cursing at your life
You’re a precious Boston terrier to a man without a wife
I’ve no doubt you dream about the squirrels you’ll never catch
But, I wish someone had talked to me
‘Bout this civic booby hatch…

Oh, I took Manhattan and dressed in satin in Central Park for a run
Was well in hand (a neurotic man who rarely appears in the sun)
But I will surely bark it, I went downmarket, all for a yard with a tree
I’ve been to Baltimore and I really need to pee

[spoken]
Hey, you know what Baltimore is?
It’s a bargain, with prices on real estate that you
can hardly believe
But you know what truth is?
It’s that stuffed animal you’re holding, it’s that man
you wanted to run away from this morning
The same one who’ll clip your toenails tonight
That’s truth, that’s love…

[verse]
Sometimes I see those yuppies with brand-new puppies
that haven’t pooped in the snow
They think cute is a substitute for the things that
they don’t know
But hey, your life ain’t sucky, you’re pretty lucky to
be coddled by
a crazy
Hey Goblin…
I’ve been to Baltimore (I’ve been to Baltimore)
And I really need to pee

I sort of cried when I read this, but I also couldn’t figure out some of the line breaks, so those two feelings may have canceled each other out.

Back to the bacteria . . .


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Pop Quiz

What is the opposite of a hammer?

What is the opposite of a screwdriver?*

I am going to try to keep things lighthearted and frothy today, since you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Yesterday, you probably pictured me in a torn shirt, hitchhiking along a deserted road while a piano plinks languidly in the background. Well, it’s not true. Yesterday, I went to a wedding reception and then saw a film in which an evil villain with perfectly sculpted eyebrows tried to . . . well, I don’t know what he was trying to do. But it was bad, and I could barely hear the piano.

Today, Rob and I are both taking rock-climbing classes. His on the beginning level and mine is slightly more advanced. Despite this evidence to the contrary, I am not a bon vivant. For the next two days, I need to take eighteen hours of a food preparation course offered by the Department of Health. They ordered me to bring two number-two pencils, so you know it’s going to be an excruciating nightmare culminating in ScanTron.

In other news, here is one last Goblin song (unless anyone wants to send more). It is by ME, and the tune is (loosely) “Lady Marmalade”:

Lady Goblin Foo

We met Goblin Foo down in old Baltimore
Pooping up stuff on the street
She said, “Hello, dodo
Where do you want to go?”

“I am a Boston terrier
I am the best girl in town
Take me for a walk to the park
I’m sweet old doggie Goblin Foo!

“Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi?”

She sat in her bag while we rode the train
From Baltimore to NYC
She took a nap, waiting to get to Central Park

“I am a Boston terrier
I am the best girl in town
Take me for a walk to the park
I’m sweet old doggie Goblin Foo!

“Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi?”

Petting her fur, feelin’ silky smooth
Color of pepper and salt
But the squirrels made the beast inside
Roar until it cried
“I can’t climb trees!”

Now she’s wand’rin’ around Central Park
With a crossbow in her paw
She doesn’t need to climb the trees
To cut the squirrels off at the knees
Grunt, snort, fart, yawn!

“I am a Boston terrier
I am the best girl in town
Take me for a walk to the park
I’m sweet old doggie Goblin Foo!

“Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous chase squirrels avec moi?”

This is a gentle, peaceful, breezy song about terrier-induced squirrel genocide. Don’t try this at home, folks. Actually, do try it at home. And send the results to moi.
* Answer to today’s pop quiz: As far as I can tell, the opposite of a hammer is a hammer, and the opposite of a screwdriver is a screwdriver. And the opposite of a saw is a rubber band.


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This One’s for You

I saw War of the Worlds last week, which was an utterly dismal experience. The genocidal alien invasion was bad enough, but what was really depressing was the human response to it. Eradicate our modern conveniences, throw in a dash uncertainty, and our intrinsic animal nature starts running the show. When has this not been the case?

Rush Limbo would say this proves I am liberal, that I would criticize the extreme human reaction to an extraterrestrial attack. When it comes to the War on Tera™, I must be one of the Blame America First crowd. Maybe I would like to give the terrorists and evil aliens hugs and group therapy.

But it would be foolish to blame people for acting like animals when we are animals. Liberals and conservatives are merely averse to different aspects of our primitive nature, one group disliking violence, the fight-or-flight response, and social Darwinism, and the other being positively terrified by anything having to do with sex. The rest of the debate boils down to disagreement over the societal conventions, rituals, and laws that have arisen around these evolutionary bugaboos. War of the Worlds is about what happens when these conventions, rituals, and laws are eradicated—rendered utterly ludicrous—in one fell swoop. The War on Tera™, the Culture War™, and whatever other pointless battles are raging out there will only achieve the same thing more gradually.

As a society, we have a real chance to rise above our primitive selves, to leave behind the cruelty and superstitions of past centuries in a way that will make all of us stronger, safer, and more comfortable. Unfortunately, there will always be those elements that are determined to drag us back into the muck.

(This one’s for you, terrorists. This one’s for you, George W. Bush. This one’s for you, evil Martians. Can’t you all go destroy each other somewhere else and leave the rest of us in peace?)

*

More Goblin songs tomorrow.

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Nano

My grandfather went to the hospital last week with a bloody nose and ended up getting quadruple bypass surgery for good measure. Before the procedure, he was horribly depressed and forgetful, and when I visited him yesterday in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, he kept saying things like, “David, why am I here? Did I have an operation?” They must have him on every narcotic pain medication known to man—as I would want should my own chest get cracked open—but I’m not sure that’s the cause of his current dementia. Once I visited him while he was caring for my grandmother in the nursing home where she eventually died, and he had an hour-long conversation with me, convinced I was someone else.

My grandfather is a strange and complicated person, and a lot of people think he is more of a lovable old codger than he actually is because he is flirtatious and has a good sense of humor. When I talk to him, however, our conversations usually revolve around the following topics:

• How lucky I have been in my life, compared to him. This is true. My grandfather is a smart man, but he never went to college or had any hereditary advantages. In his early twenties, he fought battles in the Pacific theater of World War Two, where he mistreated Japanese prisoners of war and acquired from ear-splitting cannon blasts the tinnitus that bedevils him to this day. Later, he became a painter for government buildings in Washington, D.C. and even moonlighted as a streetcar driver to support his family. He did well for himself because he was disciplined and hard working, but he also appears to resent the opportunities I have had that he has not. I am led to believe this from a number of embittered and even nasty comments he has made to me when we are alone. These are different from the nasty comments he used to make about how I wore my hair or why I had an earring, topics I learned to head off at the pass by getting up and walking out on him. That response seems inappropriate now, but am still at a loss for what rituals of gratitude he wants me to perform. I do my best to make the world a better place, but I’m not about to start sacrificing goats and sheep to appease the gods of fortune.

• How the world is so much more fucked up today than it was when he was in his prime. My grandfather seems to think everything went to pot spontaneously one day in the nineteen sixties, conveniently forgetting the evil men of his own generation (Nixon and Reagan come to mind) who carefully set the stage for our current national nightmares. I can only agree with him about the problems we face today, although this only adds fuel to the fire of his indignation.

• His hand-lettered signs. When he was very young, my grandfather became obsessed with lettering, a hobby he passed on to me and a couple of my brothers when we were growing up. When my grandmother went into the nursing facility, he spent his days taking care of her and lettering signs with all the nurses’ names. He must have done dozens of them there, and he estimates he has done another eighty for the residents and staff of his current retirement home. He speaks about them at greater and greater length every time I see him. I think they are his last pleasure in life and the one reliable distraction he has from the siren wail of his tinnitus, but wars have been started over less intricate politics than those that accompany these signs. Although he increasingly can’t remember whether I’m his grandson or his nephew or even his distant cousin, please believe that he is ready on a moment’s notice to describe every sign he has made since nineteen thirty-two, as well as the level of gratitude of the recipient and with what prominence it was hung or framed.

I have several, myself, and I treasure them.

*

Here’s what’s new on the Goblin song front. I suppose we must now call it the Goblinverse front, as someone has sent a limerick, and Goblin looked up from her bone long enough to nod her acceptance. This is from Denise:

There once was a dog, Goblin Foo,
Whose uvula danced when she pooed.
Said her daddy, “Now squiggle
And make it all wiggle,
Wear your crown proudly my Queen of Poo!”

And this is from MzOuiser, who kindly submits a song with a tune I have actually heard before (unlike my husband, I am not a theater queen!):

To the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown:

There’s a new girl on the block it’s Sweet Goblin Foo
When her daddy walks her out, you wish you could too
Sniffing for the perfect spot for her dainty poo
A scratch and a sqat
She’s got
a treat coming too

When she’s walkin’ with her daddy oh, ain’t she sweet
Ears pricked up, she prances on her pretty pink feet
All the squirrlies run and hide when she’s on the street
So clean and nice
that’s right
She don’t have lice

So if you see her, tip your hat to sweet Goblin Foo
She’ll growl and bark, and break your heart will sweet Goblin Foo
All the doggies wanna run with Sweet Goblin Foo
But she’s daddy’s own
Sweet little girl
That’s right,
Sweet Goblin Foo!

Goblin is happy to discover that people not only love her but are as obsessed with her poop as she is herself. Thanks, guys! Keep ‘em coming. God knows we can use them!