Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ask The Hardass 2

The Hardass has been a bit busy lately, punching criminals and eating their getaway vehicles. He has, in fact, been recovering from a weekend he spent underneath the wreckage of a parking garage. He had intended to punch out one of its corners to prevent a bandit from gaining entrance, which worked, but one of his arch-enemies foiled him by causing the structure to fall on him.

Gravity, you bastard, when will you learn?

Thankfully, he was able to file his way out with his chin, so he is back with us today and ready to answer your questions.

Dear The Hardass,

I spend a lot of time driving. I was wondering what you think I should do about the people that get in my way and stay there.

--Wanting in Westminster

To be perfectly honest, I never have that problem. This is my vehicle:

But if I were on a tight budget, I would invest in a pickup truck from, oh, the early 80s. Make sure it’s rusty. Remove the front and rear bumpers. Replace the rear one with a six-foot log, with the bark and twigs still on it. Bolt an old refrigerator to the front. If at all possible, drape small animal pelts over various edges, and fly a skunk tail from the antenna. Exhaust system? Remove it and replace it with lengths of drain pipe and old Folgers cans. Guaranteed nobody will mess with you then, and the whole setup will cost you about $300. Cheaper, if you steal.

Dear The Hardass,

What's a breast?

Blind, Naive, and Gay in Kansas

Scientifically, they are objects that grow on strippers. Or sometimes they are installed on strippers. Either way. Poetically, they are a reason to smile. I pride myself on my versatility, too, as I am actually more of an ass and leg man. I suspect you have similarly worded, but diametrically opposed views yourself.

Dear The Hardass,

What do you think about high definition TV? I’m not sure how the whole February switchover is going to go for me. Do you have any advice?

--Pixilated in Pittsburgh

HD televisions are every bit as tasty as the regular kind, but I do miss the explodeyness you get from the old cathode-ray tube sets of yesteryear. Those were real fun to punch and throw. A big, wide screen does tend to impress the ladies, however, so look into it.

Dear The Hardass,

I’m thinking about getting into needlepoint, but I really like the patterns and textures you can get with crochet. Is now the time to try new things, or should I stick to what I know?

--Yarned in Ypsilanti

What the hell are you talking about?

Dear The Hardass

Needlework, my good sir, is what I am talking about. There is no need to be rude.


Yes, there damn well is. Needlework, you say? Sounds like you’re a drug lord. I am on my way to your den of iniquity to break you into a thousand and twelve tiny pieces. In that sense, yes, it IS time to try new things. Get used to being 1012% closer to omnipresence.

Dear The Hardass,

A co-worker at my office knocked me down and took my sandwich. What should I do?

--Bullied in Bullisville

Find him. Knock him down. Eat his computer.

Until next week, folks! Send in your Hardass questions via the Indulge in Stupidity comments section, and I'll see that he reads them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Granola Prose XVI

"It's a type of foreshadowing," explained the Writer. "You first meet the gophers when Tiberius describes his expulsion from the Nitwit court, and then we tie it up in a neat little flying package."

"It still wouldn't hold air. It's very similar to the way your plot isn't holding water."

The Writer wrinkled up his face. Plots weren't supposed to hold water. Buckets were supposed to hold water.

"It's magic or something, I guess. Geez. First I'm explaining stuff too much, and now I'm not providing enough detail." The Writer held up his forefinger and thumb, half an inch apart. "I'm this close to scampering into a dark room and pouting," he warned.

"I'm just trying to keep you from being lazy. There's too much of that in fantasy writing already. Don't want to bother explaining how something works? It's magic! Killed off a favorite character by, oh, dropping him into a chasm during a duel with a three-story, fire-breathing demon? Just give him some different colored clothes and bring him back with magic! See where I'm going?"

"On some Tolkien fan's hit list?"

"Not specifically Tolkien. I do, however, like the demon. Ember. He's cute."

"He's supposed to be evil."

"He tries so hard to be vile. Just like a kitten!"

The Writer flicked some granola out of his ear with a most carefree finger. "Duly noted. I have taken your advice, dried it, salted it, smoked it and buried it deep in a concrete bunker for later consideration."

"Just make sure your contrivances are at least half-believable. And put more Ember in there."

"And then I put on eight padlocks," the Writer said with a dramatic snapping-a-padlock-closed motion he repeated seven times.

"Sir! He's barricaded himself in his cave and he's going to take off before we can stop him. Please advise!" one of the dark fairies said, speaking into a flyie-talkie.

"And how is he going to do that?" came the rasping response. "You and about twenty others are standing right outside the launch door, right?"

"Teehee, yes, but he's wily, sir."

"His airship is made out of gophers, Jenkins. He can't be that wily."

As it turned out, Tiberius was a little more resourceful than he looked.

"Roight! Looks like they got us penned in roun' the sides, so we'll scarper out the roof! Press the button, willyer Ember?"

The demon favored Tiberius with a sour look and poked the button of a garage-door remote with a scaly finger. A shower of dust and loose pebbles followed a grinding noise as the ceiling split down the middle. The crack widened. The tubulent night sky was within reach! All they had to do was fly the Zepeppilin straight up!

The fairies swarmed in and surrounded the airship in seconds.

"Bugger," said Tiberius.

"Oh, those lousy fairies!" The Writer keyed in the command to print, waited while his inkjet shook and clattered and snatched the sheet of paper when it landed in the tray. He wadded it up and threw it away.

"Not turning out how you expected?"

The Writer applied the Backspace key. "No. I don't want them to get captured, but it looks like they're going to."

"It really is totally under your control, you know," his lovely spouse said, prodding him encouragingly with a Craftsman® prodding rod.

"A good Writer," said the Writer, leaning on an imaginary podium, "invents characters that write themselves. That's when they really come alive."

"I'll open a window then, shall I? Just in case it's Stubs?"

"Everyone to the dirigibibble!"

Becky vaulted over the low edge of the Zepeppilin's passengerbox. Stubs hesitated.

"Come on Stubs! Tee-damn-hee!"

Stubs noted a duck. It looked malicious.

"Wonk," said the duck with a nasty inflection, and eyed Stubs balefully.

"That's an evil duck," said the stalwart dwarf, pointing. "I know it. I'm not getting on that thing."

"Who, Edward? Evil? Well, ain't that a load of pony!" said Tiberius, patting the duck on the head. Edward tried to bite him.

The fairies gave up trying to catch the doorknob. "Stand back! I'm going to break the door down!" said a voice. There was a frantic buzz of wings and a sharp "tink!" noise, like a teacup being set down on a saucer.

"Ow! My shoulder! My beautiful shoulder!"

"Aw, they'll pay for that, Rufus, don't you worry! They'll pay pretty pennies for damaging your good playful nudgin' shoulder!"

"Another question," said Stubs, taking another hesitant step toward the dirigibibble. "Where did you get what could be only described as a magically annoying doorknob, Tiberius? If that IS your real name."

"Stubs! What are you doing? Get IN here!" shouted Becky.

"Er, yeah, yer lil' mate is right. We're kind of in a Bob Murray here! If we snaps open the launch doors real quick-like, and makes a run fer it, I think we have a chance!"

Stubs was about to make another very pointed argument about not trusting the Zepeppilin and its operator when he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. It was that rogue duck. The evil one, with nothing but murder on his mind and crackers in his stomach. Edward! Edward reached out a foot and flipped a lever! Under the lever were the words "Throw Lever to Spring Trap

How could he have missed that?

The air filled with the whine of rope whizzing through pulleys, and a steel cage dropped out of the gloom above, neatly penning in the Zepeppilin and its occupants.

"Ah HA! Good work, Edward! I have you now, dwarf! " said an all-too-familiar voice.

"Um. No you don't," said Stubs. He was standing about six inches from the bars of the cage.

"Fuck!" screeched Tony. "Off by only about six inches. Now I have to haul that cage back up so you can get in."

"Run! Run, Stubs! Teehee! Get out of here while you can!"

Stubs didn't need to be told twice. As the front door began to splinter under the pressure of the fairies' candycane chisels and with Edward's cancerous quacking ringing in his ears, Stubs ran blindly into the the yawning darkness at the back of the cave.

"That sounds like kind of a disturbing turn of events," said the Wife, her chin on the Writer's shoulder.

The Writer stared blankly at the screen. "It is. But hey. This is what they wanted, my characters, and this is what they jolly well get. It's like they were just trying to get captured or split up or eaten or whatever. Now I have at least four separate paths to illustrate with my craft. My craft only goes so far!" he whined.

"Aww, your poor craft. How about you take a break and we go get that ice cream I promised a few chapters back? We'll go get you a twisty cone and a Gunky Dog at that place you like."

"Captain Cholesterol's? They closed that down at least two years ago, hon."

The Wife jerked a thumb over her shoulder at a metal cylinder with what looked like a lot of cooling fins on it.

"Time machine," she said.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ask the Hardass

Fresh from the pub and cured of his amnesia, The Hardass is all too happy* to lend our reader bits and shattered pieces of his craggy advice. The Hardass has been around for a while, but not a really big while, for that would make him sound old. Which, ladies, he is not.

Dear The Hardass,

I have some friends who like to go out drinking all the time, but I'm not really into that scene. I usually end up driving in my own car so I can leave early without dragging my friends out with me. What should I do?
--Stumbly in South Bend

Punch them. Seriously. Wait until they have a shot glass in one hand and punch them in the eye. Then steal their booze and cars and rack up a whole bunch of credit card debt and take off your pants in front of a policeman. You might as well. If you're too stupid to think of an excuse not to go until after you've already gone, you're probably screwed no matter what you do.

Dear The Hardass,

I am an attractive woman in her mid-twenties. I like to wear revealing clothes and sleep around, but I don't like it when men stare at me or make comments. What should I do?
--Slutty in St. Paul

Call me.

Dear The Hardass,

I voted for this one guy, but another guy won the election. I'm pissed! How do I handle the disappointment, and, particularly, all my gloating friends?
--Pissed in someplace that starts with P.

Dump on their lawns. All of them. Friends, politicians, whoever. One stipulation, though: You have to gloat about it to their face. No stealthcrapping. You have to take credit. Don't take no shit about your shit, either. Presumably the candidate you voted for was big on accountability as well?

Dear The Hardass,

It's me again. Are men always going to stare at my breasts if I show them off?

Yes, we will.

Dear The Hardass,

So what is it with breasts, anyway? What makes them so fascinating?
--Bouncy in Bartonville.

As your pseudonym neatly encapsulates, it's because they're bouncy. Bouncing things fascinate males as soon as their motor skills develop to the point where they can accurately track them. Superballs, trampolines, Silly Putty, basketball...the list goes on. The training starts at infancy with the birth of a "bouncing" baby boy. And seriously. You should call me.

Dear The Hardass,

I'm not that slutty girl. I'm just a curious dude. But if you know her number, could you hook me up?
--(Not personally) Bouncy in Bartonville


Dear The Hardass,

I've just become a father! I'm so happy, I could puke! How would you raise a child?
--Reproductive in Repr--um, Raleigh. No, wait, uh...

I wouldn't. I would give it away as soon as possible to avoid all the stickiness that children fill your life with. But if I had to, I would definitely, DEFINITELY raise him to hunt dinosaurs.

Dear The Hardass,

But she's a girl.

Don't care.

Dear The Hardass,

A kid at school knocked me down and took my bike. What do I do?
--Dispossessed in Dayton

Find him. Knock him down. Eat his house.

That's it for this week, Time Wasters! If you've got a question you'd like answered by The Hardass, just Indulge in Stupidity below, and I'll see if I can find him.

*Read: Forced to by his superiors for eating the flags outside the police station.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Granola Prose XV

Becky and Stubs reached over to knock on the door. The ground shifted beneath them. A crack appeared between the ledge they were standing on and the side of the mountain. The fissure, at first a mere spiderweb, widened quickly, sending a shower of small rocks down the face of the cliff.

“Stubs, don’t move!” Becky braced herself against the mountainside. “This ledge isn’t quite strong enough to hold us both if we shift our weight at the same time. Lean back and I’ll try to reach forward enough to open the door.”

Stubs obeyed and leaned backward. Becky reached out, grasping for the doorknob. Her fingers brushed against it and she gasped when the knob giggled and moved to the other side of the door.

“Oooh! That tickles!” the doorknob said, its voice high and wavering.

The ledge collapsed. Stubs, thinking quickly, used the head of his hammer to catch the broken cliff edge. With his right hand grasping the hammer, he reached his left down and snatched Becky’s wrist as she slid past. Groaning with exertion, he managed to haul her up far enough to grab the lip of the cliff. They hung there, gasping for breath and gazing up at the wooden door with its ridiculous doorknob.

“Well, I guess this is it,” Becky said. “Teehee. Oh, well. It could be worse.”

Stubs looked at her. “How could this possibly be worse? We’re going to die!”

Becky chewed her lip. “Sorry. The turd taffy is slowly poisoning my mind. I can feel myself growing increasingly optimistic even as the situation worsens. Here we are hanging from a cliff above an open chasm and all I can think of is what a wonderful view we have from up here. It’s driving me crazy, too. Tee-friggin’-hee!”

Stubs felt sorry for her and tried to shrug, but found this impossible to do while dangling from a cliff. “How about we split that last swine wad? It’d be a shame to let it…”

The door burst open, its frame immediately filled by an immensely fat man who looked at Becky and Stubs with delight.

“Well, blimey, if it ain’t Becky and the dwarf!”

“Tiberius!” Becky recognized the portly man from Sticky Jake’s gopher ranch. “What are you doing here? Where’s Sticky Jake? Have you always had a Cockney accent?”

Tiberius looked bashful and rubbed his toe in the dirt. “I was thrown out of ‘is lordship’s service,” he said mournfully. “’e caught me over-polishin’ ‘is pogs one mornin’ and ’ad me flogged. Then ‘e tied me to an ‘erd o' gophers and ‘ad ‘em drag me into the wild. So ashamed, I was, that I set meself up in business ‘ere in the mountains away from folks.”

“And the accent?” asked Becky.

“It’s part o' me new identity.”

Stubs looked around at the desolate landscape. “Seems in your effort to escape the shame, you might have also limited your customer base.”

Tiberius grimaced. “Yes, well. Me business model’s a work in progress. Ain’t you the dwarf what couldn’t hold ‘is—”

“That’s also a work in progress,” Stubs interrupted. “I’m improving. You’ll notice I’m hanging from a cliff at great peril and haven’t…how about just helping us up?”

Still miffed, Tiberius paused.

“We might be able to use your services,” Becky added.

Tiberius pulled them both to safety and led the way inside. He made a grand sweeping gesture. “Behold Tiberius Airways, the only dirigibibble comp’ny in the Mysteriolith Mountains! This fine craft you see ‘ere is the mothership. I call it the Zepeppelin.”

“That’s a dirigibibble?” asked Becky and Stubs in unison.

The contraption was smaller than the Loneos and not nearly as appealing. It floated a few feet off the floor and was made from gopher pelts, all stapled together (the obvious influence of Sticky Jake) to form an oblong balloon shape. Underneath the balloon hung the passenger compartment, which was actually a cardboard box reinforced with massive amounts of Duck Tape. Some of the ducks were awake and quacked menacingly.

Tiberius looked crestfallen. “Disappointed?”

“I…kind of thought it would be bigger,” Becky said.

“And more air-worthy,” Stubs added. “Are you sure this is safe?”

Tiberius bustled forward and caressed the dirigibibble. “Quite safe, quite safe! Tiberius Airways ‘as never ‘ad an accident.”

“Has it ever had a flight?”

Tiberius ignored the question. “Will you be needin’ me services?”

Becky and Stubs exchanged glances. Becky sighed. “It would appear we have no choice. It’s either employ Tiberius and reach the wizards quickly or I go crazy and the Syndicate takes over the world.”

A loud yawn interrupted the Writer’s concentration. The Wife, who was again reading over his shoulder, removed her Impacto Anti-Vibration Air Gloves™ and flexed her cramping fingers.

“I hate it when you use obvious dialogue to explain the plot. Do you think your readers are morons?”

“I’m just trying to make sure they understand the seriousness of the situation,” the Writer said. “After all, if there’s nothing at stake, there will be no tension.”

“If you have to keep stopping the story to explain what’s going on, then perhaps you have some editing to do.”

The Writer paled. “I’ve asked you not to utter that word in my presence. You know I abhor foul language. Now go back to your…whatever it is you’re doing.”

“I’m building a bomb shelter in the basement. But it requires that I remove a portion of the foundation. Hence the gloves.” She waved them in his face.

“Bomb shelter!” The Writer bounced a little in his chair and jerked his head toward the Wife, accidentally filling his ear with granola. “Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“Are you planning to send this story to your agent?”

The Writer nodded.

Backing slowly out of the room, the Wife pulled on the gloves. “In that case, I have work to do.”

Tiberius performed an excited jig. “Well, then, I suppose you’ll be in a hurry to be on your way!” He walked to the Zepeppelin and peered into the passenger box. He reached inside and appeared to be shaking someone awake. “Come on, mate! You’ve got passengers!”

They heard a long yawn and saw two arms extend out of the box as its occupant stretched. The arms were stick thin, the hands scaly, and the webbed fingers were tipped with sharp, talon-like nails. Slowly, a head appeared. Large, bulbous eyes blinked sleepily and a mouth, lined with tiny, pointy teeth, gaped in a giant yawn. The creature hopped out of the basket and surveyed the visitors. He appeared to be quite bad-tempered.

In spite of herself, Becky grinned. "He's adorable!"

Tiberius patted the creature’s head. He wasn’t more than four feet tall and had reddish skin. His face was creased with a perpetual frown. “Meet my best pilot,” Tiberius said. “His name is Ember and ‘e’s quite the little demon.”

“Misbehaves, does he?” asked Becky.

“No, ‘e’s really a little demon,” Tiberius said. “Found ‘im wanderin’ through the mountains. Apparently, ‘e’d been sent out to cause mayhem and got lost. He tries to act fierce, but ain’t really such a bad sort.”

Ember made a clawing motion toward Becky and Stubs. “Rowr,” he said.

“Well, let’s get the dirigibibble onto the launchin’ pad,” said Tiberius. “These folks ‘ave important business to attend.”

“Is it really safe to travel through the mountains at night?” Stubs asked. “It’s hard enough to see where you’re going in the day.”

“Actually, I’ll think you’ll find it much more to your likin’,” said Tiberius, grabbing hold of a towing rope.

Together, he and Ember managed to haul the Zepeppelin forward and tie it securely to anchor pins sunk deep into the rock. Tiberius pulled a lever and piece of the wall slid aside, revealing a stunning view of the Mysteriolith mountain range. The sky was dark, but the moon was out and bathed the mountain sides in silver light. It reflected off the snow on the peaks, sparkling and almost festive.

“I’ve never been in the mountains after dark before,” said Becky. “Why is it so much clearer and, well, nicer at night? Isn’t that sort of backwards?”

Tiberius looked around as if searching for spies and lowered his voice. “It's all the Fairies' doin'."

"They make the mountains all scary and dangerous? Isn't that a little contrary to their core value? Optimism, I mean?"

At Becky's words, the floor began trembling. The clear sky filled with storm clouds, blotting out the moon. Lightening flashed and raised the hair on the back of their necks. Tiberius paled and ran to shut the sliding door. It was almost closed when something appeared in the opening and blocked it. A fairy, grinning horribly, perched on the cliff edge and held the door open. It was smiling, but the expression was sinister. This fairy seemed different, somehow, not the normal sickeningly cheerful nymph Becky was used to, but dark and threatening. Looking over the fairy's shoulder, Becky could see several more on the way, their whirring wings reflecting the flashes of lightening.

The wind had picked up and the Zepeppelin strained at its anchor pins. Tiberius was struggling with the fairy, trying to push it from the ledge so they could shut the sliding rock door. Becky and Stubs joined the fracas and together managed to push the intruder out of the opening. The fairy gripping the edge of the door with his hands and, reversing his wing motion, used the backward thrust to hold the door open.

Ember leaped forward and, grabbing one of the fairy's fingers, chomped down with his tiny teeth. Startled, the fairy yelped and let go, but forgot to adjust his wing strength. With the speed of a rocket, he shot backward down the mountainside and out of sight.

"Rowr!" said Ember.

Tiberius wasted no time slamming the door. He turned to Becky. "You're one of them, aren't you! On your way to join them!"

Becky shook her head emphatically. "No! I'm not! I'm trying to stop them. Teehee!" She clamped a hand over her mouth.

Tiberius began dancing about, pointing at Becky accusingly. "The Call! That's 'ow they knew where you were!"

Stubs looked at Becky and she nodded. "He's right. If anyone with the Call begins questioning the Syndicate, it immediately sends a warning to their headquarters. It's their way of eliminating opposition before it can spread."

There was a pounding on the front door. Having abandoned their efforts to pry open the rock wall, the fairies were concentrating on the wooden door. They could hear giggling and knew the doorknob was giving the fairies a difficult time.

"Bed of roses!" swore one of the fairies. "I can't catch it! Sit still, knob!"

"Quick!" Tiberius said. "That door won't 'old 'em long. While they're busy, we might be able to make a run for it. Everyone to the dirigibibble!"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blog of Stupid in America
By Paul "FooDaddy" Brautigan

I met Blog of Stupid in America while I was out wandering around in the woods. I had a backpack on. Inside the backpack were bugs with thermodynamic politics on their minds. I liked them.

Blog of Stupid in America was standing on one leg on the bank of a small stream. I handed him a kitten. He said "thank you," and put the kitten down on a paper plate with capers and ice cream cones.

I could hear traffic in the distance. The cars were carrying people to Christmas parties. It was August.

"Do you come here often?" I asked Blog of Stupid in America.

"Did you know that crawdads appreciate Bach on a level we cannot even begin to understand?" he asked me back.

Of course, I had no idea. I had no children, either. That was why I had the kitten. The kitten was on the ground, watching the crawdads.

"My uncle was a flagpole," Blog of Stupid in America said. He tossed a lifetime's supply of Tic Tacs into the creek. "Doorknobs are actually intelligent beings from Chicago. Did you know that?"

Naturally, I had no idea. I had no pants, either. That was why I wore shorts. It was hot in the woods because it was August.

"I'm writing a parody of an author on my Blog," I told Blog of Stupid in America. "What should I write about?"

Blog of Stupid in America spun on one knee for ten minutes before answering.

"What was his stuff like?" He showed me that he was serious by handing the kitten a marble. The kitten seemed to like it. He was orange and stripey and had fuzzy little triangular ears.

"Strange," I said. "I think he was on drugs."

Blog of Stupid in America took some drugs. "Very tasty," he said. The kitten seemed to appreciate that. He rolled onto his back and hummed Tchaikovsky to the clouds.

"It was nice meeting you. I have to go now because there are things I must do back home. It's going to be Christmas soon," I said.

"Waffle pie," said Blog of Stupid in America. It was August, and the moon was out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Granola Prose XIIII--oops, er...XIV

Rearing defiantly into the sky, the mist-girded flanks of Mount Tenebrous would have sliced the storm clouds into ghostly tatters as the relentless wind drove them into it. Bolts of crackling lightning would have jumped from the spires jutting out over the void, sending rolling waves of sound crashing into the surrounding peaks like roars from the throat of a giant.

You would have been able to see Mount Tenebrous from miles away, too, had it been visible.

At its peak sat a castle quite unlike any other. Its center was a glass and chrome cylinder perhaps six hundred feet tall and one hundred feet in diameter. Cantilevered out at 90 degree angles from this were many smaller cylinders of varying length, giving the whole the appearance of a denuded, robotic Christmas tree.

Inside, the Mysteriolith Three were having an argument.

"It is our duty as wizards to meddle with things, is it not, Darius?" said Lucretius the Infuriatingly Wise.

"Of course, and I still think we should back the Fairy Syndicate. They won't notice a little extra magic here and there," contended Darius the Crafty, turning a nearby lamp into a glowing iguana.

"But imagine the state of things when the Syndicate has had control for a couple of decades. Total giggling totalitarianism. Where would we find our foothold?" Lucretius countered beard-strokingly, turning the lamp back.

"Anybody seen my wand? " inquired Maxwell the Replacement.

"I agree. That would certainly be less than ideal. We would just make our move before things got to that point," said Darius, turning the lamp into a plate of brownies.

"Under a Dirty Forest Man regime, we would be able to take our time," Lucretius said, turning the lamp back again.

"Hey! I was eating those!" said Maxwell.

"Well, now would be a good time for you to practice transfiguration for yourself, wouldn't it?" Lucretius said primly.

"Aw, come on! Darius? Come on!"

Speaking over Max's noisy and muttery search for his wand, Lucretius continued. "We need a decision before the dwarf and the rogue fairy find a way to get Merbert involved. That would not be good for any of us. Our goal is to destabilize things long enough for the Mysteriolith Three to assume the seat of authority we lost years ago, at the breaking of our troika."

"Did one of you guys turn my wand into, like, a golden retriever or something? I can't find it anywh--oh! Here it is. In the wand rack. What the hell?"

"You already know my vote. Dirty Forest Man," Darius said, crossing his arms.


"Oh, yeah. Hold on." He went into a crouch and approached the lamp. "Egregious Peterbilt!" he said, and waved his wand. There was a puff of smoke and a flash of light, and the lamp turned into an eight-pack of tube socks.


"Maxwell, we need your input."

Max shot the socks a nasty look. "I'm starving, and I can't do that conjuring trick you guys can. All I've been able to do since you hired me is turn things into tube socks. You ever had to hike down the side of an invisible mountain to buy frozen burritos at Wal-Mart?"


"Nope," said Darius, turning himself into a giant duck and back again.

"Well, it sucks."

"Max. Tell you what. You make the tie-breaking vote, and we'll conjure you up all the burritos you can eat. Sound good?" said Darius, turning the socks back into a lamp. It changed back perfectly, except for the shade, which retained a corrugated appearance and had two red stripes circling it.

"And I'm going to ask again why we can't just hang out and turn stuff into other stuff. But if you guys want to get all political and slap a DFM or Fairy Power bumper sticker on your flying cars, why don't we just call them both up and go with whoever pays more? Which, I'd like to add, is another moot point since you can conjure up anything you need out of thin air. Me too, as long as all I need are tube socks."

The wizard brothers looked at each other and then at Maxwell, who eyed them back, nervously. "What?"

"That's actually a very good idea, Maxwell!" said Lucretius.

"Absolutely! The side who offers us the most money is the most desperate. Desperation makes a lousy foundation for any power. The higher the price, the more easily toppled!" Darius exlaimed.

Excitedly, he bounded from his chair and strode to the center of the room. He stretched his hands out and the air filled with the whistles and shrieks of a thousand tiny pieces of metal spinning into being. The vortex flattened out and the metal pieces assembled themselves into a what looked like a loom. The loom began to operate of its own accord, and rapidly wove four panes of glass. The glass panes stood themselves up on edge as the machine, spitting sparks and smoke, pounded out wrought-iron rods and plates. These joined the glass, and the whole assembly spun as the loom shot rivets into it. In a matter of seconds, a fully assembled phone booth stood between the flat-screen television and an end table, and the loom melted away like sand blowing off the top of a dune.

Darius stepped inside, shut the door, and put his hand up to the side of his head, thumb and pinky finger extended.

"Give me the Dirty Forest Man," he said into his pinky.

"That was an awful lot of fanfare for an awful lot of nothing," the Writer's wife told him kindly, caressing his cheek with a tungsten arc welder. "You're going to give yourself a hernia, dear."

"That's kind of the point, though," the Writer said defensively.

"To herniate yourself? I think you need a nap, my suave keyboard jockey."

"Foolish wife! It's a well known area of humorosity that dictates an ironic buildup's hilarious effect. I have a book that--"

"Sorry dear. Telephone. Hello? Yes, he's right here. It's your father." She handed him the receiver.


"I'd also like to point out that ridiculous opening paragraph. Throat of a giant? Pah! Ghostly tatters? Pooh! And who ever heard of something 'rearing defiantly'? It's frogwash is what that is. Rearing ominously, maybe. You been reading Stephen King again? Huh? Well, you shouldn't. Stuff'll give you brain rot." There were some muted thumps and crashes and a "Lousy turkeys! Yer scarin' away the rabbits!" and the line went dead.

"What did he say?"

"Highly ignorable literary criticism," the Writer sniffed, chin rearing defiantly up out of his face.

"You'll probably go back and change whatever he told you to change later, once you've thought about it. You usually do."

"This time," the Writer said, tearing some granola into ghostly tatters with his teeth, "I'm going to leave it the way I have it now. I like it."

"What manner of reply did you receive?" Lucretius asked, displaying an almost unseemly level of excitement by raising one eyebrow.

Darius waved his hand in a complicated and precise gesture and disconnected the call to the Dirty Forest Man. He leaned out of his phone booth. "He told us to go boil our bums."

"You just made a phone call without using a phone! That's awesome! You gotta teach me that trick. Sprint gets such lousy reception in cloaked areas," said an impressed Maxwell.

"So that leaves us with the Syndicate," sighed Lucretius. "Evidently the Forest Man does not need our help."

"Or he ain't admitting it," interjected Maxwell, turning an eight-pack of tube socks into a thirteen-pack. "Dammit!"

"Let's test the water over in Whimsidor. Perhaps we'll get a bite there." He ducked back into the phone booth and performed the dialing gesture. Adopting an impressively deep voice, he said into his pinky, "Tell Crapulent Fartwing I can save him a lot of time, ma'am."

* * *

"I have heard of them, yes. If all you called to do was test my knowledge of local lore, I'm going to bid you a horrible afternoon and feed this telephone to one of my minions."

"Yay!" said the minion.

"Then you know what we're capable of."

Fartwing's eyes widened ever so slightly, and some of the impatience left his face. "Am I to believe I am speaking with one of the Three?"

"You are indeed. The legends are true, my friend."

"Even the one about one Darius the Crafty's habit of covering himself with mayonnaise and talking to pickles?"

"...Most of the legends are true."

Crapulent Fartwing laughed. It was a mean, dirty laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was made out of the lies of holy men and minced puppies. "So what makes you think I need your help?"

Darius' tone became colder and his voice deeper. "Because your aerial assault has failed. The dwarf and the wingless one have captured your bird."

Impossible! Nobody could even hope to lay hands on Aspartame without some pretty fancy magic. The bird was wily, resourceful, and above all, very oily. She also crapped mind-control taffy, which was pretty handy.

"Prove it."

"Shake your telephone handset."

Fartwing did. Something was rattling around inside. He unscrewed one of the endcaps, and an infrared Skittle fell out. No bag of Skittles had ever contained that color.

"Okay. You have my attention. Let's hear your offer."

* * *

Across the windswept wastes, Becky and Stubs trudged. They were down to their last leftover swine wad, their canteens were empty, and the battery in Stubs' iPod had been dead for hours.

"We're going to need a miracle," gasped the dwarf.

"This is a start. Teehee," rasped Becky.

Stubs looked up and wiped the grit from his watering eyes. He squinted. Becky was standing next to a door. It was wooden, set impossibly into the side of a cliff, and had the words "Tiberius Airways: Dirigibibble Rides!" painted on it.

"That's a start," agreed Stubs.

Granola Prose XIII

Dusk found Becky and Stubs at the foot of Mount Vague, the highest peak in the Mysteriolith Mountains. They had already covered a lot of ground since their encounter with the Battle Unicorn and Stubs was breathing heavily from the exertion. The dwarf’s face had turned a startling, but lovely, shade of purple.

 “Are you sure you’re all right?” Becky asked for the twentieth time.

 “Of course I’m all right,” Stubs wheezed, tripping over a small pile of stones. “I’m in the best shape of my life! It’s just the increasing altitude. My lungs are large and powerful, so they need lots of oxygen.”

 Becky looked up at the mountain and frowned. If Stubs was having difficulty with the foothills, there was no way he was going to survive a trek over Mount Vague. The tip of the mountain was swathed in mist, while the sides, which from a distance had appeared somewhat non-threatening, were now seen to be craggy and covered with sharp, broken rock. Although Becky wasn’t laboring as Stubs, even she was feeling the effects of the day’s exertion.

 A loud screech from above jolted them from their lethargy. Stubs dove to the ground and tried to cover himself with small rocks. Searching the skies, Becky spotted a huge bird circling overhead, its long wings flapping slowly. The bird’s body was sequined with Skittles and cotton candy trailed from its wings and tail feathers. On its head it wore a wreath of pansies.

 Becky ducked and held her arms up to shield her face. Her sleeve slipped up toward her shoulder and the Optiglyph branded on her arm began pulsing.

 As if the brand was a beacon, the bird screeched again and dove toward Becky. She tried to leap aside, expecting the bird to attack with beak and talons. Instead, it halted its dive a few feet overhead and Becky felt something wet splatter her arm. She glanced up and saw the bird ascending again. Suddenly, it dropped like a stone and landed heavily on the ground, its head flopping pathetically. It gagged and stretched its neck, straining for air. Stubs scrambled out from his hiding place. He ran over to the creature and tied it up with the strands of cotton candy. He was a little sheepish, but proud of the accomplishment.

“A direct hit!” he announced. “I told you my indiscretions would one day prove use…hey, what’s on your arm?”

 Becky looked at her arm. The bird dropping was unlike anything she had seen. Instead of slimy and loathsome, it was pastel-colored and thick in texture like heated taffy. It had dropped directly on the Optiglyph, which seemed to be absorbing the substance. The branded happy face brightened and the smile seemed to widen.

 Stubs handed her a handkerchief and she rubbed at the spot to no avail. The brand’s pulsing strengthened and a pain shot through Becky’s head. She rubbed her temples and Stubs groaned.

 “Not the headache again!” he said. “Don’t those fairies ever give up?”

 “Apparently not,” Becky said. “Like I said earlier, they probably know we’re coming and are doing everything they can to force me to do their will. We’re taking too long to find the wizards. We’re sitting ducks!” She winced as pain stabbed through her head. “I don’t care what Merbert said about the wizards. We should’ve taken the Loneos, hijacked it if necessary. We’d already be over the stupid teehee.”

 Stubs, who had walked over to inspect his vanquished foe, looked back quizzically as he realized what Becky had said.

 “The stupid teehee?” he asked, swallowing a Skittle. “What the holy mead is a teehee?”

 Becky squeezed her eyes shut, then blinked several times. “I meant the mountain. The stupid mountain. Teehee!” She grabbed her arm. “It burns!”

 The Wife groaned and tapped the Writer on the head with the end of her newly refurbished, shoulder-fired SAM launcher. “Flatulence and defecation? Oh, please.”

 The Writer tried to appear learned, thereby above reproach, but succeeded only in making his eyes cross. “It’s become a part of the plot!” he insisted. “I can’t just start pretending it never happened. It’s part of Stubs’ character. It’s who he is.”

 “I think you may be underestimating Stubs,” the Wife said. “If you were to look deeper into his character he might surprise you with his abilities. You’re holding him down, relegating him to the role of a farting fringe character.”

 “So you’re saying Stubs could be the hero?” The Writer chuckled. “I doubt my readers would buy that.”

 “That’s not what I’m saying,” the Wife said, “but if you expect readers to accept Stubs as part of the team, he’s going to have to start acting like it. Otherwise, why is Stubs even there? Becky would be better off without him. And we can’t have that.”

 The Writer pouted a little. “He defeated the attack bird.”

 “Ah, yes. The terrifying Skittle bird. It had me quaking.”

 The Writer couldn’t be sure, but he thought perhaps he detected a hint of sarcasm in the Wife’s tone. He decided to ignore it. She was, after all, still tapping his head with the launcher.

 “So you’re saying…what are you saying?”

 “Just making suggestions,” said the Wife. “Trying to keep you on track.”

 “I don’t need ‘keeping-on-tracking,’” the Writer insisted, crossing his arms petulantly. “I’m a highly-trained, professional writer of fine literature who—”

 “Uses disgusting bodily functions as salient plot points?” the Wife interrupted.

 “No! Who is perfectly capable of crafting his own fully developed plot without assistance from his non-literary spouse!”

 Incensed, the Writer dove his fingers back at the keyboard.

 As Becky struggled internally, Crapulent Fartwing moved through the halls of the Syndicate’s floating palace, amusing himself by attacking the self-esteem of random strangers. He had just succeeded in causing a group of school children to realize the futility of their futures, when a fairy minion tapped him on the elbow.

 “Excuse me, sir. Teehee.”

 Fartwing tried to turn on his heel, but tripped on his cape. He slapped the minion. “What is it, ugly?”

 Stung by the blow and insult, the minion wept for a moment, before remembering his fairy heritage. He brightened immediately.

 “A call for you, sir,” he tittered, handing Fartwing a telephone crafted from cake icing and fulfilled dreams. “You may eat this when you’re done, if you like!”

 Disgusted, Fartwing grasped the phone between thumb and forefinger and held it to his ear. “Crapulent Fartwing, here. This better be good.”

 “Oh, it is.” The voice was low and, even to Fartwing, a little creepy. “I understand you’re missing one of your number. A renegade who refuses to answer the Call. One Becky Ratite?”

 “Who is this?”

 “Someone who might be able to help reunite you and the prodigal. For the right price.” The voice laughed, but the sound was not pleasant. “Mr. Fartwing, have you ever heard of the Mysteriolith Three?”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Granola Prose XII

“Of course it matters! If the Syndicate sent Bruce, then…they know---"

Becky's voice gave way to static as flames claimed the transmitter embedded in Bruce's mane.

"Clever Becky," Fartwing chuckled maliciously. "Disconnect." The monitor speakers in the Wingworth control room stopped broadcasting the static and gave way to their usual xylophone and wind chimes rendition of What a Wonderful World.

"I see clouds of smoke...bent wreckage too! I see 'em go boom..." tittered the fairy warlord, wringing his nasty little hands. He turned as a subordinate fairy pranced to his side.

"What is it, Jenkins?"

Jenkins performed an elegant salute with both sets of wings and one hand. When the cloud of fairy dust settled, he made his report.

"Confirmed destruction of the Battle Unicorn sir."

"Sir...what?" menaced Fartwing.

"Sir tee hee. Sorry sir. Tee hee."


Jenkins pranced from the room, strewing pansy petals in his wake.

Fartwing allowed his pointy little face to bend into a painful smile. His face didn't much like bending like that, and Fartwing rarely made it try. It was a twisted bit of irony, his spearheading a war on pessimism, but that's the way the brightly frosted gigglebread cookie crumbled, wasn't it? He was good at war. The reasons were irrelevant.

"The Council gave me the job, and I aim to do it, no matter utterly pointless the cause," he muttered into his mug of ammo fraggaccino. "Although Merbert being forced to destroy his own cyborg unicorn...that was deliciously hilarious. Ow." Before he relaxed the smile, he allowed a rusty little giggle to escape. Like in some kind of evil Disney movie, the giggle landed on some of the pansy petals and turned them brown.

The air in the sky city of Whimsidor thrummed with lavender-hued activity. Diligent fairies were at work in the forges, pounding out rainbows, kittens and bags of Skittles. Others sat at buzzing looms, churning out tickling feathers by the truckload. Still others worked the printing presses, stamping out bumper stickers for moron people who believe that being happy is a conscious decision, rather than an alignment of neurotransmitters brought on by external circumstance.

Lucky for Fartwing, this is a larger percentage of the population than most people think. The discovery of a "Happy Switch" would, of course, cause the rest of us to believe it too.

And yes, factory fairies were hard at work building thousands upon thousands of Happy Switches.

Crapulent Fartwing saw it all, and thought it was horrible. He launched into one of those monologue things that villains always launch into when confronted with the works of their evil hands.

"Yes. Horrible. Horrible for my enemies! Observe the great power of Whimsidor, her mighty manufacturing capacity! Her indefinite supply of weaponry!"

He launched a fitting antagonist laugh to go with it. He swirled his black cloak (another supervillain necessity) as he spun on his heels (something anyone can do) and strode farther out along the skywalk.

He may only be a pawn in this game, a useful misfit, but he also knew that the Syndicate Council needed him. They were too pastel-colored and fluttery to dirty their precious hands with war. Fartwing looked down at his own hands. They were already extremely dirty, and it wasn't even lunchtime yet.

"I try and try," he sighed, "to get the grit off, but it just won't go. Nasty, nasty grit."

A pretty, glowing fairy landed in front of him on the skywalk with a velveteen purr of wings. "Sir, tee hee sir!" she said, saluting. "The Call has been issued, and all are accounted for, except," she consulted a pink clipboard, "Becky Ratite, sir. Tee hee!"

"Figured as much," Fartwing muttered. He swept past the fairy.

"Is there anything else you'd like me to do sir?" she asked.

"Yes. Go find a large parking lot and steal all the wiper blades off the cars."

"Sir? Pardon me for saying, tee hee, but wouldn't that be mean?"

"Suppose it would. Okay. Steal all the wiper blades, and replace them with cookies. You know how people like cookies, right Chlorine?"

Chlorine nodded and grinned. "Tee hee! Yes sir!" She fluttered off.

"I hate them all," growled Fartwing as he stomped into the silo. Slamming the door shut behind him, he yelled to the workers in attendance.

"Our forces have mustered!"

"Yay! I love mustard! Go forces!" said a fat fairy in a hardhat.

"Shut up, Bob."

"Sir. Teehee sir."

"As you all know, the Syndicate has mustered its forces. They are poised to do battle with the army of pessimism, and the abhorrent figurehead at its front, the Dirty Forest Man."

Further propaganda was cut short by manic giggling and cheering from the massed fairies below.

"Yeah, yeah. Enough of it. I'm here to crack the whip on you all. We need the Neurobomb operational in two days! I want each and every one of you to put your glittery little wings into it! Make it happen, people!"

"Sir! Tee hee sir!" they shouted, and set to work with their candycane hammers and peanut-brittle saws.

Fartwing kicked the door shut behind him. How he loathed the whole giggling lot of them. He knew for a fact that most of the fairies were actually hard working and industrious folk with a wide range of emotions, but ever since the Syndicate had established a firm hold, that range had narrowed by law to a vacuous smile and thumbs that ached from being up so often. The fairy race had produced many great philosophers and inventors, but few brutal tacticians.

Yes. They needed him. Needed him like he needed a drink, the glittery bastards.

The Writer looked up from his screen. Wow, he thought. I'm not so sure if I altogether dislike this supposed antagonist. He figured that villains couldn't be properly villainous unless they were unlikable in some way. Who could properly wish for the quick and messy demise of a villain whose views one agreed with?

"Hon? How would one go about making one's self disliked?"

"Be a writer," she replied a bit too quickly from deep inside her SR-71.

"Seriously, darling," he said, showing extreme patience.

"Aww. So patient. Okay. Well, first you could be evil and manipulative."

"How about manupula-ted? Does that count?"

"If you're being manipulated by an evil cause, I suppose. And you know it. And..." she pulled herself out of the cockpit and looked at the Writer. "Is this all about the new bathe-every-day rule I'm holding you to now? Because if it is--"

"No no no. I've introduced readers to our main antagonist, and--"

"You mean Tony? Wasn't he--"

"Stop interrupting me, Wife!" the Writer interrupted.

"There! That's how you can be unlikable," she said, diving back into her aircraft. "Be a poop."

"Tony's sort of a running gag, you see. The main source of evil in this epic is the fairy warlord, Crapulent Fartwing."

"Odd name for a fairy to have," she muttered metallically.

"I know. And now he's stuck in a position that sort of makes him be evil, even though he may not be predisposed to it. Am I making any sense?"

"None whatsoever. But it's interesting."

"Maybe I should make Fartwing, like, a goblin or something. A handsome one who got co-opted into the Fairy Syndicate. Should he have wings?"

"It's already in his name," the Wife pointed out.

"I see," the Writer muttered. He hated it when she spotlighted the obvious. "Perhaps you are correct. But only perhapsly."

...To be continued...

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hardass Hosts a Dinner Party

The Hardass gently set his salad fork next to a little silver pitcher of hazelnut yak cream. He dabbed his lips with a crimson linen napkin before speaking.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, rising and smoothing the wrinkles out of his immaculate Kiton 3-piece, "could I have everybody's attention, please?" He pinged a fondue fork against his wineglass.

"You have our ears, sir!" said a crew-cut young man halfway down the long dining table.

"Oh, please! Don't call me sir," said the Hardass, blushing modestly. He ducked so he could see past the chandelier. "Who called me sir? Marcus? Marcus! My name is Tanner, and that's what you call me here. We're not on duty, Marcus!" He jabbed his fondue fork at the rookie and winked roguishly.

"I'm sorry, sir--I mean, Tanner! We're just so excited to have you back and acting so, well, I, uh..."

The Hardass smiled ruefully. "I completely understand. It is quite a change. That mysterious month that I was mysteriously missing and had mysterious things done mysteriously to me really changed my outlook. But enough about that. If I start talking about it now, I'll get all weepy again. We're here to celebrate!"

A cheer romped around the room like a perverted otter, touching everybody in special places.

"You still haven't told us why you invited us out to this mansion you never told us you had, Tanner!" said longtime detective partner One-Eyed Jack.

"Oh ho ho! You're right, Jack! The head wound makes my mind wander. Oh, and golly, I still feel horrible about hitting you in the eye with that minivan last year. I was such a jerk!"

"Tanner, man, that's all in the past. It probably really was your turn to pick the radio station anyway," Jack said, gesturing cheerfully with his tumbler of brandy. "Besides, you've been doing nothing but apologizing ever since I showed up tonight."

"You're worth it, you winner, you. Ladies and gentlemen, I got you all together tonight because I missed your smiling faces, this you know. But I have another surprise for you. Something the ladies will particularly appreciate," he said, lowering his tone, being ever so careful that he did not allow it to descend to the carnal rumble of yestermonth; the one capable of vibrating the clasps off bras at twenty paces. The voice that claimed an infamous legacy of deafened wrongdoers and liberated breasts now sported a raiment of crystalline mirth.

"If you'll all follow me to the greenhouse, my chrysanthemums are in bloom!"

Squeals of delight and appreciative cheers bounced around the dining hall like rubber clowns.

"Now, now, calm down! The poodles are trying to sleep!" the Hardass said, giggling into his fist. "Please!"

He led the group of merrymakers across a twilit courtyard and into a magnificent two-story greenhouse with ivy-covered marble pillars and a decorative pool in the center.

"Friends, please enjoy the sights and smells at your leisure. When you're done, don't forget to pick up your gift basket on the way out. Dancing is next, followed by checkers!"

Chuck Franklin, the Chief of Police approached with his hands behind his back.

"Wait, wait! Before we go and check out all of your beautiful flora, we'd all like to give you this. Welcome back, Tanner!" He held out a giftwrapped box.

"Aw shucks, Chucks! You shouldn't have!"

"Open it!"

The Hardass daintily unwrapped the package, careful not to tear the shiny wrapping paper, by slowly removing the adhesive tape.

Inside was a plastic container.

A white plastic jar.

A white plastic jar with a red lid...


More cheering.

The Hardass stared. His jaw unhinged as a bolt of pain shot through his head and he collapsed to his knees.

The cheering stopped abruptly as several partygoers rushed forward to catch him.


"Hey, man, are you okay?"

"Give him some air!"

The Hardass was helped to his feet. Standing on his own, he expertly cataloged his surroundings with his flint-grey military-grade eyes.

"To hell with air," he growled. "I need some strippers, a glass of liquid nitrogen with lemon and a goddamn explanation."

He noticed the jar of Fluff, still limply grasped in Franklin's hands.

"Gimme that. And some friggin' toast to go with it."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Shittiest Lion
A Children's Story

It was a bright sunny day on the plains where the Crispy the Lion lived.

"I believe I shall go call on my friend Mole today!" he told a tree.

So he set off across the continent to visit a mole. On his way, he came upon a lake, in which there were much dolphins.

"Howdy, dolphins!" he said. The dolphins did a dance, because they liked Crispy the Lion. They liked him because he was special. They tossed him a fish.

"Have a fish!" the dolphins said. Then they scooted backwards on their tails across to the other side of the lake.

"I sure wish I could do that," remarked Crispy sadly. "I am not a very good hunter and I am not a very good theoretical physicist." Crispy ate his fish and continued on his way.

That night, he slept in a hole.

When the sun came up the next morning, Crispy woke up.

"Howdy, sun!" he said to the sun.

"Ultraviolet," said the sun, and proceeded to toast Crispy the Lion.

"I must find some water," he said. "I am thirsty."

So he looked around for some water. He found a faucet on the side of a house, but he could not figure out how to make the water to come out of it. He had seen men get water out of it before.

"Well, hi there, Crispy!" said a man. "You look thirsty! Would you like a glass of water?"

"Howdy, man! Yes, I would please," Crispy said with the greatest of manners. After he drank his fill, he flopped onto his side and allowed the man and his children to rub his furry belly.

"Rrrow! That tickles!" His breath smelled like fish, so the children ran away. "Goodbye, Crispy!" they said. Their voices sounded funny because they were pinching their noses.

"That right there is one special lion," the man said, shaking his head and smiling as he watched Crispy bumble off into the underbrush.

After fifteen and a half minutes, a platypus came running up to Crispy. "Please help me!" she said. "There is a mean old moose bothering my children!"

"Howdy, Platypus!" said Crispy. "Where is this mean old moose?"

"Just north of here!" said the platypus.

"Um," said Crispy.

"That way!" said the platypus.

"Oh," said Crispy.

He followed the platypus to her motorhome. A big shaggy moose was showing the platypus children naughty magazines and smoking a cigar at them.

"Eeek!" said the platypus children.

"Bwuh huh huh," the moose chuckled gunkily.

"Howdy, moose!" said Crispy. The moose turned to look at him.

"Well, if it ain't Crispy, the Shittiest Lion!" he sneered.

"Eeek!" said the platypus children.

"If you do not leave those children alone, I will bite you in two!" he said, displaying a fang.

"You could not bite a potato in two!" snorkeled the moose. "I would like to see you try it!"

For years and years, Crispy the lion had been made fun of because he was different. He was not a very good hunter, and he was not a very good astronomer. He had the wrong number of claws, and his mane was always too poofy. But he had a heart bigger than all the other lions put together.

"I will!" he roared. He gathered his will. He gathered his strength. He pulled a potato out of his pocket and bit it right in two!

The mean old moose laughed so hard he swallowed his cigar and exploded.

"Eeek!" said the platypus children.

"Thank you, Crispy!" said the overjoyed Platypus. "Have an oatmeal cookie!"

Crispy the Lion loved oatmeal cookies.

"Mmmph! Wemm, I mmfta go nowmm. Gmbye Pmmattypuff!" he said, spraying cookie crumbs all over the place.

That night, he slept in a bus.

In the morning, Crispy jogged in place for no reason for about an hour.

After a little bit of jogging in different places, he came to his friend Mole's house.

"Howdy, Mole!" he said.

Mole was in his yard, putting up a satelite dish.

"'Sup, Crispy?" he said cheerfully. He had not seen his friend since the last book!

"I wish I could swim with my tail, like the dolphins," announced Crispy.

"That's stupid," explained Mole.

"Oh," said Crispy. "Well, have a potato, Mole!" he said, handing Mole half of a potato.

"Damn, cuz! Some dude put the munch move up on this thing! Right in two!"

The Shittiest Lion smiled to himself.

Based on a true story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Writer is Bored, So He Daydreams...

The small child caught the afternoon sunlight glinting off of something shiny in the bushes.

"Sunlight! You shouldn't be doing that!" said the small child, rather out loud. Indeed, in his admittedly limited catalog of Acceptable Happenings, sunlight didn't glint off of bushes. He wheeled his pudgy little body around and approached the bush in Investigation Mode.

An airplane flew by overhead, full of recirculated, pressure controlled air. The small child paused to look up at it. His brain took a brief moment to wonder where the airplane stored all the farts it filtered out of the air. It must be a big jar or something.

It looked like a pretty normal bush. It was one of those piney looking ones with the leaves that look kind of soft, but are actually really pointy. His mommy told him that it wasn't really a pine bush, because it didn't have cones. The small child knew better, though. It smelled like a pine bush, and it was pointy like a pine bush. She had to be fibbing. She fibbed when she didn't want him to know things. His mommy made him bathe, too, which was another strike against her. She would probably make him bathe tonight because he would probably get some sticky sap on himself. Real pine sap.

The small child circled the bush suspiciously, bobbing his head up and down to see if he could catch it glinting again. There! Right in the middle, stuck in a tangle of branches! It looked like a shiny metal TV remote control with no buttons. The small child was overjoyed. His mommy and daddy never let him touch their remote controls. Now he had his own. Ha.

He reached into the bush, gritting his teeth as the honest-to-God pine needles poked his arm. As soon as he touched the shiny remote thing, it beeped, and a bunch of blue lights lit up along one edge. He hadn't seen them until they lit up. That was a pretty cool trick. He touched it again to see if it would beep again and maybe light up some more lights, but it didn't. He carefully worked it out of the branches and needles.

The small child was nearly vibrating with excitement. He ran across his yard to his tire swing. He inspected his new toy, draped belly-down in the tire, legs kicking happily.

"Pretty," he said, touching one of the blue lights.

"Agent Donaldson. It's good to hear back from you. What is your status?" said a man's voice.

The small child glanced around. It was just him and his shiny thing in the yard. Daddy was at work, and mommy didn't have a voice like that.


The voice was coming from his remote control! Not only was it shiny and beepy and lighty, but it talked too!

"I want cookies!" the small child told his talking remote. He figured that he might as well be honest with it. Honesty was good when you made new friends.

"Indeed. Don't we all, Donaldson?" chuckled the remote. "Seriously though. How are things in the field."

The small child was a little confused as to why it was calling him "Donaldson," but he would probably figure that out later. He kicked himself around in the swing and looked over the backyard fence and into the big yard on the other side. The man over there never mowed his grass. It looked like a field, so that's what he called it. There were probably gophers and mice and boogeymen in there.

"There's a boogeyman in the field," he whispered to his remote.

"Shit!" hissed the remote. "Armed?"

Silly remote! Of course the boogieman has arms! How else would he grab little children and eat them?

"Well, duh!" he sassed. "And you shouldn't say that word. My mommy says it's naughty."

"I'm sorry, Donaldson. I forgot how you are about these things. Can you tell what he's armed with?"

"Big arms!" the small child giggled. The boogeyman did have big arms. He had to.

"Mud puppies. Donaldson, you're going to have to find a way around him yourself. I'm sorry, but there are no agents close enough to your position to provide cover fire. If you're quiet enough, you might be able to knock out his shield with an EMP you have enough juice in your sidearm to take one down?"

The small child loved juice. Especially apple.

"I have a box of it over by that rock, but there are bugs in it now, so I don't want it any more," he said, pointing to a juicebox he brought outside earlier. Ants were crawling all over it. But that was okay, because the child liked ants and was perfectly content leaving the rest of his juice to them.

"Donaldson. Did I hear you right? You've sighted bugs? Please confirm!" The remote sounded upset. "This is worse than I thought! You have full permission to abort mission, Donaldson! It looks like you're in over your head!"

"I like bugs," explained the small child calmly. "They can have my juice."

If it were possible for an inanimate piece of metal to look stunned, the remote did just that. Then it gasped.

A few seconds of silence.

"Wait a second here. Hold on. Full stop. Slap the rabbits. Are you, in fact, Agent Donaldson?"

"Nope!" said the small child. "I'm a small child."

"I see. Well then." Then, in the background, "Mr. President! You can call off the attack drones, sir! Faulty intelligence!" Louder and clearer again, "small child? Are you still there?"

"Yes, talking remote!"

"Talking...never mind. Where did you find this, uh, talking remote?"

"In a bush!"

"Donaldson, you moron...Listen, kid. We need you to put the remote back in the bush--"

"But I don't wanna!"

"--Drones? No. Wait. Better idea. Kid? How about if you get your mommy or daddy to drive you to a police station? When you give this remote control to the police, they will give you a cookie. Deal?"

"Ten cookies!"

"Little bastard. Okay. Ten cookies on the taxpayers' dime. Happy?"

He was.