Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Wolf Who Was Afraid of the Dark

The wolf who was afraid of the dark was named Gary, and he wasn't like the other wolves. Oh, he ran with the pack and shared in the kills and did wolfish things in the meadow. But when night fell and the other wolves went off to howl their anguish to a shrouded moon, Gary would curl up with a battery-powered nightlite and tremble and weep until dawn.

Gary was actually an accountant from Cleveland who one day decided he didn't want to be an accountant any more.

"Well, what are you going to do if not accounting?" His wife wanted to know.

"I haven't decided yet." Gary replied. "I'm still reviewing my options."

"And what exactly might those options be?"

"Well, your brother said he could probably get me a job in the loan department at his dealership."

"Mm-hmm." She knew her brother disliked Gary--thought him weak and indecisive.

"Or there's always sales." Gary continued. "I like people and I understand the fundamental elements of commerce."

"Oh, of course." She said, rolling her eyes.

"I've always wanted to own and operate my own restaurant. Perhaps it's time to give that a try. I think I'd do quite well at that."

Gary coughed and looked away, mumbling into his fist as he did.
"Or I may become a wolf."

"Excuse me, I didn't quite hear that last one, did you say a wolf?"

"Yes, that's one of the options I'm reviewing. I could head north until I find a pack that accepts me and then run with them and bring down game like elk and deer and drink from mountain streams."

His wife wanted to laugh but something in Gary's eyes froze the laughter in her chest.

"At some point I'd probably take a mate. Wolves mate for life you know--unlike a certain wife I happen to know."

She lowered her eyes guiltily.

"Oh, I doubt we'd conceive." Gary continued, sounding more and more like a man who'd made up his mind. "But miracles do happen. And if by some spectacular grace, my mate does bear me a little Wolf/Boy child, then I'm going to name him Gravenfury Wolfheart, Lord of the Forest. And when my mate, his mother, passes away, then Gravenfury Wolfheart and I will roam the earth together--belonging nowhere, belonging everywhere."

"Sounds like you've decided then." His wife said softly, numbly.

"I have." Gary replied and turned for the door.

"Just one thing though." She looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. "Aren't you afraid of the dark?"

Gary gave her a little smile--a smile of memories, good and bad.

"It’s accountants that are afraid of the dark my dear, not wolves. I'm sure in time it will pass."

And then he was gone.


Years later she thought she caught a glimpse of Gary, out the window of her commuter train. He was older, deeply tanned and walked like an athlete, not an old man. At his side trotted what appeared to be a border collie. It had blue eyes. It was wearing a wristwatch.

She cried out softly. "Gary? Gravenfury Wolfheart?" She whirled in her seat, trying to keep them in view. Nothing. Just the blur of passing trees and signs. She sobbed bitterly to herself the rest of the ride. The man on the seat next to her read his newspaper the whole way and pretended not to notice.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

True Western Truth #141

In the Squinty-Eyed American West, you often didn't know where your next meal was going to come from. Therefore, though it was definitely good etiquette to ask your companions if they'd had their share before taking the last biscuit, it was best if deep down, they all suspected you were the sort of man who'd gladly kill every last one of them for it. And the nice thing was that you really didn't have to kill all that many people in biscuit related arguments before the word got around. Seven or eight seemed to do the trick.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gallivare's Neckerchief

"I am Gallivare." Said Gallivare. "And this is my neckerchief."

Would be a very odd way to start a story.

Unless of course the title of said story happened to be Gallivare's Neckerchief. In which case it wouldn't really be so odd at all--would in fact, actually, make quite a bit of sense.


And the title of this story does just happen to be Gallivare's Neckerchief.


Um, so I'm going to start again now if you don't mind.

"I am Gallivare." Said Gallivare. "And this is my neckerchief."
Gallivare removed his neckerchief and held it high for all to see.
"It is a wonderful neckerchief. I am quite fond of it."

Gallivare nodded at each person in turn, and his eyes were soft and sincere.

"I tie my wonderful neckerchief around my neck and then that is where it is. And I don't ever have to think to myself, 'Oh no, where has my neckerchief gone?!' Because it is right there and then I am not lonely and also my neck won't get sunburned."

Gallivare demonstrated; and if you won't forgive him the slight flourish as he tied--what with so many eyes on his wonderful neckerchief--well then, you're just a crueler person than most.

"There." Gallivare said. "It is tied around my neck now as you can see--just like in my description of how I said that it would be. And now I am not lonely and also my neck won't get sunburned."

And then slowly, stealthily, despite all rationality, everyone in the room found themselves wishing they too had neckerchiefs.

And then later that week Gallivare died. He was too beautiful for this world.

Well, that and also he had a furious batch of cancer gnawing holes right through his brain.

I weep for Gallivare and smoke to see him soon.

(Hmm, that took a turn, right at the end there.)

Okay, just so you don't go away weeping, here's a short, lewd poem to cheer you up. I wrote it just now. It took about a minute. There is actually a very distinct possibility I am unholy, and on the far side of spectacular.

The aforementioned poem begins now:

Savagery and sorrow,
these are all the things I know.
I probably need a blowjob quick,
before mad my mind doth go.

Miss if you'll facilitate
and bear the Admiral's men,
I swear I shall reciprocate
and chin awash in sin.

Goodnight evildoers, and puppies and children. (But I sure hope the children and puppies aren't reading right now.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fury and the Rivermen

If otters give each other names, they are surely unpronounceable on the lips of Man. Who knows what name the other otters had for the big gray one with black fur across its eyes--but the Rivermen called it Fury, and crossed themselves as they did.

(Mercy, that's a good opening!!! It makes me all tingly to know that I'm the one who wrote it.)

For a time in America, the West held all the promises, and the stagnant East, in all its dreary pomp, might as well have been old England.

Land for your own? The West promised that. Freedom to self-rule? Yes, it promised that too. But The West promised other things as well--things of a more savage sort. It brought men close to things with claws. Peril was what was for breakfast and mistakes became eternal.

Crossing rivers for instance.

Crossing rivers was a big deal if you wanted to settle in the American West. Every spring the creeks would swell, trickles into torrents, and it fell to a few brave Rivermen to tame the savage shores. But some of the savage shores did not want to be tamed and they fought back savagely. And then one day an otter was born and Fury was its name.

From the journal of a Riverman - Late Spring, 1837:

"We were supposed to cross four times today--three loads with families and one load with grain. But then that goddamn otter came back, the big gray one with black fur across its eyes. It chewed right through the traverse lines and when Petey tried to refasten them, it blinded Petey with two fast claw swipes and then tore out his spine.

These good people have paid their fare and so we're duty-bound to ferry them across. Boss says at first light I have to go out and refasten the traverse lines. But I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid that when I lean over, that goddamn otter is going to blind me with two fast swipes and then tear out my spine. Goddamn that otter. Goddamn that furious, furious otter."

* * *

Okay, so to summarize: People head west, hungry for opportunity, any opportunity. But some of them discover that to get there, they must cross a river. And every time they try, a furious otter blinds them and tears out their spine.

From the journal of another Riverman, not the same one whose entry we just read - Late Spring, 1837:

"Not good. Not good!!! They're saying it's my turn to go out and try to refasten the traverse lines. Well piss on that, I can see the trend. First that furious otter blinds Petey and tears out his spine and then poor Jeb goes out and the same damn thing happens to him. Well I can read the writing on the riverbank walls--it says an otter stalks these savage shores and Fury is its name. Yeah, so to hell with Boss, he can go out and refasten the traverse lines himself and get blinded by that goddamn otter and lose his own damn spine. Me, I’m staying right- Wait, what was that? Guys, did you hear something?"

* * *

And then nothing. No more journal entries after that. And that section of land was never settled; it remains empty to this day. You can go there if you don't believe me. It's somewhere in South Dakota between a river and the world. But don't look too hard or you just may find more blood than you bargained for, because an otter stalks those savage shores and Fury is its name.

(Yes, yes--I know the second Riverman wrote stuff in his journal at the end that he actually meant to say out loud, but he was a simple man, very frightened, and he got a bit confused.)

(There's a remote chance that that otter was actually a raccoon that swam really, really well.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Susan and Gregory Read a Book

Gregory and Susan had been dating for over a year and Gregory still hadn’t finished reading Susan's favorite book, even though he'd seemed so interested in her description of it when they first met and had promised to promptly read it.

It bugged Susan for reasons she couldn't quite explain.

One night after Gregory fell asleep, Susan took it off his nightstand, where it had sat for months, gathering dust. She read the last few pages and like always, they made her smile and cry. She pressed it flat against her chest, liking the feel of its weight. She gently rolled her chin back and forth across the shallow channel of the pages between the front and back covers, and ran her finger up the soft, wrinkled spine, worked flimsy with age but still hanging on.

It was a wonderful book, Susan affirmed to herself. What a shame Gregory had made so little effort to get through the slightly slower chapters at the beginning to where it really started getting good. And the worst part was that he refused to admit he couldn't or wouldn't read it--no, he was content to just let it sit on his nightstand as if he really did want to, if only he could find the time in his oh-so-busy schedule of temp work and watching televised sports.

"Oh well, his loss." Susan thought to herself as she stretched over to return the book to its dust-outlined resting place on his bedside stand.

Then suddenly something snapped, and on a whim, she beat him to death with it. When the twitching finally stopped, Susan sat down beside his oozing corpse and read every word out loud. When she reached the end, she read it again, and again and again... It was days before their friends got worried and kicked down their door to see what was wrong. What they saw when they reached the bedroom, haunts them to this day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Coin-Operated Hemorrhage

Hello, this is the Advanced Computer Program that sometimes selects stories to rerun when Latigo Flint falls down too hard. I was programmed to only display stories that portray Latigo at his "triumphant best". But "triumphant best" is pretty subjective and so in his case I decided to interpret that as one in which the protagonist sustains horrific injuries as a result of his own stupidity. And what's Latigo going to do, argue with me? I'm a computer program, not his pillow.

From the archives - January 6, 2006:


A Coin-Operated Hemorrhage

Today Latigo Flint went to the supermarket and was pleased to discover they had recently installed a coin-operated horse out front, just to the right of the sliding glass doors. But the odd thing about this particular coin-operated horse was that its eyes seemed to follow you as you moved and it would growl when you inserted a quarter.

'Course, turns out it wasn't a coin-operated horse at all but was in fact a Great Dane, and a grumpy one at that. However, Latigo Flint had already deposited his two bits (come to think of it, Latigo Flint actually doesn't want to know where) and damned if he wasn't going to get his thirty-second ride.


The trouble with bleeding on the produce displays is that they make you buy it all--even the okra. Now you know and they know, that there was no way in hell they were ever going to sell all that okra. It was just gonna sit there for a week, like every other shipment of okra since the dawn of supermarkets, until it blotched and moldered and had to be thrown away. Okra is on the books as a loss before it's even delivered, and so apparently it's jackpot day for management if someone happens to bleed on it.

"Clean up in the produce department of a biological nature." Crackled a smug voice over the store intercom. A stubby-legged manager sprinted around an aisle, several assistants in tow.
"Did he bleed on the okra?! Did he bleed on the okra?!"

They fanned out, grunting with almost orgasmic anticipation as they raced through the displays.
"Arrugula, artichoke, kale, watercress, jicama... come on-come on-come on...... OKRA! THERE IT IS!!!"

The assistant manager dropped to his knees, waving his skinny arms above his head and shrieking with hysterical joy.
"The poor fool bled on the okra boys--he motherfucking bled on the motherfucking okra!!!"

"The motherfucking okra?"

"The motherfucking okra!"

They let out a cheer, linked arms and started dancing around the berry island.

"Hey Phillip, okra's out of season, is it not?!!!"

"By god man, I think it is!!!"
"Premium prices, premium prices--buck ninety a pound, buck ninety a pound."
They all whooped and took up the chant:
"Premium prices, premium prices--buck ninety a pound, buck ninety a pound!"

I could feel my slowing heartbeat, a lethargic throb in my temples. I crawled in the direction of the front door and absently wondered, as I crossed over to the chip section, why the produce department is carpeted and the rest of the store is linoleum.

That Great Dane, the one I'd mistaken for a coin-operated horse, sure had tore me up pretty bad. My femoral artery was external and whipping around like an unsecured fire hose. I had puncture wounds so deep that they were shallow again on the other side, and every time I drew a breath, my pancreas bonked my spine.

Now I'm Latigo Flint, a squinty-eyed gunslinger born hopelessly out of time, and I'm certainly no stranger to horrific wounds. But with an entire produce department now on my tab, including what appeared to be nearly half a ton of out-of-season okra, well, for the first time ever, I actually felt financially incentivized to die.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

True Western Truth #277

It was quite common, in the Squinty-eyed American West, for thunderheads to mass, dark and sullen on the skyline. It was customary for whoever saw them first to turn his neighbor and grimly note: "Storm's a comin'."
There were several standard responses to this observation, among them: "Yup." or "And a bad one at that." or "Best call the young'uns in." or even "Shucks in a haller, you're right."
"Oh goodie, I like the rain." However, was an absolutely unacceptable response--one for which you could be pistol-whipped and feel lucky it was nothing worse. Hardly anyone ever said, "Oh goodie, I like the rain", in the Squinty-eyed American West. The few who did were pistol-whipped and didn't say it again.

Monday, July 17, 2006

One Antler Moose

Just because it's been nearly a year since I last spoke of him, doesn't mean One Antler Moose isn't still out there; snorty and dangerous and eager to gore.

From the archives, July 24, 2005


One Antler Moose

The worst mistake anyone could ever make would be to assume that One Antler Moose is half a moose. One Antler Moose only has one antler, it's true, but that fact doesn't reduce his capacity to kill--if anything it doubles it.

See, the problem most moose encounter when they're trying to kill something is that almost everything they want to kill is narrower than their antler span. The moose are indecisive, left/right, with their antlers and often end up simply tickling their intended victims with soft, velvety ears.

One Antler Moose doesn't have this problem.

One Antler Moose always knows which antler he's going to use.

One Antler Moose and Latigo Flint have a wary respect for one another. We each see in the other an impressive ability to maim.

"Hello there One Antler Moose." I say whenever our paths cross.

He replies with several snorts and tail shake.

I grin. This joke is as warm and familiar as an old stove.
"I don't know One Antler Moose, what's the worst thing about goring a fat forest ranger?"

One Antler Moose flicks his ears and snorts again. I start chuckling. Just because you already know the punchline doesn't mean the joke isn't funny.

"Same as you ever were One Antler Moose." I glance at my pocket watch.

One Antler Moose clears his throat and paws at the ground.

I smile. "Yeah well, not if I see you first."

We continue on our respective paths, glancing over our shoulders as we depart. Over time a squinty-eyed gunslinger and a one-antlered moose can certainly become unlikely friends. He and I have already proved that. But it doesn't mean either of us wouldn't kill the other in a heartbeat should the opportunity present itself.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Men of the Far Long Hills

Sometimes the Men of the Far Long Hills were pushed by the wealthy ranchers a bit too far. And such men could only be pushed so far.

For instance, the wealthy ranchers would often put up fences around what they decided was pasture land.

"Grrrrrrr!!!!" Would go the Men of the Far Long Hills. They'd hurl their hats to the ground and stomp the undergrowth for a while.

Then the Men of the Far Long Hills would saddle up and ride into town--twenty abreast and smelly.

"Attention you miserable fuckers!!!" They'd bellow down Main Street as shopkeepers blanched and drew the shades.
"We are the Men of the Far Long Hills and you've pushed us a bit too far."

"Is that so?" The wealthy ranchers would retort from hotel windows as hired guns streamed into the street.

"Yes, that's so." The self-appointed leader of the Men of the Far Long Hills would reply. "And your purchased pistoleros look like sissies to me."

Right about then is when several of the Men of the Far Long Hills would need to have a quiet, urgent conversation with their self-appointed leader.
"Um, actually Jed, those guys don't really look like sissies at all." They'd council. "As a matter of fact, they kinda look like brutal killers of men."

"Excuse me?!" Jed would exclaim, astonished by this dissension.

"Come on Jed, look at them: They are clearly men without past or future--their eyes are squinty and cruel. Their guns are tied down and their holsters are oiled. And that one just kicked a puppy."

And this was true; the one on the end with a cross draw rig, had just kicked a puppy.

"It's a bad idea Jed, to gunfight men who would kick puppies and grin."

"You're right, I agree." Jed agreed. "Okay, new plan."

He turned back to the ranchers.

"Attention you miserable fuckers. We are the Men of the Far Long Hills and we're gonna crap on all your fences. That is to say, any fence you put up, will be promptly crapped on by us. And there's nothing you can do about it, and good luck finding someone to clean it."

Jed looked to his men with a stout fist in the air and the sneer of one who has won.
"And now we ride!"

And ride they did--back out of town, toward the far long hills. They rode twenty abreast and triumphant, stopping only to crap on fences.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wild Dog Attacks, Avoidance and Cessation

The first real breakthrough in wild dog attack cessation technique was made in the spring of 1903 when a dry goods merchant from Akron named Elias Bendlestaff realized it was not enough to simply wish you weren't being attacked by wild dogs.

Elias began giving seminars in the back of his store on the avoidance and cessation of wild dog attacks. Cost to attend was ten cents for adults, twenty cents for children. (Twice as much for children because they needed it so much more, and also because it was what the concerned parent market would bear.)

Historians have recently found one of Elias Bendlestaff's original training pamphlets. Its text is reproduced here, free of charge because I love you.

(The graphics were faded and didn't scan well, but just read Cujo and use your imagination.)


Elias Bendlestaff's Handy Guide to Wild Dog Attacks--Avoidance and Cessation
by Elias Bendlestaff

Few things in life are more unpleasant than being attacked by wild dogs. You should strive at all times to avoid such an occurrence by staying away from packs of wild dogs, especially if they seem inclined to attack.

If you fail to avoid being attacked by wild dogs then you will find yourself being attacked by wild dogs. You will discover that the sensation is extremely unpleasant and you will wish that it wasn't happening. This is a natural response. Unfortunately it is also a fatal response. Wishing is passive and passivity is the enemy when being attacked by wild dogs, other than the wild dogs of course.

For instance, should you be attacked by wild dogs, you may find yourself thinking:
"Gosh I wish I wasn't being attacked by wild dogs right now. You know, I'd probably be almost home by now if these wretched dogs hadn't attacked me instead of bleeding out in the street, watching slavering jaws unravel my intestines. I sure do wish I was almost home instead of being attacked by wild dogs."

Can you see how this has done very little to halt the attack? Halting the attack should be your primary objective when being attacked by wild dogs.

Once you manage to avoid wasting all that blood and time dreaming about how much better your life would be if you weren't being attacked by wild dogs, it's time to get down to the business of halting the attack.

You must endeavor, using any means at your disposal, to halt the attack. Once the attack has ceased, put as much distance between you and the wild dogs as possible to prevent the attack from resuming. And review the section on Avoidance as soon as the opportunity presents itself, as it clearly contains a principle that you have failed to grasp.


Elias made a lot of money and probably saved countless lives.

True Western Truth #137

In the Squinty-eyed Old West, you were expected to remove your hat before sitting down to the supper table. You could claim extenuating circumstances if it happened to be fastened to your skull at the time by arrows or a tomahawk, and perhaps the lady of the house would grant you a temporary stay of hat removal. But after desert, she'd forcibly tend to your wounds, and her Epsom salts mixture would really sting and her salve smelled like rotting moss. You were usually better off ripping it out yourself, or skipping supper altogether.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Wagon Master's Daughter (Loved by the Mule Boy)

The Wagon Master's daughter was named Pumphrey. She was the rarest of beauties in a scorched and lonely land.

Now I was just the Mule Boy. I tended to the mules. But from my lowly station I fell in love with Pumphrey, the Wagon Master's daughter. I loved her with calm frenzy--the kind that makes you stare at things much longer than you should, and causes your head to ache with the fury of thoughts you'd rather scream.

We had just crossed the Missouri River when I finally found the courage to speak to her.

"That water sure felt good after weeks of burning prairie, didn't it Miss Pumphrey?"

"Hmm?" She said, glancing over at me, a bit surprised that I'd addressed her.

"That is, I know my mules liked it, they smiled as they swam."
I stared at the ground and felt blood rush hot to my neck and ears.
"Anyway, I have to go over here now."
I ran away with my mules in tow.


Pumphrey didn't drive a wagon. Her father said it wasn't lady-like. Pumphrey countered every morning by choosing the wildest horse and riding ahead for miles--into the dangerous land; the land without tracks or mercy.

"Damn it Pumphrey, that isn't lady-like either!!!" Her father would scream at the ever-diminishing dust cloud.

"Reap it Father." Would drift her faint reply. "I guess you shouldn't have named me Pumphrey."

The Wagon Master would smile and sigh. For he had. He had. He had named her Pumphrey. He'd chuckle then and turn to me if I happened to be close by. Which of course, I usually was, watching her go and dying inside.

"Did you ever see such a girl, Mule Boy? Such a girl as my Pumphrey?"

And of course I had not.


We were cursed that summer, though we didn't know until it was too late. Like all true curses it hid itself until nothing to change it could be done.

First sickness hit our oxen, then renegades stole most of the rest. We lost our preacher in a river crossing, and weevils got into the grain. Our old, brave Wagon Master lost his way and the rain we needed never came.

"Where are the mountains Wagon Master?! We should have hit them by now."

The question was asked viciously and the furious mob surged forward as one. Most of them had been decent men, but decent men no longer. They had been made unholy by the agonies of the frontier.

"We know the mountains are that way." The Wagon Master replied, pointing to the setting sun. "They can lay no place else. We must push on as friends and men and see these troubles through."

"See this through!" Someone shouted and several shots rang out.

The Wagon Master died that night, cradled in his daughter’s arms.
"Don't worry." He whispered to Pumphrey, when no one but her and the mules and me could hear.
"Every day since your birth has been extra time. A joy I'm befuddled to find I deserved."

"I love you Father." She replied.

"And I you, Pumphrey."

I knew then that I'd lost her, as sure as if it had been her that died. Ugly men of the prairie had killed her father. And I was a man, and this was the prairie.

I stood by her side with my mules and a gun as she brought vengeance to those who had murdered her father. And in time she came to trust me--but trust and nothing more.

Pumphrey gave me a kiss on the cheek after the killing was done.

"Thank you Mule Boy." She whispered, and then leapt upon the wildest horse and rode away into a dangerous land; a land without tracks or mercy.

I sat down in the sand and decided to die. Perhaps she'll have me in the next life.




The mules... the mules need water.

I rose and postponed my death; I am, after all, the Mule Boy, and they need me even if she does not.

Goodnight Pumphrey, wherever you are. Goodnight fury. Goodnight love.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Alternative Energy Sources

Many top scientists agree--Latigo Flint's Handy Field Guide to Alternative Energy Sources deserves a second look.

And who are we to argue with many top scientists?

From the archives - 2/5/06


Latigo Flint's Handy Field Guide to Alternative Energy Sources
by Latigo Flint

Wind Power:
How does it work?
Cover a windy hill with propellers on poles. The wind turns the blades, which spins the shaft, which connects to a generator and electricity is produced.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Occasionally decapitates endangered birds.

Hydroelectric Power:
How does it work?
Dam up a water source and concentrate the flow past turbines, which connect to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: A substantial rise in recreational boating accidents. And pisses the hell out of turtles.

Solar Power:
How does it work?
Banks of photovoltaic cells capture energy from sunlight and convert it to electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Is considered a really "nerdy" way to generate power and Canada and Mexico make fun of us for using it. Also if it's overcast for too long, your milk goes bad and you can't download porn.

Geothermal Power:
How does it work?
Sink a shaft in a region where constant volcanic activity results in super-heated water near the surface. Pipe the water up and use the concentrated steam to spin turbines, which connect to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Is tantamount to giving Mother Earth a wet-willy and you just know that's gonna make her angry at some point. Also sometimes the brackets on the surface pipes fail and boiling water squirts into the nests of nearby endangered birds.

Solar Power Satellites:
How does it work?
Massive arrays of solar panels in geosynchronous* orbit around the earth capture solar energy 24 hours a day, convert it microwaves, which are beamed down to receiver stations on Earth and converted back into electricity.
(*Always stays above the same spot on Earth because it orbits the equator at such a distance that it's traveling at the same speed the earth spins.)

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: You just know eventually some asshole is going to hack the controls, intensify the beam and use it to demolish New York and/or point it at the nests of endangered birds.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells:
How does it work?
Layers of materials with distinct electrochemical properties are pressed together to form a single galvanic cell, which is then dipped in otter urine. Then some other stuff happens and eventually somewhere a turbine probably spins.

Benefits: Relatively clean, renewable energy, sort of.
Downside: Top speed of a fuel cell car maxes out at 55, downhill, and at stoplights male otters run up and try to hump the hood.

How does it work?
Vegetable oil is extracted from vegetables and replaces petroleum fuels to power existing internal combustion engines.

Benefits: Makes millions of hippies giddy with joy.
Downside: Sure, today it's corn oil, but tomorrow it'll be baby oil (the oil of smushed up babies) and soon it'll be the oil from the eyeballs of endangered birds--we all know how these things go.

Tidal Energy:
How does it work?
The constant ebb and flow of the ocean's tides are used to drive a turbine, which is connected to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Frequent kelp blockage, and rotting kelp smells bad.

Whale Energy:
How does it work?
High frequency underwater speakers positioned along whales' migratory paths use shrill blasts of sound to herd the confused giants into submerged corrals, where in their panic, they bump into turbines, which are connected to generators and electricity is produced.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: PETA assassinates anyone who dares to even mention Whale Energy.

Turbine Energy:
How does it work?
Teams of harnessed poodles pull giant turbines up a really steep hill. Then the turbines are rolled back down the hill where they bonk into the blades of even bigger turbines, which are connected to generators and produce electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Turbine energy actually has no downside.

How does it work?
It is a fundamental principle of the universe that every particle must have a corresponding "anti-particle" and electricity particles are no different. Anti-electricity, otherwise known as the Buellerian Principle of Backwards Relativity, is generated by running household appliances backwards, routing the positive gain back into the power grid.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy that's as fun to generate as it is to use.
Downside: Matthew Broderick holds the patent and he's being a real dick in the royalty negotiation process.

Drinking Alone in a Room With All the Lights Off, Belching Against the Blades of a Small Turbine Until You Pass Out Energy:
How does it work?
You drink alone in a room with all the lights off and belch against the blades of a small turbine until you pass out. When you wake up, repeat.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy... kinda.
Downside: Oh, I don't really remember, but there's probably one or two.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Lizard Bird

Hey, you ever get the feeling you're being watched but when you whirl around, nothing's there. But then out of the corner of your eye you see a scaly, feathered tail slip behind the couch and you realize that goddamn Lizard Bird is probably back again?

Yeah, me too.

I'm not entirely certain what that goddamn Lizard Bird wants. (I mean, other than to eat my soul of course.)

That goddamn Lizard Bird is welcome to my soul. It's already poisoned. I have a poisoned soul. Having a poisoned soul is very dark and mysterious and also sexy.

This one time, I could have had the antidote to a poisoned soul. Her name was Sally and she was prepared to love me forever. Sally's dead now though. She beat herself to death against the granite cliffs of my compassion.

I am a triumph of stoic savagery.

I deserve to be killed by lizard birds.

I'm getting what I deserve.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Battle of One-Nipple Hill

Happy Birthday America. I love you like a brother... or maybe like a crazy uncle who drinks too much at dinner and offends the waitress--except that when the bill comes, he tips more than 20%, and would be the first to his trunk if their car battery died and needed a jump.

Anyway, I give you a post that makes light of history and war, for seemingly no other purpose than to use the word "nipple" as many times as possible. But then isn't that one of my unalienable Rights--to say "nipple" a lot if I want to?

Cheer up World. We will all live, on average, so very much longer than we used to. We forget that sometimes, don't we? We shove our nipples in the mud and forget to look to the stars.

From the archives - 2/19/06:


The Battle of One-Nipple Hill

So it turns out Civil War historians tend to get extremely upset if you insist that Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, only had one nipple. They splutter and fuss and call you an ignorant purveyor of ballyhoory. And then eventually try to karate-chop you in the throat if you refuse to recant.

Latigo Flint knows this to be true, because the other day he met a Civil War historian, and after some small talk, Latigo Flint happened to mention that he'd heard that Robert E. Lee only had one nipple.

"Why, that's preposterous." The Civil War historian exclaimed. "Where did you hear such a thing?"

"Oh, here and there, various reliable sources." I replied. "In fact, wasn't Robert E. Lee known to have been fond of saying: 'Give me ten stout and sturdy men, each with but one nipple, and then an enemy could not be assembled that I could not defeat.'"

"No!" The Civil War historian shrieked. "Robert E. Lee never said any such thing!"
"Hmm." I replied. "Perhaps it was Ulysses S. Grant."
"Absolutely not!" The historian howled, his face turning an alarming shade of red.
"It must have been George Meade then." I noted. "And that's probably how he defeated Lee at Gettysburg, right? He had more one-nippled troops than Lee had."

The historian started hopping around in an angry little circle, spitting and punching the air.
"Why you ignorant purveyor of ballyhoory!!!" He spluttered. "Nipples, their presence or lack thereof, never even remotely factored into any conceivable facet of the Civil War conflict, and one would have to be mad to suggest otherwise!!!"

I rubbed my chin thoughtfully, then pointed at him with a contemplative finger.
"But Sir, is it not true that a man with just one nipple would have one less nipple to lose? And surely a general as wise as Robert E. Lee would have recognized this basic truth--especially since he himself possessed just one nipple."

It was almost too much for the historian to bear. His eyes rolled back in his head and he started to hyperventilate. I placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"How many nipples do you have Sir?"

"I have two of course!" He wept, and involuntarily stroked them as if to confirm.
"Ah." I replied. "So then you're obviously not related to Robert E. Lee."

And that's when he tried to karate-chop me in the throat. I sidestepped and backed several paces away. As he turned and prepared to lunge at me again, I spread the flaps of my buckskin vest, revealing a muscular chest short exactly one nipple.

And with an audible twang, his mind split in half, and he ran screaming into the night.

(The worst part is I don't know why I did it, and I've regretted it ever since.

As I removed the flesh-colored tape, it ripped painfully at my tender skin.
"Penance." I thought to myself with a nod. "I deserved that nipple tear--for historians take their work so seriously, it's almost unfair to fuck with 'em.")

"The outcome of any battle, be it land, sea or air, must at some point hinge on the actions of a few, brave, nippleless men."
-General George S. Patton Jr.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. (Except for the ones born with only one nipple, because they don't have as many nipples as the rest of us.) But that even the one-nippled are still endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of prosthetic nipples. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (chopping off nipples at birth for instance) it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government--one that won't chop nipples off, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their nipple-safety and happiness."
-Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 02, 2006

True Western Truth #203

In the Squinty-eyed American Old West, it was considered extremely impolite to dress up like an Irish man and start courting your neighbor's daughter in the hope he'd be so aghast that he'd burst a vessel in his head and then you could claim his well as your own. No, if you wanted your neighbor's well, you had to take it like a gentleman--by shooting him with a gun until he died. Disguising yourself as an Irish man and wooing his daughter to induce an aneurysm was strictly off limits and simply wasn't to be done.