The Tail of the New Year

Yes, comets have legs. They're just small. Real small. As I hover over the final hours of the year, the first rays of 2013 are already beginning to show above the artificial horizon I use to prevent plowing into the fields below. Like the dawn of aviation, new years are best experienced from the cockpit, because stowaways aren't able to see the lights of the runway until it's too late.

Having established a clear connection between farming and navigation, it's time to begin sending the packets to their final destination, which is, of course, the tail of 2013. Since the first packet contains the seeds of subsequent transmissions, proper alignment is crucial. This is where a ball of string comes into play, because if there's one thing string is good for, it's keeping vegetables in line.

If there's one thing a ball of string isn't good for, it's aligning a scope with the polar axis of your home planet. This is necessary to keep the object of desire from drifting from the field of view, or worse, out of the field of vegetables slated for lunch, or dinner. Although the mechanism in question is beyond the scope of the average hunter, the difficulty of examining jitter when the rising edge is obscured by cloudsin your coffee or outis reason enough to thank an astronomer, without whose efforts we would still be eating primordial soup with our fingers.

Having established a clear connection between vegetables and astronomy, it's time to begin making preparations for the end of 2013, which, owing to the powerful spring alluded to in a previous monologue, is really the beginning of 2012. In certain vegetative states, there's nothing quite like a comet to remind the citizens of less certain neighboring states that they aren't in Kansas anymore, particularly when the comet can be seen in broad daylight through even the narrowest eyes.

Fortunately, there's an elegant solution to the problem, one that doesn't require the blather-rinse-repeat mumbo of modern science. All that's required to send the comet away, with its tail between its legs, is a simple incantation that every bad comet understands as the command to go home.

All together now.

Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort!



Yuletide's Ebb and Flow

Santa Sans. As the final hours before Santa's arrival slink by, tradition calls for a sober examination of the cause and effect relationship that results in taped and papered objects beneath a tree in the living room, den, or kitchen. Bathroom trees are exempt from this analysis, since a pine tree in the lavatory indicates systemic problems that don't respond well to off-color hypnotic suggestion.

While common antibiotics are similarly ineffective against the on-again-off-again sparkling of too many lights on the grid, some might say that a formal logic system is your huckleberry when it comes to deciding who gets the blame for Christmas. It's tempting to assume that Christmas wouldn't exist without Santa, but stripping Santa of his red suit leaves little to the imagination, and even less on which to hang the colorful ribbons and bows we rely on as visual cues that ornamentation is what we had in mind.

A suitable counterpoise to the temptation outlined above requires an equal but opposite reaction, by which I mean flipping Santa over to see what's underneath. After brushing aside the crumbs, we're ready to wonder if Santa would exist without Christmas, and if not, which way the river of symbiosis flows when it isn't being siphoned into holding tanks for fracking operations.

This brings us one step closer to the end of this paragraph, and two steps back if time has been thrown into reverse by a powerful spring. It has, of course, hence the futility of expecting a formal logic system to illuminate the Mayan calendar, or Santa. A lot of things stop, but that doesn't mean they won't be flung backward, only to run tail first into the same scenario at the other end, followed by a headlong rush to the finish, where the scenario is repeated again.

For this reason, asking whether Santa causes Christmas or is merely a symptom of it is like pondering the direction of alternating current in your home. Like the spring-loaded Mayan calendar, precedence is futile where boingability rules the day.


The Anatomy of a Hearty Breakfast

Food's underlying theme. If home is where the heart is, it may be useful to question its whereabouts during the previous week. A monk can draw a line between two points on a graph, but that isn't regression analysis, no matter how many colors might be available on the tablet of the day. While yesterday's tablets have already begun to dissolve in the acidic pre-holiday shopping environment that promises ever deeper cuts to those with the stomach to wait it out, the sensible shopper will err on the side of breakfast, leaving to others the vertigo and weakness that come from ignoring the most important meal of the day.

Nothing says home for the hollandaise like a buttery blend of yolks and muffins, though some might argue that the same can be said by a synthetic voice issuing from speakers on the front lawn. There, nativity meets inflatable approximations of holiday spirits in a joyous explosion of color and poorly executed plastic seams, leaving benediction as the only remaining salve for the swollen eyes of children who shouldn't have been allowed to add lemon juice to the recipe in the first place.

This year, as I sit down to the unsavory task of eating my heart out over my neighbors' superior visual and culinary holiday displays, it will be with the courage of my convictions, none of which have resulted in hard time, soft time, or indeed any time that isn't divisible by zero. More to the point, my future repast is predictable, but someone had to collect the data, someone had to do the shopping, and someone had to make breakfast before shoveling all three into the gaping maw below Rudolph's unfused nose, just before it blew.

Not that any of this will matter a week from now.


Tigers and Smartphones

Does this look like a glove compartment? How about now? Sometimes, languishing on the wrong side of summer and trapped between holidays, life begins to take on the luster of rust. This makes it the perfect time to go shopping for a new gadget, because preoccupation is better than staring at dry grass. Not that I think it would be improved by wetting it down with a hose, because this time of year, there's more to dry grass than a simple lack of moisture.

In a similar way, there's more to a "smartphone" than the ability to make crank calls, making it an ideal choice when the time comes to stop fondling and start buying. Even the most patient gadget representative will lose his humanity at smears, smudges, and lollipop drippings on the screen of every "smartphone" on display if there's no actual purchase at the end of it all, which is why I was forced to take one home with me.

After a cursory investigation of its features and functions, I'm left with the impression that it's a phone in much the same way a Sunbeam Tiger is a high-speed glove compartment. Sure, I can answer most incoming calls; on a good day I'm able to swipe my finger across the screen before the robocaller is shunted to voicemail. I've had no luck calling out for pizza, but unless the gadget representative was pulling one of my legs, a fourfold increase in local gravity is to be expected when a 4G device is used in this way, resulting in fallen, unmarketable pizza crusts.

Those of us who once dreamed of pocketable phonesfollowed by wishing an end to the nightmare of phones held between thumb and forefingerunderstand that the circle is nearly complete. As "smartphones" grow in size and complexity, the demand for larger pockets can only stimulate garment production here and abroad, thus averting economic collapse.

I'd call that smart. Real smart.


Three Shears

I'm bald
Nothing left
But to lift
My glass eye
To the egglike sphere
Exposed by the clippers
With a #3 guard
My so-called head
So called because
No one wants to call it
What it really is
An egg noggin
I'm bald.

Over Easy

Flakes Squinting at snowflakes through half-open lids means one of two things, and sometimes more if I fall asleep with my glacier glasses on. This morning it spelled curtains for warm days and cool nights, which is another way of saying that cool days and even cooler nights have come home to roost, followed by the inevitable cold days and colder nights that make egg-laying such an exercise in frustration.

While a heated henhouse solves the problem of unwanted traction during the production cycle, no such remedy exists for the equal but opposite reaction that occurs when the rubber no longer meets the road less travelled by sanding trucks, or similar contraptions designed to ease the horror of a 14 percent grade without the aid of sled dogs, or eggnog.

The slippery slope is rise over run, but that doesn't mean we should sprint out the door without our eggs, or our studded tires. In the mushmush world of predawn commuter traffic, only dogged determination gets better traction, but this isn't the Iditarod.

I don't think sled dogs care about tires anyway.


Inducing Worms

An impedance match made in heaven. At the risk of plagiarizing Yours Truly, no rigorous, systemic analysis of an entire can of worms would be complete without a proper discussion of the principles of induction, which is beyond the scope of this monologue. While worms are only rarely inducted into halls of fame or similarly red-carpeted venues, there are other ways to accomplish social transformation without risking the ire of patent attorneys.

I'm referring, of course, to the new-school methodology of bringing old-fangled mechanical contraptions into lockstep with yesterday's electrical contrivances. Here, the humble transformer comes to mind, lending an air of quasimodern urbanity to the worm conveyor discussed in Craig's patent application.

Clearly, the problem of impedance-matching an invertebrate coiled at the top requires a nontrivial solution; throwing a wrench into the worm's gears causes unwanted sparking, and should be avoided. Instead, an equal but opposite invertebrateby which I mean coiled at the bottominstalled 180 degrees out of phase with his or her wormy partner will cancel uninvited magnetic fields, thus leaving more food for paying guests.


Dits and Dots and Polyglots

Yes, this is a cryptographic. It isn't every day I have the luxury of disassembling what, on the surface, may appear to be a statement of horror and despair at one or more of my monologues. While the true intent of a phrase such as "I wanted to claw my eyes out" is relatively obvious, there are other ways of saying the same thing that call for a rigorous, systemic analysis of the entire can of worms. This is of particular importance where brainy psychologists are doing the phrasing, because if there's one thing you don't want to take responsibility for, it's a brainy psychologist with clawed-out eyes.

Below, please find an actual, unretouched metamessage from a dear someone who recently blundered into the writing project commonly referred to as Omegaword. I don't think the writer was turned into a pillar of salt, because salt pillars lack the faculties required to send email.

"I just read through some of your compositions............ummm wow."

At first, I dismissed the dot trail as the predictable result of a household pet nesting on the keyboard, but closer inspection suggested a more deliberate intent, not unlike what one might expect to hear from the speaker of a shortwave receiver tuned to a maritime frequency, where the dits and dahs of a bygone era form the foregone conclusions of effective long-distance communication. As I knelt to count the dots, years of cryptographic analyses allowed me to make mincemeat of the cipher, thus exposing the true underbelly of its intent.

By itself, the letter S is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but multiplied by twelve it becomes the executive expression of a dozen, which is exactly the sort of quantity favored by those who make donuts for the folks at SETI. As you will recall, the speed of light imposes harsh sanctions on space-travelling objects, so a dozen donuts feels like a snack by the time the message pulls into the driveway here on planet Earth. Divided by three, the twelve become four groups of dits, which is to say, the letter S repeated four times in order to form the sound of air escaping from Mr. Morse's bicycle tire.

Having thus put the metamessage's preamble in its proper place, I was ready to move on to the second third of the puzzle. This is where years of cryptographic analyses make no difference whatsoever, because if there's one thing they never taught us in grammar school, it's the proper pronunciation of the triple-m configuration when a vowel is blocking the rear exit. A dozen donuts later, I didn't care about this segment of the puzzle anymore.

Arriving at the third third, I immediately recognized the upside downity of the classic inversion scheme used by Nostradamus to obstruct the view. In any case, it's plain that the last word in the metamessage is simply standing on its head. Mom used to do that, too, when she wanted a donut.



it was my creation
it was your creation
our minds made it
with everything we know
how to fetch
and where we go
to eat
our words
and our music
the microphone is on
the camera is on
how many satellites
will you sleep with tonight?


Preemptive Rhetoric

Rhetorical answers.

If the rhetorical question anticipates no answer, the rhetorical answer denies having been asked.

A: Doughy.
Q: Do you know how long it's been since I had one of those?

A: Canada by rail.
Q: Are you still up?

A: Stop making sense.
Q: Why?

A: This can mean only one thing.
Q: Where were you in '62?

A: Browbeaten.
Q: Do you know Jack?

Thus, the process is streamlined by answering first, and asking questions later.


The resolve to procrastinate. Outwitting a deity isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when there are too many consonants in the deity's name. Since Quetzalcoatl's third cousin, Qaotlkumquatquetzalquat, is planning to rob me of my new year's resolutions by taking an earlier flight, I decided to get the jump on her by publishing my resolutions now, while there's still time to procrastinate.


To spend more time rolling things, like my eyes, and my Rs.

To start taking responsibility for rubbing my own elbows.

To stop calling my barber "Einstein" before she's done cutting my hair.

To spend more time in quiet reflection, and less time reflecting the noises of stray dogs, or helicopters.

To disavow any knowledge of impossible missions, especially those that require me to say grace before I'm allowed to eat.

To stop introducing myself as "Uncle Cracker."

To stop exaggerating the letter S in my speech.

To stop insisting that "with six you get eggroll" when I'm ordering at Taco Bell.

To learn the etiquette of the sea without resorting to fake pirate speech.

To install a diving board on my dumpster.


A Matter of Scale

The weight of the world. Recently, while weighing in on the relative merits of legal tender, the tipping point of the scale went increasingly askew as I piled shillings and farthings on the downwind side of my argument. The balancing act went even farther south under the weight of converted currency expressed as pounds, casting grave doubt on the ounce of prevention that once cured a host of pecuniary ills, when all that glittered was gold.

China, of course, altered the landscape, requiring fumigation of the inflationary hedges planted among the beanstalks and cornrows of our youth, leaving precious little for lice to do in the wee hours of the morning but dishes, cups, and saucers, for they have not forgotten what it means to eat their words.

This is where Whitley Strieber's implant comes in, propelled by the enhanced propagation afforded by dawn's early light over the Fort Complex, to name but three. Still, illuminating the true colors of the entities in question is best answered on other wavelengths, where prying ears find only static amid the noise of their midsummer night's dream.

Less to the point, if a pound of farthings is worth two in the bush, how many shills does it take to unscrew the heads of the many when the tip of the iceberg is made of lettuce?


Why Zombies Fear Tableware

As a young boy, my favorite bedtime stories featured monster-slaying heroes, especially those whose age was near my own. This reinforced my conviction that children are always their elders' superiors, a viewpoint that made me unpopular with the teachers, but noble in the eyes of my peers.

After reform school, I fell in with a band of merry men who lived in a converted B-52 fuselage on the outskirts of town. Being musicians, they recognized the importance of nurturing my talent with spoons and other percussion instruments, which is why they insisted I spend my waking hours in the galley, where instruments of that sort are kept.

The band's singer, Robin, took me under her wing, a serendipitous circumstance that kept non-serendipity from spoiling my destiny, which was slaying monsters. It also made the other band members jealous because it meant they had to share space under the other wing, but life isn't always fair. Sometimes Robin's beard would slip, prompting the others to look away and pretend to be having a conversation with someone else. I think they were afraid of her, but I wasn't.

One night there was a zombie invasion. That's where all those bedtime stories really came in handy, because I knew just what to do without being told twice, or once. Zombies are a lot like engineers in the sense that they don't devote enough time to creative activities, which is why I was able to vanquish them without resorting to slings, or arrows. Once they got the hang of the spoons, it was only a matter of time before they began inventing their own rhythm patterns and showing off for their friends, many of whom had already wandered back to their own village.

Given the proper environment, the creative mind begins to feed on itself, which isn't the optimum situation for a village of zombies. That's how I became a hero, like the Pied Piper, and Popeye. I think they were adults, but sometimes it takes a child to raze a village.

Bridging the Future Gap

Bridges are so yesterday. Anyone with a magnifying glass can burn his bridges behind him, but it takes more than magnification to spot those that lie ahead, especially when the horizon is obscured by smoke. No mere tactical blunder, burning my bridges in front of me guarantees a stage-left exit strategy that avoids the need for revisionist history, for there is no bone of contention where winners and losers share the win-win strategy of getting to the other side.

If necessity is the mother of invention and foresight is its construction manager, the two of them will only argue over blueprints that don't include a braking mechanism, particularly when a zip line is used in place of a bridge that no longer exists. This is reason enough to fire both before they become unduly involved in the process, thereby eliminating the planning phase so construction can commence. Adrenaline rushes in where fools fear to trip the light fantastic, which is a fancy way of saying that brakes are an unnecessary complication where zip lines are concerned.

Spanning the gorge in this way satisfies humanity's ageless hunger for building things that connect other things, while simultaneously quenching my thirst for high-speed transportation, and visions.


Facing the Storm

Storms never have 20/20 vision. Living, as I do, far from the barometric pressures of life in the hurricane belt, it's easy to think of the maritime meteorologist as the eyes and ears of the storm. Clearly, this is absurd. Adding facial features where there are none is one thing, but stacking one eye on top of another is like adding an ear to an ear, unless it's corn we're talking about. But it isn't. It's a storm.

When meteorologists talk about the eye of the storm, they always mean the good eye. No one ever talks about being in the bad eye of the storm because no one has lived to talk about it. Communication is hard enough when you're alive, so you can imagine the difficulty if you're not. This is why many storms rely on the third eye for communication, leaving meteorologists to guess at timing and trajectory.

Another thing you won't hear from meteorologists is how dangerous it is to be in the ear of the storm. This has nothing to do with the shortage of seafaring swabs, and everything to do with GPS failure when the signal is obstructed. As any properly seasoned sealubber will tell you, dead reckoning is alive and well, but the ear of the storm is never more than 30 decibels south of its bad eye, which is always infected on account of the mote.


Elevator Music

Downbeat The High Life

I gave you the shaft
You gave me the shaft
Gifts from the heart
As downward we flew
But then we stopped
On the eleventh floor
Where we still live today.

Morning Commute

Third floor
One eye open
Second floor
One eye open
First floor
Game face


In the elevator
There is a shaft of light
That embraces art
And illuminates
The downward trend
Of elevators.


It's the thirteenth day of the month. It's Friday. Do you know where your children are? Neither do I. Now stop asking me. What a mess. It's Friday the thirteenth again, and I can't stop shaking and crying about the milk I threw over my shoulder before I got up on the wrong side of bed this morning. Without milk, all the little letters in my cereal bowl were too dry for words, so I couldn't even spell out my own name, not to mention the incantation required to ward off the spirits I keep in a jar by the door.

Emptying the jar before lunch is never a good idea, because it creates a false sense of equilibrium that doesn't always come along for the ride over the drawbridge and through the woods, especially now that grandmother's house has fallen off the mud jacks. G'ma always believed in a hearty breakfast as the foundation of proper daily nutrition, though the concept didn't amount to a hill of beans when it came to supporting the weight of her three-story cottage. Two stories would have provided more than enough anxiety to keep me awake all night in those dark woods, but by the time she got to the one about CIA operatives kidnapping little children, all the Haldol in her medicine cabinet wasn't enough to keep me from swimming over to my grandfather's side of the channel.

My grandparents never had much in the way of bandwidth, and interleaved digital modes were still on the bottom rack of the oven. Those were different times.


The Farmer's Wife

Amber waves at grain

Among the fields where breezes flow
To keep the windmills from his mind
The farmer waves at passersby
While Amber waves at grain.

The harvest moon is sleeping now
Anticipating future yield
The farmer waves his handkerchief
While Amber waves at grain.

Below the turning rotors' wash
That blows the hairpiece from his head
The farmer waves the choppers in
While Amber waves at grain.

Between his lawyer and the guard
He stands before the magistrate
The farmer waives his rights again
While Amber waves at grain.

Names From the Wrong Side of the Street

Who's naming these streets anyway? It would be easy enough to blame road rage for my habit of veering onto one-way streets. It's certainly a deliberate act, and I'm unquestionably angry when oncoming traffic forces me to drive on the sidewalk, but sometimes there's more to offensive driving than might be evident from the police report.

Boredom, for one. I'm driving, I'm yawning, I'm driving, I'm yawning, and all the while I'm forced to read street signs that wouldn't entertain the average two-year-old, let alone someone who hasn't wet his pants in years. Willow Circle? Give me a break. Eagleview Court? Not likely. Sparrows, maybe, at least those that haven't been eaten by rats.

It's tempting to blame municipal government, but a simple lack of candor has caused this problem, and only candor will bring our streets' identities into proper alignment with my needs. While some might shy away from neighborhoods featuring street names such as Rat, or Bubonic, I would welcome their forthright, unpretentious spirit, regardless of how many people might flash their headlights at me along the way. Turning onto Follicle Road from Swollen Terrace, then accelerating toward Eggsack Lane by way of Pipsqueak Boulevard, it would be with the knowledge that the road to anger management is paved with tax dollars, but that doesn't mean we have to settle for boring street names.

I don't think we should use scientific notation for street numbers, though.


Undressing Perspective

Overdressed and unimpressed. The idea that clothes make the man is disturbing already, but adding manmade fabric to the picture brings the same panic I feel whenever I try to put an Escher print into perspective. If I was fabricated by the same entity I created to fashion myself, which came first, and how many iterations must I endure before I'm fit for the rack? These are the sorts of questions that compel me to take off my clothes. Clearly, there are pressing reasons to remain undressed in the first place.

A misplaced iron, for one. For two, the problem is compounded by the duplicity of gender-specific garb, which only betrays the outline within. Without resorting to anatomy, I would simply point to the hourglass figure on the beach as an example of behavioral problems that may linger into adulthood if left unaddressed. As any postal employee will tell you, it isn't polite to point, regardless of how little sand is left in the timepiece.

In larger households, the effort required to maintain perspective amid the closeted wardrobes of upscale hand-me-downs may exceed available oomph, resulting in vertigo, and shortness of pants. Since panting is one of the few remaining pleasures available to the modern dog, expecting your best friend to keep his canines away from your trousers is like asking a dog to darn your socks. Better to just hex the whole wardrobe and get it over with.


A Question of Identity

Who am I to agree to disagree? Unlike the sun, the earliest philosophical questions entertained by primitive man revolved around the moon, and whether or not sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to disagree? At the same time, who am I to agree with the results of double-blind tests administered by those who refuse to wake up and smell the dairy products?

Like so many questions, it begs an answer. More to the point, it begs to differ, which is where things get hairy. Because fastidious begging is prohibited under section IV of the municipal code, beggars can't be choosers, nor are they afforded equal protection where pardon-begging is taxed or otherwise regulated by law. What effect this might have had on primitive woman is beyond the scope of present-day astronomy, so you can imagine the difficulty of determining dream composition using the crude optics of the day, especially during an eclipse.

Put another way, the difference is night and day, or day and night if you happen to live below the equator or are otherwise standing on your head. If you're standing on your neighbor's head, it may be time to consider using a periscope instead.


Travelling Precognito with my Beans Half Baked

Waving to half-baked beans. Hello there! Hello! Waiting for a bowl of baked beans to ripen is hardly my idea of a good time. To alleviate the tension, I often rely on board games and miniature waves generated by kitchen appliances that start with the letter M. In roughly the time it takes to sift the alphabet for usable nouns, my bowl of half-baked beans will have crossed the threshold between unripe and moderately swollen, lending an air of quiet optimism to an otherwise monotonous meal.

While it's true that optimism and anticipation often go hand in hand, travelling precognito virtually guarantees a pleasant dining experience. Unlike hindsight, peering forward demands a commanding view of the kitchen, unobscured by the preconceptions and utensils I forgot to wash in the heat of the knight-takes-queen debacle that sent me to bed without supper, or a moral.

In an effort to right one wrong, I would simply indicate that, while an ounce of precognition is certainly the mother of prevention, half-baked beans make unreliable board-game strategists.  It's too late to do anything about the last supper.


Binary Baseball

Best to swing before the ball gets too close. Two teams of two. Two bases. Two innings.

Two fans with two hotdogs and two beers.

The score is tied, one to one.

Hey batter batter hey batter hey baSwing!



The Dogs of Parity

Lepus CanisHare of the dog that barked at me
Byting at the bark of the logic tree
The nybbled octet leaves a thirst
And half the bits he had at first.

The dog that bytes a rabbit's foot
May grow to rue the foot he bit
No lucky logic keeps the hare
From growing in the easy chair.

The rabid need for parity
Discourages prosperity
A packet sent should be ignored
No matter where the bits are stored.

Enzo's Monkey

No slit-eyed oxymoron, this.

When I met Enzo, he seemed every bit the eccentric character among characters who happen to be eccentric, which is to say, he seemed normal. As it turned out, my initial appraisal was accurate to only four decimal places, leaving the fifth and sixth open to investigation. Each morning, as Enzo warmed up his diesel-powered Mercedes, the sound of his didgeridoo melded with the smoky sputtering of his car's motor, leaving many of us to wonder when he might trade for a quieter, cleaner automobile. At the same time, someone who was wondering in a different direction asked how it might be possible that Enzo was up and around in the first place, considering the pile of prescription containers on his living room floor. Shielding my eyebrows, I turned toward the asker with a question of my own, but the look in his eye told me everything I needed to know.

Lowering my shields, I rose to my feet just as the memory of the previous night regained its footing in my conscious mind, yielding another unspoken answer to a question I hadn't even thought to ask. The night before, I had gone outside to inspect a constellation when I noticed Enzo standing in his doorway, glaring at me as if I had stolen his didgeridoo, or his Mercedes. Both insinuations struck me as preposterous, considering he was holding the didgeridoo in his right hand, like a club, while the Mercedes was parked less than ten feet from where he stood. Having become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of my neighbors, I shrugged it off and went inside to recount my blessings.

During the days that followed, the reasons for Enzo's behavior became increasingly obvious. This was largely due to his confessions, which came to me by way of his mouth, which always accompanied him when he came over to sit on the bench outside my door. On the night in question, he had decided to modify the effects of his usual painkiller regimen with additional ingredients, resulting in a psychotic episode. One of the paranoid delusions featured that night was a body in the backseat of his car, which led him to suspect me, which in turn explained why he was staring at me as he contemplated bashing my head in with his oversize didgeridoo. Like so many mysteries, the answer is a no-brainer once the formula is known.

Within the class of pharmaceuticals known as narcoleptic analgesics, one in particular stands out as a subprime example of too much, too late. Conceived in a clandestine facility deep within the subconscious of a former bodybuilder, OxyMoron® has been widely credited with the ability to turn the most promising mind to dumplings, while those with less promise are expected to sing for their suppers. Carrying a tune from one point to another can be a challenge under the best of circumstances, but a pill-based diet only greases the downhill slide, especially with a large, lip-driven instrument in tow. Sadly, whether we lay the instrument of blame at pharmacology's door—well away from Enzo's slit-eyed drooling—or blame the instrument for its own monkeyshines, the only certainty is much didgeridoo about nothing.


Don's Ranch

By the light of a hangnail moon.

Don Rico mends a broken chair
As tables turn to face the rain
Behind the wall he made by hand
When hands were made for building.

Don Louis paints the saddles blue
To match the henhouse and his jeans
Tomorrow's eggs come home to roost
If no one's there to pick them.

Don Rimbaud cures another ham
And smiles into his handkerchief
His tales of wagging tongues collide
With gossip shorn from fables.

Don Felix tunes the radio
While harvesting the current crop
A shock of bulbous hair reflects
The light of a hangnail moon.


John Fogarty's Voice

Put a candle in the window. Do it now, you maggot. Move move move move!!! Like most people, I don't mind voices in my head as long as they don't expect me to do unreasonable things. I also don't like being called a maggot, especially when it's done in a drill sergeant voice.

This is why John Fogarty's voice is always welcome here. His voice has never called me names, nor has it asked me to do anything riskier than putting a candle in the window, which is okay because John Fogarty's voice knows all about flame-retardant materials.

I don't think his voice was talking about moving in the literal sense, like having to move on account of setting the house on fire by mistake. Otherwise it wouldn't have promised to come back.


False Grit

The reaming and honing of the daily grind. Yesterday, I might have agreed that false grit is meekminded grit, the kind of insubstantial substance that's hardly worth the salt I throw over my shoulder whenever onions are peeled. Today, I might see eye to eye with the idea that it's all in how the onion's layers are inhaled, and whose eyes are being peppered with the flecks that fly from the reaming and honing of the daily grind.

Tomorrow, I will certainly agree that wishywashitude is no better than sitting on the fence where splinters are concerned, even as I avert my eyes from the blind concern that landed me in hot water, then cold, then lukewarm, followed by immersion in the tank of deprivation I sensed beforehand, when saline was for sniffing.

The day after tomorrow, I may find myself wandering among the gangplanks of my mind, wondering what happened to the spare GPS batteries I so thoughtfully planned to stow below, yet aboveboard, where they might survive even the grittiest circling of snarky sharks and their landlubbing kin.

Who knows what yesterday might bring.


Innocent Questions

Seek and ye shall find . . . well . . . something . . . Call me sadistic, but sometimes it brings me joy to see the Google search terms that people so innocently supposed would result in actual information, but landed them on Omegaword instead.

Here, then, are a few of the actual search terms used in Google queries that returned an Omegaword monologue within the first page of results.

Q Facts and fallacies about the moon
Q Poems for thoughtful people
Q Yard ornaments on steaks
In one case, two apparently unrelated searches yield the same result.
Source of the term full goose bozo
Hairy eyeball origin

Okay, so every once in a while the result is useful in a more serious way . . .

Q What is material disruption?

. . . but hey, I try.


Quixotic Reflections

Don Omega dons his lightweight armor. Some say that aluminum clothing reflects poorly on the wearer, especially on a moonless night. Reflecting on the lunar extravaganza slated to appear this weekend, good taste begins to take on the luster of objects below, above, and indeed from any angle that suits a photon's passing fancy.

For those whose taste runs circles around convention, riding the clotheshorse into battle takes on new meaning. Dapper in my new aluminum suit, windmills are afraid, for knighttime is the right time.

I think Silver knew that already. That's why Tonto smiled.


Playful Indulgence

Toys 'r' Me I fear I have become a cat toy.

She reeled me in slowly, like a fish. Indulgent, I became a plaything; now she requires it even as I sleep. Sleep? My toes are exposed, and there is no sleep.

I stagger toward the morning coffee, like a toy to the slaughter. She wraps herself around my legs, trying to bring me down. Playful.

Dusk. Her eyes are glowing saucers as she hurtles through the room, then she is gone. Lurking, ears flat against her predator's head. Targeting.

Dawn. Youthful feline energy, wide awake. I am the toy.


The Duality of Salad

Digestible in any sense of the word. I love the word salad.

Green with enviable chlorophyll, to dig we must use the implements at hand, for the root of the repast lies within.

I love the word-salad.

No mere pasta, this, it agrees with me wholeheartedly as it digests, then stows away, for archival quality is the root of the future.


Polyester's Ignoble Pedigree

Take my polyester. Please. For those who endure tepid climates, it may be a stretch to say that polyester is the only fabric that holds its shape no matter how many dewpoints it's forced to endure, and quite aside from the relative altitude of mercury in the graduated beaker below the stairs.

Certainly, cotton has its place, whether that's poolside, dark side, or actively displacing volume in the kidney-shaped receptacles we fall for, headlong and fully clothed, at the end of a hot and bothersome day.

Should polyester be allowed in the jean pool? Don't make me laugh. I'll give up my soulful threads of shrinking violet when pigs fly out of my lipstick, in formation, and on a heading of 29° 12' north by 70° 10' west.


Climate Change, Cloud Computing, and Your Mother

Cloud computing in the face of climate change: an explosive concept. If recent soundings are any indication, most people have now boarded the good ship Climate Change for its historic voyage to the bottom of the sea. Propelled by the irreversible thrust of its narcoleptic crew, it promises the scenic wonders of a submersible with none of the pesky accoutrementsportholes for examplethat only obscure the view.

Very well, but where does that leave the rest of us? Perched, high and dry, above our keyboards and smartphones, we who understand that cyberlife goes on have little to gain by jumping ship. Even as our roofs are torn away by tornadic winds, we bask in the promise of cloud computing, and all the sunshine that comes in the 120-degree aftermath of the storm.

I'm only joking, of course. Cloud computing in the face of climate change? What if there are no clouds, or worse yet, what if all we have to work with are stratospheric nacreous clouds? You know, those nitric- and sulfuric-laden clouds that turn data to goo. And what about a cloud with a name like cumulus congestus? I don't want to rely on a decongestant every time I need more storage space. Do you?

Of course not. And if your photos happen to be stored in a cirrus duplicatus cloud, how can you be sure that the duplicates haven't fallen into the hands of the enemy? I won't even get you started on cirrocumulus undulatus clouds. It goes without saying that undulating data are unstable data, unstable data aren't happy data, and unhappy data are unstable data.

In other words, if you're unable to sleep amid the pitiful wails of data languishing in the nebulous computing-clouds known as cirrostratus nebulosus, you will know in your heartand in my spleenthat mammatus lacunosus does, in fact, mean exactly what you had feared. Yes, mama is full of holes, and no, she won't be swaddling your pwecious data anymore, you little punk.


The Music of the Sphere

Recently, while nitpicking over the flaring nostrils of the bull I so foolishly antagonized while picnicking in a posted meadow, I was reminded of a post that agonized over the silence of solar flares versus the gut-numbing blasts perpetrated by the moon's many organists.

The reminder came just as a graphic representation of the same reminder was arriving in my inbox, thereby forcing me to sit up and take notice. At first, it seemed that Craig Conley had at once illuminated and amplified the sonic tendrils issuing from the aforementioned lunar organs, while the second and third glances corroborated what I had just heard and seen.

Nine organists. Nine organs. Nine fundamental frequencies. Assuming an SPF of 32, how many harmonics inhabit the average lunar flare? You do the math.

Courtesy of Craig Conley at

Regarding Bad Words

Ever mindful of the finer points, Craig Conley has come through with a graphic representation of what I had in mind yesterday when I attempted to reduce his graphic, pictured below, to 1000 words or less.

When you think about it, the mere fact that the graphic didn't yet exist is reason enough to doubt time's linear nature and its deleterious effect on my moustache, which is not to scale.

Bad Words

Bad in a no-good, dysfunctional sense. Speaking as a guy who likes words for their own sake, the idea of turning good words into bad holds an undeniably corpulent appeal. I don't mean bad words in the sense that I'll be made to eat soap; I mean bad in the no-good, dysfunctional sense, like hippodermis, or quasimofo.

Writing as a bloke whose perverse ambition is fleshed out in the sentences above, the idea of using quotes to frame a question bubbles to the top of the stack. "What is wrong with you?" comes to mind, though the exact location within the mind has now shifted from point B to point A.

Simply put, this is nature's way of separating the audio cortex from the video lobe, thus avoiding the sensations of vertigo and ick that come from asking a guy to do a bloke's job, or vice versum. If Mother Nature had wanted us to use the same part of the brain for speech and hardcopy, she would have said so in writing.


Channeling the Muse

Der Herbst (Die Muse Polyhymnia) - Francesco del Cossa - from is best done in the morning, after the second pot and well before the third has been given the chance to detune the limbic system. As you know, the limbus is easily overdriven, leaving pantomime as the only reliable means of communication. Used as gestures of good faith, hand signals and grimaces have their place at the dinner table, but in the morning, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

In the morning, you also don't want the babbling of someone else's muse bleeding in from an adjacent channel. Channeling the correct muse first requires a stable frequency reference, which can be found in the surplus aisle of your favorite vintage outlet, and in spades at your local hardware store. Thus stabilized, the muse is free to impart wisdom, eloquence, and the local agriculture report, all delivered in the classic style of artists such as Francesco del Cossa, who is dead.

Not all muses share the same channel, so to avoid abusing a musical muse or misusing the muse of delirious writing, knowing the frequency of the desired muse before channeling will avoid the embarrassment of a quarter note where a word should have been, a whole note in place of four, or the humdrum cadence of words intended for mere communication. Tuning to 11.780 Hz brings the heartbeat of the world, but sometimes 145.800 MHz provides all the amusement I really need. 


Life Rebooted

Is there life after near-death?During the past 13 months, death has become one of the principal hallmarks of life. I don't mean my own death so much as the deaths of others, in particular those who continue to walk around as they always have, only with considerably reduced levels of enthusiasm.

I met such a man several months ago while travelling. He had recently returned from a business trip to Japan, where his circadian clock had been damaged by the time difference between here and there, there and here, and points in between. But after a period of day-sleeping interspersed with alarming doses of caffeine, he began to feel like himself again, for which I took him at his word, not knowing precisely what he felt like before we met, or after.

As he told me his story, this not-knowing gave way to maybe-knowing, followed by the familiar knowing-but-not-really sensation I've come to associate with having walked a mile in my own shoes, which isn't at all the same as lurching about in someone else's. Perhaps this lurching action was to blame for the uneasy feeling that began to take hold as he told me that, at some point in the past, he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, which had in turn prompted his decision to live life to its fullest before committing suicide. Considering he was the one telling the story, I could only assume that this hadn't worked out entirely as planned.

I was right about that, of course. He tried, twice, but the powers that be had other plans, prompting him to go to South America for non-traditional treatment, which apparently did away with the tumor. All's well that ends well, tragedy narrowly averted, and all that.

Not exactly. I've heard and read other stories along the same linesnear-death experiences, mostlyand the common thread is what happens afterward. It seems that life's trajectory is altered, but the exact direction is by no means clear. Whether this has to do with forgetting what was made obvious on the other side or a more fundamental shift in the individual's core, the result doesn't necessarily have a positive feel for the person involved.

In fact, it seems the end result may have more in common with a wandering, disembodied spirit than the joy one might expect from a second chance at life. Maybe it's just the predictable result of trying to return to old ways that seemed to work before, but will never work again.

Maybe it's just another ghost story.


The Muttering of Pigeons

Quote unquoteYou may have heard it said that there's no fool like an old fool, which is really nothing but a play on words designed to torment those of us who know a thing or two about progressive hearing loss. To my ear, the phrase sounds like the muttering of pigeons, or the secretive undertones created by the shifting of tectonic plates. To my other ear, it has more in common with the coded signals used by agents of foreign governments when they don't want me to know what they're doing. But I do know, and the message is always the same: Deh Oh Foo Ike Uh Oh Foo.

The first time I heard those words, I was left with a sense of déjà vu similar to what I experience every day when Jack wishes me a good morning, which to me sounds more like "groo roo," but not everyone understands Jack the way I do. I believe this understanding is the result of countless hours spent peering into Jack's mouth, searching for consonants, but only a new fool would hear everything he believes.

Speaking as an Akita, Jack simply prefers the direct approach to the roundabout, leaving it to other breeds to mince words. Having taken the time to look an Akita in the mouth, I'm left with the overwhelming conviction that brevity is in the ear of the beholder, and never the other way around.


Hawking's Alchemy

While I'm waiting for my sense of humor to return from its most recent journey to Outer Darkness, I thought it would be a good idea to use this space for something, by which I mean the absence of nothing. Now that I think about it, the idea wasn't really mine in the first place, so I wasn't thinking about the good idea so much as waiting for someone else to have it for me. This idea-by-proxy came to me by way of Peter Kim over at Online PhD, who was kind enough to make me aware of the graphic you see below, assuming your eyes aren't swollen shut.

Like smoke, lemonade gets in your eyes. This is especially true if you forget to put the lid on the blender, which isn't the sort of thing you would expect from Stephen Hawking. Where others might be content with the idea of making lemonade from the pile of lemons set before them by the hands of angry gods, the illustrious Mr. Hawking chose alchemy instead, turning lemons to gold and gold to more gold, until he had so much gold piled up in his kitchen that there wasn't any room left for the blender, or the margarine. I think that's where he decided to put all the gold down the disposal and pursue more important things, like Physics.

I'm only guessing about that, of course. My own experiences with lemons have been considerably more perverse, but when the ordinary household blender is plugged into a 220 volt line, there's going to be smoke. I know that now.

Stephen Hawking