Friday, November 27, 2009

Edgar, The King of Kings

While still masticating the last of the second bagel he had eaten within the span of ten minutes, The Engineer spread a heaping mound of cream cheese on the third he intended to ingest.  "Not hungry?" he asked me with a toothy grin.

I wasn't.  Sitting in the green room, waiting to go on air, live in front of the whole country, my stomach was rebelling, along with my nervous system.  No matter how much I wished to impress that I was calm and perfectly in command of my faculties, my hands were beginning to shake like they had a mind of their own.

A page stuck her head into the green room to remind us that we would be going on in five minutes.  I looked at her like a suffering squirrel that had just been hit by a car, pleading with my eyes to be put out of my misery.  She recognized the look and directed my attention to the top shelf of a cabinet.  Scotch!

Stepping out into the studio of the Rachel Maddow Show, I tripped over a step leading to the stage but managed not to spill any of the contents of the MSNBC coffee mug.  The Engineer bound to the stage and took a seat at the desk across from Rachel with the exuberance of a little boy strapping into a carnival ride.  Seating myself, I took a long draw out of the mug summoning the courage of a hundred generations of musty highlanders.

A voice boomed out of the sound system announcing that we were going live in "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five," and went silent.  I conjured the best smile I could muster that came across as maniacal.  We were live.

After introducing us, Rachel got straight to the controversy that had been slowly suffocating us since stepping into the limelight.  "You made a comment in one of your blog posts, wherein you stated that The Lawyer and The Engineer are more popular than Jesus Christ."  As a result of that statement, we had received trash bags, and hard dives, full of hate mail, a large percentage of which wished The Engineer and I nothing short of an untimely and painful death.

"If I had said television is more popular than Jesus," I started, "I might have got away with it, but I just happened to be making a blog entry, as if I was talking to a friend, and I used the words "The Lawyer and The Engineer" as a remote thing, not as what I think - as The Lawyer and The Engineer, as the Engineer likes other people to see us. I just said 'we' are having more influence on our eleven followers at the time and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way which is the wrong way."

Rachel asked, "Some of your blog followers have repeated your statements - 'I like the The Lawyer and The Engineer more than Jesus Christ.' What do you think about that?"

I braced myself with another swig from the mug, and said, "Well, originally I pointed out that fact in reference to our fans. That we meant more to our fans than Jesus did, or religion at that time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true more for interpretive dance enthusiasts than for others. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this."

"But are you prepared to apologize?" Rachel asked.

"Wasn't what I said an apology," I said, my face turning crimson.  "I wasn't saying whatever they're saying I was saying. I'm sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don't know quite what I've done. I've tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry."  I wasn't sorry, I just wanted the whole controversy to go away and to be in peace.

"Let's talk about another issue that has garnered a lot of negative attention.  You wrote on your blog that it was your future intention to write an article entitled, Why Conservatives Hate Homosexuals even though Half of Them Are."

"That was The Engineer's idea," I said attempting to deflect some of the controversy away from me.

"It was not my idea, you scrote," said The Engineer.

"Yes it was," I lied.

"Up yours, man," said The Engineer.

"Piss on yourself," I said.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," said Rachel encouraging us to bring it down a notch.  "The reason I ask about this, in part, is that I want to know where the two of you stand on the issue of gay marriage and gay civil rights."

"Well," said The Engineer.  "We have gay friends.  I don't know.  Whatever."

I chimed in, "They're here, they're queer, and we don't care."

"If," said The Engineer, "those people want the right to get married and divorced, more power to them.  Give it to them."  Rachel, the sharpest, lesbian wit on national television, contorted her face in a grimace.

"You have friends who are gay?  Those people?  Seriously?  That sounds like what bigots say who are being disingenuous," said Rachel.

"Here's the deal," said The Engineer.  "What we were really getting at with the quip about people hating homosexuals being gay themselves is this:  That any irrational hatred of any aspect, or expression of human behavior that poses no direct threat to a person's well being, though is perceived as such, is nothing but a repression of one's own sacral desires and inclinations, and the self loathing that fosters is projected externally.  The internal threat is externalized and made other--not the self.  Hatred of anything, not a real threat, is denial, and a hatred of self.  Homophobes are closet gays."

Rachel and I looked at each other approvingly.  "Wow.  Sounds good to me," I said.

A thousand miles away, in God's country, between the rural townships of Gotiebow and Bowlegs, the right Reverend Ezekiel Slanderson, the leader of the Southend Pentecostal Church of the Apocalypse, picked up the remote control and turned off his television set.  "Dear Lord," he muttered to himself picking up the phone to call his second in command.  "Daryl.  The Lord has spoken to me this evening.  The Lord told me that the end times are, at this moment, upon us, and the sinners are to be swept away in a fiery storm of God's wrath.  The Lord also told me that we have one last mission to undertake in his hallowed name.  Mobilize the flock.  And most importantly, Daryl, find out everything you can about two fag-loving sinners called The Lawyer and The Engineer."

All of our editors, with the exception of Edgar, had quit The Lawyer and The Engineer citing the unsustainability of working for free.  Edgar was different.  He had recently graduated from college--an English major--and was happy, given the state of the economy, to be an "intern" editor.  He had long hair that he kept in a pony tail, and a beard for the reason that he could not afford a hair cut, razors or shaving cream.  The Engineer and I were happy to have Edgar, the "intern" editor, working long hours, fetching coffee, running errands and generally doing the things for us that we didn't want to do for ourselves, for no remuneration beyond encouragement, food and the occasional pat on the head.  Edgar was a great sport.

There was a forceful knock at the door at the bottom of the stairway that led to the street below.  "Edgar," I said.  "Be a good fellow and go so if that is another delivery of tazers."  The only material benefit that fame had thus far brought us was that we had been sponsored by the same tazer company whose weapons we had been stunned by more than once, all chronicled here in The Absurd Adventures of The Lawyer and The Engineer.  We already had three boxes full of the damn things.

"Do it your self," suggested Edgar.

"I can't.  Look at me. I can't get up when I am holding a newspaper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other," I said.  "Ask The Engineer, he's not doing anything."

"Sorry, Edgar," said The Engineer.  "I'm thinking."

Edgar smirked and made his way to the stairway muttering profanities under his breath.  He came back, the blood having rushed out of his face, holding a piece of paper in his trembling hand.  He held it to us.

"What is it?" asked The Engineer.  Edgar could only stammer in response.

"Give it to me," I said.  I read it out loud.  " And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.   And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  God hates fags.  God hates Jews.  God hates The Lawyer and The Engineer."

"Geese, that's a little harsh, don't you think?" asked The Engineer.

"Who in the hell is this from?" I asked looking at the blank backside of the note.

"It's--it's those bat-shit nuts," said Edgar, "from--oh shit, I can't remember what they are called.  Ah!  The Southend Pentocostal Church of the Apocalypse.  God I hate those assholes."

"Well," I pointed out, "they don't make themselves very lovable, do they?  What I want to know is how they found us?"  I asked looking at The Engineer.  "There is no public record whatsoever that we have anything to do with this building.  Ah!" I said slapping my forehead.  "Unless they checked the county records to see what property we are paying taxes on."

"They are famous for peaceful demonstrations, no matter how offensive, but otherwise they operate like a terrorist organization, with cells in every city across the South and Midwest," said Edgar.

"How do you know so much about them?" I asked.  "You're not one of them?"

"Fuck no.  I hate those bastards.  I wish they would all die a slow, miserable death."  Edgar was shaking and looked like he would lose his mind.  "Guys, this has been a great resume builder for me, working for you, but I am afraid I will have to tender my one minute notice, now."

"Whoa, whoa, hold on," said The Engineer.  "You can't quit--or, I guess you can, about a tazer?  You want a tazer?"  Edgar shook his head in the negative.  "Two?" asked The Engineer, upping the ante.

"I don't want a fucking tazer!" Edgar exploded.  "I want money, and you two worthless jack-holes don't have any."

"Not much," I said modifying his assessment.

Our attention was suddenly captivated by the angry sound of a man yelling.  We sidled up to the windows over looking the typically quiet and empty street and saw a throng of white bread, unimaginatively dressed people.  The signs they held more than made up for their outward appearance of complete blandness.  The signs read, God hates this and God hates that; mostly Jews and homosexuals.  "That's the Reverend Slanderson," Edgar told us.   

The preacher stood before them giving them an Old Testament, looker room, pep rally.  He quoted nonsensical scripture breathlessly, interspersed with prophecy of the end of times and the second coming.  "This is the anointed moment!  That time we are blessed to see with our own eyes!  That Jesus will return and smote the sinners into eternal hell-fire and damnation!  And we, the chosen ones, after aiding God in his will to bring the sinners to their knees, and dash the life out of them, will be lifted up by the Angels of heaven, to be with and in the glory of the Almighty!  Amen!"  That was followed by more scriptural non sequiturs.

I couldn't resist any longer.  I opened the window and shouted at the children of the corn.  With all their eyes on me, I grabbed my crotch and hollered, "Here's your Almighty, fuck-nuts!"  The Engineer and Edgar ducked away from the window, praying to the great Santa Claus, sky god that they would live to see tomorrow.

The Reverend had a skeletal face, with nothing of the rosy meat of joy in his chin or cheeks.  His tight expressionless face gave way to the most sinister grin I have ever had the displeasure to witness.  Under one arm he had a Bible.  The other raised up, a bony, chilly white finger pointed straight at me.  He said, "Death is your mother."  I'm not sure what in the hell he meant by that, but I didn't like the tone of it.         

"Oh shit," said Edgar.  "Let's not screw around with these characters; just call the police."

"No, no, don't call the police," said The Engineer.  "There are a few problems with that.  We don't own, nor rent this building," he confessed to Edgar.  "We are squatters."

"I looked it up in county records," I said.  "The guy who owned this building has been dead for ten years.  We pay the taxes on it."

"And I," said The Engineer, "have all the utilities illegally hooked.  Most importantly, the police are exactly what those assholes want.  If the police come, then so do the media.  They love the attention, so let's no give it to them."  We were in agreement, and went about our day to the noxious sounds of Leviticus, Genesis, Ezekiel and Revelations disjointedly quoted in angry, white voices.  Occasionally I peeked my head out the window to try to engage in dialogue with the inbreds.

"Hey, crackers!  Help me out here.  What does this mean?" I asked and read from the Bible we had there at The Lawyer and The Engineer HQ.  "From Ezekiel, and I quote, 'I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts--the sacrifice of every firstborn--that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD!"

"Sinner," one yelled to me.  "Faggot," screamed another.  "Jew!" bellowed a third.

"I don't know about the sinner part, for sure, but I'm sorry to disappoint you.  I'm not a Jew, nor a homosexual."  They booed and hissed me.  "I'm sorry, that's just the way it is and I can't help it.  Another passage I need help with.  Explain this shit from Deuteronomy: 'You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud.  However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit, or the coney.'  No coneys, with delicious cheese, chili, onions and mustard?  That's my definition of hell."

Slanderson, not to be out done in the nonsensical quoting of Biblical scripture department, fired off:  "The sun will darken," and with those words, a cold front with clouds finally moved in, obscuring the sun, just as it had been forecasted by the local weatherman that morning.  The creepy old bastard of a reverend continued, "and the moon will not give its light--"  It happened to be a new moon The Engineer stated.  "The stars will fall from the sky--"  I queried whether there was supposed to be any meteor showers that evening.  Edgar and The Engineer shrugged.  "And the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  They will see the Son of Man on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all of these things have happened," he hollered, the cage of his chest heaving up and down under neath his shirt. 

"Do you suppose," I asked Edgar and The Engineer, "they believe the second coming is upon us?"

"Ask them," said The Engineer.

"Hey!  Reverend Skeletor!  When's the rapture?"

"Soon," he answered up.  "Before the day is over, faggot!"

It was then that I had noticed Edgar was looking queasier with each passing moment.  I also took note that he bore and uncanny resemblance to a famous biblical character.  "Edgar," I said.

"What," he said, a little jumpy.

"Undo your pony tail for a moment, please."


"Just do it, damn it," I persuaded.

Edgar let down his hair.  "Fuck me running," I said.  "Look at that.  Who does Edgar look like?"  The Engineer puzzled over Edgar but could not see the similarity at first.  "It's Jesus H. Christ, in our midst."  And he did look just like him, or at least the simile of the Northern European Jesus that had been shoved into the eye sockets of white, God-fearing children since time immemorial.  Edgar had deep blue, shaming eyes, like the ones your mother looked at you with the first time she caught you masturbating in the bathroom.  He also had a long, sad and humorless face, to go with the beard--it was a perfect match.  "Behold," I proclaimed, "The Son of God!"

"Would you like to play the part of Jesus in a little passion play this afternoon?" I asked Edgar.

"Oh no.  No, no, no.  Fuck you," he responded.

"Wa, ha, ha, ha," laughed The Engineer.  "No, Edgar, you have to.  This is going to be too good."

"And if I refuse?" asked Edgar.

"Then you are fired," said The Engineer and I in unison.

"Then, I quit," said Edgar walking towards the stairway.

"We'll pay you," I said.

Edgar stopped and turned.  "Pay me what?  Chinese take out?  Screw you."

"Um," the Engineer said, "twenty-five dollars."

"Get serious," said Edgar.

"Fine," I said.  "Fifty."  Edgar thought it over, and then shook his head.  "Okay.  One-hundred, and that's our final offer."

"Where is it?  Put the cash on the barrel," said Edgar.  I pulled out my check book, of a closed account, and wrote and endorsed it to his order.  On the memo line I wrote, "For services faithfully rendered unto the governor of the universe."  Ripping the check free, I handed it to him.  Edgar looked it over and said, "To tell you the truth, I don't think I could do what I think you are thinking for a million dollars."

"Why?" asked The Engineer.

"Guys," said Edgar.  "I'm Jewish."

"So what?  Jesus was a Jew.  And you don't look it."  I said.

"Oh, because I don't have dark hair and skin and a big nose?"

"Well, yeah," said The Engineer.  "They'll think you are Jesus."

"Damn it," grimaced Edgar.  "I-I," he paused, "I'm also gay."

"All the better," I said gleefully rubbing my hands together with the serendipity of it all. 

After a quick rehearsal, we huddled at the back door that let out to the alley behind head quarters.  "Just in case," said The Engineer, handing Edgar a tazer.

"How do I use this?" asked Edgar.

"It's all ready to go.  Just aim and pull the trigger if it comes to that," said The Engineer.  Edgar put it in the front pocket of his jeans underneath the brown robe that we had fashioned for him from an old, dusty curtain.

"Now go forth," I summoned, "and may the peace of the Lord be with you."

"You guys suck," said Edgar as he walked down the alley and out of view.

Back at our perch, over looking the premodern  imbeciles below, Edgar emerged from around the corner with his arms uplifted.  One of the flock saw him and went silent.  Then two more, and three, began to tremble with ecstasy at the sight and comfort that the world had finally come to an end.  "He hath returned!" shouted one.  "Behold, our Savior!" screamed another.  The rest began to froth and babble in tongues.

The Reverend approached Edgar, our Lord, and dropped to his knees in front of him.  "Dear Lord, Christ Almighty--you have returned.  We are your servants.  Bid us your command, Son of God."

Edgar looked them over, and shot a glance up at The Engineer and I, our heads peeking over the window seal above.  We nodded to him, encouraging him on.  "Kneel before your Lord," hollered Edgar, his voice cracking.  The flock dropped to their knees, some laying out flat on their bellies in the street.  There was a long pause as Edgar was obviously wondering what to say next.

The Reverend, holding his Bible in front him, his thin lips twitching, asked him again, "What is your command, O Lord?  What would you have us know and do on this day that the sinners, faggots and Jews will be swept into the flames of hell?"

Edgar spoke, thus:  "You shall do God's bidding on Earth, as he does in heaven."  Edgar took a deep breath, and let it rip.  "I am the Son of God, the Prince of Peace.  I am love!  I command you to love your brother as I do.  Forgiveness is my sustenance.  And love for all of God's creatures is my gift.  And by all of God's creatures, I mean ALL people, no matter what religion they follow--or no religion at all; ALL men and women, whether they be Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, or homosexuals.  THAT IS MY COMMAND!"

Rising to his feet, the Reverend stood toe-to-toe with his Holy Majesty, and looked him in his twitching eyes.  The ancient Reverend began to shake with anger.  He held his Bible to the air and yelled, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction!"  We didn't like the sound of that, least of all Edgar.  The Reverend turned to his flock, and gave them an acidic frown that made my skin crawl.  Turning back to Edgar, the Reverend struck him across the head with his Bible.  "Damn you to hell!" thundered the old buzzard, and was about to strike Edgar again, but not before two prongs of tazer zapped him between the eyes.

Never losing his grasp on his Bible, Slanderson convulsed, "Ga-di-di-di-di-di," his teeth chattering as he dropped to the ground, and flopped around.

The flock was as figuratively stunned as their convulsing leader.  Edgar, unable to resist getting in one last juicy jab, lent over Slanderson and said, "You've just been tazered by a queer Jew, bitch."  Edgar stood and took stock of his predicament.  He was outnumbered by fifty.  Edgar pointed to the sky behind them and yelled, "Behold!"  Every last one of the dim-wits turned to see what it was.  Edgar tucked-tail and ran like his hair was on fire back for the alley.

With a twenty yard head start, the flock tore after him.  The Engineer and I hustled down to the back door with it cracked open, waiting for the arrival of the carpenter from Nazareth.  He came furiously high-stepping it, holding the bottom of his robe in his hand, and dove into the door to safety.  I shut and latched it as the faithful pounded on the other side demanding blood.  The Engineer reinforced the door with a two-by-four.  He ran to the front and did the same just as the flock began pounding and calling for our heads there.

"Oh shit," I said.  "This is bad.  You really pissed them off Edgar."  Our hearts were in our throat.  "How long are these doors going to last?" I asked the Engineer.  The Engineer shrugged.  "Fuck.  What in the hell are we going to do?  These bastards intend to kill us."

Edgar ran up the stairs to the main room.  "Where are you going?" I yelled up to him.  Edgar logged on to Facebook, Twitter, and began emailing with one hand, while furiously texting with the other.  His electronic dexterity was breath taking.  "What in the hell are you doing?" I asked.  "This is no time to be lolly-gagging and networking."

"Shut the fuck up," said Edgar.

"That's really no way to speak to your employers," said The Engineer, as the howling of the true believers grew more violent by the second, and the front and the back doors were being pummeled.

"There," said Edgar.  "It's our only hope," he said peering over the window seal.  Below us was a splintering crash.  They were in the stairway.  No sooner than The Engineer leaped to the door to the room and bolted that door shut, the anointed ones were hard at it, unhinging the one thing that was prolonging our lives.

The Engineer and I stood hard against the door, holding it to while more than one of the flock threw themselves against it from the other side, repeatedly, for the next five minutes.  "Crapping hell!" yelled The Engineer.  "We're goners, aren't we?  I'd say this door has about two minutes left."  I had the uneasy feeling that The Engineer's assessment of the structural integrity of the door was dead on.

"Ha!" guffawed Edgar.  "It worked.  They're here! They're here!" he said jumping up and down by the window, still in his robe.  We could hear the thunderous roar of motorcycles.  "Come look," said Edgar.

"But the door," I said.

"We're saved, We're saved," said Edgar.  I left The Engineer holding the fort, and ran to one of the windows.  At one end of the street there was a sortie of motorcycles mounted by men all decked out in black, leather chaps, pants, vests, boots, jackets, and halters connected by a chrome ring above the solar plexus.  At the other end there was about fifteen, shirtless hulks, pure muscle and all business, punching their fists in their hands.  Edgar yelled instructions to the bikers and body builders.

They took after the Pentecostals on the street, banging heads, flipping them in the air, head over ass.  Bikers came in the destroyed front door.  The pounding on the other side of the door that thinly separated us from being maimed stopped.  The Engineer stepped away from the door, puzzled.  Then there was a blood curdling scream, and desperate pleas were shouted, mixed with sadistic laughs, and more screaming.  We dared not to open the door for fear of what we might see.

In the street, the fallen were picking themselves up, scuttling about and trying to escape.  Two Pentecostals picked up the Reverend, the tazer darts still stuck to his forehead, and dragged him away.  One biker was beating another Pentecostal over the head with a God Hates Fags sign as he chased him down the street and out of view.

"We did it!" I celebrated.

Edgar looked at me, and asked, "What do you mean 'we'?"  With the exception of the occasional scream for mercy and the roar of motorcycle in the distance, things had quieted down considerably in the street.  The Engineer went down stairs and propped up the doors in their jams.

Looking out the window still intoxicated with bewilderment, I saw a police cruiser round the corner.  I stepped away from the window and out of sight.  Getting a glance a safe distance away from the window, I spied the cruiser moving along down the road and away.

Peace and quiet had finally returned after five hours of Biblical mayhem.  It was as eerie as it was relieving.

"Whew," said The Engineer.

"Wow," I said.

Edgar wiped perspiration from his forehead with his sleeve.

"Edgar," said The Engineer.

"Yeah," responded Edgar.

"How about being a good sport, and pop around the corner and get us some Chinese carry-out.  I'm famished," said The Engineer.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ode to my Shadow: A Poem

Leave me alone.
That's not me,
You see, peering
Through the blinds.
Let me be,
It's peace I need,
Guarding my
Soul and blood.
I know its urgent,
You need me ASAP,
But I do not,
Bathe with my phone.
Your sky is falling,
They're at the gate calling,
Your mortal name.
Rome is burning,
But I must
Play my fiddle.
Leave me alone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

T.M.I. and Polarization effects of the Internet.

The title of the blog stands for too much information. What? Is it possible to have too much information? I think in some cases, it can cause a distortion and polarization of viewpoints, especially in the political circus of American Politics.

Well let me clarify the statement of too much information. I mean too much information of the same viewpoint. The Internet allows a person to seek easy reinforcement of opinions and viewpoints that the person may hold. It is easy to find out "You are not alone" in whatever it may be. But are you just reinforcing  preexisting viewpoints?

With the old news information networks like newspapers and TV news, reading or watching exposed you to stories with viewpoints that were not particularly yours at the time. But, if a valid case was made or facts that were previously not known presented for a different opinion, intelligent minded people may actually veer towards changing their mind.

In a way, you were forced to deal with differences in thinking. You could think of it like traveling to another country or culture.You are exposing yourself to different opinions and facts, expanding your mind and outlook.

With today's instant click stories, blogs, and websites dedicated to certain viewpoints, doesn't this act as a reinforcement of ideas, giving people a sense of belonging with this "group-think". Most of these sites also contain links to "Sites we follow"that will further elaborate on the same viewpoint, perhaps getting just that perfect angle or soundbite that trumps the site before.

With the new social networking applications becoming more popular, does this reinforce this process?. If you create a network of friends, doesn't most of those friends hold similar opinions about social issues and political mandates. Even when a dissimilar viewpoint is expressed, does it eventually become a comment shout-down instead of debate? There has even been a funny observation of that phenomena, see Godwins Rule of Internet debate.

I am under the opinion that the current state of affairs of partisan politics is not all just the effects of the Bush Administration and throwing the Republicans out because of the direction the country was taking. I think that this is the new face of the American political process. Each political side, with its vast virtual army of spin, will continue to enlarge the gap between what is considered the center, not only by cherry picking stories to present their particular slant, but also by playing on emotions of a "Us versus Them" or "those people.."

There will always be biased news, blogs, and sources of "Truth". The Lawyer and Engineer blog could be claimed to be biased by who we make fun of. But we have also stated that any viewpoint, if the facts can be presented, will have value.

The only path that must be taken is for people to base their opinions by making the effort, not becoming complacent in searching for the truth. Don't just go to the same places for your facts. Mix it up, see what the other side has to say. Find out what other countries have to say about the same news. Don't be lazy!

You shouldn't always seek out that feeling of self righteous smugness from your favorite dogma channel!

 If you just want comfort, make yourself some smores.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Raccoon Mountain

Other than practicing law, there existed three other things I could cite as "job related experience" on my resume:  dishwasher, cubicle rat, and lawn boy.  Tired of loitering around the house in sandals, boxer shorts, a t-shirt and a robe, and my back aching from sleeping on the couch, where I had been relegated to by my wife
after the Smoky Balls incident, I focused my efforts on becoming gainfully employed as a lawyer, once again.  I shaved my beard.  Three weeks later I was employed as an associate at a large firm, and finally had sex with my wife instead of my right hand.

As for The Engineer and I, we had ceased to be on speaking terms.  He had accused me of selling out.  I had accused him of being a half-witted mooncalf.  The coupe de grace was when he poured sugar in my gas tank.  I swore that I would never talk to him again, much at the urging of my wife.  

Law practice was just as wonderful as it had always been, working sixty-plus hours a week, gen'ing billable hours for work that may, or may not have been actually accomplished, all in a cold, soulless environment where nary a laugh could be heard.  The judges were still dyspeptic, opposing counsel was still zealously uncivil, and the clients were still out of their ever-loving minds.  Practice was still a high-paying, meaningless endeavor; the kind that makes being an artist subsisting on a meager diet of Ramon Noodles look attractive.  

"So, I have this condition," said Gerald, my client.  "See, here is the note from my therapist," he said handing it to me.  "I have this turtle.  His name is Gomer. I would take Gomer to work with me in a box, and let him hang out in my cubicle.  Gomer helps calm my nerves and keep me from--," Gerald choked up.  I slid a box of tissue across my desk to him.  Gerald took a handful and trumpeted a few ounces of mucous into them, and laid the soppy tissues on my desk.  "I got fired."

"Because of the turtle," I said.

Gerald looked at me, indignant.  "Yes, because of the turtle.  Because of Gomer.  What else?"

"Gomer is a 'he'?"

"Yes," said Gerald.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"What does that have to do with my discrimination suit?" asked Gerald.

"There is no suit yet.  We're just talking about whether you may have an employment claim.  We've got to figure that out before we file a petition with the court.  Is the turtle--um, Gomer--is he the only reason that you were terminated?"

"No," confessed Gerald.  "Also, part of my therapy is to laugh out loud for fifteen minutes every hour."

"Really," I said.  "And where would you exercise that part of your therapy."

"At my desk!  Where else?"

"You couldn't go outside and laugh?"

"No," said Gerald.  "I have terrible allergies.  I have to laugh inside."

My phone rang.  My secretary said I had a call from a man that would only identify himself as "The Engineer," and that it was vitally important that he speak to me that very moment; something about saving the planet from utter destruction.  I rolled my eyes.  "Excuse me, Gomer--ah, I mean, Gerald.  Important call I got to take."

"I'm not important?" protested Gerald.

"You are, you are very important.  Just give me a moment.  This will be really quick," I assured him.

"Dude, you've got come with me," The Engineer said frantically on the other end of the line.

"Stop right there," I said.  "I thought my wife had made it clear to you that you were never to speak to me again."

"I know, I know, goddamit, but listen.  This is it.  This is big.  We have a chance to become national heroes.  We'll be on the cover of Mother Jones.  I've got The Cube gassed up and a bag full of soda and chocolate ho-ho's.  I'm waiting out in front of the building.  We are going to West Virginia to stop a mountain top mining operation."

"What's this 'we' shit," I said.  "I'm not going anywhere.  I've got a good job," I lied.  "It is way passed due to give up these follies.  You can go without me.  Now leave me alone."

"Come on, man," implored The Engineer.  "We have a chance to make history.  This is going to be fucking spectacular.  We are going to save a mountain.  Do I need to remind you?  Drawing clarity from the opaque, shining light into darkness, confronting ignorance with brilliance, and strangling boredom with competent absurdity and critique of postmodern interpretive--" I hung up.

I considered Gerald for a moment.  "Could I get you to wait here for just a moment?  I will be right back," I said, nonchalantly walking out of my office before he could protest.  I walked by my secretary, putting on my jacket, and in a very easy-going manner told her I would be right back, but to hold my calls.  I could hear Gerald begin laughing in my office as my colleagues and staff came out of their nooks and crannies to take stock of the offending noise.

The elevator doors opened and I shuffled past one of the elderly partners of the firm who was getting off.  "Sir," I saluted.  He grunted in response.  I pushed for ground floor, whistling, with my hands clenched behind my back, the twenty-five floors to the street.  The doors opened to the lobby.  I walked calmly, waving to the security guard.  A few yards from the door I could contain myself no longer and broke into a hair-on-fire sprint, burst through the revolving doors, and dove headlong into the passenger seat of The Cube.  The Engineer revved the engine in neutral, dropped it into drive and we were off in a flash of smoke.

Hours later and before dawn, hopped up on ho-ho's and pop, armed with fifty pounds of sugar, dressed in black, with smudge camouflaging our faces, we stood looking through the tall chain link fence that surrounded the work yard of Massey Energy.  There were twenty or so trucks loaded down with explosives, ready to deploy that morning to a nearby mountain whose destiny it was to be blown to kingdom come to expose the coal beneath it.  The resulting rubble was to be transported to fill in, and bury, an adjacent valley.

With steel clippers in hand, The Engineer sliced a line in the bottom section of fence, enabling us to pull back the edges wide enough for us to pass through.  We gave each other a thumbs-up, and with backpacks full of sugar, we stealthily high stepped it to the trucks ahead.  I unscrewed the gas cap of one of the trucks, and stopped.  "Did you hear that?" I whispered to The Engineer.  The Engineer shook his head in the negative.  I finished unscrewing the cap as The Engineer held up the first bag of sugar to empty in the tank.

Flood lights lit the yard up, causing The Engineer and I to jump to our feet.  We were surrounded by a couple of dozen humorless looking goons with automatic weapons pointed right at our heads.  A man with a fat face and a little sheriff mustache walked through the platoon of armed men and stood in front of us.

"How you all doing dismornin'," said the man as he chuckled.  "Let me introduce myself.  My name's Don Blankenship, the proprietor of this here operation."  It was Blankenship, the fat bastard, CEO, of Massey Energy that had been blowing up West Virginia's mountains, and burying her valleys, polluting the water, and generally devastating the Appalachian ecosystem, for years, while donating staggering amounts of money to politicians, mostly Republican.  In consideration of his coal fortune, once a year, during the holidays, he would personally hand out frozen turkeys to the toothless, mentally-stunted hillbillies that inhabited the surrounding area.

"I'd like you to meet my friends from the Blackwater organization," he said pointing to the armed men behind him.  "These good Christian mercenaries help to take care of mischief makers like you."

"Good morning," said The Engineer to the Blackwater guards.  His salutation was reciprocated with stoic silence.  "Rude," The Engineer muttered.

"Well, boys, I'm kinda busy this morning."  Blankenship snapped his fingers and the Blackwater guards were all over us like a rash.  "Enjoy your last sunrise," said the fat fuck, laughing.  Before we could say global warming The Engineer and I had been bound and fastened, on our backs (so we could enjoy the sunrise, as one of the guards put it) with duck tape to the hood of a Hummer, and driven out of the yard with the convoy of explosives laden trucks rolling out behind us.        

We bumped along for a long while over what felt like an uneven, pothole ridden, mountain road, ever ascending.  Finally the Hummer came to a stop in the middle of a clearing.  It was the mountain top that was to go up, along with us, in a mighty plume of dirt and fire, shaved bald in preparation for the festivity.  Men were hustling about all around us packing explosives in holes that had been previously excavated.  After a while the frenetic comings and goings of the workers subsided.  A Blackwater guard appeared standing over the hood looking down on The Engineer and me.

"This looks like the end of the line for you, dick wads," said the guard.  Looking at his watch, he added, "You have exactly an hour.  Enjoy the fireworks."

What we didn't know was that a safe distance away planned protests were in full swing by a number of environmental groups, and had attracted the media.  Vans and talking heads from all the major and cable networks had set up shop to cover the event.  In attendance was CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX who had brought with them a gaggle of idiot tea baggers that had somehow been convinced that blowing up mountains for coal was a good thing and had an amorphous connection with their personal freedom from government intrusion.  Also, there was The Engineer's wife and kids, and mine, searching through the crowd of thousands for us.

As it turns out, the day before, The Engineer's wife had stumbled upon a notebook, authored by The Engineer, that outlined, in excruciating detail, our plan to sabotage the trucks and take the mountain, thus saving the environment and gaining some sorely needed publicity for The Lawyer and The Engineer.  She contacted my wife and told her all about it, and they arrived a few hours later by plane and a rented minivan.

My wife happened to be standing next to Don Blankenship, by the FOX News van, when she over heard him mutter to another Massey executive there, "Don't worry.  The whole thing is taken care of.  When the mountain goes," he said looking down at his watch, "in fifteen minutes, there wont be a thing left of those two morons."

After forty-five minutes of contemplating the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, The Engineer and I were quickly coming to terms with our shared fates.  We recited our mission statement together.  The Engineer said with a quivering voice, "I love you, man."

Tears streamed down the side of my face.  "I love you, brother."  Then I noticed an eagle circling over head.  I thought of Soaring Eagle and what he had told us out on the reservation about the universe and the spirit world.

At that moment a raccoon, my animal spirit, with whom I had become acquainted in Smoky Balls, popped its head over the top of the grill of the Hummer close to our feet.  We stared at each other.  "Get out of here, little fellow.  We are all about to be blown to bits," I said.

"Do what?" asked the raccoon, looking confused.

"You heard me," I said.  "Get going, unless you want to get atomized along with us."

The Engineer looked at me, puzzled.  "Who in the hell are you talking to?"

"The raccoon.  Who do you think?"

"Wow, you're really losing it," said The Engineer.  "This is bad, bad, bad," he blubbered.

I shushed The Engineer and resumed my conversation with the raccoon.  "This mountain is going to blow any moment now.  You have to leave."  The raccoon climbed down from the hood of the Hummer as The Engineer and I were mumbling our prayers, which were interrupted by a tapping on the windshield from inside the SUV.  We craned our heads to see the raccoon inside the car waving at us, excited.

"The keys, the keys!  They left the keys in the car!" yelled the raccoon.  The engine beneath turned over and rumbled to life.  Then there was a click noise, and the Hummer began to slowly move forward.  "Ha-ha!  I'm driving, I driving!" shouted the raccoon, holding the steering wheel, jumping up and down in the drivers seat, as the Hummer idled forward and picked up momentum heading straight for the forest and down a steep incline.

My wife was giving Blankenship what-not.  "What did you say, you fat fuck?  Are you talking about my husband and his reprobate friend?  Where are they?"  Several cameras trained on the commotion between my wife and Blankenship.  "I heard what you said."  My wife bleated to who ever would listen.  "My husband and his retarded friend are on that mountain.  They're going to get blown up!"

The Hummer rumbled down the side of the mountain, narrowly missing trees and jumping ravines.  The SUV went up on two wheels as it struck a large green, and metal box that looked like a transformer, demolishing it to pieces.  As things would have it, that box was the relay station for the multiple lines connected to the detonators above, and we disabled it, saving the mountain.

The Engineer and I screamed at the top of our lungs, as the raccoon laughed hysterically.  At least on the top of the mountain we were destined for a quick and painless death by explosion, but now it looked as if we were to get dashed into a tree and skip across a few boulders before having the Hummer, driven by a raccoon, rolled over us.  I was feeling unapologetically irritated.

After what seemed an eternity of bouncing down the side of the mountain, we finally leveled off into a clearing where there was a large group of people gathered.  People were hustling, jumping and diving to avoid being ran over by the maniacal raccoon.  The Hummer was running out of momentum, but still moving quick enough to pack a punch as we approached a van that said FOX News where a fat bastard, with a cheesy little mustache, was wrestling with a woman that looked a hell of a lot like my wife. 

The woman looked straight at us coming straight at her.  She jumped out of the way in a nick of time.  The last thing Blankenship saw before being struck unconscious and having his clavicle, femur and eight ribs broken was the large silver letters "HUMMER" and the faces, contorted with excitement, of The Engineer, the raccoon and me.  Having cleanly ran over Blankenship, the Hummer came to a stop as it crashed into the Fox News van.

A bunch of itchy looking environmentalist ran to the Hummer and peeled The Engineer and me loose.  The raccoon, not particularly fond of large social gatherings of hairless apes, jumped ship and ran for the woods, but not before stopping and waving to me.  I waved backed, smiling.

"Daddy!  Daddy!" yelped my daughters running to me.  I bent down to hug them as they crashed into me, knocking me over.  The sun was blotted from the sky by the head of my wife standing over us.  I stood at attention.  We looked into each others eyes.  She grabbed my face and kissed me passionately.  The crowd cheered and clapped.

The Engineer's wife and kids ran to him, smothering him in hugs and kisses.  Cameras and microphones jockeyed all around us.  The questions were flying at us quicker than we could hear them.

That was the day the world was introduced to The Lawyer and The Engineer as flat screen TV's the globe over were occupied by our discombobulated, smudged faces in high definition.  The Engineer and I raised our fists in solidarity to the wild cheers of our adoring fans.

Gerald, watching the news with Gomer, couldn't believe his eyes, as he turned the TV off and called his therapist.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Smoky Balls

"Where in the hell have you been?" my wife asked.  That was as close to a hero's welcome as I was going to get after The Engineer and I had gone to hell and back, tazered by goons, and pepper-sprayed by harpies, while escaping from the Fox News studios.

"I-I-I...," I stammered.

"Be quiet," she said.  "Now, you are going to be very contrite.  You are going to be dead honest.  You are going to be straight to the point.  What have you been up to?"

The time for lies was over.  My dear wife had no idea about what The Engineer and I had been up to for the last few months.  I told her that I had quit my position at the firm I had worked at for the last twelve years, and launched into a synopsis of our adventures, and how we had come face-to-face with The Prince of Darkness, had been uncomfortably close to Dick Cheney, in the same room, in an undisclosed location and lived to tell about it, and how we had duped Glenn Beck to eat dirt polluted with chicken shit.  She listened without uttering a word for the full twenty minutes it took me to recount our epoch saga.

She sat quietly, for a few moments, searching my eyes, and then burst into tears.  "Hey, what's the matter?" I asked consolingly, trying to hug her.

"Get away--don't touch me," she said.  It was then I noticed our two daughters standing behind her, looking at me, with scowls on their precious little faces.  I was out numbered.  The best course of action, for the time being, was for me to shut up and take my lumps.

My wife retreated to our bedroom, wailing and sobbing, mistreated and let down.  I retreated to the back patio, with a cigar and a low ball with three fingers worth of scotch poured over ice.  The whole thing came crashing down around me in the moment of reflection that ensued as the scotch started to do its magic.  It was true, as I have mentioned before here in this blog, that The Engineer and I were more popular than Jesus Christ, at least with our fanatical core of eleven followers.  We had braved horrifying conditions and circumstances in our undaunted pursuit of the truth.  We lived adventures that lesser men only dream about as they cowardly live out their days, second-by-second closer to their graves with little to show for it.

This looked like the end of the road for The Engineer and me.  My family needed me. The money I had saved in law practice would not last for ever.  The Adsense feature on the blog had not brought in a single nickle.  Taking a slug from my scotch, I resolved to give up this craziness, and go back, full time, to doing what had to be done to support my family:  practicing law.  I wanted to cry.

My cell phone rang.  It was The Engineer.  "Hey man," he said, "I'm parked in front of your house.  You have got to come out here.  I'll tell you all about it as soon as we are on the road."

His timing was horrible and I told him so.  "No way in hell.  I'm giving all of this up.  I've got to do right by my family.  I-I," I said starting to choke up, "I have to go back to practicing law."

"Duuuude," said The Engineer.  "You can't give up on this now.  Look at what we have done.  Fathom the grandiosity of it all.  Are you ready to drop the whole thing?  What about the Pulitzer Prize we are sure to win?  What about the fame and glory we will surely bask in?  What about being on the cover Rolling Stone and Interpretive Dance Today?  We've fought too hard to come this far.  Remember our mission:   Drawing clarity from the opaque, shining light into darkness, confronting ignorance with brilliance, and strangling boredom with competent absurdity and critique of postmodern interpretive dance.  Come on, man!  It's time to reach down in your pants and make sure you've still got a couple." 

Just then I jumped into the front seat of The Engineer's Nissan Cube, while he was still on the phone giving me a pep talk.  "Punch it!  Go, go, go!" I yelled as The Engineer smoked the front tires and left tread the full length of the block.  Soon enough, we were on the highway, heading West out of town.

The Engineer explained that he had been contacted by a medicine man of a regional indian tribe.  The medicine man had invited us to his tribal reservation promising that he had something to show us that would turn our worlds', as we knew it, upside down, with a great mystery that awaited us.

"Well, what is it--what's this enigmatic shaman supposed to reveal to us?" I asked.

The Engineer answered, "Um, I have no clue."  So there we were, hauling ass out of town, going I didn't know where, nor did I know why; and behind me, a marriage on the brink of complete implosion.  I felt like throwing up. 

An hour and a half later we drove under a large sign that indicated that we had arrived at the reservation.  Before us was a dirt road that stretched out to the horizon.  After twenty minutes of bumping along, feeling like my brains were going to be jostled out of my head, we heard a loud popping noise, and The Engineer momentarily lost control of the Cube, but was able to bring it to a screeching halt.  We got out of the car to discover that one of the tires had blown a flat.

"Shit," said The Engineer.  The sun was setting.  I was being consumed with a growing sense of anxiety that was eroding any patience I had left.  "Give me a hand?" asked The Engineer.

I lost it.  "We have no fucking idea where we are out in the middle of a reservation.  Technically, we're trespassing.  The sun is going down.  My wife is going to divorce me in all likelihood.  Fuck you!  Fix the goddamn flat your fucking self, you stupid fuck-head."  The Engineer and I stared at each other, both of our faces flushed crimson with anger.

"What did you say, you fuck-face ignoramus?"

"You heard me, you prick.  You've ruined my life, you son-of-a-bitch.  Prepare to have your ass kicked!" I said.

As quick as I could, I bent down and picked up a hand full of dry, powdery dirt and threw it in The Engineer's face, momentarily blinding him.  Then I went straight for him, grabbing him by the neck.  The Engineer croaked, "fuck you," and brought his knee up, connecting squarely with my round ones.  I released my hands from The Engineer's neck and bent over, recuperating from the indescribable pain.  The Engineer coughed and sputtered, catching his breath.

"You boys need some help?" asked the stranger that seemed to appear from no where.  He was an old indian man, dressed in cowboy boots, jeans, a short sleeve button-up, western-style shirt, donning a well-worn cowboy hat, with a leather satchel slung around his shoulder.

Though it felt like my gonads were lodged in my stomach, and The Engineer sounded like a dying duck gasping for its last breath, we greeted the old man.  "Hello," The Engineer croaked.

"Good afternoon," I said in an unusually high pitch, trying to resist the urge to hold my crotch.

"My name is Soaring Eagle.  Are you boys The Lawyer and The Engineer?"

"That's the guy--he's the one," said The Engineer, regaining his usual enthusiasm.

How fortuitous, I thought, regarding the old man.  What were the odds that he would pop up out of no where to save us from our own insanity?  I didn't speculate on that issue for long, preferring a rational explanation for things in general.

Soaring Eagle implored us to follow him--that the car would be safe where it was, and we could come back later to change the tire.  We walked, mostly in silence for what seemed like a mile.  Soaring Eagle looked to the sky, and then bent down to the ground and planted the palm of his hands flat in the soil.  "This is the place," he announced.  "Come, sit here with me, and I will show you what it is that I want you to know."

The reckoning of the oddness of the situation shown on our faces as we sat in the dirt facing the happy, old codger.  He pulled out a small leather bag out of the satchel, and a liter of tequila.  "Are you serious?" I asked.  "We came all the way out here--wherever 'here' is--to get drunk with a cooky old man, while my wife is at home thumbing through the phone book looking for a divorce attorney?"

"Patience, young man.  We're not getting drunk," said Soaring Eagle.  "I am going to guide the two of you on a vision quest."  Soaring Eagle emptied, what looked like dried figs, from the bag into the palm of his hand.  "Take these," he said handing five of the crusty things to me, and five to The Engineer.

The Engineer said, "Oh, goody--I love trail mix," and popped the handful of them in his mouth and set about chewing like he hadn't had a square meal in days.

"Good God, man, are you nuts?" I asked.  "You have no idea what you just put in your mouth.  It could be horse turds for all you know."  The Engineer's face contorted, and his eyes began to water.

"Christ!" said The Engineer, talking with his mouth full.  "That's the bitterest thing I have ever tasted in my life."

The old indian chimed in.  "That's what the tequila is for.  It will wash away the bitterness."  The Engineer grabbed the bottle, and turned it skyward as he gulped down the kibble and tequila.

"All right," I said, still holding the dried chips in my hands.  "What is this stuff?"

"It is the key to the spirit world, my friend--it is peyote," said Soaring Eagle.  'Might as well,' I thought.  It was a perfect evening for a bad trip.  I tossed the peyote in my mouth, and set about chewing like a disenchanted cow.  The bitterness was overwhelming.  I grabbed the bottle and took swigs, until I had managed to adequately masticate the peyote and get it down my gullet.

An hour later the sun had completely set, as Soaring Eagle, The Engineer and myself, sat around a roaring camp fire that Soaring Eagle had lit.  Nothing was happening as we sat quietly looking at each other like a bunch of idiots.  Soaring Eagle broke the silence by bringing his hands together, rubbing them vigorously and holding them to the air.  "The time has come," he said.  "The door to the spirit world is opening, and the quest begins."

The Engineer and I looked at each other, a portrait of skepticism.  "What are you talking about?" The Engineer asked.  "I can't feel a thing.  This stuff is bunk--a complete dud.  I'm leaving.  This is a sham.  Come on," he said turning to me.  "We're--," The Engineer went silent, as he stared out in front of him looking utterly lost in his thoughts, as his pupils grew to the size of dimes.  "Whooooooooa," he noted.

I asked "Are you okay, okay, okay, okay...?" the words echoing in my head and all around me.  "Whoooooooa," I said, feeling like I was continuously falling backwards, though I remained sitting upright and cross legged.  I looked across the blazing fire, emitting hues of white, green and orange, at Soaring Eagle who appeared to be in about fifteen different places at once.

Soaring Eagle spoke:  "Here on the threshold of the unknown we journey to its depths transcending opposites.  There we will find the undiscovered country and retrieve from it its great mystery; that all the world is one in its most distilled essence, and there we find with our soul and spirit, freed from the bonds of our mortal bodies, we are more real than real, forever joined in unity with the world beyond, our true home..."  His diatribe seemed to continue to drone on and recede into silence, as I fell, spread out in the dirt on my back, and felt myself lift from the ground as a single, condensed point of awareness, and took to the sky, like a rocket.  Soaring Eagle's voice seemed all around my, like a cloud.  "We are each of us, a part of The Great Spirit, knowing, experiencing and creating itself.  May your quest be fruitful."

The terrain below pulsated, and breathed alive, radiating colors of an indescribable intensity.  It could have been minutes or hours--I don't know--until I found myself on the ground again, flat on my back.  I sat up feeling like my hair was sticking straight out in ever direction.  The fire, The Engineer and the insane indian were no where in sight.

I bound to my feet startled by something wrestling about in the bushes a few yards from me, prompting in me a desire to run for my life. Hardly able to get to my feet I stayed where I was.  A furry face sprang from the top of the shrubbery.  I jumped, but settled myself.  It was a raccoon.  "Wow," I said.  "Ha.  Just a raccoon."

"How's it going?" asked the raccoon.  I stared at the ring-tailed creature for a moment, with my mouth open.

"Forgive me for being rude," I said, "but I cannot get in the habit of talking to random raccoons.  It's just not right, you know."

"Really," said the raccoon.  "Suit yourself, then.  I'm out of here."  The raccoon turned its back to me, with its tail sticking straight in the air, and began to saunter off.

"Wait, wait," I begged, deciding that a little companionship, under the circumstances, was not such a bad thing.  The raccoon stopped and slowly turned to me.  "Who are you?" I asked.

"I'm your animal spirit.  Like you, I'm a wily, deceitful, self-serving, prick with an inflated ego, who is loathsome of others, and prefers to lurk in the shadows."  It was an oddity beyond comprehension, being insulted by a furry, ring-tailed, dumpster-diving, over-grown rodent.

"Oh, please.  I'm not that bad am I?"

"You're wife would agree with me," the raccoon said.

"Okay," I conceded.  "You may have a point.  But, what should I do?"

"How should I know?  I'm a raccoon, not a therapist.  Are you hungry?"

"No, not at all," I said.

"Are you sure?  There is a trash can close by with some left over bean soup and peanut butter in it," he said.

"No thanks.  I couldn't eat a thing," I said.  "But hey, you could help me.  Is there a camp fire around here somewhere?"  The raccoon stood on its hind legs and sniffed the air.

"Yeah, there is.  Follow me."

A short distance away, and over a hill I saw The Engineer sprawled out on the ground next to the fire.  Soaring Eagle was no where to be seen.  "Hey, thank you," I said to the raccoon, who I  noticed had since disappeared.

I leaned over The Engineer who had a mad, disconcerted look on his face, and was muttering, "I'm a lizard, man.  See my tail.  I've turned into a lizard."  His tongue was darting in and out of his mouth.  I shook him.

"You're not a lizard," I said.  The Engineer sat up, patting himself and reaching for his hind quarters.

"Where's my tail?  I had a tail.  I had turned green, and my face was pointy, like a sleestack from the Land of the Lost."  I pointed out that he was perfectly human, and he slowly acquiesced in the proposition.  We sat by the fire that was still blazing, but was beginning to look like ordinary fire--mostly orange.

We sat for a while in bewildered silence, too disoriented to formulate thoughts.  After a while we could feel the effects of the peyote beginning to dissipate.  As my senses were coming back to me, I started to feel good.  I had a certain feeling of lightness of being that I had not had in years, if ever.  It was then that I felt a surge of energy rise up through my feet, into my spine, and flow through my limbs, and out through the top of my head.  I rose to my feet elated, and raised my arms to the sky.

The Engineer asked, "What are you doing?"

Standing on one leg, with the other raised and touching the knee of the one that supported my weight, my arms still raised, I broke into the interpretive dance of a life time.  Whisking and spinning about, I shed all of my clothes.  The Engineer did the same.  Holding each others hand we spun in a circle, and released, the centrifugal force throwing us outward and away from each other like fractal vortexes unwinding and free.  It was the greatest expose of postmodern dance that had ever occurred on this spinning ball, in this corner of the universe--we just knew it!  We ran and leaped through the flames, over and over, and might have continued for hours more, but for the sudden intrusion of head lights from a car with flashing blue and red lights.

The Engineer and I stopped and observed, wondering if we were still hallucinating.  A man stepped out of the car walked towards us shining a flashlight into our eyes.  I squinted to try to make out who the uninvited guest was.  "What in God's name do you think you fellers are doing?"

"Dancing," confessed The Engineer.

"Christ almighty," said the tribal policeman, noticing that the hair on our heads and between our legs was singed and smoking.  He inspected our eyes closely.  "Ah, ha.  You've been out here with Soaring Eagle, haven't you?"  We nodded in the affirmative.  "Get your clothes on, and get into the car."

There is nothing quite like the startling shock that you feel upon waking up and having no idea where you are or how you got there.  That was the feeling I had looking around the jail cell to the deafening sound of The Engineer snoring.  "Wake up," I said poking at The Engineer.

The Engineer's eyes flew open as he stammered incomprehensibly.  The policeman appeared at the bars of our cell with a tray of coffee, cereal and orange juice.  "You fellers want some breakfast?"  We did, and it was great.

An hour later, our kind host escorted us to the tribal court where we were to be arraigned.  We were seated in the jury box to await the arrival of the presiding judge.  The Engineer, the amiable policeman and I were the only ones in the quiet courtroom.  A door, close to the bench opened, and an elderly woman came out and said, "All rise for the Honorable Soaring Eagle, presiding."

I couldn't believe it.  The same man who had coaxed us into this bizarreness was now going to levy justice on us for whatever laws he encouraged us to break.

"Good morning, boys.  Did you sleep well?"  We nodded that we had.  "Let's see we what we have here," said old Judge Soaring Eagle.  He clicked his tongue and shook his head as he read the charges.  "Indecent exposure, lewd and lascivious behavior, trespassing and malicious mischief.  Those are some serious charges."

"Are you a lawyer, too," I asked the judge.

"Yip," he said pointing to his juris doctorate hanging on the wall behind him.

"Your honor?  My I approach the bench?'' I asked.

"Sure," he said, amused in a grandfatherly kind of way.  Looking over the bench I could see that he was wearing a tie, underneath his robe, with Republican elephants all over it.  I gasped.

"Judge," I said softly.  "Are you a Republican?"

The kindly old judge and medicine man laughed.  "Son, no self-respecting indian is a Democrat.  Many years ago there was a Democratic president, named Andrew Jackson, that sent my people marching from the Atlantic coast, all the way here, half of us dying in the process.  I'm not a fan of the Democrats."  But that was a different time, I thought to myself.  I considered it wise, under the circumstances, to keep my mouth shut, to live to debate another day.

"So, your Honor, can we work out some sort of deal?"  I asked.  Soaring Eagle tugged at his chin, considering the proposition.

"I got it," he said.  "How about a $250 fine for the two of you, and we can let bygones be bygones."

"Ha.  That works for me," I said, happy.  "What about you?" I asked The Engineer.

"Yeah, yeah," he said nodding feverishly.  "That would be great."

Consumed with the spirit of pragmatism, a frustrating realization occurred to me.  "Do you have $500 on you by any chance?" I asked The Engineer.  He didn't, nor did I.  "You Honor, does the Court take credit cards?"  It didn't.  "An I.O.U.?"  Soaring Eagle shook his head in the negative.  I grunted with a creeping sense of loathing.  "Do you have a phone I can use?"

I was escorted to the court clerk's window where I was allowed to use the phone.  I picked it up and dialed.  "Um, hey, sweetie," I said to my wife.  If stony silence was a sound, my ears were ringing with it at that moment.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

100% Wrong

The Republicans in Congress have made it their policy to oppose everything the president supports.  To listen to the Republicans, as I have been doing today on C-SPAN watching the health care debate, you would think that it is the Democrats' agenda to turn this country upside down, and castrate it.

Is it probable, as the Republicans seem to suggest in their unanimous opposition to the president and Democrats, that everything the Democrats stand for is 100% wrong?  Is it probable that the Republicans are 100% right in the positions that they defend and offer as alternatives to fix the country?  I would say the answer to both of those questions is, no.

There really is no hope for bipartisanship in our government until our two parties are composed of a majority who have intellectual integrity, and that are concerned with discovering jointly the basic facts upon which to establish the basis of a debate.  That requires a greater loyalty to the truth and country than one's party. 

Over and over, I have watched and listened to Republicans today warn of the horrors of passing, what they refer to in the pejorative as "The Pelosi Bill."  They say it will take away people's freedoms, whatever that means.  They say the bill will provide free health care to illegal immigrants.  It will slash funding for medicare, and adversely effect the health of America's senior citizens, notwithstanding that the AARP and the AMA have endorsed the bill.  They argue that the bill is a backdoor ploy to foist upon America a single payer/nationalized health care system, like the ones that kill people on a daily basis in Canada and Great Britain.

Their arguments are lies; that or they are so retarded with fear they have lost the capacity to distinguish truth from fiction.  More likely, the Republicans' agenda is to oppose everything the Whitehouse does for the sake of political gain, even at the expense of the welfare of American citizens. 

Is the agenda of NO simply degenerate or evil?