Category Archives: Shorts

Words

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of words. Actually more than just a fan, I’m an addict. I use them constantly…every day…without pause. Sometimes I think that there’s nothing else I can do but use words.

When I’m waking up, I use words (“oh my god not another day of this“, “turn off the alarm!”, “is it Friday yet?”).

When I take a shower I use words (“did you use up ALL of the shampoo?”, “what happened to my loofah?”).

Driving to work…words (“GET OUT OF MY WAY!“, “GET OFF THE PHONE AND DRIVE!”, “@#&%(&@#%(*&@!!!!!“).

And when I get to work, just watch out because it’s like word overload!

Moving forward, we need to recognize that a paradigm shift is needed for the right engagement. In today’s world, we have a need for a robust escalation process that will provide accountability and ownership to the ratifying body, namely the MRC. The culture of tomorrow, will have to migrate toward a sustainable corporate ecosystem, whereby the employee resources will be empowered to define, address, and solve problems as they arise, enabling a versatile risk valuing dynamic.” *I’ve actually only worked in one place where this paragraph would be heard and would make complete sense.

But it doesn’t stop there…when I get home from work, there are more words there too (“I thought I asked you to take the trash cans out this morning“, “Why is there cat vomit all over my keyboard?”, “I was nearly run off the road driving home by some idiot on their phone“).

It’s like they are there waiting for me. They sit dormant all day long, and then as soon as I open the door to my house, BOOM! Words! But it still doesn’t stop. You’d think that maybe while I’m eating dinner there would be some type of reprieve.

You’d be thinking wrong (“I thought I told you that I was trying to watch my carb intake…I can’t eat all this bread.”, “I don’t like feta in my Merlot.“, “What is this?“).

And even then it’s not over…I go to bed and pick up my latest novel to read…more words (I am unable to share any words for this portion due to copyright law). And this time it’s not just me using them, it’s the author of the book! I’m not the only one dealing with this terrible affliction apparently.

Then finally it’s time for sleep…you guessed it, more words. Only this time they are in my head…and they just won’t stop. It’s just one word after another, creating all these strange sentences and paragraphs that no one understands, especially me.

Peas porridge hot. Cold pigs fly. Why oh why oh why oh why. The bell rang again today as I dreamed of Manderlay. Unfortunately, the can on the stove was boiling and I was unable to clean the litter box again. I cried for what seemed like napkins, and still I cried some more. Did I leave the gas on or was that the doorbell? Wait…wait…MELON LIQUOR!

I wake up the next day and this cycle starts itself all over again.

I’ve been to the doctor numerous times about the problem, unfortunately, he seems to be afflicted as well, because he just can’t shut UP with all the words. Different words, yes, because he has to use all that doctor jargon like “delusional” and “mental instability” and “psychotic episode“. But who understands those doctor words anyway except doctors…so he couldn’t help me really, although he prescribed me some sort of pill that’s supposed to reduce the number of words I have…it’s called “valium” or “Demerol” or something like that, but again, doctor words, so I just ignore them.

I long for the day when the words take a break, even if just for a moment, so that I can have some peace and quiet and listen to the birds chirp, and the crickets crick, and the bees buzz, and the moths moth, and the fish gurgle, and the diet pepsi vanilla fizz, and the phone ring, and the cats meow, and the refrigerator hum, and the fan whirl, and the vacuum cleaner inhale, and the stairs creak, and the champagne cork pop, and the pill bottle whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

* Disclaimer: If you dislike what I write, there is a wonderful set of words I’d like to introduce you to. [censored]. You.

PS. There are 756 words in this post. Thought you’d want to know.

Independence Day

PothosPhilodendron. Common name, Pothos or Devil’s Ivy (ooooooh!). Derived from the Latin Vulgate meaning that which grows and spreads like wildfire yet can grow even in dark closets. This amazing plant has sprung up in every restaurant, every airport, every hospital, everywhere!

The obvious benefits of such a plant are well…obvious! They add a sparkle of green and yellow to the decor. They easily spread to cover a large area, and can be used to accent not only table tops, but also counters, shelves, bookcases, and in ancient times they even put them on either side of the portcullis of a castle.

But what we’re really concerned with today are the health benefits of the Pothos. As with any chlorophyll rich foliage, the Pothos is responsible for contributing to our ability to live and breathe on this planet.

Without the Pothos, oxygen would in fact be a rare commodity, sold on the black market: bottled, canned, spritzed, and vacuum sealed. There would even be different qualities of O2. For those on a diet, there would be Diet-O2 or O2 Zero. And if you’re looking for all the flavour of O2 without the gassy aftertaste, try O1.

At some point, they’ll start with the marketing gimmicks. New-O2, CherryO2, Diet CarbonFreeO2, Diet Black Cherry Vanilla O2. It will never end. And all of this could happen were it not for the majestic Pothos.

Obviously we can’t do without this precious plant. Unfortunately they are so abundant, their relative value and cost is next to nothing. Any resident of our planet with $5 can go to their neighborhood Target/Wal-Mart/Kmart and pick up a Pothos. Just imagine if we suddenly had only a finite supply of them left, or if they only grew in one remote sector of the world. They’d become as valuable as diamonds.

Soon you could only buy them at DeBeers Exotic Pothos Emporium, but you would have to get on a wait list, and the only way to get on the wait list would be to call a special phone number at a special time, and hope to not get a busy signal. Assuming you got through, then assuming you got on the wait list, you would still have to pass a rigorous Pothos Ownership Operating Process (POOP). Not only is there a written exam, but also an oral exam (to determine if your exhale can provide enough carbon dioxide to sustain the plant), home inspection, and a requirement to sign a waiver allowing DeBeers to reclaim the plant in the case of neglect, and allowing periodic home re-evaluations. You’ll notice I have switched to the present perfect tense because this could actually become reality sooner than you think!

There are probably those of you out there who are probably thinking, “I’m safe. I already have several Pothos at my house, so I don’t ever have to worry.” Unfortunately, the president of the planet just passed a law allowing the military to enter any personal property and seize any live Pothos on the premises. The law is actually so all-encompassing that they can seize dead Pothos as well, or force you to search your garbage for any you may have thrown away. So as you can see, no one will be safe from the threat of Pothos extinction.

Well, except for the very very rich. Anyone making over $900,000 a year would be exempt from the new law of course. Heaven forbid we deprive the rich from their double half-caf, half-decaf O2 with a twist of lime. Besides, the middle class should just learn to be happy with the middle class O2-AuLait right? For those of you who aren’t bilingual, Au Lait means with milk. That’s French. Which means that if you travelled to France and wanted to have some O2 with Milk, you’d have to say “Au Lait” instead of “with milk” otherwise they wouldn’t understand you, because no one in France is bilingual. Be careful about using this term in other countries, such as Mexico or Spain, or they might send a bull charging after you, because Au Lait is surprisingly similar in sound to O’le!

Unfortunately, there are no Pothos in France, so I don’t know why anyone would go there anyway. Except maybe to see La Toure Eiffel, that means Eiffel Tower. But you can see pictures of it anywhere, so again I ask, what’s the point? I’d much rather go somewhere and see something that no one has ever seen or taken a picture of.

Maybe some remote cave in the middle of a vast line of underground caverns that maybe hasn’t even been discovered, and maybe contains a vast cache of Pothos growing wildly and abundantly, creating so much O2 that if it ever escaped from the cave, would throw off the balance of the entire global O2 market, sending O2 stocks crashing down and ensuring quality breathing air for anyone on our planet, turning billionaires and other rich folks into ordinary middle class within minutes. (reminds me of the Great Chopsticks Incident of 2004)

It could happen…

*This commentary is based on the Award Winning Best Selling Novel by the same author, and in no way supports or defames the holiday of Independence Day, because it has absolutely no content related to aforementioned holiday.

Weddings

This one was written a while ago – but it seemed appropriate to bring out on 6/26/2015.

I want to get married. I want a big church wedding, with flowers, and candles, and brides maids and grooms men, and as much pomp and as much circumstance as the building can hold. Actually that’s all a lie. I haven’t set foot in a church in ages, flowers make me sneeze and make my eyes water, candles from anywhere other than Illuminations are an abomination, brides maids assumes that there is a female involved or a person playing a female role which is not me in the least, and pomp and circumstance are highly overrated in today’s society.

That being said. I want a fast, efficient, process driven, project plan scheduled meeting, where I sign a piece of paper, a notary watermarks it, and a legally authorized official says “it’s done!” I don’t want to wear a veil, even if properly tszujed, I don’t want to pay a ton of money for a tuxedo that I will never wear again (despite the recommendations that every man should own one good tuxedo), and I don’t want to spend hours registering for things at Macy’s, Cost-Plus, or Best Buy that no one wants to buy me anyway.

I don’t like getting gifts and I question the value of surprises.

Birthday’s are always a chore because there is something wrapped that will come as a complete surprise, unless of course it’s from my amazon.com wish list, in which case I can just click that button that says “show me what’s been purchased” and the surprise is over. Weddings are a different story. Nothing is a surprise, because you asked for it all. In fact, registering for a wedding is one of the most pretentious things that I can imagine.

How dare you tell me what to bring to your wedding. If I want to make sure you get 8 toaster ovens and 3 crock pots, I’m darn well going to do it. Planning the gifts that you will receive is materialism to the highest level. And people, you don’t really want the sterling silver ash tray set. Half of the people who register for crap like that don’t even smoke, and don’t even know how to polish it. Basically it verdigris (turns green) before they remember what it was, and they set it on the back patio, under the tiki torches and use it as a cheap ash tray for their summer barbecues. Eventually the person who gave it to them will notice it and feel utterly rejected that the $75 gift is relegated to having a puddle of water and soggy ashes in it because it rained last night and the host didn’t bother to clean it up.

When I get married, I don’t want a wedding, I just want the reception. That’s where all the fun happens. I don’t want gifts, if anything I want cash that I can spend in any way I want. That way, if I decide that I just can’t live without that vegetable juicer or that automated onion slicer, I can go buy those things myself, and then be the only one to blame when I realize after 4 years that I haven’t even used them at all, and they wind up in a moving sale when we move into a bigger house, and they sell for 1/50th what I paid for them.

Come to think of it, I’d rather people not even give me cash. Let’s just avoid that whole self-guilt thing that would be caused, because being the awesome, wonderful, non-materialistic person that I am, I just want my friends and family to be there, dancing to awesome music, drinking tons of champagne or red wine, eating from the elaborate buffet, and enjoying themselves and sharing the day with me and my new husband. OK, reality check. Who cares about all that crap, bring on the CASH!

So, instead of saving up money for an elaborate wedding, I’d funnel all the money into the biggest reception possible. Given how hugely popular I am, renting out a ballroom at a hotel or resort would be the best option. Obviously, everyone I know will want to be there, and that can easily fill a small room. But the point of having a reception is that you invite everyone you’ve ever met before in your life, to maximize the number of useless gifts you can receive. If you go with the cash option as I mentioned before, you can actually recover all the cost of the reception, pay for your honeymoon, and a new car at the same time. It’s amazing how much cash you can raise if everyone gives you $30, instead of buying you another useless hand mixer.

Let’s add this up. Say you invite 50 people, each bringing $30 for the cause. That adds up to $1,500.00 right there. That covers a lot of cases of wine, and tons of ready to serve buffet food. But why stop there? Use the network you’ve been building! Start sending invitations to every distribution list you are on, whether at work or outside the company. Now you’ve increased your invitation list to, let’s say 750-1000 people. If we use the standard statistical estimate that you’ll get approximately 75% of the invited population to actually attend, and we assume 1000 receipts, you’ve got a list of 750 people. Guess what that means? We’re talking $22,500.00 baby!

With that kind of cash, you’re on your way to a week-long cruise around the south of Africa! Down payment on the new useless H2 SUV? No problem! A couple thousand for new granite tops on the kitchen counters? Done! A reception cover charge is the way to go for the couple of the 2000’s. We’re already used to cover charges for every other party we go to, so why not a wedding reception?

So now you have your money problems solved, and you don’t have to worry with returning useless gifts to the store to recover cash that way (you know you’ve all done it so don’t get all huffy, I’m just pointing out the facts), you’ve had the reception of a lifetime, with all of your friends, acquaintances, and really anyone who was willing to pay a $30 cover charge to a mega-dance party. What more could you ask for?

Personally, I’m thinking of having an 80’s cover band attend, and filling the entire place with foam and making everyone show up in only their underwear. For that, I’m thinking we can go to $50 a person. $37,500.00 would be a great down payment on a new BMW 7 series…

Memories of Easter

easter bunnyWhat is Easter? Where did it come from? Is it solely a Christian holiday to celebrate the death and resurrection of a deity? Or is it a Pagan rite of fertility? Or perhaps it was created by a bunch of people who were really fond of rabbit fur.

When I ponder my childhood, I remember trying to stay up as late as I could on Easter Eve, so I could catch a glimpse of the resurrected Easter Bunny coming down the chimney to deliver fabulous and colourful eggs that would remind me of the cave and the stone that was rolled away.

I usually lasted until about 8pm, at which point my eyelids could no longer stay open.

But just like the savior, I arose the next day (well, technically 2 days earlier than he may have), and I jumped out of bed to see what Jesus had left for me. Who knew that Jesus could not only turn water into wine, but also into a basket of multi-coloured eggs?

I think that’s why I’m gay. No, not because a god performed a miracle with the chicken and the Easter egg, but because the rainbow flag was bestowed upon me at such an early age. The eggs were red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach, ruby and olive and violet and fawn, cream and silver and purple and gold, russet and white and pink and orange and BLUE! (From memory, people. That’s the real reason I’m gay.)

Okay, so the basket didn’t have that many eggs, but it was quite full. But these were not just ordinary eggs. These eggs were plastic! I wasn’t sure what chemical process to apply to an egg to make it plastic, so I decided that this was just an Easter Miracle performed by a Great and Powerful Bunny.

eggsNot only were these eggs plastic, but they each had a perfectly carved seam around the middle. Easier to crack them with my dear. I tore them apart because I knew there was no yolk to spill. What I didn’t realize is that instead of yolk, Jesus had put money and candy inside these eggs! The money was obviously meant for me to put into the offering plate at church, but the candy was all mine! Candy can’t build a cathedral.

Inside the non-monetary eggs were jelly beans of every colour imaginable, jujube’s, candy corn (not just for Halloween anymore), marshmallow ducks with sugar on top, and raindrops on roses and noses on kittens. It was simply fabulous. Thanks Easter Bunny! Bwak! Bwak!

I was surrounded by candies of every sort, and I thought back to those post-Halloween candy review meetings with my parents in the kitchen. So many things I had to throw away for fear of poison and razor blades. You might ask what kind of neighbourhood I grew up in that would have such a fear, but in middle-class North Carolina you can never be too careful.

The Easter candy, unlike the Halloween candy, was sacred. The resurrected bunny would never think of putting something harmful inside his eggs, so these candies were one-hundred percent free and clear for the taking. And so of course I had to eat all of it before we left for church, which by the counting of the clock in my bedroom was in exactly two hours.

By the time we got to god’s newly decorated house – which for the occasion had been decked out with bright purple bunting and more shades of pink than I have ever seen in my life – I had a tummy ache. Let us give thanks to the Lord for these gifts which give us gas.

While my stomach churned and vocalized its own Easter music, the rest of the congregation sang songs about a tomb and a rock, and then something about rising from the dead. As a cold sweat broke out over my forehead I could not understand what those things had to do with candy so I didn’t sing along.

Church finally concluded with a never-ending sermon about the after-life. I was sure that I was about to experience the after-life because my stomach was in such turmoil, but there was no time. We had to make it to Easter Brunch before the lunch rush.

I don’t know why my parents insisted on calling it Easter Brunch, because by the time we got there it was well after noon. It was firmly into the lunch hour, but the point was not to be argued by me – the last thing I wanted to talk about was food.

To further confuse the issue, Easter Brunch consisted of the exact same food as we’d had for Thanksgiving Brunch and Dinner. It seemed to me that the two holidays must be related on some level. I could understand giving thanks for friends and family on the same day every year, but I didn’t know why anyone would give thanks for dying on the same day every year only to be stuck into a cold rocky tomb. But who am I to judge another person’s lifestyle?

So Easter Brunch Lunch ended, and my tummy was in even more distress, because how could I be expected to sit at the table and not eat the bounty placed before me? Now the jelly beans were combined with turkey and baked beans, and the juxtaposition of the two beans in my stomach created a very unpleasant ride home.

I am still not quite sure how I managed the ten minute drive, at which point I rushed to my room, shut the door, and lay on my bed moaning in pain. Let us give thanks to the Resurrection Rabbit for the blessings bestowed upon us this day.

For several hours I listened to the sounds of my stomach attempting to manage the onslaught of beans I was forcing it to process, but soon I began to feel somewhat better and the cold sweats dried up on my forehead. I decided to take account of the Easter basket to see if perhaps I had overlooked any additional gifts from the Rabbit.

eggs2Those who have experienced the Easter Basket know how easily things can get lost in the green plastic grass strips, and this basket did not disappoint. I dumped the money out of the non-candy eggs, and put the coins into my piggy bank. I continued to dig through the plastic greenery and behold and ye verily the Mother Lode appeared.
Apparently the savior appreciated me going to church to celebrate his death, because what to my wondering eyes should appear but The Cadbury Creme Egg. The epitome of egg. The creme-de-la-creme of egg. The Alpha and the Omega of egg. The great I AM egg.

I held the CCE gently in my hand, being careful not to warm it too much so that the chocolate would melt inside the wrapper. Slowly, I peeled back the foil which held it so tight, to reveal the true meaning of Easter: liquid sugar encased in chocolate.

Forget about all this death and dying and after-life nonsense. This was the only reason for living. My salvation and my rock. A gift from above that was to be savored, worshiped, and praised. And so like a good boy who was brought up right, I praised it like I should.

With one gigantic bite I split the egg apart, showering my taste buds with the rich and creamy goodness that could only come from such a precious gift. I let the egg-styled fondant melt across my tongue, washing away any leftover tastes from the Easter Brunch.

Gently I swallowed. I wanted to remember what it felt like – this very special egg – and in that moment I resolved to never forget the true meaning of Easter.

And then I promptly ran to the bathroom and showered the god who sits on the white porcelain throne with all that I had been bestowed on this most precious of holidays.

________________________________________
* Easter, like Christmas, is a blend of paganism and Christianity. The word Easter is derived from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon Goddess who symbolized rebirth of the day at dawn and the rebirth of life in the spring. The arrival of spring was celebrated well before any religious meaning became associated with Easter.
** Like most of the things I write, I include references to pop culture, products, or names which are copyrights and trademarks of their respective companies.

This story is available as a FREE downloadable ebook on the following platforms:

If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these other books by the same author.

Memories of Easter

Copyright © 2013 Heath L. Buckmaster
ISBN: 978-1-300-88828-4
All rights reserved.

Valentine’s Day – A History

Amazing PlaidFluorescent Lighting. Buying Heath a book called “The Superior Person’s Book of Words”. Carpool lanes that require more than 1 person in the car. Plaid. What do all these things have to do with Valentine’s Day? They are all incredibly BAD ideas. (except for the plaid)

What drives us to buy chocolates, flowers, and cards today? What causes us to make reservations for the hottest restaurant four months in advance? Why do we max out our credit cards each and every year on a day that we don’t even get off from work? What are the origins of this false “holiday”…where did it come from…why do people accept and tolerate it…why does Hallmark stock break volume trading records on this day?

Let’s discuss.

Editorial note: Whether or not you subscribe to this historical interpretation of Valentine’s Day (or whether you actually celebrate it as a “holiday”), this is, in my opinion, the correct version of the truth. Referenced at the end of this editorial, you will find alternate interpretations. Believe them if you will.

Rudolph ValentinoLong, long, long ago…1895 to be exact, Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla was born (the smart readers will already know where I’m going with this, and yes, that really is his full and complete name).

Nothing especially special happened for the first 14 years of his life, so we’ll skip ahead to age 15: he decided to spice things up a bit and join the Navy.

Unfortunately, he did not pass the rigorous physical exam (running, jumping, climbing trees, hat, flag, bang, stuff like that – snaps to eddie izzard), or the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Rodolfo was so distraught by the military rejecting him, he took it upon himself to personally maintain a military-like-level of physical fitness.

Daily, he could be seen at 24-hour fitness, sweating to the oldies on the Precor elliptical bike. Of course, the oldies of the 1900’s were droll love songs, like Oh Lover Where Art Thou in thine Olde Kingdome, which really weren’t written to be danced to or ellipticalled to, but somehow it all worked out.

We’ll call this fitness fad Life Event #1 (with more to come).

For three years he worked out and worked out and worked out, eventually developing an 8 pack (due to a genetic aberration that gave him extra musculature that we can all be jealous of).

At age 18, he arrived in the United States, with a heavy Italian accent (unfortunately it was so heavy that he couldn’t bring it as a carry on and it had to be checked, and was subsequently damaged enroute even though he’d paid the overweight fee and insured it for an additional $50), which we’ll call Life Event #2.

After about a year or so travelling around America, Rodolfo developed a liking for driving cars very, very fast, not dissimilar to residents of LA or Sacramento (but completely dissimilar to the drivers of Oregon’s highway 26 which for some reason has a speed limit of 55), and we’ll call this Life Event #3.

And finally, as Rodolfo reached the drinking age of 21, he got drunk, broke into Hollywood, got arrested, and was given a job as an actor (hey, a creeping kid, for my new film, The Creeping Kid – word to eddie izzard), Life Event #4.

What have these four Life Events lead up to? The creation of the Ultimate and Total Ladies Man (UTLM) (or one could argue, a man’s man). And so the story continues…

SheikEvery year, the weather gets cold in America. Typically that time is around January/February, which means that people are bundling up in warmer clothing, burning wood in the fireplace, drinking hot cider or mulled wine, lighting candles, and snuggling under or on top of the bear skin rug in front of the aforementioned fireplace.

In some locations, such as Hell, Michigan (which incidentally froze over in an extremely cold winter of 1995-96, and made the news), the weather is colder than cold, which means that people are snuggling much closer than they normally would. Often, this snuggling leads to interludes of passion, which in many cases leads to hospital overcrowding in the September/October time-frame.

Being the physically fit, foreign, daredevil actor that he was, Rodolfo was no exception to the rules of cold weather and love, and thus he was never without a date for a cold Friday or Saturday night. Women flocked from all over the world to spend time with this fine specimen of manhood.

In fact, due to the volume of women continually invading his home trying to get some quality time with him, Rodolfo had a 9-foot-high stucco wall and floodlights erected at the mansion, and also purchased three Great Danes, two Italian mastiffs, and one Spanish greyhound to patrol the courtyard and terrace. (all true)

However, he did actually enjoy some of this “woman flocking”, which, due to his…um…”popularity”, extended well beyond just Friday and Saturday nights.

Cute BearDuring the winter months, Rodolfo had to hire a full time assistant just to keep the living room cleaned up from the night before. He had a different bear skin rug for each day, which were kept cleaned and hanging in a special room in the house, which he called the Bear Skin Rug Room (as you’ll come to understand as you keep reading, that he wasn’t the most creative guy in the world).

A full time dry cleaner, who specialized in authentic bear skin rug care was on-staff to monitor and manage the quality of the rugs. Rodolfo certainly couldn’t have one of his ladies over on a matted burber.

WineIn addition to the dedicated cleaning staff, Rodolfo also had one of the best stocked wine cellars in the country. Racks and racks of premium Italian wines were shipped from overseas, as well as boxes and boxes of Italian chocolates. In the back yard of his mansion, another full time employee tended to the elaborate rose garden, which included nearly 8 varieties of red, white, pink, lavender, mauve, carnelian, canary and aubergine roses.

Rodolfo (Rudy) Valentino was pretty much set to entertain any number of ladies, each day of the winter months. With a nearly endless supply of wine, chocolate, and roses, he could afford to meet with a new lady every weekday, and possibly two on each weekend day (depending upon cleaning staff availability). But he was faced with a dilemma…

From a day-to-day perspective, he had no problem keeping up with the rigorous duties required. He was physically fit, knew how to thrill a woman by taking her on a fast ride on his motorcycle or in the Fiat, and had all the supplies to make for a wonderful evening. But Rudy was never the kind of man to have a one-night-stand without some type of follow-up. He wanted these women to feel special, and to feel as though they had really meant something to him (which they had). He needed a way to show his appreciation and gratitude to these lovely ladies who had spent the evenings with him.

Thank You CardFortunately for Rudy, his close friend Hal came up with a way for Rudy to really mark the occasion. Why not send a little paper note of thanks to the numerous ladies, and attach a small personal message in each one? Rudy was very keen to this idea, as he did not want any of the ladies to think that they were not as special as the others, and in fact, he did not want them to KNOW that there had been any others besides them. In this way, he could maintain very positive relationships with all of them, and quite possibly have repeat performances with those whom he found most enjoyable.

So Rudy and Hal set out to write the letters.

Unfortunately, Rudy had spent so much of his energy on the evenings of passion, he lacked the creativity to develop personalized messages for so many different ladies. Again, his pal Hal came to the rescue. Hal, being a man of the “creative” persuasion (and before you go there, I can put that in quotes because _I_ am so go ahead and hang up with HR), had no trouble coming up with cute little rhymes or poems which spoke of love, passion, friendship, and pleasure.

Rose PetalsHe spent several weeks sitting out on the veranda of the mansion, writing poem after poem, but making each one unique and special. Hal even had another idea. Why not include a petal from one of the roses in the garden, inside each note? A petal from the same colour rose that Rudy had used on the night of passion. Now he had a card with a personalized poem and a personalized token of affection, which would truly make a mark on the occasion.

Rudy was thrilled! His friend had really come through to provide a solution to the problem. Rudy was a very humble man, however, and refused to take the credit for this creativity. He insisted that on the back side of every card, a small letter H would be watermarked into the paper, in deference to his great friend who had helped him thank all of these women.

When Hal noticed the small letter, he asked Rudy what it meant. Rudy informed him that this was the Mark of Hal, otherwise known as the Halmark. Needless to say, Hal was most pleased.

And so Rudy rushed down to the postal office, and mailed off each of the notes to each of the women he had come to adore. The notes arrived, poems were read, rose petals were smelled, and the women knew that they had made a difference in the life of this handsome, dashing man.

As Rudy aged, the number of women he sent these cards to increased and decreased (we all have good years and bad years), but he continued to send the notes, and continued to stamp the small H on the back, even after his friend Hal had passed on.

Valentine CardWe continue this tradition today, celebrating the unique style and nature of a man named Hal, who might never have become a published poet were it not for his dear friend Rudy Valentino. And this, is the true story, of Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all 🙂

Editorial Comments:
Interview on The Awful Truth, Michael Moore’s TV show
Michael Moore: You seem like a very sensitive man – you got married on Valentine’s Day. Don’t you think you’re in the wrong job, being Secretary of Defence?
Secretary William Cohen: Not at all. The preservation of the nation’s security is the most important thing. We couldn’t write poetry if we didn’t have a secure country.

To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say and to finish without knowing what you have written.
– Jean Jacques Rousseau

The Great Halloween Massacre

Is everyone feeling hella good??? I know that when this special dark day of the year rolls around, I’m feeling hella great! Or for adults who wear braces, or have small children, you are permitted to feel hecka great.

What a joyous and fun day to celebrate the exhumation of spirits and ghouls and ghosts and zombies that creep out from every tomb and are closing in to seal your doom.

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Halloween is my second favourite holiday, just after Xmas. Third on the list is Turkey Day, and then after that, there are no other holidays that float my boat. Halloween and Xmas are the only two holidays in our culture that require massive amounts of decorations, themed parties, and costuming. Houses are decorated with strands of orange lights and pumpkins for Halloween, and are decorated with strands of white and multicoloured lights and trees for Xmas.

Halloween brings us carved pumpkins, while Xmas brings us carved turkeys and hams. For the dark holiday we dress up in costumes that could be scary, funny, wild, naughty, sexy, Disney, or crazy. And for the bright holiday, we dress up in festive reds and whites and stockings and hats, an homage to the leader of Xmas, Santa Clause.

Halloween, however, doesn’t have the same type of official mascot as Xmas. In fact, when we look across the gamut of holidays, we have an issue. There’s an Easter Bunny, a Tooth Fairy, a July 4th Firework, but what do we have for Halloween? Personally I think it’s about time for an Officially Designated Leader of Halloween.

Jack Skellington

Those of you who are huge fans of The Nightmare Before Xmas, may begin the lobby for Jack Skellington, that hollow-headed, insane creature who has a fascination for women with stitches all over their bodies. Others of you might feel that because this is the dark holiday, we need a more loathsome, e-ville (as in frew-its of the de-ville) type of creature like Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Fallen One, or some other derivative of the former angel of music (if you didn’t get this, please refer to the Music Makes a People Editorial).

Jack is too happy. The Devil is too devilish. We need something more better. And so this is that story…of a most memorable day in our history…The Great Halloween Massacre…

Looming larger than life above the skyscrapers of the most scrapingest city, a massively evil orange man-pumpkin – basically the size of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man from that classic Hellaween movie Ghostbusters – looms larger than life above the horizon.

What other figure could simultaneously cause laughter and screams of terror from children everywhere, as the Halloween Evil Man-Pumpkin (HEMP) comes crashing through their neighbourhoods, stealing candy, decorations, and any child dressed up as a pumpkin. And on that very frightful day, that is exactly what happened.

The world was thrown into panic, as children everywhere began to notice a massive pumpkin-shaped man looming larger in the skies above each of their respective cities. Not knowing what was happening, who this was, where it came from, and why it was so orange and as big as the sun – the children began to scream, as they madly dashed home in a desperate escape from the HEMP.

But alas, it was too late. HEMP had already blanketed the terrified population, and ghosts and ghouls from every tomb and mortuary emerged from the depths to begin the attack.

batsEerie bats, who make that WEEE WEEE WEEE sound, flew out from caverns deep within the mountains…but more than just eerie they were vampire bats, swooping down on unsuspecting children and carrying them to the lair of the evil HEMP. There he would munch and crunch and gnash and gash and chew and spew until the children were mere pulp for pies.

Screams from all corners of the globe were heard as far as the international space station, as children raced to change their costumes into something other than pumpkins, so that the HEMP would pass them over.

But the HEMP remembered.

Parents quickly smashed all of their carved pumpkins into the street, not only in protest and defiance, but so the HEMP wouldn’t see how they had desecrated his next of kin.

But the HEMP remembered.

Orange lights on houses were quickly replaced with black, so the HEMP couldn’t see the scared children hiding behind the fake tombstones and witch statues.

But the HEMP had night vision goggles.

The HEMP smashed buildings, ripped out trees, broke through darns causing huge floods, threw cars around like little toys, expressed copious amounts of cloudy gas from his pumpkiny butt, and rampaged through town after town.

After an unnecessary number of hours, the government finally declared a state of emergency.

“The HEMP must be stopped! We must send in armed guards dressed in orange camouflage! We must send in helicopters and tanks! We must burn the HEMP and protect our children from this dark holiday!”

But the HEMP was formidable, and the army was unable to prevail. And so it was that the people of the country united against HEMP on their own – through referendums and ballot measures.

“DOWN WITH THE HEMP, DOWN WITH THE HEMP” they shouted, as parents and children armed themselves with the pitchforks that were stuck in haystacks in their front yard decorations, and carving knives from the pumpkin carving set, and torches burning bright to illuminate the city in the unnatural darkness of Halloween.

The HEMP crashed into the center of the last town in the world. An angry mob surrounded it. It blasted gas at the townspeople and grabbed for the children who hadn’t had time to change costumes. Those poor children became the fodder for more of the HEMP’s wretched gas.

The angry crowd chanted, “BURN THE HEMP, BURN THE HEMP, SMOKE HIM OUT!!!”.

Flames erupted around the HEMP, as he tried to jump up onto the side of a building to get away from the flames, but the force of the parents and differently-costumed children were overpowering him, burning into his tender orange flesh.

Dark black smoke filled the air of Halloween night, blocking out the last rays of the smoldering sun, sending children and parents dashing through the darkness with costumes and capes blowing behind, as the HEMP came crashing down in a blaze of glory and seeds.

The Halloween Bonfire had begun.

The HEMP grew hotter and hotter, and angrier and angrier. He began to expand and bulge, and then suddenly the HEMP exploded! Piles of pumpkin and freshly baked seeds flew across the earth, smacking unwary children in the face and blasting them miles away from the force of the seeds.

Ghosts and ghouls from every tomb flew in every direction with skeletal faces full of cooked pumpkin.

Showers of orange splattered the rooftops of houses and buildings, and the leaves of the trees and the slopes of the mountains. Pumpkin filled all the lakes and rivers with an orange soupy mess.

And at last the explosion stopped. The angry and scared people stood dumbstruck at the carnage around them. Their clothing and hair dripped with pumpkin, as they wandered about in search of their loved ones, on this the night of the Great Halloween Massacre.

But as people do – they began to rebuild. Parents found their children, still in costume, but scattered far and wide. And they realized that the day had been saved, and joyous cheering erupted from every mouth (along with seeds and pumpkin rind).

“HURRAY, HURRAH, the HEMP IS GONE!!!!!”

The government, satisfied that the HEMP infestation had been abolished, went back into hibernation. While the people of this good Earth gathered around, brought bags of brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg, and enjoyed freshly baked pumpkin pie to celebrate the defeat of the HEMP.

And then suddenly, they realized that the HEMP wasn’t really all that bad.

Yes it had caused some destruction of city property, and yes it had caused people to run around screaming and laughing and doing foolish things, and yes it had devoured 1/4th of the population, and yes they were covered in a wet sticky mess, but there had also been a wonderful by-product of the HEMP…this delicious and marvelous spicy (and a bit fermented) pumpkin pie that they were now enjoying, and the fantabulous baked seeds that they were crunching.

Suddenly the crowd began to sing, “LONG LIVE THE HEMP, LONG LIVE THE HEMP!!”

And so even today, on this special dark holiday, as we remember the sacrifices made by the people during the Great Halloween Massacre, we are reminded that HEMP isn’t really all that bad.

Happy Halloween everyone, and enjoy that pumpkin pie :-).

Boo!

Independence Day

Epipremnum aureum (Wikipedia)
Epipremnum aureum (Wikipedia)

Epipremnum aureum. Common name, Pothos.

Derived from the Latin Vulgate meaning that which grows and spreads like wildfire yet can grow even in dark closets.

This amazing plant has sprung up in every restaurant, every airport, every hospital, everywhere – and the obvious benefits of such a plant are well…obvious!

They add a sparkle of green and yellow to the decor. They easily spread to cover a large area, and can be used to accent not only table tops, but also counters, shelves, bookcases, and in ancient times they even put them on either side of the portcullis of a castle.

But what we’re really concerned with today are the health benefits of the Pothos. As with any chlorophyll rich foliage, the Pothos is responsible for contributing to our ability to live and breathe and thrive and do other things on this planet.

Without the Pothos, oxygen would in fact be a rare commodity, sold on the black market: bottled, canned, spritzed, and vacuum sealed. There would be different quality and purity levels of O2.

For those on a diet, we’d offer Diet-O2 (or O2 Lite if you’re somewhere other than the United States), and if you wanted all the flavour of O2 but not all the gassy aftertaste, we would offer O1.

At some point, we’d start with the marketing gimmicks.

NewO2, CherryO2, Diet CarbonFreeO2, Diet Black Cherry Vanilla O2. All of this would happen were it not for the Pothos.

Obviously we can’t do without this precious plant. Unfortunately they are so abundant that their relative value and cost is next to nothing. Any resident of our planet with $5 can go to their neighborhood Target/Wal-Mart/Kmart (well not Kmart unless you live in some remote location where they haven’t gone out of business) and pick up a Pothos. Just imagine if we suddenly had only a finite supply of them left, or if they only grew in one remote sector of the world.

They’d become as valuable as diamonds.

Soon you could only buy them at DeBeers Exotic Pothos Emporium, but you would have to get on a waiting list, and the only way to get on the waiting list would be to call a special phone number at a special time, and hope to not get a busy signal. Assuming you got through, then assuming you got on the waiting list, you would still have to pass a rigorous Pothos Ownership Operating Process (POOP). Not only is there a written exam, but also an oral exam, home inspection, and a requirement to sign a waiver allowing DeBeers to reclaim the plant in the case of neglect, and also allowing for periodic home re-evaluations.

There are probably those of you out there who think “I’m safe. I already have several Pothos at my house, so I don’t ever have to worry.”

Unfortunately, George W. Bush signed an executive order before he left office, authorizing the military to enter any personal property and seize any live Pothos on the premises. The law is actually so all-encompassing that they can seize dead Pothos as well, or force you to search your own garbage for any that you may have thrown away.

No one will be safe from the threat of Pothos extinction.

Well, except for the very very rich. Anyone making over $500,000 a year is exempt from the new law of course. Heaven forbid we deprive the rich from their double half-caf, half-decaf O2 with a twist of lime (oooh I’ll have a twist of lime too!).

Besides, the middle class should just learn to be happy with the middle class Starbucks O2 Au Lait right? For those of you who aren’t bilingual, Au Lait means with milk. That’s French. Which means that if you travelled to France and wanted to have some O2 with milk, you’d have to say “Au Lait” instead of “with milk” otherwise they wouldn’t understand you, because no one in France is bilingual. Be careful about using this term in other countries, such as Mexico or Spain, or they might send a bull charging after you, because Au Lait is surprisingly similar in sound to O’le! (I learned this the hard way.)

Tour Eiffel (Wikipedia)
Tour Eiffel (Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, there are no Pothos in France, so I don’t know why anyone would go there anyway. Except maybe to see La Toure Eiffel, which means Eiffel Tower. But you can see pictures of that online, so again I ask, what’s the point? I’d much rather go somewhere and see something that no one has ever seen or taken a picture of.

Maybe there’s a remote cave in the middle of a vast line of underground caverns that maybe hasn’t even been discovered, and maybe contains a vast cache of Pothos growing wildly and abundantly, creating so much O2 that if it ever escaped from the cave it would throw off the balance of the entire global O2 market sending O2 stocks crashing down and ensuring quality breathing air for anyone on our planet, turning billionaires and other rich folks into ordinary middle class citizens within minutes. (this reminds me of the Great Chopsticks Incident of 2004)

It could happen…

* This commentary is based on the Award-Winning Best-Selling Novel by the same author, and in no way supports or defames the holiday of Independence Day, because it has absolutely nothing to do with it.