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The Ballad of Chowdenhauser the Moose

The Ballad of Chowdenhauser the Moose

Chowdenhauser the Moose

When I was a kid, I used to get chased by a bully named Mitch. Mitch didn’t like me because my family owned a pet Moose named Chowdenhauser. I was popular with the kids in the neighborhood because of Chowdenhauser. Kids were coming over all the time to pet and ride him because of his loving and natural moose-like ways.

Mitch had a cat named Duncer who was rail thin and craggy. Duncer waited in the bushes outside Mitch’s house, and pounced on unsuspecting sidewalk walkers. Duncer would stick his claws into the person and not retract. The person would then have to get themselves to the hospital so the nurses could inject Duncer with a relaxant and he’d let go. As a result, Mitch wasn’t much liked.

Most of the time Mitch couldn’t catch me because you can’t be that clever when you’re angry. But there was that one time I got over confident, flipping Mitch the bird while I skipped backwards, singing, “Mitch and Duncer had a baby, its name was Muncer the baby, it was boring – it was dumb, sucked its tail instead of its thumb!” Of course I tumbled over myself and hit the ground hard. But not as hard as Mitch pummeled me.

I limped home, feeling like a dud and a half. I went into my backyard and laid out on the grass. Chowdenhauser came over and licked the wounds on my head. He had a tongue that smelled of lavender and lemon grass. I swear my body and spirit healed on the spot. I got up and pet Chowdenhauser right between his eyes, and he mooed. It must have been heard for a great distance because kids soon came abounding. They formed a ring around Chowdenhauser and me, singing, “Bee and Chowy, happy as can be, dancing on the Sun, extra-specially!”

 

 

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Repercussion of the mistreatment of numbers

Repercussion of the mistreatment of numbers

I’ve been time traveling with my Casio Deluxe Timer Time Machine for 36 years. But there were a few previous occasions when I traveled in time via other means. They were odd and spontaneous occurrences that whetted my now insatiable appetite.

One of which occurred when I was seven and suffering through a test on fractions in Mrs. Spitlock’s mathematics class. I went up to the teacher’s desk and said due to my gentle nature I could not subject myself to the barbaric bifurcation of numerals. I was sent to sit facing the wall in the corner of the room. I fumed, but not at numbers. I knew from School House Rock that they were neutral and innocent symbols that had been created in the test tube of the mind of some guy named Aryabhata. It was said that he came up with numbers as a jest to get a laugh out of his friend, Mouspetta, a great intellectual who was suffering from depressions.

Leonhard Euler

Numbers languished in obscurity for centuries until that villain, Professor Leonhard Euler, discovered them in the back of the janitorial closet (they were sometimes used as a semi-effective spot remover) at the Yekaterinburg University of Minor Arts and Sciences in Russia. Euler, a cruel and heartless man, took the guiltless numbers, and over a period of two and a half years slave-labored them to create mathematics for the purpose of, as he wrote in his treatise, Terpet’ Neschastnykh Durakov, “creating pain and misery for the masses.”

I had a pretty intense way of funneling my seethingness back then, and it must have ricocheted off me, hit the corner I was facing, bounced back onto me, shaking up the space enough so that I passed through a long tunnel of lights until I suddenly found myself in a stale, barely lit room, pilled high with papers and books. A craggy man was hunched over his desk, taking innocent numbers and subjecting them to harsh and demeaning acts. I tapped on his shoulder, and he swung around with a great fury. He shouted at me in Russian. I didn’t speak the language, so I did the next best thing, and grabbed the numbers off his desk and ran out of the room. I dashed down the dark hallways of the University as Euler ran after me. I could feel the numbers trembling in my arms. I felt a fatherly desire to protect them at all costs.

I ran outside into the cold, cold Russian winter. I was ill-equipped in my school uniform of knickers and sport coat. I shivered as I sprinted, and almost dropped the numbers. Euler was gaining on me, and I thought I was doomed until the sudden appearance of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Euler’s nemesis. Leibniz espoused the belief that numbers were the spirits of dead relatives, and were best left to haunting empty rooms, like attics and closets. Euler and Leibniz collided and rolled, entangled with hands on each others throats. Leibniz emerged the victor, with arms raised in the air, over Euler’s dead body. Suddenly from the corpse emerged the number 3.14159, which chased the terrified and screaming Leibniz over the icy tundra, as I faded back into the tunnel of flashing lights and found myself again in the corner of the classroom.

I turned around to see Mrs. Spitlock holding, petting, and singing to the number 5, while the other students comforted and sang to their various numbers. I looked down to discover the number 3.14159 peeing on my leg.

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The Wrath of Time

The Wrath of Time

porcupine

I had a particularly stressful day, what with my pet porcupine Filster deciding to leave me and live with the next door neighbors, the Kelvash’s; and then there was the arrival of the letter I sent myself when I was five to my fifty-seven year old self through the post office’s, “Why Don’t You Write Your Future Self a Letter Campaign?,” in which I read that I hope I hadn’t gone bald.

I needed to get away for immediate peace of mind, and I got in my time travel machine and punched in the coordinates for my boyhood home, Christmas morning, 1967, Blowster, Connecticut. That was an especially good Christmas when I got the NASA approved G.I. Joe that came with an official space capsule and authentic space suit; a Queasy-Bake Cookerator (basically the Easy-Bake oven but for boys – rather than cookies, it took the same ingredients and made a turd); and a Pudding Head (this was a device that made a mold of your head, you added pudding, and when it was done, you ate your head.)

The thing is, I never made it to Christmas 1967. The time machine malfunctioned and I got stuck in-between Time. Sure, that sounds interesting, but time travel is an abomination to Time. Time doesn’t like to admit that it’s got holes. It wants us to believe it only moves forward, one moment to the next. And so Time goes berserk every time someone like me goes zipping around back and forth in it. When you get stuck in-between, Time kicks your ass by squeezing you like a candy bar in the back pocket of a sitting elephant.

There I was being squished out of existence, and in my despair, I got to thinking, “Why did I think I could avoid pain? Pain is part of life like the end pieces of bread. Trying to get out of pain actually produces more pain because pain hates to be ignored, just like me.”

Suddenly I slipped out of Time’s wrath (it turns out tears are a great Time lubricant) and ended up in 1337, Tournai, Belgium, in the midst of the Black Plague. Bodies were being piled into carts, people were coughing and wailing, the smell of death was in the air. I took a deep breath, let it out, excited to finally explore Belgium!

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Lighting up!

Lighting up!

Lite-Bright

When I was a kid I loved to play with Lite-Brite. I creatively fit small colored plastic pegs into a panel on a light box that illuminated my masterpieces. The brightness of the colors was greater than I could achieve with my crayolas. I needed the spike that came from my eyes mainlining the vital color eruptions.

When I finished one of these electric gems, my parents would photograph it with the Instamatic. But it would never capture the true glory. I’d get all depressed, lay on the floor, and say things like, “Oh, to be so misunderstood,” or, “This is what it must be like to be God.”

I realized I would never be recognized for my electric light talents unless I devoted myself to a work of such greatness that it would certainly hang in a dark room at the Blowser Community Art Museum. So I devoted myself and was 14 hours into what I was sure would be my Lite-Bright Magnum Opus when my sister surprised me with a shot from her water pistol.  The water splashed onto the Lite-Bright and I got electrocuted.

Suddenly the room disappeared and lights rapidly flashed past me. I figured I was dying, which was exciting because I thought I would certainly become famous for the creation I left behind because being dead really helps an artist’s career. But suddenly I was still alive and on the cold floor of a mildewed artist’s studio. I got excited again because I’d read the autobiography of the great sculpturer Rodin, and in it he shared how his work only really took off after he had a mystical vision.

A long haired and bearded mysticalized man was charcoal drawing an image of a woman. He looked over at me and did one of those things where one of a person’s eyebrows raises higher than you think it ever could. He began to include me in the drawing. As you might have inferred, I like attention, so I began to pose. I did the haughty look over the shoulder, followed by touching my bottom lip as I looked up and pondered, and of course, the pout.

After a few minutes, I got dizzy and things got blurry, and the room disappeared and the flashing lights returned. Suddenly I was back home, laying on the floor with an incredible headache. My Lite-Brite was smoking. The plastic pegs had melted into the panel. All the lights in the house were out.

My parents came running into the room with great worry for me. But when they saw I was okay and the state of the Lite-Brite, they blamed me for the outage, said the cost of the Lite-Brite was coming out of my allowance, and it was back to crayolas for me

As I lay in bed that night, I realized I had time traveled! I looked through my Archie Comic’s History of Art and came across a cartoon of Leonardo da Vinci and knew that’s the man I’d posed for. I got excited and woke up my sister. She panicked and covered her head because she thought I was going to clobber her for the electrocution. I said I wouldn’t and told her what had happened and that I needed her help to do it again.

We snuck downstairs and went into the living room. I turned on the TV and hugged it while my sister poured a water pitcher over me.  There was a loud crackling sound as the TV shorted out and smoke billowed. I got a slight buzz but I was still in the room. My parents ran downstairs in a panic, thinking the house was on fire. Once they figured it out, I saw this look of disappointment pass over them that sent shivers down my bones.

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Sometimes I glom

Sometimes I glom

gum

I’m generally private and prefer no one else in the room but me. But there are some people I can’t help but glom on. I feel like gum on the bottom of their shoe.

That happened this morning when I time traveled to 1931, Paris, and the studio of Salvador Dalí. He was in the midst of a painting and I got down on the ground and grabbed his ankles. It wasn’t my intention. I’d only gone there to watch him paint.

Dalí didn’t mind and continued with the painting. I held on for hours. My arms didn’t get tired. I felt like someone who’d been in the desert for a while and was drinking one long sip of water through a straw.

I don’t know how much longer it was when I finally let go of Dalí’s ankles. I stood up and nodded at him. He nodded back. Painters realize how much words are a waste of time, and keep things to a few essential body movements. I’ve heard mathematicians are the same way.

I time traveled home. Fully inspired, I went out to my backyard with a shovel and began digging. I dug for hours. Eventually I reached an underground river. I held my breath and slipped into the river. I rode underwater for a distance. I can hold my breath up to a half hour. That may seem like a lot, but I’m not the world’s record holder. That’s Lloyd Gance Devinson. He’s been clocked at four hours, thirteen minutes, though that’s the moment he died.

Eventually the river let out into Lake Pasper.  I swam to the surface and lay out on the bank to dry off. I felt an itch on my right calf. I pulled up my pants leg and found a leech stuck to my skin. I peeled it off and tossed it into the water. I went back to soaking in the sun.