This world has become interesting and fun!  You never know what’s going to be the next viral hit, the next catch-phrase, the next thing people love to hate, the next rave, the piece of flotsam that happens to catch the world’s eye for a few seconds. Fifteen seconds to be exact.  It seems our technology has reduced the world to one set of eyes, a single schizophrenic mind oozing with ADD, thousands of millions of plastic cards just one click away from anything money can buy, and of course there’s the whole degradation of humanity thing. You know.  Less time playing Frisbee catch with your dog.  Less time filling the neighborhood with the scent of your barbeque and the upcoming feast you’re going to have while they gag over the night’s TV dinner. Less time connecting with flesh and blood human beings, each one of us with the eyes of the world, forgetting or pretending we’re not connected in a far more substantial and vital way. There’s much to be said about sitting face to face with someone, but that is the subject of an entirely different rant.  Please remind me somewhere down the road and I’ll let you know how I feel about being face to face, toe to toe.  

      Now we have so much knowledge at our fingertips, and in as much depth as we want, too.  Sometimes when we are online and a friend brings a subject up of which we have absolutely no knowledge, we’ll be right there on Google or the Urban Dictionary, and within seconds be able to wax philosophical all the way from da hood to the halls of higher learning. And as far as credibility, who cares if it’s true or not, long as itlooks good and does something to you! (That was for all you vacuous souls who have no idea I’m talking about you) When I read the news online every morning and evening, I have four different sources, and if three out of the four share one part of the story, that’s what I’m probably going to believe, if at all. I do it that way because no one source has all the truth. Our fathers had three channels, a radio and a newspaper. Not to mention all the scuttlebutt that’s been going round since the dawn of time.  Now we have, well, you KNOW how much we have today that keeps us hooked up with everyone else on the planet.  That’s part of the thrill of living in such an information rich environment.

     My favorite thing to do on the internet (okay, my second favorite) is getting to try out different voices, kind of like characters in some cosmic comedy tragedy; you’re liable to encounter a country bumpkin whose goal in life is to be called a redneck, or a snippy old curmudgeon who says the first thing on his mind, or a wise, ancient Master of the Secrets of Everything, or a doting senior citizen who can’t figure out how to put a link to a picture, or simple just the one billion four hundred nineteen thousand six hundred and thirty fifth most interesting man in the world.  I don’t think of it as deceit, no, not at all!  I am not a sociopath, either (I think), so I won’t take your medicine. (But I will take that shot.  You know the one.  Yes.  My Precious.) I am merely riding the ebb and flow the world has given each of us.  It’s like surfing. I catch my wave, get up on the board and nearly drown because I don’t know how in the hell to surf. That’s the real secret to life. Try not to die.

     My beloved cousin Dana LisenBee told me once (isn’t it strange how thirty eight people can tell you the same thing, but only one get through) that one way to make it in the world today is to splash yourself everywhere, and you’ve got to be good. It can be as simple as a single word that catches fire to blaze around the world, or an expression on someone’s face, but in order make a lasting mark upon the fickle whims of the masses, you’ve got to have talent, sure, but you’ve got to be persistent.  The crumbled dust of magnum opuses reach to the sky from those thought not good enough and left to rot in a trunk or closet. Are you an artist?  Perform your art every single day, I don’t care what the excuse is, DO IT.  Find what it is you do well(well, not THAT, for God’s sake) and completely and utterly consume yourself with it.  Be that person in the family one hundred years from now who is thought of as being passionate about something.  Make a deep mark with whatever stick you’ve got.  I believe every single one of us on this planet is GREAT at something.  I mean better than anyone else who have ever lived.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out what that thing is and then do that with all your guts until it’s your turn to leave this tavern of interest and fun!  Oh, and while you’re having fun . . . try not to die, ok?

Writing is very hard work.  I think it’s even harder than digging ditches, performing a lumbar laminectomy or even competition-level peach pit spitting.  Imagine how difficult it is for squirrels to run and up and down trees all day.  Much harder than that.  Let me tell you how hard writing is.  Writing is so hard because there are so many words to choose from.  I just came from a five minute exhaustive search of the internet and discovered that there are about one million words in the English language.  I was going to say that it might take me forever to run out of words but then realized you would probably stop reading me and go on with your life.  That will not do.  I just need to pick the right drops of water from the ocean and mesmerize and entice you until the world around you slips away and my story is a river that takes you over countless rocky rapids and miles of rowing until you come through on the other side having discovered something profound about yourself.  Tell me THAT ain’t hard.  I don’t know the first thing about rapids.

I believe writing involves a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.  It should be taken just before meals to aid in digestion.  Technology has given writing a towering platform in the form of texting from any number of devices, blogs, chat, email and others. (note to self: from now on, any time I say ‘and others,’ it means I ran out of examples) Most texters today have caused professors all over the world to gnash their teeth, but I for one am in favor of anything that will make writing easier.  Fifty years from now novels will be reduced to a single letter.  Future teenagers will sit around breathing black market air and discussing their summer. “S?” (which means, ‘have you read the book S yet?’)  “N.” (you guessed, ‘no’) “W?” (use to be a curse word but now means ‘wanna hang out?’) “N.” “H!” (I have no idea what that means . . .)  But for now, writers have a whole BUNCH of words and combinations of words to choose from, and to be accountable for.  Someday some brainy math demigod will finally figure out exactly how many choices the English writer actually has.  I’d be willing to bet it is WAY more than the number of people who get injured by folding chairs each year.  For now let’s just say for the sake of arguing (note to self: whenever I say ‘for the sake of arguing,’ I don’t mean it.  Arguing sucks) that we’re talking about a Huge number of phrases to choose from.  Because words have power (who’s going to dispute that?), mixing them together can produce toxic lies and incredible truths, gripping stories and paint-peeling drivel like this, can inform, delight, incite, quiet, give you a smile or take it away, make you mad, make you sad, make you full, leave you empty, show you the way, show you the way it was.  Words, words, wonderful words, the more you poop the more the turds.  is stuff is harder than you think!  To this point I’ve laid about five hundred and fifty words out on you, and if you think this train has jumped the track, leave the metaphors to the experts, hon. Like I was saying, we need to own our words.  
Don’t just go flailing your words all over the place like I’ve done for years. They’ll come back to haunt you for sure. I had a phrase that still gives me nightmares and anxiety.  Ever heard of an “Alabama Hot Pocket”?  I originally coined the phrase to describe the slightly-heavier-than-air farts that result from eating chicken gizzards, pickled eggs and Moon pies – a delicacy in Alabama, - but some pervert stole it and now it’s a disgusting – I’ll tell you later when we’re alone.  You’ll shudder.  You better. Just be careful about what you write, unless you particularly like being haunted.  And it’s ok to say penis.  After 5pm on the east coast.  Unless you belong to a ‘Ban the Word Penis’newsgroup.  If that’s the case, be a good Do-Bee and keep your hands away from the  keyboard, but above your waist.  But if you have a pet name for it, write away!

 Writers never get the money that they are worth.  If I had a nickel for every time I said ‘if I had a nickel,’ I’d have two.  I think writers should have a place to go where they can ply their trade, like going to work. “By, honey, I’m off to work on my biography of Woody Harrelson! Remember, we’ve got that hemp party tonight!” They can sit around all day and talk, two things writers love to do, because everyone knows the average writer finds it damned near impossible to write anything substantive when there are others around, especially people who understand the colossal amount of brain sweat it takes to crank out five thousand words a day. I’m telling you now, if publishers paid writers what they’re worth one of two things will happen. Either the writer will step up act and write like the professional she is, fulfilling every nuance of the twelve page contract she signed without really reading it, or wait until the last minute of the deadline to crank out the Great American Novel.  I read it and it’s good.  Here, see for yourself:    M

Actually, the title of this article is only meant to pull you in so that I can share a disturbing trend that threatens to undermine the very fabric of our society.  A growing number of people are being afflicted with Rumination Syndrome, and to be honest with you, it’s making me sick to even think about it.  Rumination is the act of bringing food from the stomach back up into the mouth to rechew it.  Cows do it on a regular basis, and we all know it as ‘chewing their cud’.  How it got started in humans is still a mystery, but I would imagine somewhere in ancient history some guy got shitfaced and had to throw up in a public place but didn’t want anyone to
know, so he vomited in his closed mouth, decided it wasn’t so bad and proceeded to gnaw on whatever it was some more before swallowing it again.  Disgusting, right?  Honestly, I’d rather do that on a regular basis than wait until it came out the other end.  But get this: a 17th century medical student said that ruminated food is “sweeter than honey and accompanied by a more delightful relish”.  I feel sorry for his wife.

I read that about 10% of institutionalized mental patients ruminate.  I would, too, if I had to eat the food they serve in those places.  If you think about it – and I know you’re thanking me right now for making you think about it at all – rumination can’t be good for the teeth, what with all the stomach acid rolling around in your mouth. If you become one of the lucky few that develop a liking for re-eating your own partially digested food, you won’t have to worry about those pesky teeth for very long.  Stomach acid is stronger than Coca cola, and Coca cola is used by mechanics everywhere to wash excess acid off of batteries.  I guarantee that if you engage in tummy leftovers at least once a week, in six months you won’t have to worry about toothaches any more.

I never knew that rumination was something that was even remotely studied.  I always thought rumination was what happens in your head when you get an idea.  I mean, I’ve always known that most of us have in our life have had a stomach full of food and burped, only to have some of that pumpkin pie jump back into our mouth. I’ve always called it ‘verping’. In my vast experience on the subject, it never did taste any better the second time around.  Perhaps if I mix a few pieces of lettuce or a black olive with it, it might take the edge off.

The scientific paper that told me all about Rumination Syndrome states that there is a general lack of awareness of the condition by patients, doctors and the general public. Wow.  That’s a shocker.  How often have you ever been to a fancy party and overheard someone talk about their rechewed steak?  That’s like saying there is a general lack of awareness of the amount of sweat that rolls off an illegal alien’s back as he crosses the desert. (For your information, it balances out to around two quarts, give or take half a pint depending if he travels at night)  Now that I’ve decided to expose the threat of Rumination Syndrome, those eggheads in their porcelain towers can’t complain that no one knows about it.  Now that I’ve brought this unsavory issue to light, the scientific community can begin doing studies to see just how widespread the problem is.  There will no doubt be obstacles in their way, though.  Who’s going to admit to blowing cookies in their mouth, chewing it up and swallowing it again?  Also, will the researchers require their test subjects to throw up and masticate their vomit before spitting it into a cup for analysis?

I just had a brilliant idea. Let’s turn this lemon around and make lemonade out of it!  Here goes: If only one day a year everybody in the rich countries of the world ate a big meal, stuck their fingers down their throat and then ate their meal again before putting it in a Tupperware bowl, we could combine our resources and feed all the hungry people!  It would be the ultimate in recycling!  Ok, I need to stop right here so I can draft a letter to the U.N. and get the ball rolling on this revolutionary
plan.  I could come up with a
trademarked ‘Gagbag’so the ‘haves’ could give to the ‘have nots’. 
I’ll call it “Retching for the Wretched”.  Yes, we can turn Rumination Syndrome
into a worldwide movement!  I
wonder who from the Hollywood elite will be the first to hand over their Gagbag
. . . oh, the future has suddenly turned bright!

I’ve been house-sitting for a friend in remote Michigan (no, he’s NOT militia), and part of the job requires me to care for Lucky, a four year old Pomeranian.  Dogs and I go way back.  When I was twelve I became Animal Man complete with costume, chopped out bicycle and a baseball bat.  Dogs saw me coming and said to one another, “Howl for our Hero!”  Now my costume sits collecting dust in the back of the closet. I’m currently the spiritual Master of all horses.  I know, it looks like a down-grade, but I just call it species specific specialization, or Sss for short.  Anyway, I’ve still got this good karma thing going on with dogs, so Lucky and I hit it off famously from day one.

Ok, when I met Lucky he was practically an obedience school alumnus.  All 6.2 ounces of him sat looking up at me plaintively and patiently waiting at my feet until I patted what is left of my lap and he hopped up, fairly shivering with anticipation and I am sure fear. 
Within the hour I had him on his back wrestling with my fingers and playing tug-of-war with one of my socks.  I spoiled him absolutely rotten, let me just state that for the record. Now he hangs off the arm of the couch with his tongue lolling or whatever it is a dog’s tongue does, playing Modern Warfare all day, not listening to a word I say.  My kinda dog.  I almost had a spiritual epiphany watching Lucky’s first experience with pepperoni.  He is now a pepperoni whore.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am grateful beyond expression for my host’s kindness and trust, but my GOD I couldn’t sit there all day staring at it staring at me from across the room like a mirror, watching him eat food so small I can’t even see it and then letting him out twice a day so he can water and fertilize a hedge like some kind of waste machine and then back inside to stare at me stare at him.  No.  I went out and got a nasty, slimy tree branch that he can carry around the house whenever he wants, I cut off a piece of rope that he is currently turning into lint, and, oh my, the BALLS!  I have video proof an animal can become addicted to an object.  He had ping pong balls surgically implanted in his chest. Now he looks like the cross between a gremlin and Dolly Parton.  I’m afraid if I put a pepperoni on one plate and a miniature tennis ball on another,  Lucky’s little head would explode.  You can say anything you like about Lucky, he’s cool.  I let him lick a popsicle once; his jaw quivered for half an hour.

But here’s the most intriguing thing about Lucky: the floors throughout the house are tile.  Not a scrap of carpet.  I sit here and watch him get around like a drunken baby on ice, his toothpicky legs working overtime trying to change his momentum.  No wonder he always wants to go outside.  At least outside all he has to worry about is flying off the planet.  The first time I tossed him a ball his excitement was almost overwhelming.   He dropped it, of course (rookies) and it rolled across the room.  He waiting until the ball stopped and then causally tip-toed over to it and gingerly retrieved it, like some virginal debutante picking up a dropped dance card.  It took me awhile to realize Lucky was traction-challenged, but once the full realization of his plight sunk in, I went directly out and got him a tiny set of inline skates.  Unfortunately, as soon as I strap the cute little things on, Lucky loses all motivation to do anything but lay there and bark.  You can’t blame me for trying.

My host will be back in a couple of months to reclaim his
  home and living dust mop – well, that’s not entirely accurate. 
I shaved Lucky from his neck to his tail.  He now looks like a miniature lion (on
skates!).  But when that moment
comes to hand over the keys and bid my friend adieu, Lucky better have learned
his most important trick: When in doubt, remember that hiding place under the
refrigerator with the secret door to pepperoni.

I am taking this opportunity, while the Man is out doing whatever He does when he gets in that noisy CAR machine, to issue an appeal to all my fellow Felines for advice concerning a DOG that has taken up residence here.  As I have lived with the Man and man since kittenhood and have only been able to sneak out of the house on a couple of occasions, my knowledge of Canines is next to nothing, having only seen them from the window as they stumble and swagger about the neighborhood.  When I told the Man a few months ago that I would very much like some companionship, I had no idea that He would soon bring Home a BARBARIC CURSE to plague my life.  Now I long for those splendid days of solitude, basking on the floor from the sun shining through the open windows.  The BEAST has been encamped here for over two months, and I have not had a moment of peace. I am issuing this appeal in the hopes that a wise Cat might present me with ideas for either TERMINATING the DOG, or at least ways of inciting disfavor among the Man and Woman against this PESTILENCE that has descended upon our household.

When IT first bumbled ITS way into my Home IT was not any bigger than my water ish.  IT had, and still has, a bulbous head, round, vacant, beady eyes that do not reflect a speck of intelligence, hair the color and consistency of my litter and the grace of a wounded Yak, whatever that is. When I approached IT for the first time, IT began slobbering all over me and bouncing around like a proper MORON. IT made some HORRIFIC sound similar to that of a toaster being pushed off the kitchen counter and striking the floor. I have since learned that this is called a BARK, and IT makes this sound whenever IT blinks ITS eyes, it seems.  My very first encounter with the CREATURE resulted in IT latching hold of my precious tail with ITS fangy MAW, and it was only after I caterwauled at IT and batted ITS MUTANT skull that I was able to free myself and climb to safety on the back of the couch.  IT proceeded to SQUAT at the foot of the couch and fired a barrage of noises at me, perhaps thinking I might be persuaded to sink to ITS level.  From that moment on, my life has consisted of running from one high spot to another because IT relentlessly CHASES me.  Sometimes I stand my ground and pummel IT into greater depths of STUPIDITY, but IT keeps coming, hopping around and yapping incessantly, too DENSE to know that I am bashing ITS pea-sized brain in.

The DOG has systematically drooled over and taken as ITS own ALL of my playtoys.  The MONSTROSITY is not satisfied covering my possessions in ITS GOO – IT CHEWS and GNAWS everything into oblivion.  I have seen IT completely DESTROY one of the Man’s shoes in the matter of a couple of minutes.  Over the course of ITS stay here, it has chewed on EVERYTHING: table legs, carpeting, music discs, the furniture, bookshelves – the list is endless. Just yesterday I saw the THING trying to gnaw on the TOILET for goodness sake!  But this is not the most HORRIFIC thing IT does.  The DOG has yet to learn that a litterbox is where to do ITS BUSINESS. IT poops and pees all over the House. When the Man and Woman scold IT, the DOG pretends to be contrite, wags ITS scrawny tail and rolls over onto ITS back. The next few times IT has to GO, IT will then sidle up to the door and make the most pathetic WHINING sounds until IT is actually LET OUT!  I cannot BELIEVE the Man and Woman actually allow the IDIOT OUTSIDE!  I have been crying at that very door for THREE YEARS and have NEVER been allowed out!  The two times I did manage to slip out, the Man and Woman called and cried for me until I decided to return.  This, this MONSTER is allowed out ALL THE TIME!  If I could kill IT, I would.

I do not understand what power the DOG has over everyone.  They fawn over IT all the time, crawling around on the floor with IT, playing tug-of-war with MY TOYS and laughing every time IT falls over ITS bumbling paws.  IT possesses some sort of je ne sais quoi over which the Man and Woman are helpless against.  IT STINKS, IT is completely NASTY – I even saw IT EAT OUT OF MY LITTERBOX once!!  Worst of all IT is GROWING!  Before too long IT will be able to climb upon the furniture, and then all is lost for me.  Please, if there is a compassionate Feline out there that can give me tips on how to DESTROY the
DEMON DOG, or at least live with IT, I will be forever grateful. 
I am including a recent photograph of IT so you will be able to judge for
yourself how PATHETIC this BEAST is.


Jack the Cat