I would like you to do us a favor, though (Take 2)

One of the problems with Donald J. Trump’s trying to shake down Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, is this issue does not resonate well with average Americans… i.e., it does not “hit home” close enough.

Seeing how Robert Mueller left it up to Congress to punish Trump for hobnobbing with Russians, and how Donny assumed (correctly) that nobody would dare to even try, he also took that to mean that he could do whatever he damned pleases. To that end… in no time flat… he was on the phone with Zelensky.

Now, seeing how he’ll likely wind up Impeached by House Democrats and Exonerated by Senate Republicans… well… he WILL Quid Pro Quo again… and Again… AND AGAIN.

And let’s say his next dirty deal (attempt at extortion) does hit home… and hit hard, the average people (like you and me). Check out this sadistic, domestic, purely HYPOTHETICAL scenario…

PREFACE: Meet the pharmaceutical pioneer, Doctor Adam Zellweger (no relation to actor Renée) who, following decades of painstaking research and clinical trials on volunteer human test subjects, has discovered the most efficacious drug ever conceived by humankind… i.e., the miracle medicine that’ll instantaneously wipe all Cancer off the face of the Earth. The FDA is mere moments away from approving this wonder drug when…

Donny, ravenous for campaign dollars (to fund the unconstitutional bid for his 2032 reelection), picks up the phone to make his congratulatory call to Zellweger.

Trump: I’m calling to applaud you Dr. Zellweger. What you’ve done is tremendous, almost as tremendous as my attracting the largest applauding Inauguration Day crowds in American History in 2017, 2021, 2025 and 2029. Now, I do know you’re still in need of FDA approval for your tremendous drug… and I do have the power to speed up that process.… but… uh… I would like you to do us a favor though.

Zellweger: And what might that be?

Trump: Initially, you are to donate a $100 million lump sum to my campaign, so I can run for a tremendous fifth term as your tremendous president. And then, once you get FDA approval, once the billions of bucks start rolling in, I’ll start siphoning off your profits. Now, as your tremendous president and benefactor, I believe my tremendous services to you… my yuge influence in this matter… is worthy of a split of the profits… oh… say… 90/10.

Zellweger: So, let me get this straight. No FDA approval till I agree to your terms? I’ll bet that 90% will be your cut, too, huh?

Trump: Take it or leave it Doctor Z.

Zellweger: Do you realize that your causing the FDA to drag its heels will subject millions of cancer patients to needless agony and death?

Trump: Hey, that’d be all your fault, not mine. To save their lives, all you need do is do us that favor.

Well, my readers, what if Dr. Z opts not to knuckle under to Trump’s pressure? And what if, someday, it will be you, me or one of our loved ones lying, crying and dying in that hospice bed?

Today’s hypothetical scenario could easily become tomorrow’s life or death, reality show.

Such a story amply demonstrates why a House Impeachment and a Senate Conviction / Ouster is in order… and long overdue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eeewwww! The (Mercifully Short) Short Story

 

Once upon a time… there lived a bad, Bad, BAD Boy, named Oleg.

His claim to fame? Well, if you really must know, he was renown for his YUGE YAP; his incessant, incoherent, inane and insane utterances. He was also instantly recognizable, due to his orange hue and tousled, yellowish, straw-like hair strands. Although he was stunted both intellectually and emotionally, seeing how both puberty and societal expectations of mediocrity oft rule, it was both inevitable and regrettable that he’d grow physically and rise to power.

Oligarch Oleg deemed his mirror, his Window to the World. He loved only himself and was only loved by an ignorant and / or insane cadre of his subjugated sycophants and subjects. So enamored with himself, was he, that he flat-out refused to allow Stephanie, his sexually harassed, enslaved, dressed in tattered rags chambermaid to launder his soiled, odoriferous articles of clothing. Hell, he even bawled like a big baby whenever she’d fling his chamber pot’s contents out the window, which overlooked the backyard.

“What a waste,” he’d lament, while mulling over how “best” to “honor” the growing alarmingly, mountainous dungheap.

“What a waste,” she’d lament while mulling over how Oleg’s Dark Ages, choke-hold on power had caused both her genius level IQ and people smarts to languish; denied her both the wherewithal and opportunity to ever see her dreams come true.  She dared not even turn her back, to roll her eyes in disgust, without inviting his unwelcome, pawing, tiny hands.

So, just how bad was the inevitable, pervasive, decaying fecal stench? Well, even the flies had established a NO FLY ZONE over Oleg’s Palace; an airspace encompassing thousands upon thousands of kilometers.

Well, one dismal, miasmatic morn, this stink took a distinct turn for the worse. Oleg woke up with what he deemed to be a perfect, Perfect PERFECT notion worming its way into his “noodle”. Instantly acting upon this “insight”, he promptly issued his royal decree: The Endangered Feces Act of ’19! In short, this document’s legalese stated that, sans his express consent, no one harboring evil intent, would ever be allowed to touch his precious poop. Normally, that’d seem like a win-win, but…

By the very next day, Oleg launched his new corporation, namely, Kingly Keepsakes. He’d market his brand, spanking new, exclusive, product line to the masses; expect his subjects to piss away their hard earned rubles / kopeks to purchase various sized lumps of their beloved Oligarch’s poop; all encased in crystalline plastic. The available (literally) crappy novelties included key fobs, belt buckles, bellybutton charms, dangly earrings, paperweights, bookends, doorstops… Eeewwww!

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridging the Great Divide ~ A Parable

 

Once upon a time, Conrad DeNier found himself debating Libby Learned. Both being nearly lifelong walkers upon the fraying, stretched thin, conservative / liberal tightrope, on that particular, fateful morning, their seemingly eons old War of Words promised to be as relentless and perilous, as ever. After all, neither party was ever willing to cede even one millimeter of ideological territory; NOT when it came down to the prospect of emerging victorious in the battle of the Haves vs. the Have-Nots.

However, this time around, Conrad would trot out his “new” ploy; totally unleash the ever-present spoiled brat, within. He’d hold his breath until Libby totally agreed with him. And so it was. Her closing point made, he first bleated out his counterpoint; next inhaled and puffed out his cheeks. Indeed, so enraged was he that, all the sudden, his heart totally gave out!

While unconscious, Conrad’s entire life flashed before his eyes; he even wound up seeing the light; both cosmically and cognitively speaking. However, as it had all been predestined, this would only be his Near Death Experience.

As the onrush of warmth gradually reanimated his lifeless body; returned him to consciousness, Conrad’s first sensations were of Libby’s relentless CPR. As he squinted through his eyelashes, “The Light” suddenly cross-faded to that of ordinary daylight. Now awash with feelings of utter stupefaction, to him, this had become the proverbial light bulb over the noggin moment.

In spite of their history of fierce animosity, when push came to shove, Libby had done the humane thing; had actually saved his very life! Seeing how she had been willing to set aside her own differences, he could not help but wonder. Could he not do the same? He even began to question the illogical nature of his own ideological selfishness. Why must he always seek more ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the less fortunate? After all, the sheer enormity of what he had already accrued, to date, could even last a spendthrift ten lifetimes.

Funny how it took a deep shade of physiological blue to get him to cede his seething, red hot intransigence; to temper it with a healthy helping of newfound, true blue hued tolerance. Conrad DeNier even wound up seeing Libby Learned in an entirely new light. Indeed, he now deemed his longtime foe a newfound friend.

The multifaceted moral to our story is fundamental…

Peaceful coexistence is vital. Allow selflessness to gain the upper hand. See the light before you see The Light.

 

 

 

 

(Hopefully) Compelling Fiction

 

The dawn’s early light has awakened Pat and Leslie… albeit a bit too late. Having slightly overslept, there’s barely sufficient time for a good morning kiss, getting dressed for work and a coffee shop stop.

As expected, the Starbucks visit is a quick in and out. Pat, back behind the wheel, enters the Capital Beltway… Interstate 495… and instantly observes, aloud, how the traffic patterns seem a bit lighter than normal… in fact… way too light. Leslie guesstimates their commute will take a scant thirty minutes, tops.

Pat switches on the car radio which is already in Emergency Alert System mode. It’s that godforsaken, eerie end of the world signal, which, unfailingly, manages to creep them both out.

However, on this ill-fated a.m., this is NOT “Only a Test.” The grim, TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY message follows.

Leslie, a journalism / communication arts degreed Editor of a News and Opinion Website and Blog, mentally rehashes the previous day’s news cycle… gallantly tries to connect the dots. Alas… that was yesterday’s world. But it doesn’t require much analysis to conclude that the madman has finally done it… Tweeted the world into an early grave. The global thermonuclear exchange is now in progress… if progress is even the operative word.

Pat, his PhD in nuclear physics, fortuitously, recalls a nearby, past workplace… a now mothballed military installation… complete with a lead lined, fallout shelter, no less! Putting the pedal to the metal, they race towards what could be their last hope for survival.

“Why oh why didn’t we move far, far away from DC right after Inauguration Day ’17? We had had plenty of chances, Pat! Sure as shit, DC is the #1 target of all of our enemies and our bodies will be reduced to radioactive ash.”
“What good would that have done? After all, there’s actually no place to live safely at a time like this. But Look! We’re not dead yet! I can see it, Leslie! There’s my old army base!”

Crashing through the multiple padlocked, chain-linked gate, they skid through the gravel to a halt. As they rush forth towards the main building’s doors, the dialogue becomes even more tense.

“Hurry Pat… I don’t want to die like this!”
“I know, my love, but… I’m not even sure the provisions we’ll need to survive are still stockpiled within. And worse yet, my old CO, Col. Jeffries… was a renowned stickler for security… likely deleted my password from the system, long ago… that is… IF there’s still electricity powering up the keypad, at all.”
“You mean we could easily die whether or not we are granted ingress…”

Leslie knows, fully well, that this last utterance is both the question and the answer.

One final hurdle does present itself. Luckily, Pat’s pocket knife easily strips the casing off each end of the severed wire and, with a spark… the two ends meet and the keypad flickers back to life. After Pat’s first two password entry tries get challenged by the same, flashing “ACCESS DENIED” LED response, the third try proves the charm. At last, the security system recognizes an ages old numerical sequence and… with the creaking hinges loudly protesting… the triple layered, blast doors slowly open wide. Leslie rushes inside, yet oddly, Pat does not follow.

“What are you waiting for? We must close the door, now!”
“We have a moral duty to look out for the welfare of others. They’ll be needing this shelter, too.”

Waiting until the very last minute, with a shared long sigh, they must concede that it’ll be just the two of them.

Now in Security A-1 lock-down mode, they stand beneath the garish neon glow. Feeling the dank chill in the air, they huddle closely and kiss tentatively… both sobbing as countless blasts proceed to “efficiently” roll up the outside world… bury their loved ones and lay waste to the Earth, that no one will ever know again.

They crouch to pick up their Styrofoam coffee cups off the floor, raise them upward to propose a toast. Leslie goes first…

“To whatever may remain of our Earthly tomorrows, even if there is only one.”
“To today… if there’s no tomorrow at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Harrison and Human (Chapter-1)

 

I could’ve sworn someone had just spoken to me in a near whisper…

“Pssst… hey human!”

Perhaps this was a mere figment of my imagination? Oh… say… my erroneously assigning human syntax and phonics to what was… in actuality… a mere, momentary wind gust rustling a nearby lilac thicket’s leaves? Well… I had no sooner summarily dismissed this as such a phenomenon than the unseen speaker spoke again… this time with added conviction and decibels…

“Hey! Over here!”

My ears now properly attuned, they advised a 180 spin. Pivoting on my heels… lo and behold… there he was! And most assuredly, this was no ordinary, up-at-the-crack-of-dawn passerby… no jogger or nature walker was he.

Indeed, amidst the stray sunbeam lit, verdant field of clover, sat an up on his haunches, uncharacteristically unskittish rabbit… sporting a dapper, multiple gradations of brown, furry coat and tails. Uh… correction… let’s make those “tails” one, fluffy, grayish-white cottontail.

Even though I could not immediately reconcile the contradictory aural / visual sensory input, at hand… there could be no denying his presence. But a talking rabbit? NO… I would not… could not… “go there!”

Was I actually starting to sense his amusement, too? I could not be certain. What was for fur sure? Being at a distinct psychological disadvantage.

Transfixed and momentarily speechless were we… he… casually chewing on the clover leaves within his twitching whiskered mouth… I… desperately ISO any signs of the human responsible for those uttered, two, brief sentences. But, with no such person in the vicinity, I began wondering if straitjackets are custom tailored or only a one size fits all / off the rack prospect.  Just when I thought my jaw could not drop any further… said he… omg… SAID HE?

“Yes… it really IS just you and me.”

Was his accompanying chortled chorus to mock or reassure me?

I could only hunker down with my mind’s “this cannot possibly be happening” utter disbelief. My mind? What mind?

There just had to be some logical explanation! At stake, was my very WordPress screen-name, CommonSenseTom… which I realized could soon be rendered nonsensical. It was then that… not unlike a TM mantra… I began recursively reminding myself…

“Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk!”

“Oh yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!”

… Mr. Rabbit’s reply clearly establishing that I had either, actually, vocalized my thoughts or he was a mind-reader, too. Quick as a bunny he added in a big voice inconsistent to his small, short stature… and with a New England accent, to boot…

“So sorry to get your wind up. Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Human. Allow me to introduce myself. Dr. Harrison Hare D-I-X. But do call me Harry… that sounds far less stuffy.”

“D-I-X? DIX as in Roman numerals? As in Harrison the 509th?”

“Hey… don’t look so shocked. A rabbit’s prolific nature is a fact of life… not some credulity contorting Urban Legend!”

Still doubting my sanity, while nonchalantly, softly humming the Jefferson Airplane’s classic rock tune, White Rabbit, I made a full 360 scan of the vicinity… this time ISO some cleverly hidden TV cameras. I was now actually entertaining the notion that I was EITHER getting punk’d OR some new network reality show had hired a dude to throw his voice rabbit-ward. Sensing that awkward silences could easily render the recorded “footage” unfit for cable, streaming, the airwaves, etc… that I could easily blow any chances for my big break into TV land fame and fortune… I decided to play along…

“Hey, Harry, has anybody ever told you your voice sounds just like John F. Kennedy’s?”

“No… but then again… I don’t normally talk with all that many humans. And speaking of talking… to whom do I have the pleasure of meeting on this balmy, late spring morn?”

“The name is Thomas BlogDonovich… no Roman numerals needed… and btw… Tom will suffice. I guess I’m glad to meet you, too.”

“Still unsure I’m really talking to you, huh?”

“Sure am… in fact your chosen word… balmy… likely better describes my mental state… uh… than this morn’s weather. I mean… a talking rabbit?”

“Not just A rabbit, friend Tom… ALL rabbits can talk!”

“So this is really happening and I’m not really losing it?”

“Tom… I assure you… this IS really happening! You must believe me, OK?

“I’m trying. I’m trying. But why… pray tell… have you chosen this particular time to break the ice? After all, we’ve been neighbors for nearly two decades.”

“The answer to your question IS you. You see, ever since late January`17 me and the Missus have found it damned near impossible to not overhear you constantly yelling back at your radio during NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered newscasts… namely… your name-calling and cussing… your calling out the deplorable words and deeds of THAT pathetic narcissistic horse’s ass.”

“Do you find that even remotely shocking?”

“No! Not at at all. It’s just that your excessively dwelling on that contemptible, corrupt creep is not healthy, my man. If you’d like, I do have my PhD in Psychology and am willing to talk you through these tough times… pro bono… you know… the same way liberal talk jockey Randi Rhodes counseled you, way back in 2004… the day after W got reelected.”

“You actually recall my long ago on air, nationwide conversation with Ms. Rhodes?”

“Sure do. And I really do want to help you.”

“But, not paying you just wouldn’t feel right.”

“Friend Tom, you haven’t been charging me… not even one penny… for the nearly 20 years my family and I have been grazing in your clover patch, either.”

“Touché… friend Harry… touché!”

Coming down from my momentary reverie about Ms. Rhodes… as well as still attempting to wrap my mind around this talking rabbit scenario did take a moment or two. And Harry did use that temporal opportunity to full advantage by chowing down another couple of mouthfuls of clover. Due to his nearly impeccable table manners he didn’t speak again until after his gulp and loud belch. Remember (ha ha) I did say, “nearly impeccable.”

“While rabbitkind is genuinely interested in your well-being, we must also keep our own best interests in mind. And, uppermost on the minds of every creature… great and small… is global environmental distress. It all boils down to this, Tom. Your survival in this hood IS our survival. Were you to ever leave us… perhaps even head for the hills ISO some hippie dippy commune… that’d mean a new property owner, here. And what would be the odds that he wouldn’t be a grass farmer who’s been brainwashed by the toxic chemicals spewing, lawn care industry?”

“And not even growing the type of grass he could harvest and hawk for profit.”

“Precisely!”

We both momentarily chuckled while slowly, horizontally swaying our heads in disbelief.

“Tom, the entire rabbit community deems your clover field a culinary sweet treat and rates your backyard a five star eatery. We would never, ever want some lawn farmer to poison it with weed killer.”

“The good news, Harry… I plan on staying put, right here, till fiscal / physical death do us part… whichever happens first. The bad news, naturally, is how our neighbors’ toxic “cocktails” of fertilizers / insecticides / herbicides / homicides respect neither my property lines nor anyone else’s. Worse yet, when they (ab)use products such as Roundup™ they may even be condemning both themselves and innocent bystanders to premature Cancerous DEATHS!

“Why oh why must so damned many humans be ISO the psychotically perfect, grass blades only lawn? And do take my word for it… such grass only biomes taste bad even before the nasty lawn chemical “salad dressing” gets poured on.”

“I know exactly what you’re talking about, too. Not too long ago, I purchased some broccoli, which tasted the way nasty lawn chemicals stink. With my first bite, I nearly puked.”

“TMI Tom… TMI!”

Just as another momentary wind gust rustles the nearby, lilac’s leaves, Harry looks at his tiny cell phone screen and exclaims…

‘To quote Alice’s white rabbit, ‘Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late!’ I gotta hurry home.”

“Me too. And albeit way too belated, I now officially and warmly welcome you to the neighborhood.”

“Thank you. Are you now a bit more convinced that we can really converse?”

“Well… friend Harry… it’s not my talking to you that’s unbelievable, it’s your talking to me. I mean… this REALLY DID happen, right?”

“Yes… friend Tom… this REALLY DID happen.”

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

Pees [sic] Porridge Hot [uh… really sick]

SUBTITLE: Sonny Sows His Wild Oats

Once upon a time… not too far from the hubbub of The Big Apple… there lived a sophomoric, imbecilic, narcissistic 7-year-old bully named Sonny. One mid-morning he ordered his chauffeur to lead-foot it back to the family estate where… upon entering their zillion dollar, palatial mansion… he immediately began snorting, sniveling and whining…

“Mumsy, why don’t everybody in da hood love me?”

It being a school day, Mumsy just knew her little wittle son was playing hooky. But since his gruff Dadsy typically growled ungrammatically, “Sonny, youse knows more than all dem dummy teachers”, she didn’t DARE even breathe one word re her boy’s habitual truancy. Knowing, too, that she had to take enough time to guard her words, YET, rapidly concoct some sort of a plausible sounding cock and bull story… all the sudden… the figurative light bulb lit up over her noggin. Trying her best not to sound patronizing, said she…

“Sonny, we both know that To Know You is To Love You. So, it only makes sense that to get everyone to love you, all you need do is make sure everyone knows you.”

With Sonny suddenly growing livid… his face flushed into a bright orange hue, he bellowed…

“So you ARE saying that everybody don’t love me!”

“Sonny, we both know that you’re a stable genius who’s never, ever wrong… so… how could I not agree with you?”

“But Mumsy, dem kids should be coming to me. Me going to dem would be too damned much hard work. I know… why doncha call up all their folks and order dem to order all their kids love me?”

Somehow Mumsy fought off the urge to roll her eyes. Once again, thinking on her feet, got her off the hook. The trick, here, was to really “sell” her schmooze the classmates scam to her ne’er-do-well boy. Indeed, to sound even remotely sincere, she’d need to lie through her teeth. And lie she did…

“Sonny, I’ve got a tremendous idea! Why doncha invite all your classmates over for a backyard, Sunday oatmeal brunch? You could even show off your cooking skills… I mean… we both know how you get a kick out of dumping the dry rolled oats into the boiling water.”

“Oh, do I ever! I always pretend each oat is someone I hate. But Mumsy… you got to be kiddin’! Cook for dem commoners? NO WAY! They not worthy of such a feast. Besides, it’d all be too much work. Why doncha order our cook to do it for me?”

“Sonny, you’re too smart not to know that you can’t WOW them unless you’re the Chef who’s cooking up the porridge! I give you my word… they’ll be so impressed by your magnificence that you’ll have them eating out of your hand. They’ll remember you for the rest of their lives. Hell, were you to ever run for President, you could always count on their votes.”

Reluctantly, Sonny agreed… on one condition… that Mumsy had to be the one to send out all the invitations on his behalf. Of course she’d never fess up that she had actually tasked that out to her social secretary. It didn’t take too long for the dozens of RSVP’s to began flooding in.

By the time Sunday finally rolled around… as his guests arrived, Sonny felt elated by the massive turnout. Hell, he estimated crowd attendance to be at least 3 MILLION… possibly up to 30 MILLION! He even caught himself musing…

“Hmm, maybe Mumsy had been right, after all?”

Sonny being the ringleader of his nasty gang, naturally, he did gravitate more to his homies. Of course, it was inevitable that there’d be a couple of scuffles between them and the non gang members… BUT… things began to cool down when the cauldron grew hot… when the boiling, bubbling water told Sonny it was time to dump in the oats!

With nearly the entire student body cheering / chanting rhythmically in time with each stirring, swirling motion of his YUGE spoon, he felt giddy from the outpouring of adulation… even though, in actuality, it was their love of oatmeal… not for Sonny that so inspired them. Anyway, all seemed to be going well.

HOWEVER… towards the end of the five minute cooking time… something just didn’t seem quite right. The porridge was way too thick… way too dry. Dumbfounded Sonny didn’t quite know what to do next. With this being a day off for their entire grounds-keeping crew, there’d be nobody to boss around… nobody to snap to attention and exclaim “Yes Sir!” to his barked out command…

“Uncoil that damned hose and add more water!!!”

Just as Sonny was about to panic, he experienced his own light bulb over the noggin moment… came up with what he deemed to be an ingenious idea! He unzipped his fly and… well… let’s just say he cooked up a Pees Porridge… one that never, ever must be confused with the totally different recipe known as Pease Porridge. Surprisingly, even above the loud piddling noises, audible were the multiple horrified gasps accompanied by the veritable chorus of EEEWWWS!!!

By the time Sonny had zipped up and looked back up, the crowd of kiddies had thinned dramatically… so much so that all who were left were members of his ugly gang.

Naturally, with Sonny being a germ-o-phobe, he absolutely had zero intentions of ever consuming this porridge. However… as for his sycophantic gang? Well, since they knew how easy it would be to PISS OFF Sonny they didn’t DARE turn up their noses. More importantly… they all knew the highest form of praise would be to pretend that nothing was wrong… i.e., that the “alternate facts” told them that Sonny’s unhealthy oatmeal was actually healthy to chow down… no questions asked! And chow down they did!

Well… it is now… some six decades later and we find sicko Sonny and his entire gang of sicko sycophants satisfied by their trade-off of NYC for DC turf! Since these rowdy underlings having, long ago, proven their undying loyalty to their sophomoric, imbecilic, narcissistic boss, he has vowed to never, ever again cook Pees Porridge. After all, for him, it’d be too damned much work! Even so, all of his toadies are still ready, willing and able to take whatever (hopefully figurative) shit he chooses to cook and serve up.

 

 

The Life and Times of a Posting Prospector

 

INTRO: The PB of this blog’s companion video will enhance our reading experience. So will our allowing virtual narrator Gabby Raconteur’s dramatization to play out in the theater of the mind. Let’s all now give a “listen” to the western frontier tale…

 

The Life and Times of a Posting Prospector

 

As our story unfolds, the sun rises over Dark Canyon. In days of yore, it had been a Wild West, bustling boomtown. These days? Well… DC… no… not THAT DC… has nearly become a rundown ghost town. This faltering community… nestled within Dystopia, USA… is as windswept as the Great Basin desert which surrounds it. It is here that the town-folk harbor a heartbroken spirit as desiccated as the post January ’17, dried up American Dream.

About one dozen miles west of this far-flung locale, we find the crusty, cantankerous curmudgeon, Mr. Merlin Luther, awakening from a fitful sleep… facing down yet another day of metal detector prospecting for silver and gold.

“Life” within this hemmed in by mountains, forgotten by time, ofttimes, telecommunications / internet dead zone is fraught with both online and real world woes. It is that fact which… in the hearts and minds of the locals… has made Merl, a man with a knack for storytelling, a much admired and sought after source of amusement. Words do come easily to him, however, the thoughts they oft convey are not always popular… well… that is… outside of Dark Canyon. Although he is a true blue patriot, he suspects his free-thinking posts have unjustifiably pegged him as disloyal… branded him a reviled, blue-hued pariah… well… at least in the small mind of a particular, peculiar, deplorable, deranged, DC despot… yes… THAT DC / THAT despot.

With last night’s campfire now reduced to smoky ashes, while Merl gathers more firewood and kindling, he feels the icy winds of change in the air. There’s also a dryness in his mouth and pangs of hunger in the pit of his stomach. Now back at his campsite, he folds up his tattered sleeping bag while chawing on beef jerky and crunching on trail mix… eventually washing it all down with a few swigs of Jim Beam™. As he sits atop his makeshift, sleeping bag chair, leaning up against a boulder, he stretches and yawns, rubs the grit from his lifeless eyes and strokes his grey, scraggly, Father Time length beard.

He feels fortunate that his innovative, tech savvy son, Merl Jr…. just prior to headin’ off for the greener, Silicon Valley pastures… had set him up with a couple of his patent pending devices… a wifi turbocharger and mini-solar array… both of which have proven themselves invaluable in keeping Merl Sr’s laptop fully connected and charged at all times.

Logging in, a quick check of the Weather Channel confirms what he already knows… the overnight desert cold will soon be changing over to blistering heat. He next opens his email and… within a nanosecond… is feeling duly pissed. Once again, the ISP and social network big shots are both demanding that he squander his precious time pouring over and agreeing to updated versions of their verbose, arcane, legalese loaded, Terms of Service and Privacy Policies.

Merl, feeling himself heading for an epic, full-blown, intracranial conflagration, opens up a word document and lets his keyboard poised fingers “do the talking” / channel and vent his rage against “the system”. Within fifteen minutes… minus two for… ahem… a behind a cactus pitstop… he is ready to publish his scathing screed. With his typical posting time nearing, he pauses to weigh the pros and cons… all the while wondering if he has overreacted? Merl decides to throw caution to the wind.

But just prior to posting, he proofreads it one last time. Let’s all peer over his shoulder to follow along…

 

 

Upon opening up my email inbox this early a.m., once more, I discovered a couple of those online ultimatums… you know the drill…

“Please read and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy so you can continue using… BLAH… BLAH… BLAH.”

Firstly… “Please?” Aw shucks pardner… ain’t that sooooo heartwarmin’? As if sugarcoatin’ a demand with pseudo courtesy makes something that’s deep down NOT OK… somehow… some way… ALL OK?

Secondly… you’d have to be a some sort of Pollyanna clone to ever believe that privacy… either online or real world… even exists anywhere… anymore! Not with that veritable alphabet soup of three-letter acronymed spy agencies stumbling about our once great land. Hell, their agents’ Job #1 is to ensure that not one of us can even surreptitiously fart without that “momentous” event getting documented and filed… in triplicate… within our already bulging, computerized dossiers.

Thirdly… we are dealing with power-tripping, in CYA mode, muckety-mucks ISO our validation. Why must we legitimize their illegitimate terms / policies, which rarely, if ever, benefit anyone other than those who authored them? Let’s cut to the chase. What their tossed word salad is really saying is, “We choose to do whatever we damned please and you cannot do one damned thing about it!” One can practically hear their haughty “So theres!” and stuck out tongued, spit spewing Bronx cheers.

Fourthly… just what the hell does the word “agree” even mean, anymore, when it’s obtained by disagreeable coercion? And let’s not forget coercion’s passive cousin, “who” admonishes us that our very act of Logging In is akin to our agreeing to ALL of their mucked up terms… whether or not we’ve even skimmed over them.

Lastly… if we opt not to knuckle under to their high pressure, “my way or the highway” arrogance, the highway will be our reward.

Seeing how my POV could easily offend the ubiquitous, vengeful ISP and social network gods… this could result in my being summarily punished… oh… say… dropkicked out of cyberspace… real world exiled within climate change fried Dark Canyon and Dystopia USA. Fated to spend whatever time I have left stranded and stumbling about this sweltering, windswept, sandstorm prone, hellhole desert… tantalized by mirages of oases ahead… threatened by fanged rattlers aground… stalked by the starving buzzards circling above… birds of prey just “dying” for me to bite the dust.

Well, my friends, if any of you are out there… cruising and crisscrossing Dystopia’s system of crumbling highways and byways… should any of you just happen to find yourselves in the vicinity of DC… Dark Canyon… not THAT other DC… and you spot me staggering about…

Either pull over to rescue me… or… at the very least… try not to make roadkill out of me.

 

ADDENDUM: Hmmm… about the only thing worse than excessively long Terms of Service / Privacy Policy statements are the Terms of my long-read screed. Of course the big diff, here, is that you’ve read this voluntarily!

Even so… please forgive my long-windedness.