Important Things You Should Know About Me

I am luscious.

My physical beauty can be intimidating. As a consequence I have learned to pose in a manner that photographs in a shorter, wider and more hairless fashion.

Musical ignorance often causes the first-time listener to carelessly characterize my singing voice as “off-key”, when in fact “asynchronous atonality” would be a better, more purposeful description.

I would tell second-time listeners this, should they return.

Extreme bone density gifts me with incredible tensile strength. A minor side effect: Scales often report my weight erroneously. It’s a small price to pay to be this special.

I have deliberately pursued an all-organic musculature, masterfully capturing in miniature the curvature of the earth. It is the source of much warm commentary and some wonderment as I take my seat on many airplane flights.

I view my blood pressure as I would my savings account. Slow steady growth is regrettable, but inevitable in the current environment.

I believe a man’s home is his castle. The presence of a waste-filled moat or a few missing windows ensures historical veracity regardless of how Health Department invective would choose to describe it.

I also believe what one does in his own home — even if it is in brightly colored boxers in the absence of window treatments — is one’s own business, no matter what certain Victorian neighbors think.

It builds character to not tip the paperboy. It builds more character not to pay him at all.

A tip envelope, if carefully placed, can actually stay balanced on top of a log in a waste-filled moat. Not so much a paperboy. It’s an important learning moment.

Much food is wasted at any good restaurant. Consuming what others leave behind is both economical and laudable. It’s eco-friendly.

One should take care to distinguish between diners who have left the restaurant and those who have merely left to use the restroom, as some confusion can result if they return while you are recycling.

A good way to determine this is to check for the presence of a tip for the waiter. This also presents an opportunity to build character for the waiter.

Romantic relationships require lots of time and attention, but not too much time and attention. Restraining orders provide helpful guidance on this point.

I truly believe you can be anything you want to be. After all, that’s what the internet was invented for.  Again, restraining orders provide helpful guidance on this point.

I am very close to my parents. That is the benefit of a house having both an attic and basement. Both can be cozy, depending on the season. And good behavior.

I pride myself on being a good host.

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A Big Year of Bird-Braining

Every Birder a King!

The Big Year − an ambitious bit of branding avid bird watchers employ to anoint 365 days of their lonely, anal-retentive activity as meaningful by cataloguing every unique bird they see − as opposed to a non-Big Year, during which they do the same but don’t call it that − can often cause envy for those who have not yet attempted one. Whether you enjoy the thrill of the chase, the lack of qualifying events and referees or the Napoleon-like self-coronation that are mainstays of the event, it’s clear that the popularity of The Big Year will only continue to grow.

Starting your own Big Year can be especially challenging, however, if:

  1. You don’t know a lot about birds.
  2. You spend most of your daylight hours in an office or commuting to one.

Happily, it turns out that neither challenge is insurmountable. From the comfort of your OSHA-approved five-wheeled office chariot, you too can tap into the excitement of spotting some of the oddest birds on the planet right in your own work environment!

They include:

• The Double-Breasted Nesting Twitback: Often sighted gathering water in a too-precious individual coffee press it clasps slightly away from its body to attract other Twitback’s, this sensitive creature attempts to lure an office mate with exaggerated displays of comfortable mating habitats. The nesting cocoon it creates can often be identified by the presence of imitation oriental rugs placed on top of the preexisting office carpeting, framed fabric prints or a living room lamp on their desktop. A skittish bird, its numbers have been dwindling in recent years and care must be taken to quietly approach it. It does not mate well in captivity or for that matter in the wild.

• Massachusetts Bay Carrier Pigeon: Noted mostly for its dull grey plumage and off-white monogrammed pouches hanging from below its wings, these curious, waddling creatures tend to congregate in groups around subway entrances, elevator banks, commuter rails and any common food source, often disrupting the flight of more fleet-footed birds. An easy avian to spot for beginners.

• Cornish Cross Chicken in situ: A delicious blend of White Cornish and White Plymouth Rock Chicken, these slow moving birds are typically found between slices of white or wheat bread in most sandwich shops. Derided in recent years as a “total bloater” for Big Year lists due to its ubiquity, it nonetheless counts as a bird you have spotted. Pencil it in your list right now.

• Ageing Osprey: Dubbed “flightless” for their inability to travel anytime other than rush hour, often kept aloft by one, two or four-wheeled devices of their own making, these curious creatures can seem docile at first glance − but watch out! Their beaks are pointy and they can often be aggressive without provocation. White hair generally indicates the most senior birds.

• Sage Grouse: This not-too-difficult to spot fellow emits a characteristic call of “To-Wit know-it-all, To-Wit know-it-all” in an attempt to attract fellow birds to join its flock. It is common both indoors (near sources of water) and outdoors, often prowling train stations and other public platforms for interesting tidbits.

Rowanand Martins display vibrant plumage

• Rowanand Martins: These birds mate for life and often display a comical drunken dance. Plumage during mating rituals is famously colorful. Extremely rare, they mostly appear in 1960’s retrospectives late in the evening or early morning. They are a delightful addition to any list, although feared to be mostly extinct.

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When Breakfast Attacks

The PETC (People for the Ethical Treatment of Cereal) today called for a national boycott of all genetically modified breakfast foods that attempt to engage the consumer in conversations regarding the consumer’s health, nutritional choices or general level of morning fun.

“On a daily basis,  Americans  are confronted by an increasingly aggressive array of capering Pop-Tarts, dancing Cinnamon Toast Crunch and classroom-ready Mini-Wheats,” asserts a PETC press release. “What we choose to consume has a moral dimension. If it has a face and is capable of carrying on even a limited conversation with you, our stance is you shouldn’t be eating it, no matter how entertaining, charming or sweet it is. Even if it is sitting in your cereal bowl urging you to ‘bite me’ you should just say no.”

Cannibalistic, erotic or both?

Since the successful introduction of gene-splicing, hard-partying Hollywood celebrities and the man-on-the-street alike have seen the wisdom of keeping a spare liver or two growing in a petrie dish at the back of the fridge or an eyedropper of some frozen spawn on liguid nitrogen as insurance against uninteresting children, but no one looked beyond the immediate benefits of square tomatoes and self-buttering corn to the fateful intersection of genetically-engineered food with ambitious marketing.

“In retrospect,” says a PETC spokesperson,  “being chatted up by talking tigers, toucans or dancing leprechauns about our breakfast choices seemed perfectly harmless. The quantum leap came when  the food began to talk for itself, eliminating the advertising middle-man. We went from our cereal snap, crackle and popping to yelling at us bowl-side.

Yelling at us to consume them may be the least of our worries. Much has been written in the popular press recently about the predispostion of many breakfast foods to suffer from suicidal, masochistic or canabalistic tendencies. “When you couple these profiles with a constant proximity to childen you are just asking for trouble,” states a recent FDA clinical advisory. “Children often pit the cereals against each other, gladiator-style, with the victor often being fed to a larger pastry. It’s a grim spectacle to consider, before the school day even starts.”

Sapient Cereal: Are we playing God with Breakfast?

And one for which we have no cultural context. Our great-grand-parents came from hardier stock and contented themselves by starting the day with a bowl of rutabagas, dust and government butter. They had simple entertainments (principally religious intolerance, seltzer bottle fights and kite-flying with keys attached during lightning storms) and a comfort level with killing and eating anything slower than they were. They were happy to talk with their food, but certainly didn’t need or expect it to talk back.

Many clinical psychologists, genetic engineers and vending machine suppliers (who often get nipped by surly cereals while restocking) feel that we have reached a critical point in the evolution of our foodstuffs. Rumors of food riots (or more exactly, rioting food) in China have to date been unsubstantiated, but many feel it is simply a matter of time.

“We have been descending a slippery slope for at least a half a century,” states a PETC infomercial.  “Many now feel we face a day of reckoning. You are, after all, what you eat, but if we are not careful, we are what we eat will be eating.”

The FDA has rejected such warnings as “Needlessly provocative and overstated,” but has quietly confirmed that they are testing firetrucks retrofitted to spray two percent milk at great velocity “… as a reasonable precaution against unrest.”

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Secrets of Universe Revealed

A single deceased amateur scientist has been awarded the Noble Prize in Physics this year, for revealing the fundamental limits of the known universe, using a previously discredited theory he created over a half century ago in the Jungle of Nool.

The Nobel Prize

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) posited in widely distributed article in 1954 that the outer limits of the universe are determined neither by the universe expanding or contracting nor by dark matter but by the size of the dust spec it resides on, which in turn is situated on a dandelion held by a large elephant named Horton.

Widely derided as “… a slap in the face of quantam mechanics … ” by scientists of the day, Geisel frequently defended his theory by pointing out that Einstein himself introduced into his famous 1917 equation “… a fudge factor as big as an elephant …” used to stabilize the universe against collapse. Geisel’s contention that it was a literal elephant received little support from the physics community for more than five decades.

Subsequent cosmological measurements that occurred early in 2000 revealed that there was a dome-like aspect to the outer limits of the universe, often described as a “dandelion-like in structure” by younger researchers. This struck a chord with many older theoreticians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Princeton Institute for Theoretical Physics, among others, all of whom attempted to identify the shape of the gravitation surrounding the dandelion.

It turned out to be elephantine in nature.

Geisel's Horton Effect

Geisel’s theory, now validated by years of independent correlation from the globe’s top research entities and the awarding of the coveted Nobel, has now resulted in a full-scale retreat from the Einstein-era dream of a single final theory of nature and the assumption that there is only a single universe capable of supporting life. Speculation has already begun on what Horton himself may be sitting on.

Peter T. Hooper will accept the Nobel on behalf of Geisel

Accepting the award on behalf of the deceased Geisel will be long-time family friend Peter T. Hooper.

“This is the most startling discovery in physics since I have been in the field,” said Vlad Vladikoff, one-time vitriolic critic of Geisel’s theory and now an enthusiastic convert. “But that’s how science works. Yesterday’s hokum is today’s reality. I only wish Ted were here to see  it.”

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Clipboard Zombies

They come to protect the environment, they come to end hunger, they come to save the children, eliminate disease and get you right with God,  but mostly − if you are walking down any street in any major American city pressed for time − they come for you.

You know the type. Earnest. Big smiles. Primary color t-shirts to identify them as official, unlicensed nuisances fighting the good fight for fundraising. They have their patter, they have their pens, their forms and their clipboards. They have their urgent, urgent needs. But what they really want is a moment of your time. Just a moment. A small one. Would that be okay?

Charity Girl

So how do you respond? The 100-yard stare seems like a cruel and unwarranted rebuff to their doe-eyed appeal. Barking out “No thanks!” reduces them and their do-good work to the level of panhandler. Plus, it’s not very creative. They try very hard to  interrupt you from your appointed rounds. Singing, dancing, joking, complimenting, they are masters at a certain level of street entertainment, the lowest rung of the showbiz ladder, but a rung nonetheless. Don’t they deserve your best effort in return?

Of course they do.  But it’s hard to bring your A-game when you’re headed somewhere else. They have had, after all, the benefit of professional training, hours of rehearsal and usually a partner to feed them their lines if they blank out − what do you have, besides a  real job you’re sneaking out from for a few moments,   a screaming child in reluctant tow or an urgent need to find a rest room? That’s why it’s best to be prepared. Keep this script of ten simple responses handy for the next time you are approached by a clipboard zombie on the street. Use each in rotation to keep it fresh. You’ll be glad you did.

CUE ZOMBIE: As your stalker starts their approach, smile and act encouraging. There’s no need to be rude! As they start their spiel, you say:

10.) “There are three people meeting me, but they aren’t here yet. Can you seat me now, or do I have to wait?”

9.) “It’s always about your needs! I want, I want, I want. When do I get to live my life?”

8.)  “Please, no autographs before the matinee.”

7.) Place your hand on their clipboard, lean in and ask confidentially, “Is there anywhere close by that sells adult diapers? I mean really close by?”

6.) Repeat everything they ask back to them in an increasingly confused tone. Do not break eye contact.

5.)  Look deeply disappointed, then say in a very small voice, “You and I talked not more than 15 minutes ago. Don’t you remember me? I thought you really cared.”  Stomp off.

4.) Pause after each question, look thoughtful, and quack.

3.) Ask if you can borrow their pen, then leave with it.

2.) Compliment them with the statement, “Most people are so prissy about Anthrax. I’m glad you’re different.” Pat them appreciatively on the hand, then mutter, “Damn.”

1.) Ask them if they would be willing to barter for help. Mention your house needs painting.

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Scourge of Tap Dancing Eliminated at Dawn of 21st Century

Although cautiously optimistic, the Centers for Disease Control today released preliminary data which indicates that tap dancing — once a national scourge that impacted every strata of American society from the lowliest cartoon mouse to the slickest Newport gadabout — now looks to go the way of scarlet fever, polio and malaria in the western world.

“A precipitous decline in new cases coupled with an aggressive campaign of indifference and general growth of team-based dancing leads us to conclude the virus is in a state of genetic collapse,” states the press release.

Tap dancing is a spectrum disease, opportunistic and aggressive, often leaving its victims suffering from relentless, irritating syncopation of the extremities. It can manifest itself at any age, often striking male sufferers individually and females in coordinated groups.

Outbreaks peaked during the great depression — when the nation could ill afford to turn its attention away from the serious business of collecting gravy boats, selling apples and developing real estate board games modeled on the street names of Atlantic City. The movie palaces of the day, with their densely populated environments, ready supply of sugary starter culture and single source of light proved the perfect incubator for the pandemic to flourish. It was estimated that at its height, nearly 80% of all of the nation’s cinema railroad porters and close to 100% of the nation’s liveried domestic servants may have fallen victim to tap.

Patient Zero, source of the 20th Century tap pandemic

By the mid-1930’s children were often the carriers of the disease and severely impacted, with the presence of curly golden locks and patent leather shoes often a portent of the full-blown spastic dementia to come. Through substantial forensic detective work, the CDC has identified a Patient Zero — dubbed “Shirley” by the medical profession to protect her identify — a hyperactive and über-social five-year old who exposed an entire generation to the illness. The resulting panic resulted in a global collapse of the miniature tuxedo and cane markets.

Late-stage sufferers of Tap often experience waves of Astairism, a rapid thrusting of the extremities away from the torso.

Tap manifests itself differently based on the age of the individual. Late Onset Tap — dubbed “the butler’s friend” — is characterized by a compulsive desire to go up and down staircases repeatedly while at the same time indulging in patter songs. Often a therapeutic three-step “stairway to nowhere” is utilized to prevent mishap for homebound victims.

With their diminished capacity, reduced motor skills and odd aromas, even the elderly aren’t entirely safe from tap’s pernicious grasp. “Sand dancing” — the so-called “shingles of tap”— often left senior citizens spasmodically shuffling in the dirt in 1/4 time.  A video of octogenarian George Burns pretending to sprinkle sand to the floor, his feet shuffling back-and-forth as an off-camera metal brush was dragged across snare drums to pacify him was a med school training staple, illustrating the classic manifestation of the disease in senior citizens.

Although the Great Depression was the zenith of 20th Century tap, long-term exposure paralyzed American entertainment for decades. Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, no talk show or family entertainment was entirely safe from a spontaneous eruption. Shields & Yarnell syndrome, a particularly deviant mutation, combined strains of tap dancing and mime to particularly painful effect. Even the Muppets — notable for their charm, talent and lack of lower extremities that would seem to be a fundamental requirement for tap dancing — were not exempt from the disease.

By the end of the last century, tap was nearly extinct. A virulent form of Irish Step Dancing — which much of the public confuses with tap dancing — erupted without warning on public television in the early 1990s. In fact, scientists today understand that the characteristic symptoms of this disease — stomping in place like a toddler, constricted twisting and prancing — all performed with impeded flow and increasing urgency — are now more closely associated with urinary tract infections than they are with tap dancing. The outbreak faded in less than a decade.

Young children continue to be at risk. Buck N. Wing, spokesman for the CDC, concedes that “Our work is far from over. But tap dancing today is mostly confined to regional beauty pageants and community audition talent shows. We do expect most children — with therapy and appropriate medical treatment — to recover from these outbreaks. I would categorize tap dancing now as more of a childhood nuisance, rather than a national issue.”

For scientific purposes, a statistically significant laboratory sample will be maintained at Radio City Music Hall. The CDC hastens to add that this is not a viable organism, but rather a sample of a dead culture.

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2011 Census: Legos Outpace Humans by 4,000%

It’s that time of year, when we turn to review the results of one the most fundamental charters of our Constitution and profile ourselves as a household, peering deep into the mirror to see just what we have become.  Our census takers have been busy during the first quarter, fanning out across the vast territories of our sovereign domesticity to take a statistical snapshot that accurately captures We, the People.

I would now like to share the results.

I am startled to report that current trending indicates our household continues to outpace present-day averages for reproduction and housing density in both India and China. Combined. And multiplied. Our 2011 population hovers at 1,284 individuals, a staggering increase of 4,000% over our last annual census, capturing all adult males, females, children and Lego mini-figures currently in residence.

This figure does not include heads without bodies or bodies without heads.

A gorgeous mosaic. All on the living room floor.

Interpreting the raw census data can be challenging, but it provides some fascinating insights.  For example, the tallest members of our society  (those over five feet) are also our oldest; together,  both of these individuals represent just .16% of our total population.   Individuals under four feet but over 4.1 cm tall also represent  .16% of the demographic but 100% of the “boys-ten years-old-and-under” category. This second cohort is growing − albeit slowly − and is extremely unlikely to reproduce in great numbers before the next census.

Not so for the 1,280 individuals (99.69%) at 4.1 cm or below. It is this group that is exhibiting the most dramatic population growth and displaying the widest-ranging diversity in terms of color, interest, and occupation  (but oddly, not head shape). This rapidly evolving generation, dubbed “Lego Nation” by some household pundits, threatens to unravel basic assumptions about the fundamental composition of our family unit.

Who are “Lego Nation”? They are a diverse group, heavily segmented, vocation-based and generally hard-working.  Many are foreign nationals from island nations — principally pirates, skeletons, gypsies and a small but vital and growing community of Ninja warriors. The population of Santa Claus impersonators continues to grow at a steady rate of two per year, indicating the likely presence of advent calendars.

What are they hard at work at? Construction-related industries continues to profile heavily in the living room and vast portions of the upstairs bedrooms as deeply blue collar. Marine Biology and Aerospace are the mainstay white collar professions, likely due to iterative submarine development  programs and extensive outer space (Star Wars) defense technology industry growth, centered primarily in the living room and bathrooms, with a scattering of support services across all sampled districts. City workers continue to be housed in close proximity to the distribution centers of the services they provide. Little is known of the Lego populations in the cellar and attic areas but they are  presumed to be statistically insignificant.

Experts remain sharply divided on what rate of growth is reasonable, but are in agreement that the current pace is unsustainable. “Where once you had a steady influx of singles, of couples, you now see whole Death Star populations arriving at our doorstep,” said one frowny-faced source who declined to be identified. “This is just crazy.”

A close review of the data indicates mass immigration tends to come in waves, with Q4 of each year showing a heavy influx, particularly around the holiday season. Smaller waves have been noted to coincide with birthdays, holidays and major medical procedures, although it’s hard to interpret the precise meaning of these outbreaks — they may well be statistical anomalies.

The Happy Family. The appearance of smaller, younger Legos implies they can now reproduce. Darwinism or Extraterrestrial intervention at work?

The most disturbing new trend appears to furnish evidence that the Legos have finally mastered the ability to self-replicate. Sightings of micro-figures − small creatures 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a normal Lego figure − are gaining in frequency. Previously it had been thought the ability to exchange body parts was de facto evidence that it was biologically impossible for Legos to reproduce.

Our household remains divided about the meaning of this new phenomena. Some feel it is the natural path of evolution, other point to the very real presence of Martians and their attendant advanced technology as the likely source of this surprising new capability (doubt remains,  as Martians tend to show up only as the subjects of alien autopsies and thus would presumably be unwilling to help further expand their oppressors footprint).

Currently, Legos have no voting rights in our house, no form of collective bargaining, no participation in any form of representative democracy. While it is true they are among our homes most prolific, flexible and entertaining performers, we and not they are the native population. Fear of this status quo changing is clearly the root cause of the concern of the current majority regarding reproductive issues.

Much has been written of late regarding the occasional diasporas that drive the various Lego populations from the living room to the bedroom, den and beyond. These are viewed by the 5-plus crowd (slang for the administration, those over five feet) as necessary to the efficient running of an orderly society. The 5-minus crowd often represents this activity as clear evidence of the oppressor’s hand being applied without just cause against a defenseless peoples (of which they consider themselves and Legos to be a part). The official take on this charge by the administration is that it is just so much agitprop.

What is clear is that with the increased population comes  increasing acts of violent protest. The number of reported battery incidents  (typically visited upon the soft, fleshy arch of the foot in the dead of night as the 5-plus go about their rounds) has been growing exponentially.

The administration’s take on these recent outbursts is clear: “We are all Americans, whether we be mini-figures, micro-figures or just plain full-figured. Can’t we all just get along?”

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The People vs. Bruce Wayne

Perp walk or cakewalk for billionaire Wayne?

Your honor, ladies and gentleman of the jury, your patience during this trial has been truly remarkable. I will not tax it any further by a long closing statement, but will instead restrict myself to a simple summary of the facts, for those will be more than enough to prove the case against the defendant.

The papers have long enjoyed detailing the more salacious nocturnal details of the playboy who sits before you. They certainly haven’t slackened their pace during this trial, where an even more amazing hidden life has emerged.  You or I may not be able to understand why a man with so many obvious advantages chooses to spend his early morning hours in the throes of what appears to be a variety of heroic cross-dressing with an animal theme, but let me be clear: his lifestyle choices as a Bat-Man are not what are on trial today.

What is on trial is the singular arrogance of one of the city’s most wealthy men.  To Mr. Wayne’s mind,  the rules, regulations and customs of our social contract simply do not apply to those of substantial means. At every level of local, state and federal government, Mr. Wayne has seen fit to thumb his nose at the rules that govern every other citizen’s life.

You will recall our story and this trial  began when an employee of Gotham Power and Light — in investigating why a collection of buildings as large as Wayne Manor could be consuming so few billable kilowatt hours — was astonished during a routine meter inspection to find what amounted to an unlicensed nuclear reactor in Mr. Wayne’s basement, powering a mixed-used facility totally in violation of all relevant zoning laws. In sworn testimony, GP&L inspectors refuted the premise that this was some sort of Green energy prototype,  pointing out that the reactor was in no way “off the grid” — allowing Mr. Wayne to potentially release unchecked an amount of energy into residential power lines that could literally burn Gotham City to the ground. Counsel’s suggestion that in fact Mr. Wayne required access to the city’s grid for additional power to complete certain “alternate universe” experiments strike many as an ad hoc justification with no credible scientific basis.

The reactor, of course, was not the only thing that was  discovered underneath Wayne Manor.

In the interest of time, I will not review the photographs and videos that were exhibited and entered into evidence earlier in this trial. Nor will I speculate on what sort of cold war mindset must have motivated Mr. Wayne to create over the last few decades what amounts to his own personal Greenbriar Bunker. The cave discovered beneath Wayne Manor is  a modern day King Tut’s tomb, with the exception being the King still walks among us. Or sits directly in the dock to your left. Instead of filling his cave with gold, however, Mr. Wayne chose to create a bizarre, high-tech, end-of-days warehouse, replete with planes, helicopters, boats, rich-boy souvenirs and even a tony English butler to bring him his tea and toast when a busy night of “crime fighting” left him too taxed to open the fridge himself. Too tired, ladies and gentleman? What sort of  crimes was this orphaned son of a society doctor fighting ? Outbreaks of Starlet Fever?  Or were there perhaps other reasons Mr. Wayne couldn’t rise from his seat?

These are excellent questions that Mr. Wayne refuses to answer. Alfred Pennyworth, the putative butler, could probably answer them as he was presumably more lucid than Mr. Wayne during this period. What does the butler know? This court  can’t ask him, of course, because we can’t find him! This is a familiar problem with illegal aliens serving in a domestic capacity for the very wealthy. Rest assured, like his master, Alfred will eventually be brought to justice.

The Gotham Registry of Motor Vehicles spent several days with us, confirming the lack of licensing for any of the vehicles located within Mr. Wayne’s man cave − I’m sorry, your honor, point taken − his Bat Cave − or any sort of regular safety inspection of said vehicles.  Admittedly, the statutes governing what Mr. Wayne describes as the BatBoat and BatWaterSki are open to interpretation, but the concerns surrounding the BatCopter, BatPlane and BatJetpack − all apparently homemade aviation projects involving turbines, jet fuel and a variety of jerry-rigged controls − are currently the subject of an FAA investigation. Yet despite the danger to innocent citizens, Mr. Wayne repeatedly saw fit to fly and occasionally crash these contraptions within city limits without so much as a learner’s permit. Or a clean-up, after the fact. I guess Mr. Wayne was too used to the butler taking care of this sort of detail.

It goes without saying that the storage and launch of these devices next to a home-made fuel dump within the cave is − on its own — a substantial violation of federal law. The EPA has also weighed in on the non-standard storage of aviation fuel, marine-grade diesel and a variety of industrial grade heavy machine lubricants in said subterranean bunker. There is no record of any inspection ever having taken place at this facility.

Considerable discussion was also held during this trial by experts over the advisability of grafting a recycled jet engine on a 1955 Lincoln Futura for the purposes of personal transportation. While we can all admire the technical skill it took to do so, this is not “street legal” − as Mr. Wayne’s counsel posits −  just because there is no regulation prohibiting jet-powered crime cars on Gotham streets.  There is a place for driving such “Franken-cars”, and that is the Gotham Speedway, where ambulances and firetrucks stand by to rescue daredevils and the spoiled rich from their four-wheeled follies. Additionally, the prosecution has entered into evidence a careful review of the 911 dispatch records for the last ten years which reveal a disproportionate number of calls to the Gotham Fire Department to extinguish brush fires on the road leading to the entrance of Mr. Wayne’s estate. The cost of every trip out there was of course borne by the taxpayer.

Counsel maintains that much of the extensive iron and electrical work in the man cave − I’m sorry, your honor, BATcave − is grandfathered in requiring no permits be presented. Suffice it to say that the various Gotham trade unions have a very different take on the matter, and are pursuing additional detail regarding the use of non-union labor with apparently no payroll, health care or workman’s comp benefits recorded by Mr. Wayne. In fact, no record whatsoever of their existence can be found. Perhaps the workman are vacationing with Mr. Pennyworth.

I’m sure everyone in this room has seen the speculation in the tabloids about the trophy room Mr. Wayne maintains. While no one can fault a man of Mr. Wayne’s means for maintaining what amounts to a private museum of curiosities under his home, the EPA has serious concerns about his adherence to existing watershed and wildlife protection acts in the cave. Gotham’s trade unions have also pointed out that the transport of gigantic robotic dinosaurs, car-sized pennies and playing cards scaled to fit highway billboards would likely require a first-class crane operator’s license, which Mr. Wayne also has failed to produce.

The Gotham Department of Youth Services was kind enough to share with us their thoughts around the extralegal adoption of circus orphans, and as you all recall, were not at all happy with Mr. Wayne on several fronts. You have heard from Mr. Wayne’s ward, Dick Grayson, about the constant physical activity he was compelled to undertake on a nightly basis — ludicrously described as “training exercises” by Mr. Wayne — while forced to wear motion-restricting tights in a dank, guano-laden underground  “gymnasium” with inadequate ventilation. This would hardly be an appropriate  place for an incarcerated individual to be held, never mind a young man in the full flower of his youth.

Finally, I think many of us will be forever haunted by Mr. Wayne’s bizarre description of his adoption of Mr. Grayson at this hearing, a version of which I am told he is fond of telling whenever he introduces his ward at social functions and charity fundraisers.  If I may quote from the record:

“… he fell off of his trapeze and into my arms. I have not let go of him since …”

which struck our court-appointed psychologist in expert testimony here as:

“… far too dismissive of the homicide that was the direct antecedent of Mr. Grayson living under Mr. Wayne’s roof and patronage and not without a large creep factor in its own right. I am additionally concerned with the long-term impact of repeatedly referring to Mr. Grayson as the ‘boy wonder’. The constant juvenilizing of Mr. Grayson at the same time he is being repeatedly exposed to dangerous and adult situations cannot fail to impact his normal growth and understanding of what it is to be a man.”

We come now to the subject of the Cray Super computer, currently impounded by the National Security Agency. This will be the subject of its own legal action, but I point out to those who feel Mr. Wayne’s activities were eccentric but essentially a victimless crime,  that Mr. Wayne’s arrogance extended to the ambitious hacking of every level of police agency in this country. His contention that he “did a better job” than traditional law enforcement agencies in sifting through that data to catch “criminal master minds” does not seem to be born out in practice. Does it in fact take gigflops worth of processing to capture a man who thinks he is a penguin, a sad circus clown or an individual who prances around in a body stocking decorated with question marks?  Are you comfortable with him having access to all of your personal information  as a byproduct of this “crime-fighting?” These are not super villains, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, these are emotionally compromised individuals who are nevertheless entitled to the same rights as any citizen. The right to a fair trial, the right to be judged by a jury of their peers and the right to not be stored in close proximity to what amounts to a likely superfund hazard site should not be a judgement call made by one man with unlimited resources.

Officials at Gotham’s Arkham Asylum have also pointed out − thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request − that the rate of recidivism of those individuals successfully imprisoned as a result of Mr. Wayne’s vigilantilism is shockingly high. In fact, it amounts to something of a revolving door. It is hard to prosecute based on the methodology of his citizen’s arrest.  The courts have been quite clear on whether Miranda rights are “optional” as the defendant puts it; they are  not something to be thrown out the window just because you or your target or both are wearing what amounts to feety pajamas.

The preponderance of evidence against Mr. Wayne is extensive, crossing multiple jurisdictions; his actions are consistently dangerous, potentially impacting many, many lives. If he were a poor man — roaring through the night in a halloween costume in his uninsured, unregistered vehicle, forcing a minor to perform circus tricks in a darkened cellar where he kept all manner of home-made go-karts and explosive devices, providing energy to his home with illegal and dangerous wiring — rather than a well-heeled, prominent society toff,  we would not be hesitating one moment to get him the help he deserves. Do not hesitate to use the same standards of judgement, justice and compassion against one who was so fortunately gifted. If we allow him to walk out that door into the dark night,  we will be encouraging a world where anyone can don a mask, slip on an opera cape and swing from our highest buildings in an outfit more befitting a fashion runway than an officer of the law, dispensing justice as they see fit. Do you really want to live in a society like that?

The prosecution rests, your honor.

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Motherblogs: Do you need to Pepys?

For those who have made the perilous passage,  becoming and enduring as a parent is the great adventure of ones adult lifetime, a magical mystery tour with no posted stops or scripted ending. Or at least that’s what the brochure says. With its staggering profundity and mind-numbing repetition, you realize (too late!) that by becoming a parent you have also just entered the ultimate triathalon, taxing your health, sanity and soul — a grueling test of character spanning the rest of your lifetime.  It’s as if the first leg of the Tour de France was up the side of Mount Everest, to be followed by a time trial to Mars. For those who have not made the journey, it’s impossible to put into words.

Until the advent of the Motherblog, that is.

Not the Mother of all blogs (there’s a nice picture of him below) but the Motherblog, which chronicles the pilgrimage from me to we with the ditzy self-absorption that can only come from someone whose brain is being tsunamied with mind-altering hormones.  In the past, such rantings were contained to localized outburts at La Leche League meetings. Now,  no aspect of the journey no matter how deeply personal or profoundly intestinal is the subject of a few hundred thousand words. Every day. Perhaps even every hour of every day.

For example, say you are a new mom with a stoppered tot. Plenty of blogs cater to your needs to share this startling turn of events. On one of those sites, you might well write:

“… Zoltar is having constipation problem since we moved here.. We gave her stool softener, laxatives, took her to doc which ended up having miralax everyday and not drinking milk at all and the problem is still there. Last week we thought of giving a last try and decided to put medicine in the other end before taking her to doc who we know would want us to go for some strong meds…”

Is this the ultimate legacy of Samuel Pepys?   If you were Zoltar (I have changed the name to protect the innocent) can you imagine reviewing this as a mature 18 year-old (with presumably a high-fiber diet)? No, of course not. Even Zoltar isn’t interested. If a blocked baby blog falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?

This is, of course, the yin and yang,  risk and reward of blogging. You now have an infinitely larger potential audience, but that audience can chose to ignore you. Globally.

Luckily, there is a potential solution. It’s the same solution that usually works whenever we have an abundance of something that no one wants. We just need to brand Motherblogs © ® ™.  Couldn’t we connect thousands of unemployed journalists with the motherblogistas to punch them up? Eh, I mean punch up their blogs?

For example:

Tabloid style:

“… friends indicated that after an all-night drinking binge, the hard pAArtying Zoltar remains sluggish and unresponsive. Investigating reports of incoherent screaming coming day and night from his crib, police report the presence of prescription meds and a topless woman…”

Fox News Style:

“… subsidizing the cost of medication is not the answer to this problem. If Zoltar is so foolish as to get himself into a jam, he should have the intestinal fortitude to get himself out of this predicament. When will the liberals stop babying people like Zoltar …”

NY Times Style:

“… His face grimacing in pain, his bedclothes strewn about the room, Mr. Zoltar may well require a complex amalgamation of physical therapy, medication and counseling to resolve the issues currently facing him. Unable to comment directly, Zoltar indicated through his representatives that he was extemely distressed over recent events …”

We need to help all MotherBlogs realize their full potential. Self-awareness is like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon for the new parent. It takes time. Within the first year, one starts to dimly perceive that the entire world may actually not be interested in a real-time recitation of the progress of your precious mini-me. Secretly, new parents take solace in the fact that although “stories about the baby” may not entertain a  general audience in hour number two, but in your very special inner circle of newborn parents who are also parents of newborns you share an intense delight in sharing such material. In fact, five years into the parental role, you will realize that no one is actually listening in these exhanges, they are merely waiting to start their serial monologue, usually with “…yes, well that’s exactly like…” which likely will have nothing to do whatsoever with what preceded it, as they really weren’t listening. Which of course, you won’t catch, because you are not listening either. This can come as a quite a disappointment. With your fellow parents, of course.

The situation can become far worse when in conversation with non-breeders. Puerile by Proxy, is a condition by which a child-free participant interrupts the sui generis child monologue with a declaration of bathos, announcing: “Well, I know exactly what you mean. I have cats, and in many ways they are exactly like children. ”

Well, not exactly. True , both will bring you things they have killed for approval and attention (see Norman Bates, for example), but unless the aspirational goal for your child is to have her star in a home movie where she uses the toilet rather than the litter box, I think it best to compare having pets to taking care of an invalid albeit a cute invalid, and one that doesn’t reminisce.

Still, I think there is a time and place to celebrate Fido’s every bon mot. The time is later, and the place is a pet blog (or PetBlog © ® ™). Where there is likely great advice for a clogged Corgi or bottled Boxer.

The Root Cause of Blogging

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Ten Things Television Has Taught Me

10.) Nine out of ten of us will die in a manner requiring a procedurally vague autopsy. The public will generally attend to help direct the Medical Examiner. The tenth person will be either a cyborg or a space alien. They will be very annoyed when they catch their fake skin on something (often a bullet) revealing their shiny undercarriage.

9.) We love looking at nature almost as much as we love eating it. For every living thing that crawls, hops, swims, canters or waves in the breeze  there is a matching slow-motion documentary and hopeful mouth, waiting to lecture us about how to prepare said life before popping it into aforementioned mouth and consuming it.

8.) We are very afraid of something eating us and like to watch others in situations where they escape this fate at the jaws and paws of alligators, polar bears and sharks. The cyborgs could care less about this fact but the aliens are very, very interested. As a race, we may have to accept that, we too, taste like chicken.

7.) Doctors never think inside the box. They are creatures of impulse, who must fight those who have been exhaustively trained to carefully eliminate possible false leads. They are deeply eccentric and not prone to procedural methods. Also, the more brilliant they are, the less likely they remember to shave.

6.) Stand-up comedians on late night talk shows  look like television news anchors, television news anchors earlier in the night look like catalogue models and actual models look mostly to launch fragrance lines, as it is hard for a smell to lose its looks.

5.) Although the great pyramid and space shuttle were interesting diversions, the real purpose of millions of years of human evolution and thousands of years of human engineering have been dedicated to  a single, important goal: A really close shave. All men and many women’s legs know this to be true. As do the cyborgs and space aliens, who are universally shiny or smooth.

4.) Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook which enables TMI (too much information) about people you don’t know to be indexed on a global database, Oprah created all other forms of communication and The Donald invented Trump, which is a type of licensed brand of superlative self-importance. New York is particularly large consumer of this brand.

3.) On television women long to surprise men by joining them in the shower and frequently do so. This results only in a prolonged kissing before the commercial break. Men also long to surprise women by joining them in the shower and frequently do so. This results in the men starring in their own procedurally vague autopsy after the commercial break.

2.) Real life is often boring; reality television, more so. Fun fact: If you place two television monitors so they face one another, each playing a different reality show, it will produce an effect of infinite progression, similar to standing in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. If one of the programs playing on the televisions features Donald Trump, the progression effect will be greater than Versailles. It will, in fact be the greatest effect of all time. Ever. Especially in New York.

10.) Crime is on the rise, with the incidence of mugging skyrocketing. Children, sadly, are most often the perpetrators, and have a natural advantage. With their defenseless, oversized heads mounted on their undersized bodies, they only need the circumstance of an eponymously named half-hour program on the Disney channel to serve as the tipping point to a regrettable life of spastic, overloud reaction shots. As their jazz-hands windmill, their eyes bulge and their small mouths present a rictus of manufactured glee battering the viewer for a big laugh, it is perhaps the saddest lesson television has taught me. Also, they are millionaires before they reach puberty, never a very good combination.

Blueprint for Higher Learning: Farnsworth's TV Patent

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