Saturday, December 22, 2007

Black Bart

Howdy folks!

Pull up and rest a spell, as I introduce you to the baddest gunslinger these parts have seen in quite some time. Ladies and gents, meet Black Bart.

Chapter I: The Early Days

They say the storm came out of nowhere that January morning when Black Bart made his first appearance. Most folks had never before seen both snow and lightning all at the same time, except perhaps during one of Lamby's Wicca Rituals. There wasn't the instantaneous bonding between a mother and her child that you so often learn about from the Hallmark Channel, but Rosemary had remarkably flexible standards and did eventually adapt to her son after little time had passed. And he in turn took to her breasts as if he had already known of their usefulness from past lives, or perhaps from an innate awareness of the postings on Limpy's blog.

He brought into this world a head of hair as black as Sassy Blondie's heart, and it wasn't long before his body was covered as well (perhaps this was how he differed from Sassy, perhaps not). It was around this time that he acquired his nickname, though it had yet to strike fear in the hearts of both the evil and innocent the way it does today.

If judging by appearance alone, Black Bart was a handsome and appealing young lad, pure as an Altar Boy, and unfortunately for his innocence, just as deferential to authority figures. But there was always an uncertain uneasiness about him. You see, he had a knack for taking an innocent rite of rural adolescence, and twisting it into something perverse or sadistic.

He would earn pennies by shoveling the neighbors' steps and walkways, just for them to subsequently discover - at the most inopportune moments - that their outhouses had completely been filled in with the removed snow.

Oh sure, lots of youngsters would steal the occasional apple pie from the window ledge where it had been left to cool. But only Black Bart would leave the pie in place, carefully extracting only the filling and placing a rat trap under the undisturbed top crust.

Other times he would wear a cap that he turned slightly sideways, and head down to the train depot with his shoeshine kit. Looking like a hapless orphan, he would dupe travelers into 5-cent shines. Often they would tip him a few pennies more for the mirror-like gloss he would coax out of their footwear, only to realize that he had used a razor knife to score the leather so that it would separate from the soles after a half-dozen steps.

And did anyone ever again trust the rope swing by the watering hole after Black Bart was through stringing grids of barbed wire (stolen, of course) beneath the water just far enough to not be seen from above?

The Annual Barn Dance was always THE social event of the season to look forward to, that is, UNTIL Black Bart. What compelled him to lace the punch with laxatives and nail the restroom doors shut? And wasn't that enough to satisfy him? Was it really necessary to pile manure in front of every exit and stampede the horses through as well?

What inspired him to convince the chubby kid down the road that he should carve his own baseball bat out of that lightning-damaged hickory tree? Was it a rare case of encouragement and friendship? Perhaps we will never know, as the same bat - soon after its creation - was later found at the scene of a grisly crime, covered in blood. The chubby kid was quickly convicted and sent away to do hard time at Pelican Island, and hasn't been able to speak since.

Maybe this final "attempt gone awry" to "reach out" to the community and make a positive difference is what finally turned Black Bart onto the dark path of outlaw and gunslinger. Your guess is as good as mine. This will give you something to chew on until our next chapter. Until then, keep your weapons holstered, but keep on the lookout for that desperado known as Black Bart.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Presidential Trivia - XVI thru XX

Hi everybody,

"At Last" is not just an Etta James tune, it's probably what some, okay ... none, of you are thinking upon spotting something new here on "Why oh why".

So what WOULD you say to a brand new, brilliantly crafted post? Who wouldn't say yes? Well, would you be willing to settle for the latest installment of Presidential Trivia? Good, I thought so. Okay, here goes.

16) Abraham Lincoln - Little is known of this President, as there are few - if any - books on the man. So all that remains are hearsay and barroom talk, passed down through the generations. In fact, learning about Mr. Lincoln from those wise old sages in taverns and watering holes is the main reason so many underage youths are infatuated with gaining entry to those establishments. To them, I say, wait your turn, Sunny Jim, the time will come when you can legally learn about our 16th* (* so my "fact-checkers" tell me) President.

Here's what I've been able to piece together. He was informally known as "Honest Abe", but apparently not so much for his honesty, than as a sarcastic moniker noting the lack of it. Turns out that some of you are probably more honest than this shyster. Except maybe for Corn Dog. The origin of this nickname appears to stem from Abe's days as a Horse and Buggy Trader, where he gained a reputation for emancipating folks from their cash, employing many of the shady practices that we still see today. Using a fishing pole with a dollar bill to lure dopes onto the lot? Abe was the first. Injecting sawdust to hide equine lower intestinal problems? You guessed it: he also pioneered that nefarious trick.

But strangely, both law practice and politics have a cleansing effect, along with a way of sweeping past bad deeds under the carpetbag, and as such, this is the path that Abe chose. Yet, the shenanigans did not stop altogether, as he continued to scam and ridicule. At the end of a Pro Bono case, he would get his client drunk, and attempt to collect; claiming that Pro Bono was Latin for "in favor of penises, not stiffing the attorney". If the client was an attractive woman, he was notorious for whipping out the "Lincoln Log" a la Clinton, thus inspiring the children's toy set. Also of note, the word "plaintiff" was allegedly coined by Abe as a derisive slap at the typical accuser, who was usually plain-looking at best, and seemingly always in a "tiff" with somebody.

In particular, his foray into law produced - as is always the case - a resulting over-amplification of his narcissistic personality, and he was known to bop down the street flashing in sign language both an "A" and an "L" to passersby. His famous statue in the Lincoln Memorial beautifully captures his hands "signing" in this manner. Unfortunately, variants of this gesture were adopted by carriage riders and street punks alike, a tradition that carries on to this very day (Lamby's middle-finger wave when changing lanes, to cite one example).

Lincoln's term as President was - per my sources - uneventful. He wasn't the worst President we've had, so I suppose by that low standard he did a good job keeping things together. Probably the only remarkable event was the manner of his death at the hand of a disgruntled former customer from the carriage dealership days, who shouted, "Sick Sonofabichin Tradein!" during the dirty deed, which apparently is Latin for "tired of being Bono'd".

17) Andrew Johnson - Was the first President to be impeached, probably because of a Time Traveller who reported to Congress that Johnsons make shitty Presidents. He was an ineffective leader, and the Southern Reconstruction debacle started under his watch. But how effective would you be, if all the time you were Lincoln's Vice-President, he introduced you to those present by loudly proclaiming, "Allow me to whip out my Johnson"? It got old real fast for everyone, but by that time the die had been cast; and everywhere he went, people would throw condoms at him.

18) Ulysses S. Grant - Was yet another military hero who became a mediocre President (and thank you SO much for paving that particular route, George Washington ... did anyone note the sarcasm? Well, aren't you all so damned observant). Unfortunately, my friends, Julian Lennon was no John Lennon; and Grant was no Washington. His administration was both negligent and corrupt. And there's a reason his name is so similar to "useless".

However, in his favor, the Secret Service WAS instituted during his Presidency, and as a fan of "The Wild Wild West" (the TV show, not the movie), this was a major coup. James West and his sidekick Artemus Gordon worked for the United States Secret Service, and it was their duty to keep the country safe from a large assortment of evil geniuses and their wicked schemes. Blending elements from The Man from U.N.C.L.E., James Bond, and the ever popular western, our two heroes rode the rails in a private train fighting many a bad guy.

19) Rutherford B. Hayes - Be honest (not in the opposite fashion, like "Honest" Abe, but in the literal sense). How many of you, when reading the name "Rutherford B. Hayes", thought he was a pimp? I know I did. But as it turns out, there WAS also a President by that name. Here ... let me go look some crap up on him and report back .... .... .... okay, I'm back. Here's what I stole and bastardized, er, here's what I learned.

Mark Twain (author of "Huck Finn" and other fine works of American literature) stumped for Hayes. His detractors of course played on that fact and twisted it by producing "Hayes for President? Fhuck Himm!" buttons.

Now get this: Hayes expected the Democrats to win. When the first returns seemed to confirm this, Hayes went to bed, believing he had lost. The popular vote apparently was 4,300,000 for Tilden to 4,036,000 for Hayes. Hayes's election depended upon contested electoral votes in Louisiana, South Carolina, and *groan* FLORIDA. If all the disputed electoral votes went to Hayes, he would win; a single one would elect Tilden. With apologies to my Florida friends, The "Lamebrain State" indeed served as the "Nation's Dick" more than just in the 2000 election! At least back in those days, the only "Hanging Chad" would be the poor bastard election official that was rightfully lynched for handing the Presidency to a Republican.

Months of uncertainty followed. In January 1877 Congress established an Electoral Commission to decide the dispute. The commission, made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, determined all the contests in favor of Hayes by eight to seven. What a surprise. The final electoral vote: 185 to 184. Son of a bitch! History IS one painful "Mobius Strip" of repeated bullshit.

Hayes had announced in advance that he would serve only one term, and retired to Spiegel Grove, his home in Fremont, Ohio, in 1881, where he launched the Spiegel Catalog business (subsequently bought out by Eddie Bauer ... or was it the other way around?). Anyway, I digress. He died in 1893, thus making future rigged elections in his favor "difficult" at best.

20) James Garfield - I know what you're thinking: the Pug's going to make some lame-ass reference to Garfield the Cat. Damned straight, I am. It's my blog for Chrissakes, and I've been saving this joke since I started this insipid "Presidential Trivia" series. In fact, it IS the reason I started it. Tell you what: if you don't like it so much, then why don't YOU run for President and try to stop me. No, wait, don't. Knowing THESE voters, they probably would elect you. Hell, maybe I should run (*wink* *wink*).

Anyway, James Garfield did enjoy lasagna and crapping in sandy material. However, in a departure from the preferences of the cartoon cat, President Garfield also was infatuated with trains, and would spend endless hours ignoring the responsibilites of running the nation to hang out at the station. This would prove to have tragic consequences, as Garfield one day got into a heated argument and subsequent altercation with another train buff over the merits of "HO" versus "N" scale. An embittered attorney (one of many, I'm afraid) by name of Charles Julius Guiteau, was the other party in this fateful dispute, and he happened to already be agitated by the theft of his "Orange Julius" concession idea. So this was simply the wrong time and place for Garfield to be a "Subject Matter Expert Bully", as it cost him both his life and any possible "Model Railroading Hall of Fame" recognition. Live and learn.


Well that does it for this installment of "Presidential Trivia". I can only hope this continues to inspire your interest in the Oval Office, instead of just the oval tracks of NASCAR.