Free wisdom

A few years ago I stepped down as the chief executive officer of a well known Fortune 500 company. Unfortunately, I’m forbidden by a court order to name it—a long story for another time. For now I’ll just call it Cicero Industries.

The name refers to the first century, B.C.’s great Roman businessman, Aurelius “Jack” Cicero, brother to the lesser known orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Little known fact: Jack Cicero was once Rome’s largest dealer in new and used asses.

On my last day as CEO, a young man knocked on my door — a man whose name I recognized as a junior executive on one of the lower floors but whom I had never met. His name escapes me now. Ned somebody.

He’d come to ask me to impart some wisdom that he might use to further his own career and perhaps one day end up in the very office I was now getting ready to leave.

I was almost touched, of course, although the question of touching or being touched by an employee is in itself a touchy subject. Best left for another day. Anyway, I will never forget the words of Ned somebody: “How did you get to be such a really evil bastard?”

I was jolted. On the one hand I felt immense pride that someone had noticed. But on the other I wondered if this was just an attempt by some run of the mill bastard to kiss my evil ass.

Until that moment I had no real grasp of whether my evil example was getting through to all the little bastards down on the lower floors.

I was aware of certain grumbling and whining in various corners of the building, some of it louder than others and always appreciated. But I had always assumed there would be pockets of pissants who remained immune to the random chaos of my rule. In other words, people who just didn’t get it.

Ned dispelled that notion when I asked “Who says I’m a really evil bastard?”

“Everybody,” he answered. “Every human being who isn’t you or me, and speaking of me, I’m with them. Thinking you’re an evil bastard, I mean.”

With pride, I pointed to a plaque on the wall bearing a favorite quotation from Jack Cicero.

“To improve your lot in life, you have to have a lot to begin with. You can’t get ahead by improving nothing. Bare minimum, you need at least a piece of crap which has more uses than you might think. Do- gooders love to turn crap into nice, shiny non-crap so they can feel all warm and gooey inside. Which means there is and always will be a lucrative market for crap.”

“There is your wisdom,” I said to the young bastard. “But it won’t do you any good.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“You’re not evil enough.”

“But I lie, cheat and steal every day.”

“Yes, but do you know why?”

“Um,” he said. (Never a good sign.) “Because, it just feels right? Um, I mean wrong?”

I shook my head as two armed security guards came into the office.

“An evil bastard doesn’t feel anything.”

“But…”

“Ever.”

To the guards I added “Drop him down an elevator shaft.”

And that is why my next project will be to write a guide for getting beyond the easy levels in management—the stupid bastard level. There are stupid bastards everywhere, so many, in fact, they have watered down the concept of a bastard in the first place.

Only really evil bastards can understand this. And if you’re not too stupid, or if your feelings have been surgically removed (recommended) you can too.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved. Oh, yes, I have rights, you know. And I know how to use them.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, Mockery and derision | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

That is, to say, screwed

Q. Just who do you think you are?
A. I am a United States citizen who knows his rights.

Q. Whose rights?
A. Well, his rights. Look, I was speaking in the third person, even though there are just the two of us here. By his rights I actually meant my rights. Because those are the rights he and I know the best. Memorized, you know, and all that.

Q. All that what?
A. Well, uh, heh heh, all that jazz, I suppose. Hundreds of other possibilities. Haven’t memorized all of them because, well, coincidentally, I have a right to remain silent.

Q. What do you like best about your rights?
A. That’s easy. They’re inalienable.

Q. Could you define inalienable?
A. Uh, let’s see. Did you ever see the movie Aliens?

Q. No.
A. It’s one of my favorite rights movies. There are these really ugly aliens, you know, from a different country or streaming service, and they start taking people’s rights away from them.

Q. Like what? Preventing them from voting?
A. Worse than that. First they start drooling on people. Really slimey drools. The kind of drool that our four fathers hated because their four wives would give them hell. “I told you not to wear your new puffy shirt around those slobbering aliens.”

Q. What does that have to do with his inalienable rights?
A. Have you ever tried to get inalienable drool out of your pants?

Q. Hoo boy. Let me ask this. What is your most important right?
A. You mean inalienable or alienable?

Q. Either one.
A. Depends. Have you ever been sitting in the living room, watching a movie, and you get up to get some nachos? You come back and someone is in your seat. You complain but you are told, rudely, “Move your meat, lose your seat.”

Q. But what if you’d called that chair?
A. Called it what?

Q. A chair. You know, you get up and you say out loud “I call that chair.” It means you’ve established your alienable right to sit in the chair when you come back.
A. What if I just had to go to the bathroom?

Q. Doesn’t matter. You have the Constitution on your side. Unless, of course, someone shouts “Hey Frankie. Don’t listen to him. He’s using a crappy alienable right. They’re useless, according to my uncle Milo, who is a Constitutional lawyer.”
A. What if his name isn’t Frankie?

Q. In that case, your nachos just got cold.
A. And with an inalienable right?

Q. An inalienable right means it cannot be taken away.
A. Even if Frankie has a submachine gun?

Q. That’s hard to say, because the founding fathers didn’t have submachine guns in 1776.
A. So what good is calling that chair, if you don’t have an automatic weapon?

Q. That argument is exactly what led to the founding of the National Burp Gun Association.
A. I’ve always wanted a Burp Gun. When you just burp, people get upset and you have to beg their pardon. Not a problem when you’re holding a burp gun. Can get confusing, I guess, when you’re trying to burp the baby.

Q. An alternative is to have a notarized form ready, saying it’s your inalienable right to get your seat back.
A. So let me get this straight. I present Frankie, sitting in my chair, a copy of this notarized inalienable right to reclaim my seat. And what if he pulls out a burp gun?

Q. He’s screwed. Don’t worry about it. Take your seat.
A. And the Constitution is on my side?

Q. One hundred percent. Unless…
A. Unless what?

Q. Well, for example, would Frankie be the kind of guy who uses real bullets?

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2020, all rights reserved.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, Mockery and derision, News You Can Use (Sort of) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Note to self

When you think about it, life is almost always about eluding the Inquisition. Which Inquisition, you ask? (If you didn’t ask but you asked your spouse or significant other to ask for you — because you’re too embarrassed and you’ve heard it would lower your credit rating — you’re exactly the kind of intellect the Inquistion is counting on. Don’t worry. It’ll find you.)

By the way, knowing which Inquisition it is, isn’t as important as knowing which it aint — or isn’t, if you prefer. Listen up. I’m going to repeat that.

That.

So. Just a little tip here to help you on your way in life: If someone ever asks you to “Listen up” don’t waste your time listening up, down or out in the yard. Because you won’t hear anything other than dogs or loud kids or people with “issues” and or cranky old guys shouting “Get outa my yard,” or drug dealers getting shot, shooting or both. Which is why it’s always safer when you listen up, up in the aviary. (Note to self: look up aviary.)

Remember, a wise man once said “I can’t believe I bit the head off the milk chocolate rabbit I’ve been saving for a special occasion but couldn’t help myself — and locked the door to keep away people who wanted to help myself — and I ate the rest of it alone and it was no special occasion at all, and now the rabbit is all gone and they tell me I’m no longer considered a wise man.”

Like, what is wrong with this world?

So, let’s wind our way back to the Inquisition. Okay. Take the Spanish Inquisition for example, which it isn’t, but which it used to be until licensing fees and the cost of teaching people like you to speak Spanish became prohibitivo.

What really killed it, though, is the simple fact that nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition any more. So nobody answered the door when the Inqy men dropped by unannounced. Nobody responded to Inqy text messages or opened up cleverly designed Inqy junk mail saying you won a free organ transplant – you pick the organ, as long as you don’t piq your nose.

But I will say this.

This.

And, while people may or may not expect the Spanish Inquisition, they still expect it to be run by the Spanish. Now, you might want to hold onto your underpants, because The Spanish Inquisition is no longer run by the Spanish.

Q. What? Why that’s…that’s just nuts.

You can look it up. The rapper Grunthead just bought the rights to the name Spanish Inquisition and is marketing it to conspiracy nuts, like “LMNOPQ-Anon,” “HillaryEmailsGalore.com,” “The Oat keepers,” and the “The Unknown Boys” (formerly “The Spoiled Brats.”)

In previous eons people spent time trying to elude The Dinosaurs, The Freeloaders, The Elvis impersonators, The Brother-in-law (includes the Freeloading dinosaur) and The Men Who Mooch.

Here’s a bonus thought: It used to be if the Spanish Inquisition or a nun with three yardsticks taped together was on your trail, people would tell you “Your ass is grass.” What did that even mean?

Sorry, no one ever explained it to me when I was young and terrified when big, mean kids kept warning me “Your ass is grass.” No one else seemed to have a problem understanding the ass-to-grass concept. I certainly wasn’t going to ask my mother, or worse, one of the nuns what it meant. Talk about your ass being grass, whatever that means. (Note to self: look up that.)

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, funny, Mockery and derision, News You Can Use (Sort of) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some kind of ist

Q. I have heard people say “It’s a great time to be a conspiracy nut.” Is that true? If so, how can I get involved? A. A lot depends on your comfort level in being associated with nuts.

Q. Most people I know already think I’m nuts. A. Be careful. There’s quite a difference between someone who is nuts and someone who is just a nut.

Q. That sounds a little nutty. A. Maybe. But there are more nuts out there now than ever before. Some of them are just out-and-out fruitcakes.

Q. You mean they are nuts about fruitcake? A. Not necessarily. Some people are nuts because they like eating fruitcake.

Q. You can eat fruitcake? A. Only if you’re nuts.

Q. But seriously. A. That’s the trouble with most rumors and conspiracies. People take them so seriously. As if they were facts instead of just ghost stories made up around a camp fire to scare people.  Trouble is, there’s always some nutball who doesn’t get the word and actually eats the fruitcake. Somebody always ends up crying and/or barfing and then crying.

Q. So, I was thinking of starting a conspiracy rumor of my own. A. Does it involve Hillary? Because you can’t have a conspiracy without Hillary behind it.

Q. Well, no. I was going to start a rumor that Christopher Columbus is dead. A. But Columbus is dead. Has been for 500 years. That isn’t a rumor. It’s a fact.

Q. Did Hillary kill him? A. No, but good question.

Q. It sounds like a fake fact. A.  Call it what you will, but there’s really no such thing as a fake fact. By its very definition, a fact is a fact. If a fact is fake it’s a fake fact, but still a member of the — it goes without saying — dysfunctional fact family. Do I make myself clear?

Q. In fact, no. Are you forgetting about the parable of the burrito? A. Never heard of it. It sounds fake.

Q. But what if someone sells you a burrito that is nothing more than a soft taco disguised as a burrito and sold as a burrito — are you saying it’s still a burrito because a burrito is a burrito? A. That sounds like a classic case of an alternate burrito.

Q. Would you call a fake burrito a fake fact? A. All I know is that purveyors of soft tacos are enemies of the people.

Q. That sounds a little extreme. A. Don’t forget, enemies of the people have the salsa of the innocent on their hands.

Q. Erm, could we talk about factoids? A. Did you just say erm?

Q. Erm, no. Why? A. There’s a new conspiracy going around that says Irish supremacists are secretly trying to pervert the English language. They’ve already started by subtly changing the word “um” to “erm.”

Q. Did I say erm? I meant, erm, um. A. Of course, erm was one of Stalin’s favorite words.

Q. Um, wasn’t he a communist, or a ventriloquist or some kind of ist? A.  Not if you ask Hillary. He was a simple holy man just hanging around trying to make a few roubles. Supposedly, ahem, mistakes were made. When he died, he was canonized as St. Alin.

Q. Um, is that a factoid? A. Factoids can be tricky. People who are hungry for facts often confuse a factoid with a factotum. For example “Toity toid and toid” is a de facto fractile factoid of a factotum’s street address. Nothing fake about that.

Q. Right. I can see that. There’s a lot more to being a conspiracy nut than I thought. A. It’s hard enough just being a nut.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2020, all rights reserved.

Posted in Mockery and derision | Tagged | 2 Comments

Tremendous Suck

I have a whine with the way scientists have failed to explain the journalistic  6 W’s and the H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and Wowser Howzer) of black holes.

I’ve streamed endless black hole specials, I’ve seen black hole puppet shows and participated in humiliating games of black hole Zoom charades, all supposedly geared to helping the non-scientist (moi)[1] grasp the ins and outs of black holes.

To start with, I have always considered the scientific definition of a black hole — a dead star that has collapsed in on itself — as judgmental and very hurtful to the dead star community. I mean, when you think about it, what else is a dead star supposed to do? The hokey pokey?

And I’ve always suspected that definition to be bogus, because if you substitute the words “a snoring drunk uncle,” for a dead star, and tack on “in the upstairs guest bedroom,” only then do you understand the true meaning of “Holy Moley.”

Ever since I first heard about a BH ( uh, Black Hole) I’ve tried to conjure a mental image of what this collapsed star might look like out there in the void to the normal astronaut (possibly sub-normal) shooting by in a space craft.

I pictured something like a tennis ball floating out there in the void. But it was too small for my illustrative purposes, because a mean dog who was out voiding all over the lawn grabbed it in its jaws and ran away.

I imagined a larger sphere, this time a kick ball, one of those bouncy, hollow things, hopefully too big for a dog to get his jaws around, but not big enough to do anything but be kicked.

Then it wasn’t such a reach to imagine some snotty little kid coming along and kicking the crap out of my ball, knocking it into the next yard where the attitudinal dog previously mentioned was still chewing on my tennis ball.

A lively imagination will do that to you or for you, compared to the clogged gears of scientists who are so smart and dull that they could never imagine a dog, let alone figure out what a kick ball has to do with a black hole.

Where were we? Yes, the little brat kicked the kick ball and it nearly hit the dog, who easily chewed a big bite out of it. The next time the kid kicked it, the bounce was forever gone. It flopped around like a…well…like a ball that had collapsed in on itself.

Okay! I was onto something. I could now picture in my imagination the sub-normal astronaut taking cell phone movies of a black hole way out there.

But as serious scientists will tell you, he better not get too close because the tremendous suck inside the kick ball will snork him and his subnormal space ship inside. It will also inhale the dog and the precocious little monster kid next door. It will be so dark inside the ball that nothing, especially the dog’s halitosis can escape.

At this point I’m saying to myself, yes, I can see that. Finally, it’s beginning to make sense.

But here’s where the lonesome men of science lose me.[2] Not once in all the programming I have viewed about black holes has anyone ever gone around to the back side of the collapsed kick ball. Because, if the black hole sucks that hard, why not just go around to the back and crack a window? Get a little draft going. Cool things down.  (Not bad for someone without a PhD eh?)

I write them letters about this but I never get a reply. I don’t think they take me seriously. So I write again and explain again in very polite and easy to read crayon. But so far it’s like talking to a drunk uncle.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved.

[1] Say moo-WAHBut real fast.  Example: you’re in a French restaurant and the garcon comes by with a platter and asks “Who ordered the French toast?” Your hand shoots up and you shout “moo-WAH.” But real fast. They’ll think you’re French. Guaranteed.

[2] From “The lonesome men of science” by the wonderful singer-songwriter John Prine, taken too soon by that bastard Covid shit.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, funny, Mockery and derision, News You Can Use (Sort of), The human comedy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Almighty® plan

When New York Times bestselling authors are asked for advice from budding writers, invariably they say the same thing: “You can’t just ask walk up to me and ask me questions, not without first contacting my people, who will tell you they never answer those people who don’t have people of their own.”

Sometimes a soft-hearted, heavily armed security orc for a New York Times bestselling author will take pity. They repeat bits of advice they’ve overheard their masters giving to unwashed peeps who trot alongside their limousines and pound on the window as it merges with heavy traffic on the expressway.

Most common among these tidbits are things like “Go suck a wart hog,” or “I said go suck a wart hog.” Another favorite: “Write what you know.” While sound, this is very difficult advice to follow if it turns out you don’t know anything.

For instance, let’s say you want to write a novel set in Paris, but you’ve never been to Paris and aren’t sure if it’s a city or a country or whether the people there really do speak a heavily accented version of English that some call “French fried bathtub rings.” Successful writers will have their people tell your people that this is a fairly good indication you are stupid or, as Parisians say in their heavily accented, and often misspelled English: “stewpide” (rhymes with Stu Peed, who doesn’t mind at all.)

Rebellious young writers rail against such “patronizing” advice, citing their right to write whatever the hell they want about Paris. Take, for example, the first sentence in “Goodbye Paris” by Larry “Lobotomy Larry Lewis” Lewis:

“Buzzy sat in his bathtub, soaking wet from his navel down, when all of a sudden his big toe got tangled up in the chain on the plug. He yanked it, causing all the water, plus Paris, to disappear down the drain causing Buzzy to smile because he never did like Paris or anybody in it.”

Another writing tip from the pros is to avoid “borrowing” sentences or entire paragraphs written by someone else. That is a sin called plagiarism or, in the shrewd judgement of Holy Lawyers “theft by stealing.” By the same bus token, never try to disguise your plagiarism by throwing in a few extra words of your own to make it appear you wrote the whole thing.

In fact, though hard to believe, many would-be writers try to fool other people’s people by copying or altering phrases from the Holy Bible — their work becoming known as “Bibe-zies” or even “Holy Bibleoni, hold the macaroni.”

Consider the very stealable first lines in the Bible, by (Wait for it) (Did you not hear me?) (Well okay, then.) God:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

This has been stolen thousands of times by pathetic hacks, as in this most recent example referred by God to his lawyers:

“So. In the beginning, God was just about to create the heavens and the earth, okay? His phone rang. He muttered something and looked at the fone and saw the call was from his brother-in-law, the Sheckmeister. God sighed and tried to turn off his phone, but He kept pressing the wrong buttons and it continued to ring – actually it wasn’t a ring but a sound tone called The Shondells. It sounded a lot like the Sheckmeister strangling a canary while pounding on an electronic keyboard. By the way, the earth was without form and void (which hardly ever happens); and darkness was upon the face of the deep and after a minute or so somebody shouted “How do I turn off this goddam fone?”

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, News You Can Use (Sort of), The human comedy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Soooo evident

You see a road sign that says “Deer Crossing,” and you understand perfectly that this is where the deer cross. As you whizz past however, you can’t help but wonder how the deer know that. Before you’ve gone another mile (and because you went to college) the answer becomes soooo evident that you feel a bit sheepish. You realize that a truth which has eluded naturalists and un-naturalists for centuries is just another “Thank you, Captain Dumb Ball” to the boys and girls down at the highway department.

For that simple yellow sign proves beyond all doubt that deer can read. Astounding? Yes, but let’s not get carried away because it’s not true of all animals. Yesterday, cruising the back roads, we came upon a yellow sign that bore no words, just the silhouette of a black cow. Just the one cow. We exchanged raised left eyebrows which necessitated a simultaneous dropping of the right eyebrow—something we picked up at synchronized swimming.

So what was the hidden meaning implied in this cow icon? What were those savants down at highway engineering trying to say? Just a few yards past the sign we drew even with a field where a large black cow sat in the lush grass, calmly giving us the once-over. Just the one cow. Meanwhile, I noted that on the other side of the road stood a small cow barn. A one-cow barn, if you will. (If you won’t, go and stink for a thousand years.)

Let’s review: There, a one-cow barn; here, one black cow.

That’s when the penny dropped and I stooped to pick it up (metaphorically; I was driving). Consider that while it may be astounding that deer know how to read, it’s mind boggling that your basic, illiterate moo can make sense of iconic modern art. Anyway, we waved and I shouted “More cow bell!” We got a nice little nod of the head in return and onward did we roll.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021. All rights reserved.

Posted in The human comedy | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments