Aging Chanteuse Has Hit With Vocal Tribute to Internet

QUESADILLA, Texas. Vikki Floria is an 84 year-old chanteuse who has sung for five vice presidents, but she hasn’t had a top-selling record in over three decades. She hopes to end that losing streak with her new CD “That Crazy, Wacky Thing We Call the Internet,” an attempt to re-position herself for a youthful audience “hip” to technological innovation.

Vikki, in her salad days.


“I was in my urologist’s office and I read an article in Reader’s Digest that said the internet is here to stay,” recalls her manager, Del Floyd, Jr. “So I figured–what the hey!–let’s do an album around it!”

See Vikki this August at the East Texas State Fair!


In addition to the title song, Floria sings a soothing lullaby called “I Caught Daddy Bookmarking Victoria’s Secret,” a fast-paced polka titled “I’ve Had it With My Dial-Up Connection,” and “I’ve Got So Many Passwords, I Can’t Remember Them All,” a bluesy song about a woman who forgets her six-letter combination for shopping on-line at the Metamucil website.

“Vikki, you have two very nice chimichangas.”


Flores sang for Vice Presidents rather than Presidents, according to her manager, “because her act was so hot she was a security risk.” She changed the course of history when she asked Vice President Gerald Ford to name the dish he liked best, according to Ford’s autobiography “A Time to Heal.” “I like you,” Ford replied within earshot of his wife Betty, setting off a drinking binge by the First Lady that resulted in the founding of the Betty Ford Clinic.



While her music is decidedly middle-of-the-road, she attracted the attention of Rat Pack charter member Dean Martin in the late 60′s as the boozy Italian crooner called her “the best girl singer in the business.” Martin was hospitalized from the blow to his head that Floria landed after she learned of his patronizing remark, but he recovered and was eventually able to drink without the use of a wheelchair.

“Need to write your doctor about your cramps? Try email–you’ll save on stamps!”


The senior citizen singer consults with the recording engineer as she tries one last take of a “big band” flavored number with a bridge that tests her “pipes.” After she adjusts her headphones in the isolation booth, she finally “nails it” as her manager beams with pride:

From late at night,
to early morn
You can “surf the ‘net”
for all kinds of porn.

Floria admits her technological skills aren’t “up to snuff,” but says she’s experimenting with email as a way of keeping in touch with her grandchildren. “They’re just adorable,” she says as she affixes a “forever” stamp to her computer screen and hits “Send.”


More States Allow Concealed Carry Notary Publics

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.  The school year starts in less than two weeks, which means the Mall of New England here is crawling with boys and girls and their mothers, shopping for clothing and, in the case of the kids, scouting each other out.  “Mom, I’m going down to the food court, can I have five dollars?” asks Ethan Swardski, a “rising” seventh grader at Pumpsie Green Junior High School in Natick, one town over.

“All right,” his mother Ellen says, “I’ll swing by in say–forty-five minutes.”

“Okay, see ya,” Ethan says, as he bolts down the wide concourse, grabs two slices of pizza and heads over to a table where Mindy Bolton, who the smart money says will be the school’s head cheerleader, is sitting.

Last year Ethan wouldn’t have stood a chance with Mindy, but over the summer he ordered a home study course titled “How to Get Girls to Like You!” and studied it assiduously.  “The guy who wrote it says you can pick up a girl every time you go out,” he tells this reporter.  “All you have to do is buy them stuff, look in their eyes and promise you really like them, and pretty soon you’re feeling them up.”

“911?  Can you send a notary public to the mall between The Gap and Chico’s?”


Ethan takes a seat and begins to chat Mindy up, not realizing that he’s being observed from the Panda Express “Pick Up Order Here” station by Furman Boul, a middle-aged man whose hand is plunged deep into his right pants pocket, even though he’s already paid for his food.  Boul’s order arrives and he sits down at an unoccupied table, but he doesn’t pick up his plastic fork to dig into his pork fried rice.  “I don’t like the looks of that kid,” he says as he tears open a plastic packet of duck sauce.

Boul sees Ethan pleading his case with Mindy, and after he has her giggling from this season’s vogue jokes, the boy slowly inches his fingers across the table and takes her hand in his.  “Mindy,” he says, “if you’ll be my girlfriend this year I’ll write all your book reports.”

“You will?”


“That . . . that is so sweet,” she says, her eyes tearing up.  “Because I hate to read so much!”

Ethan squeezes her hand and is about to lean over for a kiss when Boul arrives to interrupt the blooming dream of young love.

“Hold it right there, Romeo,” Boul growls, his face a map of rough terrain with deep lines formed by years of hard-won skepticism.

“What?” the boy asks, confused and more than a bit miffed that his campaign of woo has been halted in its tracks.

“I think you’d better get that promise in writing,” Boul says to the girl as he withdraws a notary public stamp and seal from his pocket.


“I’ll need to see a valid, state-issued ID.”


“Why?” the ingénue asks, genuinely ingenuous.

“Suppose you sprain your ankle and don’t make the cheerleading squad?  You think this grifter is still going to come through for you?”

The girl looks at the boy and, when he says nothing, asks “Well?”

“Sure I would Cindy–I mean Mindy.”

“Hear that?” Boul asks.  “Doesn’t sound too committed to me.”

“There–NOW it’s official!”


“Gosh,” the girl says.  “Maybe you’re right.”

“You’re darned right I’m right,” Boul says, as pulls a form affidavit off a pad he keeps in his backpack and begins to fill in blanks.  “I hereby promise to write no less than four (4) book reports for . . . what’s your name, dear?”

“MINDY,” the girl says with emphasis.  “Mindy Bolton.  And make that five, not four.”

When the formalities of stamping and sealing the impromptu legal document are done, Boul takes his leave, waiving his customary $2 notarization fee and wishing Mindy luck.  “Don’t let the mean girls get you down,” he says as heads back to eat his by-now-cold Chinese food.

Boul is one of a new breed of vigilante, a concealed carry notary public known in popular parlance as a “good guy with a notary seal,” who swoop in to prevent catastrophes both major and minor.  “A regular desk-bound notary can’t be everywhere,” says Framingham Chief of Police Nolan Squiersdorf.  “The main problem is you need to get movers to lug your big desk around, so guys like Furman are filling a gap that chintzy taxpayers are too cheap to pay for.”

Concealed carry notaries aren’t limited to romantic intervention, as is evident down Concourse B at Thoreau Books, where shopper Emily Nostrand has been imposing on sales clerk Dagmar Connolly for the better part of a half hour to find her the perfect book to take on vacation.  “I think you’ll like ‘Love’s Stifled Impulse,'” Connolly says as she tries to close the sale.

“I’m going to go over to Starbucks and get a coffee, I’ll come right back to buy it,” Nostrand says, as she discreetly taps the amazon Prime app on her phone in an effort to save $2.39 off the price at the brick and mortar bookstore.

“Why don’t we just memorialize that promise before you go,” says Emma Gillett Harkins, a seventh-generation descendant of Emma Gillett, America’s first female notary, as she pulls a stamp and seal from her purse.

“Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary,” Nostrand says airily as she stuffs her phone in her purse, but Gillett grabs her by the wrist and presents the evidence of perfidy to the store’s security guard, who escorts the stingy shopper to the cash register.

“Thank you so much,” Connolly says.  “Is there anything we can do to repay you?”

“Well,” Gillett says as she rubs her chin, “my ink pad could use freshening up.”


007 Jr.

The British government is recruiting teenage apprentice spies in a bid to deepen the talent pool of its intelligence services.

Associated Press

We were the first class of Junior Intelligence Officers in the history of MI6, and I dare say it would be a long time before we were surpassed. There was Patrick O’Connor-ffrench—the superfluous “f” was quite a hit with the girls; Basil “Biffy” Dunderdale, who struggled constantly with the burden of carrying inverted commas with him wherever he went; Nigel Dalzel-Job-Hobbes, the only double-hyphened boy at St. Swithin’s School. And of course my own clandestine self, James Bond, Jr.

“Where’s the best place to hide microfilm?” Patrick asked the table at large as we sat in the cafeteria at MI6’s super-secret training facility located conveniently off Bloody Beck Hill on Scarborough Road, right after the third roundabout.

“I dunno,” Basil said dully, as only a Biffy could.

“You wouldn’t, because you don’t wear an athletic supporter yet.”

“You hide it in your jock strap?” Nigel asked incredulously.

“Absolutely,” Patrick said. His father had been in Naval Intelligence with Ian Fleming, and he had learned a lot while being dandled on his daddy’s knee. Basil and Nigel, on the other hand, had both led undandled childhoods.

“Gosh, that’s a rum go,” I said. I had no idea what it meant, but I liked to say things with no apparent meaning—to keep in shape for Codes & Cyphers 101.

Just then Olivia Anders-Trollope ambled by. The latter half of her double-barreled surname always caused lascivious thoughts to float upwards in our adolescent male minds, like steam in a hot tub, although she swore Trollope was no trollop.

“I’d like to defuse her bombs,” Nigel said, referring to her budding breasts, which looked like nothing so much as those baby bumpers you saw on pictures of old Cadillacs from the fifties.

“Forget it,” she said as she took a tray and slipped it onto the gleaming metal rails that fronted the steam tables. “The sooner you stop picking your nose, the quicker you’ll find a woman who’s willing to stick her hand in your jujube box.”

Nigel turned red about the neck and face whilst Patrick and Biffy playfully pummeled his biceps.

Everybody loved Olivia, but she had told me she was mine the Saturday night before as we sat way up in the balcony and watched “Counterinsurgency Techniques and Strategies” in theatre B2 at the MI6 Megaplex. I had slipped my hand under her sweater and she had stopped its advance up the round mound of her left breast with a chilly but encouraging “Don’t let’s go too fast.”

“I find your back-asswards syntax strangely . . . alluring,” I said as I withdrew my hot but thwarted hand. “Shouldn’t it be ‘Let’s not go too fast?’”

“Perhaps among heathens and Americans,” she said as she turned her attention back to a bland on-screen discussion—with helpful illustrations–of how to blow people up.

Afterwards we had repaired to our favorite soda shoppe for cherry Cokes—stirred, not shaken—and talked of our dreams.

“I don’t know,” Olivia had said with a faraway look in her eye. “I like killing people, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to do it forever.”

“What else is there to life besides intrigue and mayhem and flashy cars and brassy, suspenseful sound tracks playing in the background?” I asked ingenuously.

“I’d like a little Tudor-style home someday in the Cotswolds, with oodles of flowers blooming in the garden and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to groom by the fire.”

Something about all those double “o’s” was giving me the whim-whams. I felt a lump rise in my pants and quickly countered with the only antidote I knew could calm my rising passion–quirks of orthography.

“Did you know,” I said with one upraised eyebrow of astuteness, “that ‘bookkeeper’ is the only word with three consecutive double letters in the English . . .”

“You mean six, don’t you?” Olivia said. “Two o’s, two k’s, two . . .”

Just then there appeared at the entrance Julius Grebb and Cordo Volfax, his nefarious henchman, grim emissaries from SMERSH Middle School. The two sauntered past our booth, smirking as only junior terrorists could.

“What’s this?” Grebb said with a sneer as he picked up the two tuppence I’d laid on the table as a tip. (And try saying that five times fast.) He was a notoriously precocious young fellow–the only eighth grader to play on the varsity espionage team.

“What do you think?” I snarled right back.

“If you want to be a secret agent, you must acquire a certain savoir faire, a worldly air of sophistication,” Volfax said. “You can’t tip tuppence, you cheap twit!”

Olivia glanced sidewise at me, and I at her. She reached into her purse as if to take out a tissue, but instead withdrew a mascara tube that contained a secreted squirting device whilst I pulled from my vest pocket a Wyvern Perfect Pen No. 81—the one with the arrow head lever filler.

“You can if your bill only comes to ten pence,” I said. Those just happened to be the secret words at which we would unleash a lethal attack of Diamine Ink.

“Argh!” Grebb and Volfax shouted simultaneously as Olivia squirted them furiously, then made our getaway to my waiting Moulton bicycle. Olivia hopped in the wicker basket up front and we sped—speeded?—away pell-mell down Pall Mall.

“That was close,” she said as she applied pink lip gloss, like something out of a sixties fashion mag. “You shouldn’t leave things to chance like that.”

“I left nothing to chance,” I said as I slipped my hand under her Fair Isle sweater, the better to vet her bazooms.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Fool Britannia: Keeping Them Rolling in the Sceptred Isle.

Egypt Demands Return of Sam the Sham & Pharoahs Albums

CAIRO.  They are, according to neutral experts, monuments to bad taste that will endure forever.  “The people of Egypt have suffered enough,” says Amir Hulstead, professor of archaeology at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk.  “The rightful home of these precious works is back in the cradle of civilization, where they could have been strangled in their infancy.”

“Wooly Bully!”


Hulstead is referring to the movement to return recorded music by Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs, the greatest rock band ever produced by this ancient nation, to its rightful home here on the Nile River from American basements and garages.  “Who owns cultural artifacts is one of the hottest debates in international affairs,” says Abdel Maboudi, Assistant Minister of Culture here.  “Those cassettes belong to the third world.  The first world took them, the second world  may also have some good stuff.”

Ancient hieroglyphs found on first album.


Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs ruled during the thirty-second dynasty, from approximately 1965 to 1985, A.D.  They ushered in their reign with “Wooly Bully,” a cryptic paean to a supernatural being with “two big horns and a wooly jaw.”  “I’ve searched all the pyramids I could find, including the Food Pyramid,” says Hulstead, who plans to return to Egypt for further exploration.  “Unless they’re referring to the Sphinx, I have no idea what they’re singing about.”

Gettin’ down like a deity!


The theft of relics has historically gone unchecked despite complaints that Western nations are misappropriating artifacts that are central to the cultures of undeveloped nations for use by museums and private collectors.  “I don’t know why hipsters covet our long-playing vinyl records and 45’s,” says Sedkhi Malab, a street vendor.  “You can get all the Pharoahs’ music you need on their two-CD Greatest Hits set.”


I Don’t Want to Hear About It

There are certain things in life that I haven’t heard yet
that I don’t want to learn about, not even on a bet.
Like your blonde second wife, member of the jet set,
the one who you met on the internet.

I’m sure she’s charming, and quite the looker,
but it’s the world-wide web—she could be a hooker
who’ll empty your accounts at your local bank,
please reconsider, you’ll have me to thank.

About your dreams, I truly couldn’t care less.
You have one every night, is my educated guess.
I don’t want to hear about the terrible mess
you got into that time you forgot your French test

and showed up late, in your underwear,
causing well-prepared students to stop and stare.
You woke up, it’s fine, spare me the details–
I don’t want to hear about it—wholesale or retail.

And now, sadly, we come to your spawn,
a topic that inevitably makes me yawn.

How exactly is that kid of yours doin’?
At your last report, there was no trouble brewin’–
from the police report I read, he’s headed for trouble
if he hasn’t dropped out, he’s on the bubble.

No, I think you trimmed the tale you told,
this prevarication on your part, it’s getting rather old.
I’ve listened to your stories, I suspect that you’re lyin’,
but as long as you’re here, let me tell you some of mine.

For Young Cowboy Poets, Hot Practices Only Get Verse

AMARILLO, Texas. Joe Don Mergen has just one week of freedom left before he begins the school year as a sophomore at Darrell Royal High School here, but he says he’s looking forward to Labor Day even though it will mean a return to school books and an end to summer fun.

“It’ll mean the end of two-a-day practices, and I’m all for that,” he says.

Joe Don was a highly-touted halfback at Tommy Nobis Junior High School when a crushing tackle in the last seconds of a come-from-behind win over archrival Bum Phillips Voke-Tech left him with a fractured vertebrae, effectively ending a promising football career.

“I was real depressed there for a while,” he says. “I considered suicide, but I learned at Vacation Bible Camp that you can go to hell for that.”

So Joe Don followed the route taken by an increasing number of Texas teenage jocks whose football glory days are prematurely cut short and joined his high school’s Cowboy Poet Squad.

“It gives you something to say to girls,” he says with a shy smile. “Most of the guys on the football team never get beyond ‘Wassup?’”

The frontier ethic that turned Texas high school football into a metaphor for the hardscrabble nature of life on the windswept plains of the adjective-rich Lone Star State has been carried over to high school poetry with the tradition of “two-a-day” practices. Morning practices began yesterday at 6 a.m., and there is a second afternoon session every day until Labor Day.

MacLeish and McKuen


“This is where we separate the Archibald MacLeishs from the Rod McKuens,” says head coach Jim Ray Dugan, a former English major at the University of Texas. “I don’t want to hear any sentimental ‘June-moon’ crap out there today-understand?” he barks at thirty young men who fear that they will be consigned to the school yearbook staff if they don’t make the cut for the Cowboy Poetry Squad.

Burma-Shave signs


After limbering-up exercises that include limericks and Burma-Shave rhymes, the boys divide into offensive and defensive groups, with Dugan taking the Romantics while his assistant, Ray Eberle, works with the Symbolists.

“Guys, we’ve got six weeks before we play John David Crow Prep,” he says, referring to a long-time powerhouse that had three representatives on the Parade Magazine High-School All-America Poetry Team the previous year. “You guys have got to be sharp, you’ve got to scan your sonnets pre-cisely, okay?”

“Yes sir!” the boys shout in military fashion. “Mergen–line up against A.C.,” the coach says, referring to an African-American senior named Alonzo Carl Byrd who is already drawing comparisons to Langston Hughes. “When I give the signal, you peel out, okay?” he says to A.C.

“Got it coach.”

Langston Hughes: 9.7 yards after the catch


The boys take their positions across from each other at the line of scrimmage as their coach counts off a quarterback’s cadence–”Hut-one, hut-two, hut-three.” He slaps A.C. on the butt, and the wide receiver takes off on a traditional sideline-and-up pattern:

Old Bill Jones had two daughters and a song,
One went to Dallas and the other went wrong.

Mergen back-peddles and keeps Byrd in front of him, as he’s been coached. Suddenly, Byrd puts the “up” move on him after Coach Dugan pump-fakes a pass to the sideline.

His wife she died in a poolroom fight
While he kept singin’ day and night.

The juke-step has given the receiver a yard on the defender, and the coach lofts a tight spiral that Byrd is just about to haul in when Mergen recovers.

You’re wife’s as ugly as a bitch coyote
And you ain’t half the man of Truman Capote.

Truman Capote: “Why did you drag me into this post?”


“Good job, son,” his coach says gruffly, not wanting praise to go to the young man’s head with the home opener coming up.

As Mergen trots back up the field, his coach notices that A.C. Byrd is bent over, puking up his guts. “Goddamn it A.C.,” Dugan yells. “Were you out drinkin’ last night?”

“Just some amaretto while I worked on my sestinas,” Byrd says, obviously winded from an elementary pattern he should be able to handle easily if he had followed the squad’s mandatory offseason conditioning program.

“If you guys think you can go out there and sling a few similes around and beat John David Crow, you are sadly mistaken,” the coach says as he shakes his head. He blows his whistle and calls the entire squad into the middle of the field for wind sprints.

“All right, we’re gonna go at it hard today, cause I get the impression some of you been doggin’ it on me,” the coach says, and the budding poets inhale deeply, preparing themselves for the worst.

“Haikus and villainelles, stay right here. Elegies and terzanelles, over there.”

Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

Yuppies Agree: Nuns Make Best Spinning Instructors

BOSTON.  It’s 5:55 a.m., and Julie Berman’s alarm clock just went off.  She’s not quite ready to get up, but she doesn’t hit the snooze button.  “I’ve got to start speed-dialing at 5:59 if I want to make the list for Sister Joe’s class,” she says as she hunches over her phone to call in her reservation for a 12:15 spinning class at her health club.

“She may be brutal, but she is cruel.”


“Sister Joe” is Sister Mary Joseph Arimathea of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a religious order whose mission in life is to teach grades K through 12 and, more recently, to keep America’s young professionals trim and fit.  “Whenever I see a set of flabby abs,” the nun says with a look of barely-concealed disgust, “I know why the Big Guy Upstairs put me on earth.”

Sister Mary Joseph Arimathea:  “Two-minute climb, then one minute in the saddle.”


As a result of years of punishment she handed out to smart-alecks such as Scott Walje and Dickie Racunas, two fifth-graders who chose “Aloysius” as their confirmation name just to tick her off, Sister Joe is regularly ranked among the top spinning instructors in the Boston area by local magazines and weekly newspapers.  “She makes you work,” says Berman, “and she doesn’t want to hear any excuses about your white wine hangover.”

Remember to stretch before class:  “I’m going to make your muscles burn like you’re suffering in Purgatory.”


That apparently curious confluence of religious discipline and aerobic exercise is being replicated across the country, as more and more nuns are entering the crowded field of spinning instruction and excelling at it.  “Many of the early spinning instructors were former sadistic prison guards,” says Boston Fitness Club manager Mark Salerno.  “We tried non-sadistic guards, but our members complained that they didn’t get a good workout.”

“Sister, please!  I can’t climb anymore!”


Spinning is a form of aerobic exercise developed in 1989 by cyclist Johnny Goldberg of Santa Monica, California, in order to train for races.  Skinny instructors shout at pudgy professional participants who ride stationary bicycles to bad rock music, helping them to tone and firm muscles and lose their hearing.

“You can’t all go to the bathroom at once!”


Sister Joe’s class is a model of decorum, as were the catechism classes she taught before being transferred to Boston to minister to yuppies making the transition from post-adolescence to early middle age.  “Shake what the Good Lord gave you, girl,” she shouts at one young woman who is slacking off in the back row, hoping to avoid the nun’s steely gaze.  “If you think you’re suffering now,” the nun adds, “wait until you burn in hell for sleeping with your roommate’s boyfriend.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Fun With Nuns.”