As Dog Show Closes, Komodo Dragons Slink Into Big Apple

YONKERS, New York.  The 2018 Westminster Kennel Club dog show is history now but there are still a number of out-of-town animal lovers in the New York area, albeit of a different breed.  “Dog owners are pansies,” says Jerry Fima as he is pulled against his will across the floor at American Legion Post no. 367 here.  “Try telling one of these bad boys to heel and see where it gets you.”

“Attaboy Sparky!”


Fima is the owner of Lady Brett, an 8-foot long female Komodo dragon that weighs 125 pounds and drags him around with such ease it’s unclear who’s walking whom as the Yonkers Komodo Show opens here tonight.  “I’m pretty sure I fed her,” Fima says to Vic Scalzo, the facility’s janitor who is keeping his distance from the oversize lizard also known as a “monitor.”  “If not,” Fima adds reassuringly, “I brought some white mice along for snacks.”

“I think we’d better call in reinforcements.”


While dog owners are typically outgoing and gregarious, komodo dragon lovers tend to be sullen, embittered men who bought the animals out of spite after losing a girlfriend to the owner of a Labrador retriever in college.  “I don’t know why Kiki dumped me for that wimp Jamie,” Joe Don Cabot says as he prepares to pick up the droppings of his male komodo “Chan.”  “Sure he had James Taylor albums, but Steve Miller is way better than that folk-rock crap.”

“Seriously?  He won’t mind?”


Komodo dragons are carnivorous lizards indigenous to the islands of Indonesia that became popular in America as guard animals after laws banning pitbulls passed in a number of cities.  “It’s a typical case of unintended consequences,” says Phil Normand, a visiting fellow at the League of American Cities.  “If you had to choose between a 60-pound terrier with jaws like a steel trap and a 100-pound lizard with rotting flesh on its breath, I think most folks would opt for the dog.”


93% of Steve Miller Band fans prefer komodo dragons to golden retrievers and James Taylor.

Yonkers officials say they welcome the business generated by the komodo dragon owners, but hope they’ll conclude their event without incident.  “I don’t know if we could handle a komodo dragon on the loose,” says Animal Control Officer Ward Spire.  “Our guys want combat pay for getting get cats out of trees.”


More Poets Getting Published With Suicide Bluff

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  This former blue-collar suburb has become “The Brooklyn of Greater Boston,” with more poets per square mile than any other zip code in New England.  “You can’t throw a brick without hitting a poet around here,” says Marty Schloss, owner of The Tired Owl, a used book store.  “I know, we tried last week, nearly killed a guy.”

Given the art form’s particularly unremunerative nature, a fair amount of angst is felt every morning when Sylvia Plath wannabes turn on their computers and find email rejection letters that mean their day of fame is further delayed.  No one has been more vocal in her disappointment than Chloe Nath, who is so far unpublished while her roommate Siobhan Clough is building a resume that may soon land her a low-paying teaching job, in addition to her current low-paying job waiting tables.

“Chloe’s a loser/this she knows/we don’t need to tell her so.”


The two women woke up one January morning to identical notices from bRoken sPoke, the student literary magazine of the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk, but their reactions were as different as their hair color, blonde in Nath’s case, black for Clough.  “They send the nicest rejections,” Clough says as she reads the lit mag’s encouragement that she try them again.  In Nath’s eyes, however, it was one more symbol of her failure and, after she allowed herself a remorseless little laugh, she turned her mordant wit on the publication that had just turned down her seven stanza tercet as “not quite what we are looking for right now.”

“Thanks for your prompt reply,” she wrote back.  “I guess I’ll go take a warm bath and slit my wrists,” she added, then went to the kitchen to pour herself another cup of coffee.

Chloe:  “Really?  You don’t think it’s terrible after all?”


By the time she was back at her desk, however, Nath had received a follow-up email from bRoken sPoke.  “Dear Chloe,” the faceless editor said, “upon further review–like a football referee if we may be allowed a vulgar simile–we are accepting your ‘Gulls at the Town Dump,’ which will run in our Summer Fun and Despair issue.  Congratulations!”

The budding poetess’s inadvertent success spread by word-of-mouth through coffee houses and craft beer brew pubs, and when imitated dramatically increased the acceptance rate of those who used it.  As a result, a firestorm of controversy has broken out in the small but highly-competitive world of literary verse, with two camps taking opposite sides of the question “Should poets fake suicide in order to scare the crap out of lit mags and get published?”

“She’s using sleeping pills, right–no bloodshed?”


Robert Ricciardelli, interim editor-in-chief of plangent voices, says no, pointing to the high cost of liability insurance he must carry in case a poet’s family or lover comes after them for staring down a suicide threat.  “We have no way of knowing if someone is serious,” he says as inspects a poorly-written sonnet for symbols of desperation.  “If I wrote stuff this bad I’d kill myself too, but you never know what reserves a person can draw on in a time of crisis–religion, philosophy, money.”

But Nath says the highbrow quarterlies are fair game for the pain they inflict on literary artistes such as herself.  “plangent voices took two years to turn down Burnt Potholders,” a six-poem cycle on disasters that occurred in her kitchen as she worked her way through The Moosewood Cookbook.  “I went through fifteen boyfriends in that time.”

“In Love With Lichens” Helps Girls Forget Stupid Boys

CONCORD, Mass. Ethel Farley has been a teacher in the schools here for over two decades, long enough to be able to spot a young girl with a broken heart halfway across a crowded lunch room. “They get a valentine from a boy and they read too much into it,” she says as she comforts Tracy Nubin, an 11-year-old who’s just been given the cold shoulder by Kenny Reynolds, a hyperactive boy in her fifth grade class who was required by Massachusetts regulations to send a valentine to every person in the fifth grade at Mosi Tatupu Middle School, as well as the class turtle.

Image result for happy girls
Fun with lichens!


In the spring, young boys’ fancy turns to things other than girls, Farley has discovered, particulary once pitchers and catchers report for Red Sox spring training. “Once the boys start thinking about baseball,” she says, “all the ‘Be Mines’ and ‘I Go 4 U’s’ are forgotten, leaving a trail of shattered dreams in their wake.”

Image result for boy girl grade school
“I said I liked you? What was I thinking?”


So Farley has devised a special curriculum to help girls get over Valentine’s crushes gone bad–”In Love With Lichens!”–which takes girls’ minds off boys by substituting thoughts of the fascinating if gross-looking hybrid organisms.

“I love you man.  In a non-erotic way–for your knee-buckling change-up.”


Lichens are a composite of a fungus with a photosynthetic partner, usually either a green alga or cyanobacterium. “Boys have fungus between their toes,” explains Diane Forskett, “but they don’t have green alga, although their teeth look that way sometimes. So who wants to be photosynthetic partners with them?”

“Lichens don’t need boys–and neither do we!”


Many lichens (pronounced “LI-kens”) reproduce asexually, another feature that Farley says makes them an appropriate object of study for the girls, as well as a role model for later in life when artificial insemination may seem preferable to listening to a blind date’s fantasy football draft strategy. “A lichen needs a lover,” she notes, “like a fish needs a thesaurus.”

The Runner’s Heart

The runner’s heart beats hardest
as he rounds the final turn.

The finish line in sight at last,
he feels the chambers burn
from blood that pumps within his chest.
His pace is labored, not as fast
as when he started out; anxious, sick
in his stomach. The bile is now burned,
expended in the work of the race.

A few steps and he will have earned
relief from pain, but his legs are thick,
he now wears a different face

than the one he wore before.

The True Meaning of Presidents Day: Great Deals on New Cars!

When I was a boy my mother instilled in me a love of American history.  George Washington was the Father of Our Country, she told me.  Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator.  Ulysses S. Grant could Drink his Entire Cabinet Under the Table, she said, not stinting on the capital letters.  These were the men who made our country great.

Grant:  “Hand me the Presidential bourbon, please.”


But just as many of us who came of age in the 60′s learned that there was a darker side to our nation’s glorious past recounted in history books, I came belatedly to learn that there was a more troubling aspect of Presidents Day, the successor by merger to two Presidential birthdays that fall in the month of February.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to
trade in their 2013 Mazda MPV minivan . . .”


The Presidency, it turns out, while a separate and co-equal branch of Our American Government, was formed for the sole purpose of hawking cars!

It was one score minus four years ago, to sound a Lincolnian note, that the sinister purpose of Presidents Day was revealed to me as I worked late into Halloween Night at a troubled car dealership.  The company’s creditors were at the door, tax liens had been filed by the IRS, and key employees were on the verge of walking out.  “If only,” the owner said, “we can make it to Presidents Day.”

Note how the eye follows you around the dealership when you say “Just looking.”


A neophyte in the greasy service bays of the Presidency, I cocked my head to one side, puzzled, like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound inaudible to human ears.  “Why is that?” I asked, all innocent naivete.

“Because,” the dealer said, his grim countenance showing a faint glimmer of hope, “Presidents Day is when we move the most metal.”

“This baby’s loaded with constitutional powers!”


“I see,” I said, and indeed I saw, if only dimly.  The President of the United States, while less than a king, is greater than a commission-based showroom salesman.  He is the nation’s Sales-Manager-in-Chief.

As with any conspiracy worthy of the name, the signs were there to see if only you had the key.  Take, for example, Washington’s Farewell Address.  “No man ever left a nobler political testament,” said Henry Cabot Lodge, who drove a Studebaker.  That speech was never actually delivered orally, in much the same manner that you can’t expect a used car salesman to actually read you a vehicle’s repair history.  In addition to warnings against the party system and entangling foreign alliances, Washington laid down fundamental principles that car buyers can profit from 220 years later.

1951 Studebaker


“Here, perhaps, I ought to stop,” Washington wrote, after expressing his hope that the administration of every department of the federal government would “be stamped with wisdom and virtue”–the Internal Revenue Service had not yet come into existence.  He then offered “sentiments which are the result of much reflection”:  “A man is not free who is forced to pay for underbody rustproofing, but you should always ask a dealer to throw in free floor mats.”

As for Lincoln, bloviators such as Bill Clinton could have learned from his great but succinct expression of deeply-felt emotion, The Gettysburg Address.  Only 269 words in length, it honors the doleful circumstances of the day while placing them in their larger historical context.  “But, in a larger sense,” Lincoln said, “we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow the oil-stained ground on which the decrepit Honda Civic you have offered as trade-in rests.  My sales manager has consecrated it far above its Blue Book value, whose final offer is beyond my poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget the deal that I’m offering you on this low-mileage, one-owner, fully-loaded cream puff, which was previously owned by an atheist who used it only to drive to church.”

Would you buy a used car from this man?


The United States government sold off its last shares in General Motors in 2013, closing the books on a transaction in which it lost $10.5 billion dollars, but freeing up precious space on the lot for new inventory.  President Trump is the new Sales-Manager-in-Chief, ready to close a deal if you’re ready to buy a car–today.

Be sure and get the lifetime powertrain warranty.

Your Duchess of Cambridge Advisor

Everybody loves Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton, the current Duchess of Cambridge, and why not?  She’s pretty, friendly, does oodles of charity work, and–with her husband–has her own personal coat of arms!

But the future queen consort’s outgoing nature is a source of etiquette dilemmas.  Awkward situations can arise when she interacts with non-royal schmoes like you, straining the “special relationship” between her country and the good old U.S.A.  How do you avoid embarrassment when Kate drops in for a “spot of tea”?  Ask your Duchess of Cambridge Advisor!

Dear Duchess of Cambridge Advisor:

Recently Kate Middleton came over to my house on South Lamine to borrow our hedge trimmer, I guess the Royal Gardener had taken hers home for the weekend.  I said sure, it’s in the garage, I’ll get it.  She said thanks and I said “Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile,” cause I didn’t know exactly where it was.  Sometimes my husband will hang it up on the wall, other times it’s on his tool bench if he has to oil the chain.

Well, I have nothing against the Duchess of Cambridge–or any member of the House of Cambridge, for that matter–but she just stood there and said “I’m fine, think yew veddy much”–and kept her coat on!  I was kinda “put off” by that, I thought she was supposed to be a “friendly” royal, but I guess not.

Will wait to hear from you before I start an international incident.

Mrs. Velma Louise Ritter, Otterville, Missouri

“Me?  Touch you?  Why, I wouldn’t think of it!”


Dear Velma Louise (and I just love that name!)–

You shouldn’t take offense at Kate’s reluctance to remove her coat.  According to Harper’s Bazaar, when Kate goes out she never removes her coat because it is considered an “unladylike” act and could also disrupt her outfit.  I believe she does take off her coat when she’s back at the Royal Palace because she already has two “little royals” with a third on the way.


Dear Duchess of Cambridge Advisor:

Please settle a bet for me and my wife.  As I understand it royal women in England are required to wear “suntan” colored panty hose under the Garter and Hosiery Act of 1632, my wife Murleen says “Kate’s” panty hose are actually popular among the world’s fashion trendsetters and monarchy heiresses, such as Kate, her sister “Pippa,” Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyoncé.  In other words, it’s a choice, not a requirement.

I think I know my English history pretty well, I have been studying to try out for “Jeopardy,” but I have agreed to abide by your decision.

Nowell Shibe, Lake Havasu City, Arizona


I’m going to have to rule with the “ladies” on this one.  “Suntan” colored panty hose are popular among women around the world whose sense of fashion is determined by wearing the opposite of what women like your wife pick out.  As soon as the “bingo, bridge club and shuffleboard” crowd drops an item–boom!–it becomes an “in” thing among royals, billionairesses and celebrities.  Suntan panty hose are also a great way to beat skin cancer–you can have a great tan without ever going outside!

Hey Duchess of Windsor Advisor–

Long-time reader, first-time writer.   Recently Kate Middleton came to Cape Cod for the grand opening of our first acute-care animal hospital.  After she cut the ribbon I went up to shake hands and thank her and she just stood there with her little clutch purse in her hands.  Well, I was “left hanging,” and it was pretty embarrassing.  I took a fair amount of “ribbing” from my so-called “friends,” some of it good-natured but a lot of it pretty cutting.

I have been avoiding people’s gazes ever since and while I am not contemplating suicide, my consumption of wine coolers is up dramatically.  Did I do something wrong?

Nadine Escher, Falmouth, Mass.


Dear Nadine–

Don’t take it personally.  Kate always carries a clutch purse so she won’t seem rude if she doesn’t shake someone’s hands.  You wouldn’t want her to drop it, would you?  What’s she supposed to do, tuck it under her armpit?  What if she’s holding a Diet Coke, too?  You can see how this could lead to all sorts of problems.

Also, I don’t know if you know this but people who work with animals tend to smell funny, and Kate’s reluctance to touch you may have something to do with that.  Be sure you shower once a day whether you need it or not.