Freedonia Bestows Highest Honor on “Great American Friend”

NORGZLIA, Freedonia.  On a windswept landing strip in this city of 248,000 that is often referred to as “The Cleveland of Freedonia,” a trio of dignitaries made its way across the tarmac last night to greet a plane that had just landed at Clauzial Ublek International Airport.  “This will bring much notoriety to our country,” said Noblk Dziuka, Minister of Commerce and Countertop Appliances.  “UN will have hard time keeping us out after this shebangski is concluded.”

Military history of Gibraltar during World War II - Wikipedia

Dziuka was referring to a ceremony tonight for Oren Daily, Jr., a “blogger” from Hoxie, Arkansas, who will be awarded Freedonia’s highest civilian honor, the “Crux dar Eflegmsion” (“Cross of Enthusiasm”), for his work celebrating Freedonian culture in a series of “posts” that stretches back to the dawn of the World Wide Web.

“Before, people thought Freedonia was a bad joke,” says Dziuka.  “Now, because of Mr. Daily, Jr., they think of our country as an off-color joke.”

Sashes –

The award takes the form of a blue sash and a zinc-alloy medal with the motto “Nzi blzies unckutro” (No checks accepted) emblazoned on it.  The medal comes with one or two sumac leaf clusters, depending on the recipient’s achievements and the nation’s current balance of payments deficit.  In lean times, honorees are given a year’s supply of Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks in lieu of decorative accessories.

Consolation prize.


Long-time Freedonia watchers were caught off-guard by the selection of Mr. Daily as the first American to win the award, which is granted by the Freedonian League of Honor bi-annually or whenever they get around to it.  “I had Con Chapman in the Freedonian-American Social Aid and Pleasure Club betting pool,” said Milekni Duderosi, an immigrant to America from the war-torn country that was cobbled together after World War II from an abandoned Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and a number of vacant parking lots.  “I heard he got a snootful when they told him he’d only get one sumac leaf cluster.”

Revive His Flagging Sex Drive The Wall Street Journal Way

What to Do When a Man’s Sex Drive Flags? 

Do new nonsexual things together.  Take up a new hobby, try a new cuisine, ride a roller coaster.

The Wall Street Journal

As I entered the gates of Six Flags Over New England in beautiful Agawam, Massachusetts, I had no idea what surprise my wife had in store for me.  She said she’d be a little late, and that I should meet her at the ticket booth to the “Doomsday Express,” which I was having a hard time processing.  She’d always hated scary amusement park attractions, and would frequently send our sons links to news stories about accidents resulting in death and dismemberment on carnival rides.  “See?” she’d say in the white space above the tale of a gruesome catastrophe, “Maybe mom knows best after all.”  People always say they hate to say they told you so, but they say the check is in the mail too.

We’ve hit a bumpy patch lately, both of us busy with our lives, and my guess–and hope–is that she’s trying to jump-start our relationship by throwing me off guard in some way.  The amusement park has got to be a diversionary tactic–a head fake.  She’ll show up with a really nice picnic basket from Crate & Barrel with a crisp Vouvray and lobster salad sandwiches, and we’ll spend the afternoon poking a stick at the dying embers of our love life.

I see her approach but, instead of a picnic basket, she’s got several containers of take-out food and a large album in her hands–somewhat out of character, as she usually works on her scrapbook in front of the fireplace, so she can destroy any photos of her youthful self that she finds too unflattering to preserve.

Freedonian take-out.


“Hi there!” I call out and rush to help her.  “What’s all this?” I say, half-feigning surprise because I knew she wouldn’t arrive empty-handed.

“I don’t want to eat amusement park food.”

“You don’t?” I say, with sincere disappointment.  Some of my happiest culinary memories involve Prono-Pups, a/k/a “corn dogs”–I would devour as a boy on the grounds of the Missouri State Fair.

“No, all that salt and grease.  Here–take this,” she says as she hands me the album and we sit down on a bench.

“What is this?”

“The food, or the book?”

“Well, both.”

“I don’t know,” she says, somewhat evasively.  “We haven’t had a ‘conjugal visit’ for a long time, so I thought maybe philately and spicy food would put us in the mood.”

I bristle emphatically, hoping to convey to her that whatever sick sex trick she has in mind, I’m not interested.  “I don’t care what your artsy friends are into,” I say, drawing myself to my full 5’10”–and shrinking!–height.  “There are still sodomy laws on the books here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, even if they aren’t enforced.”

She looks at my as if I’m daft–perceptive woman–then she figures out my perplexity.  “Philately isn’t some weird sex thing that was considered perverse just a few years ago but which now deserves not just your tolerance but full-fledged advocacy according to a major political party,” she says breathlessly, and I have to say I’m impressed at the amount of public policy she’s packed between those punctuation marks.  “Philately is a fun hobby for both old and young that includes the collection and appreciation of postage stamps, our little mucilage-backed buddies in the upper-right hand corner of the envelopes we love to send and receive.”

“So . . . an activity that doesn’t involve licking anything?”

“Absolutely not!  If you lick a stamp it loses much of its value to collectors.”

“Well, you’re the expert, I was a numismatist when I was a kid.”

“I thought you were raised Catholic.”

Look closely, and you can see the mark of a nefarious plot to corrupt American youth.


“No–coin collector.  I still get all misty-eyed remembering the crazy conspiracy theories of my youth about the supposed Communist hammer-and-sickle symbol on the Kennedy half dollar.”

“Was that the subject of your prize-losing oration?” she asked.

“You’re conflating two speeches,” I said, using a high-falutin’ term I picked up from either The New Yorker or Grit.  “One was ‘Values: American vs. Communist’ and the other was ‘Did Lee Harvey Oswald Act Alone?'”

“I thought there was something about drugs and space aliens in there too.”

“You have been paying attention!” I said with no small amount of spousal gratification.  “There was also ‘UFOs–Friends or Foes?’ and ‘LSD: Insight–or Insanity?'”

“You really were a Renaissance Boy weren’t you?”

“That was my goal, but I was born six hundred years too late.  So what kind of take-out did you get?”


Lusty but chaste Freedonian youth, making goo-goo eyes at each other.


“Freedonian?  But . . . that’s a fictional country.”

“I know, but you’re always writing about it on that stupid . . . I mean on your ‘blog,’ so I found a place that actually makes it.”

I kissed her on the forehead, the way I did in 9th grade to Pam McAlister–a girl who for all I knew pulled wings off flies.  It’s a way to show affection that is deeper than sexual attraction–in case you’re into that kind of thing.

“So . . . what’s the inspiration for all this ceremony?” I asked as we began to chow down on the cardamom fritters, weasel steaks and sticky eggplant buns that are so popular among Freedonians.

She lowered her eyelids in what I took to be a display of modesty, then she looked up at me through those beautiful blue contact lenses she wears.  I detected a tear in her eyes–then she spoke over a lump in her throat.

“Do you . . . still love me?” she asked.

“Of course I do.  Why do you ask?”

She looked down again.  “Sometimes, you don’t seem . . . interested in me any more.”

I put my arms around her and hugged her tenderly, with as much heartfelt sincerity as I was capable of.  Chicks dig that sort of thing.  “So this crazy combination of a hobby, and weird food . . .”

“Don’t forget the roller coaster.”

“It was your idea of a way to re-kindle our love life?”

“It actually wasn’t my idea.”

“One of your girlfriends came up with this cockamie cocktail of erotic stimulation?”

“No, it was The Wall Street Journal.”

“The ‘Daily Diary of the American Dream.'”

“That’s the one.”

“But I thought you just read that for the earnings reports, and the Mansion section on Friday, and ‘Life & Arts’ in the weekend edition.”

“Apparently they’ve gone into the romantic advice business now too.”

I emitted a little snort, and became flush in the face.  I remembered all those article pitches I’d sent to the Journal over the years on a wide variety of political and artistic topics–ranging in tone from serious to whimsical–only to get the same withering put-down email rejection.  “I wish they’d done this years ago,” I said.


“My love life is the one thing I’m the world’s leading expert on.”

Freedonians Cry Foul as ATMs Give Other Olympians More Money

BEIJING.  The opening ceremony of the XXIVth Winter Olympics had just wound down here tonight when Szlxki “Red” Nvorkgz, a member of the Freedonian Scotch-Mixed Doubles Curling Team, bolted for an ATM kiosk of the Bank of China to get some cash for a night of revelry in the Tian’anmen Square with new friends he’d made from the French and Brazilian squads.  “This will be fun,” he said as he waited in line behind them.  “It is my first trip outside Freedonia, I am eager to see if Chinese sheep are as beautiful as ours back home.”

Freedonian team’s oversized communal bath towel.

But when it came time for Nvorkgz to make a withdrawal, he found that the zlotnys he had deposited at the bank earlier in the day to pay for incidental expenses during his stay here yielded him only one Yuan, the currency of the People’s Republic of China.

“This is so unfair,” he said, as the others in his party folded their currency into their wallets and waved good-bye, leaving him alone and forlorn.  “Why does ATM give them more money than me?”

Colorful native costumes of Freedonia.

His experience was shared by other members of the Freedonian team, leading to a formal protest with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they were being discriminated against by the ubiquitous cash-dispensing equipment.  “We will definitely look into this,” said Pierre de Borchgrave, a Belgian member of the IOC.  “We are unfortunately a volunteer organization, and our resources are stretched thin taking care of athletes from nations that can afford to bribe us with cash and buxom women.”

Freedonia’s currency is thinly traded on world markets because the country is not a member of the European Economic Community, and its money is backed only by the nation’s reserve of weasels, which are historically worth less than precious metals.  “A lot of people never got back into zlotnys once they got burned in the eighties,” says Michael Flores of Forex Trading Partners.  “I’m referring to the 1880s, not the 1980s.”

After a call to the emergency hotline in the bank’s vestibule, Nvorkgz is able to obtain a temporary line of credit by posting collateral in the form of his cousin Togzhan, who lives on a state farm in the Vrlzikd province, but who was able to accompany him to China because the cardamom plants are not yet in bloom.  “You will like her, of this I am sure,” he explains to Assistant Vice President Kim Seo-joon.  “MUCH better than sheep.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Hail, Freedonia!”

For Freedonian-Americans, Lack of Own Holiday is Gauling

KNOB NOSTER, Missouri.  For Zliewg Norblek, the dead of winter is always more painful than it is for most people, a fact he tries without success to conceal.  “First Columbus Day, then Martin Luther King Day, and I have St. Patrick’s Day coming up,” he says over a lump in his throat.  These are all holidays, this reporter asks–what’s so bad about that?

Vertical mobile home park, where Freedonian-Americans live in crowded conditions.

“There is nothing–no day–for Freedonian-Americans,” he says, biting his hand to fight back the tears.  “My children will grow up thinking less of themselves, they already think less of me.”

Norblek’s complaint is a valid one, as the U.S. Congress has consistently refused to grant holidays to immigrants from fictional countries.  “They’re lazy, they don’t write to elected officials or offer bribes the way other ethnic groups do,” says Emil Nostrand, a professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Chillicothe.  “Yes fictional immigrants vote in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, but so do dead people and pets.”

Stores in “Little Freedonia” stock foods from the “old country.”

Freedonia was formed after World War I from abandoned Sears Tool Sheds, windblown mobile homes scattered by a tornado, and a Six Flags Over Minsk amusement park that became insolvent.   The metal of the rides was melted down to make the nation’s currency, leaving  its first citizens with nothing to spend their money on.  “For years the people walked around making change with each other,” says Nostrand.  “Then they discovered that stamp collectors around the world hunger for cancelled postage from obscure third-world countries, and they’ve had a balance of payments surplus ever since.”

Train wrecks provide wholesome diversion for local residents

Part of the problem, say Washington lobbyists who have attempted to aid Freedonian-Americans on a sliding scale pro bono basis for $700 an hour, is that Freedonia hasn’t produced any heroes such as Christopher Columbus, Dr. King, or St. Patrick who could serve as symbolic representatives of their countrymen and women.  Norblek insists this is a pretext, however, citing the valiant resistance offered by Kowlak Mailwke at the Battle of Blzieka in 1692.  “Freedonian forces were retreating across the Valkeokwo River, with the Ruritanians in hot pursuit over the Bridge of Sorrowful Sighs and Eye-Rolling,” he says angrily.  “Mailwke had the presence of mind to stand his ground and impose a 73 vladek toll to cross, and the Ruritanians turned tail and ran.”

For now, however, Freedonian-Americans suffer in silence, or at best express their anger and frustration under their breath.  “It is about the dignity of all God’s children on this earth,” says Miroslik Venuvva as she emerges from St. Glzilsk’s Church in this small midwestern town, which boasts the largest concentration of Freedonian-Americans outside of Cazenovia, New York.  What about France, known in ancient times as “Gaul,”  this reporter asks; it has never had a day to honor the contributions its natives have made to American life.  “Pah,” Venuvva says as she spits on the ground.  “The French are a bunch of cheese-eating demi-weasels.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Hail, Freedonia!”

Ignacio’s Special American Christmas

This is a story of a teenaged boy whom I will call Ignacio. He was brought to America from a village in South America to live in a small town for a year as a foreign exchange student.

He lived with the Cash family. Mr. Cash owned a feed and grain store, and Mrs. Cash was a homemaker. They had three children, a boy about Ignacio’s age and two girls, one older and one younger.

Mrs. Cash wanted to climb the social ladder in the small town where they lived. The family could not yet afford to join the town’s sole country club, and she was concerned that even when they had accumulated enough money to do so, they might be turned down. After all, the owner of a feed and grain store did not occupy the same stratospheric social altitude of a chiropractor, a funeral director or a lawyer.

“. . . and this is our beautiful new sewage plant!”

So Mrs. Cash sought out opportunities to improve the family’s status. She chose the right church, played in two bridge clubs, and did charitable work. She volunteered to lead tours of the many recent improvements that made the town a wonderful place to live, taking visitors to see the new sewage treatment facility north of town. It was brand, spanking new–and you could hardly smell a thing!

Mr. Cash worked hard for every nickel he made, and he hated the thought of ever having to give one back. If a customer brought back an auger or a drill that didn’t work, he’d say “Sorry–store credit only.” Some people grumbled that the only time you ever got any cash out of him was when he gave you his business card.

As the holidays drew near, Ignacio was feeling homesick, and Mrs. Cash tried to cheer him up with the prospect of Christmas Day. “It will be wonderful,” she said. “There will be many, many presents under the tree.”

“Even for me?” Ignacio asked.

“Especially for you!” Mrs. Cash said, because Ignacio’s presence in the house had brought a great deal of notoriety to the family. A reporter from The Smithville Picayune-Item had written a story about Ignacio and the Cash family, and it had appeared in the paper with a large photograph–on the front page!

All of this was new to Ignacio. In the humble village in South America where he came from, they knew the story of the birth of Jesus, but nothing about the giving of gifts. Christmas morning was a time to celebrate with family and play, and later to eat a big meal.

“Where do these presents come from?” he asked Mrs. Cash.

“From Santa Claus, but we buy them ourselves, too,” she explained. “We have charge accounts at all the nice stores in town. You go downtown and pick things out, all right?”

And so Ignacio put on his wool coat with the sheepskin lining that he had brought with him from his native country, and walked downtown. He went from store to store, picking out things that looked nice. When he was asked how he wished to pay, he would say “Put it on the charge account of Senorita Cash.” “Excellent,” the sales clerk would say, and would throw in gift wrapping for free.

As Christmas approached, excitement began to build at the Cash house as everyone admired the many beautiful presents under the tree.

“Oh, Ignacio,” said Ruth Ann, the younger daughter. “I can’t imagine what’s in all those boxes!”

“It is a surprise,” he said. “You will see soon enough!”

The children and Ignacio were old enough to wait until Mr. and Mrs. Cash had woken up before going downstairs on Christmas morning.

“Well,” said Mrs. Cash. “Since this is Ignacio’s first Christmas in America, we should let him go first.”


“Yes,” said Norberta, the older daughter, as she picked up a package and handed it to him. He opened it up and inside was a lovely sweater. “Gracias, Norberta,” he said.

The gift giving continued around the room until it was Ignacio’s turn to give someone a gift. “Now you pick out one of your gifts,” said Mrs. Cash.

“All right,” Ignacio said, and he took a box wrapped in red ribbon from under the tree, returned to his chair and began to open it.

The members of the Cash family looked at each other with surprise, but said nothing. When Ignacio had finished unwrapping the package, they saw that it was a pair of festive red pants.

“Those are very nice,” said Mrs. Cash, with a tone of repressed disapproval in her voice. “Perhaps you did not understand me when I explained Christmas to you.”

“No?” he asked her with a puzzled look on his face.

“Apparently not,” she replied. “When you buy a present, you buy it for someone else.”

Ignacio looked around at the others.

“Ah,” he said. “I buy–for you!”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Cash.

“Oh–the present is not for me?”

“No,” said Mrs. Cash.

“Ah,” Ignacio said, pursing his lips and nodding his head as if to show that he understood. “This is . . . how you say . . . “

“Unfortunate?” asked Ruth Ann.

“Yes,” said Ignacio. “I have bought many things for myself–accidentally?”

Mr. Cash gave out a little snort. “Well, that’s a fine how-de-do.”

Mrs. Cash intervened in the hope of preserving the spirit of good cheer that had prevailed only moments before. “That’s all right,” she said to Ignacio. “You just pick out the thing you like the most, and we’ll take the others back when the stores open tomorrow.”

A keeper.

“All right,” Ignacio said, and proceeded to open up the other boxes. There was a pen and pencil set, a pair of warm pajamas, a funny Chia Pet of a little dog–so many nice things!

After much deliberation, Ignacio decided to keep the Chia Pet, and to give the other gifts to Mr. Cash to return. He had received so many gifts from the members of the Cash family, he wasn’t even disappointed to lose the items he had shopped for with such great care for himself.

The next day, Mr. Cash hit the streets of town bright and early, grumbling about how much time his unexpected chore would take away from his duties at his own store. He stopped first at Pattison’s Department Store, where Ignacio had bought the bright red pants.

“Say,” Mr. Cash said as he accosted the first sales clerk he saw. “I’d like to return these pants.”

“Do you have the receipt?” the clerk asked.

“Well no, but you can check our charge account.”

“Hmph,” the clerk sniffed. “What’s wrong with them?”

“Well, uh, nothing. It’s just that our foreign exchange student didn’t understand what the deal was when he bought them.”

The clerk looked at Mr. Cash skeptically. “And what was the deal?”

Mr. Cash grew angry. “The deal was, it was Christmas, and he was supposed to be buying presents for everybody else!”

“But he could have walked in here and bought a pair of pants for himself–right?”

“Well, right. But he didn’t know. He’s from some godforsaken village in the Andes, where they burn llama turds for fuel.”

The clerk examined the pants for rips or stains, then, when he was satisfied that they were undamaged, he spoke. “I can give you store credit,” he said, “but not cash.”

“Store credit!” Mr. Cash exploded. “We just spent a bundle in here on presents! I want cash.”

“Sorry,” said the clerk. “No can do.”

Mr. Cash was stunned, and angry. “To hell with you!” he shouted, then spun on his heels and walked out.

At the next store, the story was the same; no cash, just credit. And at the next, and the next, all down Ohio Street, from Broadway to Main Street. The after shave, the model car kit, the fancy Italian loafers. No one, it seemed, ever gave cash refunds.

And so Mr. Cash headed home, loaded down with Ignacio’s presents. He trudged up the front sidewalk, climbed the steps and, working one hand free under the armful of packages, pushed the doorbell.

Ignacio came to the door, his Chia Pet in hand, and opened it. When he saw Mr. Cash standing there with the presents that had been carried away that morning, his eyes lit up in wonder.

“This,” he said, “is the most wonderful Christmas ever!”

Moral: Do unto others and first chance they get, they’ll do unto you.

Leftover Halloween Candy a Godsend in War-Torn Freedonia

DOS FLEDAN, Freedonia. An American C-17 Globemaster cargo plane touched down on a bombed-out landing strip here this morning with the first shipment of leftover Halloween candy from the U.S., bringing sustenance to a nation that has had to get by with little more than hope lately.

“Our prayers are answered,” Flen Gleboltz shouted over the noise of the jet engines. “I hope there are many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the belly of the great songbird of mercy!”

“The kids didn’t take any of the Bit-o-Honeys.”

In a makeshift hangar, a group of Freedonian women begins to ululate in a rhythmic, high-pitched chant; “Alla-lalla-kitta-katta-breaka-barra!” they sing over and over. What does it mean, this reporter asks Gleboltz. “It is a traditional song of supplication,” he says. “It means ‘Give me a break, break me off a bite of that KitKat Bar!’”

Human rights groups have criticized Western indifference to Freedonia’s plight, but Marcy Wilbur, a housewife in Shaker Heights, Ohio, says she isn’t callous, just confused. “You’ve got the Greater Curds, the Lesser Curds, the fundamentalists–how the heck am I supposed to tell them apart?” she says as she seals a package of leftover sweets. “I can’t have this candy in the house, though. I’ll gain ten pounds, and I’ve got the charity ball season coming up.”

Greater Curd freedom fighters.

Marcy has adopted an ecumenical approach, sending slightly-stale candy to everyone involved in the conflict, just as she made no distinction when she handed out treats last night for Halloween. “I know some of those kids put shaving cream on my Lexus, but my policy is, kids will be kids. Everybody gets a treat!”

Charity ball season is upon us!

Freedonia has been beset by armed conflict since the end of World War I, when the nation was created out of Moldavia, an abandoned Six Flags amusement park and leftover mashed potatoes from a Thanksgiving dinner that ended in a family dispute. The principal aggressors are the Greater Curdish or “Large Curds,” a militia organization whom the Freedonian government has assisted in their attacks on the Lesser Curdish or “Small Curds.”

“This is more than a fight over cottage cheese,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  “We call upon the nations of the developed world to ship their leftover Milky Ways and Three Musketeers bars to Freedonia, which I understand is located somewhere in either Europe or Asia.” The former Prime Minister of Portugal was seen filling his pockets with Snickers candy bars as he left the news conference. “I used to love these things as a kid,” he admitted with a guilty smile.

Guterres: “I could really go for a Snickers right now.”

The US declared the conflict genocidal in 2016, at which point the UN commissioned a study. Two years later the UN released a white paper stating that the situation was “a crisis,” but the report’s final draft referred not to the loss of life in Freedonia but to the lack of parking near the U.N.’s headquarters in New York.

“Look–a Security Council member. Isn’t he a hunk?”

When asked if the UN would eventually join the rest of the world in treating the conflict as genocidal, Guterres demurred, saying it was not his place to tell U.N. delegates how to vote. “I can’t get them to agree on the menu for the Miss Universe contest,” a UN-sponsored beauty pageant, he said with frustration. “Finally I have to say–’Chicken, fish, prime rib–those are your only choices!’”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Hail, Freedonia!”

Durz Nikolaj, “Freedonian Bob Dylan,” Dead at 68

NORGZDUK, Freedonia.  Fans of Freedonian folk music were in mourning this morning as church bells rang out over the town square in this, ground zero of Freedonia’s “Bohemian” culture.  “He was the hope of our generation,” says Marizj Nblot, a 63-year-old woman who came here from her rural village of Zliek to honor the memory of Durz Nikolaj, often referred to as the “Bob Dylan of Freedonia,” who died in his sleep last night.  “He was our light,” she says, “when incandescent bulbs were not available in state-run hardware stores.”


Durz Nikolaj, singing “Passing Winds of Freedom.”

Nikolaj rode the wave of the Freedonian folk revival that began in the early sixties after the youth of his country were inspired to pick up their guitars by Dylan and other singers they heard on Radio Free Freedonia, a U.S. State Department front that used American culture to foment unrest.  “We would sit around in the basements of our parents’ apartment building, tuning in to the broadcasts that opened our ears to what was happening in the world,” says Nblot, whose face is wrinkled with age but whose hair still falls to her waist, the style that was fashionable in her youth.  “Our parents would appear at the top of the stairs and call down ‘Come to bed!’” she recalls with a smile, “but we would reply ‘Sorry, our unrest has been fomented, we’re not tired!’”

“I want to boil your dumplings, baby.”

Like Dylan, Nikolaj rejected the commercial music that played on Freedonian radio at the time, and reached back to his country’s fertile folk culture for inspiration.  “He stole all my material,” says Emil Llorki, a member of the Flotzi minority that suffered widespread discrimination until the sixties, at which time the Freedonian government opted for a narrower, more focused discrimination.  “He would take my songs, change a few words, and boom, he’s got co-eds from Norgorad Polytechnic all over him like a cheap vzliski,” the open-necked peasant shirt that Nikolaj wore in concerts.

Miazlki Nialowa

Nikolaj never had a hit in English-speaking markets due to his halting grasp of the nuances of American slang.  His free translations of black patois dialect often left U.S. record executives, not known for high-level literary skills, puzzled.  “When you say you want to ‘Change my baby’s rear tractor tires’–what exactly does that mean?” recalls Clive Hampton, who worked at Columbia Records before starting his own boutique label.  “I had trouble getting Durz to understand that American teenagers have no experience with turnip dumplings.”

Nikolaj leaves several widows, including Miazlki Nialowa who nursed him back to health after a unicycle accident that left him scarred and caused him to withdraw from the folk scene for several years before returning with a new sound and a singing voice nearly an octave higher than before.  “He had some sort of groin injury, he would never tell me what, exactly,” Nialowa said.  “He said it was for the best, he didn’t really like children.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Hail, Freedonia!”

“Lawyers Without Borders” Bring Aid, Strife to Third World

MALCZW, Freedonia. In this land-locked, vowel-starved country, many residents have never even seen a lawyer, much less retained one. “It is both a blessing and a curse,” says tribal chieftain Mzrz Glzorp. “We do not have to listen to boring dweebzskis in wing tips, on the other hand I don’t understand the warranty on my glzblzxti,” a three-wheeled cart used to haul lumber and produce.

A busted glzblzxti


When Matt Costro, a third-year associate at Hacker, Flem & Koff LLP, a New York law firm, heard of the plight of the Freedonians, he decided to do something about it. “I really challenged my firm,” he says with all the eagerness and optimism of the twenty-seven year-old that he is. “I could sit here at my desk and just bill a bunch of hours, or I could try to make the world a better place.”

“We could do a leveraged buy-out for their chickens . . .”


So Matt started Lawyers Without Borders, a non-profit modeled on Doctors Without Borders, the organization that sends physicians into remote and war-torn areas of the world to do good without regard to the national, cultural or political orientation of its patients. “So many of these people are beyond the reach of regular pro bono activities,” Costro says, referring to legal services offered for free to the indigent. “We had a chance to really distinguish ourselves.”

Victim of the “Evil Eye”


Matt and his colleague Bob Pernstein decided to take a two-month leave of absence to get the Freedonian program off the ground, going door-to-door in villages such as Malczw to find people with unmet legal needs. “Hello,” Matt calls into a mud hut where tribal elders are smoking clay pipes while humming chlazrks, a type of folksong that combines tales of woe similar to African-American blues, but with a rapid beat that resembles a polka. “Anybody need a leveraged buy-out in here?” says Pernstein, a corporate lawyer by training.

“Can I have a legal pad–please?”


Norkz Chmzzia, the guide and translator for the American lawyers, explains the transaction to the males within. “It is a deal where you borrow a lot of money to buy something, and you use the same thing as collateral for the loan,” he says, as several of the men nod in understanding. One of the tribesmen speaks: “So you double your money by folding it in half?” he says in his native tongue, and the others break out in hearty laughter while the two lawyers wait for the translation. “Yes,” says Pernstein with a sheepish smile after the wisecrack is explained to him, “that about sums it up.”

Later Costro and Pernstein counsel a distraught widow who fears that a neighbor has put a curse–the “evil eye”–on her only daughter, Eliakrzi. “You must protect her,” the old woman says. “She is my only hope in this world.” After a few hours of investigation and drafting, the two lawyers have put together a complaint for injunctive relief and have served the offender–a young woman who is competing for the attention of Zlkrstri Mzzlxkr, an eligible bachelor who owns twenty goats–with a temporary restraining order. The suit throws the village into an uproar as families take sides for and against Eliakrzi and her rival, hurling insults and spitting at each other.

“Before the lawyers come, we were always running out of things to argue about.”


“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” says Costro, reflecting on the strife they have brought to this formerly peaceful village. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Pernstein replies, “but this is a start.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collections “Lawyers Are People Too–Sort Of” and “Hail, Freedonia.”

In Arms Control Breakthrough, Freedonia Gives Up Hairspray

ZXLGIEW, Freedonia.  The line outside Krlzisky’s Dry Goods and Notions Store stretched down the street and around the corner of Gen. Pokls Armeglzark Avenue yesterday, but the many women–and a few men–who waited with spray cans in their hands seemed unperturbed by the long wait.  “We get good deal,” said Anka Frko-Postule, holding out her aging can of White Rain hairspray for this reporter to examine.  “Two containers evaporated goat’s milk, a head of cabbage, and tickets to see Socialist Fun Girls on Ice show in 2026 if I am still alive.”

Image result for soviets waiting in line
“I got the large economy size, thought it would last ’til World War III.”


The “deal” the forty-something housewife speaks of is a United Nations-brokered disarmament initiative in which Freedonian citizens will give up their fleurocarbon-laced consumer products, which this land-locked nation has required that citizens maintain in readiness as a defense against nuclear weapons since the end of World War II.

“It is not only people’s right to have fleurocarbons, it is duty,” said Deputy Assistant Under-Secretary of Defense Klaisko Minitro.  “You never know when some bully superpower get itchy-finger, hairspray is our first line of anti-missile defense.”

“Maybe if I sleep with Klaisko Minitro I get bigger apartment.”


Fleurocarbons were banned in the United States in 1978 after concerns that the organofluorine compounds were eating a hole in the earth’s ozone layer, but Freedonia did not follow suit.  “Why should we follow suit,” Minitro asks contemptuously.  “Destruction of life on earth is not a card game, where my three of clubs trumps your two of hearts.  It is serious business.”

Image result for beehive hairdo

The theory on which Freedonian Civil Defense authorities imposed the nationwide mandate could never be replicated by scientists in other nations, leading Western experts to believe it was based on superstition and a secret message that The Klogzks, the state-funded band that was the nation’s answer to The British Invasion, had embedded in their breakthrough album “Don’t Touch My Milch Cow!”  “If you play side 2 backwards under a blacklight you can hear it,” says Jarek Nozvi, a writer for Freedonian Music Scene Today.  “It is mathematical so I can’t explain, but ozone holes apparently neutralize nuclear warheads with sticky hairspray residue.”

Image result for bad british invasion band
                             The Klogzks

A nation-wide education campaign was required to persuade Freedonian women to give up hairspray, which has maintained their coiffures at stratospheric heights that were the envy of other Eastern bloc countries.  “I will miss the mounds of hair piled high on my girlfriend’s head,” says Nozvi.  “It was sensuous to play with, and I often found loose change in her beehive she had forgotten about.”

In Bid to Boost Image, Freedonia Bans National Self-Deprecation

OZGWUG, Freedonia.  Dieboldz Fleknez is well-known in this provincial city of 33,000 as a “card” and a “cut-up,” according to Mina Vlkstk, proprietor of a coffee and pastry shop.  “He comes in, soon everyone is happy at his many old chestnuts,” she says in broken English as she rolls her eyes while wiping down a recently vacated table.  “I have heard them so many times I bring myself to laugh only as matter of customer relations.”

“The coffee is almost as bitter as our waitress!”


But today, Fleknez is less outgoing than usual; he takes a seat with his back to the wall where he can view patrons coming in the entrance, and when he finally starts to crack a joke, he does so by leaning over to Okeip Nodorno with his hand cupped over his mouth in the manner of an American professional athlete trying to conceal his comments from opponents who may see them broadcast from long-range television cameras.

“Did you hear the one about the Freedonian mother-in-law?”


Fleknez is feeling the pinch of regulations barring national self-deprecation that went into effect today in this landlocked central European nation, which has struggled for many years to overcome the perception that it is backwards economically and socially.  “Why do we put ourselves down so much?” says Assistant Minister of Culture Novtz Arriandzk.  “That is the job of other countries’ smart-alecks, let us not ‘shoot ourselves in the gizzard.'”

Blessing of the Weird Metal Structures, Ozgwug.


He repeats a time-honored Freedonian joke to make his point, making clear that his re-telling is enclosed entirely by unseen quotation marks so that he is ‘mentioning’ the jape and not saying it himself.  “‘Did you know that all Freedonians are ignorant serfs?’ says one Freedonian man to another,” he begins.  “A second man replies ‘I do not understand your question.'”

Racial and ethnic self-deprecation is widespread, but varies in intensity among different peoples.  “The French are the worst, they don’t ‘do’ self-deprecation and think their merdre doesn’t stink,” says Emil Nostrand, professor of linguistics at SUNY-Cazenovia.  “Maybe they’ll start to find fault with themselves if the Freedonians invade and take them over.”

Freedonian woman puts “evil eye” on American blogger.


But that is unlikely to happen as long the people of this long-suffering nation score so low on self-esteem that special instruments are needed to detect it.  “We were once a brave and proud people,” says Izkqo Vaiel-Bienzi, a retired army colonel.  “Now, we would leave if the French told us to come back later, they were busy eating snails.”