31 July 2013

Classy Boarding Call

Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for your feigned patience, we're ready to begin our preliminary secret pre-boarding of RedactedTM Airlines flight four five seven five two with service to Saint Brisbane and parts beyond.  

At this time all Upper Class passengers, that includes passengers with net worth over say fifteen or twenty mill, anyone who employs a butler or a livery boy, or it's too far to walk from your house to the entrance to your estate, those with subsidiary companies or substantial overseas holdings – basically if you have to ask, you don't belong – upper crust passengers please come forward for boarding in lane 1, that's the lane strewn with rose petals, and don't forget to pick up your dividend checks for earnings on your portfolio during this gruelling four-minute wait, for which we do apologize again but we had to scrub the stench of riff-raff off the plane first, you understand.  While we're boarding our upper class passengers we'd like to remind the rest of you no jeering or catcalling, these people have earned everything they own and deserve to be worshipped, not pelted with wet stinkies. 

Okay at this time we'll begin boarding all of our Upper Middle Class passengers, that includes people with net worth between several hundred thousand and several million dollars or so, those with BMWs or Lexuseses, or with professional degrees who really don't work very hard yet bring home way more than they can reasonably spend, passengers who repeatedly take vacations on other continents, or own an extra house or three, if your kids are at an exclusive private school, you have a golf club membership, a nice inground pool or a cellar full of expensive wines, we'll go ahead and board you now in lane 2, you'll notice the carpet is a wee bit softer and we do wish you a nice flight.  

For passengers traveling with small children, please strap your child snugly into one of the carrying cases provided, one child per case, please don't give them any stuffed animals as they could easily suffocate, kiss them softly on the forehead before stuffing in the gag and tossing them on the pile over here to my right, they'll be loaded on by forklift just before takeoff.

Now let's board our Middle Class and Working Class passengers, that'll be people with decent jobs, anyone living comfortably but not saving much if anything, who could be destitute within a year by a downsizing or a medical crisis, teachers, construction workers and retail managers, people who own one car they bought new and if they have a second car they got it used or it's old, anyone whose ATV or snowmobile is beat up because you actually use it, or who owns a boat less than 18 feet in length, or an aboveground pool, if you used to have season tickets but can’t afford it any more … middle and working class passengers please come forward for boarding in lane 3.

Okay at this time all Lower Class passengers are free to board, that means all the rest of you, poor huddled slackjawed masses yearning to breathe freely through your noses, those of you without steady income or who work at iHop but you’re thinking of quitting because it sucks, if you have less than $75 to your name but you have a check coming next week … well this is getting sad and I'd rather not continue, you know who you are, lower class masses just shove yourselves up to the front here and try not to drool all over each other please, you'll each get your small bag of crackers without clawing anybody's eyes out.

And finally before we push away from the gate here we'd like to board all liars, mountebanks and architects, sniveling ingrates, any kleptomaniacs traveling with small children, ventriloquists or their acolytes, anybody with a cousin in Cincinnati, invertebrates, sesquipedalians, bilingual drag queens, and inter-dimensional beings … please propel yourselves forward and we'll get you strapped to the side of the plane and ready for take-off just as quickly as possible here now, thanks so much.

19 July 2013

What I Learned Climbing Everest by Ronald the Chimpanzee

There are certain peaks that every chimpanzee dreams of climbing, and once you've done Kilimanjaro it's pretty much Everest or bust.  But lo was I unprepared for the adventure that lay in store for myself and our group of seven mandrills, three lemurs and a pasty-faced tree vole we let tag along for entertainment value.

On our first day at base camp it was mighty cold.  We crouched in our tents to avoid the wind, and drank from water bladders to ameliorate dehydration.  I read some tea leaves to forestall boredom and then brewed them to fight off the chill.  Protective lip balms were applied to ward off the ugly fingers of chapping.  We camped there for what seemed like 2 days and 4 nights, but later when I checked the itemized bill I found we had only been there for less than eighteen hours, and that someone had watched a dirty movie and charged it to my tent.  It was frickin cold at base camp but we suffered it bravely, after all we had brought it on ourselves and there is no sense complaining about the cold when you are trying to scale an icy mountain summit.  It is simply the nature of the beast.

Once we began our ascent, one thing went wrong after another.  We inhaled all the Cheetos in the first few hours and the rest of the climb were running on empty quality-snackage-wise.  We ran out of extension cords and had to cut loose the space heaters we were using to warm the inner linings of our thermal undergarments.  After lunch we lost two lemurs who tried to set up the dart board on the edge of a precipice and found out the hard way that plummeting to your death is a one-way ride.

Nonetheless we kept our chins up and our bellies to the rock face as we inched our way closer and closer to our ultimate goal.

Around two o'clock it became apparent that we might not be able to make the summit that day without risking getting stuck at the top with no way down, and that we'd best look for a place to bivouac.  We wasted an hour and a half arguing about how to spell bivouac because a white panther wanted to text his galpal to tell her he wouldn't be home for dinner and he was afraid a misspelling could spell the end of his fragile relationship.

And there we were, facing perhaps the greatest decision any of us will ever make.  Having come so far and endured so much, would we have the courage to turn back now? You think about how many chimpanzees have attempted this summit, how many of your fellow great apes have faced that agonizing decision whether to push ahead or to turn back, just hundreds of meters from a lifelong obsession, knowing you may never get another chance to get this close, but at the same time aware of the nearness of death, the number of strong and brave mandrills who have perished on the craggy abutments of this cold, heartless rock.

Most of the group turned back, and I can't say as I blame them.  Me and Robbie the Aardvark decided to go for it.  But we hadn't climbed another seventy-five meters before Robbie starts weighing me down with major negativity, going on about nothing to go back to, no hope for the aardvark race in the grand scheme of things, how he's not some [deleted] armadillo who can barely afford his Mavs tickets any more and why hadn't Cuban simply re-signed Tyson Chandler, they'd still be right there with the big boys.

When you're hanging off the side of a jagged cliff with no way up or down, five hundred feet above a horrible death, you have a lotta time to think about your life, why you had kids, or didn't, all those celebrity recipes you never got to try and who you should have taken fifth in your 2007 fantasy football draft.

Maybe the biggest lesson I learned is that no matter how stupid your goal, if anything gets in your way you have to just block it out and push it aside, maybe unhook one of its spikes so that it falls screaming into the abyss rather than weigh you down and stop you from achieving whatever stupid goal you have set for yourself.

The end.

Editor's Note: This is a true story in some sense; some names and species have been changed and all the exposed privates blurred in the interest of good old fashioned common decency.

09 July 2013

Smarty Plants

Modern plants can be smart and sexy – but how smart are they really?  Huh?

Humans are generally considered the smartest animals.  This claim is based on our high ratio of brain to body size, the invention of television and deep-frying, and of course our mastery of deficit financing.

But turning to the plant kingdom for a second, who are the leading intellectual lights over there?  Which plants are more intelligent than other plants?  Which plants are relative geniuses and which the purest simpletons?  If the plants all had a huge Jeopardy tournament, who would win?  What are the smartest plants, and which are by and large a bunch of assclowns?

What is needed is some kind of ranking system so that we can rank the top 100 smartest plants and figure out which one is smartest in absolute terms, and then bestow some kind of award on it and update its Wikipedia page. 

Many will argue that such a question is meaningless, as plants do not have brains and so far they have been unified in their refusal to submit to the SATs or indeed any form of standardized testing whatsoever.  But let us consider the question from another point of view.  Internal representations of the world: check.  Ability to formulate and execute complicated long-term plans: check.  Responds to changes in the environment in a way calculated to improve its lot: check.  Yep, plants are plenty smart enough to be ranked.  They may even be smart enough to rank themselves, so peer voting should be included in the evaluation process.  Or perhaps we'll need an open competition to decide the issue, like a spelling bee but tailored to assess plant intelligence, then we can decide the thing fairly, on a level field if you will (which wouldn't be fair to climbing plants or those that thrive on rocky outcroppings).  The revenue generated from the sales of rights to televise the tourney (including but not limited, of course, to the ancillary rights) could help cover the costs of the whole thing and possibly leave enough left over to provide a few college scholarships for the smartest plants or further pad the foreign bank accounts of well-heeled human investors.

Plants have been given the marshmallow test and some classes, in particular the succulents, have shown remarkable capacity for delaying gratification.  However, when exposed to chemical x, which promotes root tip growth and nutrient absorption, none were able to resist for more than a few microseconds.

What about the sexiest plants?  I nominate the vulva – wait no, the orchid is supposed to be sexier but they are sooo expensive, and paying a lot for stuff is not something I find particularly sexy, so I'm sticking with the vulva, at least until somebody can show me a hotter piece of plant ass.

And what about the highly offensive typecasting of plants in Hollywood movies of the 50s and 60s? 

I could say more on this subject but perhaps another time, my ride is here.