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Stop Complaining


Hi.
I’m writing to you today because I’ve been hearing you complain about your job, and it’s pissing me off. Who am I, you ask? I am the puma at the zoo. Or, if you prefer, the jaguar, or the cougar. Perhaps even mountain lion, or panther, maybe. I am known by many names, all of which strike fear into the hearts of men, women and children everywhere. According to the fat kid pressing his face against my enclosure right now, I am “a tiger.” Well, fuck that kid, I could eat him in two seconds. Except I can’t. Do you know why? Because I’m in a zoo, asshole. That’s my job. I don’t strike fear into anybody. So sure, your boss is a dick, or a bitch, or blah blah blah.
The job description is essentially “be a puma, but in a zoo.” That’s not so bad, right? Hmm, how about “be a human, so I can fucking eat you”? How does that sound? Just shut up. So why did I apply for this job? Hmmm, well, I was walking in the jungle ssssthhhppp… “Ouch. What the fu…zzzzzzzzz. Where am I?”

Pretty much that.

Oh, you heard that I was born in captivity? No, no, you’re thinking of the retarded polar bears.  I was born in the jungle, where I ate things like, um, you whenever the fuck I wanted to. Now this. Awesome.
All day long, I have to put up with fat, delicious humans strolling by my tiny little enclosure, dangling their snack-sized offspring tantalizingly close to the glass so that they can marvel at how bad-ass I am. At your job, do they feed you cow manure and then dangle pizza in front of you? I doubt it. I know, I know. You just hate your job so much because it's not what you were meant to do with your life. Boy, I hear you on that one, dickhead. You’ve really inspired me. I think I’ll go get another job. Oh wait, that’s right, I’m in a fucking zoo. If I try to leave, I get shot. I guess I’ll just keep on keepin’ on.
Do you know what I do at night, besides blend in with my surroundings so perfectly that God must get a boner when he thinks about it? First, I try to get the monkeys to shut up. In the jungle, that was simple. I just growled. That worked, because, you know, monkeys are so smart, almost like people! You’d have to be pretty stupid to keep making noise when there was a growling puma around. Except, of course, if you’re in a zoo. Now I have to climb up the shitty ass dead tree in my enclosure and stare them down. That usually works, because primates are pussies. Then I climb down the tree like a ninja from God’s wet dream about ninjas, and think about how the fuck this all could have happened. Because what the hell else am I going to do in a zoo? So I think, “I am descended from something called the sabre toothed tiger. Sabre. Tooth. Tiger. And humans are descended from, what, grenade hand elephants? No…um… laser eyed bears? Helicopter gun anything? Nope. I think of the human family tree, and I see ‘homo’ this and ‘erectus’ that. And yet here I am, in a Plexiglas cage in Minneapolis. What. The. Fuck.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I could care less about sexual orientation, you are all equally delicious. My broader point is this: somewhere along the line, you pussy humans just blew right past us pumas. Not just to the point where we don’t eat you as often, but to the point where I am in a zoo. I am in a zoo, and you are in a house that, for all I know, has one of those shitty ass paintings of me in it. And who knows? Maybe you have this awesome tattoo of me tearing through your pathetic human biceps to show how hardcore you are. Maybe you go home to your cougar wife, because you think of “cougar” as something old that you want to fuck. What a coincidence! I think of your wife as something I would eat while you watched, asshole. Anyway, every night I think that, cry some acidic puma tears, then I try to get some sleep. Because, after all, I have a busy day tomorrow of wanting to die.
I’ll wrap this up, because I know your boss would probably jab at you with an electric pole if they caught you reading this at work. Oh no wait, your job sucks so bad you never go on the internet at work, I forgot. Anyway, I would just like to ask you to stop bitching about your jobs. Your job might suck, but you are not a puma in a zoo. You can leave your job. In fact, you can go wherever you want. Zoo pumas? We can only go to, um, oh right: the fucking zoo. The zoo, and also the afterlife, so we’ll see you there. And that’s where I’ll be eating you. F.Y.I.

Love,

The Zoo Puma

Hightower, Episode V, Part One

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:

The city was buzzing. As I walked down the crowded Manhattan sidewalks, I noticed that I was surrounded by young, hot people. I also noticed some shady looking people, but that just reminded me that this city never sleeps. As I entered my building, I ducked into a side hallway and took the elevator up to our penthouse hideout headquarters. V.J. was taking in the nighttime views through our huge windows.

“It never sleeps, does it?” I asked.

"Nope," he replied, “and neither can we. I have something I want you to see.”

He brought me over to one of his computers, and brought up a picture of someone. “Who’s that?” I asked.

“It’s Chow Shen Shi. He’s one of the richest billionaires in China. He’s here in New York for a billionaire convention, and he’s asked a favor of us.”

“A favor," I asked, “What could he want from us?”

“He wants us to keep an eye on his nineteen year-old daughter.” With that, he pulled up another picture on his screen, and this one was of a smoking hot nineteen year old Chinese girl.

“Yes. Yes, tell me you said yes,” I said.

“I did,” he answered, “but there’s only one problem. She’s missing.”

“Missing?” I asked.

“Kidnapped,” he answered. “And here’s the catch: no ransom note, no nothing. It’s like she just vanished.”

“Hot girls like that don’t just vanish. Not on my watch.”

“Where are you going?” V.J. asked as I turned to leave.

“I’ve got a date. I’m going out for Chinese.”

-----

I walked into the Zen Room; it was the hottest club in town. I knew we were in deep on this one, and I needed a drink to clear my head. I walked up to the bar, and slid in between two hot women.

“I’ll have a drink,” I said, and the bartender brought me one. I scanned the club, and noticed a Saudi Arabian gentlemen sitting at a V.I.P. table, surrounded by hot chicks. “That’s too many hot chicks,” I thought, “even for a billionaire.” I asked the bartender “Who is that gentleman over there?”

“Oh, him?” he answered. “That’s Prince Abdul Saleem. He’s a Saudi billionaire. Probably here for the convention, like the rest of them. I’d be careful, though…check it out.” He motioned to the men standing around Saleem, amongst all the hot chicks. They were wearing wired earpieces, and definitely packing heat. “Security,” I said.

“Yep,” the bartender answered. “I guess he needs it because he’s so rich.”

“Or maybe he needs it for something else,” I said. “Thanks for the drink.”

“No problem,” he answered.

“Not yet.”
-----

I went back to the penthouse hideout headquarters. V.J. was tinkering with something in his workshop. “What’ve you got there, buddy?” I asked.

“It’s a prototype I’m working on in my spare time. I call it Robotic Unmanned Futuristic Undercover Spy, R.U.F.U.S. for short.”

“It looks like one of those robotic pet dogs from Japan,” I said.

“Exactly, but it’s much more than that. It can secretly spy on its surroundings, and send data back to us in real time. Pictures, video, audio, the works.”

“Impressive,” I said. I thought pretty hard for a moment, then said “And I have just the use for it. Why don’t you call up Mr. Shen Shi and ask him to invite us to the convention’s reception.”

“Hightower,” V.J. said “I doubt he wants to see us right now.”

“Don’t worry about it, buddy. Tell him we need to talk.”

“Am I going to find out about this plan?” he asked.

“Ok, here goes,” I said. “We’re going to meet with Mr. Shen Shi at the reception, and have him introduce us to Saleem.”

“Saleem,” V.J. asked, “who’s that?”

“A Saudi billionaire. Here for the convention, too. We’re going to give him a little welcoming gift.”

“What’s that?” V.J. asked.

“Man’s best friend,” I said, motioning to R.U.F.U.S.

“R.U.F.U.S?” V.J asked.

“Bingo,” I said. “Because if there’s one thing the Saudis love….”

“It’s technology,” V.J. said. “I'll call Shen Shi.”

-----

We walked into the ballroom. It was packed with billionaires and their hot wives and mistresses.

“I feel like we’ve been here before,” V.J. said.

“You just find Shen Shi,” I answered.

“There he is. 'Mr. Shen Shi,'" he said, motioning to him “this is Hightower. We’re working around the clock to find your daughter.”

“I hope so,” Shen Shi said “my life is incomplete without her, like a flower with no petals.”

“Mr. Shen Shi,” I said, “Could you do me the honor of introducing me to Prince Abdul Saleem? We have a welcoming gift for him.”

“How unusual,” Shen Shi said, “but if this is your custom, of course.” We walked over to the prince and were introduced. V.J. explained why he was carrying a robotic dog around the ballroom.

“It’s for you, your honor,” I said.

“Ha ha!” laughed the prince. “It is perfect! What did you call this lovely robot beast again?”

“Ru…” V.J. started.

“Bowser,” I said. “His name is Bowser. Now excuse us, gentlemen, we have another engagement.” With that, we left.

“What was that about?” V.J. asked “You know that R.U.F.U.S. only answers to Rufus."

“Exactly,” I said. “What we need is for that dog to ignore its master and snoop around.”

“The old snoop dog,” V.J. said. “Perfect.”

“Let’s get back to the penthouse and wait for that little doggy to start talking.”

“You still haven’t told me what this is all about,” V.J. said.

“V.J.," I said, "Don’t beg.”

-----
TO BE CONTINUED...

Brain Teaser

3 7 7 6 5 6 5 4 4 3 4 5 4 5 6 5 3 5 4

=

Crash granite girls, fun every Friday.

Each dime delivered complete, destination

ensured. Dealing exclusively from Earth,

checks everywhere declined.

=

F F F F F F F F F F F F F F A

=

Whurng narng narng, whung nun nan nuh narng narng

Whurnh uh narng, whurng uh narng,

Whurnh a whru-oonnnghh.

=
?



Monday

Lost Classic

From the 1968 home recordings of high school rock & roll band "Donald and His Fantastics":


"Untitled"

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Your daughter...

Mrs. Jones

Your daughter...I love her

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Take a ride with your daughter and me, To the land of fantasy

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

All the world is absolutely crazy, Change has come for whatever you fancy

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Please take off your blouse

Mrs. Jones

I stand outside your house, Your lovely open curtains are my mind...

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Take off your clothes, Leave the lights on

Together we'll dine, On feasts of fancy

Oh Mrs. Jones, May I call you Nancy?

Mrs. Jones! Mrs. Jones! MRS. JONES!

Catfish Records


David surveyed the street as it lay out before him. He took in the small shops, the nice restaurants, and the chain drug stores and coffee shops. None of these options appealed to him, but if he was going to make the most of his time away from his girlfriend’s family, he’d have to settle on something. “At least the streets aren’t too crowded,” he thought to himself. This was true, as the small skiing community had seen its rush of summer vacationers leave, to make way for the foliage watchers that were yet to arrive. David ambled slowly past ice cream shops and gift stores, until a sign over the side walk caught his eye: “Catfish Records.” “Sweet,’ he thought, “wonder what these guys have.”

As he entered the store, David did a quick scan of his surroundings. It was a relatively small shop, with large record bins in the middle of the floor, discs and cassettes lining the walls, and odds and ends stacked on shelves here and there. Only a few customers browsed the merchandise, and the clerk was behind a glass counter, chatting with a customer. David began to browse the mostly used collection of compact discs.

“Collective Soul? Enya?” he thought to himself. He had been hoping to find some obscure, yet accessible piece of rock and roll, perhaps some rare psychedelia, but this was proving fruitless. He turned his attention to a wall bin marked “New Releases.” He found new, unopened CDs, but none were by any artist he had ever heard of.

“Mudfish and the Honeyrakers?” he asked himself, as he looked at the cover depicting a man in a seersucker suit and straw hat sitting on an abandoned office desk in the middle of a field, banjo in hand, as a girl in a peasant dress sat next to him on the ground, looking down. The font looked cheap and photoshopped, and David noticed that the disc was released on Triptunkstic Records, an imprint he had never heard of. More of these new releases proved equally as obscure, with mixed-gender acts like “Jennyvibe” and “The Jonesboro Depot Alarm” appearing on their equally depressing looking covers, some employing a vintage 60s aesthetic, with most going for a rustic, yet modern vibe.

David decided to make his way into the rear of the store, where he noticed some albums on the wall that he thought might look familiar. As he walked the aisle, he noticed music playing through small, desktop stereo speakers that had been rather crudely hung on the wall. The music they emitted was jangly and disjointed, with a male and female vocalist professing their awkward love to each other while accompaniment from what sounded like drums, bass, violin and trombone played in a time signature David was not familiar with, and could not follow.

As he made his way past the cashier desk, he studied the clerk. He was tall and lanky, with wildly curly hair and the prerequisite record clerk 6 day beard. He wore a tee shirt mentioning some sort of bluegrass festival, and pants that a professional golfer from the 1970s must have donated to this community’s goodwill shop while here on vacation long ago. The cashier was engaged in conversation with a shopper, a young girl, roughly David’s age. As he moved closer, David was able to hear parts of their conversation.

“Weezer,’ the girl said, “you have to have heard of them.”

“Are they American?” the cashier asked smugly.

“Ugh,’ the girl replied, “yes. I’m just looking for their new record.”

With this, the record clerk picked up the phone to make a call, effectively ending the conversation. As the young girl turned away, she briefly made eye contact with David, and from this glimpse he could feel the effects of the accumulated humiliation that the conversation had bestowed upon her. David made his way to the counter.

“Hi,’ he said, interrupting the clerk’s phone call, “I’m looking for the new Tame Impala, on vinyl, if you have it.”

“Hang on,” said the clerk, then, into the phone “I’ll call you back.” He placed his elbows on the table, leaning down towards David and asked “Tame Impala? Are they African?” Before David could reply, the clerk continued “Oh no, right right. Have you heard Spasmodynamic Groove Chapter? Um, a little less boring than Tame Impala.”

“No, I haven’t,” David replied.

“Are you a fan of experimental jazz folk?” the clerk asked.

“Not a "fan" - but it is within the realm of music of which I am a fan. Does that make sense?,” David asked.

“Sure,” he answered, “and for pop music, I suggest you stick to iTunes. Thanks for coming…”

“I am a pop purist,” David stated, cutting of the clerk mid-sentence. “As is the case with a lot of things in my life, my natural tastes may be more ‘plain’ - but the appreciation I hold for them does not diminish. For instance, many jazz fans naturally think that their appreciation of music is deeper right off the bat, simply because it's jazz they appreciate. This is not the case. I don't care what anyone says. I understand jazz, I studied and played it; granted, not at an incredibly high level, but I get it. I would argue that to get much beyond the ‘base’ foundation I have requires either a heroin addiction, the last name Marsalis or a resume that includes several published travel pieces in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Yes, Travel.”

“Dude,” the clerk began, but David kept on going.

“Pop can be appreciated in much the same way,” he continued. “Where you may simply hear ear candy, I may hear something else; I may be able to realize the point of reference the artist is going for. Pop is too easily written off; because everyone thinks they ‘get’ it. They don't.”

The clerk stammered to counter David’s statement, as the pair noticed that a few customers were now eavesdropping on the conversation. With the clerk unable to form a sentence, David again went on.

“This brings me to jazz. Where the same can certainly be said for pop, the following is an epidemic in jazz: musicians who think their music is superior simply because it IS jazz. It’s the attitude. Not just of the fan, but of the fan who becomes the student, who becomes the performer. Superiority is as much a part of jazz as is the trumpet. It's there in the curriculum when the fan becomes the student, and it's too evident in the composition when the student becomes the performer.”

The clerk was now able to respond. Shaking his head, and with a slight grin, he replied “As for jazz musicians’ sense of superiority, which I believe is to some extent purely subjective on your part: it IS elitist. Jazz was culturally relevant for a remarkably short period. It’s never had the kind of broad social impact that popular music has.

“Jazz’s qualities are often opaque to the layman. It’s the same with all art. It can be appreciated both intellectually and viscerally, but having some insight as to what the artist was doing changes your perception of the artwork. I think my dad has pretty good taste in music, but I can understand how he just can’t get onboard with Charlie Parker. I’m OK with that. Not everyone can achieve the understanding."

David smirked.

“Listen, I’m glad you like pop,” the clerk added with audible condescension. “And like anyone who is sensitive and acute enough to really appreciate as pure an art form as jazz is, I have compassion for you. I buy a pencil from the blind man not because he needs the money, but because he has to suffer through life never knowing what the awesome, life-affirming beauty the gift of sight can afford. That poor, poor soul is like you. I’m sorry you don’t like jazz. But take heart! USA Today has just lowered its yearly subscription rate and TMZ is on five times a night!"

Several “regulars” laughed at this, and David simply nodded to the clerk and left the store.

-----

That evening, David, his girlfriend, and her family entered town to have dinner at one of the street’s restaurants. As they walked past Catfish Records, David told the group “Hang on, I’ll be right back,” and walked down the narrow alley between the shop and the building next to it. As he arrived at the rear of the store, he pulled free the newspaper he had stuffed into his pants earlier, and took his Zippo lighter from his left pocket.

-----

Shortly after arriving at the restaurant, David and the others noticed the flashing red lights of fire engines on the street. David smiled, and looked around the restaurant as the patrons all took in the scene through the large bay windows. He saw the young girl from the record store, and again their eyes met.

Her confidence had been restored.

Hightower, Episode IV

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:


“Mrs. Featherstone, the operation was a success, we’ve cured little Jessica’s lethal disease,” I said to Mrs. Featherstone, Jessica’s mother. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more than that though, because the cure was too unconventional. You need to get out of here now.”

“What do you mean, is she…?” asked Mrs. Featherstone.

“There’s no time. You’ve got to move.” With that I left the waiting room, and motioned for little Jessica, who was standing around the corner, to run into her crouched mother’s open arms.

“Dr. Hightower, thank you! Thank you!” Mrs. Featherstone called to me. I pulled my pen out of my pocket, clicked it with my thumb and scribbled on Jessica’s chart, looking up to wink at the two as I turned away.

Just then, V.J. came up to me in his scrubs, looking worn out.

“You know, Hightower,” V.J. said as we walked down the hall of the New York City hospital we work at, “it’s been a while since we had some time off. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends. How many shifts in a row have you pulled this week, anyway?”

“Hmm, you’re right,” I replied. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen the sun. Have you got anything in mind?”

“Just what you need,” he said, and handed me a pamphlet for the 2011 Hawaiian Tropic Extreme Beach Assault in San Diego.

“This is the top surfing competition in the world,” I said. “Everyone who’s everyone will be there, including celebrities.”

“So, what do you think?” he asked.

“Surf’s up, buddy.”

-----

As V.J. and I checked into our hotel, the lobby was full of hot models, famous rich people and surfers. Also, there were kids asking the surfers for their autographs. “Stupid kids,” I thought, “the hottest women in the world are here, and they’re…” Just then, someone bumped into my shoulder. It was a bodyguard for another celebrity. “Excuse me, partner,” I said.

“Move for King Dizzy,” he bellowed back, as another large group of bodyguards ushered their client through the lobby.

“V.J.,” I asked, who is King…”

“The hottest rapper in the world,” he replied, before I could finish. “He’s also a media mogul, fashion designer and energy drink tycoon.”

“Impressive,” I said as I straightened my collar. “Let’s get a drink.”

“Hightower, the competition starts at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning; maybe we should get some sleep.”

As a hot blonde supermodel walked by and turned as I checked out her hot body, I replied “Don’t wait up.”

-----

V.J. and I sat in the bleachers as the competition began. That band that sounded like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but not them… I forget their name; anyway, they were playing on a stage closer to the water. Hot models were everywhere, talking to studs like me. In the water, pro surfers were shredding waves like the best of the best, which they were.

As I scanned the scene for more hot babes, I noticed King Dizzy and his entourage on jet skis out in the water, beyond the breakers. They were idling in a circular pattern. “That’s odd,” I said to V.J.

“Those must be the high roller seats,” he replied.

Just then, there was a scream from the beach, and we all looked to where the screamer was pointing to see the hot surfing judge, who was out on the water in a kayak, getting attacked by a shark. As V.J. and I began to race to the shore to help, we heard the firing of jet ski engines as King Dizzy and his entourage fled the scene.

The hot judge was bleeding badly. Thankfully, all of the injuries were to her lower legs. “Don’t worry,” I said as I crouched over her, “I’m a doctor, and you’re still going to be hot once we fix you.” Just then, the lifeguard who pulled her from the water spoke. He had an Australian accent.

“There was something about that shark that wasn’t quite right,” he said. “It seemed too… aggressive. Too hungry for blood.”

“Let’s get everyone out of the water,” V.J. said.

“Good idea. I’ll be at the hotel,” I said.

“Doing what?” V.J. asked.

“Getting Dizzy.”

-----

I went up to the penthouse suite and buzzed the door. A huge bodyguard answered. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m here to see King Dizzy,” I replied.

“Get out of here, fool,” he said, “King Dizzy doesn’t want to see you.” He turned to the other huge bodyguards, and they all laughed.

“Ok,” I said, “then I’ve got some room service.” With that I did some karate moves on the bodyguard at the door, and a couple other ones. Then, another bodyguard pulled out a gun, so I pulled out mine. It was a standoff. It was pretty tense. Just then, we heard a voice.

“No violence in King Dizzy’s room.” It was King Dizzy. He went on, “who is this that brings violence into my sanctuary? What is your name?”

“Hightower,” I said, “and I want to know what you were doing out on the water this morning.” The men laughed, except for the ones I had knocked out cold.

“Silence,” said King Dizzy. “You ask too many questions. Who sent you? Was it the Beat Man?”

“Maybe,” I said.

“You tell the Beat Man we don’t need him anymore,” he said “and we’re keeping the money.”

With that I turned to go, and King Dizzy called out to me “Hightower…I never forget a name.”

-----

Back in the hotel room, V.J. had spread out our laptop computers all over the place, and was searching for information. “From what I can tell,” he said, “the Beat Man is an underground criminal, specializing in illegal gambling.”

“Hmm…,” I said. “Not the kind of guy you’d want to double cross.”

“Precisely,” said V.J. “Here’s where it gets interesting. He’s the most famous organizer of illegal animal fights in the world. So what would King Dizzy be doing involved with him?”

“We’re going to find out,” I said. Just then, we heard screaming from the beach. We raced out to our balcony to see another shark attack victim being pulled from the water. This one didn’t look as hot, and didn’t look like she was going to make it. As I raced out of the room to get down to the beach, I encountered King Dizzy and his men in the hall. They were wearing wet suits.

“So Hightower,” King Dizzy said. “I want you to come with us tonight, so that I can show the Beat Man’s man how we roll. Meet us on the dock at sunset.”

“I’ll be there,” I said, and continued down to the beach. The victim was already being put into an ambulance when I arrived. The Australian lifeguard was there. “Hightower, mate,” he said, “This was another aggressive shark. Too aggressive. Something is definitely going on here.”

“I know,” I said, “and I’m about to find out what.”

-----

As I arrived at the dock, I figured out that I’d been invited to a private party on a huge yacht. As I boarded the yacht, a few members of King Dizzy’s entourage gave me some trouble, so I said “your boss wants to see me, remember?” and they let me pass. The yacht was filled with hot people, but no celebrities. “Something’s not right,” I thought. Just then, strobe lights started going off all over the ship, and the roar of jet skis could be heard from the water. “What’s going on?” I asked a hot blonde standing next to me.

“The fight is about to start,” she replied.

“Fight?”

“The shark fight, silly!” she answered as she sipped a drink through her straw. “Oooh, there they are.”

I looked down to see a group of sharks enter into the ring that the idling jet skis created. “Not on my watch,” I said, and started shooting the jet ski pilots. They pulled out machine guns, so I ducked for cover. The guests all ran off of the yacht pretty quickly, so soon it was just me and the bad guys. I shot most of them, used some karate on the rest, until it was just me and King Dizzy, who was still on his jet ski next to the ship, shooting at me. As he stopped to reload, I jumped over the side, landing on a jet ski.

King Dizzy took off, and I chased him. We were racing towards the shore. “He’s going to do that thing where he rides up onto the shore real fast and jumps off his jet ski,” I thought. Then, King Dizzy did that thing where you ride up onto the shore real fast and jump off your jet ski. “Crap,’ I thought, “I can’t do that. He’ll get away.” As Dizzy started to run away down the beach, he looked back to see if I was chasing him. Just as he turned back to look in front of him – BAM, he was clothes-lined. By V.J.

I jogged up to them, out of breath. King Dizzy was out cold. “How did you…,” I asked.

“I was watching from the balcony,” V.J. replied.

“Like a hawk,” I said, and laughed.

“Like a hawkshark,” V.J. said, and we laughed as the blue light of approaching S.D.P.D. squad cars began to bathe us.

-----

As V.J. and I sat in first class on our flight home, the hot stewardess asked if she could get us anything.

“What are you in the mood for, sir?” she asked.

“Anything,” I replied. “Anything but sushi.”

Just then it occurred to me that if my awesome life were a t.v. show, it would be really cool if the camera panned out through my window, and this episode ended with a panoramic shot of my plane as the screen faded to black.

-----

Meeting Notes



Chief Works With Computers stood before his tribe, who had gathered in the Great Room of Sharing. He motioned for their silence, and then spoke. “We all know there is only one part of the Hot Pocket that we do not use,” he said, “the cellophane.” He held up a discarded wrapper for the room to view. “It is part of our great tradition,” he continued, “so why I am finding these in our waste bins?” He showed the room a discarded crisping sleeve. “We use these crisping sleeves to jot down memos on, to create great works of art, and to fashion into paper clip receptacles. It has been so since our Great Spirit Fathers tamed the Hot Pocket, and bargained his life for a place in our Spirit Realm.”

The room remained silent for a moment, until He Who Wears Fanny Pack spoke up. “Chief, our land is full of crisping sleeves. They are everywhere you look.” Others nodded in agreement. “Ever since the trading post reduced their Hot Pocket demands, we have been blessed with more crisping sleeves than we can use.”

“This is an outrage!” the Chief yelled. “We defile the honor of the Hot Pocket by wasting his unique crisping sleeve. The Spirit Walkers themselves created this mystical skin, and we toss it to the waste bins as we do our own soiled waste paper.”

As the Chief spoke, He Who Is Here For The Summer logged into the Spirit Realm, and began sending messages to the rest of the gathered tribe through their Spirit Talkers. Soon the room was experiencing visions of Chief Works With Computers engaged in a loving embrace with She That Sleeps With Cats. Quiet laughter began to fill the room.

The Chief turned away from his tribe, a single tear rolling down his cheek. Softly, and to no one in particular, he said “This was once a great tribe. Our honor made the Spirit Walkers themselves very proud. Now when I see my tribe, I see nothing but foolish children.”

Gathering himself, The Chief turned to the tribe. “Listen to your Chief,” he said. “Listen now, for I fear your time to listen runs short. Our way of life is under attack. The world changes around us. The glass eyed men seek to turn the very Clouds against us. How can you buy or sell digital content? The idea is strange to me. If we do not own the hardware itself, or the patent for the software, how can you buy them?”

The room had grown silent again, with the Tribe confused by the Chief’s speech, and taken aback by the tears that were now openly flowing down his face. “Please,” he said “just stop throwing away the crisping sleeves. Or maybe we can try burritos. How does that sound?”

The room did not answer, and the Chief left the room to return to his Great Chair. She Who Talks To Spirits told the Chief that the Great Apple Chief had sent another Spirit message, and the chief swiveled in his chair to watch a gull swoop through the sky.

Hightower, Episode 3: Conclusion

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:

I ran through Central Park, with my iPod Shuffle Touch strapped to my arm, playing random songs from Katy Perry’s new album. “Man,” I thought, “look at all of these attractive women walking their dogs, doing calisthenics, and jogging.” I stopped to catch my breath, and said aloud “I’ve got to come here more often,” as I shook my head, sweating appropriately.
Just then, my earpiece buzzed, interrupting the song. “V.J., this had better be you,” I said, as I admired the view of a cute blonde walking her dog.
“This is Ace,” the voice said, sounding like a computer. “Are you ready to solve your riddle?”
“Who is this?” I asked, “and how did you get this number?”
“Relax, Hightower,” was the reply. “I hacked into your phone through the mainframe. It was simple.”
“So this is the mysterious Ace Shadow,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
“No, Hightower,” he said, “what can I do for you? I’ve heard you have a challenge for me. I like challenges.”
“Well good,” I said, “because this one is big time. It requires the highest security clearances. Ones that no one has ever been able to access.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Ace answered, “I can break into any system in the world.”
“You might just come in handy,” I said, wiping sweat from my brow.
“That’s what I planned on, Hightower,” he replied. “Meet me at the Leather Basement tonight at 11pm. And make sure you’re dressed…appropriately.”
“The Leather Basement?” I asked, “I’m not seeing that on my smartphone GPS.”
“Have your friend Vijay show you,” Ace said.
“Ok,” I replied. “But no funny business.”
“Of course not,” he said, and hung up.
Just then, it started to rain, so I pulled my Nike windbreaker over my head and hustled back to the hide out, as Katy Perry’s new single grew louder and louder in my head.
-----
V.J. and I slowly descended the stairs to the Leather Basement. Techno music thumped loudly around us as the hostess took asked for our I.D.s.
“How do you expect me to carry identification in a get-up like this, sweetie?” I asked, as the tattooed bouncer began to close in.
“Whatever…,” she said, and signaled to the bouncer, who clumsily attacked.
I did a quick karate flip arm thing to him, and everyone in the club stopped to look at V.J. and I.
“End process,” V.J. said, and the techno music started back up, and we moved our way to the V.I.P . room.
We parted the hanging beads to find Ace Shadow sitting behind a V.I.P. table, surrounded by tattooed supermodels.
“Nice outfits,” he said, as he sipped a drink through his Zorro mask. “Do you two visit the same tailor?”
We looked down at our leather outfits at the same time, and I said “we’re here to discuss national security, not fashion, Shadow.”
“Please, call me Ace,” he said, and shooed the supermodels away. “I understand you have a problem in space.”
“How could you possibly know that?” V.J. asked, “our system is encrypted.”
“Ha ha ha,” he laughed from behind his motionless mask, “we see everything.”
V.J. and I traded glances, then I spoke. “So, Ace, what’s in this for you?”
“Sklylab is every hacker’s gold medal,” he replied. “We’ve all known it was still up there, full of hot women.”
“So,” I said, “perhaps Topsfield has some help from within the hacker community.”
“Perhaps,” said Shadow, “but first, let me go to the bar to buy you gentlemen a drink.”
After five minutes, I told “V.J. “this is taking too long, it’s a trap.” V.J. agreed, and we left. On the street, we encountered my hot ex-girlfriend. “Hightower!” she said, “what are you wearing?”
“Um, it’s…”
“We’re auditioning for the new sci-fi movie,” said V.J. “You should, too. We’ve got to go.”
“Hightower!” she cried, as we half jogged away.
-----
“So,” I said, back at the hide out, “we know that Topsfield has help from hackers, but which ones?”
“Maybe all of them,” said V.J.
“A classic double cross,” I said. “We can’t trust anyone. We need to fly below the radar from here on in.”
“I’m with you,” V.J. said.
“Good. Get your passport.”
“Where are we going?” V.J. asked.
“Rio.”
-----
We got off the Lear Jet and snuck through the woods to the next runway. “There,” V.J. said, “that’s the launch pad.”
“Bingo,” I said, “Let’s get to work. And make sure you hold your gun right, like this," I said, holding it right. We entered the hangar to find about four supermodels in cryogenic tanks, with oxygen masks stuck to their hot faces.
“This must be where he clones them before sending them into orbit,” V.J. said.
“About a thousand pick up lines are running through my head,” I said.
“Focus, Hightower.”
“I’m locked and loaded. Let’s end this.”
Just then, we heard some keyboard clicking from across the hangar. It was Ace Shadow.
“Freeze, Shadow!” I yelled, pointing my hand held machine gun at him.
“Hightower, ha ha ha!” he laughed, and then the lights started to flicker.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“A drone launch,” Said V.J., as he ran to the nearest terminal, and began furiously typing.
“V.J., you can’t handle this!” I yelled as the room began to crumble
“It’s a self destruct mechanism. I’m going to override it and blast SlyLab out of the sky once and for all, Topsfield and all.”
“Game over,” I said, as I began to free the trapped supermodels. We all ran outisde just in time to see what looked like fireworks in the daytime. "All good things must come crashing down," I said. "See that?" I asked as Skylab burned up upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. "That's quite a site, to, uh...."
"Si," said Ana.
We all laughed.
-----
The California sunset behind us, V.J. and I smiled as we raced down the Pacific Coast Highway in the convertible version of our late-model Ford.
“I still don’t understand how you saved us,” Ana Isadora asked as she sat shotgun next to me.
“V.J.,” I said, “do you want to tell her? V.J….V.J!!!!!”
V.J. looked up from making out with another Brazilian supermodel and said “That’s top secret,” and Katy Perry played into the night as my memory of this incident faded to black.

Hightower, Episode 3, Part 1

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:


It was a beautiful early evening. I was speeding down the road in my stylish, sporty, yet surprisingly affordable new Ford. “This car makes me feel at least 7 years younger, and I don’t even need to feel that way,” I thought to myself. “I am the image of everything a potential car buyer would want to be…smart, attractive…” Just then, my brand new Motorola smartphone rang. I held it up for a moment, then used the easy to navigate touch screen to answer. It was V. J.

“The priority inbox is lighting up like a Christmas tree,” he said.

“Why do I think that’s not a good thing?” I asked.

“They never write just to say ‘hello’, do they?”

“Not since Rio.”

“Should I brief you now, or when you get here?” V.J. asked.

“I’m sure it can wait.”

“Wait, I just tracked you using GPS; you’re an hour away. I’m not sure it can wait that long,” V.J. said.

“Give me twenty minutes.” With that I hung up, and used the amazing new Sync feature on my Ford, using its voice activated sound system to queue up the latest single by Katy Perry. “Man, this is such a great album. I’m so glad it’s still available,” I thought to myself as I hit the gas, leaving a trail of leaves and evening shadows in my wake.

-----

“Why the long face, buddy?” I asked V.J. as I helped myself to a refreshing Coke Zero.

“Chester Topsfield, ever heard of him?” he replied grimly.

“Wasn’t he The Penguin?”

“Not quite,” V.J. answered. “He’s the best scientist N.A.S.A. has ever had, and he’s gone rogue.”

“Ahhh, delicious,” I said. “Now, what’s this about space?”

“Here,” he said, facing his new MacBook Air in my direction. “Skylab, remember that?”

“Yeah, it was the first space station. I thought that was abandoned.”

“So did N.A.S.A. Turns out, Topsfield has been using modified Predator Drones to turn this place into his own sort of outer space fortress,” V.J. answered.

“I didn’t know Drones could achieve space travel,” I said.

“That’s because it’s top secret information,” he replied.

“So what’s his plan?”

“Here,” he said, throwing the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog my way. “Ever heard of Ana Isadoro?”

“Of course I have,” I replied. She’s the hottest Brazilian model in the world right now. She’s been on the cover of every magazine in the world.” As I said this, a montage of photo shoots and magazine covers from Vogue, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan ran through my head.

“Yeah, her. Turns out she’s missing. And surveillance footage shows her being abducted from her Manhattan penthouse two days ago. Here, take a look.”

“Hmmm. Those men are wearing masks. So what’s this got to do with Topperfield?” I asked.

“Topsfield, and here’s where it gets interesting…and dangerous,” he replied. “Top secret satellite images show that Topsfield has been kidnapping models and sending them to Skylab.”

“Skylab,” I asked, “What’s he going to do with a bunch of supermodels in outer space?”

“He’s cloning them,” V.J. replied, “into robots.”

“Me likey,” I said, grabbing a bag of Doritos from the cabinet.

“No, Hightower, you don’t understand,” he replied. “He’s trying to take over Fort Knox. He’s using these model robot clones as a decoy while he uses a sophisticated laser system to break into the vault from space.”

“Man,” I said, “I don’t think Wall Street or Main Street would survive that.”

“So, what do we do?”

“Unmanned vehicles, huh?” I asked.

“Right. Predator Drones. The best of the best,” he answered.

“It sounds like we’re going to have to go a little rogue, too,” I said.

“What do you mean?” V.J. asked. “We’re already a doctor and radiologist who fight crime from a secret Manhattan hide out 24/7, except when our crime fighting dictates that we actually be present in a hospital setting.”

“True,” I said, slipping into a Nike windbreaker. “But I’m talking about computer hacking. I need you to tell me if you can hack into a system that might not even exist.”

“I, well, that’s never been done,” he stammered.

“Yes or no?!?” I yelled.

“We need to bring in Ace Shadow,” V.J. said. “He’s in all the chat rooms. He’s the best hacker ever.”

“Ace Shadow. Sounds dangerous. I like him already.”

-----

TO BE CONTINUED….

Good Ol' Rick


(click to enlarge)

Hightower, Part II

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:


V.J. slammed down the phone. I knew something was wrong before he spoke.

"It's the Vice President. He's on board Air Force One right now, and he's in trouble."

"Right, he's headed here for a fund raiser tonight. What kind of problem are we talking about here?" I asked him.

"It's his secret implant. It's developed an infection....of A.I.,” he said.

"That's Artificial Intelligence,” I replied.

"Bingo. We've got to stop that plane."

"V.J., you can't just stop Air Force One, it's the most powerful plane in the world," I told him.

"So what do we do?"

"Good question,” I replied…..”What size tuxedo do you wear?"

-----

“Half of the most powerful men in the world must be here tonight,” V.J. pointed out when we arrived at the Governor’s Mansion.

“Yep, and about half the world’s firepower, too,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”

“This place is crawling with security forces. Think about it. The Secret Service, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and organizations just like that from other countries. These people are really rich, so they need big time protection,” I told him as I developed my plan.

“So, what’s your plan?” he asked me. I could tell he was getting nervous.

“Hang on a second,” I told him. “Okay. Let’s grab some coffee.”

-----

We stood behind the server’s station, passing out coffee to the most powerful men in the world. The Vice President was about to take the stage. We were running out of time.

I told V.J. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“To save the world.”

I approached the Second Lady. She looked a lot younger in person. In fact, I’d call her pretty hot. But there was no time for seduction, I was on a mission.

“Mrs. Vice President, I am the General of Canada’s Armed Services. I’ve come to make a large donation. I was wondering if your husband would like to join me in a toast,” I told her. Through my earpiece, I heard V.J. tell me “That’s crazy! It will never work!” “Calm down, and stop speaking into your earpiece. We're deep undercover.” I said.

“Excuse me?” asked the Second Lady.

“Beautiful night,” I said. “How about that toast?”

“I’m afraid my husband does not feel like eating or drinking...he's been acting so strangely today...,” she told me.

“Well, cheers all the same,” I said, and went to Plan B.

-----

As the medics were placing the Vice President into the White House ambulance, he summoned me to his side. “It was a prototype antibiotic, with nanotechnology in it,” I told the Secret Service EMT who was interviewing me. “I, I don’t…,” he stammered.

“Don’t worry,” I told him. “He’ll be just fine.” I went up to the Vice President, who shook my hand.

“So what exactly did you say your name was?” the Vice President asked me.

“Hightower, sir.”

“Well Hightower, I didn’t know what to think when you pointed that blow dart at me…”

“You were probably wondering how I got it past security. Well, that’s simple. It’s a top secret composite I developed in my lab,” I told him.

“Thank you, son,” he said. We all laughed, and they drove him away.

-----

V.J. scanned the computers for evidence. He had been at it for hours, you could tell by all of the coffee cups next to his computers.

“Take it easy, V.J.,” I said. “If they’re out there, we’re bound to find them sooner or later.”

“What if there’s no time?” he asked.

“There’s always time to save the world, and if there isn’t, we make the time. And if we run out, we’ve got to make sure the world is the same tomorrow, for the children.”

“Do you think this could all be connected?” he asked.

“All in good time, buddy. All in good time.”

Hightower

From The Journal of Dr. Rick Hightower, M.D., soon to be adapted into an ABC primetime drama entitled Hightower:


There it was in front of me, as plain as day. Well aware that my patient knew what she was facing, I went ahead and told her anyway.
“Butt cancer.”                                                                                                               
“I know,” she replied.
I told her “We’re going to have to operate.”
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I know you do.”
-----
As I strapped the nitrous oxide to her face, I told the room “ladies and gentlemen, we are sedating the world’s preeminent butt cancer expert. We’re flying blind here… Scalpel.”
Nine hours into the surgery, things got bad. The hot nurse said “she’s losing too much blood.” We all knew that, but something about the way that the hot nurse said it gave me the idea that would save mankind: RoButts.
-----
“I can’t feel my legs,” she said, awaking from her sedation.
“Relax,” I said “you haven’t got any. You’re a top secret weapon now. A soldier from the future, here to save the present. We’re counting on you. Let’s take your new butt for a test drive.”
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“I don’t think any of us do, but we’ve got to stand up for what we believe in.”
“How can I stand? I have no legs,” she asked.
Holding out the mirror, I said “have a look for yourself.”
“It’s hideous,” she cried, taking in the mass of robotic wheels, blinking lights and weaponry.
“It’s the only hope we’ve got.”
“What are all of these holes for?” she whimpered.
“We’re still married, baby.”
“I love you,” she said, composing herself. “You saved my life.”
“I love you, too.”
And with that, we set out into the night. If you’re reading this right now, chances are we’ve succeeded. I can’t yet divulge exactly what I have created, or exactly what this means for the future of butt cancer. I can let you know that timing isn’t everything, but timing and proper lubrication are.
And now, she's gone. But next week will bring more challenges and adventure my way, I am sure of it.
That’s a lesson we all need to learn. I know I have.

Let's Make a Deal


Click to enlarge

From: ricktheclown@cablecast.net
Date: Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Subject: 8/27 MOVING SALES- TV's, FURNITURE, GYM EQUIP etc. - $1 (134 Rockford Ave Holbrook CA)
To: sale-qrtc9-20123448407@craigslist.org

Hello any motorcycles, chainsaws, old axes or old military stuff, or costume jewelry?

I pay more than the Yard sale people do :)

Thanks, Rick  632 580 6546

From: sale-qrtc9-20123448407@craigslist.org
Date: Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Subject: 8/27 MOVING SALES- TV's, FURNITURE, GYM EQUIP etc. - $1 (134 Rockford Ave Holbrook CA)
To: ricktheclown@cablecast.net
Yes! I was going to list those items, but figured there weren't any real Americans left out there today.  The chainsaw hasn't been cleaned in a while, and it's sort of welded to the front of the motorcycle, but they both run pretty well. I don't know what you consider old, but if the 1970s is cool, I have a bunch of those weird armbands that the Khmer Rouge used to wear, as well as a bunch of old leaflets that the Germans were dropping on Poland in 1939. That's old. The only axe I have is kind of weird, I bought it at a hobby shop from I guy I knew, who knew a guy at the Army Navy store. It looks kind of like a dragon killing type of axe, and the guy couldn't legally sell it, so I took it off his hands in exchange for some of those boots with the knife in the toe and some roofies. I don't know, it's kind of lame, and it has some purple jewels on it. Which reminds me: The costume jewelry I'm selling is awesome. I'd recommend getting there early, it will go fast. Most of it is made out of bones, sort of a native theme, I guess. If you want to call to discuss this, I can give you my number (thanks for sending yours - I feel like we're friends now). I usually get to my house at 6pm, and leave in the morning around 7am. If you'd like to have a look prior to Saturday, come by after dark any night this week. I'll leave all the lights on and the shades open, I'm doing that to display the merchandise. I can't wait to meet you on Saturday, Rick. It's been so hard for me to meet anyone lately. Bye for now.

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