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How Science Fiction Lost Its Soul and How We Can Beam It Back

Mick Zano

There are many reasons for the decline of science fiction. OK, in all fairness, my version of science fiction. As an avid sci-fi fan who almost never watches the Sci-Fi channel, I’ve started to reflect on where it all went so horribly wrong. There are many culprits. First, the movie Outlander comes to mind.  Outlander, not the Scottish decapitating swordsman dude, but the Sean Connery as an aging space-cop dude, was a sci-fi crossroads of sorts. This movie was simply a cops-and-robbers story set on one of Jupiter’s moons. For the first time, the setting, the actual reason we are watching a science fiction movie in the first place, took a backseat to a space-marshal human drama. Support your local Cylon?

A second crossroads came as Gene Rodenberry passed the torch to Rick Berman, who immediately set to work flying the starship Enterprise into a black hole. He made some god-awful TV shows, on TV show budgets, and called them “movies.”.

Somehow he thought, “Hey these really intelligent, detail-oriented Star Trek freaks won’t notice recycled footage, dumbed-down FX, and poor storylines, right?”

Great thinking there, Rick. This, coming from the same man who brought us Deep Six Space [Deep Space Nine], or, as I like to call it, “Melrose Space,” as it sadly competed for the Melrose Place audience. For those not familiar with Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place, you might know their viewing audience as the cheerleaders who would never date you. This human-drama soap opera always danced around the possibility of a true science fiction storyline, although that rarely happened. Berman decided it’s much easier to have the same actors, the same makeup people, and deal with the same alien races each week.  It’s much too expensive to beam down to a new planet each week, see something novel, blast it out of existence, and then beam home. So, instead, we get the same few Ferengi who are in love with the same few Bajoran. This was beginning of the end for the franchise. Even Enterprise, which tried to go back to the old themes, failed because of its multi-episode, cliffhanging, only-really-interesting-at-the-end-of-the-season, recycled plot gimmicks. AHHHhhhh, AHhhhhhhh! Sorry, I just had a Sam Kinison moment. Was there even one episode of Enterprise where they beamed down to the planet, met the creature creeping around the alien landscape, then had the captain bang something green, rip his shirt, and blast the bad alien into space dust? Even once? My guess is never. So what worked in the first series was never actually tried in the last. 

While I have many concerns with the latest incarnations of the Star Trek, I have to say that The X-Files was the single most destructive force in sci-fi. There were about eight episodes of the TV series that I absolutely loved, which hooked me onto countless, conspiracy-entangled empty hours, none of which can I ever get back. I held out for those wrapped-up-in-one episode gems, where they’d meet the ancient killer bug or hunt the strange alien creatures in the woods. Sadly, nine out of ten episodes were cheaply done cliffhanger rip-offs designed for one purpose: tune in next week to find out another meaningless piece of the meaningless puzzle, kids! And don’t forget to drink Coke. One day, while watching Mulder muddle through yet another dead-end lead, the clouds parted and I remember a voice from the heavens saying, “My god, they don’t know where this is going either!” And I didn’t even care, because I kept waiting for the monster episode, which grew rarer as the series wore on.  

The most recent affront to sci-fi, Battlestar Galactica, borrowed from a lot of these cheats. I’ll grudgingly give the show some credit, as it started with great writing and great special effects, but the space/action soon gave way to human drama, just like all the rest. Human drama, which has nothing to do with space, but is much cheaper to deal with, always creeps in like a Triffid on Amp. It’s the law of diminishing returns: it becomes less about Cylons and more about human-looking Cylons, and then ultimately who is banging the human-looking Cylons.  As a sci-fi traditionalist, I want the women to literally suck the chrome off the bumper, so to speak.  If you’re going to show me robot sex, then let’s get down with something that can suck the chrome off the Millennium Falcon.

Today’s sci-fi shows use trickery to draw you in; then, before you know it, the only worthwhile episodes are the season premiere and the season finale. Luckily, I have a wife who tells me when the first and last episodes air each season. During the commercials, she’ll fill me in on all of the plot gimmicks, sub-themes, and who is inter-galactically banging who. Yes, she has watched every episode of Battlestar Galactica, yet she still calls the bad guys “Zylons”. Women,. I think they are part of the problem. Remember Species? My wife knows every elf in friggin’ Rivendell, including the correct elvish pronunciation, but four years later and the bad guys are still the “Zylons”. She’s lucky she’s cute, and not in any way an android.

While independent movies can be wonderful, these folks need to stay away from sci-fi. I have bad news for you independent film buffs, a.k.a. morons: formula movies work in sci-fi. Endless variations on the same theme trigger wonderful things in our collective psyches. Such formula movies include Night of the Living Dead, Night of the Lepus, Night of the Comet, Night of the Jackal, Day of the Dead, Day of the Triffids, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Frankly, anything with “day” or “night” in it will work. I will even accept “morning” or “evening,” if you insist on change. The Morning the Robot Badgers Struck; or how about The Evening the Radioactively Enlarged Ice Weasels Ate Yuma. Basically, they come, whoever “they” are, from outer space, but they must land via meteorite, spacecraft, or via solar wind, radiation, or melting ice floes. Atom bombs will work in a pinch. Anyone in the opening scene must die no exceptions.  Bonuses awarded if they are cute scantily clad women.  Some mysterious entity picks off the protagonists, one by one, until the survivors are huddled in some structure or other, be it church, house, bunker, Starbucks, whatever. Oh, and boarding the windows during the end sequence is a must. 

Screw the rest of you trying to pull sci-fi into something other. Refresher course: “other” is typically Melrose Space. Be imaginative, but stick with the theme. Show me something. We are in the outskirts of space. I don’t give a radioactively enlarged rat’s ass who is banging who. If everything must evolve, how about setting that end sequence in a Starbucks? Starbucks even sounds space-appropriate (it worked in Battlestar Galactica). You can have the survivors using cordless screwdrivers to board themselves in, or for super-futuristic, how about laser drills digitally enhanced by Lucas Film?

Bottom line, don’t change what works.  Change what doesn’t work, you know, like Pokey McDooris.


Mick Zano

Goomis, Goomis, Goomis. Not all of life’s lessons can be explained by Star Trek episodes.  Besides, it’s much more like the one when the shuttle crash-lands on that planet, only to be assailed by large rock-hurling giants. (Although, I’m not exactly sure why it’s like that.)

This is going to come as a shock to many of you, but I suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). Fear not, fair reader, for slowly my world will return to normal now that there is some semblance of leadership in the White House. And by normal, I mean, of course: no home, no job, no retirement, and no food. I’m going to miss the American way of life. Give me some time to mourn, for Pete’s sake!  Haven’t you ever heard of the five stages of the grieving process?  Perhaps this recent example will help:

  • Denial (He’s a Yale man and his dad was kind of sharp…)
  • Anger (Torture! The Constitution! The Bill of Rights! The Justice Department!)
  • Bargaining (If I vote straight Dems for the midterms, maybe impeachment…)
  • Depression (Well, Canada has hockey and beer…)
  • Acceptance (Hey, Canada has hockey and beer!)

What confounds me is your endless vitriol aimed at anyone expressing a perspective. Whereas I direct my ire toward a group of individuals responsible for breaking the country—spiritually, morally, and otherwise—your ire involves an ideology: some quasi-nebulous possibility that certain educated tree-hugging types might be bad for our country. Are all educated people indoctrinated by crazed liberal-leaning professors, or is there something more sinister at work here? All of the people you are so angry with have a valid and noble perspective. Pollution = bad; constitution = good; destroying the rain forest = bad; peace = good; dependence on foreign oil = bad; nationalism = good; but too much nationalism = bad. And, most importantly, torture = bad (unless a safe word is first agreed upon).

For the most part, FOX News is not conservative—it’s ridiculous. Not the whole thing, mind you, but FOX-ers generally champion the shittier parts of the fundamentalism (amber) and entrepreneurial (orange) realms. The shadow side of this perspective has led us into a blind alley that some of us refer to as 2009.  I understand what Wilber now designates as “amber” and “orange” have to offer; but they, on the other hand, are missing the 800-pound gorilla in the room: themselves.  Some posit that liberalism may hold even greater dangers. This is where we need the Sean Hannitys and Pokey McDoorises and, yes, even the Crank Manifestos of the world.

Higher perspectives understand and appreciate more perspectives. This color coding is not meant to demean. It’s hologarchial by design (which means nested), not hierarchical.  It’s not a contest.  There are important aspects of each perspective, but there are also heaping piles of horseshit in each perspective.  My view is that FOX News represents the sicker parts of amber/orange, just as Michael Moore arguably represents the sicker parts of green, and the Daily Discord represents the sicker parts of lower integral (so you’re in good company).

Ken Wilber asserts that integral practice involves improving one’s ability to understand more and more ‘nuanced’ perspectives.  You claim I am the flipside of Sean Hannity? I assert that Keith Olbermann is the flipside of Sean Hannity, which is why I critiqued Mr. Olbermann so harshly in a recent article. You are way too liberal with what, and whom, you define as liberal. Integral thinkers will go where the truth leads them, avoiding ideology whenever possible. Many people lumping all higher perspectives as liberal and can’t see the rainforest for the trees.  This is usually done by picking one bad example from a given perspective and then trashing the whole paradigm.  There is surely a vast difference between the Dalai Lama’s fundamentalism and Pat Robertson’s, right? 

Christopher Hitchens would just as soon ditch all fundamental thinking. While I agree most of it is problematic, at best, I think folks like the Dalai Lama have an important message for humanity.

Despite my Hannity insanity, I will defend his right to spew his propaganda.  If—or, more accurately, when—Obama backs the Fairness Doctrine, he will be hearing from the Discord. It is unconstitutional and, like most of Pelosi’s ideas, utter crap. And you should be annoyed about Obama’s “coronation,” but you should be more annoyed with the people who made a coronation a reality. You know, your guy.

Ultimately, my rants are part of the healing process.  Perhaps Charles Johnson’s interpretation of Mahasatipatthana sutra might help, wherein he suggests everyone should “dispassionately examine evidence, tame their minds, know where their thoughts have come from and be able to distinguish what in the mind is the product of past conditioning and received opinion (political ads and propaganda), what thoughts are genuinely their own, and what their desires might be projecting on reality.” 

The trick is to see important aspects from each perspective, in your case other than entrepreneurial (orange). One of the core principles of a more integral philosophy, as Ken Wilber asserts, is to “face our limitations and learn from them, rather than responding with defensiveness and denial.” There are inherent truths from each and every viewpoint, but the more skilled we get with these perspectives—each ever-increasing in complexity—the deeper the level of consciousness attained. In other words, fuck you.  ( :

The West Nile, Virus, Bird Flu, Weaponized Anthrax, and Other Things that Make You Go Hmmmm.

L. Wolfe

In 1999 an outbreak of disease previously unknown to North America was identified in New York—the West Nile Virus. You may have since heard of it. In 2001, the anthrax attacks on the U.S. utilized a pure (or even weaponized) form of the bacterium that many experts agree could have only been manufactured under tight laboratory conditions at an expense only possible in a state-sponsored program (as opposed to Bin Laden’s cave-sponsored programs). In 2004, an outbreak of a potentially pandemic viral disease appeared in China before achieving a high fatality rate around the globe (not related to their food industry prowess).

Is it possible that these two viral outbreaks and the anthrax attacks were sponsored by foreign government’s bio-warfare research programs? Is there a relationship between these two outbreaks and the anthrax attacks? Are these incidents perhaps bio-warfare ‘research’ studies? Are these geocentralized pragmatic infections establishing a new paradigm in disease propagation? Hmmmm.

West Nile Virus

In recent years, West Nile virus (WNV) has emerged in temperate regions of Europe and North America, and presents a threat to public and animal health. The most serious manifestation of WNV infection is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds. WNV has also caused human illness in the US in recent years (Source: CDC).

WNV was first isolated from a febrile adult woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937 (West Nile Nancy). The ecology was characterized in Egypt during the 1950s. The virus was recognized as a cause of severe human meningitis or encephalitis in elderly patients during an outbreak in Israel in 1957 (West Nile Nitza). Equine disease was first noted in Egypt and France in the early 1960s, and by the 1970s it started to effect horses (West Nile Nelly). WNV first appeared in North America in 1999, with encephalitis reported in humans, horses, and a centaur named Bernie. The subsequent spread in the United States is an important milestone in the evolving history of this virus.

WNV has surfaced in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, west and central Asia, Oceania (subtype Kunjin), and most recently, North America. (Source: CDC).

Outbreaks of WNV encephalitis in humans have recently occurred in Algeria in 1994, Romania in 1996-1997, the Czech Republic in 1997, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998, Russia in 1999, the United States in 1999-2003, and Israel in 2000. Epizootics of disease in horses occurred in Morocco in 1996, Italy in 1998, the United States in 1999-2001, and France in 2000, and in birds in Israel in 1997-2001 and in the United States in 1999-2002. (Source: CDC).

In the U.S. since 1999, WNV human, bird, veterinary or mosquito activity have been reported from all states except Hawaii, Alaska, and Oregon. (Source: CDC; see Figure 1 and Figure 2).

H5N1 – “Bird Flu”

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1 (you sunk my battle ship), is a subtype of the Influenza. It is a virus that can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1,” is the causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu".

The first known strain of H5N1 (called A/chicken/Scotland/59) killed two flocks of chickens in Scotland in 1959, before it was cornered in a windmill by a pitchfork and torch wielding mob, where it was eventually burned; but that strain was very different from the current highly pathogenic strain of H5N1. The current dominant strain of H5N1 evolved between 1999 and 2002 creating the Z genotype. It has also been called "Asian lineage HPAI A (H5N1)". Donated to Tyson foods by the Bin Laden Food Corp (Not a joke!).

H5N1 is easily transmissible between birds, facilitating a potential global spread of H5N1 (see Figure 3). While H5N1 undergoes mutation and re-assortment, creating variations which can infect species not previously known to carry the virus, not all of these variant forms can infect humans. H5N1 as an avian virus preferentially binds to a type of galactose receptors that populate the avian respiratory tract from the nose to the lungs and are virtually absent in humans.

H5N1 is mainly spread by domestic poultry, both through the movements of infected birds and poultry products and through the use of infected poultry manure as fertilizer or feed (Ieatbirdpoopo.com). Humans with H5N1 have typically caught it from chickens, which were in turn infected by other poultry or waterfowl. Migrating waterfowl (wild ducks, geese and swans) carry H5N1, often without becoming sick. Many species of birds and mammals can be infected with HPAI A(H5N1), but the role of animals other than poultry and waterfowl as disease-spreading hosts is unknown.


Anthrax is an acute disease in humans and animals that is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is highly lethal in some forms. Anthrax is one of only a few bacteria that can form long-lived spores. When the bacteria’s life cycle is threatened by factors such as lack of food caused by their host dying or by a change of temperature, the bacteria turn themselves into more or less dormant spores to wait for another host to continue their life cycle, or for another Star Trek episode.

Anthrax can enter the human body through the intestines (ingestion), lungs (inhalation), or skin (cutaneous) and causes distinct clinical symptoms based on its site of entry. Inhalation anthrax, if left untreated until obvious symptoms occur, will usually result in death, as treatment will have started too late.

Theoretically, cultivating anthrax spores can be done with minimal special equipment and a first-year collegiate microbiological education. It wasn’t me, honest! To make an aerosol form of anthrax suitable for biological warfare requires extensive practical knowledge, training and highly advanced equipment (I’m talking to you, makers of the Jack LaLanne Juicer!).

Concentrated anthrax spore containing postal letters were used for bioterrorism in the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US, killing five people and infecting 17 others. Only a few grams of material were used in these attacks and it is unknown if this material was produced by a single individual or by a state sponsored bio-weapons program. The crime remains unsolved. But where exactly was Jack LaLanne?

Other things that make you go “Hmmmm.”

WNV ecology was characterized in Egypt in the 1950’s; meaning, Egypt was researching the virus at that time. The 1956 Israel initiated the Arab-Israeli War on October 29, 1956, and a cease fire was eventually signed on November 6, 1956. Israel withdrew from key points in the Sinai Peninsula in 1957. The first WNV outbreak involving severe meningitis or encephalitis occurred in Israel in 1957 (Remember West Nile Nitza?).

WNV first appeared in the U.S. in 1999. The U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi , Kenya were bombed in August, 1998. The U.S.S. Cole was bombed in Aden, Yemen in October 2000. Hmmmm.

WNV first appeared in the U.S. in New York City. The WNV strain in NYC seemed to be unusually virulent, resulting in meningitis or encephalitis and caused 12 fatalities. NYC was the primary target in the 1993 terrorist attack on the U.S. (WTC bombing) and I hear something vaguely related may have happened in NYC in September of 2001. Hmmmm.

The 1999 US virus was very closely related to a lineage 1 strain found in Israel in 1998. Hmmmm.

WNV is only transmitted through mosquito vectors, which bite and infect birds/mammals/humans. Not the sort of thing a mildly ill passenger on an airplane (e.g., traveling from Israel to the U.S.) would easily spread to other passengers. Yes, yes, I remember, I had the lasagna. Hmmmm.

WNV has three different effects on humans. The first is an asymptomatic infection; the second is a mild febrile syndrome termed West Nile Fever; the third is a neuron-invasive disease termed West Nile meningitis or encephalitis. In infected individuals, the ratio between the three states is roughly 110:30:1 for naturally occurring WNV. Mortality occurs in less than 1% of these clinical cases. In 1999 in NY, outbreak surveillance identified 59 patients who were hospitalized with WNV. 63% of those patients had clinical signs of encephalitis and seven patients died (12 percent). Communicable Disease Program, New York City Department of Health, New York 10013, USA. Hmmmm.

In 1985, the U.S. delivered 5 shipments of biological material to Iraq as part of a program to provide aid to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Those shipments included engineered strains of anthrax, West Nile virus, and other pathogens along with the equipment and expertise to manufacture and continue research on these organisms and delivery methods. (CDC) Hmmmm.

In the 1990’s, while under intense scrutiny from the U.N., Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein bragged to Arab leaders that he had “his final weapon, developed in laboratories outside Iraq.” There were several independent intelligence reports at that time that indicated that Iraq was sponsoring a biological weapons program outside of Iraq in order to avoid U.N. scrutiny. During that same period, Iraqi scientists and technology were frequently traveling between Cuba and Iraq. Hmmmm.

There have been many scientific reports documenting serological evidence that WNV, in various forms, is present in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Florida Keys. It is considered highly unusual that these differing strains would be present in the Western Hemisphere unless there is some periodic re-infection. Hmmmm.

The Chinese government was one of the first signatories to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention in 1972. China has repeatedly denied an offensive biological weapons program since that time. However, Soviet Union weapons experts have reported the known existence of a biological weapons facility located in a remote region of China in the 1980s. Coincidentally, in that very same region of China during that time, there were two separate documented outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fever; a rare and deadly disease typically caused by a viral pathogen. Hmmmm.

The very same technologies and methodologies necessary to manufacture and prepare viral hemorrhagic fever pathogens can also be used to manufacture and prepare other viral infections, such as H5N1. Hmmmm.

Review the information below and pleasant dreams:

Figure 1. The Spread of West Nile Virus in the U.S. – 1999 to 2007

Figure 2. 2000 WNV Case Map for New York.

Figure 3. H5N1 Case World Map.
    Countries with poultry or wild birds killed by H5N1.
    Countries with humans, poultry and wild birds killed by H5N1.

The Once and Future Nepotist

Mick Zano

Is our current democracy contaminated by nepotism?  While history is fraught with examples, historians consistently damn this dubious practice. When kings appoint their dimwitted sons instead of their most able men to lead them, the empire invariably quakes and crumbles like a fruit cobbler in a centrifuge.

If you don’t believe in the cyclic patterns of history, then try this on for size.  Anyone remember Marcus Aurelius, arguably one of the greatest emperors in Roman history?  He chose his moronic son, Commodus, as his successor and, well, I think they eventually named the commode after him.  (I’m guessing his first name was probably Loo or John, or maybe Crapper John A.D., but I digress…)

Never heard of Marcus Aurelius?  How about Julius Nepos?  You know… the inspiration behind the word “nepotism.” He ascended to the throne in 474 AD, and he was only crowned because he was the nephew of another emperor—and could belch the entire alphabet in Roman numerals (backwards). As one of his first fateful decisions, he chose Orestes to command the Roman Army.  Apparently a big Musharrif fan, Orestes soon ran Nepos out of town during a coup.  In 475 AD, Orestes placed his own 14-year-old son, Romulus Augustus, on the throne.  A few years later, in the immortal words of Porkelus Pigelus, “Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

See any parallels today?  George Herbert Walker Bush, a self-made commander-in-chief like Orestes, wins the Gulf War and eventually banishes Julius Clinton from the White House by placing his own son, Incurious George (emotionally only 14 years old) on the throne. And once again, “Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Even more compelling is this: Both Commodus and Augustus were born-again Pagans who successfully dodged the Hunnic wars by joining the Palace Guard Reserves.  OK, I made that part up.  But regarding the Rome’s last imperial rulers, Wikipedia notes that they “had a much more tenuous connection to the land and its traditional cultures than the Republic’s peasant farmers had had. These rich men enjoyed the wealth that poured in from Rome’s conquered provinces…”

Is this ringing any bells yet? Certainly not the Liberty Bell.  Fast-forward a few centuries, and now we’d have better luck fixing Humpty Dumpty with a barbwire egg beater than salvaging the rule of law.  The Bill of Rights and the systems of checks and balances that once sustained our precious liberties have been hijacked — not by Bush Jr., but by the head of another Senate Dick…or dickhead, if you will.

Do rotating family monarchies really work in a republic?  I mean, it’s worked sooo well lately.  I’m talking to you John Quincy Adams.  Is nepotism leading us to a hereditable monarchy? Or, is it leading us to even bigger words than hereditable…perhaps hereditarianistic? Now, back to our dynasties for a moment: Was FDR power hungry, or simply unskilled at counting?  Thankfully, his Full-Term-for-Each-Initial-Plus-One-for-Good-Luck amendment was eventually overturned, much to the chagrin of George HWB.  Post-FDR, an amendment was passed to limit a person’s stay in the big house to two four-year terms.  This was done to keep our executive branch from becoming despotic and long-named.  After witnessing the Clinton and Bush dynasties, do we need to revisit the FDR amendment? Just think how many years the Clintons could remain in office if they were to pass their own multi-initial amendment!  WJC + HRC = …well, you do the math, JFK!  What if Hillary in 2012 passes the Equal-Initial amendment and her middle initial becomes fair game?

Our Electoral College system simply does not work the way our forefathers intended on ethanol.  A dysfunctional two-party system has developed, powered by political connections, family affiliations, money, and Thai hookers.  (Sorry, it’s the only way I could work them in this week.)  By handing down money, political connections, and affiliations, we forfeit free and fair elections.  Furthermore, this marital arrangement between the Clintons is obviously a way to circumvent our term limits.  I say “arrangement,” because I believe this is a political marriage of convenience.  And as for the Bush family…they may not share a bed, but they do share a Dick (and several other advisors).

I feel that this topic needs to be addressed now, not later, or else it’s Hillary again in 2012. We need to seriously look at nepotism in our government, as well as this trend toward dynastic monarchies. We need to pass new laws limiting such encroachments on our democracy.  This proposed legislation should be called the I-Live-in-Fear-of-Chelsea amendment.

Of course, I would be willing to forgo my campaign if Nancy Reagan would consider joining the Republican ticket. But alas, she’s already gone and just said, “No.”

Study Finds Fibromyalgia Linked to Bull Shit

A recent study conducted on seventeen bitchy women and three lazy sacks of shit (LSS) found moderate to high levels of bovine fecundity sprinkled liberally into their medical disability claim forms.  This shit is likely to spread to such questionable diagnosis as Chronic Unemployment Syndrome and Irresponsible Bowel.  Researchers predict that, if left uncompensated, this might even impact sufferers of Employtile Dysfunction and Restless Keg Syndrome.

The Sir Woody Chronicles

Salutations, seekers of sophistication and acumen. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Woodrow Emerson Prescott III, or “Sir Woody” to my colleagues.  A fortnight hence, during a serendipitous ejection from Pugsley’s Public House, I chanced upon the editors of the “Daily Discord” who solicited me to compose an authoritative column for their publication. My area of expertise, I ascertained, is how to maintain a sophisticated lifestyle in shelterless urban environs. It is my sincere belief that my libertarian associates benefit from my example of gentlemanly comportment, and I am imbued with optimism that I can bestow similar wisdom upon the general literary public and those Metropolitan Roving Survival Aficionados (or MRSA-neries as I call them).

The first school of thought in corporate real estate is, “location, location, location”. Location is ephemeral to the ever transient. Those not auspicious enough to habitate in more southerly climates must endure the adversities of frigid air, preferably with a box from Frigidaire. Such cardboard casas are one of many copious techniques to sustain optimum bodily temperatures when the Fahrenheit plummets below the freezing point.

The quaint and archetypal image of ladies and gentlemen congregating in the vicinity of a roaring barrel fire has long elapsed. The quest for warmth has become an individual endeavor. Layering is the optimum solution, and in this era of green technology and recycling, discarded newspapers act as superlative insulation and engender a feeling of environmental activism and responsibility. Recent advances in ink and chemically laden paper have reduced the most disagreeable “smearage factor.” No longer does one appear like a Dickensian chimney sweep, a West Virginia coalminer, or some outdated minstrelesque faux pa.

The accessibility of the business section and book reviews is a peripheral benefit that should not be neglected!

Those who are industrious and possess the adroit skills of a Boy Scout can assemble a heat-capturing pavilion utilizing a large swathe of plastic siding and string.  Alas, boy scouts themselves will warm one’s château in a pinch, although a plucky girl scout is my preference for both their perky pookas as well as their palatable pralines.

Simply envelop a sidewalk storm grate that exhumes steam from below. You may recollect the famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe coyly attempting to maintain her feminine dignity while a lusty gust of air failed to expose her delicates. Later that evening, once Marilyn, her entourage and the paparazzi departed, six people shared that very grate. It was a magical night for the ages.

Exercise is a crucial component to maintaining peak physical conditioning. Bipedal transportation, admittedly, is the sole source of mobility for my demographic group. I proudly proclaim that I promenade a minimum of twenty miles a day. Many of my more fitness passionate compatriots accomplish this feat via a circumambulatory route where I choose a more linear trajectory frequenting the parks, shopping malls and public museums. I find it extremely inspiring when our uniformed law enforcement officers loudly exclaim their encouragement for me to “keep moving.” My daily constitutionals would be impossible without their vigilant support.

To live in a country of such abundance is a blessing. A gourmet diet is easily achievable in our land of milk and honey (although, be wary of the discarded milk). Each night, Italian pizzerias receive numerous unscrupulous and erroneous telephone orders. The undeliverable pizza pies are discarded at the conclusion of each work night. And many of my colleagues confess that stacked pizza boxes make for excellent head pillows. One twenty-five cent piece can muster a culinary feast celebrating the melting pot that is America.

A brief sojourn in my daily routine is a hearty brunch at the local soup kitchen. I delight at the intellectual discourse that permeates the atmosphere reminding me of an ivy-league university student union. Discussions range from criminal justice and pharmacology to the latest in mental illness and religious experience, transfixing patrons to a higher plane of philosophy and thinking.

Now don’t imagine for a moment that just because the traditional 3-bedroom domicile is absent, one’s primordial desires go unfulfilled. The instinctive inclinations of men and women are easily satiated by those willing and ambitious enough to employ themselves in the carnal arts. Dalliances under a refrigerator box or in a Salvation Army clothing dumpster are the proverbial love nests. My favorite lass, Gummy Rose, a retired yet self-employed artisan of the flesh is a callipygian beauty for all those with a spare fiver to splurge. The free clinic gratefully administers inoculation services to mitigate any shared pathogens or crustaceous cohabiters of dubious origin.

Those who traverse the boulevards and alleyways of a large metropolis often excrete a tremendous amount of perspiration, making proper hygiene a challenge. There exists a variety of agreeable deodorants that obfuscate any felonious odors. Discarded automobile air fresheners when festooned from the neck exude a satisfying pine tree fragrance and accentuate one’s modish prettification. To enhance the bodies’ natural bouquet, various alcohol-based concoctions when imbibed in sufficient quantities permeate a sweet and sour dermis medley that pre-announces your entrance to any room.

Being devoid of material possessions has allowed me to follow more cerebral, sophisticated pursuits. Much like the Buddha, all I own is contained in a solitary shopping cart. May I add, K-mart pushcarts are the Rolls Royces of transportable towage with the smoothest and most vertical alignment? The fries from a thousand diners grease my wheels of pragmatic progress.  I have zero credit card bills, car or mortgage payments, there’s no compulsion to “keep up with the Jones’s” and no concerns or stress regarding employment promotions. Fornicate the Jones’s.

I feel a closer affinity to our ancestors who lived a more simple life before the age of electricity and luxury. I sincerely believe this exposé on how to live truly free and in comfort will inspire those considering such an alternative lifestyle. My needs are simpler yet my tastes remain refined. I still take my tea at three and it’s a marvel of science that you can get over 200 cups with one single bag. It is trifle weak after about 150 but supplemented with brandy, wine, whiskey, rum, scotch or vodka there is no end to the pedestrian epicurean delights. Don’t even get me started on the hidden treats amidst those fast food dumpsters and the shear magnitude of their discarded buns, or urban crumpets as I call them.

I trust this editorial will help the urban newbies transition smoothly into the adventures of vagabondia, so until next time.