Monday, January 5, 2009

December 30, 2008

Feature Articles:

On The Cover
The Delay of The Newsletter
My Humble Thoughts About Going Past The Halfway Mark of My Life When I Turned 60
Princess Carol The Tenth Subpoenaed To Congressional Hearing
Hooknose McGee Goes Bowling
The Red Telephone

The picture above this sentence is described under the article "On The Cover." It was with much difficulty that pictures were arranged throughout the articles, thus I positioned them at the beginning of the newsletter, which is now one single long page. The photographs can be identified as, if they hold their positions, that is, from left to right, top row, The Record King (America's only six-star General); Senator Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada; Senator Richard Shelby, Republican from Alabama; Representative Barney Frank, with cigar, Democrat from Massachusetts; second row, an honorable folding table from Lowe's; Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat from Connecticut; Princess Carol The Tenth, incensed when stranded on a deserted island, with her hope chest and the latest issue of the Richard Honeck Heckler Honker newsletter; the Sears console television that the Record King listens to throughout the night to lull him into a record baron slumber; and the heirloom restored dresser with the large red wooden handles Hooknose McGee was allowed to take to the Congressional hearing.

On The Cover
I am a baby boomer, one of the infants born just a few years after the end of World War II. On November 28, I turned 60. I decided to take my picture with my cell phone camera, so I would have a picture of how I looked on my 60th birthday. I had not previously used the countdown timer. I learned that during the countdown before the click of the shutter, a lady’s voice counts backwards from 10 to 1. I put the cell phone on top of a dresser and used a blanket to position the lens, stood against the wall and posed for a picture. The green-bordered Ingraham quartz clock on the wall put an arc around my head like a halo. I knew that was not right because a saint I ain’t. So I deleted that picture. Since I knew I needed to stand in the middle of the room and face the kitchen sink, I decided to include my restored dresser in the picture. In the resulting photograph that appears on the cover of this newsletter, if you take the right side of the dresser and swivel it around toward me and then scoot it against the wall close to the door, that was the original position of the dresser. In order to get better lighting, since my cell phone camera does not have a built-in flash, I opened the door to the studio apartment.

It appears in the snapshot taken that an entity is standing to my right and that we are both enveloped in blue mist. When the shutter clicked, the camera was positioned on the kitchen sink 10 feet from the subject, and that may account for the strange perspective that makes me appear to be about 7 feet 3-½" tall, since the doorway is 6’ 10" at the top. Oddly, the spectral entity to my right, which may or may not be my guardian angel, appears to be 5’ 8-¾" tall, which is my actual height.

I should point out that since I first entered this studio apartment on July 3, 2008, to my knowledge, no one else has walked through that door. We loners need our space.

Right after
this photograph of myself and possibly my guardian angel was taken, I walked over to the kitchen counter and pressed the countdown button. Then I walked back to the dresser, and in the next photograph, an evil shadow appears next to the camera. Whatever it is, my guardian angel may have vigilantly kept it at bay. Here is the silhouette of the sinister entity who appears to be glaring at me. I actually appear to be shrinking back from his menacing stare. Also, it appears my trusty guardian angel faded from the picture when I needed her the most. Whether or not the factions of good and evil are met in a skirmish over my mortal soul, is unknown to me. But this I know. As I am writing this, it is Christmas morning. I heard a flock of geese outside about two minutes ago, since they have been flying South in groups of about 60 geese for several weeks now to a chorus of sad mournful honks. When I went outside to witness the arrow-like formation of geese in flight, to my surprise, a group of about 40 geese were flying North instead of South. I suppose it may be because they are being led by a disoriented lead goose. This can mean one thing only. Twenty geese did not go along with the crowd and listen to Ipods and put boomboxes in their feathers, but continued steadfastly flying South, like their parents taught them.

A peculiar aspect of the digital picture featuring a possible guardian angel is that it translated to a very small file when it was downloaded into the computer, probably because it was taken by countdown timer. It would be a matter of subjective interpretation to conclude the radiant element in the picture is an angel. An objective assessment of the photograph is that it depicts a metaphorical convergence of light that resembles a guardian angel standing in close proximity to the mortal it is pledged to protect. We have a sparkling hope to cling to if radiant light can come to us for a brief moment before we go to it forever.

The Delay Of The Newsletter
The economy melted down. But it was tempered by falling gasoline prices, so there has been a positive side. While most people were overwhelmed by dismal news, fielding incoming Christmas cards, and writing outgoing Christmas cards, I thought a Yuletide newsletter would be perceived as an extraneous holiday publication. The readers may not have yet recovered from the previous tract-length newsletter. Therefore, the newsletter was delayed until after Christmas.

My Humble Thoughts About Turning 60

There is an old Russian proverb which I have never been able to share with the students in any class in any school when I was a substitute teacher, because today’s students already know everything, and are not receptive to learning anything aesthetic to add to their overflowing treasury of knowledge. And the appalling thing is, the administration of almost every school in the United States goes right along with this mindless philosophy. The venerable Russian proverb goes like this. If you are not smart by 20, you never will be. If you are not married by 30, you never will be. If you are not rich by 40, you never will be. Since I am not married or rich, that leaves me with only one slim hope, and that is to be smart by 60. Which means, of course, I have had 40 extra years to get it right. It is a matter of opinion. I know during my life a number of people have told me I am the smartest person they know. Dr. Crane would veto that.

I think a lot of the 1,500,000 or so people who were born in the United States in 1948, like me, are in a state of limbo. The 60 Years of Prosperity during the Golden Age from 1946 to 2006 is over, and will never be repeated. Those who always did what they were supposed to be doing have a house and several retirements coming in, or at least have them locked up and will begin drawing their pensions in 2013 at age 65. Those of us born in 1948 who missed the boat, due to our endless years of searching to find ourselves, are too young to be senior citizens, too young to get Medicare, too young still to get early or full Social Security, and thus we must somehow forge on to age 62 or 66. In my particular situation, I am pension-less due to those fruitless years of searching to find myself, but I am still missing. Also, to compound my dire situation, I am, like all of us 1,500,000 or so folks born in 1948, unemployable because of my age. Also, my mental state does not rise to the level of mental disability. Hopes and dreams on the part of my detractors that I am mentally whacked is not convincing enough to the Social Security Administration for them to underwrite my mental deficiencies, even though I have not even asked Uncle Sam for such help. My physical ailments may warrant a minor amount of Government assistance.

I always believed that Princess Carol The 10th would have taken the quantum leap from imaginary fiancée to real fiancée if I had mucho dinero. She gave me a lot of space and a lot of years to rake in the dough. We always had this unspoken agreement that if I did not acquire vast riches, she was not going to share her immense wealth with me. It seemed only fair when we entered into this non-verbal agreement, because how could there possibly be any compatibility between the Princess and myself unless my income was 80% to 90% as high as hers? And it was always understood, even though we never discussed it or anything else for that matter, except a stapler once, that if I ever had any money, we would spend mine first, then use her money as a last resort. And if we started on that revenue sharing plan right now, we would have a wonderful spending spree until January 3rd.

As of the end of 2008, I am two hotels, four judges, three pizza parlors, one skyscraper, an airline, a drive-in theater, a 500-acre farm, a roadside mustard green and clover honey stand, a 240-unit storage facility, and a Pantry-clone restaurant short of the requisite entrepreneurial status to be in good standing with Princess Carol the 10th. I have no idea where I would ever get the $7,000 for a Girl Friday Supervisor to fill in for her for two weeks so she could go on a Princess Cruise Lines boat trip to the Bahamas. I might be awarded a size 9 Hall of Fame ring made of 10 Karat gold if Princess Carol The 10th pouted at work or went on strike.

So, for the time being and until further notice, Princess Carol The 10th will just have to get by without the steak and lobster dinners, the ski trips to Lake Tahoe, exotic jewelry, a beachside condominium, and the life style she would like to become accustomed to, all on account of my deplorable earning capacity as a slacker. Oh, and Ben & Jerry’s treats.

At age 60, I would like to return to running in the road races, the 5K and 10K runs. It has been 16 years or so since I was able to run in races on a regular basis. Something has always come up to prevent me from getting into the road racing routine again. Little things like having a car and coming up with the $15 to $20 entry fee.

One Liner: Terrified he would win over Princess Carol The 10th, Hooknose McGee began collecting staplers.

Princess Carol The Tenth Subpoenaed To Congressional Inquiry
Princess Carol The 10th was on a rampage at work one day about five weeks ago, trying to rid the American workplace once and for all of people who think they own their own stapler when in fact it belongs to the company, of people who suffer from petit mal clandestine email monitoring, and people who think the lunch hour is about 68 minutes and 23 seconds long instead of 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Suddenly, two men from Washington, tall, glowering, in suits and dark sunglasses, burst into the twin glass doors of the domain Princess Carol The 10th reigned over with the teeth-clinching disdain of an ill-tempered despot. The two unexpected visitors sauntered up to the desk of the petulant princess. They flashed their Government badges. "Are you Princess Carol The 10th?" one of the men asked quietly, fully expecting her to answer affirmatively.

"Yes," Princess Carol The 10th answered, blushing. She had not previously been formally addressed by her royal title, and was secretly flattered that official representatives from a Government agency would single her out to be stigmatized with praise, or was it notoriety? She had that caught-in-the-glare-of-a-UFO look in her terrified eyes. Her heart began to race as she put two and two together, and knew that now, at long last, Hooknose McGee had gone too far, and had dragged her into one of his Government conspiracies, and she had an uneasy feeling that it would not be easy to maneuver her way out of a dilemma not of her own making. "Is something wrong?" she asked, her voice trembling. "And if something is wrong, how could it possibly involve me?".

"This is a situation, ma’am," one of the visitors began to explain, "that involves official information gathering by a branch of the Federal Government, and may not necessarily result in those who are interviewed getting any feedback whatsoever. We expect nothing less than your full cooperation. We have a chopper standing by and you are officially served with this Congressional Subpoena. Ma’am, grab your teddy bear, your cell phone, your coffee mug, your purse, whatever it is you lean on as a crutch and have to keep with you at all times, although I must comment that I sure hope it is not a restored dresser with large red wooden knobs, and let’s fly to Washington, shall we? Let’s not keep the good Senators waiting!".

Princess Carol The 10th, alarmed that she was being pulled away from the known and familiar, so dear to her heart, where she was endowed with unquestioned authority veiled in an impenetrable mystique, tried not to let her emotional state wear her down, and struggled to think clearly so that she could carry off a grand exit, setting the stage to return once again in exalted glory, when the record was set straight and this unfathomable ordeal was put behind her. Princess Carol The 10th turned to her able assistant and left the marching orders her standing army was to obey in the event she never came back, "Esther, you are in charge while I’m gone. Make sure the basket gets emptied, no staplers have any name tags attached, the printers get cleaned daily, and my plants are watered. Oh, and everyone gets a three percent cut in pay if I’m not back by the end of December."

"I almost feel like I am the Deputy Secretary of Document Operations, and the Secretary just got impeached. Oh well, it just goes to show those years of consistent plugging away in a support capacity have finally paid off," Esther said, thinking out loud, like an Oscar winner who had just edged out four worthy adversaries for the coveted prize.

All of the wards of the Document Production asylum quickly ran to the Figueroa side of the building, burst into a senior partner’s office, elbowing him out of the way, and pressed their smudgy little clerical faces to the plate glass window, watching Princess Carol The 10th walking between the two Government agents to the waiting helicopter, temporarily blocking the one-way traffic on Figueroa Street, guarded by a barricade of LAPD squad cars flashing red, blue, and yellow lights.

"Do you think she will wind up in Leavenworth?" one of the quick typists wondered out loud.

"No way, she’ll get special treatment," answered a second quick typist. "But right now, those two starched suits are leading her right into the tail rotor that is rotating so fast it is invisible. They must be rookie law enforcement agents." The second quick typist frantically pounded on the window like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, like there was no mañana, even though homemade salsa was being served at the counter of the Pantry Annex next door. The noise of the helicopter masked any rattling of glass ten stories up.

An observant police officer, seeing the danger Princess Carol The Tenth was being led toward, sprinted toward the threesome, wrenched Princess Carol The 10th from the grasp of the two agents, and tackled her to the oily ground. The two agents staggered apart in reaction to the impact, narrowly avoiding a fatal collision with the tail rotor. As they ascended the steps of the aircraft, Princess Carol The Tenth turned to her rescuer and said, "Thanks, Officer."

"Just doing my job, ma’am" the officer replied modestly.

The three passengers fastened their seatbelts and were provided with Government-issue headgear by the Navigator to protect against the high decibels generated by a helicopter in operation, and the craft rose vertically into the Los Angeles skyline and began its cross-country trip to Washington.

In a similar manner, the other principals with lunar connections were rounded up, slated to be grilled by members of a Congressional Space Exploration Funding Committee before further allocation of funds could be authorized.

Mandy the Secret Service agent was protecting the Record King as he signed autographs at Wal-Mart. Hooknose McGee was removing grease from the partially-frozen chain of a five-speed bicycle he was refurbishing. Duncan was standing in a long line at the ARCO Arena to audition for "So You Think You Can Dance." But soon they all found themselves in front row seats, glared at by United States Senators seated at 8 feet by 4 feet tables purchased from Lowe’s for $39.95 by the General Accounting Office, who were asking them pointed questions about the stadium mishap that is to occur in 2016 on the surface of the moon.

"Duncan," demanded Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, "recount for this investigative committee the events of May 6, 2016 as you experienced them firsthand."

"Well, Senator Shelby," Duncan began, "I was riding around on a golf cart with Mandy and Hooknose McGee, and we were looking for the Record King, who was missing after the implosion of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium. But we were not looking that hard, because we thought the Record King had some auxiliary oxygen tanks, and we were having a blast doing wheelies with that all-terrain vehicle. But Mandy got mad at me over something I said, and she was about to break my arm in three places when suddenly I saw some legs sticking out from under a pile of lumber that had previously been part of the lunar stadium. That’s when we realized it was the Record King, and the story would have a happy ending."

Senator Chris Dodd pounded his fist on the table and yelled at Duncan, "Well, the story does not have a happy ending, far from it! You joy-riders think the purpose of a lunar research facility funded by the American taxpayers is a Club Med for slackers like you to go dirt-bike riding?".

"Please calm down, Senator Dodd," the Record King tried to placate the irate Senator. "We are only asking this committee for $14 billion to rebuild Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium. It is for the advancement of science and a steppingstone to the uncharted frontier of space."

"Fourteen billion dollars? Are you out of your mind, Record King?" Representative Barney Frank asked indignantly. "It cost $12 billion to build Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium in the first place! Why the extra $2 billion? Why has the price gone up, this committee demands an answer!".

"Because there is no free launch," replied the Record King calmly. "This distinguished committee of budget custodians should bear in mind that if funding to rebuild Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium is allocated, $5 billion will be needed for debris removal. Over three billion dollars was initially invested in surveying, and laying the foundation. We cannot let that investment go to waste. We cannot litter the moon. We are trying to cut corners as best we can here, and it is imperative that we salvage this pioneer outpost in space for future generations of Americans."

"Record King, in the overall scheme of human civilization, what meritorious role does Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium have?" Senator Harry Reid asked, confident no satisfactory answer could be given to justify Government funding to rebuild the collapsed lunar stadium.

"What is this, Senator Reid, a trick question?" the Record King asked, raising his voice. "Are you trying to trip up the Record King? You’re trying to debunk this program, aren’t you? Well, let me tell you what. Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium lays the groundwork for colonization of our solar system. It is representative of a model of a habitable domicile in which Earthlings can survive in an artificial environment away from their home planet. It was the prototype of how we can live elsewhere, especially in case anything devastating happens to our world. The domed city on the lunar surface can be replicated by a series of adjacent domed cities in the planning stage, and eventually thousands of people can live on the Moon. Then we should reasonably expect to build similar domed cities on Mars. Then we would effectively have a backup plan in case something drastic happened to the Earth. And in the future, we should build domed cities on the moons of Jupiter, which have water. I do not think the scientific merit of the Lunar Stadium should be denied to the people of Planet Earth, or lost on this distinguished committee of budget overseers."

Nancy Pelosi walked down the aisle next to the Record King, but inadvertently veered within 30 inches of the kingpin of vinyl records. In a blinding flash, Mandy the Secret Service agent jumped up and body slammed Nancy Pelosi to the plush carpet of the Senate. Two Secret Service agents ran to the scene of the melee and separated the Speaker of the House from the protective former pizza maker, who was only vigilantly keeping watch over the immediate vicinity of the Record King.

"Record King, your negligence caused the implosion of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium. How do you justify asking for $14 billion to rebuild it?" asked Senator Dodd.

"Senator Dodd," replied the Record King. "That is an urban myth. During the running of the mile on May 6, 2016, I was attempting to kick the Record Princess over the banister with the pointed-toe shoe. But it was a prodigious kick that catapulted her to the ceiling of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium. I can banister kick pretty good, but not that good. I was grabbed from behind and a croaker sack was slipped over my head. I think it was a character from World Wrestling Entertainment who kicked the Record Princess over the banister, cracking the ceiling, not me."

"These are serious allegations, Record King," said Senator Richard Shelby. "Do you have any supporting evidence the collapse of the stadium could have been caused by anyone other than yourself?".

"Well, the Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium Central Operating Committee is reviewing the airport Airless Traffic Control logs to determine if a greater number of the teleporters designed and manufactured at JPL arrived on the runways adjacent to Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium on May 6, 2016 than has been previously verified. We think a few maverick craft landed stealthily, but went unnoticed because of the heavy incoming and outgoing flight activities."

"I think you are being less than fully truthful with this Congressional inquiry committee, Record King," Congressman Barney Frank stated bluntly. "Don’t you think you should take responsibility for the destruction of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium on May 6, 2016?".

"Congressperson Frank," the Record King replied curtly, "It is with a totally clear conscience that I categorically deny causing the collapse of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium. I have dedicated my life to finding the true banister kicker or kickers who caused that great stadium to break up into tiny pieces of variegated purple and amber glass. I am just as much a victim of this fiasco as everyone else. I have a history of illustrious service to this Nation that dates back to the Revolutionary War. I have won medals for my patriotism. I would never knowingly do anything detrimental to the infrastructure or extrastructure of this great Nation."

"Princess Carol The 10th," Senator Harry Reid stated, "I have here a stack of documents. These are bills of lading for tractor trailer loads of merchandise delivered to Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer, Macy’s, Big Five Sporting Goods, Big Lots, J.C. Penney’s, and the list goes on, countless tons of endorsed products like T-shirts, beach towels, mousepads, flash drives, baseball caps, ski outfits, watches, silverware, cookware, baseball bats, tennis rackets, etc. Tell me, Princess Carol The 10th, are you trying to overtake the Olsen twins?".

"Senator Reid," Princess Carol The 10th responded, "I have already overtaken those two child actors, and Oprah Winfrey better not look back, because I am steadily gaining on her."

I want to admonish you, Princess Carol The 10th," Senator Harry Reid said sternly, "The United States Senate is not the venue to pull the Poor Little Rich Girl routine. If you want your colleagues to get Congressional funding to rebuild the lunar stadium named after you, you better be showing some humility. I will not tolerate swashbuckling in these hallowed halls. Do you understand me, Princess Carol The 10th?". Senator Reid’s face was red with indignation.

"I understand what you’re getting at, Senator Reid," Princess Carol The 10th stated humbly. "But let me point out to you that I have not made a dime off the stadium named in my honor. All of that marketing and merchandising was done by the Record King and Hooknose McGee. They are the ones who have banked millions, if not a billion dollars, off of my good name. I work hard for my money, as a supervisor at a law firm in a Document Production Center. After the roof caved in at Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium, I became domeless."

A collective gasp was exhaled by the 49 Senators and 258 Congresspersons present at the Congressional inquiry. They looked at each other with consternation, and wondered what emergency relief measure they could draft to save the domeless Princess Carol The 10th from financial ruin. But, like all good Senators and Representatives, the four conducting the hearing pressed on to get to the core truth.

"Princess Carol The 10th," asked Senator Richard Shelby, "how did you ever get the title you are known by?".

"It was given to me by a former employee, who now calls himself Hooknose McGee, years after he moved on," Princess Carol The 10th answered. "I think he meant I am 10 percent princess and 90 percent tyrant. But really, once you get to know me, which you cannot do, I am a nice person."

incess Carol The 10th," asked Senator Harry Reid, "Are you financially independent?".

"Senator Reid, that is a personal question, so why don’t you subpoena my income tax filings if you really want to know? I can answer you this way," Princess Carol The 10th replied tactfully. "Ted Turner once told me, ‘You, Ma’am, are no Suzie Orman,’ and I said to Ted Turner, ‘You, Sir, are no Warren Buffet.’ All of the foregoing was the long answer. The short answer is: Only the Accounting Firm of Ernst & Young can know the true scope of my vast holdings."

"Let me ask you this," Congressman Barney Frank asked sarcastically, "When you go out with Hooknose McGee, do the two of you go Dutch treat?".

"Are you out of your mind, Congressman Frank?" Princess Carol The 10th recoiled in horror at the question, a look of dark anger clouding her incensed visage. "I don’t go out with Hooknose McGee! I never have and never would! I only date men who are good looking and have a promising future. Hooknose McGee, judging from his totally lackluster past, has a predictably mediocre future. I have no comment on his looks. But when he laughs, it is a scene right out of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’."

"I take it, then, Princess Carol The 10th," asked Senator Chris Dodd, "that you in fact are not THE Significant Other of Hooknose McGee?".

"You have got that right, Senator Dodd," Princess Carol The 10th replied, scowling. "He is just someone I met at work 19 years ago, nothing more, and we were then, as we are now, as different as day and night. I am the day, by the way. But I am a little flattered to have a stadium on the Moon named in my honor. It makes me feel like Cleopatra to some degree. She had a face that launched a thousand ships, and I have a face that launched a thousand teleporters that flew from the Earth to the Moon."

"Princess Carol The 10th," said Senator Harry Reid, "Since the lunar stadium was constructed with taxpayer money, we were thinking of having a nationwide contest in which citizens of our great country suggest a new name for the sports facility where the world record for the mile was set by Hooknose McGee. Are you comfortable with that?".

"On second thought, Senator Reid," snapped Princess Carol The 10th, "Hooknose McGee did not promise me the Moon, but he gave it to me anyway. No one has ever done that for me before. I might be secretly in love, only my astrologer knows for sure. I am waiting for Mr. McGee to enter his dotage, so I can get his Social Security. If you change the name of Princess Carol The 10th Lunar Stadium, I will sue the Federal Government for emotional trauma."

incess Carol The 10th," asked Senator Richard Shelby timidly, "can I have your autograph?".

"Yes, Senator, you may have my autograph," Princess Carol the 10th replied, reaching for her Cross pen.

Hooknose McGee Goes Bowling

Six days ago, I was on a long walk around Lebanon on a cold day. When I went past the large marquee sign with the temperature featured in front of the high school, it read 36 degrees. When I arrived at 2nd Street, I could see that the text of the large scrolling marquee sign in front of the bowling alley read 35.2 degrees. A notice was also spelled out on the sign that on Monday, bowling would be $1.00 a game from 12 noon to 11 p.m. I had not been bowling for many years. So I decided to go in and maybe bowl three games. The sign at the desk indicated that shoes would be $1.25. So I asked the clerk if I could have a lane and told him I wear size 9-½ shoes. He handed me the shoes and said, "That will be two dollars and a half." I replied, "But the sign says a dollar and a quarter. Why is it more? Are the shoes made by OPEC?".

The cler
k said, "Are you over 50?". I replied, "Yes, I’m 60." The clerk was young, and young people often misjudge the age of older people. He told me, "You will be on Lane 18." That was the rightmost lane in the establishment. I thought I would like the seclusion. My intent was to bowl sparingly.

The first ball I threw was a gutter ball. I said to myself, "There goes my 900 series right out the window." To my surprise, I broke 100, doing 108 the first game. I was able to get some spares and some strikes.

I had been on a league in the 1970’s with two brothers, Henry and Pete. Our team was called the Hipshots. We struck fear into the hearts of bowling teams throughout Southern California. The first night of the league, I think the first ball I rolled was a gutter ball, but I came back to convert the spare. Then I proceeded on to roll a fairly good 205. It remained the high game in the league until about week 17. The way our weekly league night generally went was that Pete would bowl 170. I would bowl between 88 and 95. In the final game, it would come down to the final frame. Henry would have to bowl 2 strikes and 8 or 9 for our team to win. And the amazing thing is, Henry always did it.

In Game 6 on December 22, I started out in Frame 1 by knocking down 9, just narrowly missing a strike. Then the next ball was headed directly toward the lone pin, missing by about a millimeter. It was the 17th worst miss of all time. Then I got three spares, not really easy ones, and a strike. So there I was in Lane 5 with four marks, and two narrow misses in Frame 1 that did not result in a mark. In the years I had bowled up to about 1981, or about 27 years ago when I last bowled, I had never bowled a game in which I marked in every frame. But on December 22, I bowled seven games, and in Game 6 I marked in 7 frames. I missed a spare in the 10th Frame by a whisker and wound up with 154. All in all, I think that is not bad, considering how long of a break I took from participating in bowling.

y the way, as far as I know, there have been four occasions in history when a 900 series was bowled. One of those performances was annulled because of too much oil on the lane. I saw on Ebay where an American Bowling Congress ring for bowling 300 in 1961 sold for $525. That would be an amazing thing to win, but more amazing to actually win it by bowling a perfect game.

The Red Telephone

The Red Telephone rang. It had not rang since I got a call from Clara Whiting. I wondered who it could be.

I picked up the receiver. "Hello, this is Hooknose McGee speaking. May I ask who is calling?".

"This is God calling," the voice on the other end of the line answered.

"But I did not dial Alpha or Omega," I stated.

"I know," God replied. "You did not call me, I called you."

"Can I put you on speakerphone?" I asked. "When I talk on my cell phone, I walk and talk. But this call came in on a landline. On speakerphone, I can walk and talk with you."

"Sure, speakerphone will be fine," God assured me.

"Who, may I ask," I inquired, "is running the universe while you are talking with me on the Red Telephone?".

"My will keeps everything in perfect order. My day job is a thousand years long. I can call from anywhere," God said.

"Thank you for sending me a guardian angel," I said.

"Did you notice how well dressed she is?" God asked.

"She is simply radiant in her celestial gown," I replied.

I paced up and down on the carpet in my small studio apartment as I talked with God.

"Does this wallet make me look fat?" I asked God.

"Heavens, no!" God answered, laughing.

"Do you own the sheep on a thousand hillsides?" I asked God.

"Yes," God replied.

"I never really cared for mutton. As you know, God, I am not in the habit of asking you for things," I commented.

"I am well aware of that," God replied.

"Can I ask you a few questions about things that were not fully explained in Sunday School?" I asked.

"Yes, you can ask me anything," God replied.

"The Children of Israel walked in circles in the desert for 40 years. Was the manna that fell from the sky six nights a week a form of Celestial Food Stamps?" I asked.

"You know, Hooknose McGee," God commented, "I just might have a job for you in Public Relations when you cross the River Jordan. Yes, those were Celestial Food Stamps."

"Assuming they got 159 skekels worth each month, can I get 318 shekels worth of Celestial Food Stamps for my guardian angel and me?" I asked.

"Like I said, a table is prepared before you," God replied.

"Hooknose McGee," God said, "You can ask me for any one thing and I will grant it."

I thought of what would be temporal, like money, a full head of hair, a color laser printer, having my teeth restored.

"Well, God, if it is your will, please give me better con artist skills. I am weak in that area, and people take advantage of me. This could level the playing field," I said.

"You just don’t know what is good for you, Hooknose McGee. I have already given you everything you need," God replied. Then the voice of God was replaced with a dial tone.

One Liner: In this dreary vale of tears, we battle not just against powers and principalities, but other Ebay bidders, as well.

(c) 2008, (c) 2009 by Hooknose McGee

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