Saturday, September 04, 2004

 

On My Front Porch

I'm sitting on my front porch, my feet up, my eyes shut, a book flopped open on my chest. I was reading it just a moment ago. I'm sure of it. The setting sun lights up my eyelids, toasts my arms and shoulders. Just off the porch I can hear the drowsy hum of birds flitting from feeder to feeder, can practically see the cardinals, the goldfinches, the red-headed woodpeckers, the indigo buntings. Ruby-throated hummingbirds buzz around my head up here on the porch.

My wife must be inside. But she's been in there a long time. On the phone, maybe?

Lazily, as I lie here, phenomena line up in the desert, waiting to shuffle through from nonexistence into material reality.

There’s a place they come from and a fountain inside that they go to. They take their buckets to the well of warmth and acceptance and love sunk deep inside me, dip a bucketful and leave.

Finally they get to the gate and go “Okay, my turn, beat it.”

They sift through me like ideas through veils.

A son grows up and his father leaves home. A woman gets pregnant and her boyfriend gives birth. A dervish develops a rare bone disease in both legs and starts winning foot races.

Dervish? An image nags at the inside of my eyelids, begging to be let in. I smile and shake my head a little. It vanishes.

Where's my wife? Should I get up and go find her? She's missing a glorious sunset.

Wait: could that be her down tending the grill, poking at the coals, brushing more marinade on the catfish?

Uh oh.

The catfish?

The FUCKING CATFISH?

I panic, go to open my eyes and sit up, check who the fuck it is down there grilling the catfish, but I can't. My eyes are sewn shut. I can't move. I'm still in the Falwell cyborg. It all comes flooding back in, the whole nightmare, the Mississippi rapture mud hot on my tongue ...

Then there are arms shaking me by the shoulders.

"Wake up, son. You're havin one a them bad dreams, I reckon ..."

And now I sit up, open my eyes, look around. I'm not at home, napping on the porch. I'm in a suburban back yard, sitting by a kidney-shaped pool blue as a baby's eyes. There is in fact a grill, a huge one, the size of an Escalade. On it does in fact lie a fifteen-foot catfish, roasting over hot coals.

"Where--am I?" I say, looking around at the strange-looking folks on plastic chaise-lounges around the pool.

One of them, wearing leather shorts and a football jersey and a plastic gold helmet, hamfists a Heineken in his left hand and some kind of toy lightning bolt in the right. There's a really fat bald man sitting in a lotus position, humming, with his eyes closed and his hands out in some kind of meditation pose. He's so fat I wonder where he got the loud Hawaiian shirt he's wearing. I doubt they sell them that big down at the Wal-Mart. Tailor-made? Another is a pretty young woman wearing a neon halo and suckling a naked baby boy at her right breast.

"Is this a potluck?" I say anxiously. "Did I bring the potato salad?"

"Never mind the potato salad, son," somebody says. It's a moment before I realize it's the baby talking. He's taken the breast out of his mouth with both hands and holds it there for a moment, still squirting milk. He's got a pleasant, rather bland voice, like somebody at a Rotarian luncheon. "Relax," he says. "Have a beer. You're in heaven."

And he goes back to sucking, giving me a friendly wink with his starboard eye.

Heaven?


 

Sufis 10, Everyone Else 0

Coming on the heels of Dr. Podesta's resignation, some good news from the world of sports, as sent to us by the omniscient Hank Balgood, our man on the scene:

Who kicked a goddam giant catfish into my backyard? Buddha, the Enlightened One, wondered as he surveyed the damage to his Zen garden. The fish had torn quite a path through the bonsai and carefully placed rocks. Its bloated corpse now lay on top of where the contemplative bench once had stood. A bootprint was visible on its rear flank. The fence separating Buddha's carefully groomed yard from that pigsty of a yard next door, Thor's, had been knocked down. The Enlightened One could see Thor's sagging back porch, and his crushed barbecue grill, the scattered cattle bones and beer cans, and soon enough spotted his neighbor headed over, walking quickly and angrily. He wore only some leather shorts and his great horned helmet of gold. He had a bolt of lightning in his hand, and it shook as he strode quickly to confront Buddha. He reeked of beer.

"Why'd you knock down my fence, you bald-headed goober? Now my dogs are loose and I had a barbecue planned for tonight..." He gestured at the crumbled bricks and bent grill with the lightning bolt. And then he saw the catfish. "Holy Balls of Wodin! Is that a giant catfish?"

"Yes," the Buddha said very calmly. "Someone or something kicked it through the goalposts over there at Heaven High, and it landed here, destroying your barbecue and the fence and my garden. Isn't it wonderful?"

"Wonderful? Wonderful? Are you friggin nuts? Don't you know what it means when a giant catfish is kicked through the heavenly goalposts? It means their team is up by ten points, that's what!" Thor sputtered through his blond mustache. "The Sufis are up by ten!"

"Ah," said the Buddha quietly. "I see. It is a game. We are playing a game."

"You are a dipshit, you know that, Buddha? A real dipshit. Of course it's a game! And whoever kicked that goal is plain on FIRE, man."

"I must contemplate this," The Buddha said. "I will find my old jersey and cleats, and I will meditate on this game."

"Yeah, well, you do whatever, pal. Me, I'm going to go get my fish-and-sea-mammal-kicking gear and score some points. Real, big, fat, overtime points." And Thor ran back into his house, coming out moments later wearing a helmet with horns and a faceguard, boots with cleats, and a jersey that said THOR between the shoulder blades and 56 in big print below. His jodphurs were emblazoned with zig zags of lightning. Over his shoulder he carried a huge fishing pole and a spear, and in his hand was a bait bucket with one human leg in it. The leg appeared to be in the process of being eaten by maggots.

Buddha sat, crossed his legs, and closed his eyes. He remembered his glory days as a halfback tar on the seal-clubbing team back at Sufi U. God, how the cheerleaders swamped him. He got laid almost every night, sometimes four or five times in one night. And then he entered a deep trance...


 

Another Resignation at Sufi U

Dear Dean Wocklefeister:

It is with little regret that I tender my resignation from Sufi University. My reasons for resigning are simple, and I call them to your attention as I accept a position as a rapture insurance salesman for Hoover Mutual. As the holder of the LaHaye Chair of Rapture Studies and Christian Robotics in the Department of Maranatha Studies at Sufi U for the last seven years, I must say that the marginalization of our department has been egregious. We have been mercilessly ridiculed in faculty meetings by those snooty-tooties over in the Department of Whaling (they even threw a harpoon at me!), and our certificate and degree programs in Monotheistic Meteorology were shot down by the Curriculum Committee for "lack of enrollment"--although we had a waiting list of over 250,000 potential students! Small by Sufi U standards, true, but large enough to make us self-supporting, I would say. They also cited "lack of academic rigor" in our programs, although our research in messianic weather prediction has been called "stirring" by Dr. Pat Robertson. My office door has been repeatedly vandalized--I suspect by the custodial staff and certain faculty in the Muslim Stereophonics Department--with crude drawings of human genitalia being turned into robots with halos. Someone left huge piles of excreta and offal in my parking space with a note that said "YOU." These are only the most obvious attacks on my scholarship and person.

It is my hope that you will consider strengthening this department upon my departure. Dr. Bruno, the current chair, whose house was recently destroyed by robotic hail, is an obvious choice to replace me as holder of the LaHaye chair. Dr. Bush can replace him as chair easily. I am sure that, given some protection from these attacks, they can lead this department to its place as the source of flagship programs at Sufi U. They are both doing groundbreaking work on Christian cloud formations and robotic blizzards.

Meanwhile, I will be doing quite well, thank you. I have already sold over $500,000 worth of post-tribulation coverage. You might consider taking a policy yourself, just in case the postmillennialists are right. This policy covers boils, sores, plagues, blood, robotic goats, mud and assassin dervishes, and any and all horsemen, all for less than $10 a month. You know how to contact me at my office in Baton Rouge if you're interested.

Yours in Non-Satanic Murderous Monotheism,

Dr. Pius N. Podesta IV


 

Bismillah!

When the rapture mud swept in, everything changed.

I could move--but only in extremely slow motion, as in a ghastly dream.

I could smell--but my nostrils were assaulted by the stench of Sunday School and the reek of the collection plate.

I could taste--but my mouth was filled with clayey hashy mud, and my taste buds, strangely, were assaulted with crumbled wafers in wine sauce.

I could feel--but mostly I felt like shit.

I could see--but what I saw made no sense. A giant Mississippi catfish--here, in the Mud of the Tribulation? With the Leg of the Limper in his maw? Could it be--the Catfish of Doom? And this turbaned mullah selling pornography and smoking a joint, grinning and dancing around on a surfboard that he rode on the waves of mud ... could it be ...

I could hear--but the only words I heard were from the porn-vending mullah's mouth: "The warp and the woof of creationist theology," he was saying as he danced around and around like a dervish on that surfboard, "weave the blindfold that blocks out the light, but it’s what the Qur’an calls the four birds that block your love."

The four birds? Could this be--Rumi? The Persian poet Jalal al-Din Mevlana? He was a dervish!

"Mullah Jalal!" I cry, choking on mud.

"Did I hear someone call my name?" the mullah says, squinting into the mud.

"Mullah!" I cry again.

"Say Bismillah," he instructs me, without quite spotting me, "and wring those four birds’ necks!"

"Bismillah?" I say.

"'In the name of God'," he explains, and starts ticking off Bismillahs on his four fingers: "Bismillah the crows of the cocks of the desire for pussy. Bismillah the caws of the crows of the desire to own stuff. Bismillah the screams of the peacocks of the desire to be famous. Bismillah the quacks of the ducks of the desire to get things done right now."

Right now? That didn't seem particularly pertinent to someone about to get raptured! But, I thought, hey, if it's Rumi ...

"You’ve got one of those ducks inside you right now," he goes on, "her bill never still, poking through the wet and the dry of you, like a burglar upstairs while the owners are in France, stuffing your stuff in his sack, quacking away, 'No time! No time! I’ll never get another chance like this one!'"

Well, he had a point there, in an extremely odd sort of way ...

"God’s fire in the marrow of your bones is death to ducks, death to cocks and peacocks, death to crows. Let God set your bones on fire and you’ll not worry about interruptions. Let God burn in your bones and you’ll binge on the balm of the birdless."

"Mullah Jalal!" I cried, thinking: what's this about birds, look out for the catfish!

But at that moment, as the Catfish of Doom reared up over Mullah Jalal to swallow him, he danced into position and gave the Catfish a little sissy kick, and Bismillahed that fucker over the Goalposts of Heaven. Both arms shot straight up over his turban.

"Field goal!" he cried. "Three points! Sufis win!"

And then I thought I was on fire ...


Friday, September 03, 2004

 

The End is Lear!

It is difficult to blog. The storms have blown me far off course. Watching is not as simple as cable news would have it, a quiet ingestion of the facts as they occur and are reported. No. This was at first a simple investigation into the Cause of the Trouble. Now it has become Monday’s hash, reheated on the camp stove. Not that I can eat it. Not that sort of hash, no. It is filled with crusty bits, chunks of scripture. It seems to be some sort of game, this hash ... no restaurant in the whole of the Caribbean will serve me now. Chef Pharaoh has died, and his beautiful daughter with him. My mouth is filled with red mud. It reeks of communion wafers and burnt communist banners.

In the deeps of the river—oho, you were thinking the Tigris or perhaps the Euphrates, no! the Mississippi, but aren’t all rivers the same?—under the effluvium of the immense fat leech, the catfish even now sits smiling. But only the smile of the fish was there, no fish itself. No shit. Only teeth, and perhaps a hint of a whisker. Yet the smile was prominent. Omniscient. Oh, Dodgson has done his work well ... no doubt with help from his disciple LaHaye… the bastard! May he be eaten by a goat!

The fish, when I saw him, held in his maw the leg of Skinner, the young osteomyelitic disciple of W, the one Marked from Birth. The jewel in the crown of the turban on the vast head of the fish shimmered, as the storm raged above. Dervishes fell from the sky, seeking the blood of godfearing stormwatchers, several of whom have already given their all. Their goat masks could scarcely hide the bulk of worldly weight that rested on the river. Something was in the air ... could it be The Rapture? Where was Hank? Even the image of Hank would be a comfort.

But there had been so many false raptures, and so many false resurrections. So many dead-end investigations. So many meals that ended up as shit.

I watched.

The mullah rested, hanging the edge of his hammer on the unfinished wall as he mopped his brow.

“When,” he shouted to heaven, “when will I be able to finish the preparations for the Final Storm? Must I be maggot’s food before the end comes? I mean, the final end? The real end? I can scarcely eat, with these teeth, and my leg, my leg ...!”

Just then, a vendor came by selling pornographic magazines and an assortment of drugs. Drugs and images that beckoned, called to him, even as the sky rained goats…


 

The Prophet and the Shitty Limper

Once a busload of objectivists came to the mosque, looking for Mohammed. They knew the Prophet was always good for a free meal. Mohammed divided them up among his friends, saying that since his friends burned with his bone-fire, it would be as if he were every guest’s host. And so each friend chose a tourist and took him home for supper.

When they were all gone there was one moocher left--and he was enormous. This eater of objects was easily ten of Rush Limbaugh. Each of his chins was like a whole Jabba the Hut. The man was big. He sat there filling up the entrance to the mosque like hair clogging a drain.

Mohammed sighed and walked him home. There the son of a Ghuzz Turk ate everything. He ate fourteen roast pigs. He ate thirty-seven roast chickens. He ate seven head of beef, hooves and all. He ate Mohammed’s best camel. In the commotion of the cooking and the serving he even ate a stray analytical philosopher who had also wandered in off the street looking for a meal, and who from the look of him had not had his belly full in months, and now never would again. He ate the clothes off of three of Mohammed’s serving girls—break-away robes or they too would surely have perished. He drank eleven vats of wine and the milk out of seventy-eight goats.

Fortunately, goats were plentiful that year, as that spring they had rained from the heavens.

Still, the help was furious. When the glutton went to bed, the maid chained his door behind him.

At midnight he awoke to various urgent calls of nature. His bladder, which was the size of a small principality, was filled to bursting. His fifteen miles of bowels were bloated with enough shit to fertilize the Sahara. But the door wouldn’t budge. He rattled the knob. Bleary-eyed, swaying on shaky legs, he slid a knife through, tried to pick the lock. Nothing. The door was chained with a chain the size of a normal man’s wrist.

The swelling in his belly got worse. The room shrank. The fat man fell back into a confused sleep and dreamed of a barren place, because he himself was a barren place. In this place all was parallel lines that met at the horizon and Euclidean numerical values that added up to zero. The one object in his dream, gleamingly white and stable in a the strictest epistemological sense, was a perfectly cubical toilet.

So, dreaming he was lowering himself onto this toilet, breathing heavily from the effort, he voided himself. He pushed out great counties of shit. He sighed in his sleep, spent. Then, his great belly contracted again! And he pushed out whole new counties of shit. Whole mountainous regions. It was everywhere. It rose to the windows. It stank to high heaven. God Himself plugged his nose against the stink. Mohammed’s servants woke screaming with it, ran into the fields, their eyes running with tears, their throats scorched and raw. In the house only Mohammed was calm.

Now the fat tourist himself woke up, pulled at his covers, and discovered that what he thought were bedclothes were in fact great stinking waves of shit. And he was wracked with paroxysms of shame—the shame that normally keeps men from filling their rooms with excrement.

"My waking is food," he moaned, "but my sleeping is now this."

At dawn Mohammed came to the door, unchained his guest, but made himself invisible so the man could escape to wash up without the shame of facing his rescuer. Mohammed had seen the man’s sufferings, of course, all the gruesome night. Nothing is hidden from the man whose bones burn with God’s fire. He merely held back from unchaining the door all night so that everything might happen as it needed to happen.

The fat man, still weeping with shame, waddled down to the river to wash. Villagers fled in all directions. Even the water would have fled, if God in His great wisdom had not made it subject to man’s will. Still, it too cringed and tried to cover itself as he lowered himself into it, and made watery faces of disgust as it was forced to cleanse him of his own bodily wastes.

The unfortunate glutton, thinking to slink out of town unnoticed, next remembered that he had left his amulet at the Prophet’s house, and sloshed back to the scene of his humiliation, his shoes full of bitter river water. When he got there he found the Prophet himself cleaning his room: hauling the waste matter to the compost pile in a wheelbarrow, washing the linens in vat after vat of clean water.

The fat man forgot the amulet. Suddenly he was overcome with love. He tore open his shirt and struck his head repeatedly against the wall. Blood spurted everywhere.

Mohammed approached him with arms outstretched, but the penitent shouted "No! Stay away! I have no understanding!" and threw himself on the ground before the Prophet. "You are the whole," the fat Turk cried, shaking with remorse, "I am a shitty little part of the whole. I can’t even look at you!"

Mohammed bent over and touched the man’s leg. From that day forward the new believer’s bone marrow burned with the fire of God’s love. And though he limped to his grave, at that very moment the great hunger went out of him. Almost overnight he slimmed down to a fraction of his earlier size, and ever more gave praise to God, in whom truly is all food and all drink to those who believe.


 

If only, If only ...

Why, oh why, do I keep hearing the rain? The WiFi connection here is horrible, dear readers. I know that there's someone in there, in that Jesus suit, but the thunder and lightning keeps drowning out the cries of the poor helpless sonofabitch. Clearly it's an ally. Perhaps even a well-known talk show host, or some Dixiecrat Senator from Georgia, or a fellow prostitute. Should I open the zipper? Should I just tune to another channel and do some serious work on my uvula? (... which, frankly, has been looking rather pale and sickly lately ...) Clearly, the puny structure of this church won't hold up under the pounding from the hurricanes and hail and locusts and the giant sucking Hoovers in the Sky much longer ... what to do? what to do? In an instant, the answer is clear: open the ditches and cleanse the earth! Open every closed-off and mud-choked ditch on the planet, open them with the fury of 1,000,000 unemployed hungry motherfuckers, open them with the key, the key given me by Chef Pharaoh's comely daughter, when she revealed to me the secret ingredient for her father's Belly of Osiris Pie: lint. Lint from the navel. Lint from the navel of Fatima. Rubbed in her palm eye, this lint can open any ditch, anywhere, and even add a dash of low-phosphate detergent. With a dash of dried shit from the White House toilet carefully mixed in--a shamefully overlooked point of national security, White House shit--I can open every ditch in the goddam UNIVERSE and even kick in a rinse and spin cycle: Ultimate Power. And I'm set to do it. Use the key. But then the radio buzzes to life, the one implanted in my molar by Barry Goldwater during his presidential bid as a "security measure" since he greatly feared the power of a nascent mullah-cum-weatherman and hoped to control it with the power of AM radio ... it's a country station, and just as I hear "she got the gold mine and I got the shaft," the roof and walls collapse, and a wave of the stuff Holy Climatologists call "rapture mud" pours in. As I am being encased in the red, sticky clay, reeking of transubstantiation, only one thought comes to mind: the giant catfish that live in the deep bottoms of the Mississippi River and their incessant lust for Sufi flesh, and the countless investigative mullahs who had become their dinner. If only I hadn't blasphemed, if only ...


 

Is That A Radio I Hear?

I still can't figure out what I'm--experiencing, if that's the right word for it. There's some sort of light filtering in here, but it doesn't seem to come through the eyehole I occasionally see something out of. I still can't move.

If this is a human-shaped body suit, I don't fill it. I'm stuck in some tiny mechanical nook somewhere. Either this suit is something Moses' Colossus on the Mount stepped out of before getting in the shower--I mean Yahweh, of course, standing seventy feet tall and thundering at puny Moses--or I've been shrunk down to the size of a bent paper clip.

And it's like a radio is playing somewhere far off--but sounding from within my head. First I listen to some inane commercial about uvula enhancement, whatever the hell that means, then the bouncy commercial breaks off and some weird hoarse-voiced singer starts plucking some kind of string instrument I never heard before and, accompanied by what sounds like a crow cawing, sings:

Oh Zeus is a fucker, yes sirree,

He'd as soon fuck a swan as a shoe or a tree,

But that ol' Yahweh he don’t fuck at all

On account a cuzza how he ain't got no balls.



El-o-him ain't got no balls

El-o-her don't fuck at all

Well the virgins say sir and the virgins say please

But Mr. Elohim ain’t slidin no wheeze!



Now Bacchus is a bastard, yes it’s true

And he'll pump your butt full of slimy goo

But that Holy Ghost is such a bore

He'd talk the skank right off an Egyptian whore



El-o-him is such a bore

El-o-her skank off a whore

The zombies say sir and the zombies say please

But all that Ghost's a-slingin is rancid cheese!



Ialdabaoth was a momzer, yes he was

Cuzza demiurge'll do what a demiurge does

But now sweet Jesus’d put ol' Beelzebub

Up for membership in the Rotary Club



El-o-him ol' Beelzebub

El-o-her at the Rotary Club

Jerome says sir and Jerome says please

But Jesus says "buddy take a gander at these!"



El-o-us he’d shake your hand

El-o-them in the Promised Land!

Epiphanny says sir, Epiphanny says please

But Jesus just says "take a gander at these!"



This must be hell. I can think of no other explanation. Because, you see--I wrote that. Or, well, Bill and I did. It's from a novel we wrote called LXX, about the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, in 281 B.C. Could I have died and been sent to hell for that? And now, this is my punishment--to be reduced to the size and musculature of a used rubber and jammed in this hole, where I have to listen to my own clever blasphemies and stupid commercials for all eternity?

B-but--we never even published the novel!


 

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The Truth is in There

It’s me again. Bill. I’m going to turn the corpse back on its face. Gotta check the nape of the neck like they taught me at the academy.

Those eyes are what tipped me off. It was pretty clear I was dealing with a deader in a Jesus suit. Probably one of those suits that comes with the Realistic Gliding Action, too, not a cheap job. And… yep. There it is. The hidden zipper. But what’s inside? I better be careful. Whatever’s inside might not be dead. And it could be one of those dervish goats I been reading about, or a grand inquisitor, or even one of those Cheney clones, out to get revenge. Slow and easy, that’s what this calls for. Could even be Falwell. Somebody might have tipped him off that I was looking for him and so he put on a Jesus suit and hid in a church. Slow and easy. That’s the ticket.

Besides, what’s the rush? Not like anybody I know is in there.


 

Inside the Falwell Cyborg...

I can see him. It’s Bill. Why can’t I move? He just pulled open one of my eyelids and I can’t move. But I can hear the hum of the machinery. It’s almost as if, as if, I were wearing the skin of another person, but not a normal person, no, more like a deity, part of a trinity--

Shit. That’s it. I am inside the Falwell cyborg, who’s wearing a Jesus suit.

Why can’t I move? Why can’t I speak? Could it be that counterfeit monotheism I had for lunch? Fucking Pharaoh and his recipes. C’mon, Bill. You can see through this. Think back to the Academy.


 

Meeting the Pastor

Bill Kaul here. Here, as in, here in this big bright shiny church. The pews are empty. Light comes in through the stained glass all around. But this is clearly a Protestant church. Baptist. Big dunking tank. There’s a man stretched out in front of the altar, face down, arms stretched out toward the big wooden cross hanging above. He’s wearing a nice blue suit and shiny loafers.

How did I get here? Last thing I remember was asking Chef Pharaoh what was for lunch, and him saying, “There is no clearer biblical broth than that of Jude 3, which comes with a choice of sides: Biblical Monotheism, Unbiblical or counterfeit Monotheism Murderous or Satanic Monotheism (GOP style), Polytheism Pantheism Monism (crispy), or New Age Impersonal Force (served cold), with or without hard lemonade and dainty scrolls.” And I was thinking, yummy, and then…

And then I was here, pulled here by--? Something like a whirlwind, only fluffier.

Figured I better find out who the prostrate guy is. You know, next logical step in the investigation. I pulled my badge out of my pocket, held it in one hand, while in the other snuggled my trusty .38.

“Hey!” I shouted. “Monad police! Keep your hands where I can see ‘em!”

The figure didn’t move. I approached warily. There was no sign of life. I turned him over.

Shit. It was Jesus. I recognized the face from the painting on the wall next to the dunking tank. JESUS, it said underneath, in big red letters.

Yep. He was dead. What now? Wait for him to resurrect? That could take awhile. If only Mullah Billdoug wasn’t out playing with hurricanes, he could resurrect him. Hm. I pulled open one of his eyelids.

That’s strange. What’s this?


 

Inside the Machine

Doug Robinson here. Not sure where, exactly, except that it's dark and staticky and all around me I hear the soft hum of oiled machinery. I seem to be completely immobilized--whether because I'm pinned under rubble, or drugged, or out of body, I have no way of ascertaining.

Somewhere in the far distance I can hear the faint gargle of what I take to be human speech, though I may in fact be emboweled in the Almighty and what I hear is actually the grumble of God's Holy Word.

No. Wait. I can move my head a little. And if I turn it just slightly to the right, I can make out some of what's being said:

"... have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy forty million little innocent babies we make God mad I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle the ACLU People for the American Way all of them who have tried to secularize America I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen yes I'm talking about the terrorist attacks on nine eleven brothers and sisters I'm talking about last Tuesday's pseudo-rapture out of the whirlwinds in the Caribbean I'm talking about nasty biting Satan goats raining from the heavens in Alabama I'm talking about God's holy vengeance on America for straying from His Path my children I'm ..."

Isn't that--Jerry Falwell? Isn't he the one who keeps blaming 9/11 on the gays and lesbians and feminists and the rest? Or was that Pat Robertson? So many religious nuts, so little light to shed on their--

Something awful occurs to me. Could it be I'm trapped in the machinery that runs Jerry Falwell? Could I actually be inside the Falwell cyborg? And--worst thought of all--did I somehow bring this on myself, by leaving that note for our janitor, who coincidentally (but could it be a coincidence?) is also named Jerry Falwell?


 

Letter from Mike Riddle

Waiting in the Mullah Billdoug's inbox this morning was this letter from a Mr. Mike Riddle, professor of creationist meteorology at Oral Roberts University, whom Dr. Robinson quoted yesterday on the "pseudo-rapture" Tuesday. He writes:

Dear Mullah Billdoug,

I don't know why I bother writing to you people, who are obviously Arabs and atheists, but I am, after all, an educator, and committed to the task set us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations, so here goes.

First off, while I don't have a graduate degree in Creationist Meteorology (none is currently offered by any American university!), I have taken several very demanding extension courses in meteorology. And while I know this won't mean anything to a bunch of freethinkers like yourselves, the Good Lord in Heaven has taught me more about weather than most people learn in a three-year Ph.D. program in meteorology. So you don't need to snipe at my credentials. They are precisely what Our Lord God wants them to be, to do His work.

Second, you misquoted me. You quoted me as saying "Here we have a perfect example"--but I didn't use the word "example" at all! I used an entirely different word: "case." My exact words were "Here we have a perfect case." If this is a perfect example or case of your journalistic integrity, well--I think we know just how far we can trust your comments on resurrection and time travel!

Thirdly, and lastly, but far from leastly, your editorial staff have once again blundered into territory where they quite simply lack the Bible-based science to know what the heck they're talking about. I am referring to the post on "robot goats vs. dervishes", a thin tissue of outlandish theories and out-and-out fabrications that doesn't deserve to be considered alongside serious scientific creationism. This is the paragraph that particularly, if you'll excuse the pun, "gets my goat":

"Others disagree with the robot theory, noting that there are verified reports of assassin dervishes dressed in goat suits raining out of the sky and wreaking havoc, especially after a convergence of storm fronts. 'Over a thousand rained down on Bainesville, Georgia, after Hurricane Floyd bumped into Hurricane Barney,' says local rapture scientist and weatherman Randy Stutz. 'Killed everyone on the town square. Just ripped out their throats with their nasty yellow teeth, then took off their goat suits and ran away. Robots goats from God, my ass. Satan is the one with the goats and the dervishes.'"

Precisely how is that paragraph wrong? Let me count the ways.

1. Barney Stutz. I know Randy. He's a good God-fearing church-going tithing man, though maybe he beats his wife a little more than the Good Lord would want. But he isn't a rapture scientist or a weatherman. Or else he's a weatherman only in the sense that any two-bit actor who stands up in front of a blue screen and reads off a teleprompter is a "weatherman." He knows nothing about Bible-based weather patterns. Why, he's never even taught Sunday School! So how could he possibly have mastered the finer points of creationist rapturology or meteorology? You tell me that. I'm waiting.

2. Assassin dervishes. There's no such thing! Do you even own a copy of the Holy Scriptures? If you do, open it. If you don't, borrow a copy and open it. Or, I don't know, go to crosswalk.com and run a search for "assassin dervish." Didn't find it, did you? That's because there quite simply is no mention in God's Holy Book of such a fanciful creature. And there is no mention of assassin dervishes because they don't exist. Pure and simple. You can take that one to church, my friends.

3. In no part of this elaborate fable is the true Scriptural precedent for goats raining out of the sky mentioned. Did you not think to check the Bible, to determine whether in fact there were cases where goats had rained out of the heavens? Turn your Bibles to Exodus 8:16-18: "And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the hard-packed soil at the crest of the hill, that goats may rain out of the heavens throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the hard-packed soil at the crest of the hill, and goats rained out of the heavens, so that there came goats on man and beast; all the heavens became goats throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth goats, but they could not: so there were goats upon man, and upon beast."

This was not, gentlemen, some weird liberal conspiracy-theory scenario such as you lot like to dream up over there in liberal la-la land. This was Divine Weather. This was the Holy Work of our God in Heaven, smiting the Egyptians for the evil they practiced against God's People. And He continues to do that Holy Work today, punishing sinners and rewarding the just and the righteous, in His Holy Name, amen.

Yours in Christ,

Mike Riddle

Professor of Creationist Meteorology

Oral Roberts University



I'm not sure what to say to this, except--wow! Everybody's out of the office. Dr. Kaul and Dr Robinson are AWOL, possibly dead, possibly sucked through heaven and transformed into zombies, nobody knows. Mulla Billdoug is down in the Caribbean riding out Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ludwig. I'm just the janitor, Jerry Falwell (no relation to the famous Jerry Falwell). There's a note here that says "If anybody writes in, put it up on the blog. Don't let anybody get the idea that the office, or the phones, or the editorial staff are unmanned. Mullah Billdoug staff."

So, uh--whatever, dudes!


Thursday, September 02, 2004

 

Investigation Continues ... Robot Goats from the Future, or Dervishes?

This story just keeps getting stranger. Lately, there have been rumors circulated that the robot goat from the future that supposedly killed beloved RNC/Rapture reporter Bill Kaul was, in fact, not a robot at all, but a dervish in a goat suit. Certain “eyewitnesses” claim to have seen the dervish—supposedly an RNC or Yahweh operative—putting on the costume outside the convention hall, muttering darkly about “taking out that rat bastard” and “thinks he’s better than me” and “baaah.”

Kaul, as reported earlier, was thought slain on the floor of the RNC by a crazed goat. Prior to his death, though, Kaul was seen in the company of several dead philosophers talking about a "setup." Kaul’s whereabouts are unknown, but it is speculated that he was taken up to heaven following his death, as ticket stubs were found on the floor near where his body had been. Now it is being speculated that Kaul was, in fact, not killed, but taken alive and bodily to heaven and that the body found on the floor of the RNC was that of one Doug Robinson, who had been seen earlier wearing a Bill Kaul suit. Where that body has gone is unclear, but sources close to Robinson say that he has not been seen since the incident and they suspect the worst. “He said he was going to investigate whirlwinds,” a colleague said, “but next thing I hear, he’s at the RNC wearing a Bill Kaul costume. Now he’s nowhere to be found, and I hear Bill Kaul has been sighted in a sleazy bar in Holbrook, Arizona, watching RNC coverage and baseball games with Cowboys and Indians.”

However, regardless of who was actually killed, these reports of assassin dervishes in goat suits are completely unfounded, sources close to the investigation report. “Robot goats from the future are a well-known phenomenon,” notes Dr. Ron Ballus, Professor of Christian Robotics at Bob Jones University. “They are mentioned in the early writings of Jerome: ‘beware the goat of tin that cometh by night to bite into the flesh of the drunkard’ and ‘the goat with wondrous works inside that slayeth the sinner’ are but two examples. Augustine, and more recently, Falwell, report that robot goats are often used by both Satan and Our Blessed Lord to carry out assassinations here on earth. Falwell said it best in a recent sermon: ‘These liberal gay-loving namby-pambys had better watch their throats aren’t ripped out by the robot goats of God’ was how he put it. I think it’s pretty clear that Kaul was killed by a robot goat from the future. As you know, in the future there will be the tribulation, and robot goats will be everywhere. And if it wasn't Kaul that was killed, but Robinson, so much to the better, as far as we are concerned here at BJU. That man was a menace to solid Christian logic.”

Others disagree with the robot theory, noting that there are verified reports of assassin dervishes dressed in goat suits raining out of the sky and wreaking havoc, especially after a convergence of storm fronts. “Over a thousand rained down on Bainesville, Georgia, after Hurricane Floyd bumped into Hurricane Barney,” says local rapture scientist and weatherman Randy Stutz. “Killed everyone on the town square. Just ripped out their throats with their nasty yellow teeth, then took off their goat suits and ran away. Robots goats from God, my ass. Satan is the one with the goats and the dervishes.”

We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds. Then, after a while, we will fold it up hurriedly like a used road map, stuff it in the glovebox of our ’87 Toyota, and quietly leave town.


 

Creationist Meteorologist Links "Rapture" to Storm Centers, Biblical Whirlwind

Tulsa, OK--Scientists in the Department of Creationist Meteorology at Oral Roberts University here today offered a Scripture-based explanation of the event they are calling the "pseudo-rapture," Tuesday afternoon.

In that event, thousands of people around the globe, living and dead, rose into the air, hung there for a moment, then vanished upward, as if sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner.

Mike Riddle, President and Founder of Christian Training and Development Services and a recent hire in the Oral Roberts Creationist Meteorology department, explained what must have happened:

"In the 38th chapter of the Book of Job, God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 'Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowing?' Here we have the meteorological explanation for what happened Tuesday. It wasn't the Rapture at all; it was another whirlwind such as the one out of which God chastised Job and his misguided friends for their 'words without knowing.' The people who were taken up were in fact precisely such people, utterers of blasphemy and other words without knowing."

Riddle went on to link Tuesday's pseudo-rapturous whirlwind to the collision of fully seven storm centers in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

"Is it so farfetched," he asked, "that God should have descended to earth in the form of Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ludwig, and Tropical Storms Gaston, Hudibras, Imogene, Jasper, and Krissy?"

When asked how a convergence of storm centers in one part of the globe could have instigated a global event like the "pseudo-rapture," Riddle smiled knowingly.

"Here we have a perfect example," he said, "of the darkening of counsel by words without knowing. Obviously God speaks to all of us everywhere, no matter where his whirlwinds might touch down. It's pretty obvious to anyone who reads the Bible that this convergence of storms is not just unprecedented in human history; it is a divine miracle of absolutely stunning magnitude."

Professor Riddle's appointment to the department this past summer caused a bit of a stir in the metereological community when it was learned that he has no degree in meteorology. His bachelor's degree is in mathematics, and he has a master's degree from Oral Roberts in education. His work experience has been almost exclusively in the computer business.

The Rev. Oral Roberts himself defended the hire, noting that as there are as yet no graduate programs in Creationist Meteorology in the United States, it would have been impossible for Professor Riddle to obtain the necessary credentials. And his computer expertise has proved invaluable in running meteorological searches on online Bible Study sites.


 

What is Sufism? The Debate Rages On

Dr. Alan Godlas, University of Georgia, says that “Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, many Muslims and non-Muslims believe that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. Nevertheless, Seyyed Hossein Nasr... contends that Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam. After nearly 30 years of the study of Sufism, I would say that in spite of its many variations and voluminous expressions, the essence of Sufi practice is quite simple. It is that the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the content of one's consciousness (one's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as one's sense of self) as gifts of God or, more precisely, as manifestations of God.”

We here at Sufi U would like to respectfully disagree. Eons of research and lying about on sofas have led us to conclude that Sufism is a farce and a function. It does not exist. It’s just a word bandied about in books and film and on the net. It has no function or form, no substance or purpose, and no scholarly or spiritual merit. It is both Muslim and non-Muslim. It is Christian and both pre- and post-millennial. It both loves and hates Jesus and asks "What Would Emma Goldman Do?" while humming show tunes.

This is why, after more than twenty centuries of serving no students, Sufi U remains open to all students. This is why, after more than 3,000 years, our cafeteria chef (himself a pharaoh) serves no food to anyone who would like to eat it, regardless of race, creed or uvula size.

We are not looking for a quarrel with either Dr. Godlas or Mullah Nasr, but we continue to insist that the essence of Sufism is non-essential and that by insisting on this we are letting go of all essence and therefore, being non-insistent, assuming no use of psychotropics and freedom from all addiction and denial of addiction.

The best evidence of this is the nutritional value of Mullah Billdoug website, compared to other websites of the same height and weight. A recent nutritional analysis conducted by Arbusto Associates confirms this:

WEBSITE Protein (g) Squishy (g) Carbs (g) Moses (g) Wittgenstein (g)
Red Aunt 13.9 3.5 2.9 47.8 5.7
Pupil Pupae 9.6 5.6 2.3 41.7 1.8
Ding Dong 17.2 4.3 .2 30.9 7.7
Mullah Billdoug 134.9 9987.5 574.1 7895.8 9987.5
Large Boobs 14.3 3.3 2.2 27.5 3.0
Maranatha! 13.4 1.4 2.9 22.6 6.0
Fish (Skipjack) 28.5 6.66 6.66 8.7 1.0

Note that Mullah Billdoug has more of the good stuff than ANY other website of its size, and its squishyness is proportional to its Wittgensteinyness, and is even better for you than tuna (skipjack). Coincidence, or the hand of God? We report, you decide.


 

Chef Pharaoh Announces Menu Change

The lunch special at Sufi U cafeteria, originally listed as

Flank of Thales of Miletus, one of the original seven wise men of Ancient Greece lightly buttered, with a side order of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Epicureans, Stoics and neo-Platonists (your choice of three, with or without dressing). St Augustine and Boethius in syrup.

Has been changed to

Adam and Eve, with tomato sauce, Cain, Abel, and Noah raw (optional), and the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on toast or crackers, one side of Joseph and the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt. Coffee and rum.


 

Another Rapture Scam Victim Writes In

Dear Mullah Billdoug:

I am very interested in the discussion of Austrians and the Rapture. Just last week, while walking my miniature schnauzer along the promenade and sipping a diet cola, I was suddenly whisked into the air, where, in a cloud, I ran into the arms of a rather large sinister-looking man with a pronounced Austrian accent. He slapped me across the cheek and insisted that I stop being a liberal. I didn’t know what to do or say. I was frozen with fear, and the clouds were swirling about us.

He became more insistent. “Swear you will stop being a liberal! Swear it!” he shouted into my face, holding me by the lapels of my polo shirt and shaking me.

Fortunately, at the precise moment I was going to speak, my little schnauzer bit the man on the calf of his leg. With a cry of pain, the man dropped me and I returned to earth, a bit shaken but apparently unharmed.

The only odd thing is that when I got home, all of my copies of Penthouse, The Nation and Guns & Ammo magazines were missing.

The question is this—was I raptured? Or was this something else?

Sincerely,

Allen X. Keynes

Dear Allen:

I pains me to say this, but the editorial staff here at Mullah Billdoug must tell you that you were the victim of the Schwarzenegger Rapture Scam.

In this scam, a large suction machine—not unlike a giant vacuum cleaner—mounted in the belly of a large cargo plane, sucks you up into the clouds where Austrian bodybuilders posing as Austrian philosophers try to intimidate you into becoming a conservative.

While you are there, agents of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are busily ransacking your apartment for old copies of Penthouse, The Nation and Guns & Ammo magazines.

It is our hope that the proper authorities will find the persons behind this scam and put a stop to it before Tim LaHaye gets ahold of one of these cargo planes. They could be used to disturb global weather patterns and simulate the end-time.

Eds.


 

"Pretribulation Rapture Not Scriptural," Says Theology Prof

Looks like the Mullah Billdoug's blog is popular reading material at today's top (Christian) theological seminaries, if the email we just received is any indication!

Professor Chromgas Restek of Ecumenical Theological Seminar in Liberal, Kansas, writes:

Dear Mullah Billdoug,

You're the greatest! All my colleagues and I regularly turn to you for spiritual guidance in these trying times. I know you're a Muslim and we're Christians, but this is, after all, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, in Liberal, Kansas!

Anyway, I wanted to correct one point in a recent post. I'm not sure whose reporting it was, but the writer of the piece on the Christian Coalition and "Rapture" seems to have taken the various fundamentalists' assumptions for granted that the "Rapture" would come before the end-times, before what's commonly known as the "tribulation." According to conservative fundamentalists, the Rapture will be the first sign that the tribulation is beginning. This is utterly unscriptural, and the conservative traditions that have grown up around the misreading are thus theologically absurd.

The actual passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, which Christian Coalition President Combs cited in the piece, reads: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:16-17).

Note the sequence of events: (1) Jesus descends, (2) the dead are resurrected, and (3) those still alive are taken up (the Rapture). In the Book of Revelation, all three of these events follow the tribulation. If we want to be Scriptural about the Rapture, we have to assume that it will happen to those who are still alive after the angels of the apocalypse have destroyed the heavens and the earth. Hard to imagine who might survive that, but then, the apocalyptic passages in the New Testament never were strong on narrative continuity.

The pretribulation Rapture was, in fact, a Puritan invention--in seventeenth-century America. The great thing about the idea is that it makes the idea of the end-times much more attractive to Christians. If everybody's going to be suffering, it's best to hope the end won't come in your lifetime! But if you're among the elect--and all readers of Tim LaHaye's idiotic Left Behind series clearly expect to be--then you will be taken out of the world before the suffering begins. Whew!

Anyway, just wanted to let you know about that. Keep up the good work, and look out for angels bearing swords!

Best,

Chromgas Restek, LLD

Professor of New Testament Studies

Ecumenical Theological Seminary



I must admit, a little red in the face, that I was the one reporting on that Christian Coalition press release, and didn't think to challenge Rebecca Combs's Scriptural authority. The Mullah Billdoug, had he been in town, certainly would have noticed! Thanks, Dr. Restek, for straightening us out!

 

Celebrity Fans

A surprising number of you have been asking who else reads the Mullah Billdoug's blog. And not just Gravity's Rainbow characters; you're talking about celebrities, right?

Well, here's a list of just a few of the Mullah Billdoug's celebrity fans:



In fact, Chogyam Trungpa writes just this morning: "I am loving your coverance of hurrigane season in Caribbean. It is most illuminant. And very true about destroy and build. Sufi way is very good way. Keep up excellent work!"

Thanks, Chogyam! The Mullah Billdoug is always going on about you too. You guys should get together some time, maybe, huh?

And thanks to all of our loyal readers, who have rocketed the Mullah Billdoug's wisdom around the globe on binary wings. Keep reading! Stay in drugs, and don't do school!


 

Hurricanes Converge on Turks and Caicos

Breaking news from the Sufi Caribbean Times:

Turks and Caicos Islands--It's unusual, even for this time of the year, to have so much storm activity in the Caribbean.

Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, told reporters yesterday that it is unheard-of to have not one but two hurricanes converging on our part of the Caribbean: the cores or "eyes" of Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ludwig should both pass over Turks and Caicos Islands within a day or two of each other.

At the very same time, Tropical Storms Gaston, Hudibras, Imogene, Jasper, and Krissy are pounding the peripheries of the Gulf of Mexico.

"It's a great time to be director of the National Hurricane Center," Mayfield said.

For Caribbean Sufis, of course, the convergence of Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ludwig has a special significance. Francis Skinner, the Limper, the Osteomyelitic, and Ludwig Wittgenstein the Mystical Philosopher King were the homosexual lovers at the very core or eye of twentieth-century Sufi power.

Skinner died in 1941, Wittgenstein in 1951. But death does not still the power of a Sufi adept.

Some Sufis on the islands, in fact, confident that the two hurricans converging on their homes in the next few days are in fact reincarnations of the great lovers, Limper and King, are refusing to evacuate. They are convinced that the hurricanes will bring not just great destructive force but great mystical power, and do not want to miss either.

"You can't have healing power without destruction," Mullah Billdoug, renowned Sufi time-traveler, said yesterday evening from the front steps of the Paris Hilton in Cockburn Town, Grand Turk. The hotel was hastily being boarded up, as storm winds stiffened. The Mullah Billdoug arrived late yesterday afternoon from the distant future, where he was hunting down the dastardly killer of his friend Bill Kaul.

He said his journey into the future brought many spiritual rewards but no word on Kaul's killer. He happened to read about the convergence of Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ludwig on a scrap of newsprint in a Sufi museum several billion years in the future, and decided to return for it.

"Hurricanes are great sources of power," he said. "The destruction they wreak pulls down the old and makes room for the new. Spiritual insight becomes possible."

He said he was hoping the hurricanes would "show him the circular path to Bill Kaul's killer."


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

 

Exodus Exordium Sufianis

Imagine when an ordinary mullah, traveling back in time, killed by a robot goat, and then reborn, spends the next twenty-five years being a fry cook in a university cafeteria, and then flees to found a worker’s paradise in Tierra del Fuego. You might think that this is fairytale foolishness, or you might think this man possesses extraordinary qualities, but neither is the case. His is a simple story, a story of a baby born in a mudhole in a rice paddy in Louisiana to a frightened fourteen year old who left him, and ran off a distance. This story even caught the eye of famous producers in Hollywood, but they couldn’t bring themselves to make it into a film. Oh, they could make the pictures, sure. But it would have done no good, they realized, since the one image that could not be reproduced on film was this man’s unyielding faith. A faith like a rock, faith in the value of hard work and sacrifice and communism, and only with this faith could he have completed this journey of twenty-five years frying books, burgers, syllabi and bacon, day in and day out, and then twenty-five more to liberate his people and found a great commune. I’m speaking of the one we know as Hank.

Sure Hank had great qualities—he could sew rips and darn socks, turn water into whale oil, raise the dead, kill the living, and all that—but they were qualities that, really, any person could possess. His special qualities just needed to be polished and rubbed a great deal. Remember, this now-fabled man Hank also was not a Wittgenstein, but just a normal human like you and I. He was not born with superhuman powers, and he didn’t even have a name until he was given one by his stepmother. He was not born into wealth or fame. His qualities, the amazing patience he shows even with the most recalcitrant piece of meat, paper or potato, his shining countenance that just beams with joy over the simple act of scraping the grill, were gradually molded during his amazing journey through life. Hank was able to follow this great path through life, which was laid before him one day, because of his great faith in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of a worker’s paradise, by and by. By his relationship with Wittgenstein and his steadfast faith he was used by Wittgenstein as a tool here on earth to fulfill one of many of Wittgenstein’s plans. For Hank, and now for us, Wittgenstein proved to be a father, friend, and his of course his redeemer and mentor.

We are all familiar with the journey that Hank made in the talons of a huge cormorant. Crossing the sea in an eyeblink. Landing on the steps of the Sufi U Student Transition building, in a land flowing with milk and honey and vitamins and words and polished tiles. Being picked up by Thouoris, daughter of Rameses II, the one known to us now as Chef Pharaoh, keeper of the holy cafeteria. The story of his arrival and consequent upbringing is stirring, as with a spatula or wooden stick, and lends itself to painting a superhuman picture, but I would like to specifically look at Hank the man.

Hank was born in 1953, which was an unusual time in Louisiana. It was a time when Lousiana was under oppressive and tyrannical rule. The Louisianaians placed the Communists as their slaves. At that time the ruling honkies had fears of the population growth of Communists, and that prompted him to order all male Commie babies to be cast into the Mississippi River. Maintaining control of the Communist population was a way the governor and his staff thought that he was keeping them from threatening the present government and possibly overthrowing him. Hank was born into this oppressed Communist race. The Commies lived a life of hell and were considered worthless slaves to the Louisianaians. New Orleans was a cosmopolitan city of that era. The Louisianaians had achieved great wealth even at the cost of human life.

Hank was the son of fourteen-year-old Commie girl Lilian deRose, an unwed mother who happened to be the descendant of Eugene V. Debs. Remember the covenant or promise that Wittgenstein made with Skinner? The promise that Debs’ seed would be the chosen people of Wittgenstein? Hank is in that family lineage. He carries the birthmark.

This unusual and horrifying event of killing little baby Commie boys was only for a short time, but it just happened to be going on during the time of Hank’s birth. His mother just ran into a rice paddy that she knew to be inhabited by a giant cormorant, who might, just might, whisk her child away before he could be found and drowned. Lilian was never stricken with fear so badly as that day, but she had great faith that Wittgenstein would intervene somehow and fulfill the promise made to their forefathers.

Hank’s mom silently watched his journey up into the sky in the talons of the cormorant, sent somehow by Wittgenstein, even from Cambridge, where Commies were not yet persecuted, and quickly the Pharaoh’s daughter found the child while opening up for work. Of course when you are wealthy and beautiful like Thouoris, you cannot be expected to take care of an infant, so Thouoris put and ad in the paper for a nanny. Who do you suppose answered that ad? Lilian deRose, Hank’s mother, who had been watching for just such an ad. Hank’s natural mother raised him at the cafeteria until he was around two years of age, until one day she fell into a coffee mill and was crushed into fine powder. His ethnic background was never a secret to himself or to those around him—everyone knew he was a Commie. But since he was working in Pharaoh’s cafeteria and the Pretty Good Ayatollah was not particularly prejudiced toward Commies, it was never an issue. I’m sure that Hank had to resist fighting certain feelings about his origins, though, such as Why Me? Why was I saved when so many other Commie babies perished?

Hank was then raised as the son of Chef Pharaoh, who took pity on him and brought him home. He resided in a palace on campus with personal servants, as opulent as any Louisianaian royalty back home. He was given the best grill and spatula in the land. Early times he probably spent time with tutors and various master fry cooks then at the university (before the department was abolished). He also learned some Communist dialect from a book he found, even though he couldn’t read it. At that time at Sufi University, the best education also consisted of knowing nothing and everything. Nothing was a subject that all were expected to have knowledge about. And Hank did have a talent for blending sauces and writing poetry in the evening, after his labors. His folk songs are legendary to this day—who hasn’t eaten a burger in the cafeteria while humming “More of the Grease”?

But even after all that extensive grooming and education he still felt there was a piece of himself missing. There is no description of Hank, which is rather interesting as it leaves to the imagination his looks. We must remember the ethnic background from which he was born. He had a hammer and sickle birthmark somewhere, and a head shaped like a potato, to be sure.
At the age of about forty Hank found that missing piece of himself because it took hold in a vision of communism sent him by Wittgenstein and by an incident, and from that day forward his life was changed. The vision was one of a worker’s paradise in a faraway land.
The incident? He saw another Commie being beaten by the then-professor of Nazi Studies, Jimmy von Lugen. The human instinct in Hank could no longer stand by and watch the brutality. Hank took matters into his own hands; he raised his spatula against the professor and beat him into a coma. If there had been no witness, he probably would have filleted him and fried him up for the menu, a common tradition for faculty at Sufi U who are killed by students. But there was a least one witness to the scene—the Commie who Hank saved. Hank would now have to stay in the cafeteria forever or leave the university.

We know at this point in his life, Hank just wants to be an ordinary fry cook. But it wasn’t to be. Professor von Lugen regained consciousness, and the Commie whom he saved threatened to expose him. He knew what that would mean. So, taking his treasured spatula and grease scraper, he fled into the wilderness around Sufi U.

He eventually made his way to Argentina where he got a job raising sheep, butchering them, and frying them up for hungry peasants thereabouts, while preaching the values of sharing and equality and the nobility of labor.

While Hank is living this quiet life as a shepherd he is confused and sad. He could not know that all this time he was in training to shepherd the great flock of Wittgenstein’s people to the tip of South America. A shepherd-cum-fry cook’s life is somewhat parallel to that of a pastor, though. One who cares and guards as well as guides, then butchers and cooks his flock. They must trust their leader with their very lives, because there is always something lurking over the hill to take their life away or make it cheap. A grease fire to be extinguished, a burnt piece of mutton, a dull butcher knife at the throat.

The major turning point in this pastoral life was when he had a discussion with Wittgenstein on a mountain in the Andes, now known as Mount Aratatattat, after chasing a lamb up there. I say discussion, but it was really an argument, because Hank tried his best to argue that he was unequal for the task which he was given. Hank was given instructions by Wittgenstein to go and lead the Communist people into the promised land. Maybe he was so nervous that he really didn’t think. Maybe he began thinking about the murder he’d committed back in Louisiana.
He spoke back to Wittgenstein and said to him that he was not up to fulfilling these tasks because he became tonguetied easily, and didn’t want to go back to Louisiana and face the troubles there. We all know that when Wittgenstein gives direct orders you want to fulfill them. He’s just that kind of person. But Hank was unwilling at this point. This point is an important part of his journey because Hank’s relationship with Wittgenstein grows. It becomes very special; Wittgenstein becomes that father Hank never knew. Chef Pharaoh had been great and all, but this was becoming perfection. Sure, it may sound like I’m anthropomorphizing Wittgenstein. I’m not. I mean, he is perfect, but Hank is just made in his image. So just imagine having that type of relationship with Wittgenstein. Talking one on one with him just as you would a close friend. That’s what happened on that mountain, after much discussion.

Going on faith alone and going out of his comfort zone with his sheep and his friends in Argentina, he returned to Louisiana. Hank had everything to lose on this trip back to Louisiana. We must also remember that this is a time when most people believed in many philosophers. It was very odd and unheard of to worship only one. But Hank and the Commies worshipped only one, Wittgenstein. So there was always danger.

I’m passing over the middle of the story because we all know the greatness and lessons that Wittgenstein taught the Louisianaians about boils and sores and the true worth and value of labor unions, and how Wittgenstein had to smite them repeatedly in heated arguments he gave to Hank to use, and how he led the Commies, after much hardship and doubt and suffering to be able to establish the commune at Tierra del Fuego, now a branch campus of Sufi U. The end of Hank’s life of course is sorrowful to me and to all who hear it. After all the unselfish things Hank did some people showed no gratitude to him or to Wittgenstein. Their faith had a short life span. And because of an incident we won’t mention, Hank was unable to actually go to the promised land, the worker’s paradise, but he was shown it on top of a great Mountain. Still, it was he who was responsible for it. With faith in Wittgenstein, I mean, of course.

Hank had an unusual death because he was one hundred and twenty years old and was still in excellent health. We don’t know where he’s buried. Wittgenstein took him and buried his remains in an unknown place, so there would be no shrine built in that place. What a great way to leave this earth, with good health and with Wittgenstein escorting you every step of the way, huh?

Could we say that we could have possibly walked in Hank shoes? Faith in Wittgenstein was the only way Hank was able to fill his own shoes. Do you have that kind of faith? Do you? Can you fill your shoes? Not even with your own piss?

You wanker.


 

Not Rapture, Christian Coalition Says

Washington, D.C.--At a press conference in a downtown hotel here today, Christian Coalition of America President Rebecca Combs categorically denied that anything like the Scriptural "Rapture" had in fact occurred yesterday afternoon.

"Sure," Ms. Combs admitted, "we had some mysterious disappearances. I'll grant you that. But this was not the Rapture prophesied in 1 Thessalonians 4:17."

What did happen around the globe yesterday remains to be determined. Living people vanished into thin air. Funeral processions were disrupted as corpses burst through coffin lids and hearse roofs and came to life in midair, emitting unearthly screams or, in some cases, sardonic comments on those left behind.

And those left behind did seem to include an inordinately high proportion of born-again Christians, televangelists, politicians on the Christian Right, and the creator of the popular Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye.

LaHaye himself urged Christians not to jump to conclusions.

"This was not an act of God," LaHaye told reporters yesterday evening. "We're not sure what it was, exactly, yet. I encourage born-again Christians to take their concerns to the Lord in prayer."

He agreed with President Combs of the Christian Coalition of America that, despite superficial resemblances, it was not the Rapture.

"The Bible tells us that God will take the born-again Christians first," he said. "And early indications are that very few, if any, Christians were taken. The entire student body and faculty of Bob Jones University, for example, was left behind."

Bob Jones III, president of that born-again Christian university, which is also LaHaye's alma mater, scoffed at the notion that yesterday's event might be construed as the Rapture.

"What, are you kidding? If it had been the Rapture, our school would be vacated. We're all here. No," he added, "this was some kind of Satanic mimicry. Satan has his tricks, you know."

Fuel was only added to such interpretations by revelations that many of those "taken up" were homeless people, atheists, homosexuals, feminists, and liberals.

"How could God have taken fornicators and polluters of family values and left His People behind?" Jones asked rhetorically. "No, this wasn't the Rapture. You can take God's Word for that."

President Bush has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the event as some form of supernatural terrorist attack. The FBI is in fact looking closely into reports that a dead Austrian philosopher appeared at the Republican National Convention just scant hours before the event. The philosopher, one Ludwig Wittgenstein, was not only a foreign national and fifty years in the grave, but a Jewish homosexual.

Another mysterious occurrence possibly tied to these strange happenings is the death-by-time-travel of a reclusive New Mexico professor of transition studies named Bill Kaul, who was murdered by a mechanical goat sent back in time from the future around the time of the Austrian philosopher sightings.

"Yeah, see?" President Bob Jones III said. "Evil goats from the future. In the end times our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set the sheep on his right hand for salvation, and the goats on his left for eternal damnation. Matthew 25:32. It's as plain as day. This is Satan at work, sure as shootin."

Conservative politician Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, was at first unavailable for comment, and some suspected that he had in fact been "taken up." He was found later in the evening, though, playing the videogame Worms Armageddon in his basement, at home. He'd been so engrossed in the game that he hadn't heard the ruckus.

Related stories: Wittgenstein sighted | Bill Kaul slain


 

Sufi University Brochure

Dear Mr. Rowbum,

Thank you for your interest in Sufi University. We are, of course, delighted to learn that you are giving serious consideration to [attending] [donating to] [applying for a job at] [publishing a lengthy profile of] Sufi University! We hope that the enclosed brochure answers some of your questions.

For the Pretty Darn Good Ayatollah Billdoug (traveling),

Doug Robinson, amanuensis


 

A Letter to Mullah Billdoug

Dear Mullah Billdoug:

I was sitting in the second row from the back, you know, my favorite place on the bus, when the lacquered blond in the brown pantsuit with the bad case of the shakes in front of me disappeared, poof! She was just gone, man, gone. Shocked me so damn much I checked my head—was I getting the DT’s or flipping out? Nah, turns out my head was fine, because then I see that all kinds of people have gone poof. The damn bus driver had gone poof, and the fuckin bus crashed into the side of a church. Church was still full of folks, though. Wino, Ol John, usually out front was gone. Nothin there but his brown bag, you know he left in a hurry, man sure enough now. My head’s bleedin, now there’s blood all over my shirt, must have been that window, ahhh, hell, I went out the window headfirst.

Now I was ramblin in front of the church and the grocery next door, the one that the church folk wanted to close because they sell beer and playboys and cigarettes. The front of the church is all crashed in—it was mostly glass, storefront church—and there’s people all running around, looks like they was having a Baptist wedding or something, no a funeral, huh—there’s a casket up front and that means, means dead march, flowers funeral.

Who’s this chick running around screaming, the casket’s empty! Empty! Empty! She’s sayin and there’s this dude in a suit after her shoutin shut up shut up shuttup And back around to the back of the church they go, like some kind of chase scene from old movies I saw back when I had a teevee.

The Ol John’s brown bag has a bottle in it. Half full of the Kickin Chicken. Yup he left in a hurry, for sure, so I miteswell take what’s left, waste not want not and my head hurts, an see if Mr. Pak, the grocer, has any bandaids because the blood is really getting into my eyes now, but now I’m in the grocery and there’s nobody in it at all. This is weird. So I go back to the aisle where the first aid and pills and stomach goop stuff is and wash my head with hydrogen peroxide and slap some band aids on it, but they won’t stick too good, so I just grab a stocking cap, special on sale for $2 each and that seems to help.

I’ll get some of these baby wipes here, too, and mop off my face a little. Now, lesee, gotta find some money to pay for, oh hell that’s right, Mr. Pak has disappeared too. Well, I guess I don’t have to pay him then. The teevee’s on tho, right where he usually leaves it above the counter, alla time news, news, news. They’re saying people are disappearing all over the world, but only winos, dope fiends, queers and prostitutes. Sinners. Well, then, hah, that settles it. I always knew I was one of the righteous select, I laughed, tapping the bottle I’d picked up from Ol John, and then I got real quiet except for the pounding and buzzing in my head.

I was a sinner. At least that’s what the preacher in the damn church kep telling me. Tells me that all the time. Says that my wicked ways are gonna lead me to hell. And whassat he always said, too—shit, I’ve got to think—something about the rapture of the saints, alla Christians going, poof! To heaven. So this is backwards or something. That’s why all those folks are in the church still.

Well, sure, I walked right over there and found that preacher, after looking around awhile, the place was a madhouse, seems only the janitor sitting in the back of the church and the corpse in the coffin had been Poof!ed and nothing else. There was arguing and yelling and slapping, folks havin a fit about the sinners all being took on to heaven and not them, but then over in the far corner, by the stack of hymnals, I found the Preach and he was busy telling a fat old woman wearing a black dress that Maybe these sinners hadn’t gone to heaven at all, maybe it was the other, hotter place, and she was just a-noddin her head so much it like to make me dizzy and I could feel that old Red Rooster comin up my throat but finally she waddled off and the preacher lookin at me like What the Fuck You Want, Scuzz? And so I told him, hey, if it’s sinners got taken like the news is sayin then how come I’m still here, cause you have sure called me a sinner enough, when I come in here to get warm in the winter.

An he, he looks at me harder, and he finally says You know perfectly well that all these folks haven’t gone to heaven that they really been taken to hell and to roast forever and only reason YOU’RE still here—he shoutin now—is because you had the good sense to come in here and listen to the word of jesus, so you better just git down and thank ME and the LORD for takin you in… and on an on he went and then finally loped off with that funny kinda penguin-preacher walk they all got and left me standin

Standin there, in the alley with the big old tore up sofa that’s so nice to sit on specially when you’re head’s broke and elbows an knees all skint up. I reckon I walked there, here, from the church but I swear to jesus and moses that I don’t recall it. I’m just gonna lie back and kick up my legs an sleep, thas wat…

And now the sun is way down, for sure. The street light and the little bit of moon are on and shining. It hurts to move, so I reckon that crash musta—crash? What?

Let’s try this again. So I walked down to Pak’s Grocery and looked inside.

Everything was the way it always was. Mr. Pak was standing behind the counter, chain smoking as ever, cold beer in his hand, bitching at a kid about an ID for beer. The teevee was on behind him. There were a couple of old Korean ladies in the back by the coolers, feeling up some cabbage. I walked in. The kids walked out, no beer.

"Mr. Pak? You’re here?" I asked, carefully looking him over.

"Where sho' I be?" he asks me carefully through bloodshot eyes over rimless glasses. "I allus here."

"It’s just that, earlier, when I came in, you, I mean, the store ..."

"You OK?"

"No. I mean, yeah. I don’t know."

"Hm. You gonna buy anythin'? Or what?" He didn’t look happy. Everybody knows he keeps a ballbat and a pistol behind the counter.

"Nah, I was just checking. I gotta go now." And I split. The teevee had just had some crap on about the stock market going up, or something. Nothing about folks going Poof!

The church was locked up and the sign said, "SERVICES TOMORROW."

Ol John was curled up with his bag by the steps.

The buses were running.

Everything seemed normal.

What're you going to do? Everything seemed normal. So I hiked back around to the sofa and stretched out. I guess I slept pretty good because I damn sure don’t remember anything until in the morning, when a cat climbed on top of my head and began clawing my eyes out. Now I'm blind and angry about being left behind. If I was.

What should I do, Mullah Billdoug?

Love and Kisses,

Skid Rowbum

PS. I never attended, visited, or graduated from Sufi U.


 

Lunch Special at Sufi U Cafeteria Today!

Encyclopedia on light toast, with vowel butter, three pencils any style, calico salad with a side of denialozide dressing, and 20oz. whale oil (any flavor)—all for $5.00 or free with one baby.

Thanks for your patronage, without which I could not build my barge for the crossing to Osiris.

Chef Pharaoh


 

Unwanted, Dead or Alive

I can only report that I am wet, very wet. Slimy almost. I seem to be getting pushed through some wet slimy tunnel, with only a narrow slit of light at the end.

Last thing I remember is standing in line at the pearly gates. I was almost to the door. Some fat man in front of me wearing a fedora and carrying a leather briefcase was ranting about the wait, how long it had taken, his bunions, ya ya ya ya… and this giant angel got a look of disgust, and sliced off his head, and that’s the last thing I remember…

Until now. Whoa! Out into the light. It’s kind of muddy, here. I am lying in mud. I hear footsteps fading, moving away from me. I begin yelling. It’s raining.

Talons sink into my flesh. I am having trouble seeing and hearing, but we are definitely in flight.

Ah, I am being deposited on the doorstep of, of, some place. It’s familiar.

It’s Sufi U’s Student Transition Complex. Of course! Hands are picking me up. I dare to open an eye. Why, it’s Chef Pharaoh’s daughter. From the cafeteria.

She has taken me in.


 

Customs

The Mullah Billdoug reports that he just made a stop in the year 00004.7, New System, or roughly thirty-umpteen bazillion photon years in our future, because he'd gotten word that a certain Austalian platypus might know something about Bill Kaul's evil killer.

At the time gate he found a Temporal Customs Agent blocking his path, checking for contraband.

"Do you have any Plants Fruits Small Animals Liquor Medicine Drugs Uncut Diamonds? How about your health?" she asked. "Any Running Sores Pustules Red Painful Irritations Annoying Coughs Loose Watery BMs?"

"Why yes," Mullah Billdoug smiled, "I have all of those things, and several that you didn't mention."

"Hand them over," the Customs Agent said, trying to look very stern, but recognizing the good Mullah as a renowned time-traveler and secretly feeling quite pleased to be frisking him.

So Mullah Billdoug emptied his robes and duffel. Out tumbled uncut diamonds and rubies and sapphires, and whiskey and rum and beer and heroin and cocaine and marijuana. Out tumbled televisions, radios, boomboxes, and fruit trees, melons, pineapple plants, and kudzu seeds.

Finally Mullah took off his robe completely and turned over his diseases: he gave over his bubonic plague, his polio, his melanomata, his cataracts, his liver disease. He gave over his painful rectal itch, his jock itch, and his seven-year itch. He gave over his annoying smoker's hack. He even threw in his dandruff and a few non-malignant dermatoid fibromata for free.

"Is that all?" asked the agent.

"Well, not really," said the Mullah, "but you really don't want this other."

"Tut tut, my good Mullah," the agent said. "We have rules, you know. Off with it."

The Mullah sighed. "Very well. Here you are. My addictions."

The customs agent gasped. "No! Not that! I didn't mean that!"

Too late.

The Mullah was gone.

There was nothing left but a pile of contraband, an empty duffel, and a robe.

There was an acrid, sulphurous aroma in the air.

"Jesus Christ!" cried out the next passenger in line.

"Not!" said the teenager behind him.

After all that, turns out the platypus in question had nothing of value for the Mullah. The guy he'd heard about had sent a mechanical goat back in time to kill another Bill Kaul. Some radio announcer in one of the Great Lakes states.


 

Mailbag

While Mullah Billdoug and Bill Kaul are off chasing their several will o' the wisps, following the wind into their particular willows, I thought I'd untie the knot on the mailbag that's been gathering dust over behind the door and see what our fans have been writing.

And oddly enough, what I find is that we have a whole spate of letters from Thomas Pynchon's characters in Gravity's Rainbow. Since this is an unusual enough event to be worthy of notice early on a September's morning, I'll open them first.

The first is from someone named 00000, which is an odd name to say the least. S/he/it writes:

Mullah Billdoug!

Hey, I love your stuff! You're the greatest! Nobody's better than you! I flip over to your blog ten times a day at work, whenever no one's looking. Whenever I don't find a new post, I feel more zeroes forming inside my hollow chest.

I just have one question. Where can I get a copy of Nothing From Nothing? That sounds like a really cool book. I bet it would be right up my alley!

Not just a loyal fan,

00000



Well, 00000, if you'll just set your coordinates dead-center in the Ground Zero Library at Sufi University, you might just find Mullah Billdoug's infamous classic somewhere in the ashes! Thanks for writing, and keep checking us out!

The next letter is from Jessica Swanlake:

My dear Mullah Billdoug,

When David Nixon choreographed Tchaikovsky's ballet for the Ohio Theater in Columbus, why on earth did he set the Russian Dance in the ballroom?

Yours most sincerely,

Jessica Swanlake



Dear Jessica--As you must have noticed if you were in the audience at that breathtaking première, that was the moment at which Odile had to convince Siegfried that the swan who resembled Odette was in actually her, or she, Odile herself. Does this not make more sense now?

Oh, and while we're on the subject, Jules Siegel tells me that you were based on his wife, with whom his best friend Tom Pynchon had a torrid affair. Is that true? That his wife, riding in Pynchon's car, bared her breasts to the passing motorists, and he put that in the novel as something you did? Please tell me this isn't the case.

Yours, etc.

The next letter is from Teddy Bloat, who writes:

Hey Mullah!

Party hearty, dude! Rock on! Light up a bong for me, man! I love ya, but only in a manly RAF sort of way.

Yours forever,

Teddy B., Commander, RAF



Dear Commander Bloat: Were you ever even in the RAF? Does the RAF even have commanders?

I'm pawing through the piles, here, looking for one from Tyrone Slothrop, but not having much luck. Unless this hasty penciled scribble on a torn dirty old yellowed envelope flap, saying only FUCK YOU, is from the good Lieutenant?

The last one is from Roger Mexico, Jessica's poor jilted lover:

Dear Mullah Billdoug, I sure feel sorry for your agent. You're giving away all your best material for FREE! (notice the allcaps and the exclamation mark - that gives it that extra umph.)

I'm glad that guy is dead. He was probably a Nazi sympathizer, hence his appearance at the RNC.



Well, Roger, if that's the kind of bitterness you're carrying around, I can see why Jessica left you! Maybe you should think about getting some therapy, or at least some psychotropic drugs?

And let me assure you that these posts are neither free nor "all our best material." You're paying for them, indirectly, with your cookies, which we sell to all the Fortune 500 corporations for (as the Mullah would say) oodles of moolah. As for it being ALL of our best material, well--let's just say we've held out one last bit of good material, which we're saving for tomorrow, or maybe the next day. Check back!

Oh, one last thing, while I've got you. That pubic hair you found between your teeth, two weeks after Jessica left you? How can you be so sure it was hers? How do you know it wasn't, say, mine?

Yours in Condoleeza,

Doug Robinson

That's all I've got time for now, folks. I've got some whaling to do!


Tuesday, August 31, 2004

 

News from the Future

Mulla Billdoug sends his greetings to all his gentle readers in August 2004 from the distant future, hoping that all is well with you in what for you is the present and for him is ancient history.

No luck finding Bill Kaul's killer. Yet. The search continues up hill and down dale in the great rocking sine waves of time, cresting into yet greener futures.

The Mullah is happy to report while the search proceeds, however, that the future is full of surprises. For example, contrary to popular belief, all food is eaten in pill form. All cars do fly, piloted by robots. And Chuck DeNomolos is the situp champion of the 26th century.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the intrepid Mullah passed the Christian heaven eons since, spotted his old friend Bill Kaul in line, and waved a little, in a cosinish sort of way, but had no hope that Bill (whose hair had grown prodigiously, and seemed to cover his entire face) could see him. He has every hope to swing by the Muslim heaven any eyeblink now.


 

In Glorious Transit, Need Help

Great. Just fucking great. Started out imagining I was blogging from the RNC, and now, here I am in line at the pearly gates. Bitch is, I got killed during an imaginary visit. That’s gotta mean extra paperwork. So, blogging from heaven. Just ran into Sam Clemens, he’s working as a security guard up here, and the old fart started in about how he got here in a sailboat and worked his way up through the ranks, and anything I write up here can’t be understood on earth, so I might as well pass over it in silence and put up the laptop. Like he knows diddly. Some great writer. Can’t even use a transdimensional sprachenetherizer. Ol bastard had the nerve to search my travel bag and run a scan on my laptop. His HSA uniform is too tight. He sees I'm annoyed. “Security’s tight,” he shrugs. “Yahweh wants everybody screened. Even commies.”

“You got commies in heaven?” I asked.

“Sure, in the Marx district. They absolutely hate it, keep trying to turn it into a worker’s paradise. They even resurrected that old bat Wittgenstein. Sent him to the RNC. But they don’t know he really works for the pope. RNC. Ha.”

“Sayyyy…that’s where I got killed.” I rubbed my jaw.

“Yeah, saw the whole thing. Terrible accident. And you weren’t even really there.”

Accident’s ass, I think. I suspect the worst. Lincoln, maybe. Allah? Maybe mantids.

“How long we stay in line?” My feet are sore. Shoulda worn sandals insteada boots.

“Depends. I know you got the announcement about getting here at least an hour before you die for security screening. Gotta go.” And off he goes, chasing after some dog or something that ran through the gates.

This isn’t adding up. But then, adding up was something I was never very good at. Let’s see what we’ve got so far:

1. Killed while imagining I was on the floor of the RNC
2. By a goat that wasn’t really a goat.
3. Frisked by Samuel Clemens.
4. Waiting in line.
5. It is now 12:30.

But which of these are facts? Which are relevant to the case? I can’t work with opinion—I need verifiable propositions. I need the urim and thummim. The golden plates. Some reliable translation. Wait!

Mullah Billdoug. He can translate. He has three sets of urims and thummims. I’ve seen ‘em. They’re in the bottom drawer of his nightstand. He used them to translate the compleat works of Walt Kelley into Urdu. He can take these propositions and translate them into a ladder. That’s it! I need a ladder, and then I need to climb up the rungs, one by one, skipping none because each one is a valuable proposition, and then I need to kick the ladder out. Good thing I wore my boots after all.

Sure, I might fall from heaven. Might bust my ass as I land back in the midst of the RNC, frighten some of the folks on the podium, shake loose a few scarab beetles. But I might just stay where I was after climbing, ladderless and looking down on the gem of perfection, the language of the gods, the bright jewel of transcendence. The pearl.

If only that big guy up at the front of the line would move faster. He’s holding everything up. I nudge the guy standing next to me quietly.

“Psssst, buddy,” I hiss, “who’s the guy up front with the huge erection under his shimmering robes?”

“That’s Moroni. Big shot, I hear. He checks and punches your ticket. Assigns you to your heavenly MOS.”

“No talking on line!” a big fat eunuch with a flaming sword shouts. Clearly he is unsure who was talking.

I take out a cigarette, light it, inhale. Must post this before I get to Moroni. The future of Sufi U depends on it.

 

Bill Kaul Senselessly Slain at RNC

It was a sad day for the Mullah Billdoug today.

Professor Emil Wilhelm "Bill" Kaul, the Mullah's long-time friend and spiritual advisor, who was recently appointed to a coveted professorship in the newly created Department of Transition Studies at the Canter and Lope de Vega campus of the University of Tierra del Fuego, was cut down in his prime on the floor of the Republican National Convention in New York City.

Eyewitnesses to the slaying told police that the goat Professor Kaul was herding suddenly "went berserk," leaping across four or five rich middle-aged white guys to sink his teeth into Kaul's bared throat. Kaul died gurgling something in German that sounded like "Worüber man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen."

Police sources refuse to release an English translation of Kaul's last words, saying only "Sorry, there's nothing that can be said about any of that."

Preliminary police reports have found that the "goat," tracked down and captured by crack RNC security guards, was not a goat at all but some sort of highly evolved murder mechanism from the future, apparently sent back in time to take out Professor Kaul.

Dean Bernardo T. Wockle of the College of Transition Studies at Tierra del Fuego refused to comment on possible transition-related research Professor Kaul might have engaged in that could have provoked the time-travel attack. But unnamed sources close to the dean hinted that it had something to do with cheese.

The Mullah Billdoug plans to attend the nondemoniational memorial service planned for Professor Kaul on the weekend, then travel ahead in time to capture and spin the miscreant responsible for the dastardly murder.


 

Action on the Floor; The Fat Man Flees

I am live from the floor of the RNC, and searching diligently for any sign of my pet goat. I know I had the goat when I got here. Then it wandered off, and a strange-looking man with a thick Austrian accent, who was looking for his ladder, told me it might have wandered into the middle of the delegation from Nebraska. Nebraska? Holy shit! There’s no time to lose! I slice through the Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Minnesota delegations like they are the Red Sea, parting before my goatherd’s staff. One or two of the more beefy delegates try to stop me, but I club them mercilessly to the floor with the crook of my staff, proclaiming the Love of God.

My goat is in the middle of the Nebraska delegation. It has been tied to a microphone stand and is being prepared for sacrifice. A large, red-faced man in a blue pinstripe suit lifts his scimitar toward the throat of my pet goat, while a trim blond woman in a red pantsuit watches, her tongue poking out between glossy red lips. The goat—who is named Aarfy—bleats terribly, its amber eyes wild with fear. I see that I cannot make it there in time to save him.

Suddenly, rising from the floor of the hall through a trap door, comes a man in a Roman Centurion suit. The cheekplates hide his face, but I can make out vaguely simian features around the eyes and mouth. He commands the large Nebraskan to drop his scimitar and return to his seat. The man obeys, as if the Centurion has some sort of mind control over him. The brave Centurion frees my goat from its ropes, and puts him in my arms. “I will not let a goat be harmed,” he says, with a noticeable smirk. “Not even a communist goat.”
“Umm, thanks,” I say.

On the way back to the press section, I run across the man with the thick Austrian accent again. He has found his ladder. We note our common joy—what was lost is found. But there are ashes in our mouths, and we must go to a nearby tavern where the godless philosophes gather, and plan our curriculum for the evening.

There is no sign of Jesus anywhere. Eerie, that. Just yesterday I had seen him on the street with a big sign in his bony hands—THE END IS COMING SOON—and then he had been lured into an alley by a man with a paper bag. Nothing since.