Saturday, September 11, 2004


The Times-Clarion (Local Edition)

STRANGE WEATHER CONTINUES; Local Pastor Predicts Imminent Return of the Lord

(Bainesville, GA) It was a long Saturday in Bainesville, Georgia, as the small town, still recovering from the now-infamous "goat incident," experienced yet another spate of odd and dangerous weather.

"It began with that cloud," says Randy Stutz, a local weatherman, now recovering from eye injuries sustained in the storm. "The cloud came from over near Randall's Pond. Ernie Poole and Jake Turnipseed came into the Friday evening prayer meeting smelling like beer and claiming a cloud had landed on them while they were fishing. Said the cloud drank all their beer and went on and on about some conspiracy regarding something called the forbidden experiment. We thought they were just nuts, but now I'm not so sure..."

Through bandaged eyes, Stutz recalls how he heard a commotion in the street and looked out of his office on the third floor of the bank. He says he looked up and saw a "funny cloud, sort of wandering around like it was drunk," and then "it let loose with this blast of beer pee everywhere." Doctors said that the substance, which may indeed have been urine from beer, was acidic enough to burn Stutz's corneas. Stutz added that the cloud was groaning a little as it approached, and after it let loose, that it seemed to say "Eyes worry." What this means, Stutz doesn't know.

Several other townspeople, going about their business, were also trapped in the storm as it hit so suddenly. Mrs. Kinnaman, the beauty shop owner, said her poodle was swept away down a storm drain and that she only narrowly escaped by dodging into a doorway. Readers will recall that Mrs. Kinnaman's husband, Hank, was one of those killed in last month's "death goats from the sky" incident, also still under investigation. "That's why I always carry an umbrella," she avers.

"We were caught by surprise," says town manager Herb Knotts. "Our sewer capacity isn't designed for something like that. The town now smells like a barroom toilet. Fortunately, the sewage treatment plant is currently way below capacity and we are sending perfume trucks out today. At least only a few people were injured. It would have been much worse if most of the townsfolk hadn't taken to carrying umbrellas after that goat thing."

The toll for residents on the east side of town would be much higher. A group of around 50 or 60 were gathered on the grounds for a church picnic at the Third Church of God in Jesus, and knew nothing of the extremely localized downtown storm. But they were about to find out. Less than two hours after the first storm, the cloud appeared again and rained tiny robotic mosquitoes on the group, which included Pastor Rance Marshall.

"My god, they were everywhere," he says. "and they had sharp little stingers, too. But they didn't suck blood out, no. They shot something in. Something bad. I don't know. We all went crazy for awhile, seeing things that weren't there, falling down, somehow ending up in a massive, well, sex orgy over there by the big elm tree. Ten members of our congregation just ran off into the woods after that and haven't been seen since. Sister Barnes just sits there, like that, playing an imaginary banjo. This is clearly the work of the devil, and a sign of Our Lord's imminent return from Heaven."

The last incident occurred at Bailey Cloversmith's farm, where he reported a sudden rain of "soggy women-thingies" came out of a "laughing cloud" and landed in a pile by his barn. Examination of the "women-thingies" shows that they were water-soaked tampons. Police are following up. The only clue so far is that the tampons were all manufactured by a firm called Jupiter Industries, of Daytona Beach, Florida.

The last person to report seeing the cloud was sewage plant worker Sam Heraldsen. "It came down and sucked up all the raw sewage from our settling pond. Then it flew off thataway, toward Valdosta, sorta making these gagging sounds and rocking back and forth like it was gonna puke. I'd reckon so! That sewage was straight from the toilets, completely raw. If I was in Valdosta, I'd stay indoors for awhile."

No explanation for this erratic cloud behavior has come from scientists or law enforcement yet. NOAA and the National Weather Service are reported to be looking into the matter, and an engineer from the Emory University School of Tiny Robots is said to be looking into the robotic mosquitoes and the poison they carry.

"We're working on it," is all that Special Agent Ralph Carrone of the ATF would say. "It's a very high priority for us."


It Isn't Easy Being Fluffy

This wandering lonely as a cloud shit ain't as poetic as folks think, lemme tell ya. I been wandering for two days now, after I left those fishermen, and it's been a long-ass two days, too. All kinds of shit happening. Let me bring you right up to date. I'm learning a lot, though. It's hard to steer when you're a cloud, for example. And lots of other things, too.

First off, I shouldn't have swilled all that PBR. When I lifted off from the pond, I was bloated. Next thing you know, I'm floating over Bainesville, Georgia and I just gotta pee. I mean, I'm soggy, man. And when I let loose, oooeee! Musta peed a river, a lake, a whole ocean. Kinda felt bad for that fella who was looking out the window as I floated over. Caught the first of it right in the face. I hollered "Sorry, man!" as I passed, but I don't think he heard me.

Course, after that, I was thirsty again. Thirst like you wouldn't believe, unless you've ever been a cloud that just dumped all its moisture. Dropped in on a pond to tank up, but it turned out to be a swimming pool, not a pond, and it was covered with these robot bugs. No shit. Like skeeters or something. Long sharp proboscis, like a needle you'd see in a doctor's office on the end of it. The pool was covered with 'em. I musta sucked up a few hundred thousand of 'em before I realized something was wrong. Fucker comes running out of the back of the house in a white lab coat, screaming "Stop! Stop! Noooo! My most magnificent creation!" All's I see on the coat is some stitching, a name, I guess: Cordani of Jupiter. From Jupiter. Imagine! And he looked just like a earthling. He's still ranting, something about not being able to take over the planet, some shit. Freak. So I'm outta there. Before long, them skeeter-thingies are irritating my silver lining, so of course I gotta dump 'em. How's I to know I went in a circle and was back over Bainesville, Georgia? Gawd, them robot skeeters sure set off a ruckus at that church picnic.

I'm circling Bainesville, now, just looking for a place to drink without causing any trouble, and I'm thinking maybe it'll be okay, when this goddam airplane starts flying through me. The pilot is throwing shit out of the window every time he flies through. And lemme tell ya, man, it's hard on a cloud, getting flown through. What's he throwing out? Fucking tampons! I look again as he passes through. It's that Cordani of Jupiter guy, and he's yelling "I'll dry you up, you bastard! I'll dry you up!" I have to laugh. I mean, does this guy really think he can dry up a cloud with a few thousand tampons? Idiot. And where did he get them all? I don't want to know. Fucking extraterrestrials. Idiots. My laughter must have thrown him off, because he flies away, shaking his fist at me. "I'll get you yet!"

I just dumped the soggy tampons by a barn and floated back toward town.

Thirsty again, I didn't take any chances. I just sucked up the contents of a big pond out back of the sewage treatment plant. I mean, I figured it must be clean, right, out back of a treatment plant? Clouds got no sense of smell, y'know. Bad idea. It was the incoming stuff, the raw sewage of Bainesville, Georgia.

So now I feel like puking, and I don't know where to go, and I'm about to cut loose on a clear patch out in the woods, when Whooooooooooosh! I'm raptured again, and recognize the weird incongruous patchwork tesseracts of Heaven. I seem to be tumbling, and can't control my movement--hard enough when you ain't nauseous and full of Georgia sewage--and next thing I know I'm over some suburb, headed straight for a picnic or barbecue or something. And I can't hold it. I just can't. Gonna puke on 'em. Second time today I puked on a picnic, and I'm the nicest, gentlest cloud you ever met.

As I cut loose, and the effluvia of Bainesville rains down on the party, I catch a glimpse of my old friend, Doug Robinson. Only one with any sense. All the others are looking up, and catch it right in the face. Doug is calmly closing his umbrella as I land with a soft splat over the stinking sodden mess. He's even got on hip waders.

"What took you so fucking long?" he asks.

"Ran into some trouble," I reply. "Got anything to drink? I sure am thirsty."

"You got a silver lining?" he asks, offering me a tankard of Valhalla mead.


What It Is About This Place

"You know what it is about this place that bugs me?" Grisha Perelman says. He's just been telling me how he's a mathematician, solved one of the Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennium Puzzles, was in line for a million bucks when he got raptured or whatever out of there. Ain't that always the way, he sighed.

"No," I say, "what is it about this place?"

"No perspective."

"Excuse me?"

"No perspective. Parallel lines don't meet at the horizon."

"Oh," I say, dim memories of high school physics rousing themselves feebly, "that kind of perspective."

"Right. It's like a medieval painting. Everything is right there in your face, demanding precisely the same kind of attention as everything else."

"And that bugs you, huh?" I'm just making polite conversation. Talking about math beats listening to Herakleitos. Sort of.

"What bugs me about it," Grisha says, "is that I can't figure it out. I can't parse it. It's a whole new math. I'm going to have to retrain myself up here."

"What makes you think it's 'up'?" I say idly.

"Exactly!" he cries. "That's just what I'm talking about! A whole new topology! What did you say you did on earth?"

"Writer," I say.

"Science writer?" he says hopefully.

I shake my head apologetically. "Blogger," I say.

He sighs. His eyes scan the cookout for someone more interesting to talk to. I'm thinking the same thing. I haven't heard from Mullah Billdoug in whatevers. And where's Bill, for god's sakes?

Just then I see something very strange--something I haven't seen since I arrived here.

It's a cloud. It isn't exactly floating; it's more accurately stumbling across the clear green sky, heading right toward us.

"Ba'al?" Yahweh calls, one eye uneasily on the sky.

Everybody looks around for Ba'al. We finally locate him, up in the power boat, under the tarp. First his head pokes out, then Ann Coulter's.

"Can't this wait?" he says.

"Look up," Yahweh says. Ba'al does. Ann Coulter does. I'm looking at Ann Coulter: her shoulders are bare. "That your cloud, Ba'al?" Yahweh says.


Man and Woman, Necessary for Progeny

Herakleitos is here today. He looks a bit like Bill Kaul: tall, heavy, hairy, big nose, bulging eyes. Sort of lumbers when he walks. He's eating baby back ribs, talking with his mouth full. His beard is red with barbeque sauce, which I could swear is Corky's, but I can't find a bottle anywhere, and Yahweh is evasive when I ask him.

Everybody's getting a little sick of Herakleitos, if you want to know the truth. All he does is make clever little pronouncements, in this annoying pompous vatic voice. I see the others rolling their eyes. "Come on, chill out," they want to tell him. "This is heaven. Enough with the postmodern philosophy already."

For example, the others start talking about poets. "T. S. Eliot," Yahweh says. "Now there was a poet. Good Catholic, too." Others chime in, arguing for their guys. I make a case for Mullah Jalal al-Din Mevlana, my Sufi favorite. Allah's here today, and nods sagely, smiling his enigmatic little smile, as I talk about the second-holiest writer in the Muslim world.

Then Herakleitos chimes in: "The poet was a fool," he says, "who wanted no conflict among us, gods or people. Harmony needs low and high, as progeny needs man and woman."

What the fuck?

"I'll give it to you low and high, you little Greek pussy," I hear Ba'al muttering over by the grill.

Then there's a knock on the back yard gate, and two people come in, a man and a woman--necessary, as Herakleitos has been telling us, for progeny.

"Hello?" the man says. "Is this Yahweh's place?"

I recognize the woman. "My God," I say. "It's Ann Coulter."

"That's the name!" the man cries. "I can't believe I couldn't think of it!"

"That's my name?" the woman says wonderingly. "Ann Coulter?"

"I saw you on The Daily Show," I say. "What a painful experience that was, Jon Stewart tying himself in knots, trying to be nice to you."

"I don't remember," she says softly.

"She's got amnesia," the man explains.

"Oh, sure," Wodin says. "Happens all the time. People can't remember their lives on earth. Sit down, have some ribs. Maybe it'll come back."

"As souls change into water on their way through death," Herakleitos says, "so water changes into earth. And as water springs from earth, so from water does the soul."



The Throne of the Most High

"Let's look for God," Grisha Perelman says.

"Who?" the woman says.

"The Deity. The Creator of all things. The One. Any of those ring a bell?"

She shakes her head. "Sorry."

"This is His city," Grisha says. "It's like He's the mayor."

"What's a mayor?" the woman says.

Grisha sighs, turns away.

"Excuse me," he says to the next passerby. "Could you direct us to the Throne of the Most High?"

"The what, now?" the stranger says with a little smile. She's a nicely put together middle-aged woman, maybe a year or two over fifty, with the body of a 25-year-old jogger.

"The Throne of the Most High," Grisha says.

"Sorry, I have no idea what that is," the woman says.

"God's throne," Grisha says. "Where God lives."

"Which god?" the woman says.

"What do you mean, which god?" Grisha says. "The God of Israel. Creator of the universe."

"Who, you mean Yahweh?"

"Yeah," Grisha says, "that's the one."

"And you think he created the universe? That's a new one on me!" She's laughing, now. Her eyes are all lit up. Grisha has made her day.

"Look," Grisha says, "do you know where His throne is, or not?"

"I have no idea about any throne. I've never been inside his house, so I don't know how he's furnished it. He spends most of his time out around the pool anyway."

"So you do know where He lives?"

"Sure. Everybody does. See that street up there? Not this next one, but the one after. See the Walgreen's? That one. Take a left there. It's a bit of a hike, maybe a mile. On your right."

"A castle? A palace? A mansion? How will I recognize it?"

"No, it's just a tract house. A starter home, we used to call it back when I was in the real estate business. It's got their names on the mailbox."


"Sure. Yahweh, Mary, and Jesus. Seriously, you can't miss it."

"Thanks," Grisha says.

"Think nothing of it." The woman chuckles again and shakes her head. "Creator of the universe. I like that one. Mind if I use it?"

"Not at all," Grisha says.

The woman walks off laughing.

"Looks like maybe this place isn't what they told you about back in--shul? Was that the word?"

"Yeah," Grisha says sourly. "That was the word."

They turn left at the Walgreen's and start hiking out Divine Acres Lane, reading the mailboxes.


The Boogey-Man

"So this is heaven," Grisha Perelman says, looking around at the golden streets and sapphire buildings.

"What?" the born-again liberal woman says.

"This is it," Grisha says. "What we wondered about all our lives."

"Oh. Did we really?"

"Of course."

"And you're sure it's--that place? That same place you--we--wondered about?"

"Pretty sure, yeah."

"How were you supposed to get to heaven?"

"You were supposed to be a good person. Obey the Ten Commandments. Not lie. Not take the Lord's name in vain. Not commit adultery."

"Did you do those things? I mean, avoid doing those things?"

"Well, no."


"So ... well, there's divine forgiveness for sins. If God forgave you, then you went to heaven when you died."

"So did you die?"

"Not exactly. I got sucked up through a hole that appeared in the space-time continuum."

"And did the stories about heaven talk about holes appearing in the space-time continuum?"



"I know," Grisha says. "Let's check it."


"Ask somebody."


"Excuse me," Grisha says to the first man they pass in the street, "but could you tell me--hey, you're Adolf Hitler!"

"That's right," says Hitler.

"Well damn, then," Grisha says, looking troubled. "This can't be heaven."

"Why not?" the woman says.

"Sure, it's heaven," Hitler says.

"But--" Grisha starts.

"But I killed six million Jews, and was the signature madman of the twentieth century, so if I'm here, it's got to be hell?" Hitler smiles.

"Uh, yeah," Grisha says.

"Forget all that stuff you learned in shul," Hitler says. "It's just heaven. It ain't paradise."

"Uh, okay," Grisha says.

"Be seeing you around," Hitler says.

"Sure," Grisha says.

"So," the woman says as they watch him walk away. "He killed six million Jews?"

"Yeah," Grisha says. "Your hero."

"What's a Jew?" the woman says.

"I am," Grisha says. "That was the boogey-man. That was the guy I spent most of my life secretly afraid of."

"But I thought he was great?" the woman says.

"Yeah," Grisha says. "Secretly."

"Oh," the woman says.

"What is your name?" Grisha says, waving his arms a little impotently.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Back from the Dead

OK, now I’m awake. Where was I? Someone shot me with some spray and then I felt fingers in my brain, I think. Am I awake? I feel awake. But something’s wrong. Very wrong. Where are my legs? Where are my arms? I can see okay, I think, but what’s my perspective? Am I in a cloud? Wait, no. I AM a cloud. I am a thinking, reasoning cloud. I can see my reflection in that pond down there with that little boat on it, and yeaaaaaaaaaa, oh holy shit I’m in the air, nothing holding me up, I’m falling, falling…


Yeah, Jake? Didja catch something?

No, no, still nothing biting. But, uhh, what’s that cloud doing? It looks like it’s falling on us.

Clouds don’t fall, Jake. They float. Have another beer.

Ernie, that cloud is falling. Headed right for us.

Jake, you oughtta—Oh, shit!

Sorry, fellas.

Who’s that talking? Is it you, Ernie?

Ain’t me, Jake.

It’s me, fellas, the cloud. Name's Bill. I'd offer to shake hands but I don't know how to work this thing just yet.

Uh--hi Bill.

So, uh--you used to be, what--human?

Used to be a fucking detective, is what I used to be. Now I’m a fucking cloud. Funny how life goes, ain’t it? Sorry about falling on you. I’m new at this. I just became a cloud today. I got spooked, and just forgot to float.

Uhh, okay. If you say so. I never hearda no talking cloud before.

Me neither. Hey--cloud. Wanna beer?

I ain't sure if clouds can drink beer. But what the hell. Pop one open for me. It’s kind of hard to see.

I can’t see, either. It’s too cloudy in here. Um, in you. Wait, here’s one. Where’s your mouth?

Must be where my words are coming from, here. No, here. Oooh, yes, that’s it. I can taste it. Pabst Blue Ribbon? Kinda cheap beer, boys.

We ain’t no rich folks, Mr. Cloud.

Sorry. Didn’t mean anything by it. Call me Bill. Got another one?

-------------------------time passes------------------------

Umm, Mr. Cloud?


You done drunk all our beer, and it’s getting dark and you’re kinda, well, soggy, and me and Jake, we gotta get home, so, uh ...

Oh, right, right. Didn’t realize it had gotten that late. I must be a little drunk. Heh. I’ll be leaving.

You be careful now, Mr. Cloud. You done drunk a 12-pack. Don’t run into anything hot. Dry you right up.

Thanks, fellas. Sorry for all the inconvenience.

Off, off, to float around, to enjoy—


Umm, what?

It’s me.



Another Memo Surfaces


TO: All Field Agents
FROM: Director, Robotic Killer Goat Operations (RGO/HQ)
DATE: November 25, 1963
RE: Suspension of Operation Outsource

We are hereby suspending indefinitely all activities related to Operation Outsource. So far no one suspects that President Kennedy was killed by a robotic killer goat, and that President Johnson is in fact himself a robotic killer goat bent on dominating the Vietnamese shrimp industry at any cost. Certain sources in the Vatican are becoming suspicious, though, and it may only be a matter of time until Jesus is exposed as a robotic killer goat. As you know, Operation Outsource was our attempt to keep G.H.W. Bush’s name out of this. It now seems this will not be necessary, as the impending exposure of Our Lord as a robotic killer goat will probably take all scrutiny off of Mr. Bush. We will keep you posted. (Mr. Nixon, by the way, just to quell rumors, is not now, nor has he ever been, a robotic killer goat.)


Apres Kidnapping

So you got the kid?


He’s on ice?

Not exactly.

Whaddya mean, not exactly?

I tried to sedate him and it didn’t work. Ten grains of amytal and the little fucker was still yelling. So I tried to debone him.


He ain’t a kid. He’s a robot.

You’re telling me Jesus is a robot?

Filled with weird mechanisms and shit, yeah.

So what’d you do?

Found the power pack. Pulled the plug.

So he’s quiet?

As long as I keep the screens shut and spray around the baseboards.

Whaddya mean?

The power source is bugs. The thing somehow turns bugs into electricity.

No shit. Puts a whole new spin on that plague of flies thing, huh? Listen, we got other trouble, too.

Like what?

There’s someone putting microprocessors into clouds. Creating intelligent storms—tornadoes, hurricanes and such that can be remotely controlled. They can even talk.

And this means what to me?

It means you gotta sit on the kid while I go find out who’s making smart storms. The kid is our ace in the hole, now that I think about it. I wonder if Yahweh knows his son is a robot?

You think Yahweh is behind these smart storms?

Nah. This is the work of some renegade scientist. Probably a former Soviet scientist named Lev Davidov now in the employ of the RNC. I gotta do a little legwork. If I need to, um, mention the kid as leverage, I want you to be ready to move. Got it?

Sure, yeah.


From the Weekly News World Report


Marvin Earstam, Writer

Juanita Benavidez reports from Mexico City that a thunderstorm “told her he was going to” unleash a bolt of lightning that would kill her ex-husband, moments before Mr. Benavidez, was, in fact, killed by a bolt of lightning. “Yes, the cloud spoke to me,” she told this writer. “It came out of the clear blue sky, and said that since my husband was a no-good bum who treated me badly, he was going to kill with lightning. And the, ZAP! He was dead.” The storm, she says, just drifted off after that. “I never even had a chance to thank him,” she notes.

Claudio Morimarty reports from St. Kitts that a hurricane just “appeared out of nowhere” as he was walking along the beach one morning. The storm, Mr. Morimarty says, stopped just offshore and then yelled in a loud voice, “Get ready, you tropical fuckers! I’m-a gonna come screaming in. Gimme five minutes, and I’m gonna bloooooooooow your houses down!” The unexpected storm, later hastily named Cicely, did over $200,000,000 worth of damage on St. Kitts. Other residents reported hearing the storm laugh and yell as it crossed the small island nation, saying things like “Whoooo-eee!” and “Yeeee-hah!”

A tornado tapped on the door of Mr. And Mrs. Earl Potter in Munceville, Iowa, last Saturday. The couple reports from their hospital beds that the tornado was at first very polite, introduced itself as "Ted," and said it was conducting a poll, and wanted to know who they planned to vote for in November. When they said they planned to vote a straight Democratic ticket, the tornado “went berserk and said ‘Like hell you will!’ and blew our house apart” according to Mr. And Mrs. Potter. "Damn near killed us," Mr. Potter said. "Now what kind of a way is that for a twister to act, anyways?"

What’s the cause of all this? Nobody knows, but these “Smart Storms” are sure causing a lot of trouble.


The Witch

It all comes to an abrupt halt at some kind of rough ceiling. It extends as far as the eye can see in every direction, and looks and feels like the bumply bottom of a molded sink.

He just sticks to it, along with all the other random trash picked up by the updraft.

His first instinct is to cling to the surface for dear life. The panic passes quickly. He isn't going to fall. He isn't being held up by suction, or pressure, or reverse gravity. The force holding him there is alien to the electromagnetic fields of the space-time continuum he has spent his life mathematizing. Nothing to do but trust it, for now; take some notes; start figuring out ways to reduce his new environment to numbers.

So for a moment he rests, getting his bearings, then pushes himself up into an upside-down crawl. There must be holes in this surface too: it is quite patently no three-sphere. (But would the Poincare hypothesis hold here? Only one way to find out.)

After searching an unmeasurable period of time, perhaps an hour, perhaps a century, he comes to an irregular cavity in the bottom of heaven's sink, and carefully climbs through. Just above the surface, rough steps start.

They are, however, covered with some mucky substance, which his nose tells him is, well, blogshit. Clearly, the blogosphere is no perfect three-sphere either. The steps and walls are a good ten centimeters deep in the shit.

Grisha plays it safe: stays on his hands and knees. Tries not to think about what he's crawling through.

At the top of the steps there is a slight recess. On a small ledge there cowers a not-unattractive blond woman. She is shivering and hugging herself for warmth. Her face, clothes, and hair are smeared randomly with blogshit.

"Hello," Grisha says. The woman just shivers and stares. "Do you need help?"

"I--I don't know," she finally manages to say.

"Here, give me your hand," Grisha says.

She reaches out tentatively, and he helps her to her feet.

"How long have you been crouching there?"

"I don't know."

"Right. Sorry. Stupid question. No time here. Come on," he says. "Let's go topside."

They walk up into the light.

"Where are we?" the woman says.

"Either this is heaven," Grisha says, "or--"

"Or what?"

"I don't know. I was going to make some kind of Wizard of Oz reference. But I think this is heaven."

"Where are you from?" the woman asks. "Are you Chechen?"

"Russian," Grisha says. "And you?"

"I'm not sure. I think--I've lost my memory. I don't know who I am."

"I see."

Grisha looks around. Twenty steps away stands a beach shower, with soap-on-a-rope and towels on a hook.

"Shower?" he says.

She nods, and they go over, strip down to their underwear, and wash off. As they towel-dry their hair, Grisha has an epiphany.

"Wait," he says. "I know you."

"You do?" she says, her eyes lighting up pathetically.

"You're that fascist! You're--what's your name?"

The name is on the tip of his tongue. The woman's eyes fall.

"I'm a fascist?"

"Well, yes--or, well, maybe not a fascist. But so far right that you--well, hate everybody that loves freedom and diversity. What's your name?"

The woman shrugs miserably. Tears well up in her eyes.

"I don't want to be a fascist," she says, her voice breaking.

"Then--don't be one," Grisha says easily. "Change. Be something new. Be a lesbian. No," he corrects himself, eyeing her lycra-sheathed breasts, "don't be a lesbian. Be a liberal."

"What's a liberal?" the woman asks.

"Someone who loves liberty," Grisha says. "Liberty and justice for all."

"That sounds good," the woman says. "I think that's what I'll be. A liberal. That has a nice sound to it."

"Wouldn't the fascists back on earth shit bricks!" Grisha says happily. "But I wish I could think of your name! Oh well," he sighs, "it'll come to me. Shall we go explore?"

She nods. They set off.


The Updraft

It's not an unpleasant experience, being sucked up out of the four-sphere space-time continuum at warp speed.

Of course, Grisha Perelman has no stationary points to triangulate his actual speed from, but he somewhat unmathematically decides to call it warp speed.

He's still on the rough cot, as it turns out. He feels a bit like Dorothy in the tornado, whirling around through--

Hold on here: could that have been a hole in the space-time continuum that Dorothy's whole house was sucked up through? Could the tornado have been merely a naturalistic explanation slapped onto an empirical event deemed too implausible for Hollywood?

When he reached his destination, would Grisha too land on a witch?

Strangely enough, yes, in a way--but a witch who had lost her life and her memory.

Grisha snags a notepad and pencil eddying near him, and begins jotting down numbers, equations, formulae ...


The Rove

"The n=1 case is me," Grisha Perelman muttered. It didn't sound right. "The n=1 case is me," he said again. There was something wrong with his mantra.

Then he tasted the bile on his tongue, smacked his lips a little, and opened his eyes.

There was a man sitting in a chair across from him. He himself was lying on some sort of rough cot. The room was dank and dusty. The floor was concrete.

"Feeling better?" the man said.

"Who are you?" Grisha said.

The man just smiled. He was large and fleshy, with a pink balloon of a head.

"How did you get me?"

"Smart tranquilizer dart," the man said. "From a mile away."

"Oh shit," Grisha said. "The fucking government."

"What," the man said, "you think we're the only ones with that technology?"

"I won't tell you about the holes," Grisha said.

The man smiled again. "Oh, but you see," he said, "you already have. In your sleep. And now," he added, pulling out a Glock and screwing a silencer onto its barrel, "we no longer need you."

Grisha just had time for a silent apology--"prosti menya"--to his wife, his ex-wife, mother of his child, when a hole opened up in the ceiling and Grisha Perelman vanished.

Karl Rove, not an emotional man, grimaced briefly. Then he began unscrewing the silencer.


The Hole

Grisha Perelman stood as close to the hole as he dared, watching it throw rocks at the heavens.

Occasionally he'd add a rock or two to the mix. He'd never been athletic as a boy, never learned to throw like a boy, but there was no one here to watch him pick up fist-sized rocks and launch them awkwardly, his left elbow jutted forward, toward the deafening upward streaming of the hole.

This was the last place, he hoped, his enemies would think to come look for him. And if they did, he could simply step into the hole and be forever beyond their reach.

The hole, maybe fifty feet across, was in a sacred desert in northern New Mexico. For centuries, perhaps thousands of years, the Navajo had worshipped the powers in these rocky hills. Now there wasn't a Navajo for hundreds of miles around. The only one left to worship the power was Grisha Perelman.

As he stood there, feeling mostly rather empty, experiencing only the odd half-conscious shudder, he muttered a kind of mathematician's mantra:

"The n=1 case is trivial. The n=2 case is classical. The n=3 case is me. The n=4 case was proved by Freedman in 1982. The n=5 case was proved by Zeeman in 1961. The n=6 case was proved by Stallings in 1962. The n=1 case is trivial. The n=2 case is classical. The n=3 case is me."

And so on.

As he bent to pick up another rock, he didn't see the glint of sunlight off a pair of high-magnification binoculars from a rockpile just over a mile away.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Mathematicians at Sydney Conference Link Perelman Proof to Natural Disasters

Late yesterday afternoon in Sydney, Australia, at the Fourteenth Annual World Conference on the Mathematics of Fog, Purdue mathematician Louis le Branges announced his solution to the Reimann Hypothesis. First posed in 1859, the Reimann Hypothesis is one of seven mathematical puzzles designated four years ago by the Clay Mathematical Institute for their million-dollar Millennium Prizes.

But the big buzz at the Sydney conference has surrounded a solution offered two years ago to another CMI puzzle, the so-called the Poincaré conjecture.

The rules established by the CMI for a claimant to win a prize are (a) that the solution must be published in a reputable mathematical journal, and (b) that it must not be disproved during a two-year waiting period.

If Professor le Branges' solution to the Reimann Hypothesis is correct, therefore, it will be two years before he can claim his million dollars.

In 2002, a reclusive Russian mathematician named Grigoriy Perelman published a proof of the Poincaré conjecture, posited by H. Poincaré in 1904--but not in a mathematical journal. Rather, he posted it to his website, Indeed he seems disinclined to pursue publication, and thus the prize money--although, two years on, the general consensus of the mathematician community is that Perelman has indeed solved the puzzle.

To put it in layman's terms, the Poincaré conjecture states that every simply connected closed three-manifold is homeomorphic to the three-sphere--which is to say, in baby talk (begging the reader's pardon for this condescension), that the three-sphere is the only type of bounded three-dimensional space possible that contains no holes.

What has caused the furore at the Sydney conference has been a theory put forth by the so-called Bucharest School of Sufi Math that links the holes that inevitably appear in other bounded three-dimensional spaces with the recent natural disasters variously dubbed by the media as "pseudo-raptures" and "urban degravitation events." Initially met with skepticism and even overt scorn, the Bucharest School theory now seems to be finding widespread acceptance, and it seems increasingly likely that Perelman's solution to the Poincaré conjecture can help explain the "leakage" of random people and things--even whole cities--through the four-sphere of the space-time continuum and reappearance in the storm drains of heaven.

(For counterarguments that the space-time continuum is actually a five-sphere, a six-sphere, or even, laughably, a seven-and-three-eighths-sphere, see Swales (2004), Pinpop (2004), and Globule (forthcoming), respectively.)

As news of this spreading consensus among the world's top fog mathematicians has been picked up by the media, an intense search has been set in motion to track down the reclusive Russian mathematician, but so far to no avail. Speculation in news rooms, intelligence agencies, and OTB parlors around the world is rife that Perelman is hiding from, or perhaps has already been kidnapped or killed by, the forces that would exploit his proof for their nefarious schemes.

Anyone who can provide information as to the whereabouts of Perelman should telephone the White House immediately and ask for Karl.


Meanwhile, the Debate Goes On

Tom Knutson of the U.S. Geological Survey says that “The strongest hurricanes in the present climate may be upstaged by even more intense hurricanes over the next century as the earth's climate is warmed by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Most hurricanes do not reach their maximum potential intensity before weakening over land or cooler ocean regions. However, those storms that do approach their upper-limit intensity are expected to be slightly stronger--and have more rainfall--in the warmer climate due to the higher sea surface temperatures. And more recent work with more comprehensive models incorporating hurricane-generated ‘cool SST wakes’ continues to support these conclusions ...”

Oral Roberts creationist meteorologist Mike Riddle isn't buying this. He says that “We here in Oral Roberts University’s Department of Eschatological Premillennialist Climatology are proposing slightly different causes for the recent rash of hurricanes. Knutson can use all the ‘cool SST wakes’ he wants to explain things, but here at ORU we use something much cooler--the Holy Scriptures, praise God! And our ‘Scriptural SST wakes’ suggest that, yes, the oceans and air are getting hotter. But our models suggest that it is not these mythological ‘greenhouse gases’ (do you see any?) that are the cause, but rather a lack of piety that is causing the increase in sea and air temperatures worldwide. Remember, God gave us the earth and everything on it to use as we see fit. And the simple truth is, we aren’t using nearly enough of it. This shows a lack of effort to achieve God’s will for us, and fulfill the Scriptures. Frankly, we aren’t at all surprised that He has heated things up a little, just to give us a taste of what’s coming if we don’t get busy and start utilizing all of the good things He put for us here on earth to the maximum. Remember the 3 B’s if you want to see the temperature go down: Buy, Burn, and Break in the Name of the Lord.”

Mullah Billdoug, reached for comment telepathically at his temporary beachside home in Isla del Gordo, would only say that both theories were very interesting and both would receive his full attention as soon as certain “problems in heaven” were settled.


While Jesus Slept, He Dreamed...

The milk had put him to sleep. And in his deep sleep, Jesus dreamed on. He was back in the third grade…

The classroom was very quiet. Their pet hamster had died over the weekend, and the kid in charge of feeding it, a kind of geeky little Falun Gong kid named Quangxi, had just discovered the body.

“It’s dead,” he said.

The teacher, Mr. Prometheus, came over. All of the other kids had gathered around by now, and were giving their opinions and suggestions.

“It’s okay,” Mohammed said. “He’s gone to hamster heaven, where there are seventy hamster virgins serving him grapes and hashish.”

“That’s stupid,” Joey Apollo said. “We’re already in heaven.”

“It’s a different heaven,” Mohammed said. “Not like this one. It’s a higher one.”

“Mr. Prometheus, I thought things weren’t supposed to die again in heaven. I thought that’s what it said in our history book last week,” Tommy Krishna asked.

“It’s different with hamsters, stupid. They’re not people,” little Jesus Yahweh said. “Only people die and go to heaven.”

“Oh, you’re so smart, why don’t you just resurrect him, Jesus?” Quangxi taunted.

“’Cause I haven’t been born yet, you, you… heathen,” Jesus shot back.

“Children! Children! Enough,” Mr. Prometheus shouted. “We come to school to learn, not to fight. And I think we can all learn something from this little rodent’s death.”

“What, Mr. Prometheus?” the children all chimed.

“Not to take things for granted. Not to think that we’ll always have this place we call heaven. Not to think that this heaven is the only or the best heaven.”

And then there was a sick, sweet smell, as wetness blanketed Jesus' face while he slept, and the dreams changed. He felt himself being lifted, carried, perhaps in a sack of some sort...


Out of the Frying Pan, and Into...?

I’ll get you out of that blogshit, sure. For a price.

What’s your price?

Three goats. Real ones, not robots.

OK, it’s a deal. Get me out and I’ll give you three goats.

Virgin goats.

OK, virgin goats.

And now I’m out of the shit, but the guy in the Jesus suit is gone. Went and got The World’s Oldest Living Janitor his goats—what’s with him and goats, anyway? Funny if ya ask me—and then I got a call from Mullah Billdoug about some dame named Coulter. Never heard of her, but seems like she got iced. Official story is a heart attack, but the Mullah isn’t buying it. Wants me to look into it. Sheesh. I just got out of line in heaven, now he wants me to go back.

So I go back. Turns out the dame was in Mullah Billdoug’s address book. I read the entry once and copied it down.

Ann Coulter, 40-something. Nasty temper. Address varies. No phone. Wants to hijack the forbidden experiment. Works for network of fascists who despise flip flops or any other comfortable summer foot apparel. Seems they want to force the experiment by using mind control. UPDATE: Died of heart attack. Now in heaven, whereabouts unknown. Dispatched agent to follow up, keep tabs. Since victim had no heart, unlikely cause of death.

And so that was me, the agent in the book back then. Huh.

I wait in line, get frisked by a eunuch with cold hands who seems to doubt that I'm really dead again, get inside and head for updowntown, ask a few questions. I’m passing an alleyway when I hear a psssssssst! Buddy! C’mere. And so I look in the alley and I’m face to face with the butt-ugliest man I ever saw. Skin the color of school paste. Black-rim glasses. Fat but not sensuous lips. Sweats profusely. A suit. And there’s a .45 pointed at my head.

“Those things don’t work up here, y’know,” I tell him.

“Shaddup, or you’ll find out what works up here!” he hisses, drooling a little. “What’s your interest in Coulter?”

“Purely personal,” I tell him coolly. “We’re old friends.”

“Really? Not what I hear. I hear you got doubts about what got her here. That you think maybe the chips in her head exploded. That maybe certain powerful figures in heaven and earth are behind it. That maybe you’re working for Mullah Billdoug and he’s maybe thinking that he can stop them. That’s what I’m hearing.”

“You should change the radio station, then, ‘cause it’s all static.”

Last thing I remember is some spray coming out of the end of the .45, and then I was out.

In fact, I’m still out. I think I’m posting this from a dream. Feels funny, like there are fingers sticking something in my brain.

Wonder when and where I’ll wake up?


Inside Job

Olivia, it’s me.

Where are you?

Inside of you.

Again? You know I hate that. Why’d I let you put those chips in my brain?

Because I said I would kill you if you didn’t.

That was when I was still alive, though. And then I died in an unfair accident, anyway. It’s just not fair, is all. So, whaddya want?

You gotta get Jesus.

Give me a break. You’ve turned into a preacher? You want me to look deep in my soul, find Jesus, and shout Praise the Lord?

No, I mean I want you to get Jesus. As in, kidnap him and bring him here.

What? Are you nuts? Kidnap the world’s most popular savior? Shit. How am I gonna do that? The Holy Ghost is always hanging around, like some creepy bodyguard, for one thing.

I’ll take care of that.

Huh. So, where is he? At the mansion?

Word is, Yahweh’s having a barbecue tonight. Jesus will be appearing there as a baby. I plan on being there.

You want me to snatch him at a barbecue? With everyone hanging around? That’s suicide.

No, stupid. After the barbecue. Mary will get tired of Yahweh’s jokes and bragging, and she’ll say, “Oh, I’d better put Baby Jesus to bed, now,” and she’ll carry him upstairs and put him to bed. You know that Mother of God milk just knocks him out. Then she’ll come back down to do the dishes and take a few jolts out of that bottle she keeps under the sink. I’ll keep the Holy Ghost busy by challenging him to a thumb wrestling match. You snatch the kid.

I’ll need a ladder. And some chloroform and a sack.

It’s all in the phone truck outside. You’re a phone repair person.

OK, after I snatch the kid, then what?

You bring him here. Keep him sedated. Debone him if you need to.


And that’s all.

No ransom note to Mary and Yahweh?

This isn’t about money.

What, then?

It’s all politics, baby. You just sit on the kid till I tell you different. Oh, and—


Keep a sharp eye out for a 40-something blond named Coulter. She wants the kid, too. Got her own axe to grind. And she’s got a chip in her brain, too, only I can’t access it, so I don’t know where she is or what she’s thinking. We’re working on it, though…should be able to hack our way in soon.


Make it quick.

What’s with the rumor you’re working for Zeus? That the Olympians are responsible for the outbreak of hurricanes, and revelations about the Leader of the Free World, and the robotic goats, and the overflowing blogshit…

My suggestion is you forget you ever heard that. Capiche?

Heard what?

Good girl.


Ann Coulter Goes To Heaven

"So I says to that pompous ass O'Reilly, I says," little baby Jesus is saying, holding Mary's breast to one side, a thin rivulet of milk dribbling out of the left corner of his mouth, "'you can't turn me off, because I'm Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son!' You should have seen the look on his big fat red face then! I thought he was going to burst an artery in that pea-brain of his!"

It's the fourth time he's telling the story. Everybody around the grill is smiling forced smiles, trying not to roll their eyes. Even the milk has stopped spurting out of the trinitarian holes in Mary's nipple.

Then the Mullah starts talking to me again, from inside my head.

Doug? You there?

Uh, I think, I can't really talk right now.

Okay, he says. Just listen. Ann Coulter got whacked today. She should be appearing up there any minute now. I think Karl Rove's behind this. Coulter is his spy in the forbidden experiment plot. He sent her up there to lean on Olivia and foment a fascist coup in heaven. So here's what I want you to do: if you see Coulter, don't think about Olivia Dunktert. Got that? Just make your mind a blank. Jedi mind trick. Okay? Nod if you got all that.

I nod.

Good, he says. I'll be in touch.

And he's gone.

"So then," Jesus is saying, "so then this Nazi lawyer Ann Coulter comes after Me! Can you believe it? After Me!"

"Right, well," Yahweh says, suppressing a burp, "more chicken, anybody?"


Conservative Pundit Ann Coulter Dead of Heart Attack

Ann Coulter, neo-conservative pundit and author of the New York Times bestsellers High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Slander, and Treason, was found dead in her home of an apparent heart attack, police sources said today.

"Given her high-profile career and outspoken public opinions," police spokesperson Trudy Wiegel said in a press conference, "we will of course be investigating her death. But at this point it looks like a simple heart attack."

Coulter, 43, was much in demand on the neo-conservative lecture circuit, and unnamed sources in the Medical Examiner's office have suggested that her "killer" was too much rich restaurant food and too much airline-related stress.

"That'll kill you right there," the source said. "Sitting in gate areas waiting for your flight to be canceled."


WiFi Tap

Mullah, Here's the latest wireless transcript. I haven't yet identified the speakers on the tape, but I thought maybe you would know. Fatima

A: So did you boys see the latest from that big dumb horse Ann Coulter?

B: Oh, what, that she hates Bill O'Reilly?

C: I said all along that we should bring her in, torture her a little.

D: Shut up, Rummy. You and your torture.

A: No. The thing about her and Jesus.

D: Oh, something about Jesus attacking big corporations for scamming shareholders?

A: Right.

B: Yeah, I saw that. Dump Christianity, kill the liberals, usher in a new era of American freedom.

C: I still think it'd be a good idea to strip her naked, put her in a room with a couple of big beefy military subcontractors, and--

D: Shut up, Rummy. Haven't you gotten us in enough trouble already with your torture memos?

C: Karl, Dick keeps--

A: Shut up, both of you.

B: Besides, how are you going to humiliate Ann Coulter? That broad is incapable of feeling shame.

A: Good point.

C: But then--

A: But you're right, Donald. She's hurting us in the polls. She's hurting us with the Christian Right. She could hurt us very badly with Olivia Dunktert and the forbidden experiment. Something ought to be done.

B: Something--permanent, Karl?

A: Something--relatively permanent, yes.

B: So you're saying that as the Attorney-General, I should--

A: I'm not saying anything, John.

B: Oh. Right.

A: I'm not giving orders. I'm just thinking out loud.

D: Don't you think, though, Karl, that this born-again shit has gone too far? I mean, it's one thing for the Chimp Clone to say God talks to him, but--

A: No, I don't, Dick.

D: I'm just saying, Karl, that maybe Ann's got a point.

A: A point in the press is worth ten in the polls, Dick.

D: Yeah, you're right. Sorry. I was just thinking out loud.

A: Well, don't.

D: Right.

A: So--what have we been talking about here today, boys?

B: Uh--not sure?

C: The budget?

D: Halliburton?

A: Good boys.


Coulter Blasts Jesus Flipflop

Right-wing crusader Ann Coulter today went after everybody's favorite Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus has been under fire from the political Right since His appearance on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor yesterday, during which He called on God the Father to cross the show's feisty conservative host Bill O'Reilly off the "saved list" and refused to forgive him.

In a memorable exchange at the close of the appearance, Jesus said "Don’t make me ask dad to let Satan mess with you," whereupon O'Reilly tried to grab the mic off the lapel of Jesus' three-piece executive suit, and Jesus taunted, "Can’t turn me off, can’t turn me off. Nanny nanny boo boo!" At this point O'Reilly lost his temper and began shouting "Shut up shut up shut up shut up!" at the top of his lungs.

As the producers say: good television.

Now Ann Coulter has chimed in, accusing Jesus of being "even more liberal than that communist Bill O'Reilly" and accusing Him of flipflops going all the way back to his ministry on earth.

"What would you call 'Let him who is without sin among ye cast the first stone'?" Coulter charged. "Doesn't that sound exactly like John Kerry? Oh, those poor Iraqis, they might get hurt when we cast our big stones! Then it's 'I've come to bring not peace but a sword.' Make up your mind, Jesus! What do you want to do, dither or cut somebody's head off?"

Coulter went on to argue that Jesus was the worst thing to happen to America, with His flipflop liberal message of forgiveness mixed with sudden irrational bursts of anger against big corporations "fraudulently" skimming funds from church-goers and shareholders.

"The sooner we dump the flipflop liberal religion of Jesus Christ," she declaimed, "and incinerate all the flipflop human liberals, beginning with Bill O'Reilly, the sooner we'll be able to get American freedom and democracy back on track."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Sufi U's Oldest Living Retired Janitor Returns To Work

They heard a sofa creak, and creak again. Somewhere inside, a human groan; then it was the floorboards that were groaning.

"Mr. Talib?" they called through the peeling door. "Are you all right?"

"I'm coming, I'm coming, keep your shirts on."

Presently the door swung open and revealed an ancient bleary-eyed ruff of skin wrapped around Paul Bunyan's bones.

"Mr. Talib?"

"Yeah, that's me. What can I do for y'all?"

"I, uh, I'm Dean Wocklefeister from Sufi U, and this gentleman is--"

"Yeah, yeah," Abu Talib said (for it was indeed he). "I know Mullah Billdoug. Him and me go way back. How you doin, Mullah?"

"Been better. Got some pains in my joints. You must know all about that."

"I do indeed, I do indeed. I got so many pains in my joints, they've gone and had babies and grandbabies. Some of my pains, they tell me, are the direct descendants of the pains I once caused the Praised One, the Prophet."

"Yes, well," Dean Wocklefeister said, rocking on his feet, "Mullah Billdoug tells me that you used to work for us over at Sufi U. Is that true?"

"Did I? Did I? You bet I did. Worked there for a long time. Worked there so long I should be getting rich off my retirement benefits. But of course the contract I signed back in whenever only allows me a goat a month. Ain't much to live off of, one goat a month, let me tell you!"

"No, no," Dean Wocklefeister said, cutting his eyes uneasily over at Mullah Billdoug, "I wouldn't guess it would. But you see--"

"Yes, yes, I heard all about the shit y'all got down at the college," Abu Talib said. "I know why y'all're here. Y'all want me to come back to work."

"Well, Mullah Billdoug said--" the Dean began.

"He told you some story about me shitting my pants at the Prophet's house, umpty-odd years ago, right?"

"Not your pants, exactly, Abu," Mullah Billdoug said.

"Okay, okay," Abu Talib said, "so it was the whole fucking room. Big deal. It was a small room."

"Now when you say 'the Prophet,'" Dean Wocklefeister said, "do you mean--"

"How many fucking prophets are there?" Abu Talib snapped. "The Prophet. The Praised One, Mohammed."

"Well, that's what Mullah Billdoug said," Dean Wocklefeister said. "But that would make you--"

"Old. I know. They don't call me the oldest living retired Sufi U janitor for nothing."

"But how--"

"The Prophet rewarded me with it."

"Rewarded you? What, with long life?"

"No, no, that's a curse, ain't no one ever told you that? You don't want to live thousands of years. No, the reward, of course, was to clean up other people's shit, like he cleaned up mine."

"I see," Dean Wocklefeister said. "Well, we do have a lot of other people's shit. And the entire custodial staff has up and quit. Do you think--"

"--Do I think I'd like to come back to work? Sure. What the hell. I got nothing better to do. I won't work for one goat a month, though."

"No, no, of course not," Dean Wocklefeister said.

"I won't come back to work for less than two goats a month."



Blogshit Covers Campus; Custodial Staff Resigns

Sufi U will be closed indefinitely while new custodial staff are hired and the campus is scrubbed. Upon opening the campus today at 6 a.m., the custodial staff found that the virtual bathrooms had overflowed during the night and that the entire campus was buried under ten feet of blogshit.

Blogshit, as you probably know, is what comes out the ass-sphincters of blogs--the undigested bits of verbiage and semantic content that the blogosphere has no nutritional use for. Normally, blogshit is firm and packed and relatively easy to dispose of with one virtual flush and wipe.

This particular huge backup of extremely viscous and sticky blogshit is being blamed on student pranksters, who flushed the entire contents of the 10 volume Collected Blog Postings of Great Republicans down the bloghole last night.

The custodial staff, frustrated by these pranks, immediately resigned and are now reported to be searching for different work.


Jesus Inconsistencies Threaten to Undermine Role; May Resign as Savior

Jesus, appearing as a neatly-dressed pundit on the O’Reilly Factor, today admitted that he has, at various times, been different things to different people. O’Reilly, accusing him of a shady past and lying, called for Jesus to resign as savior. Here’s a transcript we found at Faux News:

OR: Are you sure you’re really Jesus? I mean, he’s usually wearing robes and has long hair and a neat beard, and you, you look kind of like, well, me.

J: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, a friend of mine once said. I feel that my role as savior can best be carried out by my ability to appear different to people at different times, or, hell, even simultaneously. I mean, look, if I’d appeared to the apostles like this after the resurrection, they’d have bolted. Similarly, if I showed up at church tomorrow in robes and sandals with long hair and a beard, the congregation would throw me out.

OR: But didn’t you promise that you would be steadfast and unchanging? How can you be steadfast and unchanging if you’re never the same?

J: I never said that.

OR: Yes, you did. I have right here a quote from a former apostle, who…

J: Lies. Just lies. I never said anything like that.

OR: This apostle says he served on a boat with one of your apostles in Galilee, and that you said…

J: I never said I wouldn’t look different. You know, keep up with the times. When did I ever say anything about not changing fashions, ages, stuff?

OR: What about these stories regarding you and Mohammed being wild and rebellious kids?

J: Youthful indiscretions. I changed after I was born unto a virgin.

OR: Oh, really? How do we know you aren’t stoned right now?

J: You want me to pee in a jar? Fine, I’ll pee in a jar. Gimme a jar!

OR: But if you were once a doper and you were once friends with Mohammed, then how can you be a savior now? I mean, doesn’t that mean that the Muslims are right, too? And that you, then, aren’t the only path to salvation?

J: Talk like that can get you in hot water, O’Reilly. REAL hot water, if you get my drift.

OR: Are you threatening me, you fraud?

J: Fraud, huh? Fraud? OK, dad, this one just got crossed off the saved list. You hear that, dad?

OR: Shut up! Shut up!

J: And I’m not going to forgive you. So there.

OR: What! You should resign as savior right now! All these lies…

J: Don’t make me ask dad to let Satan mess with you. 'Cause I can do that.

OR: Gimme the mike! Alex, turn him off. Now.

J: Can’t turn me off, can’t turn me off. Nanny nanny boo boo!

OR: Shut up shut up shut up shut up


Mel Gibson Writes In!

Yes, folks, it's true: Mel Gibson reads Mullah Billdoug! I loved him in Lethal Weapon, didn't you? The way he looked all crazy at the beginning, shoving that gun in his mouth like he was going to blow his brains out, and jumping off that building with the guy, and scaring the hell out of Danny Glover, but then turning out to be a real-life action hero? Man. I love that stuff.

Anyway, I have a letter here from him:

Dear Mullah Billdoug:

Just want to say, I love your blog! I read it every day, most days several times. I admit it, I'm hooked!

There's something I can't figure out, though. You keep portraying Jesus in different ways. Here, for example, it's 1912 and He's a large boneless blob in the upstairs room of a honkey-tonk. Here, and here, he's a wild rapscallion in heaven, raising hell with Mohammed. Here, he's also in heaven, but as a tiny suckling baby who takes Mary's breast out of his mouth and talks like an adult. And here, he's a young unborn Rotarian visiting the Seventy translators at Alexandria, in 281 BC. Which is it? I mean, shouldn't you be more consistent in your portrayals of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered and suffered and suffered and suffered and suffered under Pontius Pilate?

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Yours in Christ,
Mel Gibson

Well, Mel, sorry, but all the editors are out of the office again, so I really can't help you. I'm just the janitor, Jerry Falwell (no relation to the famous Jerry Falwell, who I'm sure would know more about Jesus than I do, though I love him, Jesus I mean, from the bottom of my heart and mind and soul). But they did show me how to post letters to the blog, and I'm sure they'll be getting back to you with detailed answers to your really good questions when they get back!

Jerry Falwell

P.S. Since you seem to know so much about how Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, maybe you should make a movie about it? That would be awesome, man. Gosh, I can't believe I'm writing to Mel Gibson! I love you, man! You're the greatest!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Meanwhile, Back at the Mudhole ...

Oh, they were determined, weren't they? Determined I wouldn't be raptured, couldn't float. Determined I wouldn't solve this case. Wouldn't find them behind the forbidden experiment, expose them, rescue Jesus from his dad, score another ten points for the Sufis, all before five, and end up in bed with Isis and a bellyful of Chef Pharaoh's cooking by ten. Ha. I'll show them.

God-damn, this is the most mud I've ever been in. Good thing I don't have to breathe, since I'm already dead, or I'd be screwed. And, y'know, this mud smells funny. Not like regular rapture mud.

It's more like ... w-why, this isn't mud at all. This is shit. This is blog shit. This is the stuff that comes out of the ass of a blog! And I'm encased in it as it hardens.

Must think. What dissolves blogshit? What did the janitorial staff use at Sufi U when the virtual bathrooms got all fouled with blogshit?


Jesus in New Orleans, 1912

“No kidding. I’m for real.”

“That’s not possible. I been around, and that’s not possible.”

“And he just sits there?”

“Well, it’s not like he can do anything.”

“You’re so full of shit.”

“I’m not. I’ll show you if you want.”

“You can take me there?”

“Sure. He’s at Mama Lou’s. She keeps him in an upstairs bedroom. Thinks he’s God.”

“God, huh?”

“Something. That’s what she says. You wanna see?”

“I guess you won’t leave me alone until I go see. But I’m sure it’s a big jellyfish.”

“Bellocq was over here taking pictures of the whores, and he saw it. Took a picture of it. He says he thinks it’s Jesus.”

“Bellocq is a crazy old Creole. He thinks Jesus tells him to take pictures of whores.”

“Well, he saw it. He says it’s for real.”

Mama Lou was cleaning up the bottles and wrappers and shooing out the riff raff when they got there.

“Yeah, Sal, He’s up there. I’m just about to go feed Him.” Mama Lou didn’t have no use for Sal, but, hell, he was from an old black Creole family, and a cop-snitch. When you serve opium and whores and raw whiskey from god-knows-where, you gotta be nice to a cop-snitch, or else he runs to the uniform man, and, well…

... So there he sat, in the corner, like a giant linen bean bag, some drool flowing from what could have been a hairy mouth, or even a weird vagina or even some kind of surgical slash, two noodly appendages trailing off to the sides and two more trailing off to the back like the limbs of a squid, only fatter and more buttery… soft burbling and tight hissing noises came from some hole in the thing, somewhere, slurping… Mama Lou was poking some applesauce and buttermilk into it… it had eyes. And a beard. Christ.

“Told you. Ain’t that the god-damndest thing you ever saw?”

“That ain’t no jellyfish.”

“Told you. It’s a man.”

“Ain’t no man. Big old sack of guts or something. A freak.”

Mama Lou finished feeding it. “Ain’t he something? He’s a hell of a thing to find on your doorstoop one night, for sure. But I ain’t complaining. He’ll watch over me and take care of me. And my girls.”

“She thinks it’s a god. A loa, or something.”

“It’s a Jesus-loa! Sure as hell!” Mama Lou waved finger in the air, her red hair flying as she shook her head. “Only one ever turned up in Storeyville, that’s for damn sure. He says someone sucked all the bones out of Him and kept him alive.”

“A witch queen?”

“No. He says someone named Yah-Weh.”

“Huh? Yogweck? Who the fuck is that?”

“The one that cursed Him. Cursed Him and made Him like this because He escaped from a mountain. With some other one named Mo Hammit. Came here and got laid and smoked some tea and heard ol Bechet play the clarinet like he do, and, Lord! He had His perty brown head all in between Sister Monaud’s thighs. I threw Him out because He dint have any money and the next morning there He was, quivering on the stoop like a deboned steer, with a joint in His mouth…”

... and it slowly came out that it was Yahweh of Bible fame who has cussed the poor fella, all squishy and holy and limp, cussed his own son Jeezus as the flames of old N’awlins burned and the pigeons came out of the heights of the cathedrals and shit all over the statues in the squares, filled with Italian immigrants waiting to be killed. A pharmacist was opening his shop, and was happy to have some customers waiting, and oddly, all of them wanted the new cough syrup, Heroin…

But of course, Jesus hadn’t tried that. Yet.


Olivia Crashes Again

I’m quite sure he knows about you, so you’ll understand if I have to put you through this ritual. Yes, I know. Good, good.

Hiss, hiss, gurgle.

Hmm. Okay, looks clean. Just let me put a sample in with this reagent.

Bubble, gurgle.

Ho-ho. Positive. Whaddya know? Olivia, I thought you said you were clean.

No, no. Don’t want to hear lame excuses. How long have you been into the tubes this time? Talk, dammit. He’ll be here any minute. He can smell this stuff from a mile away.

Really. Rove gave it to you? And you’ve only had two in the last week? You know that Rove is just setting you up, don’t you? He wants you to be the receptacle. He wants you to be the test tube that holds, well, you know…yes. This will be winner-take-all, no secondary deities, no demigods, this is for all the marbles. No, no, dear. He has a stake in Yahweh taking this one. He is a robot, whose only function is to make certain Yahweh wins. Oh, yes, of course. A robot goat, to be precise; my goodness, the number of throats he’s ripped out! There, there, now…don’t cry. Many have been fooled by him. I have to find Mullah Billdoug’s address book. This is the only way to locate Jesus, now that Yahweh has smitten him. His own son. His lamb. The Sufis are already up by 10 points, but this does not mean that we can be complacent, no. And this is no time to fall back into your old habits, dear.

Charon, you say? He took it from the boys? Let’s just head down to the docks, okay? Oh, you’ll be safer with me, Olivia, far safer. If you’d like your case to ever come before a truly impartial Board of Karmic Adjusters, that is…

Meanwhile, we must root out these fake Jesuses and find the real one. Smitten or not. And the address book is the key. I recall an address in New Orleans. I wish Detective Kaul wasn't stuck in that mud ...


The Swift Boat Ad Karl Rove Decided Not To Run

Fade up on John Kerry's face, grimacing evilly, with photoshopped devil horns and goatee.

VOICEOVER: John Kerry says he wants to be President. John Kerry says he's a war hero. John Kerry says a lot of things.

A cartoon ghost drifts into frame.

GHOST 1: I served under John Kerry in Vietnam. I was on his boat. He killed me dead. John Kerry murdered me. That flipflop liar snuck up on me and pushed my face into my soup until I drowned. Now he's running for President and I'm dead. I wish someone would kill him. Then I'd beat him up for killing me.

The first ghost is joined by a second.

GHOST 2: I served under John Kerry in Vietnam too, until he snuck up on me from behind and hit me in the back of the head with a baseball bat. And he's a Satan-worshipper, too.

The first two ghosts are joined by a third. It's getting a little crowded.

GHOST 3: John Kerry says he wants to be President, but he isn't even human. He's a devil-goat with sharp teeth. I saw him unzipping his John Kerry suit late one night on the swift boat, when he thought nobody was looking. That's when I understood where the tall forehead came from: they had to make the suit like that to fit his long goat head into it. Do we elect devil-goats with sharp teeth in John Kerry suits President? I don't think so.

VOICEOVER: John Kerry says he wants to be President. But then John Kerry says a lot of things. Paid for by Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.


Don't Think

Well, life in heaven seems to be one long cookout. Today Isis and Osiris are here, with Isis's pet priest Lucius Apuleius. Nobody mentions the time when he was a golden ass. I gather it's something of a sore subject with Isis. Osiris, well--if I never hear him bitch and moan about the pain in his leg again, it'll be too soon.

I never realized gods could be such big babies.

I'm off to one side, blogging, when Mullah Billdoug starts talking to me from inside my head.

Doug? You there?

If you call heaven "there," I think.

Listen, is Bill with you?

No, I think. I haven't seen him since the rapture mud. And then only as he was going under.

Never mind. There's something you need to know. Karl Rove's been talking to Olivia.

Olivia Dunktert? I think.

Yeah. He's trying to get her to do the forbidden experiment for them.

But, I think--she's here in heaven. Is Karl Rove dead?

He isn't exactly dead, Mullah Billdoug says, and he isn't exactly undead. And he's a very long ways from alive.

I see.

He needs the forbidden experiment in order to derelect the Clone.

The Clone? I think.

The Chimp Puppet Clone.

"Oh, I get it," I say out loud, thinking: why would anyone want to clone a chimp puppet for president?

The technology was very hit-or-miss back in the mid-forties, the Mullah says.

So what do you want me to do? I think.

Just don't think, he says.

Don't think? At all?

Don't think about Olivia Dunktert.

Oh, I think, I can do that. I hardly ever think about her anyway.

Good. Oh, and another thing.


Keep an eye out for Mullah Jalal al-Din Mevlana.


Yes, Rumi. He may have ties with Olivia.


Literally. We have the ropes that were used to tie her up in the photo I found in her dresser drawer, and they've got Mullah Jalal's DNA all over them.

DNA? I think. He's been dead seven centuries.

You think dead people don't have DNA? the Mullah says, rather snappishly.

Right, right, I think: I got it: don't think.

Exactly, the Mullah says.

So do you think Mullah Jalal's working with Rove on this? I think.

I repeat, Mullah Billdoug says: I don't think.


Just keep an eye out for him.


Oh, and say hi to Isis for me, would you? I used to have a big thing for her.

And he's gone. And I'm thinking: the Mullah and Isis? Is it possible?

Then I remind myself: don't think. Don't even remind yourself not to think. Don't even refer to yourself in the second person while not reminding yourself not to think. Don't even


Mullah Jalal Confesses

You tie me up and I break free furiously, opening out into sky, round and bright, candlepoint, all reason and love.

You gave me this bone-bursting joy at sixes and sevens. You stuck me with this hangover.

I turn when you turn to look. Somehow I’m saying this wrong.

I’m some nutcase in jail, tying up spirit-women.

I’m Solomon. I’m lame.

Monday, September 06, 2004


Olivia Is Tempted

Got your name from Mullah Billdoug’s address book.

So you say.

It says you’re willing to participate in the forbidden experiment.

Does it, now?

Also says you’ve got a case before the Board of Karmic Adjusters, regarding your alleged untimely death.


You know, I have connections on the board. I have, ummm, shall we say, had certain appeals, well, expedited, settled quickly and neatly.

How nice.

You don’t trust me.

I don’t trust anyone who wears plaid robes.

You’re funny.

Yeah, a laugh riot.

Listen, Olivia, if you’re really willing to participate in the forbidden experiment, and you have a case before the board and you really, really, want to get reborn to rich parents, then I think you should take a minute to listen to me.

OK, you got a minute. Starting now. And I don’t mean any of this “in heaven a minute is as a millennium” shit. One minute. Go.

The forbidden experiment involves, as you know, tempting Satan, making bets with Yahweh, and the Bulgarian Perversion.

I didn’t know that. Fifty seconds.

And you have genes that make you a perfect candidate for the Bulgarian Perversion. From your mother’s side, you know. The retired waitress in Scottsdale. Now lives in a trailer. Prays for you every day.

You know my mother?

I know her amino acid by amino acid. I have her mapped.

Hm. Thirty seconds.

If you indeed have the genetic inclination to the Bulgarian Perversion, and if indeed you are willing to participate in the forbidden experiment, we can wreak havoc on all of the philosophies of the earth. And I’m not talking weird weather, or gravity, or goats raining from the sky. The Mullah Billdoug will be seeking you. I got here first. And with a better offer.

I don’t even know what the forbidden experiment is. I just checked the box yes for the hell of it.

Ho, ho. You never heard of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell? Ever? You never heard of trying to wed rationalism with faith? Of making all the deities scientists, and all the scientists deities? Of making the limpers eagles, and the eagles bulls? Ever?

No. Never.

Take my card. And this letter.


I’ll be back tomorrow, same time.


Urban Degravitation Events Recorded Worldwide

After a week of unusually intense (super?)natural disasters, just when we thought we could begin to loosen the industrial-strength bungee cords that were holding our cars in our driveways and our computers on our desks, scientists in the Department of Creationist Seismology at Magnolia Bible College in Kosciusko, Mississippi, are reporting a series of bizarre Urban Degravitation Events (UDEs) in whole cities. The liberal media, fearing an outbreak of religious revivalism in the heartlands, have so far managed to keep these UDEs quiet; but the disappearance into the skies of entire cities, and in some cases of whole boroughs in major metropolitan areas, makes it impossible even for the all-powerful liberal media to keep a lid on this indefinitely.

And in any case we here at Mullah Billdoug take our journalistic duties very seriously indeed, and feel compelled to break this news story no matter how many abortionists, gays, lesbians, feminists, civil liberties lawyers, and Kerry campaigners it pisses off.

What apparently is happening is that tall buildings, whole streets and neighborhoods, and in many cases large metropolitan areas have been coming loose from their moorings and soaring up into the upturned bowl of the sky. Here are some of the US cities thus far hit (investigations are still underway, and it is not yet known whether all of these cities have completely degravitated or only certain neighborhoods):

Scottsdale, Arizona
Dulles, Virginia
Gwynn Oak and Owings Mills, Maryland (apparently just the Social Security Administration buildings, though)
Alexandria, Virginia
Brooklyn, NY
Cortez, Colorado
Denton, Texas
Pekin, Illinois
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Kansas City, Missouri
San Mateo, San Jose, Laguna Niguel, North Hills, and large chunks of Los Angeles, California
Pocatello, Idaho
Ogden, Utah
Mililani, Hawaii
Green Bay, Wisconsin (just the football stadium, unfortunately during a Packers home game)

Magnolia Bible College's creationist seismographs have also recorded scattered Urban Degravitation Events in Malaga, Spain, Porto, Portugal, Soignies, Belgium, Helsinki, Finland, Helsingor, Denmark (but only Hamlet's castle), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, and Singapore. Successive highly localized (called by experts "pinpoint") UDEs in Milton Keynes, England (a city not named for John Milton and John Maynard Keynes), took only the world's longest shopping mall (720 meters long), indoor ski slope, Open University, National Badminton Centre, and National Hockey Stadium.

Creationist seismologists at Magnolia Bible College, their machines pressed to the breaking point by incoming data, have not yet had the leisure time to seek out a Bible-based explanation for the events. However, a prayer network in and around Kosciusko reports that heaven's storm drains are clogging up at an alarming rate, and suggests there may be a connection with the upward loss of global urban infrastructure.

Born-again Christians who would like to build their own seismographs to track UDEs around the globe are encouraged to download instructions from the University of California Seismological Laboratory in Berkeley.

Related stories: Pseudo-Rapture: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Hurricanes Francis and Ludwig: 1 | 2 Mississippi Rapture Mud/Catfish: 1 | 2 | 3


Photo Found in Mullah Billdoug's Address Book

Olivia Dunktert at home


Typical Address Book Entry

Olivia Dunktert, 43, nurse's aide. Likes reading erotica, eating Mediterranean foods, and teaching her parakeet to quote Cardinal Newman. 354 W. Falmouth, Passaquak, MA, 07631. 765-0987. No Xmas card. Good to take to movies, but annoying horsey laugh. UPDATE: Killed in accident, 4/7/03, crashed her 1960 VW into Mediterranean restaurant while listening to Christian Coalition of America tapes and touching herself. Drowned in vat of couscous after ejecting from vehicle. Appealing death to Board of Karmic Adjusters. Currently waitress in Internet cafe, "Quimby's," 5784 W. Golden Mean, Heaven. No phone. olive4@houyhnhmm.hvn. Willing to participate in forbidden experiment.


Opening the Address Book

Hey, man, there’s nothing in this book but dirty pictures and sex stories. Why’s it say “Address Book” on the front?

Dirty pictures? Are you nuts? Those are recipes, with pictures of food above.

Food? That’s a picture of two people doing the horizontal bop. And the text says "I was so amazed when my fantasy came true; it was during the annual office party…" Look, my pecker is getting hard.

What you been smoking, duder? It’s a picture of a huge bowl of couscous and the text says "Mediterranean Couscous Like Mama Used to Make." My mouth is watering.

What do you boys have there?

Ummm, nothing.

Don’t put it behind your back. Let’s see it. Is it a dirty magazine?

Well, um, yes.

No, no. It isn’t. It’s a recipe book.

Hand it over.

You idiots. It’s an auto repair manual for a 1960 Volkswagen. Look at the pictures. What’re you doing with an old, soaked, auto repair manual?

We found it.

In the sewer.

In the sewer, huh? How many times do I have to tell you boys to stay away from the sewer? You could fall into the eye of a hurricane, or get sucked into a goatsuit.



Now let’s see whose repair manual this is. Hm. Mullah Billdoug. That name is familiar. Didn't he used to run a garage in El Paso?


Mullah Billdoug's Address Book Turns Up

Hey Mo! Look, what's that?

What's what, Jeeze?


What, you dumb fuck?

Don't call me a dumb fuck, you dumb fuck. I'm the Son of God.

No you ain't. You're His Prophet, like me.

Are you saying Yahweh ain't my dad? He'll smite you for that.

No, I'm saying Yahweh ain't god. My guy Allah is.

Oh, you really are looking for a knuckle sandwich, aren't you, you turd.

No, but you are, and I'm just the fella to give it to you.

Oh yeah?

Yeah. I'll hit you so hard, when I'm through with you there'll be hundreds of miles between your west and your east. Your left hand won't have the foggiest idea what your right is doing.

Oh, you think you can take me, you punk?

With one arm tied behind my back.

Yeah, well, I don't feel like fighting with you now. I want to get that thing.

What thing?

That thing! That thing down there in the storm grate!

Oh, you mean that address book? Why didn't you say so?

I did say so, numbnuts! What, you think it's an address book?

What else could it be?

I don't know. I can't see it very good from up here.

I guess you don't got x-ray vision, huh?

Shut up!

I guess you need glasses, you pencilneck egghead Jew boy.

I'll pound you!

Later. Let's find a long stick. A rake, maybe. Who's got a rake?

I know where there's one. Cardinal Newman's garage.

Yeah! I hate that old guy. Let's go borrow it!

You're on.


The Devastation in Cockburn Town

Hi, folks, I'm Commerce Blogspot for News Channel 5, and I'm here live in Cockburn Town, Grand Turk Island, trying to climb, crawl, and hop my way down a street that has been, well, to put it mildly, rearranged by Hurricanes Francis and Ludwig. The devastation is unbelievable. Things that were on top are now on bottom, on the side, or all mixed in between. Things that were side by side now occupy the same space or have been separated by miles of torn real estate. The scene here looks, in fact, like some dead cardinal's depiction of heaven, "omniadjacent and omninestled."

I'm going to try and talk to some of the people on the street here, most of them glumly surveying the sticks and splinters that remain of their homes and their earthly possessions. You, sir--can we talk to you?

"Uh, sure."

What's your name, sir?

"Mullah Billdoug."

Interesting name. Is that Cuban? No? Well, never mind. Did you lose everything in the hurricanes, sir?


Nah, sir?

"Nah. I thought I had. I was hoping I had. Turns out I just lost my address book out of my pocket here. See? Empty pocket. I had an address book there. Still have the pocket. Still have the pants. Still have the stuff the pants cover up. No address book. One of those hurricanes must've reached in and picked my pocket while I wasn't looking. Pretty good hands, wouldn't you say?"

Just one of the hurricanes, Mr. Billdoug?

"Well, just one pocket."

Oh. Right. Well. But. But--your home, Mr. Billdoug! Was it destroyed?

"Oh, no. Not really. Not that I'm aware of."

Oh, so you don't actually live here?

"Well, now I do. But I didn't always."

Wh-- When did you move here, sir?

"Just before the storms hit."

What terrible luck!

"Tell me about it. You would've thought two big hurricanes like these, incarnations of two great Sufi masters, the Limper and the King, would have done more damage. But here I still am, head and home intact. Only my address book mysteriously whisked away."

I--I'm afraid I don't understand, sir.

"Really? Well, that's reassuring. Maybe the hurricanes did more damage than I've been thinking!"

Excuse me?

"Uh--do you have a light?"

No, I'm sorry, I don't smoke.

"No, you're right, neither do I. Well, nice talking to you!"


Mullah Jalal Chimes In Again

Last year, I was a connoisseur of wines. This year, I’m lost in a world of red.

Last year, I was a doctor of inflamed bone marrows. This year, I’m the throbbing pain in somebody’s leg.

Last year, I stared into the fire. This year, I’m charred flesh on a grill as big as an Escalade.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Blogger Kudos

Dear Mullah Billdoug,

I was pleased to read in your blog such an unusually accurate and conscientious account of the current state of affairs here in heaven ("Oops"). A heavenly blogger of such insight and acumen is truly a pearl of great price. The 10-point Sufi lead has indeed knitted heaven's pundits' brows. The logical conundrum of poor obsessive Asimov stalking a Yahweh whose existence he is seeking to disprove has our mathematicians scratching their beards. Buddha is suicidal; there's no other word for it. Jesus is a little hellion and is going to take him lumps from Allah for dragging Mohammed into his scrapes, that is certain.

Surely, however, the Sufis would never seriously contemplate performing the forbidden experiment. This I believe must be an unconfirmed rumor that must be squelched before it does any more damage than it already has.

The main reason I'm writing, however, is to correct a laughably absurd phrasing that somehow managed to escape the blogger's red pen: "somewhere in downtown heaven." As we all know, this is theologically nonsensical. Origen of course was the first (in De surs. et deors. en caelo) to demonstrate that there is no down or up in heaven. Hence it is physically impossible for any one part of heaven to be above or below another. All objects, streets, and internet cafes in heaven are, needless to say--sigh! if only it were needless!--omniadjacent and omninestled.

Respectfully yours,

Cardinal John Henry Newman, decd.



I am writing this in a small cafe, somewhere in downtown heaven. Coffee's lousy, but cheap, and the waiter doesn't ask questions. Dial-up connection, and I keep getting bumped from the remote computer. Writing fast as I can. Here's what I know, Mullah DeNomolos ...

Weird things are afoot. The Sufis are up by 10 points, as of now. Thor is getting a team together that he says will "whup ass." It seems to involve kicking harp seals through tire swings. I believe that those are 1 point each, so we'll see. But Yahweh will have none of it. He seems satisfied to keep polishing that trophy from Jericho back in 1,459 BCE. And he says that Isaac Asimov is stalking him for his posthumous book, trying to prove there is no Yahweh. I hear this from the little girl who does his laundry.

But Buddha is worrying me. He roams the streets in the red-light district of heaven, moaning and crying, blowing his nose into the ample sleeves of his Hawaiian shirt, but won't go with any of the girls. He opens manhole covers and peers down into the clouds running through the sewers. He shouts to imaginary people down there. One of the sewer workers said he found a note in Buddha's handwriting threatening to "end it all" stuck in a storm grate. I try to talk to him, suggest gently that he should get some counseling, maybe try some meds, but he just turns his face from me and whimpers. And he was one of our best men here! I don't know what they're up to, but it's clear they can break the strongest among us with their cruel dervish ways. All hopped up on hashish, there's no telling.

Jesus and Mo were arrested again last night, I hear from Sergeant Mulligan. Drunk again, and Mo was holding a bag of pot. They were cavorting with some Falun Gong women at Jezebel's and started fighting over one of them, so the bouncer threw them out into the golden street and right into the arms of a beat cop. Yahweh'll love that. Especially since he's been bragging about what a good boy he has. I bet the shit hits the fan on this one, especially since Allah had to come down to bail out Mo and Mo tagged Jesus for the whole thing.

None of this is important, though, compared to what I hear afoot in the cafeteria at the Sufi U branch, here. Talk is, they're gonna try the forbidden experiment. Pharaoh's luscious daughter tells me that Robinson and Kaul are lost, somewhere in mud or fire or something, maybe dead, so Dean Wocklefeister has green-lighted it. Can you imagine? The forbidden experiment. The robotics, the drugs, the weather patterns, the fire of the baking kiln, the opening and closing of the portal of doom like giant lips, the journey over the Cinvet Bridge, the Chamber of 1,000 Winds, and the Belly of Osiris? My god, man. I must keep a low profile so that I can follow this. I know that I can trust you not to say anything premature.

Whatever you do, don't let Mullah Billdoug post this or we're all dogmeat. He knows about the Bulgarian Perversion.


Mullah Jalal Speaks

My soul drunk on too much cheap wine, my body ruined by rich food and fast women, the two of us sit here helpless in this wrecked wagon, not a tool between us or the knowhow to use one. My heart? A lame mule in a mudhole. Every frantic effort to work free just mires it deeper.

You know the rule: drunks must argue and pick fights. Lovers too, of course. They fall into holes just like my mule here. But at the bottom of those holes they find shining things, treasures like the moon traipsing down the street singing, shedding clothes. I couldn’t help myself, I saw that moon and started singing myself, and tumbled up out of my wagon into the upturned bowl of the sky. The bowl shattered, and everywhere I looked everywhere was falling.

New rule: smash the wineglass. Fall into the glassblower’s breath.


Jesus Comes to Greet the LXX, Part III

I don’t know what else to say about the whole Messiah thing, so we sit there in silence for a few moments, still sort of shaking our heads and smiling at ourselves. Then I say: “So tell me, Jesus, this God-in-III-persons thing ...”

“Yeah?” Jesus says.

“The Holy Ghost said it was some sort of emanation deal. Like the Logos emanating out of Sophia.”

“Well,” Jesus says sort of dubiously, “I don’t know about that. I’m supposably the Logos, but last I heard I was going to emanate out of a Jewish virgin, not some Greek lady named Sophia.”

My eyebrows go up. “You mean to tell me,” I say, “you’re going to emanate out of a virgin?”

“Yeah,” he says. “That’s what Dad keeps saying.”

“How does that work, exactly?”

“Uh, what?”

“Being emanated out of a virgin.”

“I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”

“Well,” I say, “how’s that different from being born of one?”

“It’s not,” he says.

“I’m not following,” I say.

“Dad sticks me inside of her belly, there,” he says. “And I get bigger and bigger. And when I’m big enough, pow. I emanate right on out of there.”

“So when you say you’re fixing to emanate out of a virgin, you really do mean born, huh?”

“That’s right,” he says.

“I see,” I say. “So I’m guessing you don’t have a real clear idea on how you get into her belly, or the road you’re going to travel coming out.”

“Not exactly,” he admits cheerfully. “Dad sort of explained it. But I think he left a lot out. Said I’d understand when I’m older.”

“I guess it’s just one of those mysteries, huh?” I say. “How she gets pregnant and stays a virgin.”

“Right,” he says. “I’m leaving all that to Dad.”

“I guess to God all things are possible, huh?”

“That’s what he tells me.”

“If you’re God and you want to get a girl pregnant and have her still be a virgin, I guess you just fucking do it, huh?”

“I guess so!” Jesus chuckles. There’s something about this guy. He has that uncanny ability to make you feel, regardless of your race, or class, or age, or gender, or whatever, like you’re at a Rotary Club luncheon.