Wild Coyote Chili

Amy and Ella, in full snob mode, were complaining about the canned chili we were eating. The chili was the last of the stock of canned soups we had purchased at the start of the COVID food shortage scare. I told them, “You guys are acting like you’re refugees who had to kill a wild coyote with your bare hands and cook it with matches.” They didn’t argue.

I’m guessing the killing of a wild coyote would be labeled a privileged activity. After all, it means one has possession of firearms, the patience to track a coyote, skill to shoot it once it comes into range, and the ability to not be questioned re: whether one is waiting for the remake of Gunsmoke in the middle of a city park. I did mention killing the coyote with your bare hands, so that is, I think, an extra point in the skill column and a simultaneous reduction in privilege. 

Then, again, how does one learn the proper hand position? How does one secure the coyote’s body whilst applying pressure, and to where does one apply pressure? How does one make sure to adjust one’s grip to ensure that the neighbors don’t assume a pop star is being strangled as death cries fly from the dying coyote’s chords? Seems one must have received instruction from a willing and available teacher, which smacks of privilege. 

We’re not all born in the middle of a bountiful harvest of golden wheat, but some are. Perhaps one had the initiative to find one’s own harvest, to seek out a teacher, trekking for miles over treacherous ground, which means one had the privilege of healthy, strong legs and a determined mind. 

Unless one is born from Mother Nature herself in the middle of a floating stew of all the biological elements that comprise a human, one has privilege of some kind. 

Outside of science fiction, I can think of no one who had to instantly learn to breathe and swim and survive spontaneous spawning atop the depths of the stew. Imagine that: you crack open your eyes; you know nothing; you see nothing except your own nakedness and vulnerability, and if you don’t figure it out, you’re dead. Of course, you don’t know you’re naked or vulnerable. You don’t know there’s anything to figure out, any danger to avoid.  

You know nothing. 

Even Mowgli had the wolves–and Bagheera.  

If you are alive and able to read and understand this, someone, something, some institution tied a life vest to your body long before you ever drew breath, or placed you in a basket before a den of wolves who, despite their nature, had no taste for human flesh. 

I have privilege. You have privilege. My privilege is from my village, my heritage. Yours is from yours. But we all have it nonetheless because we did not drown in the stew. 

Do refugees have the privilege of possessing well-oiled rifle stock? The ability to waste ammunition practicing at a firing range? Based on what I’ve read in The Economist lately, some refugees could use any street in their hometowns as a firing range, and no one would look strangely at them. It’s sad, not good. 

Is it privilege? I can’t open my door and trigger a blast. 

We just spent hundreds of dollars on upholstery material, foam cushions, and craft batting to construct a cush window seat in our bedroom. Our bed is three feet away and comfortable in its own right, as we recently spent several hundred dollars replacing the comforter and acquiring thousands (you read right) of throw pillows. They cascade over the duvet like waves breaking on the San Louis Obispo Beach. 

Do we need the extra throw pillows? Does anyone need throw pillows? Their very name tells you to fling them away from your person as though they contained rattlesnakes. Could be. This is only my recommended action to take if someone comes around who is jealous of you having throw pillows, where they only have used tea bags. Hard to tell. 

They say not to judge people. 

I don’t know anyone else’s world or anyone else’s mind or anyone else’s journey, but I can empathize, and I hope that a lot of you are swimming out of the stew and making plans to shop for throw pillows. 

Survive Your Family

Our family has gotten into Jackbox Games, a collection of party games hosted through an internet-connected TV and played through devices, which substitute for game pieces, cards, whiteboards, scratch pads, etc. We’re still huge fans of traditional board games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, as in those that require the razing of trees, the pressing of wood fibers into cardboard, and the application of glue and dyes known to the State of California to cause cancer. 

However, nothing beats the low barrier to entry that Jackbox Games represent when you’re trying to convince friends and family to play with you. You’re not good at board games? Can you follow one-line prompts? Really? Hmm. The crowd of bros shouting, “Take! It! Off!” at last year’s spring break in Cabo would disagree.

Be aware, though, that easy access to creative prompts may release suppressed humor chops that, out of context, will make you seem like a loon, but in context will declare you a candidate for a late-night writing gig and/or see you questioned by the authorities for fitness to maintain your liberty.  

When my family plays Jackbox Games, we all set pennies on the rails and watch gleefully as the decorum train jumps the tracks. Our glee grows into euphoria as the derailing bends the metal of social conventions, snaps inhibitions, twists sensibilities, and strains the boundaries of TMI. 

All in good fun. 

Examples from Survive the Internet, a game where sometimes you’re the social media comment writer, sometimes the post writer, but you never know which until you’re in the moment. After the writing assignments are complete, all players see the paired content pieces at the same time, so the results are as hilarious and non-collaborative as you can imagine–also, at times, disgusting and putrid:

Post: Going to visit Grandma’s house. 

Comment: Smells as good as the dump.

Could be foretelling a Depends run, an unattended death, or Grandma mistaking her dog’s shit for Dinty Moore Beef Stew. 

Post: Pooping in public. 

Comment: It’s the best.

Not sure who will want our copy-writing skills more, porta-potty suppliers or organizers of the World Naked Bike Ride. 

Post: [I don’t remember the exact post, but it was something equally as melancholy as this: “Life before the circus came to town”]

Comment: #DumpsterChildren

Also known as a forthcoming spinoff from the producers of Hoarders. 

Post: [a picture of rollerblades]

Comment: I attack children. 

When you’re writing fiction, it helps to empathize with your characters, to enter their minds and see the world as they see it, however clouded with amorality their lens may be. Of course, my twelve-year-old daughter, Anna, wrote this, and Anna’s not writing fiction right now. Hmm. 

Survive the Internet is to irreverent family game players like us what a jewelry store with disconnected security cameras and lapsed alarm service is to a burglar, but other games also provided quality prompts.

An example from Drawful, a distorted take on Pictionary, where you get a prompt, e.g., “How cheese is made,” and if you’re my fourteen-year-old son, Will, you draw a scene of people shitting jets of yellow. In case you were wondering, Will is not a fan of cheese, but he does enjoy scatological humor. I take the credit for that (see this column). 

From stories I’ve heard, a lot of people avoid spending time playing games with their families. They don’t want to boil bad blood, hear criticism of their career, hear praise for the favorite one in the family–reasons abound for avoiding your relations. 

I invite you to compartmentalize. Set aside your petty gripes and superfluous slights, and play Jackbox Games–any Jackbox game. If you engage, Jackbox offers unrestricted access to the jewelry store.

#FamilyBondingWithLarceny

Better Welts

I got several striped welts on my outer forearms from trimming weeds, this from a combination of lack of protective arm coverings and the tendency for my high-velocity spinning trimmer head to assist pebbles to self-actualize their ordinance-in-David’s-slingshot dreams. 

Some of my welts are raised, as though I were branded. They look pretty gnarly. Though they’ll soon fade, the fact remains: it’s my fault they’re there. 

What other better reasons could I give for having wicked-looking welts on my forearms?

1. The only way out of being blown apart is to flex one’s forearms to such an extent that one’s expanding muscle mass effects a metallurgical failure in the steel straps; they snap and pop off; and the bomb’s kill switch is tripped. 

If you can Popeye your way out of this bomb, you get the Man Card for life. 

2. Forearm welts are the selfless result of using one’s forearms to clothesline a runaway piano from running over a toddler as she drives her battery-powered, plastic Vossen Jeep across the base of your driveway. 

Shifting gears, under this same scenario, if one were to pull one’s forearms back and allow the runaway piano to run over a pair of Jehova’s Witnesses who won’t stop bothering one while one is at repose in one’s castle, a lack of forearm welts will also be considered a service to humanity. 

3. Forearm welts are the result of redneck hand-spring competitions, where one walks on one’s hands toward a barbed wire fence and, using only the power in one’s hands, wrists, shoulders, and, of course, forearms, springs from the ground, over the fence, and lands again on one’s hands. As with any activity, redneck historical roots or not, practicing to the point of achieving acumen requires sacrifice–and in the case of redneck hand-springing, blood. 

People often look askance at activities that require preamble remarks of Hold my beer and watch this! But with redneck hand-springing, holding one’s beer in one hand while hand-springing with the other and clearing the barbed-wire fence is the ultimate achievement in skill, requiring a twisting of the preamble to Watch what I do while I hold my beer! 

4. There’s a scene in one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fliks (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, maybe?) where Captain America is hanging off of a building with one hand, gripping the skids of a helicopter with the other, and trying to pull the helicopter back, preventing it from flying away.

Probably there was a villain on board who was attempting to flee, and since Captain America can’t turn down an opportunity to brake the progress of a villain while simultaneously logging a deltoid and pectoral workout, and while displaying the awesome visages that are these two muscle groups, who can blame him for his vanity? 

This didn’t happen, but if the elves from Disenchantment crossed fictional worlds and started beating on Captain America’s forearms because they thought that he, too, had been in a barn at night with Kissy, leaving Captain America with welts, this would be a better explanation for welts. 

That I’ve resorted to mashing up a Simpsons-style animated spinoff with a roulette selection from the Marvel Cinematic Universe about which I’m unsure of the location of story placement or existence at all is an illustration of my laziness today (Google search? *long exhalation*). But my point is made, facts be damned. 

5. Forearm welts are the penalty for being late to a meeting, not preparing for a meeting where one is expected to participate, or in any other way acting like a checked-out doofus. Personally, I’d rather see these sacks of seat-filling, refuse biological particulate matter subjected to the Cat o’ nine tails, but forearm lashes with leather equestrian reins are a good alternative. 

I’m not sure this qualifies as a better explanation for welts, but it definitely qualifies as a better reason to deserve them.

The next time you do yard work, and you end up with striped welts on your forearms, think of a better explanation than a disregard for your safety. 

Doing the work of heroes sounds good. 

Coroner Trucking

Dale walked along the side of his rig, his steel-toed boots crunching through the gravel (a weighty trade from the Nike joggers he’d worn during his rounds as an ER physician), right hand running with a light touch along the white, glossy surface of the steel and aluminum sidewalls of the trailer, fingertips bumping over rivets like knees tested for reflexes.

He’d never cared much for the contents of 53’ trailers before–never, that is, until the contents changed, and stuffing human bodies into confined, refrigerated spaces became both necessary and lucrative.

At 5:00a, the trailer, one of several in his new fleet (co-owned with a combination of five other ER docs and six coroners from surrounding counties), stood in the glow of stadium yard lights. It wasn’t illuminated so much as it resisted visualization along the spectrum visible to the human eye, as though it felt its contents deserved the respect of shadows, and, thus, it deserved a cloaked, barely visible presence.

Dale climbed into the cab. Clambered was more accurate, as he, at 5’ 4”, felt like he were getting a crash course in sheer face, ropeless rock climbing, but he ascended the snubbed edifice and made it behind the wheel. Before cranking the Cummins diesel engine in the Peterbilt rig, he pulled out his iPhone and ran through the YouTube videos he and his fellow docs had been studying to build their commercial driving skills.

With deaths from the virus rising like a snap tsunami, like a gigantic sea king had slapped the water, turning it from glass one moment to boiling the next, Dale and his cohort had taken action. Trained as service providers to the living, they collectively decided to remain service providers to those who wished to remain living, a prospect the presence of mass casualties filled with an indolent virus that just wouldn’t die, as though it couldn’t be troubled to do anything other than exist and casually kill, was threatening.

Dale started the rig, goosed the accelerator, heard the blatting, throaty exhalation, Like Zeus sucking on a cigar, he thought, and started to work his way through the gears. He was on his way to an alternative solid waste management site. The site was little-used in the past, just an option should there be a 30-car pileup or plane crash, or should the corpus disposal budget come up short any given month.

Now it was their mainstay.

The rednecks running the site kept amazing records, rivaling the East German Stasi. Ethically, Dale had no problems with what the rednecks were doing. Their moniker belied the brilliance they carried in their heads. Probably, redneck should have referred to the excess blood running to their brains that created the capacity for quantum thought. But he suspected the public might raise hell if they knew their loved ones were being turned into catalysts for dark matter.

These days, he expected the choir was reduced down to an ensemble of a faithful few.

He downshifted and drove on.

* * *

Amy was driving me downtown to my office last week, leather whips cracking. It’s 17 miles from our house to Portland City Center. I achieve some of my best times when her wrists are snapping with alacrity, the unfurling leather tips accelerating to hundreds of miles an hour and turning to fire on the exposed skin of my back.

In our Journey, we were preparing to take the entrance ramp onto I-84, when Amy got a curious look on her face. A 53’ trailer ahead of us had letters painted on its rear doors that, in the assault of Pacific Northwest morning light (doesn’t get released often this time of year, so when it gets a chance to shine, baby, it shines), looked like they said “CORONER TRUCKING.”

What did they actually say? I don’t know, but I’m liking the possibilities. In my fictionalized take above, how close am I to the reality of what health officials must do to deal with the pandemic’s fallout? Again, I don’t know.

Dark times call for dark measures.

And maybe dark matter. 

Precision Fire Breath

Rodgers: Johnson, we need to talk about the pigeon problem on our transmission lines.

Johnson: Agreed, sir. Though, which problem? Acidic breakdown of the wire sheath from the pigeons’ shit or the cooing chorus that’s causing the neighbors to complain?

Rodgers: First one. These are the same people who grew up on Brittney Spears and Hanson. They should be used to, and glad for, a little off-key cooing. 

I want to discuss what maintenance is planning to do about the shit problem.

Johnson: Breathing on it, sir.

Rodgers: I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you say, “Breathing on it”? 

Johnson: I did. 

Rodgers: Thanks for the confirmation. Now that I know you’re a wise guy, when will you be cleaning out your office to visit the open mic down at McGillicuddy’s? 

Johnson: I won’t be doing that, sir. 

Rodgers: Are you defying me?

Johnson: No, sir, because I solved the problem.

Rodgers: Do tell.

Johnson: Remember ghost chili peppers?

Rodgers: The kind that burn your tongue out of your mouth?

Johnson: The very same. We’ve discovered that by eating one ghost chili, blowing on the wires, and igniting our breath, we can clear a 50’ section of line in a couple of seconds. With my crew of 12, we had the entire mile of shit incinerated in minutes, with the wires left unharmed. 

Rodgers: You’re shitting me. 

Johnson: Afraid not, sir. There is no shit with which to shit you. 

Rodgers: Well, shit. 

* * *

We were talking about how the phone is the most disgusting thing people own. Even if you wash your hands, the first thing you touch after using the restroom is your phone. Not me, I said. I have fire breath. That would destroy your phone, Amy said. No, I said, because I have precision fire breath and only burn the impurities off the surface of the phone, leaving the phone unharmed. This could have useful personal and industrial applications.

Personal

Cleaning Snot off Your Bathroom Mirror

If you’re like me, and you have children who run through the house blowing their noses with impunity, like a wild firehose that escaped its reel, one precision fire breath could save you hours of scraping and grumbling.

Cleaning Mountain Dust off Your Car

Living in the Portland metro, mountains surrounding us, the air, except for wildfire season, mostly clear, our car still develops a patina of brown grime every few months, which requires me to set aside a Saturday afternoon to wash it. Enter precision fire breath. Who doesn’t like the smell of burning dust?

Cleaning Your Phone

Though I was joking in the post-vignette graf, I do eat a lot of spicy food, and my phone is disgusting. I think this is a worthwhile investigatory avenue. Where’s the CDC’s phone number?

Industrial

Cleaning Cadaver Trucks

With so many Americans dying from Covid (RIP), health officials need a way to rapidly disinfect the refrigerated trucks used to store bodies. Traditional supply lines are clogged. However, I’ve heard of no such shortage of ghost peppers. (This may have to do with my failure to research supplies of said peppers, but I feel my intuition is factual enough for the pseudo-journalism that is this piece.) What to do? Take a breath, light it, and let it out. 

Cleaning the Air of Pollen

I looked out the window a few weeks ago, and it was raining yellow. Closer inspection revealed the yellow rain to be a pollen storm, which covered everything in the neighborhood in a mustard yellow layer, finding its way inside my lungs (and doubtless countless others), and inducing hayfever fits. What if instead of breathing in the insouciant springtime invaders, we breathed precision fire breath on them? Fuck the flowering cycle. People need to breathe. Someone’s going to leverage this into a billion-dollar-valuation startup. Mark my words. 

Cleaning High Power Transmission Lines

Maybe you’re a member of the pigeon freedom alliance, concerned about all things that promote the independent, unregulated actions of our cooing and sadistic (have you seen the overpass scene with Mittens and Bolt?) feathered friends. But the rest of us are sane and want to watch unbuffered Netflix. 

Breath is life, but it is also a highly-prized commodity.

Draw in the richness.

And breathe fire. 

Graffiti Defense System

We live in Gresham, OR. While walking on the bike path next to our home and toward the creatively named Gresham Food Carts, I noticed an unusual industrial paint job. The back of a warehouse had been painted brown halfway up, terminating in a flat line transition to grayish, beige-ish concrete about nine feet up. 

This strip of brown is pristine, not a graffiti mark on it, and it’s been that way for months. I know because I, pre-pandemic, used to walk that path on my way home from the Burnside MAX stop. 

By contrast, nearly every other flat surface around has graffiti tags. Lately, the random artistic musings of the wandering defacement movement have taken to spraying tiki faces on non-residential structures, like a signature. The faces are on power transmission line poles, the backs of small shops, and the backs of large, industrial warehouses—but not the brown stripe building. 

I thought this odd and wondered, Why would this one, long, exterior surface be exempted from the graffiti artist’s canvas? At first, I thought perhaps the brown paint contained a compound that disallowed spray paint from adhering to its surface. 

Nah. I quickly pivoted from that nonsense to something much more sensible: pits that open up and suck you underground if you venture too close. This clever building owner has deployed a graffiti defense system. 

Three reasons explain why this is good for society and not a violation of human and/or civil rights. 

  • People who approach the darkened rear of a building are generally not there to invite children to Sunday school. If they are there to do something with children, I’ll wager the children are not there willingly, and the police should be called immediately. It’s easier to make a citizen’s arrest with built-in, underground holding tanks 
  • If one approaches the darkened rear of a building with a can in hand and plans to spray masterpieces—the next Sistine Chapel in aerosol style—they are there illegally, with illegal intentions, and should be shunted underground as soon as possible to await the arrival of law enforcement. 

Wait, Seth. You’re being prejudicial. You don’t know all the reasons someone could approach the brown stripe building. Maybe they just stepped through a portal from a society that uses spray cans as currency, and their exchange posts look like large, industrial buildings with the back wall half-painted brown.  

The graffiti defense system designers believe in exceptions for those who find themselves refugees from a spray-can-currency world, innocently placed in the shadow of the brown stripe building. The trap doors will still open, but a mesh net will break the innocent’s fall. Should the innocent later change his or her skin to the ill-intended, the mesh will dissolve and shunt them below. Equality for all. 

For non-can-currency folks (youths or old dudes with a penchant for perniciousness), who approach the brown stripe building, shaking their cans, working out the kinks, then shaking their other cans, working out the hijinks, they think they’re fly, but we know true artistry bursts forth from pain and perseverance. What better way to recover from pain and show perseverance than to claw your way out of the ground? 

  • After escaping from Monsanto, bioengineered weeds settled along the Gresham bike path, where they developed their ability to shape-shift into human form. These creatures extol the virtues of an all-plant diet to the joggers, bikers, and dudes carrying boomboxes that pass by. (I know it’s 2020, but we live in the Portland metro. I’ve seen it.) 

The hybrids aren’t just fervent; they’re militant, shooting vines from their fingertips, the vines twisting in mid-air to form ropes that clothesline people who don’t pay attention and swear lifelong commitment. 

Don’t forget: these are weeds masquerading as humans, not actual humans. No life-shaming weed creature should be mistaken for a human doing the same thing, at least not in this piece. What’s the best thing to do with a being that would rather browbeat you about snapping into a Slim Jim than allow you to enjoy your preservatives in peace? Shunt them under the ground and pour acid on their roots. Talking about plants, mind you. 

Ne’er-do-wellers, wannabe artists, body-morphing weed shape-shifters–the graffiti defense system, equality gavel raised, is hungry for them all. 

Richard Mixin’

Ella said “Richard Mixin’” during Apples to Apples instead of “Nixon,” misreading the name on the card. If only Tricky Dick had taken up baking instead of taping. The presidency turns for a lack of a baked confectionery. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that sugar isn’t serious business. 

I don’t recall ever having read historical fiction where the turning point came because of a change in diet. Usually, it’s something like don’t assassinate that member of royalty, or president, or political dissident. Summary: don’t kill and things turn out okay. But turning off our baser instincts isn’t easy. It takes exercising will power that few possess–few without dietary additives of the sucrose variety. 

Tricky Dick has several notable entries on his CV. He took America off the gold standard, generally thought to have expanded the U.S.’ capacity for economic growth; said enough is enough on Vietnam, calling our soldiers home; and ended the military draft. 

Unfortunately, the act for which he is, arguably, most remembered is his brazen taping of the goings-on in the Oval Office. I don’t know what Tricky Dick’s diet was like, but I’ll wager he was low on sugar. Why? Two reasons: 1) I don’t want to do the research to confirm or bust my theory. 2) Excluding diabetics, whose mood isn’t benefited when they consume sugar-laden baked goods? 

Following is an alternative history of what might have happened had a timely delivery of baked goods influenced Tricky Dick away from surveillance and toward pastry beneficence. 

* * *

President Nixon: We’ve got to make sure there’s enough good dirt on these tapes so we have leverage against the democrats. My reelection is coming up soon, and I can’t leave anything to chance. 

Press Secretary Ron Ziegler: Are you sure you want to go that route, Mr. President? Even if we get good dirt, it’s not like I can proclaim its existence to the press.

President Nixon: Well, of course not. But you– Say, are those lemon poppyseed muffins with a sugar-encrusted and honey-glazed top?

Official White House Pastry Chef: Yes, Mr. President. They just came out of the oven, and I brought them up here straight away. 

President Nixon: That’s just marvelous. Marvelous! [eats muffin in two bites] So now, Ron, what were we talking about?

Press Secretary Ron Ziegler: You were saying, sir, that you felt it was of utmost importance for us to gather as much dirt on your taping system as possible to aid your reelection campaign. 

President Nixon: [mouth full] Did I say that? I’ve had a change of heart. Instead of illegally taping my opponents, I instead wish to send them each a basket of these delicious muffins. [to Official White House Pastry Chef, who, of course, attended all important meetings under this scenario] Get started right away.

Official White House Pastry Chef: Yes, Mr. President. 

MINUTES LATER

Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman: [out of breath, rushing into room] Mr. President, is it true? 

President Nixon: [mouth still full–fuller, even, than before, as Official White House Pastry Chef has, being fleet of foot, brought up cherry, peach, pistachio, vanilla, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and tangerine-flavored muffins, each with real fruit baked into the batter, pieces of the fruit visible on top and suspended in the glazing, extracts of each running through and flourishing in every bite] Is what true?

Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman: You are no longer sanctioning taping of your political rivals, and, instead, you’re ordering that we deliver them baskets of muffins?!

President Nixon: That’s exactly right, Bob. You’re a strong guy. Here, grab a basket.

MONTHS LATER ON THE NIGHT OF WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE WATERGATE BREAK-IN  

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield: Loving the new muffin policy, Mr. President. I think it’s time we discussed the unification of the parties. 

Republican Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott: I couldn’t agree more. 

President Nixon: People have got to know whether or not their president is a [insert in place of “crook”] sugar supporter. Well, I’m not [insert in place of “a crook”] one to suspend a sugar solstice. I’ve [insert in place of “earned”] got muffins to thank for everything I’ve got. The Sugar Unification Initiative has my full support. 

* * *

The dream of a political party integration and an end to partisan bickering and clandestine subterfuge is only muffins away. 

Crackling Options

While on a walk yesterday on the bike path, Amy asked me if I could hear the overhead powerlines crackling. I couldn’t at first. Then I folded up one flap on my bright orange Carhartt winter fleece hat. (Yes, I’m a wuss. Even in April, it’s bone-chilling cold in the Pacific Northwest. The water molecules up here are the leading cause of osteoporosis in adults under 40.) Amy folded up the other flap. I listened, and I did hear the lines.

Or did I?

Without scientific evidence, I couldn’t conclude the lines were the source of the crackling, so I offered Amy several alternative options:

* * *

100 people hiding in the bushes and

Eating Pop Rocks

I haven’t checked, but it seems Pop Rocks lack the ubiquitous presence they had in decades past. Naturally, if one were to obtain Pop Rocks, one would want to consume said Pop Rocks in the most secluded place possible while maintaining the ability to break into sudden wind sprints on a paved surface, burning off the excess energy burst said Pop Rocks provided. 

Collectively Waving Sheets of Metal, a la, the Way Old-Time Movies Generated Thunder Sounds

You’ve heard of arborists? Showoffs. They’re all about first impressions, working their glamorous careers of shaping trees and bushes into aesthetically pleasing storyscapes for arboretums, or the equally glamorous career of trimming trees away from power lines and saving lives

Internal sculpting arborists, on the other hand, are craftsmen and craftswomen. With the prices of Hollywood studio space rising daily, the next best option is to film blockbusters in the hollowed-out spaces within large bush groves. Enter internal sculpting arborists. They care about function, not admiration. The next time you watch a summer blockbuster, say a word of thanks for an internal sculpting arborist.

Simultaneously Peeling Duct Tape Off of the Backs of Garbage Cans 

On occasion, garbage can repairs must be made outside the watchful eyes of profligate, conspicuous consumption neighborhood ridiculers. Enter the protective alcove of the bushes, the #1 spot for duct tape-aided garbage can repair.

* * *

Plausibility rests with the first option. The other two, though possible to have been generated from covert collective bush positions, were too dissimilar to electrical crackling. Still, I feel we haven’t gone far enough with our options. 

* * *

Frying Eggs

I’m realizing I want eggs.

Frying Bacon

I’m realizing I want bacon more.

Frying Oil in a Pan Sans Bacon or Eggs

I suppose if one were bored, one could pass the time by frying oil solo, but the logical explanation for this option (logic used loosely within this construct) is that bacon and eggs would be standing by awaiting the heating oil reaching the desired temperature. Yes, I know there are refrigeration concerns of keeping perishable foods outside in the bushes while waiting for a pan to heat up. But if we’re not going to address the presence of people doing en masse cook prep in bushes, we don’t need to worry ourselves with the dangers of food spoilage, either.

Eating Rice Crispies Cereal

Why didn’t I think of this option earlier? Given the choice between bacon and eggs, and Rice Crispies for breakfast, even if you had to eat your choice camouflaged in the bushes next to a municipal bike path, which would you choose? Thought so. Protein lovers unite!

Putting Down Linoleum Because

They’re Bush People now and plan to stay for the long-term, but their Bush Children, like typical non-bush children, drop syrup and jam and candy and all manner of other sticky foods onto the newly-installed linoleum and, because they’re restless, adapting-to-the-bush Bush Children, not seasoned, dyed-in-the-bush Bush Children, they’re walking about on top of the sticky mess they’ve created, producing the trademark attaching and detaching crackling sounds that accompany bi-pedal foot traffic walking over a sucrose-coated floor. 

* * *

Seems I can’t walk three feet in my house without a sugar deposit latching onto my shoe treads and retarding my progress while advancing my anger. This is the most plausible option yet, in my opinion.

Far be it from me to claim title to scientific credentials, I encourage all of you to keep curious minds. When you’re walking underneath high-power transmission lines, and you hear a crackling sound, tap into your what if? lobe. 

You may be bushes away from an encounter with a star. 

Little Meth Lab on the Back 40

I told a colleague that you could buy 12 acres in rural Iowa, plus a private lake, forest, and a decent house for $325K. He mentioned something about using all the extra savings to catch the backwoods economic wave in Iowa and start up a meth lab operation. This colleague has lived his whole life in Oregon. Knows next to nothing about Iowa.

I could get offended. I was born in Iowa. My family still lives in Iowa. Iowa has a huge tech presence in Des Moines. Outsiders who’ve never visited are generally ignorant about how modern Iowa is. But mainstream Iowa doesn’t make the humor ground fertile. So instead of getting offended, I’m going to get funny. Imagine an Iowa in which meth labs are legal to the same extent as, say, marijuana in Oregon. Throw the hyperbole switch.

* * *

Voiceover: Iowa. Fields of Opportunities. Balanced budgets. Happy, affluent urban cores. Near the top of the nation high school graduation rates. If you thought living in Iowa was a sure-fire path to career success, you’d be right. But if you thought school was the only way to make money, you’d be wrong.

Deirdre: I was so happy the day my permit was approved. We’ve had an old RV sitting in our backyard, collecting dust, spiders, and the occasional transient passing through on the Burlington Northern line. They were nice folks, told us all about alternative ways to dispose of urine, the latest in train-hopping techniques, as well as the best way to falsify disability claims if you, you know, ever miss the train jump. But all those stories, nice as they are, don’t pay the bills. Meth does.

Bobby 7: Never thought of myself as the pohlitical type, at least not the type to get ‘volved in an’thing at the state legislature. But when that meth legalization bill come down, I knewd I had to get me involved, and right there quick. … All them sores on peoples’ faces? Ah, hell, they’s got studies out that just prove right quick that them’s the result of excess sugar c’sumption, not meth. Meth’s as safe as milk, but more profitable. Hard to take them there cows on the road witchoo. They stank up that there place right quick. But your meth-mobile (‘nything with four wheels), that can make you profits on the go. … Bobby 7? Oh, why I’m the seventh boy in my family named Bobby. … Was my mother on meth? Well, of course, but she also ate a lot o’ sugar, so we all knows the reason for that there stuck key on the naming cohnvention, don’t we?

Voiceover: If the economists’ reports coming out of the state capital can be trusted, income inequality will soon be on its way out, as the bill to legalize methamphetamine production and distribution, which just passed the legislature today, was deliberately lacking a regulatory framework.

Senator Walter: There’s the traditional path, going through school, degrees, offices, and the like. But not everyone can do that or wants to do that. But everybody can mix chemicals and drive around. Who do you see when you drive around? People. Ready customers. I think we did a great public service here today.

Representative White: Senator Walter said it all, but I’ll add that there’s never been a great economic equalizer like the methamphetamine bill. This will be the highlight of my legacy.

Senator Gus: With more methamphetamine on the street, kids will have a choice between something that gives you real energy and those dastardly sugar products that make you crash 15 minutes later. The meth high goes long.

Representative Fring: Couldn’t agree more with Senator Gus. Candy is hard to eat with only half a face, but meth–huh, ho!–straight in the vein. Maximum delivery options and convenience.

Senator Pinkman: Yeah! Politics, Bitch!

* * *

Ridiculous, right? I hope you can all be good sports and see the humor in this ultra-hyperbole. It’s what we do here at the Family Farce. But it does make me wonder: I ate some bread today. It had gluten in it. How long until the mundane becomes the monstrous? The illicit the indispensable? Time can do weird things to the sensibilities of the populace.

But until that day the states go Breaking Bad, pass the wheat.

Hold the meth.