MORAL COMPASS

Writing Assignment #1: The teacher showed us pictures of four men. The assignment was to craft a story where one or more of them die (not necessarily killed).  And stories go where they will go. Let it be noted that I actually got along with my father (after I moved out).

Josh licked the blood off his knife. A metallic salty sensation filled his mouth and a sweet scent permeated his nose. After wiping the knife off on his pants, he drove it into his father’s chest, twisted and pulled it out slowly. Scraping off the bits of lung tissue, he licked the blade. Same tang. Blood from distinct parts of the body tasted the same. That was important.

In the kitchen, Josh used a dishcloth to clean his hands. He didn’t approve of paper towels. They’re wicked for the environment. His father never understood no matter how many times he told him to use the dish cloth. It’s so simple, why couldn’t he understand? Josh thought his father flaunted using paper towels to spite him. “You’re only 18, what the hell do you know?” Fuck him.

He slid the Yanagiba knife back in its black velvet case with the other Japanese cutlery. So many blades, each carefully designed to cut something specific. Did they expect him to use each one? Would the other knives be disappointed if he had a favorite? They were yelling at him. Josh needed to calm his mind. Refocus. Only five hours ago his father had him locked away upstate in the ‘sanctuary’, as his father called it. Josh preferred to call it a penal colony because the guards were dicks. That’s when he needed some blades. That’s when he needed help. Thoughts coming too fast. Catching a raindrop in a thunderstorm. Josh shoved the screwdriver into the electrical socket. Electricity is clean. Unlike his father.

The pain brought peace. Now he could reflect. The guards pushed him around every day, but the orderly didn’t hassle him. He was nice and gave him extra jello on special days. But it was dumb of him to bring a metal steak knife. Josh had no regrets about killing the orderly. His father taught him bad decisions beget bad consequences. Basic social Darwinism. Best, he got to test Hispanic blood.

Dr. Abrams wasn’t as nice as the orderly. He asked annoying questions and never gave him jello. Josh couldn’t understand why he had to be so irritating since he was so smart. He sounded like Morgan Freeman. Black doctors sounded like Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson. Or maybe James Earl Jones if they’re going to perform a scary operation. A black doctor with a Kevin Hart voice would be silly. As intelligent as he was, Dr. Abrams didn’t taste any smarter than the orderly.

After Josh had tested Dr. Abrams blood, he rearranged the papers on his desk. The doctor kept his office organized and it was only polite to respect the deceased’s wishes. Even if the person was mean.

His father’s blood was the same as the doctor and the orderly. Black, White, Hispanic. Different on the outside but the same on the inside. Fuck those dumb Nazi posers, there isn’t any difference. Josh figured he’d solved the whole racial thing. He knew not to get too far ahead of himself but once he worked out how to scale up, blood tasting would stop all this racism bullshit.

Time to celebrate. Josh felt guilty breaking into the liquor cabinet, he’d be in big trouble if he got caught. But today was special. Ignoring the Johnnie Walker, he picked up the decanter with Glenfiddich. Josh sat in his father’s chair and sipped the whiskey with a Monster chaser. He’d show them, he would amount to something. Change the world. But an unsettling thought intruded. He’d only tested men. He put down the Glenfiddich and stole the keys to the Porsche.

Josh had to go see Mom.

The Jester Goes Back To School

For some inexplicable reason, The Jester decided to take a writing course at the Oregon Coast Community College. A real course with credit, not the continuing education type designed to enrich the lives of senior citizens. Or keep them out of bars. Whichever applies.

It’s been a long time since The Jester has been on this side of the table and it’s a little scary. I mean there’s homework. Over the last few decades, I’ve had assignments, tasks, output, milestones, summaries, action plans, workplans, papers, abstracts, memos, more memos, impact statements, mea culpas, recommendations, position descriptions, reviews, and reports. But homework, damn that’s harsh. I’ve started having those dreams again where I’m running naked down Times Square trying to turn my homework in on time. Of course, in those days Times Square was populated by hookers, pimps, and dealers so running around naked waving pieces of papers was no big deal compared to the current Anderson Cooper/Kathy Griffin (rest her soul) New Year’s Eve era where you’d probably get arrested. Or freeze.

And though it galls him no end to admit it, The Jester has ‘stuff’ to learn. We read a story about a wife’s reaction as the husband devolved to an ape then to a turtle and then other forms of aquatic life. The Jester fixated on the screwed up evolutionary sequence – how did a turtle get in the evolutionary chain? But one of the students astutely pointed out the story was an allegory about the breakdown of the relationship, how the two were drifting apart. Which might explain The Jester’s divorce from Wife #1 when he grew copious amount of hair on his back.

I could go on, but I have a homework assignment.

Too Much Self-Esteem? Take Up Writing.

Editing software can’t make you a Hemingway or Michael Crichton but it can help clean up your bad writing.  There are several alternatives (options, choices, selections, substitutes) reviewed at https://nybookeditors.com/2016/02/instantly-improve-your-writing-with-these-11-editing-tools/. I’m using ProWritingAid, which is like a nag in a can.

Note: The Jester is not paid by or associated with ProWritingAid. But they are free to contact me with an offer.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child. When I’m a warlock, I talk smack

We all have fantasies most of which we outgrow. One of mine was a Porsche 911 GT2 RS (about $350K all tricked out, 0-60 in 2.7 sec.). Another BEFORE I met Mrs. Jester were the Asian Twins, Fire and Ice. With their thigh-high leather boots and black fingernails filed to a point. But I digress. My current unachievable fantasy is to publish a novel based on Styr-Leng, the fair to middling warlock. I have been putting the warlock’s adventures on the New Age Jester blog (www.newagejester.com) as they were drafted. Then I looked up SF/Fantasy publishers and they frown on potential works being previously published in any format. So, Styr-Leng will have to take an extended vacation from the internet world while I continue to work on his adventures at an excruciatingly slow pace (which is why I haven’t posted on other topics). But to keep you up to date, here is the developing pantheon of characters:

Main Characters So Far:

Styr-Leng: A warlock not without some magical talent or charm.

Bob Zimmerman: There is more than meets the eye to our part-time barkeep and up-and-coming poet/bard.

Vander Wanderwood: A sanctimonious, ill-tempered paladin, but what can you expect from someone who wears Underpants of the Holy.

Secondary Characters So Far (Will they become more important?):

Axel: Rather dim-witted logger of the Alder Tribe.

Utrich: Crabber who’s always trying to run out on his bar tab.

Thomas A’Pinus: Loves to narrate bar brawls.

Jesus: A guest appearance courtesy of THE HOLY TRINITY, INC. (THEY required that THEY be in all caps.) Perhaps HE’ll come back. People say it’s hard to keep a good man down.

Edgar the Ball Scratching Troll: What more can I say. Actually, there’s about 1000 words more, but you’ll have to read the story.

Nicodemus: Bob’s black cat (and what other color were expecting for a night cat?) who’s always trying to get into Styr-Leng’s magical pouch.

Druantia: Celtic tree goddess. One of Styr-Leng’s deities with benefits.

Taylor Swiftness: The singing witch. Who knows, perhaps she’ll compete with Druantia for Styr-Leng’s attention. Perhaps she and Druantia will get it on. Who knows?

The baloi ba bosigo: The Night Witch. No one’s friend and no benefits.

Characters On The Horizon:

Styr-Leng’s Mother: A retired witch. Does she have a husband? Perhaps four or five exes, I’ve been told that very smart people are hard to live with.

The Vandals: From the North Country comes ominous sounds of heavy metal thunder and that little metal ball rattling around in the bottom of spray paint cans.

Fiona The Nose Picking Troll: Edgar’s more refined sister.

AND MORE TO COME

THE OCCASIONAL ADVENTURES OF STYR-LENG – JESUS AND A WARLOCK WALK INTO A BAR

To the Styr-Leng fans across the globe and even further, this is much improved version of “The Occasional Adventures of Styr-Leng, a Fair to Middling Warlock – Memories of a Carpenter’s Son” (Dec. 13, 2018). More raw emotions! More sex!* More words! Fewer typos! (*: Actually that’s a later story, so think of this as foreplay.)

It was an ill night, miserable rain and even more miserable sleet blowing off the bay. Angry white caps spewing salt into the air. As you might imagine, even if you’re of only average imagination, Styr-Leng was miserable. Drudging through mud-strewn paths looking for shelter. Pulling stones from well-worn sandals. An irritable stomach refusing to be ignored. Spotting a dim light through the tempest, Styr-Leng hoped, “May the deities smile on me tonight.” A futile plea by the warlock since, at best, the deities smirked at mortals. With special mortals – wizards, warlocks, and whatnots – they found great amusement in tinkering with their fates. Except for fairies. Bad optics screwing with fairies.  And at worst, the deities would, well, we don’t even want to go there.

Leaning into the heavy door, Styr-Leng entered the dimly lit tavern, evaluating his surroundings in hope and a degree of apprehension based on his experiences in entering other dimly lit taverns. A waist-high counter constructed of thick lumber dominated the room, running across one side of the tavern. Old growth lumber from the ancient forests once common in the realm. Lumber with memories of times long before humans infested the region. Above the majestic counter hung the remains of a battered dinghy. A tribute to the lost Albatross and its crew on an ill night, much like the storm blowing outside. On such nights, seafarers raised their tankards to lost friends near and far invoking one deity or another in a hope to avoid a similar fate.

Pulling his attention away from the local ambience, a repugnant smell assaulted Styr-Leng’s nostrils. Not the usual sawdust soaked with stale urine and worse beer. More pungent. Pungent with a hint of rosemary and thyme. Searching for its source, he spied a large pot of stew brewing in the corner. For two nano-moments, Styr-Leng’s stomach did its happy dance. Though not widely known, warlocks need to eat frequently to maintain their occult energies lest they get cranky. And cranky occult energies are best avoided. A happy stomach till he realized the stench emanated from the stew. “It’s going to be one of those nights,” moaned the waterlogged warlock.

The diminutive barkeep behind the counter sized up the stranger. Tall and lanky, fair skin turned red from exposure to the frigid wind. Shoulder length silver hair water dripping rain on his tavern floor. The stranger held himself upright with a bearing of confidence but without his shoulders hunched forward in an overt threat. Not the run-of-the mill riffraff so common in the area. Based on his assessment, the barkeep was comfortable in addressing Styr-Leng in his troubadour’s voice.  “Come in,” he said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.” After a dramatic pause, “My name is Robert Zimmerman, but everyone calls me Bob.”

 Shaking the rain off his cloak of many colors, assuming mud is a color, Styr-Leng sat at the nearest table, with his back to the wall as was his habit and ordered a beer. A local brew for the warlock could learn much about the indigenous people from what passed for spirits in a region. Then in the universal need to state the obvious, he added, “It’s really crappy out there.”

Getting his beer, Bob volunteered, “Yeah, it’s gonna get worse. It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” Pleased at what just came out of his mouth, Bob exclaimed, “Oh, that’s a good one.” Pulling out his dragon-skin notebook of lyrics, verses and odes from under the bar, he scratched, A severe storm is a-gonna fall. “Yes, I can work with that.” Then he carefully slid the notebook back into its hidden niche.

Being trained in the art of observation and general sneakiness, Styr-Leng caught a glimpse of the dragon-skin book. A rare and dangerous commodity. About to quiz the barkeep when Bob said, “You look hungry stranger. Help yourself to the stew. It’s free.” Distracting the warlock from what he really, really should be paying attention to. “Free?”, exclaimed Styr-Leng. For this was a word seldom heard in the realm.

Bob, “Yes sir. We’re a friendly bunch here at the Haven by the Bay Tavern. Just grab the ladle and scoop yourself a bowl.”

At the mention of “free”, Styr-Leng’s brain commanded his stomach to reconsider. Perhaps “repugnant” was a bit pejorative. “Objectionable” or even “subpar but edible” might be a better descriptor given the circumstances. Hunger overtaking common sense, Styr-Leng grabbed the ladle strategically placed next to the pot. Instantly, tsunamis of pain shot through his burning hand. The warlock screamed. Not sufficient to raise the dead, but more than enough to scare the bejeezus out of the living.

Bob displaying his face of utmost concern, “Oh, no, not that ladle! It’s hot!”

Styr-Leng screamed, “Shit!” Then proceeded to jump around the tavern blowing on his hand, yelling, “Jesus! Jesus! Damnation that hurts!”

Bob, “Oh, you picked up the wrong ladle. Don’t worry, we have fair-trade boar-fat lotion infused with lavender and frankincense for burns. Quite effective. Would you like some?”

Styr-Leng yelled, “Jesus! Boyd, hurry!” as he continued to blow on his offended hand in a blind hope his breath could dissolve the pain. As he pulled out an ornate vial from under the counter, Bob added, “Just so you know, the boar-fat lotion is 40 copper pieces.”

Even through the pain Styr-Leng protested, “What! Jesus, forty copper pieces?” The warlock’s outrage was quite understandable, forty copper being a sizable amount. Equal to a week’s lodging at an inn. Not the best ones, of course, but one step up from Madame Bovine’s Discount Flophouse. But then, Madame Bovine’s was on the low end of flophouses. Nonetheless, the warlock’s outrage was well justified.

Offended at Styr-Leng’s tone, Bob replied, “Boar fat is ridiculously hard to come by in these parts. Boars are quite dangerous you know, especially the fat ones. I could tell you about the time I was almost gored to death in the Numyon Forest. Almost gutted. Forty copper is quite the bargain given the current state of affairs. But if you don’t want it.” With a practiced shrug, Bob began to slowly return the vial back under the bar.

Giving into pain over economics, Styr-Leng yelled, “Jesus, this burns! Yes, get it. Quick Boyd!”

In frustration, “My name is Bob. I’m going to be famous someday.” Pulling out the vial again, Bob poured some of the healing lotion on Styr-Leng’s offended hand. While one can debate the morality of inflating medicinal prices under such dire conditions, the boar-fat lotion actually reduced Styr-Leng’s pain from brain numbing to merely intolerable. As pain released its all-encompassing grip on his psyche, Styr-Leng realized he’d been duped. With his blood rising he growled, “You put that hot ladle there on purpose!”

Shrugging, Bob replied in a practiced tone, “Oh no, sir. I thought a man of your intelligence would understand that the ladle next to the pot was too hot to handle. The ladle for the stew is kept underneath the sink. Right behind the pots. And pans. All the way in the back.”

Styr-Leng for the first time displayed his waist pouch covered with ancient runes, a warlock’s signature. Embedded with black gems indicating a mid-level skill, not a master but fully capable of much mischief. The warlock then threatened, “I should turn you into a toad.” Blowing on his hand, he added “Jesus, this still hurts. A toad is too good for you. A three-eyed dung slug. You, you, charlatan.”

Recognizing real and imminent danger, Bob began to run different predicament probabilities. Though not educated even by local standards, Bob had a sharp, if devious, wit about him. In another life, he likely would have been a court jester; his deft manner bringing truth to mad kings, or more dangerously idiot kings, with only a moderate probability of being beheaded, gutted, or generally put upon. Now he needed these wits to divert the irate warlock from pushing him far, far down the evolutionary chain. “Sir, if it pleases you, answer one question before you use your wizardly powers. A doomed man’s last request. Surely you can grant me that.”

“What? Be quick,” patience not being the warlock’s strong suit.

Quickly reviewing their interactions, Bob begged, “Kindly sir, who is this “Jesus” you talk about?”

In an abrupt tone, Styr-Leng responded to the curly-haired barkeep, “What? What are you talking about?”

“You invoke this Jesus. So, who is he? Enlighten me please, before you turn me into some vile creature even my dear mother, bless her ailing heart, couldn’t love. I’m my mother’s only source of income. She can’t work because of the crippling pain in her hands from when she rescued two, no wait it was three babies, mere infants, from a burning hut. Pulled them out of the roaring flames at great personal risk and asked for no reward for her sacrifice. And my dad. My dad was a hero. Killed defending the realm from marauding bandits. Singly handedly repelled an entire horde of Goths with just a salad fork. The state would have given him a hero’s burial if not for all the budget cuts. Then there’s my blind aunt. She …”

Growing impatient, Styr-Leng commanded, “Stop!” Judging the situation, Bob gave his monologue a rest and waited for his next play. With the break, Styr-Leng remarked, “Jesus you say? I do not recall the name.”

“But you just mentioned him. Several times.” Emphasizing the point, Bob jumped up and down in mock pain blowing on his hand. “You know, “Jesus! Jesus!” All the while moving closer to the front door, for when his words failed, feet were Bob’s preferred backup plan.

Styr-Leng, “No I … What the …” Stopping for a moment, staring off, “How’d that guy get in my head?”

“So, who is this Jesus? An evil sorcerer you had to defeat in a monumental battle? I bet you have a really fascinating story, esteemed sir. A story of adventure and delight. Of your heroism, a tale of light and dark, and of course fifty shades of gray. A tale of great …”

With furrowed brow, Styr-Leng interrupted, “Wait, it’s coming back to me.” Speaking in a slow cadence, pausing between each word. “Okay, I was in Lower Capernaum. A fishing village down south. I was completing my community service by working with Hovels for Humanity.”

“Oh, community service.” As a collector of barterable information, Bob instinctively knew this tidbit had great promise in future dealings with the warlock. “What’d you do? Confession is good for the soul. If you can’t confess to your barkeep, who can you confess to? I could tell you some stories from what I’ve been told. But I won’t because of barkeep – inebriate confidentiality. I mean I really can’t go into how Sigurd Aamot was carrying on with Fukuda Yuuto’s wife when he was off on fishing trips. I mean I understand, what with Hirata’s big, bouncy orbs. But talking about that would break my solemn oath. So, don’t worry that I’d ever repeat your misdeeds. Share with your friend, what’d you do?”

After filing Hirata under “tits”, the warlock brushed off the barkeep, “Never mind, it was a total misunderstanding about some priest’s daughter. Anyway, there were several other indentured volunteers along with some contractors working on the hovel. One of the contractors was this Jesus guy. He was a crappy carpenter. Couldn’t even nail two pieces of lumber into a cross if his life depended on it. Must’ve got his job because his father was in the Carpenter’s Union.”

Putting on his most sympathetic face, Bob commiserated, “Life is so unfair. I could tell you about the time when I was thrown out of the memorial service for Gregorian Gingerdwarf for talking. I mean, talking. Come on. I was just reminiscing about the time when Gingerdwarf came into Haven and accidently peed on Tag Lucidflute. Not even ten minutes into my story when Mrs. Gingerdwarf began hushing me. Really, all I was doing was adding some context on why Gingerdwarf got his head smashed in.”

Dismissively, “Later. This Jesus had this nomadic crew of twelve homies. Bossing them around with a holier than thou attitude. All of them prattling on and on more than hammering. Then out of nowhere, Jesus drove a spike through a guy’s hand. I think his name was Judas something or other. Blood spurting everywhere. Turning the walls red and staining my robe.”

In his best display of horror, Bob responded, “Gruesome.”

“What’s amazing is that instead of apologizing, Jesus yells “Pay back is a bitch.” Judas didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. As far as I could tell, he was just trying to earn his 30 pieces of copper.”

“Damn, that’s harsh. Reminds me of the time when I …”

“Yeah, yeah. And then get this, Jesus says to Judas in a soothing tone, “I forgive you my son.” I forgive you? He just drove a spike through his fucking hand and he forgives him?”

Nodding, Bob interjected, “What you don’t know about me is that I’ve been fully trained in the Chungian Typology Theory of Personalities. Not to mention, but let me mention anyway, the range of characters I’ve had to deal with as a barkeep. Not to brag, but I consider myself an expert on the human psyche. In my learned opinion, I think this Jesus is transferring his masochistic tendencies to Judas. A classic response of an only child with unresolved daddy issues. Do you know anything about his father?”

“Not really, but I got the impression his father was distant. In any case, I don’t know why anybody would hire him as a carpenter. This Jesus definitely needs to find a new mission in life.” Looking down on his scarlet hand, Styr-Leng groaned, “This still hurts.” Louder, “Boyd, get me some more bear lotion. Quick!”

“It’s Bob damn it! I don’t know why no one gets my name right. People need to focus, it’s Bob. And that’ll be another 40 coppers.” Upon hearing 40 coppers, Styr-Leng stared at Bob with an intensity that would freeze Medusa’s hair. Again, calculating predicament probabilities, Bob grasped the vial from under the bar and offered “Since you’re such a distinguished guest, this one is on the house,” and he proceeded to pour a minimal amount of ointment on Styr-Leng’s hand. As the warlock’s shoulders began to slacken, Bob saw a way to end this unpleasantness. “Here, sit by the fire. Let me get you some stew while you rest.” Bob then proceeded to pour him a bowl of stew, using the ladle hidden under the sink, in the back. All the way in the back.

With warmth and something akin to food, Styr-Leng began to feel more charitable towards the barkeep, anger taking too much of his energy. He didn’t even mind the fish eyes staring up at him from the stew, though he jumped when one of them blinked. “Boyd, get me a flagon of ale.”

“Jesus, it’s Bob!” Realizing what he’d just said, “Damn, now he’s in my head. This Jesus must be a Meme Mage. That’s why he’s in our heads.” Then to himself, “I might have a potion for that around here somewhere.”

Taking a moment to survey his surroundings as Bob leisurely poured his ale, Styr-Leng eyed a scruffy looking patron. An event well within the probability field for the Haven. But Uther looked sneakier than average. Had the scent of thievery about him. After noticing that the barkeep was occupied, Uther gestured towards the front door, yelling, “Is that Vlad the Inhaler? Alright! Party on!” A classic drink and dash distraction. In the resulting hubbub, the burgeoning brigand slid out the back door, the one reserved for emergencies only.

Calling out, “Hey Boyd, you’ve got a slacker trying to run out the back.”

Sighing on hearing Boyd, Bob just stared forward. The front door opened, and a very confused Uther walked in. After looking around for a few moments, Uther shook his head, swore he wouldn’t smoke the cheap shit anymore and shuffled back to his seat. Turning to Styr-Leng, Bob said, “I heard about that trick from a hotel in California where you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.”

Confused, Styr-Leng asked, “What’s California?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked. Most people think it’s a hoax. But I think it’s a paradoxical paradigm displacement. A place where fantasy and reality collide under the warm summer sun. Anyway, you can leave the Haven anytime you like but not before you pay your bill. A neat security system. Of course, I could give you more details if you like.”

Styr-Leng looked Bob up and down with a warlock’s intuition. Short with curly dark hair. Rather rumbled in dress. No burning coals for eyes. Not imposing at all. Still. Styr-Leng commented, “Boyd, huh Bob, you’re an interesting fellow. I think there’s more than meets the eye.”

“Not really. Just a bard doing some temp work.” Preparing to probe further, Styr-Leng attention was diverted when Bob spun a shiny silver coin on the bar counter. Just watching it spin round and round and round, never falling over. “So, warlock, why don’t you tell me why you ventured out on such a miserable night.”

Still focused on the spinning coin, the warlock volunteered, “Well, Boyd, I’m on an occult mission of the utmost urgency.” Bob started to protest about the warlock screwing up his name yet again but then closed his mouth to hear more about this mission. Styr-Leng continued, “I’m looking for a troll I hear is in these parts. Edgar.”

Bob’s face immediately scrunched tight, “Oh no! Not Edgar the Ball Scratcher!” And Bob’s spinning coin fell with a thud.

As if given a cosmic cue, the heavy tavern door burst open. In the entrance stood a tall majestic figure, outlined by thunder and lightning. In a deep voice, the stranger boomed, “I’m looking for a troll.”

CLASSIC “EXPERIENCED CHAMPION VS. THE YOUNG TURK” MATCH

The long-awaited bench press contest between THE JESTER, hereinafter referred to as THE EXALTED DEFENDER OF OLD GUYS, and his 18-year-old grandson, hereinafter referred to as “The Kid” took place on Dec. 28. (THE JESTER is the handsome one in the pictures.) The winner was to be determined by the number of reps at half body weight in one minute. Seems simple enough. But much to the disappointment of the crowd, the contest ended in a technical draw because the timekeeper, Mrs. Jester, gave the The Kid a false start, and he had to start over. To be clear, THE JESTER did not ask Mrs. Jester to cheat for him. He is quite capable of doing that on his own, thank you.

THE EXALTED DEFENDER OF OLD GUYS pumped out 40 clean reps while The Kid was able to push out only 37 on his second try and he was shaking so much it looked like someone put a 120 V electrical cord up his butt. To be fair, which is really difficult, he probably could have pushed out 43-45 reps if Mrs. Jester hadn’t given him a false start. But on the other hand, because scientists always have other hands, THE JESTER had been pushing out 42-43 reps in training but missed his target body weight due to Xmas party bloat and had to add an extra 5 pounds to his bench press.

The Kid “had” to go back to North Carolina to see his girlfriend. So, the rematch will have to wait. Unless The Kid wants to retire while he is ahead

Anthropology Field Trip To The Bay Haven

On rereading the forthcoming Memories of a Carpenter’s Son, The Jester realized the location of the story, Haven by the Bay Tavern, didn’t have a “sense of place.” To resolve this problem, The Jester followed the Hemingway guide to writing and went to get a drink at the Bay Haven Inn.

Things were going splendidly till Cornrow Girl hit the dance floor. And The Jester. And Mrs. Jester. While appreciating her enthusiastic dancing, The Jester mentioned to her that there is a bar and there is a dance floor, and the twain should not meet. Apparently, she thought The Jester said something about her pulling a train at which point she got all huffy. In a classic case of don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer, Cornrow Girl asked, “What type of girl do you think I am?”

At this point, her boyfriend of the last 10 minutes threatened to smack The Jester in the face. Abandoning the more aggressive Hemingway guide to bar etiquette, The Jester fell back on the time-tested “if you can’t beat them, bribe them” and bought them a drink. They wandered off happy while The Jester turned his attention to the peanut dispenser. And peace returned to the Haven. For a while.

Breaking News! Next Installment of Styr-Leng In Press.

In the soon to be published chapter, the continuing saga of Styr-Leng, well, continues with the fair to middling warlock meeting Jesus. And a surprisingly interesting barkeep at the Haven by the Bay Tavern. In case you have even more time to waste, you could review the previous installment when Styr-Leng and Druantia rock the earth (available exclusively on newagejester.com at least until I can find someplace else that will post it).

A Nice Christmas Story You Can Hang On Your Microwave

With a “Ho-ho-ho” echoing through the North Pole and jiggling his rotund belly, Santa proclaimed, “It’s time to get this Christmas show on the road. Tell Rudolph and the gang to go do their business, once we start there won’t be time for potty stops. And load all the toys into the Super Sleigh.”

Now, little known outside of NSA and a select party of few, Santa’s Super Sleigh is powered by a quantum engine even more powerful than the one on the acclaimed Boldly Go Enterprise. Hidden deep inside the sleigh bells lay a device powered by Higgs boson mixed-up particles and teeny-weeny quarks no sane brain can conceptualize. Funneled through reindeer noses, – and hope they don’t get a cold – these quanta bend time and space into a pretzel resembling a Mobius strip. Allowing Old Saint Nick to visit all the World’s boys and girls in a single wintery night.

With a smile on his face, for where else would a smile go, Santa looked around for his number one elf. Since before the time known as “way back when”, Santa has relied on Semgnorf The Organized. As the North Pole is one of only two places in the World bereft of irony, Semgnorf The Organized is, in true fact, very systematic. And organization is critically wiggly to the spread of joy, what with the quadrillion and one details arising on each Christmas Eve night.

In Christmas past, Semgnorf wrote down the naughty and nice and optimized the sleigh’s path long before a top-of-the line GPS lay on the dash. But times had gotten tough because of government shutdowns, furloughs, and such. Much to his chagrin, Santa had been forced to replace Semgnorf with Justin, a temporary elf. Justin had an excellent ear for making play lists for tweens and poorly sung musicals for those with an ill-tuned ear. But truth be told, Justin’s elf hat was not the most pointed of the bunch.

Confused by all the cables and ports and buttons, Justin plugged Santa’s iPad’s USB into an electrical socket. With a flash of fire and puff of smelly smoke, the selfie of Santa dissolved into a nightmare before Christmas as all the carefully organized bits and bytes turned into something resembling a Salvador Dali bad dream.

Seeing the deletion of the names of all the good boys and girls, Santa’s white hair flashed with electric anger. Bellowing in an uncharacteristic rage, “How do I find all the children that went to sleep with sugar plum dreams? What type of World doesn’t have presents under the tree? Not to mention cookies for me?”

Before he could continue his tantrum, Santa was distracted by Mrs. Claus wearing Victoria’s Secret. “Now don’t you worry” she said in a voice as intoxicating as a big cup of hot buttered rum. And proceeded to pull from her bosom an ornate key made of candy cane stripes. Holding the key, she purred, “Follow me and I’ll give you what you need, if not what you want.” With Santa and all the elves transfixed, she proceeded to a secret door hidden right there in full sight. With one turn of the candy-cane key, they entered Old Saint Nick’s Warehouse Thirteen.

From the base of the red and white staff geolocated at the North Pole, the warehouse spread far to the east and far, far to the west, and then to the south and, well not to the north since there was no more north there to go. But it did span both up and down and round and round. Caverns of rooms all crammed full like a seamstress’s closet with artifacts of Christmases past. From Tiny Tim and Ebenezer and a blue, blue Elvis to Rastafarian Santas dressed out in red, yellow, and green. Even the old home movie of Santa with the Martians, though the general consensus was that still wasn’t long enough ago.

At the center of the treasures lay Santa’s first gift. Really nothing more than a stick given to a Paleolithic boy long ago on a horizon-spanning African plain. Given in a time before Hallmark and trees decorated like traffic warning signs. Showing once more that smiles and good cheer are timeless universal forces, like Higg’s bisons and all those other quirky quarks.

Walking quickly past the list of very, very naughty girls, their numbers and vitals glistening in hot pink, Mrs. Claus uncovered a Rolodex stuffed with yards and yards of hand-written cards. Blowing off layers of heirloom dust, she purred, “This is all you need, you big silly.” Giving the cards a spin, Santa saw names of children and grown-up kids in Hubbard, Waldport, Boston, Lake Stevens, Portland, Hobbsville, Kalama, and Seal Rock. Cities and towns in Australia where Santa always gets turned upside down. Even lists from faraway places like Sudan, Afghanistan and Timbuktu. Gosh, so many places, but I bet you could add some too.

With a big grin on his face, for as you know where else would a grin go, Santa proclaimed, “Yes, this will do. Do nicely, too. Now I can spread cheer and good will. And eat cookies until my belly is full.” Giving him a kiss on his rosy cheek, Mrs. Claus whispered, “Yes dear, go spread good cheer. Just remember my present – when all else fails, your wife is there for you.”

Unfortunate Correction to “JUST ANOTHER NIGHT OUT IN PORTLAND [PORTLAND WEIRD]” Post

In recounting his hideous attack at the “Nerd Out” bar, The Jester incorrectly identified the green hero who saved him from the alien insectoid stuck to his face. The post incorrectly identified the hero as the Jolly Green Giant. Actually, it was Shrek.

In his defense, The Jester was thrown by the bowl of peas on the bar. But hey, they were Mexican jumping peas who caught him by surprise.

The Jester regrets having to make a correction and that the two green lugs are pissed at him.