God’s Day Off

Sunday is God’s day off. I know what you’re thinking. Saturday is the Seventh Day, and the Big Guy gets the seventh day off. I’m here to to tell you that is so Old School. Just check most calendars. The week starts with Monday. Not Sunday. Sunday is now the seventh day and that’s God’s day for R and R. It’s in the Good Book, you know.

Come Sunday, He’s really tired. Running the universe is one thing. Easy peasy. Answering prayers, well, that’s a totally different thing. You’ve heard the saying, “You can please none of the people all the time, some of the people some of the time, and all the people none of the time.” That’s prayers for you. Like Ringo sings, “It just don’t come easy.” And like a recent president used to say, “It’s hard.”

But God does His best to keep the whole thing rolling. I would say that He does a darn good job of it. Oh, sure. He gets help from all those angels. But you know what they say? The buck stops here. God keeps hearing that, and it’s about to piss Him off. He’s got patience up the wazoo but enough is enough.

So it’s not too much to ask that the Big Guy get one day a week off. He’s been thinking about a vacation but He’s having a rough time training someone to do the work while He’s gone. He would let Jesus run the show when He’s gone. The thing is Jesus is off trying to save another planet. Been sending Western Unions back to Heaven saying that He’s finally found a race more stubborn than human beings.

Holy Spirit don’t have the time either. She’s been in a scuffle with a bunch of rebellious angels. Can’t break away for the time being. God tried out Moses but he kept dropping things. And King David has this thing going with some angel named Bathsheba. He can’t spare the time either. Buddha just refuses. He says he’s definitely not in the god business.

So, for the time being, all God’s getting off is His Sundays. It gives Him a chance to sleep late. Have breakfast in bed, served on a golden platter by Mrs. G herself. She keeps telling Him to lay off the bacon. He’s told His people no bacon. So why not Him? He tells her, “There’s an exception to every rule. And since I make the rules, I can make the exceptions.” She would have pushed the subject but she decided she had better not. He’s pretty good with those thunderbolts.

Next He goes out for a game of golf. He’s a two under par player. He likes to tee off with the Archangel Gabriel and work on improving His score. Used to play with Michael but Michael has a tendency to take things way too serious. Satan tried to talk G into a game of touch football but G wasn’t having any of that. Golf the game for Him. Doing it for the exercised, He says. God has been trying to she a few pounds lately. Wants to get down to his ideal weight of 188. Since He is not averse to a little wager on the side, He and Gabe have a running bet. The winner buys the other dinner.

And just to show that He’s a caring husband, God picks up a dozen red roses for the Mrs. on His way home. At the end of the day, He gets a good night’s sleep and He’s ready for a new week.

Now what does this mean for you and me? Means we have to keep the prayers to a minimum. God’s assistant has been known to put them in the spam folder. Then they get deleted at the end of the day. So a word to the wise. Just a suggestion.

If there is an emergency, you can always call the Heavenly 9-1-1. Not sure who you’ll get. But if Michael is on duty, talk nice to him. He’s been known to kick butt just because someone was in a rush. Be prepared to duck. He’s got a mean left hook.

Attention Please! Movie Review Movie Review

Now for a bit of an intermission from all the razzle dazzle. Uncle Bardie is going to do a movie review. And the first ever Uncle Bardie movie review will be none other than that absolutely brilliant The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘Course you can guess what Uncle Bardie will have to say about it. You know he’s about to give an A+. five-star, thumbs-up to the 2005 film, based on the equally brilliant book of the same name.

There’s few films that should be seen over and over again. Not many but a few. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the leader of that pack. It’s Doctor Who with a good budget, only better. Actually it is three movies in one. First you see it forward. Then you see it backward on a backward movie-playing machine. You can purchase the special player to play it backwards from a little old lady on Fifty-fourth Street. She gets them wholesale from a warehouse in the two-hundred-and-third dimension. Finally you play it sideways. But that’s a whole different fish of another sea.

Speaking of fish, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins with dolphins singing their farewell to the planet, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Then there’s a man waking up and yawning. Can’t you feel the excitement building up? Before you know it, he’s brushing his teeth. His name is Arthur Dent.

Outside some guys are about to break Arthur’s house. They’re tearing it down to make room for a new highway. They have bulldozers to do the job too. Unfortunately that isn’t the bad news. The bad news, the Vogons are coming. What’s the big deal about that? you ask.

That is where Ford Prefect, Arthur’s friend, comes in. He knows things because he’s from somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. This is a really good part of the movie where the two have a drink in the local pub and the drinking is done to the sound of Perry Como singing “Magic Moments” in the background. Any movie that can get Perry Como singing in it is bound to get at least one star just for the effort. Ford tells Arthur that the earth is going to be destroyed in about twelve minutes, just enough time for Arthur and Ford to consume three beers. What’s an end of the world without a beer or two?

The Vogons are going to blow up earth to make room for a new thoroughfare through this corner of space. Just as Arthur and Ford are finishing up their last beer, a spaceship arrives and its driven by those Vogons. A very ugly race indeed. So ugly they put the ug in ugly. Before they can make the earth go kablooey, Ford throws out his towel and grabs Arthur and they are transported inside the Vogon vessel. Arthur has done his first bit of hitchhiking, thanks to Ford’s towel. And don’t panic. The dolphins got the heck off the third planet from the sun safely.

To understand the outer space creatures, Arthur needs to stick a fish in his ear. The fish do the translating from Vogon to Arthur Dent-ish. Arthur and Ford are escorted to an arena where the Vogons are reciting poetry. The Vogons are possibly, no make that definitely, the worst reciters of poetry in the galaxy, and possibly in the universe. Oh, you think not. I’m here to tell you men have gone insane listening to Vogon poetry.

Somehow, and that is a big somehow, Arthur manages a smile and says some nice things about the poem just recited. Suddenly he and Ford are dropped back into space. (And they didn’t even receive an invitation from the Space either.) They manage to hold their breaths for thirty seconds before they fall into another spaceship. They find themselves turned into sofas and in a white room. (I mean, if you’re going to land in an alien spacecraft, what better disguise to land in than a sofa. I’ve had dreams of being a sofa, but all I do in those dreams is sit there and wait for something to happen.) They shake off their sofa disguises and the door opens. In comes a very depressed robot named Marvin, voiced by Alan Rickman. He was built with GPP. That stands for Genuine People Personality. Marvin, not Alan Rickman.

How do we know that Marvin is depressed? He talks. If Alan Rickman was a depressed robot, this is the depressed robot he’d be. Some of the things Marvin says: “I’d make a suggestion but you wouldn’t listen. No one ever does.” “I’ve been talking to the ship’s computer. It hates me.” And “I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.”

On the spaceship Arthur and Ford are on, there’s a heroine who gets to show off her legs. And they are very nice legs too. The legs and the heroine are played by none other than Zooey Deschanel. And she’s on the ship with the worst dressed sentient being in the universe. He has two heads, one inside the other. Zaphod Beeblebrox, better known as a narcissistic moron, is president of the galaxy. But you can take some comfort in the fact that he does smarten up when he puts on the Thinking Cap. He is in search of the ultimate question. He already has the ultimate answer. That answer is 42.

In pursuit of this ultimate question, Arthur, Ford, Zooey, Marvin and Zaphod go to the legendary planet Margrathea. Unfortunately, when they arrive, not one but two, yes two, nuclear missiles are fired at them. What happens next you will have to see the movie to find out. Let’s just say it has to do with a whale. Marvin sums the experience up in his own inimitable way with: “I told you this would all end in tears.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the few movies that can out-Fifth Element The Fifth Element. If any studio is thinking of remaking this movie, don’t. This is a movie that should only be remade once every two hundred years. Go ahead and do 27.5 remakes of Batman Begins. I really don’t care. Just leave Hitchhiker’s Guide alone. If you do make the attempt, don’t be surprised if a Vogon shows up at your door with that darn nasty attitude of theirs.

Oh, one final thing. Make sure you’ve got your towel when you see this one. You might need it. And Marvin will appreciate it.

Now that you know one of my favorite comedy movies, what is one of your favorites?

New State Nicknames

Been thinking the States all need new nicknames. The old ones have become a bit worn out. So here’s a list I am proposing:

Alabama, the “between Mississippi and Georgia” state.

Alaska, the “I can see Russia from my house” state.

Arizona, the “wanna see our sinkhole…it’s a biggun” state.

Arkansas, the “Bill Clinton, need I say more” state.

California, the “who’s afraid of the big bad earthquake, ahnold” state.

Colorado, the “our pot is better than your pot” state.

Connecticut, the “who can spell me” state.

Delaware, the “we’re bigger than Rhode Island” state.

Florida, the “we don’t know the difference between a dimple and a chad” state

Georgia, the “we have real pits in our peaches” state.

Hawaii, the “we’ve got Don Ho and surfing, what have you got” state.

Idaho, the “can you take some of these potatoes off our hands” state

Illinois, the “not all of our politicians are crooks…after all we did give you lincoln” state

Indiana, the “you spell it backwards and you’ve got anaidnI” state.

Iowa, the “we start the whole mess every four years, would you please forgive us” state.

Kansas, the “when you’re in Kansas, you know you’re in Kansas” state

Kentucky, the “wanna race” state.

Louisiana, the “oh, no, not another hurricane” state.

Maine, the “stephen king scares us too” state.

Maryland, the “we’re in the Navy” state.

Massachusetts, the “home of the Boston cream pie, don’t you wish you had a pie as good” state.

Michigan, the “can somebody, anybody please take detroit off our hands” state.

Minnesota, the”oh geez bet it’s gonna be cold tomorrow” state

Mississippi, the “we’re right next to Alabama” state.

Missouri, the “we can show you the way to Kansas” state

Montana: the “we warned Custer and he just wouldn’t listen” state.

Nebraska, the “Warren Buffet lives in our state” state.

Nevada, the “get married and divorced in 24 hours” state.

New Hampshire, the “can’t get more Yankee than us” state.

New Jersey, the “we’re really not that bad, we just play it that way on TV” state.

New Mexico, the “hey, come see our balloons” state.

New York: the “youse guys” state

North Carolina, the “we got nice mountains” state.

North Dakota, the “wish I was South Dakota” state.

Ohio, the “we’re named after a river, what are you named after” state.

Oklahoma, the “I’m just passing through” state.

Oregon, the “we’re just below Washington and famous for nothing” state.

Pennsylvania, . the “nobody steals our stealers and we have the authentic cheese steak” state.

Rhode Island, the “yes we’re here.. just look really hard” state.

South Carolina, the “if you wanna be a Republican president, you better win our state” state.

South Dakota, the “I wish I was North Dakota” state.

Tennessee, the “state where al gore invented the internet and discovered global warming” state

Texas, the “when the hell are we gonna get through this state” state or the “wanna start a war, just elect one of our guys president” state.

Utah, the “we have more wives than we can handle” state.

Vermont, the “state where two hippies could make ice cream and name it after other hippies” state.

Virginia, the “if it was good enough for Pocahontas, it’s good enough for me” state.

Washington, the “rain and more rain” state.

West Virginia, the “we’re the only state that’s got west in its name, Kanye” state.

Wisconsin, the “our cheese really is cheese” state.

Wyoming, the “cow tipping” state.

Why did the chicken cross the road anyway?

An adult faerie tale not for kids.

Splattered all over the highway lay Humpty Dumpty. Old King Cole wanted to know why. After all, he was a merry old soul and this did not set right with him.

“Well, sire,” Hansel, his viceroy, said. “It has to do with The Chicken crossing the road.”

“What, what,” his majesty stuttered. The king sat on his throne. “That chicken never crosses the road.”

“I’m afraid she did this time.” Hansel stood beside the throne and leaned in toward the king.

“Why?” the king asked. “Why did The Chicken cross the road? This time?”

“If we knew that, we would know how Humpty Dumpty came to such a fate, now wouldn’t we?”

“Then find out. And have the culprit executed if there is a culprit.”

“And if there isn’t one, sire?”

“Then execute somebody anyway. It’s a good week for an execution. In fact, every week is a good week for an execution, don’t you think?”

“Of course, sire. We haven’t had an execution in a month of Sundays. It’s about time we had a few. I’ll have the secretary type up the order, then you can seal it with your nice big seal.”

The king went back to his nap. Hansel left the throne room and walked the five minutes of the palace it took to get to the secretary’s office.

Gretel looked up from behind her desk. “I’m bored,” she said to her brother. She was in her late twenties. Blonde hair and blue eyes too. As blue as the Danube that passed down the street and making like the nice river it was.

“I have a bit of typing for you.”

Gretel’s cute little body perked up. “It’s about time. You know I’ve been behind this desk with nothing to do for I don’t know how long. For a blue moon, that’s how long.”

Everybody said she had a cute little body. Even Jack-be-nimble. And he ought to know. He’d seen enough women’s bodies to make Casanova blush. But Gretel never believed. him. She knew all he wanted was to get under her dirndl and she was not about to have any of that. She had other plans. Jack wasn’t sugar daddy enough to be her sugar daddy.

She wanted the country’s brothel concession and she needed someone good to help her manage it. She had been counting on Humpty. He was such a good egg with figures. But now he was dead.

She typed out her brother’s dictation on her manual Underwood. Since she was a perfect typist, not one correction had to be made. When she finished, she handed the typewritten scroll to her brother. He quickly proofread the parchment and found it in good order.

Just as he was about to leave, she addressed him with a question she had been addressing him with for quite some time. “When is the king going to approve my vacation? I need to get to work on my business plan and there is no time like the present.”

“You know what I think of your business,” Hansel looked at his sister. His face was aggrieved. “Mom would be totally pissed.”

“I don’t care. You know what a slut she was. Dad died when the large oak fell on him. Then she slept with every Jack-be-nimble, Peter Piper and Simple Simon around. That’s not for me. Maybe it is for me but I am not giving it away for free. I want my vacation. I’ve earned it. And if I don’t get it, all I can say is we’ll see.”

“Okay,” Hansel said “As soon as we get whoever did this dastardly deed to poor Humpty, you can have your vacation.”

He knew how stubborn his sister was. There was no talking her out of her business plans. Being a Taurus, once she made up her mind she made up her mind and there was no turning back. It had been that quality that had gotten them out of the mess with the witch some time back. Besides a good brothel might just be the thing. It could bring back all those tourists the kingdom had lost when the Happily-Ever-After Corporation opened up a theme park in the next kingdom over. He rolled the scroll up into a nice neat roll and put a rubber band around it so it would stay rolled nice and neat.

As soon as her brother left the room, Gretel went back to checking her list for the business and checking it twice. She wanted to make sure the naughty was connected with the nice. She wanted a palace to put the king’s palace to shame. Would actually call it The Leisure Palace. Had heard that was what they called them in Vegas: leisure palaces. She had acquired the services of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, Architects to Kings. They’d done a real job on that theme park.

Next thing on her agenda was the girls. Who would she get to serve as Ladies-in-Waiting in her palace? Last she’d heard Little Bo Peep was out of a job. She’d blown the shepherdess gig and lost all the sheep. She couldn’t live on unemployment forever. Actually she could if she was frugal, but it was a fact that Bo was not frugal. And Little Miss Muffet was flat broke. She had come to Gretel, crying that she was out of curds and whey. What was she ever going to do?

Hansel skulked back to the throne room. The king was at his snoring again. Hansel went to wake the king.

“Yeah, yeah, Cindy,” king said half asleep and half awake. “You don’t have to go back to cleaning your stepmother’s chimney. I’ve got enough money to buy you all the window cleaners in the kingdom.”

Hansel shook the old man.”Sire.”

The king popped his popping-fresh eyes open. “It’s you, Hansel.”

Hansel gave the king the order. The king signed it. He always signed anything Hansel put in front of him. That was how Hansel had come to get his greedy little hands on half the kingdom. The king went back to sleep, dreaming about his wonderful wife, Cinderella. He’d lost her in a fire at the palace and never got over it.

Hansel hurried to his office. He had just the one for the job. He called in The Flunkster.

“Flunky, get me The Cat.”

Five minutes later, and not a minute too soon, The Cat was standing before the viceroy.

“What can I do you for?” The Cat was not a cat to beat around the bush.

“I want you to investigate the Humpty Dumpty situation. The king is concerned, and so am I.”

“But why me?” The Cat asked as if he didn’t know the why me. “Who else but me, I meant.”

“You’re the one who brought Dish back, and with Spoon of all things.”

“That was easy. I knew they wanted to do a Romeo-and-Juliet. Not the dying part, of course. They were out to get married. So I chased them down to Tijuana. Where else would a teen couple, who had the marriage bug, go.”

“So? Can you do it? Find out?” Hansel was getting impatient.

“Of course, I already have the case solved. I do believe I know why The Chicken crossed the Road.” The Cat was up to his usual Sherlock Holmes.

“Yes?” Hansel wanted to know, and he wanted to know real bad.

“It was Little Red.”

“Little Red?” Hansel wanted to know some more. “Not Little Red. It can’t be Little Red.” It was hard to believe it could be her. So cute and cuddly. And innocent. When they had dated, it had been hard just to get a kiss out of her. And now she was being accused of murder.

“Little Red needed a chicken for dinner. You know, for the basket for her sick grams. So she chased The Chicken across the road. Humpty saw her. You see, The Chicken was that egg’s mom. He was out to rescue her from a wringing-of-the-neck.”

“So Red killed Humpty?”

“Not really. It was a little red convertible.”

The viceroy was all confused now. “But?” That was all he could say. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Big Bad was driving. Ran right over Humpty.”

Hansel wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure?”

“Saw it myself. I happened to be out fox hunting. Had chased poor Foxie up a tree. I was going up the tree when I heard this noise. It was the convertible rushing down the highway. Splat! went Humpty. Big Bad turned the car around and ran over Humpty again just to make sure.”

“No?” Hansel said. Amazed.

“Absolutely. B. B. pulled over and watched Red kill The Chicken. He parked. I followed him following her. She got to her apartment. After she fixed her grams’ picnic basket, she came out of the apartment. He confronted her. But she convinced him that grams would make a better meal than she and The Chicken. Man, she does have a way with words. Could sell an Eskimo a refrigerator.”

“Just what did she do with The Chicken?” Hansel was a gourmet cook. He remembered Red loved his steak tartar. She always wanted to learn how to cook. Now she had cooked real good. Convincing Big Bad the way she did.

“Chicken marsala with mushrooms. I got a whiff of that chicken. Mmmm, bon appetif.”

“So I guess we have them in custody? She for The Chicken, he for Humpty?”

“Not quite, sir. That’s the problem. We did arrest them. But they both got away. Red gave the guard, how shall I say, a coitus dilecti. We know that’s what happened ’cause we have the lip prints. And B. B. overpowered his man. So they are on the loose. We’ve got a man watching grams’ house. Just in case they show. But I don’t think they will.”

“You don’t?” Hansel couldn’t believe his ears. He was going to fire every guard in the place. Have them replaced with robocops.

“Think Big Bad has taken a liking to Little Red.”

Hansel was exasperated. “Why would she go for him?”

“It’s the goldilocks principle, sir. Not too big and not too small but just right, if you know what I mean.”

 

Just another rock ‘n’ roll concert

The roadies—known as the Three Stooges, Weazel, Skwerrel and Rodunt—finished setting the scaffolding on the stage. It was to be a wooden sculpture that provided a backdrop for the band and its work later that evening.

Weazel laid the long wooden poles on the floor. Skwerrel lifted them in the air. Rodunt fitted the  poles into their notches. Then the three tied them together with heavy rope. When they finished with the frame, they brought out the instruments, first the drum kit, then the guitars and the bass. As they did, the backdrop painter came out, pushed a ladder against the sculpture and climbed. He sat his brushes and cans of paint on the shelf at the top, a flat plateau where he would sit that night and paint the backdrop as the concert progressed.

The stage manager, Dark Montana, went over to the side of the stage. He pulled a rope. Canvas unfurled swiftly behind the sculpture. It covered the back of the stage.

“Can you get to it, Flax?” he called out to the painter, referring to the canvas.

The artist was dubbed Flax Seed because he was a health nut. He had been on the road for so long, he couldn’t remember his real name even if someone had asked. That was the way of the road. Everyone had an alias. “Yeah, Dark,” Flax called to the Stage Manager.

“Good,” Dark said. The Stage Manager was an Indian from Southern India. He had been a cow in a former life. As a reward for a joke he played on a swami, dropping his cow turds on the swami’s head while he slept, Dark had come back as a guy everybody pushed around. Knowing his karma well, he often quoted you the chapter and the verse of the Holy Book of the Javas that foretold his fate, “There ain’t no free rides.”

The Three Stooges brought out the four mics, one for the drummer in the back by his drum kit, one for the bass close to the drummer, one for the lead out front. Over to the side stage left and all by his lonesome, one for the rhythm man, Slasher. They called him Slasher because he had a thing for knives. When he got loaded, he liked to throw them.

The band, The Birdmen of Alcatraz, had been on the road for almost fifteen years, with three platinum, a double plat and a gold under their belts. They had a following which could fill a stadium. They took the place of The Grateful Dead as the greatest of all the touring bands. They gave one hell of a show and they never played arenas. They liked  small intimate venues holding less than three thousand. Someone had once said that a fan would have to sell his firstborn to get a front row seat. It was that hard to obtain a ticket.

Flax Seed left his brushes and paints on the platform and made the climb back down the scaffolding and walked over to the Stage Manager. His twin sister Wheat Germ, also very much into nutrition, joined the two of them. She was Pointer’s Old Lady. Pointer was the drummer for the band, The Birdmen of Alcatraz. The three looked around the stage. Flax was the first to comment.

“Man, this stage is so small Pointer’s going to be ramming his sticks up Deep’s ass. Isn’t there anyway we can make room.” Deep was the bass man.

“’Fraid not,” Dark said. “Deep’s just gonna have to live with it.”

“You know, that’s gonna put him in one piss-poor mood. Last time we played a gig this small he had the shits for a week.”

“That’s the road, man,” Slasher always pointed out to his mates. Then Deep would come back, “Well, it’s my ass.”

The Stooges finished setting the stage up for the eight o’clock show. It was three in the afternoon and they still had a sound check to go.

*****

The Birdmen of Alcatraz were in the large dressing room backstage,waiting to do their sound and lighting checks. They slouched in their chairs as they reviewed the order of the songs for the gig.

Pointer was tapping his drumsticks against the side of his chair. As usual, it was driving Slasher nuts. The rhythm guitarist gave Pointer that look he gave when he’d had enough. Pointer stopped and dropped the sticks onto the floor.

“So, that’s it,” Pointer said, writing down the closer for the night.

“Wait a min,” Dietrich said and pulled an acoustic six stringer onto his lap. “I got a new song I think we ought to give a try out.”

Dietrich played lead. Nimble fingered and ripping up the fret of his Stratocaster, he shredded like he was the apocalypse. But he was no composer and the others knew it. He had tried their patience way too many times with his piss-poor songs.

This time it was Pointer who gave Slasher a look. It was an “Oh no. Not again” look. Pointer and Slasher were the songwriters for the band. Deep with his deep bass voice and Dietrich with his high-pitched tenor swapped off lead vocalist. They’d carved up the songwriting territory a long time ago. But, ever so often, one of the guys wanted to test the boundaries and tried to hone in on somebody else’s territory. Occasionally, when the tension became so tight, the others gave in. But this was not one of those times.

“Okay, what you got?” Slasher asked, knowing that Dietrich wouldn’t shut up until he auditioned his new tune. Despite his Scorpio personality, he’d been born on the Libra-Scorpio cusp and he had enough of a Libra in him that made him take the effort to keep the peace. But he never was happy about being a bi-cuspid.

Dietrich plunked the strings on his guitar, then said, “It’s called ‘The Ahnold Song’.” Then he began strumming the stings of his guitar and singing in his high pitched tenor: “He’s the terminator, / he’s the gubernator, / he’s coming with his shock and awe. / He shut the liberals down /  in L. A. town. / Now he’s going for Arkansas. / He’s come real far this Austrian superstar. / He’ll make those demos cry. / With brains in his muscles / and muscles in his brains, / he’s no girly-guy.”

“No, man, no way,” Deep, Pointer and Slasher said at the same time.

“Politics ain’t our gig,” Deep said. “Save that for your solo CD.”

Dietrich’s face showed his disappointment. “But our solos never go anywhere.”

*****

Outside the venue, the band’s fans, who were called the Alcatraz Birdwatcher Society, had been showing up all day long. Though the auditorium could only hold a couple of thousand, there were at least five thousand, maybe more fans outside. And more were coming every hour. Speakers would pipe the band’s music outside that night. As they waited, the atmosphere, as at all the band’s concerts, was turning into a circus—with jugglers, sharpshooters, fire breathers. One guy even ran a rope between the auditorium and the sports arena next door and was walking it.

Mona Manhattan, aka Patty Schumbler, worked her way through the crowd. She’d been a Birdwatcher for almost ten years, since she was sixteen, since she first heard the Birdmen of Alcatraz on the “Eagle Eye.” Her best bud Eloise Macy gave her the band’s first CD, “A Crack in the Sky”, for her sixteenth birthday. When she heard the songs, its angst overcame her. “Eagle Eye” was a perfect song. From that moment on, Mona forsook all other bands, all other music. She just knew their songs were speaking directly to her. She played their CDs so much her mom banned them from the house. Like so many other Birdwatchers, Mona found a way to get a daily dose of the band. To go without a feeding of “Cheepers Creepers” for twelve hours was to “just die” as she put it. Mona Manhattan attended her first Birdman of Alcatraz concert when she was seventeen.

She always loved the circus outside the concert hall when the Birdmen came to play. In some ways, the concerts were anti-climatic. The real action was the parking lot. Over to her left was Harry the Knife Thrower. His favorite band member was Slasher. Mona loved Deep with his eye patch over his right eye, the one that Slasher had taken out five years before after an especially exhausting tour.

*****

Inside, the sound check, the lights check, the instrument check was over. All that was left was to wait for the concert. Each of the band mates skulked away to their individual corner of the dressing room. This was “hurry up and wait” part they all hated. It was like being on death row and taking that long, slow move down the hall to the chair. For the next three hours the tension would build inside each of them until it was just about ready to explode. But it was all well worth it. As one of the Birdwatchers had been quoted by a local newspaper, “It is a thing to behold,” this concert.

Dietrich had an upset stomach. He took no food, just the milk in the pitcher on the table at the back of the room. He poured himself a glass and drank. He went over to a corner and pulled himself into a full lotus and began his practice, counting down the way his yogi had instructed him. He ignored the crowd, filling the room.

Slasher did not like to be alone with his thoughts before a concert. The large dressing room was packed with reporters and Birdwatchers. He moved easily through the crowd and found the Johnny Walker Red which he would consume by concert time.

Deep went into a smaller dressing room and there on the table were the dozen red roses his wife always sent him just before a concert. He walked over to the table, smelled the roses, then opened the bottle of red wine on the table, poured himself a glass and took a sip. It was a good wine, this red. Then he sat down in a chair, picked up his David Copperfield and began to read. It was a good way to pass the time before his steak came. As he sat there, he brooded. Fuck it, I’ll just quit. That’ll teach them.

Pointer walked out into the hall and into Wheat Germ’s arms. He kissed her hard, then the two searched for a place to be alone.

*****

It was seven-fifty. Just before he left the dressing  room, Slasher, as he always did, drowned the last swig of the scotch from bottle, opened a second bottle of the Red and poured it over his head, then he smashed the empty bottle against the wall. It was time to go kick some butt.

The four Birdmen—Deep, Dietrich, Pointer, Slasher—met behind the stage and formed a circle, arms length to arms length, each man’s hands on the shoulder of the man next to him. They stood there that way, holding themselves for several minutes, the tension building up. Then Slasher broke the silence. “Let’s lock and load.”

They turned and walked out onto the dark stage.