Waiting for the Saucer

It’s after midnight but they still haven’t arrived. I’m getting sleepy but am determined to stay awake until the saucer lands. They cautioned me it won’t make a sound, but I might feel a rush of wind and smell ozone. The ship itself won’t be terribly bright, just a burnt orange glow. If you’re looking right at it you’d see it, but then why would you be looking in my yard in the middle of the night?

So far I’m the only one in my family who takes this seriously. I’ve been packed and ready to go for days now. My wife is unsympathetic. The kids can’t get bothered. Fine, let them stay. I’ve been ready for a change ever since I retired five years ago. There’s nothing I want here. Nothing at all.

The other retired guys all meet for coffee at the local supermarket coffee shop at six a.m. If they’d open the doors at five half of them would be there at that time. They talk about politics and sports. Their wives take a several table, but there aren’t as many of them as there are of us. I don’t know what the women talk about. Probably us.

The fact is, we’d all be thrilled if aliens really were taking an interest in us and wanted to take us away. Only I seem to have the faith. The others may follow as their hollow lives become even emptier. I have no interest in converting them to my faith. What’s in it for me? Where I’m going, I don’t need more friends from back home. They never did much for me in the past. No, I’m looking forward to transformation, to becoming somebody else entirely.

What will it be like to wake up my first morning on another world? Will be there one sun or two? Will the vegetation be completely different or just exotic? Will women find me attractive? Will I be attracted to them? Do they even have men and women, or do they lay eggs or give birth through a hole in their sides?

I’m sure it will be way different, but I find that prospect exciting. Anything but more of this same old same old. I figure if the saucer doesn’t land, I can always move across the world to some place like Mongolia or Tasmania. Things might be different enough there to stave off boredom for a few more years.

A few hours passed and the saucer landed. All that waiting made the landing itself seem anticlimactic. Once I was inside, we took off and were far away from Earth within a matter of minutes. For the first time in a long time, I began to relax and enjoy myself.

The saucer’s interior was decorated in 1960’s Bachelor Pad. Men with van Dyke beards smoked pipes. Women in capri pants, their hair in long pony tails lounged about, examining LP record album covers. There was an elaborate Hi-Fi sound system, though it was in mono, as there was only one speaker. We were listening to Miles Davis’ Kinda Cool. A man started reciting an improvised poem. A woman sang scat. I expected to see Hugh Hefner appear wearing a silk dressing gown and an ascot.

A bald and bearded professor type came over and started talking to me about music theory. He was explaining the concept of the Circle of Fifths in harmony, and how that could be applied in unusual time signatures, like 12/8. I pretended to understand what he was talking about, and nodded my head as he elaborated each point. Someone was burning incense. I thought I caught a whiff of ganja.

This was far from the sterile world I had come to expect thanks to all the movies I’d seen set in space ships. Maybe I would be able to fit in. I guess I had assumed that whoever these aliens were, they wouldn’t be much like us. At least from what I’d seen so far, I had to conclude I was wrong.

The women became more friendly towards me as our voyage continued. They seemed to find me “interesting.” As much as I enjoyed our conversations, I never gained much insight into their specific personalities. They were just pretty women with pony tails, being flirty in sort of a Junior High way.

I guess we were headed somewhere far away, for we were en route at least a week before we landed. I had hoped for a planet that was lush and verdant, sunny and full of fresh air. Instead, we emerged into a series of dimly-lit tunnels. As we were walking I asked the professor where these tunnels lead. “To other tunnels,” was his reply.

The first few days they took me to an institute of some kind, maybe a research university, where after a brief physical examination, they simply asked me questions. How did Bach’s music differ from Chopin’s? What was the radio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference? What is plutonium? Do most compounds exist in more than one state? How many apply to water? What was the first network situation comedy filmed instead of shot live? Where was it filmed? Why were so many early television shows based in New York?

I knew the answers to most of the questions they asked. Whether or not this impressed them I couldn’t tell, because they simply moved on to the next question. After three days of this, I was tired and told them so. I wanted to be shown their planet. This request confused them. “But this is our planet,” the replied.

So this was it. They lived in bunkers underground. And I thought my options were bleak back home.

I asked them what they did for fun. The replied they watched a lot of our television shows, but since the speed of light was only a measly 186,000 miles a second, they only now were getting the shows we had broadcast in 1957. They asked me who I preferred among newscasters, Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite or that new duo, Huntley and Brinkley.

I told them I was homesick and asked when the next saucer would leave headed back toward my home. They laughed nervously. I told them I was serious. They said they’d ask, but there was a big universe out there and they couldn’t guarantee the timing would suit me.

In the meantime, we could try collaborating on a TV show. In our interviews, I had mentioned that my earliest memories of being delighted by creativity and wit came from watching Steve Allen on the Tonight Show. I told them I had always hoped I could have a show like that, and improvise as effortlessly as Steve Allen had. They proposed that we do such a show, and went so far as to buy me some over-sized glasses that resembled those worn by Mister Allen and Roy Orbison, for that matter. I would interview a bevy of pony-tailed starlets with names like Gigi, Gidget and Brigette, as well as some bearded hipsters named Dirk, Bret and Clay. We could talk about upcoming movies and hit records we were excited about, even though there were no such products. I’m not sure they even had television on this planet, but they did have a way of storing our performances.

They gave me a piano onstage which I could pretend to play, while they piped in Bill Evans performing in his unique style.

We made five, one-hour shows, and I became more and more comfortable playing the role of TV talk-show host. In the course of my conversation with these faux starlets and stars, I learned:

That the surface of this planet was a radioactive wasteland, the result of an unfortunate nuclear war that took place years ago.

That the forms my hosts had assumed for my sake came from their study of our planet, but in actuality they were a green, bubbling foam that rose a few inches when it got excited and then settled down to being a slimy carpet.

That they couldn’t guarantee me that upon return I would find the Earth at the same era it was when I left. Time was a slippery thing across great distance. Celestial navigation was both an art and a science. Fortunately, my memories were equally likely to become foggy and vague, and if we did return at a different time, it would be sort of like an alcoholic coming out of a blackout and having to buy a newspaper to find out the date.

But I was willing to risk it all just to get home.

Happiness is a Choice

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be. This was said by Abraham Lincoln, a major depressive who had good cause for grief, but slogged along until someone put a bullet in his head at the age of 56.

We’d rather believe that conditions outside us determine our emotional state. Nothing could be further from the truth. “If only I had…then I’d be happy” statements abound, especially in a world saturated with commerce and advertising.

Again, it’s a lie, although a convenient one. It spawns all sorts of spending and getting, grasping and discarding, hours of longing and days of remorse.

There’s a period Freud called “latency” which occurs just before adolescence kicks in. Children in this blissful state are not yet preoccupied with being popular or attractive. They are no longer babies, yet not yet teenagers. Their bodies have not yet begun to grow in surprising spurts, and by the most part they aren’t awkward. Even though they don’t know it, they are going through a very lucky period that, unfortunately, doesn’t last long.

Apparently, Abraham Lincoln was renowned for his ugliness. He was often compared to an ape. It doesn’t seem he let that fact overly discourage him. It must have taken a certain amount of self-esteem to successfully run for President.

Hopefully, he made up his mind to be as happy as he wanted to be in the time he had. He was a damn good writer. Wrote the Gettysburg address on the back of an envelope on his way to the event. At the actual ceremony, almost nobody heard him give his short speech, for Stephen Douglas who went on before him had spoken for more than an hour, and the crowd was exhausted. In fact, a lot of people didn’t even realize Lincoln was speaking, as there were no public address sound systems at the time. It was only when the newspapers printed his speech the following day that it attracted attention.

Ready to Go Again


OK, so I’m ready to start working again. I got everything fixed that was broken. I’m rested and able to concentrate again. It’s been a while since that was the case, but I remember what it feels like to have use of all my faculties. People who think there’s something interesting about insanity have never been insane. Those of us who have been there and back know there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get somewhere by fighting delusion.

We take the ability to think for granted until that ability disappears and is replaced by the ability to make stuff up in order to fill the void left when reason ran for cover. It’s a war, and both sides lose. Nobody comes out on top. As both commanding officer and foot soldier, I know what it’s like to wait for reinforcements that never arrive. Surrendering to the winning side seems like a good idea until you realize there are no victors, only casualties. The General has shit himself and the infantry refuses to leave the foxhole.

There can be no victors in such a situation. Suicide seems like an option. Having fought the good fight, bowing out gracefully could be see as courage. When you find yourself looking down at a hundred foot drop, a voice in your head whispers “jump.” So far I have resisted these voices and they’re strident demands. I sometimes worry that I will become too weak to do so.

My doctors devised a special magnetic cap for me to wear that brings me some comfort. It is basically an a rubber shower cap with disc magnets glued to the outside. The thirty dime-sized discs are powerful enough to reach through my skull and into my brain. If I wear a hat, it’s barely noticeable. I can also use a wig to hide the magnetic cap. I find that when I wear it I am able to think clearly and remain calm. I am able to focus.

Without it, I can be fine for a while but then I spiral down into anxiety and paranoia. The voices in my head become louder, more demanding, and critical of everyone I meet. They invite me to think that I am being denied the honors and comforts due me, that I can’t trust anyone to wish me well, and that my main role in this life is to point out what’s wrong with others. This is no recipe for peace of mind. It does not lead to a contented life.

In some places and at some times they called my condition an “artistic temperament.” Some wind up being praised for their sensitivity, and are called “geniuses.” Others of us wind up institutionalized, given a diagnosis and labeled that way for the rest of our lives. It all depends on the luck of the draw. If your artistic temperament threatens someone in a position of power, that person will find a way to have you diagnosed and diminished. Maybe that’s why I am where I am today.

I am a prophet, a poet, a priest. I see what others cannot. Even with my eyes closed, the images come, sometimes with astounding clarity.

Hobo Love


We both enjoy riding the rails and don’t mind getting dirty in order to do it. Grime is part of train travel, especially at the boxcar level. Plenty of fresh air. Heading West, when the train gets to western Nebraska, nights can be chilly. Then all through Colorado, the altitude rises and even the days become cool. By the time we start snaking through the Rockies, it’s time to slide the door shut and wrap yourself in whatever blankets are at hand. Leave a slit open during the day so you can catch some of the scenery, because believe me, it’s worth catching.

Not many people hang their clothes outside to dry, now that machine dryers are ubiquitous. Few pies are left to cool on windowsills. Fortunately, thanks to cheap Chinese clothing, the world is overflowing with free used and sometimes even new garments, and church groups offer free lunches in church basements all over the place. You’ve just got to ask.

Compared to me, Greta is shy, so I’m the one who does the talking. I’m not the least bit embarrassed about our position. Many people look at us with envy. It was Helen Keller, born blind and deaf who said “The reason nobody has ever experienced Security is because it doesn’t exist. Life is either an exciting adventure or it is nothing.”

I’ve been able to see and hear since birth, but I stand with Helen. No use hedging your bet, this is all there is, so you might as well go for whatever interests you and forget about asking for permission. People fool themselves into thinking that if they ask the right person in a position of authority for help, it will get easier. It won’t. There is no one “above” you in any sense of the term.

We hobos enjoy a freedom that others deny themselves. We love our freedom, and that liberty sets us free to love, really love, ourselves and others. This is the essence and totality of hobo love.

Everyone likes the idea of freedom, but few are prepared to pay its price. With freedom comes responsibility and letting go of blame altogether. No excuses. Envy disappears when one takes charge of ones’ own life, and jealousy is replaced by admiration for those who have gone after what they wanted and gotten it.

Dr. Science Remembers Paraguay

I was living and working in Paraguay when I heard that George W Bush was eager to purchase a large tract of land in a country that had no extradition treaty with the US. I showed him an attractive acreage near Capitan Miranda, a town that just happened to have been the home of Doctor Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi Angel of Death. Bush wasn’t as sold on the Nazi connection as I thought he might have been, but he assured me that Rumsfeld and Cheney would be, and were eager to come visit. He assured me that Paraguay was “their kind of place,” and we even went so far as to make reservations a the Tivoli Hotel, a Bavarian-styled structure with a good swimming pool and plenty of secretive stone rooms to do…whatever in.

Yes, when the rats flee a sinking ship they all do it together. Kissinger himself has the best contacts all over the world, and is constantly turning down offers of asylum in countries that promise to forget and forgive, and actively honor his legacy while keeping him comfortable and safe.

As I scientist I was fascinated to hear that Nazi UFO research and mind-control experiments involving psychoactive plants had continued on after the war in both Paraguay and Argentina. Ground-breaking research that dares to delve into the unorthodox and possibly illegal always grabs my attention. I could imagine spending a delightful evening sharing my results with Rumsfeld and Cheney, while a Bush happily played with blocks on the floor. After all, it was Rumsfeld who back during the Ford Administration got Aspartame approved even after it had been banned as a sugar substitute. First developed by the Nazis as a nerve agent, and now rechristened as “Amino Sweet Natural Sweetener” it was merely the first triumph in his legacy leading up to the events of September 11, 2001.

Yes, these boys would be happy in Paraguay where land and human life is cheap. Alfredo Stroessner, the dictator of the country for more than 35 years, had a personal torturer, who would let him listen in via telephone to torture sessions that he couldn’t attend because of his busy schedule. Stroessner had a permanent suite at the Tivoli Hotel, and often entertained teen-age beauties by the pool.



He was always selling something and always closing the sale. You simply could not say “no” to him. He would refuse to listen to anything other than what he wanted to hear. He would change the subject, turn things around backwards, sideways, upside down, attack, pretend to concede, gaslight…whatever it took to ultimately get his way.

People who knew him crossed the street when they saw him coming. There were always new victims, marks, or as he called them “prospective customers.” The only solace people found was in realizing that they had a part in this, and the adage “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” offered some comfort.

He was, on the other hand, extremely kind in public to his family members. He was just as ruthless in dealing with competitors and others outside his immediate circle. When he would play the piano, he displayed admirable musicianship and sensitivity. His performances of Chopin Nocturnes could bring a tear to your eye. If he saw you were moved, he would try to sell you the piano he was playing, inventing stories about it that would convince you this was a rare opportunity he was offering, the deal of a lifetime. The pedigree of this piano was enough to inspire a documentary film, and in fact one was in the offing already, made by some Polish company you’ve never heard of, but soon would. This piano should be in a museum! Hurry, act now. The window of opportunity is closing.

When he traveled, he did so with a fake service dog. He had a note from a psychiatrist prescribing the service dog that in his professional opinion should accompany his patient anywhere and everywhere. Oddly enough, he didn’t enjoy the company of animals. It simply delighted him to enjoy freedoms denied to others. He would lock the dog in his hotel room and let it shit on the bed. The maids could clean it up. If he raised a big enough fuss, he might be able to get management to refund him the price of the room.