From the Desk of Windy Pines Christmas Tree Farm

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Dear Windy Pines customer,

Happy holidays! Everyone at Windy Pines Christmas Tree Farm is looking forward to a great season. Right off the bat, let me say this: we are 100 percent committed to correcting the minor yet nagging problems that you may have experienced with us in the past. So come get your tree! The burrowing carpet mite infestation has been, to a significant degree, controlled. And by the time you read this, so has the feral cat situation. (We’re setting the traps tonight!) As for the blister beetles, well, some things you just have to live with. How they got here from South America, I’ll never know!

I’ll be honest — this past year has been a time of soul searching for the Windy Pines family. Frankly, we were a bit staggered by the mind-bogglingly consistent statements from more than a few folks last year that Windy Pines was the “worst Christmas tree farm in the world.” And by the TV news reports that said the same thing. At the time we thought to ourselves: Oh, come on now, the worst? What about tree farms in foreign countries that don’t celebrate Christmas? Then appeared the inflammatory yard signs denouncing our tree farm, followed by that reader’s poll in Parade magazine. Okay, that got our attention. Message received.

Of course, we’ve tried several times to correct problems with the help of our customer comment cards. However, most of these were simply smeared with feces, with few or no written comments provided. But thank you for that wake-up call. We know you can always choose another tree farm, one that, say, doesn’t hire employees who hurl holiday-themed insults at you. That’s why we’re making some changes to the way we do business. We want you back! Ho! Ho! Ho!

First, we promise that you will find all the major varieties of Christmas tree at our Christmas tree farm, including the universally popular Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, and Colorado Blue Spruce. As to why we’ve never offered any of these trees before, I have no answer. But we now subscribe to several trade magazines to stay up on that.

Next, our salespeople pledge not to sulk and sigh heavily when you ask to see something “fuller,” “taller,” or “less brown.” Our nativity scene will be slightly more “traditional.” Our tree shaker will be used exclusively for its proper purpose. There will not be a dead reindeer in back of the utility shed. You will not be tailed by a mysterious brown station wagon after you drive away from the tree farm. We sold that car, so I can guarantee that. Also, prostitution will no longer be tolerated. Although this is due more to a local police initiative than to anything we did, we feel it is a positive step. So bring the kids! We hope to have free peppermint sticks!

Many people have asked us if we operate another business the rest of the year, so that they can avoid this business too. Well, that’s a discouraging attitude, but truth to tell, we’ve tied our fortunes solely to Christmas trees, come what may. So, as you may have guessed, we really need a bang-up holiday season this year. In fact, we’re counting on it. C’mon, give us another whirl! We promise no family arguments in front of customers. And we will not beat King Wenceslas, our Christmas tree farm dog. Unless he bites you, then it’s your call. His fate is in your hands!

I know that we may have disappointed you, our valued customer. I know that we have to win back your trust. I know that being named the “worst Christmas tree farm in the world” (informally and then formally and then, briefly, legally) puts us in the underdog role vis-à-vis our competition. But if you just give us another chance, I know we can make it right. The Spirit of Christmas suffuses every inch of Windy Pines. You’ll notice the change immediately, along with the absence of Asian gangs. Isn’t that refreshing!? And remember, Santa will be visiting us next Saturday and Sunday from noon till four. We hope to see you. By the way, he’s a new Santa. So don’t worry.

Warmest holiday regards,

Dave Bleemstead, Proprietor

Along with Umar, Mrs. Flanch, Mysterio and the rest of the Windy Pines Family

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How To Boil Water

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grampsoldster@hotmail.com

As editor of the “Foods and Industrial Waste” section of the Daily Movement, I often receive inquiries on how to cook various dishes. Many of you who saw last Thursday’s recipe for Hot Water have asked that I elucidate the most difficult stage in preparing the dish, i.e., how to boil water.

First, and most important, you need some water. Several of you asked if it would be all right to leave out the water. It isn’t! You must have water, if only for appearance’s sake. Besides, it improves the flavor.

Next, you should have some sort of cooking utensil in which to prepare the water — a saucepan, bedpan or yarmulke (please note: Peter Pan is not a cooking utensil, although he may be roasted over a slow fire with very positive results). Again, a few of you asked whether the cooking container was necessary. Believe me, it is. All those years I spent in the Navy weren’t wasted, I can tell you.

You’ll also need a stove, campfire, forest fire, liquid metal fast breeder reactor, or other reliable heat source.

Now then, collect the water. Any amount will do, but discriminating chefs make a point of using neither more nor less than can be drained from the lungs of a drowned man. Of course the advantages of this method are obvious.

Carry the container of water to your heat source, bearing in mind at all times that seven-tenths of the world’s surface is water, and that the Sun is 93,000,000 miles away from Earth.

Let the water cook for about three days or three shakes of a dead lamb’s tail. Stir the water constantly to keep it from burning. Use a spoon, the branch of a tree, or your fingers.

After the water has stewed in its own juices for a while, it should start bubbling (what scientists call “boiling”). At times you may hear plaintive, piteous cries for help from inside the container. Ignore them.

At last your water is ready. Pour it into porcelain teacups, if you have them, or directly into the hands of your dinner guests. It must be imbibed quickly, or it soon cools and loses all its flavor.

Now, slouch back in your settee, light up your meerschaum, and just listen to your guests compliment you. Bon appetit!

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The Pensacola Pentagon

By:
grampsoldster@hotmail.com

Over the last 200 years, 14,000 bags of butterscotch, 31 United States Presidents, eight maids a’milking, four-and-twenty blackbirds and three blind mice have mysteriously disappeared into the area that has come to be called the “Pensacola Pentagon.”

Many anonymous scientists have admitted they are completely baffled by these strange occurrences. The Navy refuses to comment on the matter. The Coast Guard wants to, but doesn’t know how. No one seems to know much of anything, although President Eisenhower has sometimes been heard faintly through the fog, shouting “Get me out of here!” Yet the evidence continues to mount…or does it?

In 1868, the schooner Wormwood XIII sank in a hurricane within the Pensacola Pentagon. The craft was discovered in 1969 under 300 feet of water. Subsequent investigation showed that except for a 50-by-20-foot gash in her hull, she was sound and seaworthy. What suicidal impulse compelled the crew to abandon this fine vessel, never to be seen again?

On February 28, 1955, a Romanian passenger jet vanished in mid-flight without a trace. Lost in this disaster were three persons, including the entire Romanian Olympic knitting team. The last ever heard from the plane was this cryptic message: “Knit one, purl two; knit one, purl two…Hey, either of you fellows mind if I open the window for a little fresh ai–”

On September 10, 1974, thousands of well-wishers swarmed to see the launching of the Titanic, only to find that the ship had sunk 62 years previously.

Who or what is behind these bizarre happenings? My mom? Your mom? Or is it merely a mutant horde of radioactive, flesh-eating, certified public accountant zombies that devours all in its path? Where is the Pensacola Pentagon, anyway? What is the government hiding from us, besides our names and addresses? On what three ideals was the French Revolution founded?

Perhaps an even more vexing question is why the phenomenon has confined itself to the Pensacola Pentagon instead of, for example, swallowing up Long Beach or New Jersey. We must conclude, sadly, that there are powerful alien forces working to destroy human civilization, and that should they ever unionize, we can all take a rain check on tomorrow.

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My Farewell Address to the City Council

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Honorable ladies and gentlemen, fellow members of the City Council, it is with a mixture of joy, sadness and sedation that I make my final address to you as mayor of Milkweed, Kansas. There is something to be said for seeing a project through to the end, but it’s also a blessing to know when it’s time to move on. Of course, few of us enjoy the convenience of having a massive recall campaign draw our attention to this fact. So, in light of our past history, I deeply appreciate the opportunity to offer these closing words — some would say “defense” — and I would raise my hand in salute to you, were it not for the handcuffs attached to the leg manacles.

My record speaks for itself and may be viewed in its entirety at the Topeka Court of Common Pleas, docket #7643. The list of my accomplishments is surprisingly long, especially considering my record-setting 17-day tenure. The sexual harassment suits; the nepotism; the “misappropriation of funds;” the Internet pornography scandal — these are just a few of the highlights. But from the moment I was swept into power on the heels of the previous administration’s Internet pornography scandal, I believed I would make a difference to the political landscape. Who could have foreseen that I would make a difference to the actual landscape by repealing all signage ordinances, so that now virtually every lawn features a rollaway placard with liquor specials? I guess politics is an art, not a science.

As you no doubt recall, on my first day in office I hit the ground running — from the Kansas Highway Patrol. However, my whirlwind visual survey of the city at speeds between 95 and 110 mph gave me a good overview of the job ahead. From my brief but memorable stay in the Milkweed city jail, I also gained some cost-cutting ideas in regards to staffing.

It immediately became clear that mine was destined to be an administration that didn’t conduct business as usual. What’s that? “Or any business,” you say? Thank you, sheriff. Yes, I was a leader who looked at problems and asked “What if?” and “Why not?” Such as “What if we got rid of zoning?” And “Why not rescind open container laws?” So today, a family in Milkweed, Kansas, has merely to walk next door to get a tattoo or work in the battery factory. While drinking a beer. And I’m the one in chains?

Was I not responsible for the more efficient use of city vehicles? By prepositioning our lone ambulance outside my house, I drastically reduced response times. Thank God my guests (and I) required only seven trips to the emergency room. Now that was a surprise, to be sure!

Nothing came as more of a shock to me personally than discovering my talent for bridge building. I’m sorry, what? No, not real bridges. I see that you’re laughing. Yes, reverend, I get the joke. What I mean is, I span the gaps between people, building bridges of understanding, love and respect. Who can deny that I brought together the most diverse group of religious, ethnic, civic and business leaders Milkweed has ever seen? All united to achieve their one goal: kicking me out. I hope you all rot.

Finally, one would say that it’s ironic that I insisted upon this final address to the City Council, a body that I tried to disband the day after my election. And I realize that when I did manage to attend a council meeting, all I cared talk about was NASCAR. So thank you for putting me at the top of today’s agenda. Personally, I would have saved me for the end to build up interest in the meeting, but still I see there is a packed house here tonight, along with a big showing from the FBI.

Oh, speaking of that, I want to address my record on public safety. Since my election, Milkweed has seen a 15 percent reduction in crime. My own. I just haven’t had the hours to fully devote myself to it. I could go on and on about this subject, but the U.S. Marshals are — okay, okay — they’re tapping their watches. So sayonara and God bless Milkweed! You weasels. As for my legacy, let’s let history decide, shall we? And the parole board.

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Nature’s Little Seismographs

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I have here in my hand an article that would cause everyone a great deal of worry if there weren’t already so many things to worry about. It seems a group of scientists at UCLA have discovered a new method of predicting earthquakes based on the reactions of the common cockroach (Blatta orientalis). Regardless of what we may think of them (cockroaches, I mean), they are highly sensitive creatures. They’ve been around a lot longer than us and it doesn’t surprise me one bit to learn that they can spot an earthquake coming up to twelve hours away. After that, though, they simply make fools of themselves. They go all to pieces.

According to this article the average cockroach, when he feels an earthquake coming on, “may run in circles for hours and hours until he’s completely exhausted, then collapse on his back in a death-like coma.” What it doesn’t say is that the little fellow is probably screaming “Earthquake! Earthquake!” at the top of his tiny lungs, hoping that some responsible citizen will alert the authorities.

But no one hears him because, after all, no one listens to a cockroach except another cockroach, and even they don’t really listen — they just nod their heads and murmur “I know, I know.” So he passes out on the floor and usually has to be brought around with smelling salts. That’s when the full realization hits him. Many roaches will sit down right then and have themselves a good cry. Others turn to drink, and it’s no use trying to talk them out of it. They know.

Another sign of impending doom is that the roach “loses all interest in the opposite sex.” As soon as he feels the slightest tremor, apparently, the male drops everything and says “Not tonight, I have an earthquake.” There’s nothing for the female to do but smoke a cigarette until he gets over it. The female isn’t annoyed by earthquakes. She is only annoyed by the male.

What’s frightening about all this is that the scientists are willing to pin their future — and ours — on so chronically high-strung an insect as the cockroach. Sure, he gets the jitters whenever he hears an earthquake, but maybe he falls out of bed when a train whistle blows in the middle of the night, too. Maybe any little noise sets him off. He’s continually on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

How do we know other, more trustworthy household pests can’t be trained to do the same job? I’ll bet sow bugs can predict earthquakes just as accurately as cockroaches, yet because they don’t go pulling their own legs off and sobbing into their handkerchiefs they never make the news. Instead, they hide under the nearest rock until it’s safe outside. Then when they crawl back into the sunlight, dusting off their antennae, they can always say “I told you so.”

I say let’s give the sow bugs a chance. It’s either that or climb under the rock with them.

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