Friday, August 02, 2002


As is not unknown to happen around these parts, I had a bit of a revelation last night whilst walking home from a local pub.

I was not struck blind, did not see a burning bush, had no dreams of angels or ladders, was not slyly approached by Athene dressed as a cute shepherd boy, no. It was much more mysterious than that.

The message I received has been plaguing my waking and sleeping hours nonstop since my 10 p.m. stroll, and still I come no closer to unraveling its mysteries, unscrewing its inscrutability.

So I’m turning to you, my faithful readers, for help.

The message is deceptively simple: two letters and a punctuation mark.



That’s the letter “C” as in “cacophony” or “criminologist” or “cunning”, followed by the letter “I” as in “illumination” or “I-Mac” or “immunodeficiency,” followed by an exclamation mark!

What does it mean, what does it mean?

Perhaps the way in which the secret message was transmitted to me may shed some light on its significance.

Between most of the better quality pubs in Saratoga and the sanctuary of Kate’s Landing, is, quite naturally, a bridge that crosses what in ordinary years we fondly refer to as the North Platte River (but this year tends to get called “that $$^&#&!ing trickle we have to save for the cranes in Nebraska” or some such). And in that river live many, many things... minnows, insect larvae, crawdads, water snakes, the occasional labrador in search of his frisbee, dying trout, and of course, my new option in oracular organisms, mallard ducks.

As in a whole flotilla of them.

Just north of the bridge.

All facing in the same direction (south), like a marching band awaiting a signal from the drum major.

And like a marching band on the move, as I approached the midpoint on the bridge and stopped to lean over and look at them, they began their drills.

Some turned around and headed north. Others headed south along their previously-chosen vectors. Others remained quite firmly in place, their gazes still locked on some strange unknown fixed and immovable point in the distance.

Then, slowly, the whole flotilla began to drift gently north, still performing its intricate drills that, I realized, seemed almost to form, you guessed it, letters.

Indeed, they were letters. English letters! And then possibly, now that I think about it, some Greek ones... I kept waiting at the time for the little bar to appear on what looked emphatically like it was going to be capital “A” (CIA! Ohmigodeverybodyduckandhideyourguns!) but just now I realized in my oracular fashion that an “A” without a bar is, in fact, a capital LAMBDA (the Greek letter “L”).

So maybe the message was CIL!

Yeah, that makes much more sense, doesn’t it?

So anyway, my first thought this morning was that maybe what was being designated was Roman numerals, which would make the original message “101!” perhaps the number that would be the “winning” number at coffee this morning and thus one to be chosen at all costs.

Of course, given that “L” I just realized was there, the number would actually be something like “149” (C=100, I=1, L=50. Usually a smaller unit before a larger, like the I before the L designates that the actual number is the value of the larger minus the smaller, i.e., 50-1, i.e. 49).

But the winning number at coffee today was less than 100 because there were only like six of us there and was actually 85 (for those who care about this sort of thing, the number I chose was 84, meaning I NAILED THE CANTINA OWNER, who accused me of channelling the Sewer King and the Pressman, which maybe I was, maybe I was. Anyway, Macklebrains bought coffee today. Woo!). So whatever the message was had nothing to do with the numbers game (unless 101 or 149 were the magic numbers for the High Table at lunch today...).

Actually, of course, the Roman numeral theory is a pretty weak one, else why would the final “digit” have been in Greek instead of the Latin alphabet we use for English?

So I guess I have to get more exotic.

Again, just dangling off the first conclusion to which I jumped, LAMBDA in days of yore was the symbol the Spartan army had emblazoned on its shields (“L” for “Lakedaemon,” that part of the southern Peloponnesian peninsula where the city of Sparta stood). And as everybody knows, Sparta was one of the two combatants in the Peloponnesian war, about which the first proper history was ever written, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (one of my very favorite books), the other being, of course, Athens, and didn ‘t I already mention that city’s patron goddess, Athene? WEIRD, man. WEIRD!

So maybe I can expect a visit from 101 Spartans sometime soon!

That’s unlikely, though, since there really aren’t any anymore.

So... hell, I dunno. Maybe the ducks were just telling me to “Congregate In Lebanon.”

Or “Concentrate Intense Lager.”

Or “Consume Insect Larvae” (hey, maybe they were just telling me the fishing is good?).

What do you folks think?

I just know this meant something, dammit!

Wednesday, July 31, 2002


My out of town readers are probably getting a little bored with this (then again, maybe not), but Beautiful Bob has struck again, and this time, as many predicted, he’s wasting his energy on your humble blogger.

I say wasting not only because he is making it inherently difficult to take him seriously, but also because in attacking me he is attacking someone who can’t get voted out of office for two more years. So, fine with me!

His schtick this time requires a bit of background information to fully savor.

About two years ago, when I was still working for a certain local media outlet, I did a big splashy feature story during an extremely slow news week profiling “Saratoga’s Dogs of Business.” It was a big photo-and-feature article on all of the interesting dogs who served as “official greeters” or what have you in Saratoga’s business community. It was cute and widely regarded as one of my more interesting efforts (myself, I’m still prouder of my column about trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk that appeared in that same issue, but never mind) and was considered for a Wyoming Press Award at the time.

Now BB is on about “what a difference two years makes.”

In wildly hilarious fashion.

To wit:

Rollie, Megan, Gunner, Tula, Sam, Skippy, Rascal, Princess and Whiskey we miss you, even if the New Sheriff in town thinks you’re quaint.

Now, there’s a lot that is wrong with this sentence even from a strictly rhetorical point of view (why would we MISS something just because it’s found QUAINT?) (MISS: “To feel the lack or loss of” [I’m assuming this is the use of the word he wishes to make - none of the other definitions, such as “to fail to hit, reach, catch, meet or otherwise make contact with”, seem to apply]; QUAINT: charmingly odd, especially in an old-fashioned way), but it’s also pretty wildly inaccurate from a factual point of view.

Oddly enough, I had been contemplating updating that very article for this very web page, because contrary to the implications made by BB “(a new town council and a new sheriff in town (directed by the Mayor) with a no dog agenda has stripped this small (and getting smaller) community of all its personality and made it like any town USA)” there are still plenty of dogs in residence in Saratoga’s downtown and outlying businesses.

I’ll first account for those listed in my original article that are “missed” (noting that BB left out poor Squeaker at Zeiger Enterprises, as well as the much-loved dogs at Town & Country Realty but I’ll get to T&C in a moment).

Rollie - his daddy closed up the barber shop to go RVing. But Rollie - actually spelled “Raleigh” like the tobacco, my original mistake in the article - was there in the barber shop like a “little black mop” until its very last day in business.

Megan - Still holding court at Laura M. Usually there are photos of her featured on the web page, too.

Gunner - Missing, presumed dead. His daddy has since acquired a golden lab puppy who has yet to appear at the Cantina, but his grandpa has a new chocolate lab puppy, Bud, that is often to be seen either at the Catina or Saulcy Land Company, depending on whether it’s grandpa or grandma who got dibs that day.

Tula - Almost stepped on her the last time I was shopping at Buggie Bear Station. Most definitely still there, cute, nervous and cuddly as ever.

Sam - Still bravely guarding Erickson’s Gifts and the Hot Dog Shop, still getting lots of treats from Hot Dog Shop patrons. I will also note that “Aunt” Ellie sometimes “forgets” to charge regulars for the “naked” hot dogs we order for our own pets. What a sweetie!

Skippy - Hat Creek’s “Bow Legged Cow Dog” mascot is still there from time to time, but he’s getting old. He was already mostly blind and largely deaf when I first did the story two years ago, but last I saw, just a few weeks ago, he was still hanging on.

Rascal - His mommy no longer works at the Chamber of Commerce, so he stays at home. In his place at the Chamber of Commerce are not one but TWO dogs: my enabling assistant’s wacky Wheaton Terrier/Poodle mix, Hobbes, and my own beloved Collie of Folly, Molly. Sometimes you can see both of them, perched in either window, watching people go by and waiting to lick the next office visitor to death. They are definitely a draw here.

Princess - Too, the store which Princess ruled has closed down due to owner’s ill health. Dear Vi doesn’t live here anymore and we do miss her.

Whiskey - While it is true that one of our officers DID ticket Whiskey for having a paw sticking out onto the sidewalk during said officer’s first week on duty, that foolishness has not been repeated, and Whiskey is still very much in evidence at Do It Best, and also frequently joins us for coffee in the morning at the Cantina, where his duties are most assiduously performed: he serves as drool spigot, pony whip and toast thief, and takes his responsibilities most seriously.

Some BB failed to mention... Leo and Romo used to hang at Town & Country Realty, but Leo is no more and Romo’s mommy has moved to Shepard ERA Realty. I’ve not seen Romo there, but it is a big office to find such a little dog in.

Zeke the Tree Climbing Dog can still be met at Hack’s Tackle and Outfitters when he’s not farting around in the river behind the store.

Plus there is a pomeranian, whose name I can’t ever remember, romping around most days at Second Impressions, and Far Out West Bed and Breakfast is home to not one but two bichon friezes.

So, um, by my reckoning, the difference that two years has made is that there are MORE dogs of business in Saratoga, not fewer.

I wonder where it is that BB has been shopping that he hasn’t noticed this trend?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002


I confess it. It’s all me. Everything you’ve been reading, imagining, seeing in your alcohol soaked delerium in the early morning, every transmission that’s made it through your little tinfoil hat, is true.

There is a conspiracy, and qui bono indeed. Nobody benefits from it except me and the secret cadre of investors who were wily enough to see the unique opportunity for profit that my scheme offered them. Early retirements, houses in Monte Carlo, immunity from SEC scrutiny or prosecution – this plan has it all.

So why am I revealing it now?

Because it’s too late, ha ha ha hahahahahahah! There’s nothing you can do! There’s nothing any of you can do! So like a good cartoon villain, I lay it out here in all its glory.

And even if I’m bullshitting you, I’m still providing myself with the perfect defense, aren’t I? Who’d be dumb enough to expose her own nefarious plots on her very own web page for everyone to see, just to fill some space and get the monkey off her back for a day?

Me, that’s who!

It’s true, you see. The Saratoga Police Department is out to get the dogs. All the dogs. Little, hideous yappy ones that leap out of the fake fur place when you walk by, giant ordinarily friendly chocolate labs who inexplicably growl at their owners’ coffee buddies from the back and of said owners’ pickups when said buddies walk innocently by on the street, vicious doberman pinschers who would like nothing better than to rip your head off if they weren’t tightly ensconced in a classic car parked at the Donut Ranch, regal springer spaniels with modeling careers, leg humping wheaton terrier mixes, daffy mixed breed ditch swimmers, all of them. All of them.

It’s a concerted effort, a flawless campaign with two dovetailing goals: make dog ownership an overwhelmingly inconvenient and ultimately expensive and humiliating proposition, and meanwhile drive the stubborn fools who persist in keeping the silly animals despite these horrors right the hell out of town.

They’re systematically ridding the town of all dogs, big and small, smart and foolish, hunters and herders and pointers and pissers, fixed and fertile, friendly and evil. When they are done not a dog will be left drawing a free and happy breath anywhere in Saratoga. They’ll all be adopted out to homes in Rawlins or Encampment, or else gassed, or moved to Colorado with their owners. Muhahahahahahahahahahahahah!

And when they’re all gone (except, of course, for my own dear personal faultless, flawless Collie of Folly, because we do after all need a model), my plan really goes into action.

It will start with a provocative but vague two-line ad on the classifieds page.

“Miss your canine companion? Come pet my pal.”

A lot of people will think it’s some kind of sexual come-on, of course, but since there won’t be a phone number or anything, they’ll have no choice but to remain curious and intrigued and to watch that space for details the following week (the fact that a few of them will assume that the editor screwed up and left off the phone number by mistake will simply add to the fun).

And the following week the ad will simply say “I miss my dog, don’t you?”

Similar plants will appear for another few weeks before we spring it on ‘em good:

DON’T GO ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT THE COMPANIONSHIP YOU CRAVE, THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE YOU DESERVE! Repressive local laws, expensive new carpets and furniture, and the high cost of quality feed make ownership of dogs an impractical hassle. But that doesn’t mean you have to be alone! PLASTIPALS can help. Specify the breed, the size, the color and we’ll custom make a pet just for you. No one needs to know it’s not a real dog, or show off your unique sense of style by ordering your PLASTIPAL in custom colors and patterns. Plaid poodles, checkered chihuahas and tartan terriers a specialty. Or how about a rainbow rottweiler? A jaquard jack russell? Let your imagination run wild, because your pal won’t – it’s guaranteed never to wander from home, never to bark after 8 p.m., never to poo on your neighbor’s lawn (unless U want of course) and no cops will ever call! Order today!

This is going to be a complete BONANZA for my investors, my employees-to-be who are standing by, and most of all, ME!

And you all are acting exactly according to plan. Muhahahahahahahah!



Monday, July 29, 2002


Last week I reported on the latest salvo in the on-going prank war between the Fat Cat Republican Bastard/NAPAman axis and that comprising Obie the Artist and Tad the Grocer (not, of course, their real names): Wednesday night, Mr. and Mrs. FCRB thoughtfully transferred several bursting bags of exceptionally stinky garbage from Obie’s pickup bed to his cab, with predictable results. Mr. FCRB then bragged about it at coffee Thursday morning but asked we keep it secret – fully forgetting where Tad’s loyalties truly lie...

Obie had been ready to exact revenge on some other friends of his who have not yet made an appearance in these, my chronicles of Saratoga life (and they still won’t because, well, so far they’ve been pretty boring) when Tad came rushing into Obie’s studio with the news that it was the FCRBs.

For his part, Obie had recently visited the NAPA store to buy an industrial-strength air freshener for his truck and had been told by Mrs. NAPA (aka The Chicken Lady) that her husband “had nothing at all to do with it.”

“To do with what,” Obie asked, as innocently as she.

“What happened to you yesterday.”

“And how did you know about that if you’re innocent?”

“We heard about it at lunch,” she said, making the sign of the cross or some other appropriate hex mark to ward off the karmic shitstorn Obie surely had brewing.


Several hours later, as I was walking the Collie of Folly home from work in preparation for a night’s hawking rubber ducks in all the bars (a whole ‘nother story I’ll save for another post), I noticed Obie loading his truck with what looked like a bunch of signs. Since one of Obie’s “will paint for food” profit centers is custom sign-painting, I thought little of it, though in retrospect he did look a little furtive...

These were not just any signs, you see.

Once loaded, they were strategically deployed around the FCRB’s rural property, a large piece of land north of town that can be reached by several roads, including the road to the dump, the recent trip down which had surely given Obie his inspiration.

For, as the FCRB found out that evening when Mrs. FCRB took the drastic and unpleasant step of calling him up in the middle of a Lion’s Club meeting, these signs directed travelers to “The New FCRB Ranch - Garbage Dump” (this posted at the turn-off to the property), announced that “We accept all waste free of charge” and furthermore indicated areas upon the property set aside for such categories as iron, toxic waste, animal waste, and recyclables.

The FCRB himself had not yet seen it, but the Mrs. had, and she was unimpressed – both with the intent and the workmanship of the signs themselves which in addition to having been hastily done were also still wet, as the paint drying on her hands proved.

The Mrs. in addition had some plans to perhaps speak to her local school board member to urge him to reconsider the hiring of Obie the Artist as the middle school art teacher for the coming year, since he was obviously not talented enough to teach her son – or so she is said to have informed the artist himself when the FCRB forced the phone on Obie at the meeting.

The signs were down by the time the FCRB reached his castle, but their effects linger on... Friday morning the manager of our actual landfill called him up and asked him if he had a permit to operate his landfill and threatened to report him to the state Department of Environmental Quality, for instance, as we all learned later that morning, at coffee (of course), when the FCRB and his artistic foe again faced one another across the table, eyeing one another warily and sniffing at their respective cups for evidence of tampering or other unsavoriness.

The pair even talked about perhaps calling a truce, but thank goodness Tad and others (including your humble chronicler) intervened to prevent that discussion’s going any further.

Summer is almost over, after all, and we need something to talk about besides the Forest Service and the weather.