Your Love Is Weird

Inspired by Todd.

Your Love Is Weird

I don’t know where we go from here
It’s time to separate my dear
This might not be what you want to hear
But you’re love, you’re love is weird

I apologize. I’m sorry.
There’s one thing I guarantee
The things you like aren’t for me
I’m really not into pee

You make whips and chains
Seem old-fashioned and plain
I don’t want to play Gerald’s Game
That idea is insane

Have you heard of missionary
Some of the shit you do is scary
Not a little bit but very
That poor statue of Mary

I’m pretty sure it’s illegal
Like that thing with the eagle
Tied to the back of the beagle
Feeding antacid to a sea gull

I should have known things were wonky
When you brought in that donkey
That’s still not nearly as funky
As the things with the monkey

What was that thing with the penguin
My mood is no longer sanguine
I know there’s no way I can win
All I can do is give in

Things aren’t supposed to go in there
I’m getting the hell out of here
It’s time we separate my dear
Because you’re love, you’re love is weird

A Nearly Norman Christmas. In Prose. Being An Alien Story Of Christmas.

I’ve been hyping this for a little while. Don’t believe the hype. It does not live up to the hype. It’s better. Dang it! I did it again. If there are things about Norman Normalson’s world that you don’t understand, click here to acquaint yourself with Norman and the happenings on Epatrus. If you don’t get the Earth Christmas references, that’s on you and/or your parents. With only a small amount of ado, here is A Nearly Norman Christmas. In Prose. Being An Alien Story Of Christmas. I got a little case of the Dickens in me as I was preparing to post.

A Nearly Norman Christmas

In Prose. Being An Alien Story Of Christmas.

It was Norman Normalson’s first year on Epatrus. Norman was miserable on Epatrus. He was homesick and missed his friends. He was one of the few people who didn’t have a mustache or a tail. He was the sole human in his school. The only friends he made was a group of outcasts who get mocked and continuously bullied. To make things worse, Norman Normalson was about to miss Christmas. The calendar on Earth was creeping close to the month of Odysseus, which used to be the second half of December. All Norman wanted for Christmas was to go back home, to Earth.

There is no Christmas on Epatrus. They’ve never heard of Christmas, Hanukkah/Hanukah/Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or Saturnalia. They don’t even have Life Day. Don’t pretend like your traditions are the only ones that are important. That’s ignorant and arrogant.

On Earth, the Normalsons celebrated Christmas, mostly because Victoria liked the smell of tree in the house. Ned wanted to keep the tradition alive and help Norman adapt to his new home and new life. Ned started planning the best Christmas ever. Unfortunately, Ned had recently started at his firm and had a lot to prove. There was skepticism among his Epatrusian coworkers that a human was capable of the job. He didn’t even have a tail. How good of an accountant could he be?

Not only did Ned not get time off for Christmas, but it also happened to coincide with tax season on Epatrus. He had to work overtime every day. Uhoria wanted to help her new husband and make a good impression on her new stepson. She volunteered to be Holiday Cheermeister and Chairperson Of Festivities. She had no idea what either meant.

Uhoria spent weeks learning all the Hanukkah traditions she could.

Following some early research, Uhoria asked Ned, “What’s the difference between Hanukkah and Chanukah?”

“A C and a K,” Ned replied.

“What does that have to do with Christmas?” she asked.

“Nothing,” said Ned. “Hanukkah is a different holiday that takes place around the same time as Christmas.”

“Hanukkah seems far superior,” said Uhoria. “It’s eight crazy nights of presents and lights. Christmas is only one day, and it’s far too commercial.”

“Technically Christmas is only one day,” said Ned, “but it’s somehow extended to two months.”

“Oh, that is better than eight nights,” said Uhoria. “Don’t you get tired of it by the end of two months?”

Uhoria spent the next week learning all the Christmas traditions she could. She learned about Santa and Rudolph. She learned about the Grinch, Mr. Potter, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Scrooge McDuck. She studied Krampus and the New Year Goblin. She learned about stockings and presents and coal and mistletoe and Charlie Brown. She learned about candy canes and Christmas trees and Christmas songs.

She learned about Trick Or Treat and the rabbit who hides colorful eggs and fireworks and lighting menorahs and stuffing stuffing up a dead turkey’s butt. She may have expanded her research beyond Christmas.

She learned all the lyrics to “Santa’s Roasting On An Open Fire,” “Have Yourself A Very Little Christmas,” “Jingle Smells,” “Rudolph The Red-Headed Corgi,” “Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo,” and so on. She may have learned so much so fast that things got scrambled in her brain.

Holidays and traditions are weird. Once they become tradition, regardless of how bizarre they are, they become normal and are accepted as such. People don’t often step back and say, “Wait. We cut down a tree and cover it in toys and weird stuff Mom likes so an old bearded guy in a red suit who gets around on a sleigh powered by flying reindeer who watches and judges everything we do all year, even though he’s the one who invites children to sit on his lap in exchange for gifts, will break into our homes to trade us presents for cookies? Well, there are presents. There’s an odd stalker vibe and breaking and entering, but there are presents. We wait in line, so our children can sit on a stranger’s lap in the mall, but there are presents. Yeah, I’m fine with that.” Sorry. Holidays are weird. Don’t you ever look at your holidays and traditions and say, “That’s weird!”?

Uhoria did. She could not get a grasp on Christmas. Her need for acceptance by her new stepson drove her to keep trying. She watched every Christmas special that was available to stream on the intergalactic interweb. It should be no surprise that they all came from Earth. Though, none came from Africa. Do they know it’s Christmas?

Isn’t that a horrible song? It sounds post-apocalyptic as if Africa only exists in some dystopian future like it’s the setting for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Now, I want to watch those movies. I think I’ve seen one of them. I bet PolleeAnnuh have them.

Band Aid? Seriously? You’re going to form a supergroup and call it Band Aid? Charity is about helping people, not bad puns. Actually, it may have been the perfect name. Everyone who contributed to that is now old and soggy, just like discarded Band-Aids.

Charity and awareness are good things, but could you try not to be insulting about it? “Hey, your continent’s a desolate wasteland. Here, have some money we made with this song about how horrible your home is.”

That song bothered Uhoria. It made her concerned about life on Earth. It also hurt her feelings that Norman wanted to go back there.

Norman wanted to go home more than anything. He wanted to go back to Earth so much that he tried to write Santa a letter. He remembered that Epatrus not only doesn’t have paper but has no mail service. Norman had never been so grateful for the intergalactic interweb.

Norman logged in to his FloBloLoSo account and found a page for Santa Claus. He eagerly typed a message.

“Santa,

My name is Norman Normalson. I am 8-years-old. I have been good all year and will continue for the rest of the year. I only want one thing for Christmas. I want to go home. Please.

My dad went crazy after my mom died and moved us to Epatrus so he could marry an alien woman with a mustache. I hate it here. I am the only one in my school without a tail or a mustache, except for my friend Algernon. If you came to get me, I would be good for the rest of my life and never ask for another thing for Christmas. Thank you.

Your friend,

Norman Normalson

P.S. How old are you? My dad said you were old when he was a kid.

A few hours later, Norman got a response.

“Dear Nerman,

Thank you for your message. I’m glad to see that you’ve been good all year. I’ll have to check my records to confirm that. Every letter I receive starts with “Dear Santa, I’ve been good all year.” I used to take kids at their word, but that created quite the quagmire. Every time I’m wrong, it makes more work for the New Year Goblin. He gets cranky with me when he has to retrieve presents from bad boys and girls. You don’t want to know what he does when he’s cranky. Just don’t make him cranky. You won’t like him when he’s cranky.

Your request is original. I’ll give you that. Unfortunately, I can’t possibly take you away from your father. Some people consider my present delivery technique to be contrary to certain laws. I don’t know how it can be breaking and entering when the chimneys are unlocked. I can’t add kidnapping to the list.

I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll send you a gift for next year. It’s far too late to get something to Epatrus by Christmas this year. How about a nice football? Or a stick-on mustache or tail?

Merry Christmas,

Santa

P.S. It is very impolite to ask a gentleman how old he is.”

Norman started entertaining thoughts that perhaps the bigger kids were right and there was no Santa. At the very least, this wasn’t the FloBloLoSo page for the real Santa. Was Nerman a typo? Or did Santa think his name was Nerman? Norman felt even worse about his situation, and it showed in his demeanor.

Uhoria noticed the change in Norman’s countenance. He was more sad than usual, which was hard to do. If Christmas specials taught Uhoria anything, it’s that there was no problem that couldn’t be solved with presents. I think Uhoria was forming a very pessimistic view of Christmas.

This is the worst Christmas story ever. Remember A Christmas Story? That was good. Presents saved the day.

Come on, Uhoria. Stop being a Scroogy Grinch. Come on, Norman. Stop being a Grinchy Scrooge. Come on, kids, let’s help Uhoria and Norman find some holiday spirit. Let’s sing them a special Christmas song. Here’s a song I wrote called “A Special Christmas Song.” I made it extra horrible just for Christmas. It’s a Christmas special. There has to be at least one song, and it has to be terrible.

“It’s Christmas
It’s the happiest time of the year
Because it’s Christmas
It’s only one time every year
Because it’s Christmas
Even on leap years
There’s only one Christmas
Which is kind of a ripoff
We should get two Christmases every four years
Because Christmas
is the Christmassiest time of the year
We can sing A Special Christmas Song
We can all sing along
Because it’s Christmas
The most Christmassiest time of the year
And Santa and Rudolph and stuff
Especially presents
The best part is the presents
Every day should be Christmas
So we get presents.”

Then there’s the Rap verse:

“My name is Christmas, and I’m here to say
That I should be here every day
I bring you love. I bring you gifts
I check off your Christmas list
You want a good time you want some fun
Call your boy Christmas ‘cause I’m the one
In summer I’m lost, in winter I’m found
Christmastime should be all year ‘round”

Yeah, that song is dreadful. It’s even worse than “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” What do you expect? It’s a Christmas song. Name two good Christmas songs. I’ll spot you Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” All right, there are some goods ones, but there are a lot of awful ones.

Rejuvenated by the special Christmas song you just sang, Uhoria was more determined than ever to give Norman a very special Christmas special. She couldn’t do it alone. No one should be alone on Christmas. She needed help.

“Ned!”

“Yes, Dear.”

“Why is there a song that says there are 12 days of Christmas?” asked Uhoria. “First, it was one day. Then, it was two months. Now, it’s 12 days.”

“That goes back to its pre-Christmas origins when it was called Saturnalia,” said Ned. “Saturnalia was a 12-day celebration of the Winter Solstice. The traditions live on in the current celebration of Christmas.”

“Never mind,” said Uhoria. “I’m still having a problem separating Christmas and Hanukkah.”

Ned was trying to help, but he was only making things more confusing. Santa Claus! He made Christmas special for most of a whole planet full of kids. Uhoria decided she would ask Santa for help. She wanted to send a letter to Santa but had no idea what a letter was. Instead, she posted a long message to his FloBloLoSo page.

“Dearest Santa Claus,

I have been a very good girl all year… most of the year. I’ve seen all your movies and many of your television specials. I really liked that movie you were in where you replaced the Santa who fell off the roof. It was humorous. (That part of her message wasn’t true.) My favorite has to be the one where you worked at Macy’s and helped a little girl by giving her your cane for Christmas.

I am writing you today not for myself but for my stepson, Norman. This year will be his first Christmas away from Earth. He has moved with his father, my new husband, Nedrick, to live with me on Epatrus. I am trying to make a special Epatrusian Christmas just for him. I believe that will help him acclimate to his new home and, on a selfish note, help me to earn his love and respect.

We don’t have Christmas on Epatrus. As such, I am ignorant of the customs associated with the holiday. My ignorance is a great impediment to the implementation of the Christmas traditions in my home. I have been studying Earth’s endless supply of Christmas specials and ditties. However, I feel my knowledge is still woefully deficient. My husband works long hours and has been unable to assist me.

My plea to you, Father Christmas, Saint Nicolas, Mr. Claus, is that you will bring Christmas to Epatrus. It would be ever so helpful in my cause and mean ever so much to Norman. You could light up our world like you light up yours.

Thank you ever so much,

Uhoria Jhakurus-Normalson”

Uhoria liked Santa. His beard was almost as impressive as her mustache. She eagerly anticipated his reply.

While we wait with Uhoria, I’ll tell you about FloBloLoSo. FloBloLoSo is the most popular social media site on the intergalactic interweb. It was designed by a former employee of the Shliplestein Corporation and is ironically one of the few higher technologies not owned by Gargamel Von Shliplestein. FloBloLo, as you may know, is a computer genius-o. He’s also a pirate.

FloBloLo is the nickname of Flower Blossom McLotus. He was a self-taught computer programmer turned hacker. He created FloBloLoSo, Flower Blossom McLotus Social, which he named after himself, with his robot, RDRR. Captain Mauve Oyster, captain of the pirates, saw how it played off people’s incessant need for attention and to share every detail of their lives with others.

RDRR and the Space Ship Stuff Stealer’s computer watched and gathered all the information they could. The pirates knew when people were going on cruises, where the cruises were going, and when people wouldn’t be home. FloBloLoSo made it too easy for the pirates to pick ships and homes to rob. Yeah, space pirates, space pirates in a Christmas story. Take that A Christmas Story.

Somehow, no one made the connection between what they were posting on FloBloLoSo and their stuff being stolen. I think sometimes people get too caught up in their own lives and forget there’s a universe out there. FloBloLoSo continued to grow and get more popular. Within a few megamonths, it was the biggest thing on the I.I.

Megamonths are months spent in space. Sometimes, they seem like forever. An extended voyage through space, away from friends and family and loved ones, can make regular days, weeks, months, and years seem like weeks, months, years, and decades.

FloBloLoSo became so popular that FloBloLo made more money from it than he did pirating. It made him rethink his life. Was there still time to escape the criminal path down which his life had led and live a legal life? Could someone who had been a pirate so long acclimate to life as a regular person? Could he do some good with his life and make up for all the wrong he had done?

FloBloLo… Oh. There’s Uhoria’s response.

Uhoria received a message alert on her FloBloLoSo home page. With bated breath, she opened her inbox. The message was from Santa. Uhoria eagerly clicked the link that read, “Re: A Normalson Christmas.” The message popped up.

“Dear Uhoria,

I’m happy to hear you enjoy my movies. The revenue from those helps me pay the elves who make the toys I give the children of the world. Without them, it would be virtually impossible for me to spread the joy of Christmas to every little girl and boy. Some people think the elves are my slaves, but that’s just a nasty rumor.

You seem like a good person. Stepchildren often have a hard time accepting their stepparents. You have added difficulty as I’m sure Nerman is holding you responsible for his relocation from his homeworld to another world. Moving isn’t ever easy on children, but a move across the universe to a new world will make the adjustment much more difficult. Give it time. I’m sure Nerman will grow to love and respect you.

It is with the most profound regret that I must inform you I will not be able to assist you this year. I know your stepson, Nerman, is a good boy. I remember him from his years on Earth. What we have here is a simple logistical issue.

Every year, it gets harder for me to traverse the globe in a single night. There are always more children being born. Even if my sleigh were equipped for space travel, the journey takes megamonths. I couldn’t make it to Epatrus in time for Christmas. Much less make it there and back. I cannot forsake the entire planet of Earth for one little boy on Epatrus. That doesn’t even take into consideration the time it would take away from my movie and television work or my mall appearances.

I extend to you and your family my sincerest apologies. I wish you a very merry Christmas and the best of luck in providing Nerman with a special holiday season.

Ho, Ho, Ho,

Santa

P.S. You have a really nice mustache.”

“Nerman?” Uhoria said to herself. It occurred to her that she had never seen Norman’s name in print. Could his name be Nerman? Nerman? Norman? Norman? Nerman? No, his name was Norman. Probably. This holiday thing was stressful. Uhoria was so frazzled that she even doubted her stepson’s name. “Ned.”

“Yes, Dear,” said Ned, from the other room.

“How is Norman’s name spelled?” She slurred her pronunciation of Norman in an attempt to hide her uncertainty.

“N-O-R-M-A-N, why?” said Ned.

“There’s a Y on the end?” asked Uhoria. Now, she was even more confused.

“No, I was asking why you want to know how to spell Norman,” said Ned.

“Oh, for presents,” said Uhoria. Ned came around the corner and gave her a confused look. “For the tags for the presents.”

“Of course,” said Ned. “I am so happy you’ve immersed yourself in our tradition. Norman’s going to love this Christmas. It’s going to be the best Christmas ever.”

Uhoria felt as if Ned just dropped a ton of pressure on her. What made her think she could do this? A month ago she didn’t even know what a Christmas was. Now, Ned was counting on her to make the best Christmas ever. She didn’t realize that humans say and expect that every year. She should simply tell Ned she can’t do this and let Norman hate her for life. She didn’t want Norman to hate her. She screamed internally. It was silent but loud.

Yeah, being a stepparent is hard. I should know. I’ve watched sitcoms.

Uhoria went back to watching sitcoms. She desperately searched for some wisdom in the special Christmas episode of… everything. On The Simpsons, Homer lost all his family’s money gambling on dog races, but he brought home a dog. What’s a dog? On Community, Abed saved Christmas by turning all his friends into Claymation. How could she turn Norman into Claymation?

Uhoria spent the majority of the next two days watching Christmas specials. I won’t go into further details because it would require far too much research. I’ve already done a ridiculous amount of research and rewriting for a Christmas special that appears solely in print on a blog.

Uhoria gave up when she stumbled onto something called A Christmas Prince. I have not seen it. I will not. I have not seen a trailer for it. I will not. The mere fact that I know it exists offends me. How can I possibly be so against something I haven’t even seen? Isn’t that prejudice? It is not prejudice. The title tells me more than I ever want to know about it. A woman meets a prince and falls in love just in time for Christmas. No, that’s not a spoiler. There are no spoilers for this movie. It doesn’t need a synopsis. That’s all clearly spelled out in the title.

Precisely 34 seconds in, Uhoria had had enough. She was done with A Christmas Prince, and she was done with Christmas specials. She was exhausted. She went to bed and slept for hours.

It wasn’t a restful sleep. Uhoria’s dreams were haunted by large men in red suits and flying reindeer. In one dream, a fat, bearded man invited her to sit on his lap. He promised her presents in exchange. He had terrible breath and something living in his beard. It was a goblin that said he was the New Year Goblin. He warned, “You better not be faking being good. If you are, I will come and take back all your presents. Muah ha ha ha ha.”

In another, she was in a modeling show. She was yanked off stage by a giant candy cane. Everyone in the audience pointed at her and started chanting, “You don’t understand Christmas because you’re a weird alien creature from a planet far away from Earth that doesn’t even have Christmas, so Norman will never love you or even like you and either will Nerman.” Yeah, it’s a long and awkward chant, but they did it anyway. That’s why it’s a bad dream.

Uhoria jumped up with her hearts racing and her tail shaking. According to Ned’s Earth calendar, there were only 12 Earth days until Christmas. That was only 9 Epatrus days. Never do the math on these conversions. These stories are about words and feelings and people, not numbers. Besides, the math is Epatrusian math, which is vastly different from Earth math if you do it wrong.

This Christmas was going to kill her. Uhoria had to find someone to help. Santa failed her. Mr. Hankey was literally a piece of poop. She wasn’t that desperate. She needed a Christmas miracle. She knew what to do. She knew the only other person who could help her make Christmas Christmassy. Her research turned up one other possible Christmas figure who could help her.

Uhoria’s next plan was to appeal to Jack Skellington for help. She searched FloBloLoSo but couldn’t find a page for him. She couldn’t find any contact information for him anywhere on the entire intergalactic interweb.

“Seriously? Who doesn’t have a FloBloLoSo page?”

Thwarted again, Uhoria sat down, took a deep breath and screamed. With that out of her system, she tried to refocus. She was trying too hard. She had to slow down and come up with a plan. The first thing she had to do was decorate. Of course. Why didn’t she think of that earlier? With so much to do and so much new information crammed into her brain, she forgot the only way to go about solving such a problem is to take it one step at a time.

Epatrus didn’t have Christmas decorations, so she had to make them. She went to Shlip-Mart and bought all the supplies she could find that she thought she could use to make Christmas decorations. After she picked up Ned from work, she enlisted him to help her put it all together.

Over the next week, Uhoria worked her tail off. Not literally, but it was sore. Ned helped as soon as he got home until he fell asleep in a pile of decorations. They strung together lights. They made socks into Christmas stockings. They used Uhoria’s since all of Ned’s and Norman’s were stolen during their voyage to Epatrus. They got a computerized robotic sculpture thing that almost resembled a tree. It sang and danced and gave out candy. At first, Norman was apprehensive, but, once he learned not to get close enough for it to bite him, he almost liked it.

Epatrus doesn’t have pine, spruce, fir, or ugly plastic bottle brush trees. Yes, I’m mocking your gross pink, white, and so on wiry, stored-in-a-box-for-11-months-at-a-time artificial tree. Fake tree equals fake Christmas. Of course, that’s not nearly as bad as cutting down, torturing, and humiliating a tree every December. How would you like it if someone decorated you with lights, fragile glass balls, and plastic figures of SpongeBob SquareButt, Wreck-It Ralph, and Spider-Man? You know trees provide the oxygen you breathe, right? Your planet would be uninhabitable without plants. Maybe Santa’s not that nice of a guy if he demands you sacrifice a tree to him every year to get him to bring you presents. Yeah, that is an odd rant. Thank you for noticing. The holidays are odd times.

With a little help from her Ned, Uhoria had all the decorating done by Christmas. She decided to throw Norman a special Christmas party. She wanted to invite all of Norman’s special friends, but she wasn’t sure he had any. She asked his tutor, Schlitzie, to invite all of her friends, which worked out because Schlitzie’s friends were the closest things Norman had to friends on Epatrus.

Uhoria bought everyone presents and got a piñata. Norman loved Star Wars, so Uhoria had a specially made Yoda piñata. Because if you love something, it only makes sense to hit it with a stick until candy comes out. That’s called sarcasm. Don’t go hitting your sister with a stick until candy comes out and say it’s because you love her. Candy will not come out of your sister unless she’s a piñata. If your sister is a piñata, your family is bizarre.

Unfortunately, for Uhoria, her only experience with Star Wars was The Star Wars Holiday Special and the equally unfortunate Christmas In The Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album. Yeah, sorry humanity, those both happened. No take backs. I’ve actually heard the latter, which was also Uhoria’s only exposure to Jon Bon Jovi. Yeah, that also happened. No take backs, Mr. John Bongiovi. We know who you are. It’s on Wikipedia.

We all make mistakes. I hope no one ever reads the first draft of The L Squad: Phase 2. It was not pretty. The first draft of this was even worse. It was pretty much just a rambling collection of references to Christmas I found on the interweb. I’m Eereeenían. What do I know about Christmas?

On the evening of the party, Uhoria had the kitchen computer replicate cookies and cocoa for Norman and friends. They both tasted off. The cocoa and cookies, not Norman and the Normals. Nobody tasted Norman or any of his friends. The tree tried but failed. They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t quite right. The cocoa tasted like mocha, and the cookies tasted like fudge, only they didn’t taste like fudge. It was more like brownies. Having no point of reference for cookies or hot chocolate, the computer did the best it could. Norman appreciated the effort.

Next, Uhoria hung the piñata. She passed out blinding goggles and gave Norman a whacking pole. The others used their tails as nature intended.

“Piñatas are for birthdays,” said Norman.

“Yeah, isn’t Christmas a birthday thing?” asked Uhoria. “The snowman on the cartoon kept saying, ‘Happy birthday!’”

“Oh, that’s Frosty The Snowman,” said Norman. “He’s not quite right. He has snow for brains.”

His puzzlement at the appearance of a piñata at a Christmas party didn’t stop Norman from enjoying it. He felt like a Jedi Knight when he whacked Yoda. It helped that Yoda was made of leaves and didn’t fight back. Strong with the force that one was not. He was perplexed by the gwatuchorazz cheese-flavored candy treats.

Yes, leaves. They don’t have paper on Epatrus. Everything is digital.

“Cheese-flavored candy?” Norman asked.

“Gwatuchorazz cheese,” said Uhoria. “It’s good.”

Norman popped one in his mouth and said, “It tastes like butt.”

“That’s cheese,” said Uhoria.

“Isn’t learning about each other’s cultures fun?” Ned asked.

“It tastes like butt,” Norman reiterated.

Schlitzie put on a Santa hat. Due to the unfortunate shape of her head, the hat completely engulfed it. Everyone thought that was hilarious, with the sole exception of Schlitzie.

“I fail to see the humor,” said Schlitzie.

“You can’t see anything with that hat over your eyes,” said Algernon.

Next, they went caroling. Uhoria made a song list, which featured such delights as, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Up On The Rooftop/Housetop,” “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Santa Baby.” The capper was Uhoria’s adaptation of the James Brown classic “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto,” which she altered to “Santa Claus Go Straight To Epatrus.” It consisted solely of changing “the ghetto” to “Epatrus,” and the lines “Tell him Hank Ballard/James Brown told me so,” to “Tell him Uhoria told me so.” It wasn’t nearly as funky.

She sent each of them lyrics and ran a pair of rehearsals before leaving the house. The first few performances were shaky, but the group improved as they got into the groove. Uhoria streamed the event live on her FloBloLoSo page.

Caroling is weird on Earth. How did the custom of interrupting people in the middle of dinner to have them stand on their porch in the cold while strangers sing bizarre songs to them get started? Even more perplexing is how is it sustained?

Keeping in mind how odd it is on Earth, imagine how Epatrusians reacted to it. They had never even heard of Christmas. It was weird when a group of people came flushing at dinner time. The appearance of the group was more disconcerting. Two of them were strange-looking aliens. Another was a cyborg. One had an oddly-shaped pinhead. Strangest of all, one of them didn’t have a mustache. No one noticed Ylna.

The songs were even more perplexing. Was Santa Claws a beast or alien of some sort? Did Santa Claws tear off that one kid’s arms and legs and the other’s mustache? Some took the repeated theme of Santa Claws is coming as a warning or threat. Would it eat those who cried or shouted or pouted? Many wondered what a chimney was and how to keep this beast from coming down it. A few asked Uhoria to sign her modeling pictures. Most called the police.

When the police finally apprehended the choir, Uhoria explained what they were doing and why. When they arrived at the psychiatric hospital, she explained again. While she was sitting alone in her padded cell, Uhoria posted about a gigabyte of selfies to her FloBloLoSo page. It wasn’t until someone recognized Uhoria’s mustache and Uhoria as the famous mustache supermodel that they were allowed to go home. He asked Uhoria out three times before they left. He refused to believe she was married to Ned.

Everyone was pretty tired when they finally got home. Uhoria decided to make spirits bright by handing out presents. She excitedly rushed toward the tree. She was so excited that she almost got too close to the tree. She stopped before it could bite her.

Uhoria took a step back. She stopped and gave the tree a mean look. Then, she took six to eight more steps back. Let’s say seven. When she paused again, she noticed something looked wrong. There were no presents. Where were the presents? Christmas was about presents. With everything that had gone wrong that night, Uhoria was counting on presents to save the day. That’s how this works. In every Christmas special ever, everything goes wrong and presents save the day.

RDRR was constantly scanning FloBloLoSo for ‘employment opportunities.’ That meant it was looking for people the pirates of the Space Ship Stuff Stealer could rob. It just so happened, perhaps in what was a Christmas miracle, that the Space Ship Stuff Stealer was on Epatrus. FloBloLo was doing some work for Gargamel Von Shliplestein, his former boss, who had completely forgotten FloBloLo had worked for him before and the details of his termination.

RDRR’s scan found Uhoria’s live stream of their caroling. Further research showed Uhoria’s fancy house and all the presents she had purchased for the party. It alerted Captain Mauve Oyster. Captain Mauve Oyster rounded up first mate Stinky Leg Steve, Yllop Karatpeet, Guy Pach, Swollen Tommy, HoYoYo, Bottluh Rumm, Walker Plank, Shivermee Timbberz, Aiy Maytee, Pirate McPirate, Traysure Buhtypants, Badd Punn, and the rest of the pirates. Some of those names lead me to believe they were born to be pirates. Did Pirate McPirate’s parents think he was going to grow up to be a lawyer?

Captain Mauve Oyster and his posse of pirates arrived at the Normalson-Jhakurus household while the carolers were sitting in their cells. They stole as many presents as they could without getting bit by the tree. They stole stockings and cookies. The pirates plundered pounds of plums. They looted the lights. They took all Ned’s wigs and tap shoes and Uhoria’s mustache creams and beauty supplies. The point I’m trying to convey is that the pirates stole a lot of stuff.

“Oh no,” said Uhoria. “It must have been the New Year Goblin.”

“The what?” asked Norman.

“The New Year Goblin,” said Uhoria. “The goblin who comes on New Year to take away all the Christmas presents from little girls and boys who were only pretending to be nice so that Santa would bring them presents.”

“Oh, that,” said Norman. “That’s not a thing.”

“It’s not?” asked Uhoria.

Norman watched horrified as a creature, the likes of which he had never seen, burst in through the front door. It was carrying a bag and smelled of stink. The creature reached into its sack and pulled out a steaming handful of poop. It threw the poopball at Norman. The poopball hit him in the face and splattered all over him.

“Happy New Year, Poop Face!”

It wasn’t even New Year on Epatrus.

WHAT?

Ned called the police. When they got there, he explained that someone broke into his house and stole all his family’s Christmas décor and presents. He described the creature that threw poop at Norman. Ned was immediately arrested. He was taken to the police station and charged with making a prank call to emergency responders, which is a severe crime on Earth and Epatrus, and being dumb enough to give his real address.

It took Ned’s lawyer, Pirate MacPirate, seven hours to convince the police that Ned was not crazy but human and had no malicious intent. That gave The Shliplestein Automatic Body Scrubber And Clothes Washer 4,901 ⅜ ample time to clean the poop off Norman’s face and clothes. Uhoria had her Shliplestein Clean Machine Cleaning Bot clean the rest of the splatter from the living room.

See? An A makes all the difference between being a lawyer and a pirate. Stay in school. Study hard.

Who said, “A lawyer’s just a fancy pirate?” You’re right. Most lawyers have both legs and eyes, though. Think about that.

Uhoria made the most of the time she spent waiting for Ned and Norman. She was so determined to make up for the six hours they spent in the psychiatric hospital that she braved the tree. She knew the tree had been eating presents. Uhoria fought her way to the back of the tree and turned it off. She reached into its mouth with her tail and dug out all the presents she could reach.

Meanwhile, Norman’s friends played L Squad. That was Ylna’s favorite game. They each picked a member of the L Squad to be and tried to solve the mystery of who broke into Norman’s house and stole all their stuff. They unanimously decided not to go after the poop-flinging creature. They had no clues and made no progress, but they did have a lot of fun.

Ned got home just as Norman was getting out of his 12th shower. On his first shower of Christmas, Norman washed off loooooots of poooooooooop. On his second shower of Christmas, Norman washed off eeeeeeven more pooooooooop. On his third shower of Christmas…

Uhoria cheerfully passed out the presents. “Here’s one for Norman.”

“Did your stepmom just call you Nerman?” asked Cy.

“I’m not sure,” said Norman.

They all gathered around the tree, but not too closely, to open their presents. The packaging was pretty mangled and battered, but the gifts inside were only slightly abused. Most weren’t even broken.

Ylna got an L Squad game. Schlitzie got a digital encyclopedia. Cy got a Blobby Blobberson action figure. Tasha got a Catsby Connage dress-up doll. Uhoria didn’t know Tasha was a boy. Algernon got a stick-on mustache, which was offensive. They all got a few other toys and treats, but those were the big ones.

Norman got a dreidel, a menorah, and some chocolate gelt. Yes, Uhoria got Christmas confused with Hanukkah, again. He also got other gifts that weren’t Hanukkah-themed. It didn’t matter to Norman and his friends. They all lit the menorah and played dreidel. They used their gelt for prizes. The tree serenaded them with an endless stream of Christmas songs and both Hanukkah songs it pulled from the intergalactic interweb, while they celebrated.

Norman and Uhoria learned a valuable lesson that year. Christmas is totally not worth it. That wasn’t it. Ultimately, Christmas isn’t about trees, decorations, songs, sappy specials, menorahs, religious interpretations, ham, yule logs, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, mistletoe, lights, log fire videos, Santa Claus, spam, gender-neutral snowpersons who oddly resemble Menacusians from their carrot noses to their stick arms to their beady little eyes, cartwheels, flying reindeer, socks, underwear, ugly sweaters, getting mad at people for not celebrating exactly how you think they should, family, or even presents.

Christmas is a celebration. The only meaning Christmas or Life Day or life, for that matter, can have is happiness. The meanings of things like Christmas or Life Day or life or whatever you choose to celebrate can only have the meaning to which we each, as individuals, assign to them. Let their meanings be whatever makes you happy, whatever you choose to celebrate. No one, or Christmas special, can tell anyone else what or how to celebrate.

So, as Charles Dickens observed in his classic story A Christmas Carol, “Humbug!”

Indeed, Humbug, everyone.

Norman Normalson & The Normals Logline

This blog has been primarily focused on The L Squad. There’s a good reason for that. The L Squad is the first book I completed and is the most polished. The L Squad is also the book I’ve been shopping to agents. Agents haven’t been overly enthusiastic as of yet. I can only assume, it’s because they are illiterate… or I suck. There may be some other possibilities in between.

While I am far from giving up and abandoning The L Squad, I decided to give Norman and friends a shot. I’ve recently completed a fourth draft. Yes, typos can hide for the complete first three drafts or so. They are clever buggers and champions of the game You Can’t Find Me, So Please Stop Trying And Declare Me The Winner And World Champion Of You Can’t Find Me, So Please Stop Trying And Declare Me The Winner And World Champion Of… or as humans call it Hide & Seek. Humans may have a better name for that game. On some planets, it takes so long to say the name that the game never actually begins.

With that in mind, the fourth draft, not the ridiculously long name given celestially to Hide & Seek, I’ve decided to give Norman Normalson & The Normals some much-deserved recognition. I will be posting more information on Norman and his group of misfit friends. Is ‘misfit’ offensive, now? At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the word ‘friend’ is offensive. Anyway, there’s a lot more Norman stuff coming. I’m starting here, as with The L Squad, with the logline. I hope I won’t look back on this later, like I did with the logline for The L Squad, and realize it’s horribly generic.

Normal Normalson hasn’t been normal since he and his father moved to Epatrus. Adapting to being an alien on an alien world got a lot harder when his half-brother disappeared into a flash of light, and nobody believes what he saw.

If you thought that was exciting, just wait till more stuff comes. We didn’t even get to the butt cheese.

The L Squad Chapter One: 13 Pillows

I haven’t posted anything here for awhile, which is probably obvious by the post dates. I have been diligently working on the follow-up to The L Squad, The L Squad: Phase Two. The simple fact that I’m working on a follow-up is probably somewhat of a spoiler. I finished it recently and have been working on rewriting it. I didn’t follow Mitch Hedberg’s advice to simply make a copy as it needs a lot of work. There were a plethora of redundancy issues, typos, length issues like it being 190+ pages when it should be closer to 150 given the target audience, incoherent ramblings… Yeah, like this. I decided to I should post something on this blog before the cob webs started to grow. I’m pretty sure that is not what’s meant by the world wide web. Since I have been writing and rewriting and rewriting and… a book instead of blog-appropriate material, I thought it would be a swell idea to slap the first chapter of the book that started it all (All of what? This chaos here and, I hope, lots of future stuff.) onto NobbinBlog for the reading enjoyment of anybody who actually reads it and enjoys it. I know that’s asking for a lot. At least read it. Without any preamble or preface, except for the preamble and preface I’ve typed, here is the first chapter of The L Squad entitled Chapter One: 13 Pillows.

Chapter One:
13 Pillows

“Splorg. Splorg! SPLORG!!!” The deep voice echoed through the darkness.

Abby couldn’t see anything in the seemingly endless caves. The thunderous boom made by each slowly approaching step sent waves of terror through her little body. She tried to run, but her legs wouldn’t work. She could only stumble through the black abyss. She kicked a rock and tripped. The steps got closer. She willed herself back to her feet. The fear forced her legs to move. She ran through the blackness. She hit a wall and collapsed. She couldn’t get up. She struggled to get up, but could only lie there shaking. Something brushed her face. She couldn’t see what it was, but she knew if she didn’t get up now she would never get up again.

Abby jerked and jumped up trembling and gasping for breath as she looked around in terror. Hitch was sitting on her bed caressing her face. Charlie, her tricolored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was curled up at the foot of the bed. Charlie perked her ears, lifted her head and cocked it slightly to the right when Abby jumped. Hitch put his hand on hers.

“Another bad dream?” He asked.

“Yeah. Was it obvious?”

Hitch just nodded his head. “The mines of LambaBad, again?”

“Nasga, please,” said Abby. “It was so beautiful when it was Nasga.”

“It didn’t have uranium mines before it was LambaBad,” said Hitch.

“That’s why I want to remember it as Nasga. That won’t ever happen here, will it, Hitch? He can’t find us on Earth, can he?” Abby asked, with a shiver.

“I hope not,” said Hitch. “That’s why we do this. That’s why Rad exists, just in case.”

“I hate when you call it that,” said Abby. “’Rad’ is a slang word humans used here in the 1980s. The R.A.D. is an important organization. It’s our job to make sure that what happened on Nasga and…” She paused as a wave of melancholy washed over her. “Yamfenn doesn’t happen on Earth.”

“You are such a nerd. How have we been best friends for so long?” Hitch asked. “On two planets, no less?”

“Because you’re the luckiest guy in the universe,” Abby said, with a smirk on her pink face, which wrinkled her yellow stripes and white blaze. A little jerk of attitude wiggled the curly antennae perched atop her head. They both laughed.

“Oh plurg! Speaking of Rad we have to get going. We forgot to request a wake-up call,” said Hitch. “It’s 11:30. If we blow another mission Captain Grek is going to flip his flop.”

“I don’t think you’ve completely grasped the American idiom. It’s ‘flip his top’ or ‘flip his lid,’” Abby said. “Even Kip overslept?”

“Even Kip. It’s probably flight weariness,” Hitch said. “The way George flies we’re lucky to get anywhere alive.”

“If it weren’t for George we would never have escaped LambaBad, or out-flown the Lambads and made it to Earth,” Abby reminded her friend. “Isn’t he also the same pilot who saved a furry little alien floating aimlessly around the Iisneent Solar System in a malfunctioning pod?”

“That’s all true. I’ll never forget him saving my life,” said Hitch. “That’s why I requested he be the one to pilot our escape ship. I just wish he had landed it, oh, in one piece.”

“I think the Lambads had more to do with that than George,” said Abby.

“All right, you win,” said Hitch. “Let’s get out of here. As captain of this squad, Captain Grek is due to take the biggest bite out of my booty.”

“Hey, nobody wants to be around Captain Grek when he’s angry,” said Abby, pinching her nose. She gathered up her things and called to Charlie, “Come on, Charlie. Leash!”

Charlie jumped up and ran toward Abby at, “Come on, Charlie.” When she heard “Leash!” she stopped in her tracks and stood up on her hind legs. “Seriously? Come on. I’ll be ever so good,” Charlie pleaded, in her English accent.

“You say that every time and every time I acquiesce to your wishes you end up chasing something,” said Abby, as she snapped Charlie’s collar around her neck. They rushed out of room 217 of the Something Tree Hotel.

“What does ‘ak-wee-ess’ mean?” asked Hitch.

“Give in, submit, assent,” Abby said.

“Where do you get these words?” He asked.

“I read.”

“How do you know what the words mean?” asked Hitch.

“If I don’t know a word I look it up,” said Abby.

“Why doesn’t George have to wear a leash?” Charlie asked, scratching at her collar. “He’s more bonkers than me.”

George is only crazy when he’s flying. My anthropomorphizing device gave you Yamfennian-like qualities, but didn’t subdue your canine instincts,” said Abby. “You’re still a spaniel deep down.”

“What’s wrong with being a spaniel?” Charlie asked.

“Nothing. It’s wonderful to be who you are. You’re my good girl,” Abby said, while scratching Charlie behind her ear. “I love you, but your need to chase things and bark gets us into trouble.”

They reached room 219 and Hitch pounded on the door and yelled, “Let’s go, Kip. We are late.” The only response he got was a deep moan. “We’ll be in the lobby. George is getting the ship.”

They headed for the stairs.

“Can’t we take the lift just this once?” Charlie asked.

“No elevators,” said Hitch.

“Fair enough,” said Charlie, “but how about the lift?”

“Hitch hates elevators,” said Abby. “When he was a youngling he was having a pod race with his friends just off his home world of Zechisten.”

“Do you have to tell her this story?” asked Hitch.

“Yes, please,” said Charlie. “I like stories ever so much.”

“Yes,” said Abby. “We can all learn from your mistakes. I know someone else who gets too excited and rushes into things.” Abby gestured toward Charlie.

“I like to learn,” said Charlie, “especially if I can learn without getting into trouble.”

Hitch, our fearless leader, was so into the race that he zipped right past the finish line and into a wormhole that took him to the Iisneent Solar System,” Abby said. “The pod’s engine malfunctioned around Nasga. If George hadn’t found him when he did, that pod would have become his coffin. Now, he has a severe case of claustrophobia. Just walking by an elevator, for example, makes his brown fur stand on end and his pointy ears curl.”

“I’m not scared,” said Hitch. “It’s good exercise. We have to stay in shape.”

“You’re a scaredy-cat,” said Charlie. “I like to chase cats.”

Charlie feigned a lunge at Hitch. Hitch flinched and sternly said, “Charlie, sit. Stay.”

“I can’t,” said Charlie. “We’re late.”

Hitch, Abby, and Charlie reached the courtesy desk just as the attendant was hanging up the phone. She could barely see Hitch’s ears and Abby’s antennae sticking up over the desk. She stood up to see them.

“You must be room 217 & 219,” she said.

“That’s us. Sorry, we’re running a little late today,” said Hitch. “We’re just stopping by to let you know that we’re finally on our way out.”

“I’ve been informed that 13 pillows are missing from your rooms. You’ll have to pay for them before you can leave,” said the attendant.

“Peanut butter and jelly!” Hitch said, angrily, as he reached up to slam his little furry fist down on the desk.

“I prefer honey,” the attendant said. “Do you guys, like, eat pillows or something?”

“I have been known to tear asunder a pillow or two in my time,” Charlie confessed, “but I haven’t done that in days.”

“This is absurd. There aren’t even 13 pillows in a room,” Abby protested.

“Someone requested more pillows,” said the attendant. “Now, those pillows are missing.”

Meanwhile, on their ship, George was in a closet making a nice cushy nest out of 13 pillows.

While we cut away briefly to George, and his secret hideaway bed, Kip joined the others at the courtesy desk. Kip was looking a little bloodshot this morning.

Kip, did you see 13 extra pillows in your room?” Hitch asked.

“I didn’t see anything,” said Kip.

“How did you not see anything? You are literally an eyeball,” said Abby.

“I was closed most of the night,” Kip said. “Oh, don’t talk to me until I get my morning solar rays.”

I should probably explain here that Kip, short for Kipp, is a Yortian from the planet Yort, short for Yortt.

Hitch turned back to the attendant, “We are a squad from Rad, the Refugee Alien Defenders, and we’re on a very important mission. We don’t have time for this, this…”

“Piffle,” Abby added. Everyone stopped to give Abby a weird look. “It means ‘nonsense’ or ‘baloney.’ Doesn’t anybody read anymore?”

“No. Any book worth reading will eventually be made into a movie,” said the attendant.

“The book is always better than the movie,” said Abby.

What? You’ve never heard of a Yortian? Seriously? Yortians come in two main species the Cyclopes and the Opes. Yortians start out life as one-eyed giants called Cyclopes. Through a process of maturity, that’s too gross to fully explain here, they enter the second stage of life as Opes. Basically, the eyes separate from the giants and become their own beings. Opes have arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, and a mouth. They do not eat, but instead are solar-powered; they get all their energy and nutrients from the sun. The eyelid remains attached and the eyelashes act as an Ops’s hair when open. The eyelid is tough, almost like a shell, which supplies sufficient protection for the fragile eyeball inside. The irises of the Opes come in many different colors. Kip’s iris is purple. Now, where were we?

We may have missed something during our tangent to the planet Yort and all that description. I blame you for not knowing what a Yortian is. That’s why one should always soak up all the knowledge one can, so this kind of thing won’t happen.

The attendant pointed to Charlie. “There’s also an added fee for pets.”

Charlie was indignant. She stood up on her back legs and said, “Look here, missy. I am no pet.” She grabbed her collar forcefully. “I just like to wear jewelry.”

A security guard standing in the lobby was aroused by the commotion. He walked over to the courtesy desk and tried to calm the situation. He put his hand on Hitch’s head and said, “Everybody, calm down. Let’s take a little walk to the security room. We can sort this out there.”

Abby said, “This is ridiculous. We have to go.”

When she heard the word “go” Charlie’s eyes got big and her ears perked up. She dropped back down on all fours and started running for the door. Abby was still holding the other end of Charlie’s leash and was pulled to the floor and dragged toward the door.

The attendant, thinking they were trying to escape without paying, yelled, “Security!”

Another security guard was standing by the door and seized Charlie and Abby. Four actual police officers entered the lobby. That’s what we missed. Someone in the lobby, sensing the situation was getting out of control, called the police. The person was probably xenophobic and was simply afraid of or didn’t like aliens.

Security officers had Hitch, Abby, and Charlie, leaving it was up to Kip to save the day. Kip wished Kip had Kip’s morning sun, but Kip was determined to help the squad. Kip wasn’t about to let Kip’s low energy keep Kip down. Kip charged the police officers, closed Kip’s lid, dropped to the floor, retracted Kip’s appendages into the protective shell and rolled toward them like a bowling ball. That’s a fancy maneuver popular among Yortians called the Patented Yortian Ball. The police officers casually stepped out of Kip’s way. Kip rolled safely passed them and crashed into the wall. Kip’s lid rolled back and Kip just lay there until one of the police officers picked up Kip.

They all went to jail and lived happily ever after. Except for Abby, she went to the pound. The end. I feel like something is wrong with that ending. Charlie went to the pound. Abby was sold in a pet store. No. That’s not it. There’s still something missing. Oh yeah, the rest of the story. They only went to jail for 30 years. When they were released they went to live in a retirement community called The End Of The Road Retirement Community. That’s a different story entirely and not for younglings. While I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with this story let’s check in on George.

George was in the ship, which was parked on the roof of the parking garage. Each squad in the R.A.D. has its own ship. The refugee aliens commandeered a mothership to escape LambaBad. Each mothership was host to a fleet of smaller ships. These ships were designed to hold small crews during planetary invasions. The smaller ships’ weaponry wasn’t as potent as the motherships’ but they were still well shielded and came equipped with blasters and torpedoes. They weren’t capable of long-distance space flight but were fast and sturdy. The L Squad’s ship was named the R.A.S., for Refugee Alien Ship, MacGuffin. They often referred to it as ‘the Mac’ for short.

George was tapping his tail on the terminal waiting for everyone to get on the ship. George’s eyes rotated alternately, watching all directions at once. How is that possible? Sagrian’s have two extendable and retractable antennae atop their heads. Each of the antennae holds an eye. The antennae can spin all the way around. Of course, George can only do this for a short period before he gets dizzy and vomits. George’s antennae also act as ears. No, he doesn’t see sounds. That might be kind of cool, though. He hears through the antennae, quite well, in fact. Two of his hands were combing and petting his thick, black, luxurious mustache, Herman, while the other two were on the controls anticipating liftoff.

“This is getting ridiculous,” said George. “Hitch told me we were running late and to get the Mac ready to go. We’ve been waiting here for five minutes, five minutes.”

“Maybe we should fly down there and pick them up,” said Herman.

“That’s a good idea,” said George. “This is an important mission. There’s no time to waste.”

George! That’s what I forgot. The story’s not over. George is still free. He can save the rest of them. Duh! I am pretty sure they get locked up at some point, though.

“Countdown,” said George.

“Me?” Herman asked.

Charlie’s not here,” George said.

“10, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1. Liftoff,” said Herman.

“I think you skipped a few numbers,” said George.

“I’ve never got to do the countdown before. I got nervous,” said Herman. “Just go.”

George powered up the ship and launched. He got about 1.5 meters off the roof of the parking garage, which was reserved for such crafts, when he felt a sudden violent jerk. He set down the ship and did a full scan of the systems but nothing was amiss. He tried again and the same thing happened. George knew there wasn’t time for this and he had no patience for malfunctions. He turned the thrusters on full.

“What’s the plan, George?” asked Herman.

“I’m going to force it into the sky,” George said.

“That’s not a good plan,” said Herman. “Maybe we should get out and look around.”

“There’s no time,” said George.

A chain had been attached to the ship’s landing pad, anchoring it to the parking garage and impeding George’s attempted takeoff. The hotel manager ordered their ship grounded until they paid for those 13 pillows. If George took a minute to get out and fully inspect and research the problem he would have seen the chain and could have removed it, or cut it with his laser, and been off. He didn’t.

George fired the thrusters at full throttle. The chain snapped, but not before jerking the ship back down. The Mac crashed into the edge of the parking garage’s roof and tumbled down toward the ground. As it tumbled, the nose and the tail of the ship alternately collided with the 14-story hotel. Somehow, the Mac landed with its nose in the lobby of the Something Tree Hotel.

It’s fortunate that all R.A.D. vehicles, buildings, weapons, and technology were constructed with the same materials as the enormous mothership that brought them to Earth. The great majority of it is Yamfennian technology, even though it was made on Nasga. Nothing built on Earth from earthly materials would have survived that fall. The R.A.S. MacGuffin survived with only minor damage.

“Herman, are you all right?” George said to his mustache, while gently caressing it.

“I’m all right, George,” said Herman. “How are you?”

“If you’re all right, I’m all right,” said George.

“Good. Let’s get everybody else,” said Herman.

George opened the top hatch and yelled to his friends, “Did you forget we have a mission? Let’s go.”

11:47 a.m. proved to be a good time for such a gymnastic landing as no one in the hotel was seriously injured. Most guests were checked out by then. Everybody who remained inside was shaken and confused. The members of the L Squad were the first to recover. They were accustomed to George’s flying and ‘landings.’ George opened the loading hatch and they all rushed in.

Georgie Boy, you saved us again. Now, get us out of here,” Hitch said.

“You’re the best, George,” said Abby. “I was just reminding our captain of that.”

“Everybody, buckle up,” said George. “Charlie, do the honors.”

They buckled their safety belts and Charlie commenced with the countdown, “10, 9…”

“Short version,” Abby yelled.

“3,2,1,” Charlie barked out in rapid succession.

George hit the thrusters and… nothing. Nothing happened. He tried again. Again, nothing.

“What’s happening, George? Let’s move,” Hitch said.

“I’m not sure, Cap. I’m scanning now,” said George. George tapped at the terminal. A scan started and the terminal went dead.

“It looks like I’m not the only one who didn’t get a morning charge,” said Kip.

George, did you forget to plug in both sides of the battery, again?” asked Abby.

“Ahh! It’s such a weird design,” George said. “Why are there separate plugs for the outgoing power and incoming power?”

“The ships weren’t meant to be kept underground,” said Abby, “and the batteries weren’t meant to be removed so often. That’s not even to mention the fact that we had to work fast under horrible conditions.”

All R.A.D. headquarters are underground to maintain secrecy. Their bases and all equipment are, of course, solar-powered. Every base has a special room with a convertible roof that allows sunlight in to charge all batteries and the base.

“Well, I get excited to fly and I forget some of the little details,” George said. “I must have had just enough juice leftover to get down here.”

“How much power does it take to fall off a roof?” asked Charlie, looking out the window at all the damage to the hotel.

“What now, Captain?” asked Kip.

“We make a break for it,” said Hitch. “We have a mission to complete.”

Abby looked out the window at the growing number of police officers and security guards and said, “Maybe we should just give up.”

“The L Squad never gives up,” Hitch said. “Everyone to the hatch.”

Everyone, except Abby, congregated at the hatch. Hitch pulled the emergency manual release lever and the hatch opened.

“But we’re surrounded,” Abby protested.

George, Kip, and even Charlie followed Hitch running out of the ship. Keep in mind that these are aliens. Hitch is the largest at about four-feet tall, weighing in at about 95 pounds. Charlie, though technically a dog not an alien, is the smallest. When she’s walking on her hind legs, she’s stands about two-and-a-half-feet tall. Whether she’s standing on her hind legs or she’s down on all fours, she weighs about 20 pounds. Everyone else present is human, which means they’re generally much bigger and stronger.

One by one the L Squad exited the ship. One by one they were picked up by the police officers waiting at the bottom of the ramp. Charlie would have been the hardest to apprehend given her size and speed, but she was still wearing her leash. She ran between an officer’s legs, but the officer grabbed the leash as it dragged behind her. Charlie was easily pulled back. Abby exited last with her hands in the air.

Humans Are Weird: Alarming Revelations

Dear Humanity,

Why is it when your alarm comes on in the morning you say it’s going off? It’s clearly coming on. If it were off, you would not be awakened. From now on, you are to say your alarm is coming on. Please, make the adjustment.

Your friend and logic coach,

Nobbinmaug

Humans Are Weird: Underwear

All right humanity. I need to call you out on another of your bizarre idiosyncrasies. Why in the universe do you call it a pair of underwear or a pair of pants? They’re one thing. A pair is two things. A pair of socks is completely acceptable until one of them escapes during the cleaning process never to be seen or heard from again. Except for the rare that occasion you receive a random postcard telling you your sock has moved to Venezuela to make a better life. It’s now sitting on a beach enjoying the sun and not having feet shoved into it. You know, maybe if you cut your toenails or washed your feet or got new shoes a little more often your socks wouldn’t run away like that. I don’t know how you keep your underpants.

What happened? Where was I? Oh yeah. A pair is two things. Underpants are one thing. Pants are one thing. Is one thing? Underpants or pants shouldn’t even be pluralized, much less referred to as a pair. Is it because they have two leg holes? What about shirts? They have two armholes. You don’t call them a pair of shirts. Unless you’re layering, you don’t even put on shirts. You put on one shirt. Now, put on one pant. Put on one underpant. To ease your transition, you can call them underwear instead. Dang it! Humanity, you are bizarre.

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