Pirate Therapy

Pirate flagLaurence arrived a few minutes late for his regular Thursday morning session, but his therapist usually ran late, so he wasn’t worried.

From behind the door of his therapist’s office, he heard a blood-curdling scream, and then a thump. A door opened somewhere, and Laurence heard a strange sound, almost as though something heavy was being dragged. He heard grunts, scraping, and the rhythmical percussion of something booming on the floor. Laurence looked around, and realized the secretary was not there. He also realized he was standing, tense.

The door to his therapist’s office creaked opened, and he heard a rough voice shout: “Ahoy Larry! Be ye out there laddie?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Come in, matey.”

Laurence walked unsteadily to the door and opened the door fully.

A pirate sat in his therapist’s chair. He had wild, unkempt hair held in by a greasy red bandanna, and a full dread-locked beard that looked like it was made out of black steel wool. He was wearing a stained white silk shirt, a sash of what was probably once a lovely dark green silk and pantaloons. He had one black boot, and he was missing a leg, which was replaced by a wooden peg that was carved into the shape of …

Laurence looked away.

“Arr matey, don’t ye like me leg?”

“Uh, it’s very creative,” Laurence said. “Um. Um, where is Dr. Glick?”

“She’s in-dee-sposed,” the pirate said. “She’s asked me to take care of her sessions today. Now, repeat after me: Arrrr!”

“Ar?”

“No, like ye mean it. Take a deep breath. No, don’t sit down. Ye won’t be sitting down this morning Larry, ye’ll be workin’! Now, say it: arrrr!!!”

“Arr.”

“Avast!” the pirate stood, the obscenely rounded end of his peg leg booming on the floor. A cutlass lay on Dr. Glick’s desk, and he picked it up. “I want to hear a real pirate yawlp before ye leave, ye bilge rat!”

Larry suddenly understood what that dragging sound had been. He looked around wildly for a weapon to defend himself; he picked up a pillow from the couch. Perhaps it would work as a shield.

“Would ye like a blankie too Larry? I won’t be caring if ye need to carry around a stuffed bear, as long as I hear ye. Now take a deep breath, and say it: arrrr!” The pirate’s voice was incredibly loud.

Laurence dropped the pillow and held his ears. He started shaking.

The pirate took a step closer and pointed the cutlass tip at Laurence’s throat; he lowered his voice and said menacingly: “I’ve slit the throats of better men than ye, Larry me boyo. Now say it, smartly lad, smartly!”

“Arr!” Larry managed, terror driving his voice several octaves higher.

“Grand! Grand!” the pirate enthused. “Now, let’s pretend you’ve got a pair, and say it again.”

“Arrr!” Larry shouted.

“Again!”

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“Arrr!”

“Again! Louder!”

“Arrr!” Larry screamed.

“Arrr!” the pirate joined in.

“Arrr!”

“Arrr!”

“Arrrrr……..” Their joint shouting tailed off, and Laurence realized that the pirate was grinning at him.

“So how do ye feel matey?”

Laurence wanted to say he felt good, but he know that wasn’t the right answer, so he just muttered: “arrrrr.”

The End

Alltop be wanting yer attention too, the scallywags. The title story in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures.

Ask General Kang: What is the penalty for plagiarism on your planet?

Ask General KangPlagiarism is the “act of stealing the ideas and/or expression of another and representing them as your own,” though I can’t remember where I got that quote from — just Google it for the source.

On my home planet of Neecknaw, this is not only an academic offence, but it is also a capital crime.

This stems from the days of Kargnak the Betrayed, one of the great warlord monkey rulers of the ancient days. Legend has it that Kargnak was an impressionable young screen-writer before he became the first in a long line of bloodthirsty intergalactic conquerors from the Planet Neecknaw.

As it happens, he wrote a promising screenplay called, “Planet of the Hairless Hominids”, about a dystopic future in which all good Neecknabian chimps were ruled by self-absorbed, ecologically retarded hominids he styled “humans”. (We had yet to discover the Milky Way Galaxy and your backwards corner of it in those days.) A producer showed some interest in it, but alas, did not buy the manuscript.

And wasn’t Kargnak surprised when the next summer, “Planet of the Humans” appeared at his local Chimpaplex? It was a huge hit, and made millions, and was (of course) based entirely on Kargnak’s original screenplay. He didn’t see a single banana skin for it, and thus Kargnak gave up the writing game for the bloodthirsty and cruel warlord business. At which he was moderately successful, taking over all of Neecknaw and some of our neighboring planets.

Actually, he didn’t give up writing completely, as he penned the Kargnakian Code, which for the first time set out all of our laws in a logical and ordered way. Under the Kargnakian Code, plagiarism is a capital crime, and the condemned are put to death by having all their hairs plucked out (very painful when you’re covered with them), then having a thousand unpublished writers slicing them with the sharpest paper they can find, while lemons are crushed in a massive press above them made of all unpublished writer’s manuscripts. Oh, and hot pokers are inserted wherever paper cuts cannot be administered.

Good god, that’s horrible! What about self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is style, baby. (*)

Next time: What should I say when my girlfriend asks me, “what are you thinking”?

*) Alfred Hitchcock said this defending repetition of his filming techniques in the London Observer, 8 Aug., 1976. Actually, he said “self-plagiarism is style.”

Alltop is 100% original. Originally published November, 2008, and it appears in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures.

The Zen of Proofreading

beginners_mind_experts-mind

I remember a couple of things about my study of Zen. The first was the importance of “beginner’s mind”. In his book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, the Zen master wrote:

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s there are few.”

The other thing I remember is that even if you have cultivated your beginner’s mind, you may not be ready for the teacher to hit you with a bamboo stick after you’ve been sitting for several hours. It will be a welcome relief from numb bum anyway.

But when I think about proofing, I believe an empty mind is the best way to approach it. The longer you can let your writing sit, so that you can come back to it with an empty mind, the better.

I’m not saying I’m successful — if you’ve spent any time around The Skwib I’m sure you’ll have seen all kinds of proofing abominations. This is why I pay proofreaders to go over my long-form work. The Fridgularity had a half-dozen kind-hearted friends do the first rounds of proofing, and then I hired two separate proofers to correct my various linguistic crimes. (This was AFTER two editors also had a shot.)

But for the blog writing I do, I just don’t have the money or time for this approach. I can muster up the beginner’s mind, but that’s more so I can accept the fact that when I look at this post a year from now, I’ll see any number of problems.

At least there’s no bamboo pole waiting for me then.

Alltop thinks grammar is hilarious. Originally published June, 2013.

Ask General Kang: How much time should I be spending on Social Media every day?

Ask General KangNone.

Next question.

No, seriously, what is the right amount?

It depends. Do you have other things to do? Like, I don’t know, a job? Let’s assume yes, and let’s assume it’s about eight hours a day. Okay, so that leaves you 17.

17?

Sorry, I keep forgetting your stupid Earth day only has 24 hours. So, yes, 16 hours. Let’s book eight for sleep, which is average, so we’re down to eight. I’m going to assume you have an hour of commuting to get to work, because that’s the average here in Canada too.

Really, you’re living in Canada?

Crap. I really shouldn’t have said that, though I’m sure the RCMP are already tracking my activities. I have noticed an inordinate number of cube vans circling the block of late … anyway, let’s give you four hours for eating, drinking, personal care and household activities such as cooking and cleaning.

That should leave you with four hours.

So I can spend four hours doing social media?

Only if you’re a total knob. And don’t have children, pets, or anything else to care for. Also, you may want to leave yourself some time to exercise you gelatinous bastard. And what about a little community service? How about that?

Yes, I’ve got kids. And a cat. What if I’m writing a novel too?
Then you’re fucked.

But don’t worry, as soon as I take over the Earth none of these decisions will be of any concern. I’ll put you down for something in the uranium mines — the exercise will do you good, and you’ve probably built up a healthy resistance to radiation from all those years in front of a CRT.

Next time: If you are the last member of an elite and esoteric order of zen-like control freaks with mental powers, how would you go about recruiting new members? Would Twitter be a good idea?

Alltop is an elite and esoteric aggregator of humor. Originally published October, 2009.