Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Want Pitt To Play Me in the Made-for-TV Movie (w/ Verne Troyer as My Brother?)

[Start Dictation.]

I tell you, folks, I've got doctors circling over me like vultures with privacy waivers. All. Day. Long.

It seems federal law says these guys can't write the medical journals or call CNN until I say they can. There are already a few local reporters sniffing around: loose lips in the nurses' station, apparently. A guy leaned in around the door frame this afternoon and took a photo. The flash felt like a worm burrowing into my brain. Not pleasant. PePe called security.

There might be money to be made here. The anesthesiologist who did my surgery stopped by: his brother owns the local M. Benz dealership. Says he can hook me up with a C-class if I sign on the dotted line. Guy's got a direct line to The Today Show, says we can both get a Matt Lauer interview out of this.

Thing is, I want a piece of Katie Couric, and she doesn't do the morning talk anymore. Lauer's a dork.

I don't think I can keep the lid on this much longer. There's a media brouhaha in the wings, people. I'd just like to have another couple days' recuperation, before it breaks. I want to be in a position to put my best foot forward.

Happy New Year, everyone. Can't believe another year has come and gone. Can't believe either that I'll be stuck in front of the TV watching frickin' Carson Daly tonight. And eating green Jell-O. Not exactly the kind of upscale hellraising I'd envisioned a week ago, but sail-a-vee . . .

[End Dictation.]

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Like a Hole in the Head . . .

[Start Dictation.]

Brothers & Sisters:

Life will throw you curve balls. Fer shurr. [Folks, spell that f-e-r s-h-u-r-r. Yep. Thanks.]

I'm sitting here in a hospital bed, grunting out next-to-unintelligible syllables through a wrap of gauze and medicated plaster, hoping for the best. My Three Stenos are listening in to what I try to say. Hopefully together they'll get most of it, notwithstanding all the post-operative garble.

I had that doctor's appointment last Tuesday — hastily arranged, as you know — and by the time I landed this old corporeal trainwreck in the exam rooms, the headaches were so bad I could —


— so the specialist referred me for a CAT scan, and I ended up blacking out while they had me inside the machine. Apparently that's not an uncommon occurrence — a lot of claustrophobes freak out and abandon consciousness — but I want to make clear to you that it wasn't that pansy-ass medullary override mechanism at work in my case. I can handle that kind of closed-up space just fine.

No, I crashed out because for the past thirty-three years I've been living (in reasonable comfort, actually) with a developmentally-stalled conjoined twin trapped in one of my sinus cavities, and at some point in the last couple weeks — for reasons that still have not been adequately explained to me — the Poor Little Guy contracted a case of gangrene. The swelling on his leg put increasing pressure on my brain, causing the excruciating headaches and, in the end, my crap-out in Radiology.

They wheeled me straightaway into emergency surgery at around 12:30, where a surgeon I still need to thank performed a less-than-routine siblingectomy from behind my face. I hear now that my head's former tenant is recovering in an incubator in the kiddie wing of the hospital: they had to take one of his legs to stop the disease from spreading. To be honest I don't know whether the Little Guy has —


— enough to be bummed out about the amputation. Of course, that's just one of the things I'm thinking right now.

Some of the others include

*Why me?

*You've got to be freaking kidding.

*What sort of relationship can I expect to have with my stunted Kid Brother? I still haven't seen The Guy, and I hope he's not too freaky-looking. I have a hard time interacting with animals that are freaky-looking.

*What are the coverage limits of the Phutatorius & Co. health plan, and if they're exceeded, would anyone object to me dipping into the World Domination Fund to pay a medical bill or two? It seems to me that expenditures on my personal health are crucial to the Overarching Cause here. I just don't people to conclude that I'm unethical.

*At what point will I be able to eat solid foods again?

et cetera. [Stenos, put that last bit in italics, because it's Latin. Thanks.]

That's all I've got the time and energy to tell, Bees and Esses. I'll try to check in with regular updates.

[End Dictation.]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Surgery Update


Is PePe here once again. I write with status report re condition of Señor Phutatorius. Surgery is finished now one half hour ago. A prolonged procedure of seven hours, but the doctors say Our Leader is of stable condition, and that operation went as well one can expect.

Señor Phutatorius will recover 100%. Hopefully the next blogpost will come from himself.

Look here for more news often.

Emergency Surgery

Es su amigo PePe aquì, Hermanos y Hermanas.

I write now to inform you all that Señor Phutatorius was admitted to hospital today and is having right now this afternoon EMERGENCY SURGERY on his HEAD and FACE. The surgery has begun at 2:30 p.m.

More particulares will follow as I learn them. On the way to the operatory room Señor Phutatorius asked me that I keep you posted.

Please keep our same friend in your prayers in the coming hours.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Oh, God, My Head Hurts

I wish I could give you an idea of how bad my head hurts right now. I know some of the folks at home probably think I'm crying wolf again. I will admit I have, in the past, staged dramatic holiday illnesses — complete with chemically-induced projectile vomiting and fake bloodied stool samples — so that I could put off my Christmas shopping until the Day After Christmas sales. In my defense, I never skimped on the spending: the discounts just enabled me to get my beloved friends and family more and better gifts on my preset budget. And of course, my sudden recovery from the brink of death always brought great New Year's cheer to loved ones.

I'm not up to any such high-spirited trickery this year, Brothers and Sisters, I swear. I did all my shopping early (even Bobo the ex-Intern Chimp will be getting a half-dozen Harry & David pears in the mail — restraining order be damned). This is a for-real headache, with flashing lights, aura, and noticeable swelling under my cheekbones. Feels like a migraine, with the light and sound sensitivity, except that it's ten days old now, and getting worse every second. I've had to spend the last three days in complete darkness, inside an interior room with the lights off and a black bath towel shoved under the door, so as not to admit the smallest crack of light from outside. I can't get any time in front of a computer, and right now I'm whisper-blogging this post through the door to Dead Eye, who will log on and transcribe it momentarily.

In short, folks, I'm really hurting here — and a bit scared. Thanks to a fortuitous cancellation (Mrs. Denton Browne of North Troy, Vermont: your husband will be released unharmed behind the Sunoco station at exactly 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday — be sure to bring your car round back to pick him up), I've managed to wangle an appointment with a neurologist on the 26th. Here's hoping it's nothing serious, and I can get some kind of relief.

Hope the rest of you are having a terrific holiday, while your would-be World Leader lies doubled over in pain puking into a bucket.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The last couple of weeks, Brother/Sister, have been nothing but headaches.

You start to understand why certain other predecessors (and present-day competitors) of mine built their strongholds and compounds on desert islands, or under the ocean floor. Just try to get any kind of significant construction work done in any modern-day nation-state, and it's headaches, headaches, headaches.

For starters, there's the local Zoning Board. Apparently the dairy-farm timeshare property is zoned "commercial/recreational." This because in the past it has served simultaneously as a resort property and a working, productive cheese distributor. Last week I got a summons to appear at a hearing down in town. Order To Show Cause Why Power-Mad Local Officials Shouldn't Totally Screw Over Phutatorius, or something like that. They all but guaranteed I'd be denied permits, because I hadn't certified that the property's new use would be commercial/recreational. World domination not fitting that description to the satisfaction of these piddling despots.

Lucky thing for me, as tried and tired as the "send a hot babe to seduce the local official, surveil the liaison with hidden cameras, then extort favorable and appropriate government action" gambit may be — and as much airplay as it gets on television and in the movies — it never fails with municipal zoning board chairmen. It never fails. In my lifetime I'm 14-for-14 with that tactic.

So for now, I'm free of government interference with the building project.

But then there are the unions. As some of you may remember from last November, I did a good turn for some Mexicans who wanted to roll the dice in the Land of Opportunity. They left names and emails with me, and wouldn't you know it? A whole bunch of them were willing to work construction details for me up here in Vermont — at quite reasonable rates. Not all of them were interested — some of them are sore at me over Loot the Church. But that's just the hardcore Catholics, and I can live without them. I'll give a broken soul a job, but if he's gonna find God and then put That Guy ahead of me on his priority list, he can go screw. The fellows I have, though, are fantastic. Not just workers, but artisans. I got one guy, gonna trick out Building 12 (Detention Center) in adobe. All the exterior walls, and if it takes, I just might have him work up the entire complex.

The catch is, I get picket lines. Like frickin' instantaneously. Big, fat, entitled white guys spring up out of the Earth as soon as the first Mexican trabajero sets foot on my property. It's not anything I personally can't deal with. A lot of background-noise chanting along the property line, anonymous threats on my answering machine, the occasional egg or two thrown at my garage door. Whatever. But my work crews are intimidated. They've been jumped outside local taverns. Nativist union goons are hassling their women. I have half a mind to put in a call to Gloria for advice. Figure my little Filipino Filly might be clued in to some unionbreaking strategies I don't know about. Until I can get in touch with her, though, I've got labor strife on my plate. Rightist paramilitaries cost money I don't have.

And on top of everything else, I've literally had a headache for going on eight days now. There are times I can't even sit up, and for the last two days I've been able to eat nothing but soft melon. Feels like someone's filled my sinuses with oatmeal and jalapeño. Condition's got PePe half scared to death. He thinks I've been poisoned, and he follows me around with a Geiger counter. (A clue, my Piper friend: radioactive isotopes may be a possibility these days, but arsenic works, too, and it won't give you a reading.)

Anyway, this is no way to go into the holidays, Brother/Sister. Would rest if I could but the World continues to flounder without a bona fide Dominator to run things. Bring on the Sudafed and Mucinex, rubber bullets and mustard gas. A guy's got to get some work done, against whatever odds. The New Year is coming, and I'm going to have to account for what I accomplished in the year 2006.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Headquarters Under Development

Well, what can I tell you? We're still holed up here at our farm in Vermont, and we've parried the several legal thrusts of some of these stick-up-their-ass timeshare claimants. It helps that I've rigged up a wicked home theater system in what we're now calling "the Great Room." The county sheriff and his deputies have an open invitation to come watch the college football games in high-def on Saturdays — and if I can keep the chips and guac coming, they're quite a bit less determined to serve me with their writs.

We'll see if the goodwill from local law enforcement holds up after the bowl season in January.

But I'm a reasonable man, and I know what's fair, so I've offered to buy out all the timeshare owners — regardless of what week they have — for fourteen cents on the dollar. The way I see it, possession is nine tenths of the law, right? So in essence I'm offering a 4% premium to anyone who cooperates.

To date I've managed to speak with 29 of the 37 owners (some people bought up more than one week), and I've consolidated ownership of the farm for most of January and February, the third week in April, all of June and September, and from mid-November through the end of the year. Those dates float a bit with the calendar, so they're just approximations. I'm close to deals with most everyone we've tracked down so far. One guy in New Jersey has been a real thorn in my side, but for the most part people have had the business sense to cut and run.

At some point I'll be doing a blog-exclusive walkthrough of this place, and you can expect a more authoritative description of its facilities and features then. To do that now would be premature, because we're making improvements — and building fortifications — left and right, and we haven't yet decided what we want to keep secret and what we can freely discuss.

Right now, and uncontroversially, I can list among this estate's assets forty-five milk cows and three bulls (we might sell off the animals, depending upon how profitable the cheesemaking operation is), a couple good-sized John Deere tractors, a chicken coop, fifteen three-foot wheels of signature artisanal Vermont cheddar, ten pair of snowshoes, a Ford F-150 truck (left behind by a pair of middle-aged vacationers we put to flight), a snowmobile, and an Artesian well out back that will provide a site-specific water-source to the complex, once we get the old set of pumps cleaned up and repaired.

You don't want to rely on City Water if you don't have to.

PePe is hard at work installing the perimeter defenses, starting with two fences: chain-link-and-razor-wire on the outer boundaries of the property, then an electric fence. There was some discussion about what should come first. I favored the high-voltage fence, on the ground that electrical shocks have significant short-term depreciative effects on a person's motor skills, making it difficult for him to perform the delicate movements required to skirt a three-foot loop of razor wire.

PePe championed the razor wire, for liability reasons. With the electric fence on the outside, a guy can just walk into it by accident and sue us for the burns and disfigurement. If he's already cleared a forbidding razor-wire barrier, it's clear he is an intruder and we owe him no legal duty not to shock the daylights out of him.

That's the kind of prudent observation that makes PePe not only my Piper, but also a Trusted Advisor. I'm leaving that project entirely to his discretion while I work with the architect about opening up the farmhouse interior (and wiring it for T1 Internet: this dial-up crap has got to go).

Anyway, busy busy busy. We need to get all the exterior work on the estate buildings done by winter — and up here winter comes early.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ketchup (get it?)

Hard to believe it's been three months, Brothers and Sisters, since we've talked. I could offer my usual excuses, but to save time, just assume I made them, and we'll move on.

I figure I can go a long way toward rebuilding trust in my Readership, if I get to work on answering some of my backlog of email. Here we go:

(1) Brother Gustavus writes from Brussels:

Phutatorius, is there any chance you might take "Loot the Church" on the road? Some of us didn't have the dollahs to make the trip to Boston.

We're way ahead of you, Gustavus. I've hired an event planner — Hillary Something-or-Other, she's based in Long Island — and she's lining up a ten-city spring tour down the East Coast. Providence, Hartford, New York, Philly, Wilmington, Harrisburg, Baltimore, Arlington (Virginia), Richmond, Atlanta. We may have a shot at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, on ST. PATRICK'S DAY. Would that be sweet or WHAT?

From there, all systems are go for a June-July '07 gig opening for Cirque du Soleil on the Continent — probably your best bet to see us, Gus, though most of the dates will be concentrated in Eastern Europe. Call your friends, pack up the RV, and come on down to Prague. I can't guarantee that I'll be there (visa issues, and I'm busy), but at worst you'll be treated to appearances by "Phutsie's All-Stars" (lineup TBD).

(2) Sister Marsha has these words from County Clare (I believe that's Ireland):

How's the dance-fighter training going? Not so well, I think, based on what I saw on YouTube.

We've asked the folks at YouTube to take down that clip, in part because it discloses certain confidential fighting techniques (I have no intention of going through THAT again), and also because it's not a fair or representative depiction of my fighting prowess. That "demonstration" came after a long afternoon of drinking with the Gang — there may have been some mushrooms involved, too — in short, the intern had no business recording that footage in the first place. Posting it on the 'Net was an even graver breach of trust, and notwithstanding her "considerable assets," I've had her replaced. YouTube is complying with the takedown instruction, but digital copies breed digital copies, and I'm sure that video will crop up again somewhere. If you do happen to see it, don't read anything into it about my skill set.

(3) From Moldova, Brother Turk, with a bit of an edge:

Any progress establishing a headquarters? An underground lair? Hollowed-out volcano, perhaps? What criminal mastermind works out of an apartment in Cambridge?

Let's be clear, Monsieur Turk (if that is your real name) — I'm far from a criminal mastermind. I'm mounting a legitimate, extrajurisdictional challenge to the world's sovereign powers. There's nothing criminal about it.

That said, I could use a base of operations with a bit more storage space. And a conference room. But this isn't Austin Powers, or even Superfriends Versus the Legion of Doom. I don't need a volcano or Hall of Justice or big, black underwater thingy to live in. Any old tract of land with building structures and a T1 connection will do.

Where we are at the moment is, we've set up shop at Frankie Big Cheese's timeshare — the dairy farm in Vermont, if you remember. Went up there during his three-week window back in July, and we just haven't left. Vacationing families keep turning up on Fridays (Turnover Day) to claim their time slots, but we've managed to frighten them away, so far. It's not ideal, plotting for World Domination with minivans pulling up in your driveway all the time. But it's all the cheese you can eat, and we're working on buying out these pain-in-the-ass timeshare owners as they arrive.

(4) Burping Squid writes from wherever he might be, wandering the landscape, with no home to claim him or friend to love him:

You suck, Phutatorius.

Yo mama, Squidley.

Rock On and Peace Out.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Not Yet, PePe

We're back from Jimmy's. It saved us a couple hours that we found the poor kid strung out on his sofa and barely breathing when we arrived. The paramedics picked him up at 3:30, and we were back at the Homestead by four.

PePe is irate. He's very protective of his Peruvian brethren, and he proposes that we go find that Assistant District Attorney, bust his door down, and waterboard him.

I say we wait.

There will indeed come a time when Phutatorius & Co. resort to force. In fact, unless I can put together one hell of a Marketing Department, that's how this has to play out.

I am reluctant, however, to take that big step just now. Mine is a long row to hoe — long and at times lonely. I knew when I embarked that there would be provocations along the way, and they would number in the hundreds.

The important thing is to remember to put one's head down, focus on the goal, press on ahead. It can be too easy to succumb to distractions, to wander down sideroads and get lost or mugged by the footpads of the Establishment. We have power now, to be sure — I'm an intermediate-level Elite Incan Dance Fighter (the Master Trainer reviewed my latest training video and sent me my certificate in the mail) — but we're not so strong yet that I can afford the bad pub that would follow from dunking this punk prosecutor in his stationary tub for an evening.

To me, the better bet right now is to take the high road and float some money from the WDF for Jimmy's rehab. It's not obvious to me that Jimmy wouldn't have OD'd this morning irregardless. In fact, were it not for these oppressive inquiries from that ADA, we certainly would not have trekked down to East Cambridge to give Jimmy our reassurances. Who know who would have found him — and when?

When I'm running the Show, B/S, I'm going to do something about drugs. This I promise you. Jimmy Atahualpa is a friend of mine. This issue is personal for me now.

In the meantime, our afternoon just opened up. Talk about a gift! It's off to The Cheesecake Factory for an afternoon snack: spinach/artichoke dip for me, and I'll be smuggling in my own white-corn Tostitos.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Yesterday I got a letter from this persnickety prosecutor-guy in Boston. Jerkoff wants to know if we obtained Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) on Jimmy Atahualpa before we let the kiddies pile on him and mock-stab him at the fundraiser.

I guess there's some kind of law requiring you to do this if you're an "entity or organization primarily engaged in providing activities or programs to children 18 years of age."

Now I get the point of this: God forbid some day care program hires some recidivist freakazoid to mop the floors while the kids are around. A law that will stop that makes a heck of a lot of sense to me. Fine. I'll keep it on the books after the Ascendancy.

What this DA-guy's doing here is harassment. Everybody knows Jimmy Atahualpa is a stand-up guy. Sure he has his demons, but if a substance abuser can have a kid, then certainly a substance abuser can spend an impromptu couple of hours breaking up fake-blood capsules and pretend-dying with kids, in plain view of the public on a goddam Saturday afternoon. It's not like the blood is real, or Jimmy's a needle-sharer. The guy has his own leather-bound kit: I've seen it.

Talk about stretching the law: suppose we have an office picnic and the Stenos bring their nieces and nephews with them? Do I have to file paperwork before I challenge these kids to a friendly game of lawn darts? Do I?

PePe's in the other room, and I can't hear him. Hold on a minute.

* * *

All right, I'm back. PePe tells me lawn darts are illegal in the United States. I don't know where he gets this information, but it checks out. So fine — bad example. My point is that we don't suddenly become an organization "primarily engaged in providing activities or programs to children under 18." What we are is an organization "primarily engaged" in an ongoing effort to acquire and consolidate ultimate power over the entire human race. I mean, duh.

You know what it is: these DA-types always have political aspirations of their own. That's what this is about. Investigations like these — they're always politically-motivated. It won't be the last one I have to deal with, and I've got thick skin.

My concern right now is for Jimmy. He thinks all this is his fault, and he's been writing me emails apologizing to me all day. I'd love to reach right through the computer right now and give him a big hug. But I can't, so I'll instead have to get in the car and drive all the way across town to his place tomorrow to assure him everything's OK with him and me. Then he'll want to show me hospitality and offer me lunch, but of course, just like a junkie he won't have anything in the refrigerator, so I'll have to drive him to the store. I won't get out of there until at least six o'clock in the goddam evening

It's just a waste of everybody's time.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Just a quick note:

Eliezer from Capetown writes that I've been perhaps a bit too liberal lately with my use of exclamation points in post titles. He is considering whether or not to back me as World Hegemon, and he fears that a Phutatorian Regime might go on a punctuational rampage and pollute the landscape with unwarranted marks of emphasis.

I think this is a fair criticism. After all, imagine how gaudy Las Vegas would become, if you added [!] to all the neon signs and billboards!!

Though I expect to delegate the matter to an Official Aesthetician —

Aesthete! PePe just shouted from the other room (but I think he's wrong on this one).

— you can expect I'll be hands-on with regard to any legislation involving punctuation in signage.

To Mr. Eliezer's second point — about how overuse of the exclamation point results in a devaluation of emphasis — I say this: there are plenty of excess exclamation points floating around out there, just waiting to be put to meaningful use.

Why, as it happens, a great deal of the World Population speaks Spanish, and Spanish-speakers double up on this commodity in their writings, putting the inverted ! or ¡ (as it appears) at the beginning of each excited utterance that they commit to the printed page. If necessary, I can simply place an embargo on this practice, requisition the excess ¡s from Latin America, Spain, and the Philippines, and turn them right-side up for deployment as necessary to convey the strength of my conviction in official proclamations.

So even if I need to serve up two, three, or even four exclamation points to express my will to the public, I should have plenty of reserves at my disposal.

Thanks for writing, Eliezer. It was worth taking the time to think this matter through, and I really do appreciate the aesthetic point you made about my punctuation, even if I find your economic worry a bit overblown.

As to Yentl from Glasgow and her complaint about my predilection for dashes — she can go to h—, that g—d— f— ———-kissing horse-faced b—.

(Bet you like my dashes now, lassie, now that I've confronted you with a brutal alternative . . .)

Monday, July 10, 2006


I just collected on my World Cup victory. Add another hundred grand into Phutsie & Co.'s July receipts. What a month!

It's been suggested that certain agents of mine injected PCP into Zinedine Zidane's pregame croissant. To these accusers I say only this: (1) PePe was only in Berlin to celebrate his great-aunt's 80th birthday — he can produce the party favors to corroborate this; (2) had I really so conspired to slip Zizzou a mickey, you can bet I'd have dealt him a bigger dose. That guy hung around 110 minutes before he cracked up, and in the interim he very nearly did in my Azzurri.

But whatever — I suppose that's what comes of acquiring overnight celebrity. "Loot the Church" wins primo CNN coverage, a putz like O'Reilly starts ranting on you, and people start to get the idea you'll do anything for money.


WDF account balance: $416,388.12.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Forza Italia!

I know it's reckless to be gambling with the Fund money, but I've got a good feeling. $100K down on Italy to win the Cup final tomorrow.

Friday, July 07, 2006

And a Good Time Was Had by All

Well, Brothers & Sisters, that was a party. Such a party, in fact, that I've spent the last few days recovering from it. I know I know — I swore off after-parties after that post-auction bender the Staff and I went on in New York. But when you raise $138K in one afternoon (that's net, people) you want to go celebrate.

I'd like to thank everybody who came out — I don't have the figures in front of me, but the turnout was tremendous, well over 5000 people. With so many people anxious to participate, we ended up extending the fundraiser three additional hours. In fact, we had to plant twice as much money as we had originally earmarked for the looting — but that meant we earned twice as much, too.

Some strokes of genius I'd like to credit to the Staff:

(1) The staged reenactments of Thomas Beckett's assassination-by-stabbing in the chapel were a hit with audiences and critics alike. Big snaps to Dead Eye for working up the concept, and thanks to Jimmy Atahualpa for playing — in grand style — the role of the beleaguered Archbishop. Jimmy, your extended death performances were positively Shakespearean.

Many of you Harvard Square-frequenters probably know about the problems Jimmy's been having with the drugs and alcohol. Still, he really came through for us on Saturday afternoon. The kids just love Jimmy, and when Dead Eye got the idea to let the under-12s join in with the mock-stabbing, he bought right in to the program. Talk about a good sport! That extra bit of on-the-fly entrepreneurism — five bucks for a crack at this anti-royal SOB! — earned us probably five to ten thousand bucks on top of the admissions fees. And I don't doubt our Beckett sustained a few bumps and bruises from the enthusiastic kiddies.

(Jimmy, good buddy: you DO have something to offer the world — and don't you EVER forget it.)

(2) To the Sound Guy We Hired (I forget his name): nice work. The chanting and creaking, the ubiquitous sound of approaching footsteps really thrilled our looters, particularly in the dark corridors.

(3) Opie did the Steno shift for the afternoon. I know it wasn't easy following me through the crowd with the equipment, and I appreciate the yeoman's work.

(4) Frankie Big Cheese: the Gold Membership Plan was a brilliant idea. The airlines and car rental companies know their business — there is money to be made by offering tiers of service. In fact, it's downright amazing what people will pay for a little extra special treatment and a cardboard crown. Gold Members enjoyed off-street parking in the church lot, received discounts on pie, and were allowed one free shakedown of a fellow looter, so long as it took place inside the church.

(5) PePe, once again you went above and beyond the call of duty. Who knew you could gin up a Popemobile in Boston on such short notice? I'm not one for the limelight, but I rather enjoyed the impromptu parade. Thanks for the surprise, Brother. Much love, indeed.

We'll be compiling a mailing list from the entries in the guest book. I saw Burping Squid's name up front — were you there, buddy? Might have been nice to make your acquaintance, finally — you seem like a thinking man, when you're not being a shit.

Finally, I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated in the counterdemonstration across the street. It's not easy to organize something like that on short notice, but we mustered a goodly-sized crowd to shout down all those no-fun sad-sacks who showed up to protest the event. Of course, it helped that half of the Enemy Demonstrators had duct tape over their mouths. (That's something I'll never get, people — this trend with the duct tape. You're doing half the work of the riot police for them.) But hey — whatever. Our crowd was nice and loud; it did its job and was largely well-behaved.

The upshot of it all is this: an afternoon of community outreach, tons of media coverage, and the running total in the World Domination Fund is now $316,495.31.

We're on a roll, baby!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Interview with a Vampire

As many of you old-schoolers know, I've been wary of giving interviews since that fiasco with Barbara Walters. These bloodsucking journalists just waste your time and make you feel like an asshole.

But that said, I did relent yesterday and sat down for a few minutes with Alex Beam of the Boston Globe; I decided a little advance pub for Loot the Church couldn't hurt. Plus, at some point as World Hegemon I'll be giving press briefings, and I figured it would be a good idea to start exercising the ol' bullshit-and-stonewall muscle.

The full transcript of the interview will run in today's Weekend section, but here are some highlights:

* * *

Q. Phutatorius, you describe yourself as an Internet Personality, but I've never heard of you. What gives?

A. Well, it sounds to me like you need to bite the bullet and finally buy yourself a computer. For beginners, I recommend one of those cheap-ass Dells. And of course you'll need an ISP. America Online is like a set of training wheels for the World Wide Web; I'm sure you get their CDs in the mail. Give AOL a try, and join us in the 21st century.

Q. What do you think qualifies you to take on this challenge?

A. Well, I've taken a few correspondence courses in event planning —

Q. No — not the fundraiser, Phutatorius. The ruling the planet bit.

A. Just the planet, Alex? Why limit myself? But seriously: I had a Moment last September, and a kind of clarity of purpose descended on me. It was like a visitation. Since that time I've turned my body into a kind of temple. I've gone to a remote mountain redoubt and learned the arcane wisdom of the Elite Incan Dance Fighters, and at home in the mornings I do a lot of strength and agility training. I keep in touch with my EIDF mentor over the Internet. You really should get yourself connected, Alex. There's so much potential in it.

Q. Some people say you're too impetuous a character — that you make enemies easily. Is that the sort of personality that the world population really wants as its leader?

A. Well, first off — I don't know how true your assessment is. The Cardinal and I had some knock-down, drag-out negotiations going on over this church rental — he's a screamer, by the way, and at one point he threw a ball-point pen at me — but when it was all over, we went out for a few beers, he and I, and it was all good.

Q. I thought you said your body was a temple.

A. Yeah. And?

Q. But you're out drinking beer —

A. I don't get your point. But while we're on this subject, I'd like to let you know that our temporary liquor license went through, and we'll have Harpoon and Miller Genuine Draft on tap at the fundraiser on Saturday. We're still talking with the people at Heineken.

Q. On the subject of the fundraiser —

A. Just a minute, Alex — I want to finish my answer to your question about my purported personality flaws. Suppose your lying ass is right, and I do make enemies easily. What of it? That might be a problem if I'm leading a country, and I'm dealing constantly with other heads of state. That's the kind of situation that leads to a war. But if I'm running the world, what meaningful person am I going to butt heads with? The President of Mars?

Q. You have interesting logic.

A. You like me now. Wait until I hire my full-time Logic Minister.

Q. Now to the fundraiser. Some say —

A. What's with all this "some say" crap, Alex? Name names or knock it off.

Q. All right, fine. Everybody says —

A. Better.

Q. Everybody says that it's exploitative and obnoxious for you to take a sacred space, a religious space, and use it to appeal to people's basest instincts so you can make money. What do you say to that?

A. You've just described every priest, every minister, pastor, rabbi, imam, swami, prelate, and pope. The only difference is that with me, the people know their money is going to a good cause — the Phutatorius & Co. World Domination Fund.

* * *

Well, what do my Brothers and Sisters think? How did I hold up against Mr. Beam's obviously hostile lines of questioning? I think I did terrific — maybe a little edgy with that last bit, but whatever. That's the kind of snarky attitude that will bring the kids to church on Saturday, and you've got to appeal to every demographic.

Anyway, back to work. We're baking up a storm here at the apartment. PePe's got a bitchin' Tollhouse cookies recipe, and the off-duty Stenos are rolling the dough for pecan and rhubarb pies. We'll sell the cookies for $1.25 apiece tomorrow. Ten bucks for the pies. Hand over fist, I tell you. Hand over fist.

Well, I hope to see you all tomorrow at the church. I am stoked!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

En Español

PePe's working up Spanish-language fliers — rough word-for-word translations of what I posted in English below — to distribute in Latino neighborhoods.

No reason why Anglos should have all the fun, right?

I've also been making calls this morning trying to track down someone who knows Mandarin. Sometime in the next couple days I have to go down to the DMV (license renewal); I figured I could do a quick leafleting circuit round Chinatown while I'm there.

I had this guy Li Duk on the phone a few minutes ago, was testing him: I'd throw out a sentence in English. He'd translate it back to me. It seemed to go well, but for all I know he was just making random sounds.

Maybe I'll just cut Chinatown altogether and stick with PePe as my lone interpretador. Though it's obvious he plans to skim a little off the top with the Latin customers (even I know "cuarenta" doesn't mean "thirty-five"), PePe's the devil I know —

and a hell of a Piper, too.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Loot the Church" Set for July 1!

Took some time to hammer out the details, but we finally have a date, and that's July 1. I'm wary of getting too close to the Independence Day holiday, but so it goes. The Archdiocese wouldn't let me have a Sunday, and they played hardball on that point. I told them my rent check would more than cover what they would take from their Sunday collection plates — but churches are churches. They wanted my rent and the Sunday offertories.

Sons of bitches.

I'm still sanguine about the fundraiser's prospects, notwithstanding that there's some kind of event downtown at the Aquarium on the same day, and the Rotary Club Carnival will run through the weekend in Quincy.

PePe and I are printing up circulars as we speak; by tomorrow there won't be a telephone pole in Middlesex or Suffolk County that doesn't announce it:






Put on your best Visigoth costume and


>>> $35 buy-in gets you 20 minutes to rip, hack, tear, pry, and strip your way to newfound wealth and satisfaction. Children under 5 get in free.

>>> Are you mad as hell at the Catholic Church? Can't shake off that nasty Spanish Inquisition? Take 20 minutes to fight back. We're offering a 10% discount for gays, lesbians, Northern Irish!

GUARANTEED: $60,000 in cash* is hidden somewhere in this church! All you have to do is FIND IT!

WHEN: July 1, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Church of St. John the Revelator, Boylston Street, Boston.

>>> Balloons for the kiddies! Funnel cakes, lemon shakes, Italian sausages!


All proceeds to THE PHUTATORIUS & CO. WORLD DOMINATION FUND, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

*Figure may include cash-equivalent coupons of corporate sponsors.

Friday, June 02, 2006

To/From Burping Squid, re Church & State

Well well well — would you believe I got an email just this morning from the long-lost, not-missed Burping Squid?

It seems Burping Squid is an ardent believer in the separation of church and state, and he/she is troubled by my choice of fundraising venues. He/she has written, and I quote:

You suck, Phutatorius. I was just coming round to supporting your candidacy for Sovereign Ruler of Earth, but now I find you suddenly in bed with the Catholic Church.

The single most crucial component of a sane and rational government is that it sequester itself from the influence of fanaticism and superstition. That's a first principle, you jackass. And here you are, barely on the way up, selling your soul to the Vatican for a couple of hundred grand. Phutatorius, you suck.


To which I reply:

Dear "BS":

It's been a while, you punk-ass bitch. I was just coming round to missing your particular brand of verbal abuse when I got your message of June 2. Now I find myself longing for more cross-eyed silence from Squidville. I appreciate that it's become the idiom of our relationship to trade barbs with one another, and while I hope that I give as good as I get, I've never taken any of your flatulent criticism to heart. That is, until now.

I get your point, Brother/Sister, about church and state. And I'm strongly committed to it. Strongly. Committed. In fact, it's part of why I got into this business. I truly believe that I can be that Sane and Rational Governor you were describing, precisely because I am the LEAST SPIRITUAL PERSON EVER TO WALK ON THIS EARTH. That's a big part of my platform.

But here's the thing: you don't make the jump from Internet Personality to Sane, Rational Governor of the Planet without compromising, TEMPORARILY, on certain principles in the process. For example, I don't believe in regicide. I'm dead-set against it. I think it's destabilizing, and it sets a bad precedent, as people may make the logical leap of concluding that what's good for the King goes double for the World Hegemon. But notwithstanding my position on regicide, it's highly probable that I'm going to have to kill off a king or two — possibly even all of them — during my period of ascendancy.

Likewise here. I assure you: the Catholic Church will be powerless and pleading before me, by the time all this is over. We'll be screening
The Da Vinci Code in the Sistine Chapel, and the crowd will be allowed to throw food (because I heard the movie sucked). But in the meantime, the Church needs money, and I need a gimmicky fundraising venue. So it's a great fit: peanut butter, meet chocolate.

And furthermore, it is a bit of a stretch to characterize this transaction as the formation of an alliance between myself and the Archdiocese. Quite the contrary, in fact — this is a contract negotiated at arm's length. And let me tell you, the Cardinal isn't exactly pleased with my intentions for using the facility. I have the guy over a barrel, though, and he'll take what I give him.

So how's about it, BS? Why don't you come on down to the fundraiser (date still TBD, people), and I'll give you one free shot at any piece of religious iconography in the church. You can take a hack at the altar, kick out a stained-glass window, whatever you want. I'll make sure Security knows you're coming, so you don't get hassled. Good?

I'm engaging you on this issue because you're a future constituent, and for once you've actually come to me with a decent bit of substantive criticism. You piss-ant.



Thursday, June 01, 2006

"Loot the Church" Fundraiser!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Brothers and Sisters — where you see a far-reaching clergy sex abuse scandal, I see opportunity. It just takes a brilliant, World Domination-worthy mind to tap into it.

So here's what I'm up to, Bees 'n' Esses:

As you may know, the Boston Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church is — how to put it? — hard up for money these days, what with the dozens of million-dollar lawsuits naming the Church as a defendant to sex abuse claims, and the offertory plates around town filling up with indignant congregationers' pocket fluff. Cardinal O'Malley, himself a vow-of-poverty kind of guy, needs to gin up some money straightaway, or a number of his Indoctrination Centers (my umbrella term for churches and schools) will be turning into Jiffy Lubes.

Enter the Catholic Church's latest Savior, Francis X. Phutatorius. All right, all right — maybe "Savior" isn't quite the word to use here — but you have to admit, the "Francis X." I just appended to my legal name is a nice touch. It really helped build trust with Father Sean during the negotiations process —

Cut the self-celebratory crap, Phutatorius, and tell us what you're up to.

Fair enough.

Just this morning I wrote the Archdiocese a check for $20,000 — in exchange for a single day's rental of one of its bigger and cathedral-y churches in Boston. This figure bargained down from Father Sean's initial quotation of a full $40K — it's really a testament to my dealmaking acumen, I tell you, B/S —

But for what, Phutatorius? You rented out the church for what?

I'm kind of digging this Socratic Method we're falling into, B/S. Question, then Answer. It's kind of catchy. And rhythmic.

Well, I'll tell you. I've rented out the church for a fundraiser — a fundraiser like you've never before experienced. No fancy-pants $500-a-plate dinner-and-speech planner am I. I've crafted a fundraiser that will appeal to the Everyday Joe.

Here's the concept: you hide big bags of cash all over the building, and you challenge the public to come in and find them. You sell tickets (say, forty, fifty bucks a pop), you admit 200, 300 people at a time, and you give each group of looters ten minutes to turn the place upside-down and find the money. It's an anything-goes, rules-are-there-are-no-rules kind of environment inside the church — there will, of course, be waivers to sign, and I'll hire a security detail to keep people somewhat in line — you're basically buying yourself a chance to loot a sacred place for good-sized chunks of money. And who hasn't always wanted to do that?

This will be the can't-miss event of the season, B/S. Date TBD, as we have certain details to hammer out in the coming days.

Right now I've got PePe working the numbers: i.e., how much to charge, how much money to make available at any given time, that sort of thing. You want to maximize your returns, which means calibrating your ticket-price-to-prize-money ratio just right. And of course you have to factor in incidentals, like the outlays for security and the ads I'm gonna run in the Herald and Globe. But PePe's a whiz with the adding machine — he's already spit out fifty yards' worth of paper tape running his calculations.

For my part, I'm setting myself to the task of mapping all the fun little nooks and crannies in the church where I'll be hiding the money. I'm also getting in touch with some local institutions — Dunkin' Donuts, Gillette, D'Angelos — about sponsorships. I'll scatter voucher and coupons around the joint, too. Every paid entrant will take home at least something with him.

I'm so excited about this project, I can't even think straight. There's no way I don't at least double the money in the World Domination Fund by the time this thing is over. But first, organization and planning. More to come, Bruthas & Sistas, as I deem necessary and appropriate to divulge. Watch for it!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Investigation Update

All right. What can I report?

No real progress re my investigation into the mysterious and coincidental deaths of Stenographer Kin. My PIs have turned up nothing, but not without incurring significant expenses in the process. Mark my words, B/S, I'm going to give these receipts a good going-over before I pay these characters a cent. I don't see why a private detective needs to stay in the Hilton President in downtown Kansas City while he beats the streets — it seems to me a Red Roof Inn or Motel 6 out by the Interstate would have done just fine. I think a reasonable rule to follow is that if the hotel has flags hanging in front of it, you shouldn't expense a client for it. Nor am I quite clear on how the six hours of Jet Ski rentals fit into my Florida detective's investigative strategy. Or the $200 "raw bar" charges. Whatever happened to the days when investigators ate cheeseburgers out of the bag while on stakeout?

Note to Self: Revise "Independent Contractor" section of Policy Manual; eliminate expense account protocols in favor of per diem allowances.

At any rate, I've got no real leads and no evidence the two "accidental deaths" were linked. By now I'm about six thousand dollars out of pocket, and I've got all these pissed-off Steno Families in lockdown at these hotels. For a while they were happy enough taking room service and watching the in-room movies. But now we're going on six weeks, and I've got something close to a full-on revolt on my hands. One unhinged brother-in-law unscrewed the piping from his bathroom sink and assaulted a check-in clerk. Clubbed her senseless, broke into the supply closet and drank all the single-serving bottles of whiskey from the minibar stocking shelves. So I've got the clerk's medical bill to cover, along with cleanup for the flooded hotel room and this shithead's "bar bill."

Brothers and Sisters, you can only send people so many placatory pizzas. At a certain point, if people want to come out of hiding and face certain death just to "resume their normal lives," you can't stop them. I wouldn't deserve to govern the planet if I were the type to try to lock people away from their own bad judgment.

More than anything, though, I just want to do right by my employees. So this morning I convened a meeting of the Stenos to discuss the matter. I laid out the risks of releasing their families into the general population, told them to go away and think about whether I should settle up with these hotel chains and check these people out. I catered them a Bertucci's lunch — I just love that Silano they do, with the lemon-cream sauce and broccoli — and they came back and told me to free their families, that they could take care of themselves.

I suppose I'll have more to report as my Steno's peeps are systematically killed by my enemies. As they say, you can lead a horse to water . . .

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Imperial Logic

I know, I know. It seems like half my posts are devoted to apologies or justifications (an Internet Personality/World Domination Aspirant does not concern himself with making excuses, B/S) for not writing. And that's kinda crummy, I admit.

Think about it, though: if I didn't spend all this time not blogging, my posts would go down by half. Then where would we be? Huh?

I call that Imperial Logic, Brother/Sister, and I find it to be a very effective way of settling complaints — and I expect to do a lot of complaint-settling once I come to power. After all, when you get right down to it, isn't the job of "maintaining the public order" really just complaint-settling? Tear gas and truncheons have their merits, but I've always favored winning arguments with logic, particularly the sort of logic that briefly disables the mental functioning of the complainant, affording the complainee valuable seconds to escape. Someday I hope to hire a Staff Philosopher to work full-time on the subject of Imperial Logic, but right now I don't have the dollars.

Anyway, I know you're on pins and needles, B/S, so I promise you: I'll write with actual news in the next couple days. I just can't do it in this post, because it would screw with the "half my posts" premise up there in the first paragraph. That would in turn debunk the Imperial Logic in the second paragraph, rendering the third paragraph nonsensical and causing me to have to rewrite this fourth paragraph midstream. And I've already got a lot of momentum going in this fourth paragraph.

So please accept that actual content is forthcoming, but content yourself (ha! pun!) now with my apologies and justifications for the delay. More tomorrow. Or the next day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some Quick Enumerated Points

I have a few points to cover — just to get out of the way, before too much of a backlog accumulates:

(1) I have set up a program that provides temporary tucked-away housing for family members of staff, until we can get a handle on the apparent threat. All they have to do is produce photocopies of documents evidencing kinship with active personnel. (Don't think, Mr. Homicidal Perpetrator, that you can just go to the Motel 6 closest to these people's houses. We'd be damned fools if we relocated at-risk persons to the Official Budget Hotel Chain of the Future Regime. And we're not damned fools, pal.)

(2) Not much progress on suspects, but it's an ongoing investigation, and if there's one thing I've learned from my days in Human Resources, you never comment on an ongoing investigation.

(3) You're taking this the wrong way, Gloria. You should be flattered that I wrote what I did. Remember: I was surprised that you were that old; that's what prompted my reaction. You don't look a day over 45, which to me is the perfect age for a woman. A woman at 45 is experienced and world-wise, but still spry, and with a lingering capacity for wonder.

(4) To the Shadowy Dude on My Doorstep: there are more water balloons where that last one came from. And next time, it won't be water. So think about that when you take up your post tomorrow morning. Ya prick.

(5) I'm in talks with the Boston Archdiocese about renting space for a fundraiser — moving my peeps' extended families into hiding costs money. I'll keep you posted on the details.

(6) I've created a new blog that documents certain highlighted correspondence. I've lodged a permanent link over there on the right. Click it and keep pace with History, B/S.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I just saw this article in the Globe, and yes — I find it troubling indeed.

But Phutatorius, are you sure you're being objective? Why SHOULDN'T the Filipinos rally against a regime that oppresses them? Honestly, just because you're SLEEPING WITH the President —

No, B/S. You misunderstand me. That's not it at all. It's that I had no idea Gloria was fifty-nine years old. Well, of course she wasn't 59 until just recently, but I didn't have a clue she was even close to the Big 6-0. Shoot: I had her pegged at late 40s, max (I mean, look at the photo. She's a babe!).

That's it, then. I have one year to break it off. Here's hoping that I can get control of her army by next March. Because there's no way I'm going to get it on with a woman (no matter how good she is), if I know she's over 60.

My Renowned Statisticsologist Says . . .

Here's the analysis I just got back from My Renowned Statisticsologist:

(A) Well, first calculate the probably of one acquaintance having an accidental death in the family. This — in the long run — is simply the number of families that have accidental deaths in the average week divided by the number of families (this is in the world, in the US, in your state — whichever you think is most relevant).

Now, two calculate the chances of two in the same week, you need to define your terms a bit more explicitly. (1) Do you mean in one particular week (e.g., what's the probability of two such occurences in the week of March 3-9)? (2) Or do you mean at some point in your life two will happen in a week? (3) Or do you mean that given one happened, what's the probability of another happening within 7 days?

(3) is easiest because we can make a reasonable assumption about independence because we will clearly be talking about two separate events. There might be some correlation, but it's probably small. Then the answer would simply be whatever you got for (A).

(1) is next easiest. If we assume independence (a big assumption) then you just square (A). If we think there is some positive correlation, i.e., acquaintances' family members might often travel together in the same car, then this will be closer to just plain old (A). Or, if accidental death includes things like death by earthquake, then there's certainly some positive correlation. If you really mean, a safe dropping on someone's head or falling down the stairs, then these are probably close to independent and your answer is (A)^2

(2) This is the hardest. Since the chance is so small you can approximate it by 1 - ((1 - "1")^N) where "1" is the answer you get in the above paragraph and N is the # of weeks you live in a year.

Did you get all that, Brother/Sister? Well, just in case you didn't, here's the upshot: the odds are ASTRONOMICAL that my two Stenos' family members would suffer near-simultaneous mortal "accidents." Like a gajillion-and-a-half to one. So I'm going to proceed on a double-homicide theory.

And Brothers and Sisters, please do let this insider's access I've given you into my management of this crisis inform your understanding of how I intend to govern the planet, once I take over. A Benevolent and Wise World Leader does not act willy-nilly — he consults with trusted and knowledgeable advisors and makes rational policy conclusions that incorporate and reflect their analytical expertise.

That, people, is how you govern.

Whether or not I decide to formalize the position of Renowned Statisticsologist — er, Statistician — into my regime structure, you can bet I will be relying heavily on this aforequoted gentleman's number-crunching insights well into the future.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Death by Dune Buggy/File Cabinet

Somebody — I think it was Rodrigo from Valladolid — wrote in to ask whether I should be concerned that the relatives of two of my Stenos had died so suddenly and coincidentally.

Well, now that's a good point. And I've been making calls, following up.

The way I see it, there are two possibilities: (1) Opie and Big Cheese are playing hooky, and they've gone down south to take in some spring training baseball and get some sun; or (2) somebody hell-bent on derailing my Bid for Power has been targeting family members of my staff.

I can tell you that I've already ruled out (1), because I've had Opie and Big Cheese tailed by private investigators. Big Cheese is where he should be right now, with his bereaved sister in Kansas City. Opie is down in Venice Beach — in the sunshine, admittedly — but only because his parents had retired there, and it was his mother's wish that her body not be returned to North Carolina for burial, but set to sea on an inflatable (and presumably inflated) raft.

On to (2), then. I think a good point to start here is to consider the Circumstances of Death. Opie's mother, age 75, run down by a dune buggy (police are guessing, based on the tire tracks coming and going) while she walked the beach at sunset. The hit-and-run perpetrators have not been caught. No known enemies, no gambling debts or money trouble. She had embroiled herself in a protracted squabble with neighbors about the color of their mailbox, which she thought detracted from the uniformity of her gated community. But those neighbors drive a Cadillac Coup de Ville.

Big Cheese's brother-in-law was hit by a file cabinet that fell from a fourteenth-floor window just as he left his office. This sounds completely suspicious to me, and I told the police that I thought so. They begged to differ, on the ground that a file cabinet takes some time to fall a full fourteen stories, and what is more, it's a difficult object to aim. The odds of successfully hitting a target with a file cabinet from fourteen floors are slim:

"If you wanted to kill a guy, why not hire a sniper?" the lieutenant asked me.

I asked him if the building had a 13th floor. You know, Brother/Sister, how triskaidekaphobe contractors will "elide out" the 13th floor when they build a building. They'll actually call the 13th floor the 14th floor — as if that fools old Beelzebub.

The policeman confirmed that the building did not have a 14th floor.

"Aha!" I said. "So the file cabinet only fell thirteen stories!"

"So?" said the lieutenant.

"So it was 7.14285% easier to aim than you think."

"Wait a minute. who are you again?" the lieutenant asked.

"I'm Phutatorius."

"And what do you have to do with this investigation?"

"I employ the deceased Mr. Woczniak's brother-in-law on my staff up here in Massachusetts. I'm a famous and controversial Internet personality, and I have reason to believe that somebody killed Mr. Woczniak to get at me."

"Are you kidding?"

"I absolutely am not, Lieutenant, and I encourage you to speak with Sergeant Huntington at the Venice Beach Police Department in Florida. They're investigating another homicide down there, and you may find some leads worth exploring by comparing notes. In fact, you might check the surveillance video, see if there was a dune buggy parked near the building when the accident happened. With Florida plates, maybe?"

"Yeah — yeah, I'll totally look into that," the policeman said, in that uninspired way that policemen have.

I don't expect much in the way of results from the KCPD, but I owe it my Stenos to get to the bottom of this. I'll keep these private eyes on the case in Kansas City and Venice Beach. I also intend to contact a renowned statisticsologist (right word?) I know, just to see what the odds are of two acquaintances suffering accidental family deaths in the same week.

Statistician, PePe says. He's right. Sometimes I think he knows the language better than I do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Other Thing Is . . .

I forgot to tell you — the other thing holding me back these days is that two of my three Stenos (Opie and Big Cheese, if you're keeping score, and I'm not sure certain Shadowy people out there aren't) have had sudden bizarre accidental deaths in the family. So I gave them both bereavement leave, plus a few days to sort through estate issues.

No sooner had I dismissed Opie and Big Cheese, when Dead Eye came down with mono. So she'll be out for about a month. To her credit, she tried sticking it out, but on-the-fly stenography is a difficult job even when you're 100%. I'd say right now Dead Eye is functioning at about 15% of her estimable capacity. Her 15% is certainly better than most people's 30%, but I don't want to push her.

The upshot for me — not that I'm thinking about me, mind you — is that I have very limited Steno coverage these days. So I try not to do or say anything monumental. Dead Eye has loaned PePe her Stentura (who knew those machines were so pricey?), and he's slowly getting up to speed on it. You have to have fast fingers to play the pipes like he does, so I figure he'll be a natural once he gets a feel for how the machine works.

Anyway, these days I'm learning that there's more to being an employer than the simple pleasures of hiring, firing, and sexual harassment. You really have to look out for people. They get sick, they suffer losses . . . and now I'm hearing that I have to make all these periodic payments to Social Security and Medicare for them, and I have to fill out all kinds of forms. What a pain in the ass that is.

Expect all that government crap to change, Brother/Sister, once I come to power.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Springtime Is Here!

I know, Brother/Sister. You're demanding to know what's taken me so long to write another post — as is your right, since transparency and trust go hand-in-hand. And that goes double when you're dealing with a would-be World Hegemon. No doubt some of the more cynical among you will have read nefarious designs into my radio silence:

He's gone underground. He's planning a surprise attack.

I even got an email from someone alleging that I'd been spotted in Belarus, inquiring about an industrial-grade wood-chipper. I'll leave it to the Peanut Gallery to fill in the gaps of that mysterious plan.

The fact is, I've gone the Way of the Groundhog this past month, after it became abundantly clear, from an accumulation of cigarette butts and cough-drop wrappers on my front porch, that I had acquired one or more Shadows. Some of my Brothers and Sisters know what I'm talking about here. They've seen the men standing casually outside their houses and places of business, waiting. Sure, to the innocent observer they might look like they're delivering the mail, or the daily paper. But that's not what they're doing all the time. That's just the role they assume when a passer-by — a witness — happens down the road. They produce a mailbag, a stack of Boston Globes, change quickly into a government-issue uniform, and get suddenly busy.

But the rest of the time they're watching, waiting. Lurking. Like shadows, they do nothing independently. They fade into the background and are invisible at night. And like shadows, they attach themselves to you the moment you step out into the sunshine, and they follow you wherever you go. There's a perfect symmetry to their tracking efforts: when you walk, they walk. When you get into a car, they conjure up a car of their own.

I know they're out there. No, I can't see them — when I pry open an eye-slit in the blinds to look, they duck quickly under the porch overhang. But every Friday morning, when I take out the trash, I find their detritus on the stoop. I like to think there are at least two of them, because if it's one man, he's chain-smoking his way through a six-week respiratory illness. Unfathomable to me, but then I've never been addicted to nicotine. Or Menthol-Lyptus, for that matter.

Who are they? Who could say? I've made my share of enemies. Could be Ortega's people. Could be local muscle hired by Bobo the Intern Chimp. Could be the government — I am, after all, on a watch list (last I heard, anyway). And it could be a process server waiting to slap a complaint on me for any number of negligent acts, intentional torts, breaches of contract, property liens, quantum meruit, what-have-you.

Suffice to say, because of My Shadow(s) — and because it's frickin' cold outside — I'm playing it close to the vest these days. Sitting in the dark a lot, brooding, biding time, fending off PePe when he comes at me with these pills. So I don't have a heck of a lot to report. I've fallen behind with my daily training modules from the Master. I'm eating a lot of corn chips and ramen noodles. PePe keeps dropping hints about depression, paranoia, agoraphobia. But he just says that to undermine me. He doesn't know what's out there, and it makes me sad. I've got plenty of time to retreat inward and turn psychotic after I take over the world . . .

Kidding! B/S, I was kidding with that last bit. No, the bit about the retreating inward as World Hegemon. I was kidding about that. I mean, I can see how it would happen to certain people. The isolation of power, insecure personalities, all that. But that's not me. You know that. I mean, hell, does Kim Jong-Il have a weblog? All right, then.

In any event, tomorrow brings the vernal equinox — the First Day of Spring. Day and night — and with them the forces of darkness and light, good and evil — draw into equilibrium. The groundhogs, the bears, the Boston-based Internet Personalities shake off their Seasonal Affective Disorders and come out of hibernation. Any minute now I expect to spring open my door, take My Lulled-Into-Indolence Shadows by surprise, beat them down to the ground and demand some answers. I'm just not quite there yet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Email from the Master Trainer

So the Master Trainer dropped me a line today, from his Gmail account. Just wanted to check in, he said, she how things were working out with PePe, and tell me that he's setting up "Distance Learning Modules" on the Internet, which will enable me to continue my training in the Ancient and Very Very Lethal Art of Incan Dance-Fighting — but by remote.

How friggin' cool is my Master Trainer?

He went on to say he's been in a bit of funk since I left the Secret Mountain Redoubt, that I had livened up the place with my American impetuousness, and he feared he'd missed out on something big when he lost the opportunity to complete my training. What's more, he feels a gnawing responsibility for sending me out into the world, only half-taught, and having incurred the enduring wrath and enmity of Master Ortega's splinter group of dance-fighting ideologues. If I were ambushed and killed by these wicked, wicked men, he would never forgive himself.

So he tells me he's hired a digital videographer to record his morning training sessions, and he's posted them online in Real Player and Quicktime formats. This way I can keep up with my lessons, no matter where my travels and adventures take me. All I need is a laptop, a Net connection, a Piper, and a set of six or more crash-test dummies. He had to file an assload of paperwork with the Council of Elders to get the necessary permissions for the project. As a result, the website is heavily encrypted and password protected (so don't think, Brother/Sister, that you'll be able to find it and hack into any of the centuries-old secrets of the Elite Incan Dance-Fighters).

The Master Trainer flatters me. He really does. He's a standup guy, a pillar of wisdom, and I plan to appoint him to my Board of Trusted Advisors once I take power.

I have to say, I've let myself slip out of fighting shape a bit over the past couple weeks. We've been living a bit high on the hog. Word from the Master Trainer was just the sort of thing I needed to get me to buckle down. After all, no one ever took over the world by sitting around dropping acid with his stenographers. No — it takes discipline, organization, self-denial. You have to conquer yourself before you can get on with conquering others.

So as I continue to devote the next couple months to fundraising, I'll be sure to spend at least two hours every morning in training. I want to make my Master Trainer proud — and to vindicate all the time and effort he has expended (and continues to expend) on my behalf.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Oh, Right: Steno #3

I can't believe I forgot to introduce my final archivist hire. Big snaps to Josephus from Dunkirk for writing in and reminding me. My third stenographer signed on before the auction and has already become a valuable member of the team. His name is Francis Gardocki, and he does the morning shifts. Not a court reporter, but a transcriber of CNN pundit shows. Francis has a special expertise in recording the statements of two, sometimes three people speaking simultaneously (and at increasing volume).

Francis owns a timeshare in a Vermont dairy farm, and three weeks a year he goes up there and makes his signature Gardocki™ Sharp Cheddar. That dairy farm is in a secluded area way up by the Canadian border. So if the shit ever hits the fan, I've not only got a crack steno by my side, but I've got access to a naturally fortified strategic hideaway.

Everybody give a belated welcome to "Frankie Big Cheese" Gardocki.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I know. I've been delinquent in writing. It's been a week and a half now since the auction, which netted $159,000 for the World Domination Fund, with one of Gloria's emerald bracelets held over for me to send to Flora Pachado, the Most Beautiful Girl I Ever Saw in Peru.

What's that — gauche, you say, to give one lover's gift to another? Well, how about when the first lover is wealthy and powerful beyond your wildest dreams, and the other lives humbly in the Andes mountains, and her father has to sell cheap blankets to eke out a living for the family? How gauche is it when the first lover loved you basically for your body, and the second lover for your mind? Does that alter your opinion at all?

Yeah, see, Brother/Sister: it's not healthy to deal in absolutes. Take, for example, that ABSOLUTE killer of a three-day post-party we had in the Marriott Marquis after the Sotheby's gig. I'm still hurting, B/S — today's the first day I've been able to sit up and eat anything other than hot cereal. And I'm strongly considering burning Dead-Eye's transcripts from Friday and Saturday night: some things are best stricken from the record.

After factoring in all the damage and cleanup costs, we're looking at a $10,000 hotel bill from Marriott. I don't know what to say on that score: sometimes you just have to let off some steam, and smashing the hell out of that toilet really did seem like a good idea at the time. Looking back at the transcripts, I see now that I didn't make the strongest case as to how that particular act of vandalism fit into my grander scheme of taking over the world. But that's 20/20 hindisight. The logic of it was perfectly clear to PePe and me at the time.

Like I said, Bro/Sis — you need to be careful with Absolut. But hey — we're in the money right now, and a ten grand party won't exactly put us into bankruptcy.

Naturally, everybody in the crew threw up on the Acela train back to Boston last Sunday. It's a smooth ride, but not that smooth. Did you know you can get a ticket for puking in a railway compartment? They have these railway cops on Barf Patrol — it's friggin' absurd. The stenos are just going to waive process and pay the fine; PePe and I are going to court. We had the car to ourselves, and no one saw any of us do it. They can't prove anything.

Remind me, Brother/Sister, to tell you about all the connections we made with wealthy elites at the auction. Many of the guests at the reception viewed the World Domination Project with skepticism, but lively debate ensued, and I managed to win a number of them over to my side with wild promises of exclusive timber and natural gas extraction contracts. The champagne was flowing, the credentials flashing, and deals were taking shape. Whew! It was exhilarating, I tell you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Two Down, One to Go

I filled two of the three stenographer positions yesterday. What can I say? I'm a "strike while the iron is hot" kind of guy. The CW among Human Resources types (so I hear) is that you don't hire until you've interviewed every candidate, but I know talent when I see it, and I couldn't pass these two up.

So now I introduce the two newest members of The Entourage —

(1) Vernon Calaveras, age 41. In addition to his expertise in stenography, Vernon is a certified French and German language interpreter and a committed triathlete. He grew up in North Carolina and has a shock of red hair, so I've nicknamed him Opie. Welcome aboard, Opie Calaveras!

(2) Susan Granderson, age 34. Susan earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering but bagged a career in research for court reporting because she wanted "more human contact." Susan is an accomplished longbow archer. Let's everybody put their hands together for Dead-Eye Granderson!

The third guy was a total loss. He wrecked coming off the zip-line — clunked his steno machine and sprained an ankle. Cried like a baby, and he apparently threatened to sue me as he was getting into his cab. I didn't hear that last part over all his blubbering, but it showed up in Dead-Eye's transcript (she and Opie don't officially start work until tomorrow, but I had her cover that last interview — I just had a bad feeling about the guy).

Whatever. This won't be the first time I've been named a defendant in a preposterous lawsuit. I drew up an IRONCLAD liability waiver before I set up these trials, and the guy signed it before we got started. So I have to think I'm covered.

Anyway, we'll see what comes of today's trials.

I should add that barring any further postponements, the Gloria Collection auction is on again for Friday in NYC. Seeing as how I have to put all these newbies on payroll, I'm anxious to get the cash in hand.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wanted: Stenographers

Much time has passed, B/S, since last we spoke. And with every second that lapsed incommunicado, I felt a distinct pang of remorse for the lost opportunity. On so many occasions in these last twelve days, I experienced some small but enriching life detail, or some fleeting but (at the time) momentous single-frame thought flashed across the silver screen of my consciousness.

But these earthshattering ephemera always occurred to me when I was away from a computer — and they naturally would flit away into oblivion (as ephemera tend to do) before I could take a seat in front of my terminal, pour myself a Diet Coke, and get to typing. My PowerBook is handy, I grant you, but it only helps so much. What about when I'm driving? Or scooting? Or negotiating an arms sale in an abandoned warehouse in Southie?

I've decided I need to keep Archives. I need to maintain a more complete record of my utterances during this rise to power than I am making available to you folks now, in this weblog. Don't get me wrong, B/S — the weblog is not going anywhere. You'll still get the highlights here. But the Archives will have it all — every word I utter, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, in the bath, in my sleep. Everything I say between next Monday and the end of my life will be recorded for posterity's historians and journalists to consult and review.

So right now I'm interviewing stenographers — court reporter-types who can take down on their little machine thingies everything I say during an eight-hour period, then go back and massage their shorthand type into a definitive transcript for my signature later in the week. I'm looking to hire three people, each of whom will work one shift a day.

Qualifications? No formal requirements: I'm basically just looking for skills here. Notary certification would be a plus. And obviously an ability to handle changing work conditions. Most of these people set their apparatus up on a tripod and sit down. I'm going to need people who can follow me everywhere I go. They'll have to be able to rig up their machine so they can type while they walk, or while they're in a car or a helicopter — or crouched in hiding nearby while I'm fighting off some of Ortega's Incan Dance-Fighters.

So that's the plan. I'll be interviewing four candidates this afternoon, and six tomorrow. First an informal conversation, then the skills test. PePe and the intern are setting up an obstacle course/steeplechase for me to run with the stenographer beside me. I'll be reciting Latin poetry as I step through the tires, legal disclaimers while I climb the rope to the diving platform, and baseball statistics during the 100-meter swim sprint.

Entourage status will be awarded to the three stenos who can keep up!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Auction Postponed

So we're going with Sotheby's, but the auction is put off until at least the weekend. Some woman just stepped out of the woodwork with what purports to be JFK's bathrobe, and all our contacts in the auction house are in a tizzy over it. They've got forensic experts testing hairs found in the terrycloth in hope of authenticating the lot for a Friday evening showing.

And they've invoked some sort of Special Exigency Clause in our contract to requisition all the hors d'oeuvres our caterer was making for the Gloria Collection event. (I've been assured we will be compensated for that.)

Suddenly we're small potatoes.

PePe says we might be better positioned if the source of our presidential memorabilia were not alive. I told him this was just the kind of thinking out loud that a Philippine intelligence operative picks up on a sound dish and utterly misinterprets. Let me therefore state clearly for the record — Gloria, my darling, you're worth more to me alive than your entire estate — even with a Kennedy-esque post mortem markup.

And, of course, I hasten to add the further disclaimer, that everything I report on this website is fictitious, anyway. So whatever that Mindanaoan spy technician thinks he heard, he didn't really hear. I haven't even spoken to PePe today. He's been at the dentist getting a crown fixed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Accounts Receivable

I know, I know, B/S — I've been way too preoccupied with money in my last handful of posts. I apologize for that, but I'll ask you to bear with me for just a bit longer.

After all, the last few months have been a bitch from the standpoint of fundraising, but one thing I haven't done yet is log on to Blogger and ask you directly for money. And that's a hell of a lot more than you can say for National Public Radio. Those people are relentless — they want you to pay for their news, whereas I serve up mine for free.

Anyway, I wish I had something nonfinancial and interesting to report, but I don't. I'm just grinding the gears these days to keep this Project afloat, and I haven't had time for the usual bout of Incidents and horsing around.

Here's the state of things: right now I have exactly $2218.42 in the World Domination Fund checking account down at Citizens Bank, earning a measly 3% APR, but I'm also in negotiations with Sotheby's and Christie's to auction off what I've dubbed, for marketing purposes, "The Gloria Collection" sometime before the end of the month.

The thing is, these auction houses are real pennypinchers — they want a 20% commission on the first $100 grand I make. I've asked each of them for a five-point reduction, a paltry concession, in my view, in exchange for down-the-road recognition as the Official Auction House of Phutatorius, World Hegemon. But neither house will budge even a single percentage point off their "standard" commission rates.

In fact, when I made my proposal to Christie's the other day, their negotiator went so far as to sneer at me and say, "That'll be the day." Well, I never! Now I know that getting attitude from the personnel is supposedly "part of the package" when you deal with an upper-crust place like this, but I thought that blast of negativity was a bit much.

If I didn't already have an independent, benevolent motive for doing it, I'd take over the world just to spite the guy. And then I'd see to it that he was fired. As it stands, I may or may not let him keep his job once I've acquired absolute power. Let's just say that right now he's on probation and leave it at that.

I should be choosing one or the other house in the next couple days. Unless Christie's comes in under the competition by tomorrow afternoon, Sotheby's wins on the politeness tiebreaker. I hope to cash in on The Gloria Collection by Friday.

If any of you are interested in buying, write me directly and I'll clue you in on the time, place, and date of the auction, once they're settled. Right now I don't have any of the details, except that it will be a "black-tie optional" affair (which I've read somewhere is etiquette-speak for "black-tie mandatory" — who knew?).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Heard from Gloria

Finally took the hold off my mail — I'd been back in town a week, just hadn't got around to it. And wouldn't you know it? I had letters from my Philippine paramour, Gloria (named by Forbes, by the way, as the Fourth Most Powerful Woman in the World)!

Now I won't tell you exactly what my little Presidential vixen wrote to me — sorry, Us Magazine, but I've told you before: I don't kiss and tell — but I will say that each successive letter was written with greater urgency (and sprayed with a bit more perfume) than the last. It seems Ms. Arroyo was reading too much into my nonresponsiveness: she didn't know I was out of town, and she thought I was giving her the brush-off.

I could have sworn I wrote and told her I was going to Peru. The letter may have been pulled by the people screening her email. I did get a return message from one of her staffers, a form letter type of thing — "Thank you for taking the time to communicate your concerns to President Arroyo. We take all of the President's correspondence very seriously, but due to the volume of email we receive, unfortunately the President is not able to respond personally to each and every message she receives . . ." But still, if she really is so interested in me, she could have kept up with me by reading the blog.

Anyway, the long and short of it was that Gloria got herself all worked up to the point where she started sending me gifts. Lots of expensive gifts. Diamond rings, a sack of priceless pieces-of-eight from the Spanish Colonial era, an ankle bracelet of platinum and emeralds — we're talking big-time loot here.

PePe says I should get her on the phone and clear up the misunderstanding, then send back all the bullion and jewelry, which Gloria no doubt sent to me while in a very emotional state. Although I regard my Piper as a trusted advisor, I think he's way off on this one. It's not enough, in this world, just to be a Man of Destiny. You have to recognize that you're a Man of Destiny. And that's where PePe and I differ. You see, I get that things like this are supposed to happen to me. Wealth is supposed to fall out of the sky into my lap, quite by accident. Something has to kick-start the World Domination Fund. How else will I rise from my humble station to become the Omnibus Uber-Sovereign?

This sort of thing was foreordained when I had my Moment back in September. I won't turn away good fortune simply because I don't appear to have "earned it." (And between you and me, Gloria's not exactly hurting for jewelry. I bet the gifting of these fifty-some odd pieces barely made a dent in her collection.) Sometime soon I'll hop a flight to Manila and steal an evening, maybe a long weekend of passion with my lover and benefactress. Believe me, I know better than to do wrong to the President of the Philippines.

In the meantime, though, it's off downtown tomorrow morning, to visit the appraiser!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Of Ice Sculptures and Office Staff

Back in Cambridge now, and I'm still steaming about New Year's Eve — the judges at First Night Boston disqualified my ice sculpture entry, when they got word that I had not hand-chiseled it, but had rather poured water into a prefabricated mold and frozen it overnight.

The requirement of hand-chiseling is nowhere mentioned in the contest rules, and I would never have guessed that my methodology was "unethical" or "problematic." Sure, it takes painstaking effort and precision to whittle away a block of ice into the shape of a dolphin. But my approach was no picnic, either — stripped naked and covered in a skintight heat-resistant body suit, I had to stand stock-still and breathe through a bent cocktail straw for forty-five minutes, until the molten plastic congealed around me to form the mold. And then another twenty minutes passed while PePe and the intern — I'll tell you about her later, Brother/Sister — cut the mold in two so I could be lifted out of it.

So it was that First Night officials took a blowtorch to my life-sized Ice Phutatorius, perfectly posed to display every bulging muscle, every taut sinew and engorged organ — and I was given the explanation that my use of a mold violated the spirit of the rules. Like that would ever stand up in court.

Here's the thing, B/S: this wasn't about Your Beloved Internet Personality cheating in an ice-sculpture contest. This was about censorship. The city wants to sell First Night as a "family" event, which in today's Puritan consciousness means that displays of virility — however tasteful, and whatever their artistic merit — are simply non grata in Copley Square. And PePe tells me he overheard one of the judges decrying what she thought was a "joint" sticking out of my mouth. So I had the anti-cannabis lobby working against me, too, based on their complete mistaking of a cocktail straw for a marijuana cigarette. Honestly.

When I'm the World Hegemon, Brother/Sister, gigantic, anatomically-exaggerated statues of me, cut from marble, will adorn all of America's major cities — not as monuments to my vanity (I know how you think, B/S) but as reminders that my benevolent and progressive-minded regime simply will not tolerate this kind of prudishness.

In the meantime, though, I'm out the $2500 first-prize award I was counting on winning. Which means the intern remains unpaid, despite her considerable skills and qualities, of which I intend to make extensive use in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Home for the Holidays

I was able to stop home for the holidays, which was nice, Brother/Sister. Don't ask me where home is — my enemies would love to get wind of that information, just to get to people who are close to me. I'll only say that we weren't required to break too far off our Texas-to-Boston itinerary to spend Christmas with my family.

I don't think I have to tell you, B/S, how a stop home for a few days can recharge the batteries of an Internet Personality. Hugs and home cooking from Mom, shots of festive liqueurs with Dad, a game of Scrabble with Sissy and Skip (not their real names, fellas) — it was all good.

As always, we went to Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Earvin's place for Christmas Eve. Uncle Earvin and I never really clicked, but family is family, and we all put on our holiday sweaters and arrived at my mother's sister's doorstep at around 7 p.m., holding pies. My aunt greeted us warmly at the door, took our coats and ushered us inside.

My uncle stood up abruptly, spilling his mulled wine, as I entered his living room with PePe in tow. "I KNEW IT!" he cried. "I knew it the first time I tried to throw a football with that sissy-boy!"

"Knew what?" my father asked, darkly.

"I knew he was going to come home one Christmas and try to bring a man into MY HOUSE!"

"Oh, come off it," I told my uncle. "PePe's just my Piper —"

"The two of you perverts can do whatever you want together back in the Big City, but I won't have you talking about it in my house, in front of my children!" This was a bit dramatic, I thought, given that my cousins are thirty-six and twenty-nine years old, and the younger one had been known to "experiment" sexually in college before her father cut off her tuition during her junior year.

But rather than dig up that old skeleton and provoke a full-on family brawl (I wouldn't do that to my Aunt Marjorie), I thought it better to explain my relationship with PePe to my uncle. So I told him about my training in Peru, and the tradition that calls for each Elite Incan Dance-Fighter to have in his retinue a Piper, who provides the musical accompaniment that an EIDF requires when he goes into battle. I then described to him the mutual, ceremonial oath of loyalty and friendship that PePe and I took together back in Peru.

"Well, that sounds a lot like one of those gay weddings to me," my uncle rumbled. He glared at my father while he said this, as though it were Dad's fault that I had grown up to be the kind of person a man like my Uncle Earvin would mistake for a homosexual.

"So what if it was?" my father nobly shot back. "At least we'd have a marriage to celebrate." He gestured at my two single cousins, whose prospects did not seem to have improved since I last saw them, as brother and sister had put on some eighty pounds between them. This set my Aunt Marjorie to bawling, and I realized I was going to have to act quickly before all of Christmas 2005 went straight to hell.

"EVERYBODY OUTSIDE," I said. My uncle gave me a challenging look. "FOR A DEMONSTRATION," I explained. "OUT. NOW."

My aunt and uncle's expansive front lawn — I should have described it to you earlier, Brother/Sister, on the way in — was a veritable Disneyland of Christmas animatronics. My uncle has his faults, but he is a craftsman, and over the years he had built, from scratch, a life-sized Nativity scene, with moving parts. The display was set under a oak tree just off the driveway, and the figures ran off a car battery — the Baby Jesus writhed uncomfortably in his swaddling cloths, the Virgin Mother made gestures of administration to her child, threatening shepherds brandished crooks at three foreign men proffering their gifts to Christ the Lord. An angel hung from wires extended from the roof of the house to the oak tree. Its wings flapped up and down hypnotically. Backing all this was a full-size Santa, in his sleigh, with reindeer, and flanking him were the characters from the Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV specials (one notable omission being the Elf Who Wanted To Be a Dentist, whom my uncle was known to repudiate as a promoter of alternative lifestyles).

"PePe," I said. "Do you know 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland'?"

PePe nodded.

"Play it," I instructed, pulling one foot, then the other up behind my back to stretch my quads. PePe pulled out his pipes and began performing the song. I turned fierce eyes on my Uncle Earvin. "Watch this," I said,

and I attacked his Christmas display. Took out the shepherds in three kick-steps, then sauntered over to Frosty and decapitated him. With Frosty's hat and one of the shepherds' crooks I improvised a vaudeville hat-and-cane routine that culminated in me thrashing the Christmas angel overhead, bringing him down like a piñata. I then turned my attentions to the reindeer, the Rudolph characters, and finally the wise men, obliterating all of them in turn with spectacular kicks, thrusts, and rhythmic punches. Out of deference to my aunt's renowned religious piety (she hasn't missed a Sunday church service in forty-three years, which partly explains why my uncle, who can't leave town for more than six days, is so provincial-minded a personality), I left Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child intact.

PePe wound out "Winter Wonderland", and I dropped into a crouch and twirled around to survey the carnage. The front yard was littered with plastic limbs, splintered wood, and shredded electrical wires shorting out in the snow. The family gaped at me, dumbfounded. Uncle Earvin was the first to find words:

"God damn, boy. You smashed my whole Christmas display to hell."

It occurred to me, at this point, that I had made a bit of a miscalculation. Determined as I had been to provide some clarity to my uncle on the subject of my relationship with PePe, I hadn't thought that, in the process, I was laying waste to some three decades of his work.

Surprisingly, my uncle was willing, at the moment, to overlook this fact:

"The dancing looked a little queer. But you say you have to do that when you fight?"

"I do. It's the music that gives us an edge over the conventional martial arts, the kung fu fighters and ninjas —"

"And you can do this to the Enemy?" Uncle Earvin asked.

"The Enemy?"

"You know — the Arabs."

I pointed to one of the wise men on the ground. "This one came from the East," I said.

"I owe you an apology, boy. And you, too," my uncle said, gesturing at PePe. "Let's get in out of the cold and get us some Christmas dinner."

"Amen!" cried my Aunt Marjorie.

And with that deep impression made on my hard-nosed Uncle Earvin, a good time was had by all.