Holy, Holy

Odd Duck Out, written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, published by harpercollins, c 2016. Happy Hippo, Angry Duck; a book of moods by Sandra Boynton, published by little Simon Press, Simon and Schuster publishing division, c 2011, 2019. Homemade ornament made with shells collected from Puerto Penasco, MX, created by my dear friend Kate. And the whole thing staged on a vintage chair that reminds me of NM

Universal Truths. We all need food, clean water and shelter to survive. Most of us want to be seen, most want to be valued. The mass populace should not have access to assault weapons. Getting enough sleep is critical for everyone’s emotional and physical health. You can superimpose all religions, one on top of the other until it all says the same thing, because somewhere along the line the branches of humanity’s tree crossed. That should be a comfort, not a reason to get upset. It means the other tribes aren’t wrong; just pick a story. Spirit uses language we’ll understand. If you believe that, and I do, that’s fine but you don’t have to. If you’ve already got religion, don’t force it on anyone else. We all need each other to survive. We don’t all like the same things. That’s good, it would be boring if we did.

This brings me to my first book review of the month. Odd Dog Out, written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, published by HarperCollins, 2016. A perfectly packaged, cuter than cute tale about non-conformity, penned from the perspective of a dolled-up Dachshund. Our heroine finds herself at odds in a world filled with others who are seemingly in sync. They look the same, work the same and play the same. Draped in a darling knitwear gumdrop palette ensemble, she high tails it out of town, determined to find her pack. Only by braving mountains and roaming molehills does she finally understand; it’s great to be different. Most dogs are, if only they’d let other dogs know it. Five stars, two thumbs and four paws up for this one.

As a junior high school kid, I was inspired by Sandra Boynton’s greeting cards. While hanging at the Sunrise Mall, Spencers was the store to stock up on bean bag chairs or shag rugs, and you could check out some compelling lava lamp inventory while waiting for an afternoon matinee. It was the next best thing to Sam Goody’s. We would drift in, never presuming the merchandise was meant for purchase, and leaf through greeting cards for an hour; that’s where I found her. With the wit and delicacy of William Steig or Quentin Blake applied to simple lines, she made the personification of hippos, dancing chickens, and elephants come to life in one sentence. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck; A Book of Moods, is one in the series of Boynton Board Books published by Simon and Schuster 2011, 2019. We’re introduced to a menagerie of friends in this charmer, including a sweet pig, a contented frog, and, as the title suggests, an angry duck. My favorite in this book is the confused cow. These characters offer an emotional safety net for children (and parents) trying to navigate an ocean of feelings. What we’ve come to understand from Boyton’s art and writing is learning through exemplary kindness, and we’ve been lucky to have her.

Don’t be like this grump! Learn from the Dachshund. Embrace your pack, whomever they may be, and trust that the world will accept you if you let it in. Remember the confused cow, as she will not be confused forever. Be jolly. Stay safe. Peace on Earth. Good will to everyone.

Mail Order

She Bites, Purrrdy Girl, 2022

Marc taught me how to play chess once. I could play the game on these apps if I wanted to, but it’s just that, no joke, I am so tired of doing these things alone. I’d rather have someone in front of me. I learn better that way. I remember this part; The King is the most valuable, right? But the Queen is the most potent. That’s how I played it. Anyway, I want to play the game again because it turns out that I’m a sucker for strategy.

If I were Vladimir Putin, or you know what? Why point fingers? Let’s just say I’m a generic, run-of-the-mill dictator- a white one. I’m interested in undermining a wealthy nation in the West that’s grown arrogant and careless, not that it doesn’t have it’s good points, but we’re talking about the trajectory of world history. Who am I kidding? Powerful. If I topple this crowd, I’ve got the keys to the northern and western hemispheres. It’s exciting to think about; an experimental government that’s young in country years, not human ones. That’s why their long game is off. And because its fraught with skeletons, to put it mildly, trust me when I say that I’ve got plenty to work with.

Do you know what else is great? Social Media! My God, I could kiss it! The unbridled love I have for this invisible entity, you can’t imagine. What luck. What beautiful, Titanic-sized luck. Defunding the police? My idea! Please do! They’re the first line of defense. Some bad apples, yes, definitely enough to hatch this maniacal egg. Bonus- I get the socially conscious liberals to spread my message. Rule number one; use whatever dirty secrets they have against them. (What? Do you think they’ll start teaching it in the schools? Not with my cronies on the ground, they won’t). Can someone come over here and pat me on the back? I’ll have the coup d’etat made to order; thanks.

The brickwork has now been laid for my evil scheme (rub hands together). I’ve got lots of pots on the stove, but I’ll start by riling up disgruntled white guys over there, tantalizing them with what they want or can’t get with the promise of more. Then I’ll send it to them! Guess how? Social Media. And I’m only talking about the soft underbelly of rural places, where decades of exhaustion added to years of frustration can be spun into blinding rage with the teeniest nudge. And by nudge, I mean the right meme. Check out my bio for the perfect meme recipe! *Hint* There’s a whopping helping of AK-47s wedged between boobs swaddled in stars and stripes. Those are the fun ones, but what works like magic are the ingeniously subtle, demeaning ads meant to target anyone over thirty. Middle-aged skin care products bring in plenty of clams while diminishing hope at the same time.

The suburbanites? The ‘I-Have-But-Not-Enough’ clowns? Let me say one thing, not to let the cat out of the bag, but- Blackmail! Their egos land somewhere between real estate and home improvements. Did I mention water views? I would say invasion, but it would be redundant. We’re already there! I was KGB, remember? HA! End Game! Another thing that’s working well are all the small-minded elected officials and gun lobbyists I’ve got in my pocket. That was a sound investment. They’re greedy, scare easily and have no moral center, and that does not hurt. It helps! It helps a lot! Lest I forget to mention all the uber-cash wealthy criminals I have perched in high rises, but I wouldn’t say I like to brag.

I figured out the tragically simple psyche of the on-the-fringe zealots years ago. Hold up, let me genuflect for this photo-op. Religion is best served drizzled on a heap of steaming hot Social Media. In this way, I can turn groups against each other with delectably seasoned, well-cured foodporn-like perfection.

As long as those bozos don’t figure it out. My people are working 24-7 trying to chip away at their confidence while fanning the hate and distrust between them. It won’t get me closer to world domination if they’re all sending kumbaya floaty-floaty heart emoji flower love quotes by women artists all over the place. Weak, fearful and divided people are my specialty. Look how well that’s worked here! I’ve got near total submission, plus I poison the stragglers. Easy peasy.

If I were a dictator, that’s how I’d be thinking. Right now I’m thinking, please, freeze their assets.