Monthly Archives: June 2014

nevermore

“CAW!”

I nervously set down another piece of bread on the pedestrian overpass, trying to not look directly at the raven perched at eye level in the pine tree nearby.

CAW! CAW! CAW!”

Another raven flitted down to join it and added its voice to the clamor.

CAAAAW!

I learned earlier this year ravens and crows have the ability to distinguish and remember human faces, even after months or even years have passed. It helps them differentiate friendly, dangerous, or unknown individuals. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

You’re smart, right? You learned the alphabet. You know what your favorite celebrity (Bill Nye) wore to work every day for the last thirty years (it’s a magnificent array of bowties, in case you forgot). You remembered to put your milk away after only a couple of hours. You’ve got this, right? Not so fast.

Here is a picture of a raven. Please answer the question about arguably the world’s most famous raven, freshly plucked from its perch on its Wikipedia page.

1280px-Corvus_corax_(Common_Raven),_Yosemite_NP,_CA,_US_-_Diliff
Hey, girl.

 

Curious to know the answer?

It is not Harold. It is not Larry. It sure as beans isn’t Shaniqua. That name was banned in the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This raven has a name, too.

You’re all wrong. Please don’t get upset–this is one of thems lurning opurrtunateez. You’re not a raven, and so I hardly could have expected you to know something every raven instinctively  knows:

This raven is named Lloyd. In fact, all ravens are named Lloyd, regardless of gender. Every last one.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3Pp_nGb_dKU/UGcOVA959MI/AAAAAAAADXk/3btU7QES-tg/s1600/raven.jpg
“NOOB!”

Each Lloyd grows up knowing this from the time she or he is a chick. They also notice pretty quickly that every other Lloyd looks and sounds almost exactly the same as them.   Therefore, they learn to remember the little differences to help them keep track of who’s who–Lloyd dat got dem 90’s frosted feathertips,  (friendly), Lloyd that speaks Spanish(neutral), Lloyd that ain’t got no bath since ’82 (menace to corvid society). With their impressive mind for details,  telling the difference between

Parks and Recreation - Season 6          and        JenniferAnistonHWoFFeb2012

is no big deal.

I wanted to see where I stood with these jet-black beings, so when I spotted some on my way to school, I hurried and dug some bread out of my bag to get their attention, a classic tactic to get attention from ducks, seagulls, and babies in stores.

I placed a couple hunks out in front of me and waited for their avian adoration.

Nothing. Then, “Caw!”

Before long four or five ravens had gathered, making a cacaphonous racket. They didn’t sound happy to see me. In fact, they seemed to be growing more agitated by the second, hopping from branch to branch in anger. But why would they–

Then I remembered.

Someone once told me it’s important to find new pursuits as we get older. I interpreted this to mean chasing animals I find around campus. This usually means quail, ducks, or–on particularly exciting occasions–herds of stinkin’ deer. Deer smell awful. Why anyone would chase a deer given their considerable stench is an important conversation but best addressed another time.

On one of these occasions I encountered a raven. Without thinking about it I dropped my bag and sprinted after my jet-black quarry, chasing the protesting bird from tree to tree. I never caught up, but I chased the thing over at least one hill before it finally went all stratospheric on me and glided out of sight.

Months later,  my past had caught up to me. Lloyd and I had apparently met again, face-to-face. He wasn’t happy about it.  Lloyd imperiously regarded my  pitiful offering of bread, the sun’s first amber rays revealing it for the heap of stale crumbs it really was.

Caw. CAW! CAAAAAAAW!”

The chorus of assembled Lloyds filled my ears with harsh cries.
I’d wanted to get in to the Raven Club, inexplicably craving their approval, but it was too late. My confusion gave way as I looked at  Lloyd directly in the eyes, in that moment I understood. “CAAAAAAAAW!”
Quoth the Raven,

Nevermore!”

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the great groundhog lob

With only two weeks to sell a contract I couldn’t use, I did the only thing that came naturally: wrote about flying groundhogs and lint. I quote the post on Craigslist here:

“(Basic info and Google Street View link below thrilling, Hugo Award winning narrative)

“How far d’ya think it’ll fly?” asked Larry. Rigoberto furrowed his brow in thought and grunted as he hefted the obese rodent. “Oh, I dunno. I’d say fifeen, twenny feet, mebbe,” said Rigoberto dubiously. Twelve was the furthest he’d ever managed. Their plan to determine how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood had shuddered to a halt when it quickly became apparent no self-respecting rodent would ever be found lobbing lumber in daylight, nor could one be persuaded, coerced or bribed to do so. In their frustration, the two dimwitted pals had decided to answer a simpler, more satisfying question: How far could a woodchuck BE chucked if it were simply tied to wood?

Lord Goruk, aka Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Story
Lord Goruk, Sir Sha’ant-Be-Tossed-Twice

Rigoberto and Larry stood on the edge of the busy street, their groundhog lovingly affixed to a moldy 2’x4″ with strips of a tattered, pink T-shirt. Rigoberto looked slyly at Larry. “Hey Larry,” he began.
“Wot?”
“Betcha you can’t throw this here woodchuck onto yonder campus.”
Larry looked appraisingly at the edge of BYU campus, thirty feet from the edge of Rigoberto’s lawn. “Wot’s at stake?”
“Well…” Rigoberto began, “say if ya make it, I’ll give ya, say, two hundred bucks.”
Larry thought for a moment. “And saying I don’t chuck this here varmint all that way?” “Then you gives them $100 to me,” said Rigoberto swarthily, itching his scruffy chin. “Let’s raise it. Make it $135.”
“Cocky, is we?” Rigoberto elbowed Larry knowingly, causing him to almost drop the groundhog squirming under his arm. “But seein’ as $135’s th’ exact entrance fee to become part of th’ Awesome Possum Tossin’ Posse team this summer, y’ got yerself a deal.”

Larry wrapped a couple more fabric strips around the groundhog, which had nearly gnawed itself loose. Wasting no more time, Larry stepped up to the edge of the sidewalk. Rigoberto watched, unconcerned. Larry smiled, and then began yelling. Raw energy burst from his person. As Larry’s hair turned a bleach blond as a ferocious wind screamed out of nowhere Rigoberto knew something had gone horribly wrong… but couldn’t quite place a finger on what had changed. A passing jogger yelled over the gathering storm. “Looks like his power level’s over 9000–” but further wisdom was cut short as he was blown bodily from sight. Rigoberto frowned in contemplation as Larry raised the woodchuck overhead. “KAMEEEEEHAAMMMEEEEHAAAAAAAAA!” The groundhog sailed from Larry’s suddenly Super Saiyan hands across 800 N, easily clearing it and the looming hill behind it. As suddenly as it began, Larry’s glowing being and chiseled musculature faded back to his tattered jeans and potbellied self.

Rigoberto grunted, a glazed-donut stare of defeat creeping over his brown eyes.”See, Larry…I don’ have thems $135.”
Larry picked a piece of lint absentmindedly from his prodigious navel, then another. “Gee, Rigoberto. I seen this stuff corrode steel. It’d be a shame if this here lint ended up somewhere it warn’t wanted…” He began to fiddle with the gas valve to Larry’s prize four-wheeler.
Rigoberto’s eyes widened. “Git yer grubby hands off Sheila! I’ll get ya the money in a couple o’ days.”
“Like heck you will,” said Larry. “Ya got three weeks to get the money to me. After that, yer octane’s gonna be half lint, half funk.” Rigoberto grimaced and looked from Sheila to his beautiful, yellow house. He knew where his heart lay. He’d need to sell it to keep Sheila safe. Yessir, the house would have to go.

THE END? In order to help Rigoberto recoup his financial losses to the villainous, inhumanly strong and smelly Larry I am selling my summer contract at my Monticello-owned house.

(then I said some boring contract things, including:)

No, Larry doesn’t live nearby. Your four-wheeler is safe from his pernicious lint.

Literally so close to BYU campus you could chuck a woodchuck there from your front porch, Super Saiyan or no. 3 minute walk to the Testing Center or Comms building, five minutes from the Chemistry and brand-new Life Science building.”

The Frontier Is Lost Once Again
The Frontier Is Lost Once Again

I sold my contract in two days.

(Gracias, Don Gregorio)