Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mystery of the Flaming Couch, Solved

I just had the most succulent, delicious, crazy go nuts fantastic meal I've ever experienced. It was a whole buffalo stuffed with a cow which was itself stuffed with a pig stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a quail stuffed with an apple. The whole thing was wrapped in bacon and sausage, battered, then deep fried. Then it was boxed in a giant box of waffles, wrapped in chocolate, re-battered and deep fried a second time. Then, it was sliced thin and piled up on a 40 foot long piece of rye bread, slathered in thousand island, sauerkraut and 15 kinds of cheese. Then, that sandwich was itself wrapped in bacon and deep fried, covered in powdered sugar and served with a side of nacho cheese for dipping. And that was just the appetizer! The main course had all sortsa weird ingredients like gecko sweat and snails' eggs. I wouldn't have eaten it, but I wasn't told about all that stuff until afterward. Boy howdy am I stuffed. I just wanted to put that out right up front so that y'all know that I'm OK after the flaming couch attack. I don't want you to worry yourselves needlessly. I also wanted you to know right up front that that Charles Lindbergh is one stand up guy. Now, I suppose, though, that I should tell you about the couch attack.

When we got hit yesterday, I wondered to myself why someone would be firin flaming couches at us and how anyone saw us to shoot flaming couches in the first place. But I couldn't ask no one because there was all this bleeping and whooping and this flashing red light that just kept spinnin around, makin me think about that time my redheaded cousin Chester got stuck on the tilt-a-whirl when the operator guy started havin some kinda crazy seizure and shakin around like a knock kneed, hypoglycemic, communist spy in Central Park on the Fourth of July whose eaten nothin but cotton candy and sweet tarts all day and has just spotted George Washington pumping iron and polishing a gun at the same time. And iron pumping George Washington knows. That's right, he knows what you're up to. Well, this guy's all shimmying and shaking like that and he's got his hand on the lever that makes the tilt-a-whirl tilt and whirl, so it's speedin up and slowin down like a first time driver whose water just broke, but who still don't know how to work a clutch. Chester's head is just swingin this way and that and he starts gettin really scared. It gets even worse when the guy's arm flies out an his hand gets bit off by one of the sitty places on the tilt-a-whirl. Well, after five minutes and about eight thousand gallons of vomit, the guy drops to the ground and Chester is free. Funny story, that guy ended up movin into tow and he and Skeeze had themselves a one hand band for awhile. But, with the slow, relentless passage of time, big band music fell out of vogue and they was forced to find other jobs. Currently, I think he's teachin the third grade down at Edward R. Murrow elementary. That red light was spinnin around just like that. (I don't know if you noticed, and I don't wanna toot my own horn or nothin, but that was a double metaphor I did right there. Don't be tempted to go out and try that right now, though. It takes years of practice in bein folksy to pull that off. If you try it too soon, your nose may try to eat itself. I swear, I seen it happen once.)

Well, with all the lights and sirens and whatnot, I don't have no time to ask anyone what's happenin. I catch some small snippets of conversation;

"...stealth damaged!"

"...thirty meters and closing..."

"...tanks still at full..."

"twenty five meters and closing!"

"Drop ballast! Drop Ballast!"

"twenty meters!"

"We're not going to make it!"

"Hide Pat! Hide Pat!"

"10 meters!"

"Brace for impact"

"In the thing! Under that thing! No, not that thing, the other thing! Yeah!"

"Impact in 2 seconds!"

Then, everything went dark as I was shoved into some kind of secret compartment thing in the floor. I didn't know what was happenin, but I could hear it. First, there was this big thump and the ship rocked a little. Then, there was a whole messload of footsteps, like goin to a centipede ball, 'cept these footsteps were pretty quiet and centipedes usually get themselves fancied up for a ball, wearin ties and heels and tap shoes and whatnot. You may not believe me, but them centipedes are excellent tap dancers. They learned everything they know from watching Gene Kelly movies and copying his moves thousands of times. So, I guess it wasn't quite like a centipede ball, but maybe more like a centipede sock hop, which are currently out of fashion in the centipede world. Then, it sounded like a bunch of men with hernias were slappin a boys' choir with steaks. It was all wet smacks and grunting and high pitched screaming. Along with that, there was a lot of bangin on the floor, like goin to an NBA game when someone's replaced all the balls with bowling balls. After that, there was silence.

After a couple minutes of this silence, the door to the secret chamber was opened and they let me out. I looked around and saw a bunch of guys with mullets and Lynard Skynard t-shirts layin on the floor everywhere. They was thin as rails and ghost white. Most of 'em was missin their teeth, too. They looked like a bunch of anorexic vampires what stopped by the dentist on the way to a monster truck rally or somethin. Over by one of the windows, there was a couple of gents all in black PJs with their shirts wrapped around their faces lyin very still.

"What's all this, then?" I ask.

"This," said Alistair, "is a platoon of meth zombies led by their ninja handlers."

"Well, didn't you say this was a stealth zeppelin?" I asked, surprised at the apparently dreadful state of squimonk stealth technology. "For all the good it did ya, you might as well have painted 'We're not here!' on the thing."

Alistair glared at me. "The cloaking device worked just fine until the flaming couch damaged it."

"Well, like I said, how'd they see us to shoot a flaming couch at us in the first place?"

"They didn't," he explained, "it was just a coincidence." He went on to explain that the meth ninjas had, for a brief time, experimented with large cannons as a way to deliver their products speedily and accurately. They gave up on the idea, though, after discovering that the math necessary to shoot a 200 pound package across two states and have it land safely within a 5 yard radius was just too much work. Plus, everything they put in it caught fire for some reason. So, they retired the cannon and went on to other things. The problem, though, is that they never took the cannons apart and sometimes the meth zombies, when they were tweakin pretty hard, snuck a couch into the gun and shot it off at random. Where they got the couches from, though, was a mystery. No one could ever trace where the couch had come from because, when a flaming couch shoots through a home, the last place you really look is two states away. So, since it didn't do their clan any harm, the meth ninjas let the zombies have their fun every once in awhile.

"Is that what happened to my Mable Lou?" I asked.

"Yes, it is," replied Alistair, and yet another mystery was solved for me. Now if I could just figure out how that one armed guy played the clarinet so pretty, I may be able to die happy. Alistair went on to explain that we just happened to be in the path of the couch gun when it went off. When it hit our zeppelin, it knocked out our cloaking device and, since we were in meth ninja air space, they boarded their bi-planes and attacked us.

"Don't worry, though," he finished, "we've got the situation well in hand. All we need to do is clean up some and we'll be right back on track."

Well, we ended up having to fly around for awhile more while the squimonk cleaned out the meth zombies and ninjas, dislodged the now smoldering couch from the zeppelin's hull and repaired the cloaking device so that Clan Platypus couldn't discover the whereabouts of Charles Lindbergh's secret base. After all that was done, we finally navigated our way to what appeared to be a stretch of desolate wasteland in the middle of Montana, set the zeppelin down and stepped out.

I looked around at the scrub brush and dust and told Alistair, "Y'know, 'cept for not havin any corn or soybeans, this looks a lot like Iowa."

He looked about to say somethin back when there was a rumbling from under the ground, like the earth had just eaten a mess o' bad oysters and a whole house lifted up from below. When I say house, though, it's like callin Notre Dame a church or Gettysburg a tiff. This house sprawled out like a 400 pound housecat in the last patch of sunlight. It stretched wide as the Montana sky. When it had finished rising up out of the ground, Charles Lindbergh himself came out and shook my hand.

He said, "Sing, oh muse, of the donuts of Pat O'Neil, son of Leonard, sweets that brought to the Iowans countless cavities, and hurled down into the bags pockets of cream and frosting, left to the children and pets to lick off and the desire of their parents for sweetened breads and coffee sated. Sing from when they first encountered one another, Alistair of the squimonk and noble Pat O'Neil."

To which I replied, "Whozawatsitnow?"

Alistair leaned over and whispered to me, "The Iliad. He likes to meet everyone with a quote from classic literature. I didn't feel like bringing it up. I was going to mention it just before we landed, but, you know, meth zombie slash ninja attack and all."

"Oh, that's quite all right," I told him, feeling lost in this strange new world.

"You must be tired!" announced Charles.

"Actually, sir," I responded, "I am feeling a might peckish. You mind if I get a sandwich or somethin?"

Then, he had that great meal made and sent me off to rest before he tells me any more. It's been a mighty exciting couple of weeks and I'm kinda excited to see what's next.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zeppelining to Montana

I got up on Monday morning expectin to have some donuts, maybe some coffee. Also, there's a '42 International that came in, and I was thinkin that I'd watch the squimonk fix it up. They was thinkin about paintin it pink with red flames, but I told 'em that the guy who owned it couldn't be drivin around in a pink truck. It's old man Johnson from down the way. When he was a kid, his dad used to get the most awful heartburn. His ma always kept tellin his dad to stop drinkin the booze, but he had the Irish curse on him, so what could he do? Well, he kept drinkin and his heartburn kept gettin worse. Then they come out with that Pepto stuff, and it cleared old man Johnson's old man's heart burn right up. After a bit, he came into some money, no one really knows how, but there's something about balloons. Well, when he gets this money, he splits it pretty evenly between good whiskey and Pepto. He orders himself up a whole truckload of Pepto and has it delivered. Well, when it comes it, the driver turns out to be a distant cousin of some kind or another. They start drinkin and carryin on, as they were bound to do. After a couple of hours and a couple of bottles, they decide they're gonna go for a drive. Well, right when they start the car up, they get convinced they're bein followed by a red ghost, even though that's just the tail light shinin. They get the fire scared out of 'em, and floor the truck in first. The truck ends up burstin in through the living room of the house, and, because it's so much warmer in the house, this bein Christmas baking season where it's roughly negative hundred billion degrees outside and a cozy 350 degrees inside the house, the Pepto expands from the heat and starts to burst. There's pink and glass all over the place and Christmas is ruined for everyone. Eventually, the driver and old man Johnson's dad was picked up for trafficking in illicit helium and lived the rest of his days up the river, which may have been good for him. Ever since that Christmas, though, old man Johnson couldn't be near the color pink without weepin and he could never eat Christmas cookies without heavin a deep sigh beforehand. Well, since Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, the women down at the local church would make some special bunny cookies for old man Johnson so that he may think it was Easter. It would never work, because they couldn't resist and would always put hats and scarves and mittens on them bunnies. It wasn't good for old man Johnson, but their piping abilities always amazed me. Because of that, I told the squimonk they should paint his truck blue.

I never learned if they did or not because, as Douggy and I were enjoyin ourselves some cinnamon rolls, Alistair came out of the back and told me, "He wants to see you."

I shot back, "Well, he's sittin right across from me, if he wants to see me, he can look at me. I think he's more interested in the crossword than seein me right now, though."

Alistair cocked his head a bit and furrowed his brow. Then he told me, "Not Douggy! Good lord, why would I come out here to tell you Douggy, who is sitting across from you, wanted to see you?"

"That's what I wanna know," I respond.

"What?" he says.

"What?" I reply, thinking maybe we were havin two different conversations.

We both sorta reset and gird ourselves to try again. "Lindbergh," Alistair begins, tentatively, "Lindbergh wants to see you."

"Is that so?" I'm surprised at this. I get to meet myself a real hero, but I'm not quite ready. What if I say somethin stupid? I don't think I'm very prone to that, but it always seems like a possibility. "When's he gonna be here?"

"He's not," Alistair responds, "Follow me. You too, Douggy."

We follow him out of the shop, where there's a rope just hangin there. I look up, but the rope doesn't seem to go nowhere. It's like one of them magic tricks where the guy climbs the rope and disappears 'cept no one's climbed that rope that I can see. Course, if he really disappeared when he got to the top, I wouldn't be able to see him, so maybe there was a whole bunch of them yogis up at the top of that rope that were just waitin for me. I was hopin there was a lot of room up there, because yogis may be quite bendy, but I'm not. I'm no spring chicken and my joints don't bend all the ways they used to.

Alistair grabs that rope and tells me, "Hold this."

I do. That Alistair's got a pretty commanding way about him. He sorta reminds me of my mom when she'd call me by my full name. That would put the water in my knees and sometimes in my eyes. Even when I was 40, she could strike the fear of the lightnin into me. Sometimes, when Alistair talks to me, he sounds like that, only his voice ain't so high as mom's. Well, when he talks like that, it's like my body just goes ahead and does whatever he tells me to do without consultin my brain. Before I know it, I'm bein hauled up in the air into who knows what kinda weird yogi room in the sky. When I get up there, though, it's not packed full of yogis, there's just 5 squimonk, one who's foot is bandaged up.

I'm lookin around, gawkin at the secret room in the sky the squimonk seem to have, when Douggy and Alistair come in behind me.

Alistair yells, "All accounted for?"

"Sir," responds the bandaged squimonk. I think her name was Victoria, if I remember right.

"Then cast off," Alistair commands.

There's a couple of loud bangs and I can feel we're movin upwards, albeit slowly. It's like we're sittin in a living room that's on top of a basement full of jello that's not quite set yet.

"What's goin on?" I ask. "Why are we floatin in mystery room in the sky?"

"First," says Alistair, "it's not a mystery room in the sky, we are in a zeppelin. Second, we are in this zeppelin because we are on our way to Montana so you can meet with Charles Lindbergh. He's been looking following our mission and he feels you're ready to take on more responsibility. We've got to go to him because he never leaves his ranch. He's pretty paranoid, and rightly so. If Clan Platypus knew he was behind our turning on them, they would stop at nothing to have him tortured slowly and then killed."

"Well, if we're in a zeppelin, why couldn't I see it? Them things are bigger than a rhino after it crashes thanksgiving dinner and stays for extra pie."

"That, I suppose, is true, in its way," he begins slowly. "But you couldn't see the zeppelin because it's a stealth zeppelin. We have fitted this zeppelin with the latest squimonk cloaking technology. We have had one of our fleet of zeppelins parked over your house since our first meeting, for protection."

I understood that and asked some questions about zeppelin operation, so as to look interested. Then, I got to the point. I learned that day that it takes 4 days to fly a zeppelin from Iowa to Montana. I wondered why we didn't just drive. I figured we could be there in 18 hours or so, but the squimonk have a hard time driving anything but semis because people have a tendency to swerve wildly after seeing a squirrel monkey driving a car.

So, since Monday, I've been riding in this zeppelin on the way to Montana. Me and Douggy have been playing a lot of cribbage, too. I double skunked him one game, but he says I cheated. Other than that, it's been smooth sail...hang on, there's a noise outside.

HOLY MOTHER OF CLAMBAKE! Things have just gone all haywire! I think we've just been hit by a flaming couch! I gotta stop now!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Unkindest Coffee of All

Until about 6:30 or so, it looked like it was gonna be a normal day. I'd gotten up about 5:30, tellin myself "Time to go watch the genetically modified squirrel monkeys make the donuts." That's a little joke I tell myself in the mornings. Course, it's not totally a joke because that's really what I'm gonna be doin. Whatever it takes to get you out of bed, though. I knew this woman long ago who had to sing Rocket Man to herself every morning before she went to work. She also had to flip the light switch on and off twelve times before she left a room and had to wash her hands a couple dozen times a day, but none of that really bothered me as much as hearin Rocket Man every morning. Not that it's an unlistenable song or anything, but she didn't ever bother to learn all the words, so she would sing the ones she did know extra loud. I can hear her now, "ROCKET MAN somethin somethin somethin EVER KNOWN!" So now, whenever I think of Rocket Man, I hear her version and can't ever hear nothin different, like that Bob Marley Exodus song that, in my head, goes "Exodus, second book of the Bible." Fortunately, they don't play a lot of Bob Marley on the radio out here. The Rastafarian lifestyle never really took off in the Midwest.

Boy howdy, I sure am off track. I was talkin about this morning. So I go out to the shop, that's Pat O'Neil's Body Shop, Refurbished Car Emporium and Donut Eatery, if any of y'all wanna stop by, it's just off the 15. We're sellin day old donuts for $2 a dozen. If you don't buy 'em, we'll have to give 'em to Albert, and he's already gettin a little chunky. Like I says, though, I go out to the shop to make a big ol' pot of coffee. It ain't just for me, a number of them squimonk loves them some coffee, but they don't know how to make it. It just blows me away, they're supposed to be hyper-intelligent, yet not a single one of them can make a decent cup of coffee. They've tried, oh how they've tried, but it always ends up tasting like coffee you'd get at some lonely convenience store in the middle of nowhere on a night black as pitch while you're drivin to see some great uncle or whatnot whose name you don't know and who'll just tell you about how big you were last time you were there. You know, that pot of coffee that's been sittin there so long it's turned solid, then, due to the forces of time and pressure, has turned back into a liquid that has more in common with the platonic ideal of mud than coffee. Now, go one step down on the coffee ladder from that cup, and you'll have squimonk coffee.

So, there I am, waitin for the coffee to brew, when a dozen squimonk come runnin in, holdin one squimonk in the middle. It's got a bandage around its foot, and it looks to be bleedin pretty bad. They all look a little panicky and Alistair's runnin around chatterin orders in some sorta squirrel monkey language I can't understand, but he's sorta wildly gesticulatin this way and that, sendin them squimonk runnin every which way. I sorta shout whisper, "Alistair, hey Alistair!"

He turns and glares at me, "Not now, Pat."

But I'm too curious to let it go, "Alistair, what happened?"

He turns all the way around and snaps, "I said not now Pat!" Then he turns and goes back to giving orders. Chastened, I sit and watch. The squimonk work quickly to patch up their companion. They cauterize the wound with this tiny laser thing, and then they patch up the foot with some gauze and bundle her off to the back room. Then they clean the entire shop in two minutes flat and all but Alistair disappear into the back where they do heaven-knows-what.

After that, Alistair comes over, pours himself a cup of coffee near as big as he is and sits on the donut display case facin me. "Pat, I'm sorry I yelled at you. I've been up for three days now and everything fell apart this morning."

"Well," I say, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here, "you wanna tell me what happened?"

"It's a long story, and I don't want to go into the whole thing right now, but I can give you a sketch."

"Couldn't you just tell me?" I ask, "I ain't so good at interpreting art. That is, unless you want to give it in comic book form, then I would be ok."

"No, Pat," he sighs, sounding more exhausted, "a verbal sketch. I can give you an overview, an outline, if you will."

So I tell him, "I will."

He just shakes his head and moves on. Sometimes, that's the best way to deal with me. "It started out with Douggy's request. We stayed up for awhile tracing his family line; we're still waiting for complete results, which should be done here soon. Then, Charles needed to see me. So, I ran all the way to his place only to find out that he was worried about a new pocket of Platypus operating in this area, so I came all the way back and organized a scout party. Last night, we went to check them out and found out too late our intelligence was outdated. The Meth Ninjas have a new alarm system that we accidentally tripped. Since we were just scouting, we weren't really prepared for combat, but we fought anyway. The squimonk fought valiantly and were in the process of drawing out, when Victoria was hit in the foot with this," he took out a sorta disc with points all over it and threw it on the counter. In the middle was some creature that looked like some fella with a cannon talked to another fella with a cannon and said, "Hey, I've got an idea, how's about I load a beaver into my cannon, and you load a duck into your cannon, and we'll point the cannons at each other and see what happens."

"Good gravy, what is that thing?" I asked, sorta startled.

"It's a throwing star, sort of a classic ninja weapon," he responded.

"Uh huh," I said, pretending I'd already known that, "and what about that thing in the middle, the one that looks like a goose truck and a beaver truck collided?"

"That's a Platypus, symbol of Clan Platypus," he explained. I could tell his patience was wearing thin.

"How 'bout that," I said. "Learn somethin new every day."

"You sure do. Look Pat," he segued, "I'm gonna go see if the Douggy report is in and try to get some sleep, I'm running on fumes here."

"Sounds like a good idea, buddy," I responded.

So he slid off the counter and into the back.

I'd barely had time to digest this when Douggy comes through the door, yellin', "Three!"

"Three?" I ask, on more level footing. I always know Douggy's gonna say somethin weird, so I'm sorta prepared for it. A lot more prepared than hearing about a scoutin mission gone wrong or seein a new kind of creature on a new kinda weapon.

"We've sold three shirts!" he exclaimed proudly.

"Good work, Douggy," I congratulated him. "That's pretty good."

"Yeah," he said, slipping downward a little, "but I'm beginning to think you're right, it's not gonna be enough. Say, has your partner said anything about hiring me yet?"

I picked up the star thingy and started to fiddle with it, "You know, Douggy," I begin, "these things take time and--"

He looks directly at my hand, "What's that you're playin with, Pat?"

"What? This?" I gotta think quick, I think, but then that thought really takes up all my thinkin time. It's a real shame when all your thinkin time's taken up by thinkin about thinkin, I think. But then I realize I'm thinkin about thinkin about thinkin, and then my head hurts and I forget what I'm supposed to be thinkin about in the first place.

He takes advantage of my ontological paralysis, "It's a throwin star!" he says.

"What? This?" I ask, tryin to act innocent, "Nah, this is a hubcap off one of them Smart Cars. You know them tiny little cars what look like someone cut a car in half and slapped an extra set of wheels on the half car. They only need tiny little hubcaps and this is one of them. It's special order for a lady who lost one on her way to Rapid City. She couldn't stop and wait just then because she was on her way to a used battery collectors convention and she had to get there before the auction started because she had her eye on this mint condition '68 9-volt that was starting at a very reasonable price. I offered to sell her a perfectly good 9-volt for $.98, but she told me she had to have that '68 to complete her collection of 9-volts from the '60s. She said she'd pick it up on her way back. It just got delivered and I wanted to see if it was mechanically sound."

"Pat, I know a throwin star when I see one," he says, "Give it here, lemme see."

I can't keep nothin from Douggy; somehow, he always knows when I'm makin stuff up. So, chagrined again, I hand over the star thingy.

He takes one look at it and says, "What are you mixed up in?"

"Whaddya mean?" I'm still tryin to play innocent, even if it seems like it ain't goin so well for me. I'd think of a different strategy, but after before, I'm kinda scared to start, I may get lost in the maze of my mind where some half man, half bull thing will eat me. Maybe I should put string in my ears so that doesn't happen. Then I could spool it out behind be when I was thinkin and I could find my way back, like that guy did with that maze that once.

"I mean," he says coldly, "that this is a throwing star from Clan Platypus, the most evil, most feared clan of meth selling ninjas ever to walk the earth."

"You mean there's more than one?" Consarnit! He had me! I'd just given it all away.

"There used to be more," he said, "but they were all copying Clan Platypus and so they were wiped out."

"How do you know all of this?" I ask.

And he tells me, "I've been keeping a secret from you all these years, Pat. I'm gonna tell you now, but you gotta promise not to tell anyone else."

And because I promised him, y'all have to keep this under your hats, which you should now hang on to. When he told me this, my hat flew off my head, buzzed around the room like a UFO or something, then it landed and tiny men came out, stole a donut, pulled Albert's ear, then reboarded my hat, flew around some more, stuffed string in my ears and finally landed back on my head.

"I'm half ninja," he says.

"What?!" I'm quite surprised. After my hat returns, I ask, flabbergasted, "What does that even mean? How can you be half ninja? Isn't it an occupation?"

"Kinda," he explains, "my mom was a ninja and my dad was Irish. That makes me half ninja. Also, my mom trained me in the ninja arts when I was young, but when it got to the final test, pulling out a man's beating heart and showing it to him before he dies, I just couldn't do it. I mean, I pulled out the heart and showed it to the guy, but then I felt pretty bad for him, so I worked fast and put the heart back, reconnecting everything. Then I sewed his chest up and put him on a regiment of antibiotics, to ward off infection. After six weeks of recovery, he was good as new. It worked out in my favor because he started telling people that I could have killed him, but I didn't, so I got the reputation for being dangerous without having to really kill anyone. However, because I had not technically done what was asked of me, I could not be promoted to the rank of full ninja and would have to remain half ninja forever."

I pondered that for a bit. Not thinkin, mind you, but just ponderin. They're different. Ponderin is just like flyin an airplane over the surface of your mind. Gettin the lay of the land, if you will. Thinkin, on the other hand, is like walkin through your mind hoppin the Minotaur ain't gonna get you. Finally, I decided, "You're pullin my leg, Douggy."

"No he's not," said Alistair, coming from the back room.

"Whoa!" he yelled, "is that a squimonk?"

"Yes I am. I am Alistair of the squimonk, and you are Douggy, half ninja of Clan Coconut Crab," said Alistair and then they both bowed to each other.

All I could ask was, "Clan Coconut Crab? Why don't these clans name themselves after normal things? Why's it always Platypus or Coconut Crab or Banana Slug?"

"Shhh!" Douggy said, "Unless you want every bone in your head broken, don't let anyone hear you speak poorly of Clan Banana Slug. They are a clan of honor and wisdom!"

"Sorry, I didn't know," I murmured, thrice chagrined before finishing my first cup of coffee. "But still, why all the weird animals."

"Long ago," Douggy began, "when ninjas were first around, there was only one clan, Dragon Clan. They chose that because the Dragon is really the best of animals. It can rise high into the air or sink into the earth, it can wind its way on through the clouds on the breath of the wind or torpedo its way through the waters. It is bold when the time for boldness is at hand and it is hidden when the time for hiding has come. It is, at turns visible and invisible. On top of all that, it looks super stylish on a uniform. Dragon Clan was the first, but then a new way was discovered. Soon, Tiger Clan was founded by Takahiro Morimoto, who is like the Martin Luther of ninjas, and there were only two for a while, so they had to fight each other. Eventually the clans proliferated to such an extent that they started to run out of animals to name themselves after. Clan Coconut Crab was formed late in the game, due to dissension within Clan Featherless Chicken. Even if we did have to take a freaky crab that can climb trees, I think we're still a lot better of than Clan Anthropomorphic Representation of a Food Item. I mean, that's not even a real animal."

I couldn't really say much. First, there was just too much information. Second, Douggy had never sounded so smart and informed before. I just ninjology is really his subject.

"Douggy," Alistair said, "As you know, we squimonk are locked in a deadly battle with Clan Platypus, who created us to be their messengers and drug carriers by combining elements of squirrels, monkeys and various other animals. They are attempting to take over the world by using Meth to turn people into mindless zombies who will do the bidding of the Ninjas. We squimonk have vowed to wipe this clan from the face of the earth and are being assisted by Charles Lindbergh, who faked his own death after Clan Platypus kidnapped his young son, and who posed as a reclusive meth buyer in order for the squimonk to run an obstacle course designed to raise us into sentience. You know, now that I say all of that out loud, it sounds kind of silly and convoluted. Were anyone to want to know more, perhaps it would be best to start from the beginning. We don't have time for that now, but if that person were to have a slow day at work, or possibly a free evening at home in which they wanted to laugh so hard their shoes came out their nose, they might be able to catch up on the full story in a week or so. Alternatively, they may want to print out some pages and read them in the bathroom, I wouldn't be hurt by that."

"Me neither," Douggy said.

"I'm fine with that," I chimed in.

"Now that you know the whole story, Douggy Yamamoto-McBride, will you join us in our fight? Will you also drive the tow truck? We're really trying to get this Refurbished Car Emporium going, but we don't have cars to refurbish because we've got no way of gettin 'em here."

Douggy didn't even hesitate, or maybe he did, it's hard to tell with Douggy because everything happens so fast. "I would be honored."

So, that was my morning. After all the hubub, I was able to sit and enjoy my coffee and a maple long john.