the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FOUR WORKS
BY CLIFF YANKOVICH

THE PLIGHT OF KITTENS

Aren't neighbors a great thing? Thank God for my neighbors down the street. If it weren't for the fact that they put up a sign every couple of months, then I would forget all about the poor Mr. Kittens languishing away somewhere, no doubt falsely imprisoned.

As I headed back from my thrice weekly constitutional the other day I was once again impressed by the diligence and persistence of my neighbors. There it was for all to see. Yup, that FREE KITTENS sign in huge letters is a reminder to get on the stick and help out in any way I can. This deal with Kittens has been going on for awhile because the neighbors have been sticking that sign up off and on for at least the last two years. From the increasing size of the sign it would appear efforts are being stepped up on Kittens behalf.

My close, personal friend, Mick Jager, wisely said, "Well, what can a poor boy do, 'cept for sing in a rock-n-roll band." Maybe I don't front the Oldest Band in Rock-n-Roll, but there has to be something I can do to help in the liberation of Kittens.

The trouble is: I don't know where to write, call, or e-mail on behalf of Kittens. Hey, what about the college kids? They seem to have the time, energy and heart for these causes. Personal confession, I am so out of it the last time I was on a college campus and saw all the stickers for "Free Tibet" I thought it was an advertising promotion for a new candy or something. Boy did I feel silly when I asked for my sample of Tibet at the bookstore and a twenty-something set me straight. If those young people can get all excited about Tibet which is way the heck on the other side of the world, then they sure ought to get behind this Kittens deal.

Couple of questions come to mind. What exactly did Mr. Kittens allegedly do? Where and when did he do it? Why is Johnny Cochran ignoring his plight? Does anyone know the phone number for Amnesty International?

Anyway, please join in the effort to help Mr. Kittens.

I've got a great idea; political prisoners are always going on hunger fasts for their cause. That method of garnering media attention is a bit overdone. Would you like to join me in a REVERSE hunger strike in which we will eat as much as we can until Kittens is released? Solidarity through food. OR you can ease your conscience by sending a check or money order to yours truly:

Cliff Yankovich
Free Kittens Fund
P.O. Box 332
Alto, MI 49302

You can make a difference in the life of Mr. Kittens today. Please pass this message along to your neighbors and everyone on your e-mail list and ask them to do the same. Together, we can FREE KITTENS. It takes a village my friends.

Julie Claire just asked me if I was aware of the gestation period of cats. Poor dear, such non sequiturs indicate her lack of B vitamins, folic acid, omega three oil, or some combination thereof.

================

WHY I HATE CANADIANS

This morning I realized that there are several reasons why Canada and Canadians deserve my extreme dislike, if not out and out hatred. All of this occurred to me as I went about my morning routine.

While eating breakfast, the realization of how the average Canadian can get MORE real, honest-to-God maple syrup for his or her buck ticked me off. I'm sure Canadians don't even think about putting syrup with "real maple flavoring" on their frozen waffles. They probably don't even sell the brand that BRAGS about having 10% real maple syrup. When they belly up to a stack of pancakes, they pour the REAL syrup on without a thought as to the cost.

Next stop was the bathroom. Now, since some of you might have just eaten breakfast yourself, I will spare you the gruesome details. Suffice it to say my thoughts again turned to Canada as my government-approved-water-saving 1.5 gallon a flush toilet struggled to do its job. (Hello- when you have to flush repeatedly, nobody is saving any water!)

The 1.5 gallon crappers are great for getting rid of used beer, coffee and juice, but God help you the morning after the fajita festival at your local Mexican restaurant. Solid waste seems to be a real challenge for the new toilets.

I just thank God we have what I call a Transitional Toilet (TT) in our other bathroom. The TT is not old enough to hold the wonderful 5 gallons of the G.O.T.'s (Good Ole Toilets), but it isn't squeaking by with a gallon and a half either. I think it falls somewhere in the middle. Now all of us who live here know that we use the NEW toilet for relieving our bladders and TT for the heavy work.

What a pain in the ass. Great for the family, but how does one properly convey this to guests? When someone gets up from the table and asks after the bathroom, should I ask them to hold up fingers to indicate which function they hope to complete so I know which bathroom to direct them to use? Or do I just let them deal with multiple flushes and a possible overflow when they take a dump in the new one?

Look - I am only a high school graduate and I know the answer to this conundrum. It calls for a toilet with a tank that holds FIVE GALLONS, but also has TWO HANDLES. When one eliminates liquid waste one flushes with the handle that dispenses just enough water to take it away. When one makes ca-ca, then one flushes with the handle which sends five glorious gallons of water to make it disappear.

That, my friends, would save water. And blood pressure readings would go down as America was restored to the country leading the way in waste disposal.

Once again we could be America - Land of the Free, Home of The Complete Flush.

Know what the new, Northern definition of a Wet Back is? It's someone who runs across the border to Canada to buy a toilet that gets the job done. Do you have any idea how the Canucks are laughing at our current plumbing conundrum?

Speaking of waste products, we can't ignore that most annoying of Canadian exports - the Canada goose. I bet you aren't even aware of the large scale national effort undertaken up there to re-train the goose population to hang around south of the border, chase golfers around, and decorate the land of the free with goose shit. I found out about it when some friends and I captured a small gang of geese on the 7th green, sweated them and made them talk. (Wait PETA pals - all we did was get out some recipe books opened to the game birds section, then they honked all their dirty secrets.)

NAFTA schmafta - their government plays all nicey-nice and the whole time they are training geese to intimidate golfers and bury us in feces. As if we aren't having enough trouble with our own crap.

Can you imagine the life of the average Canadian? He gets up of a fine spring morning and inundates his French toast with real, 100% maple syrup. Then, before heading out to a round of golf played with no fear of attacking geese or of sliding around in their slimy shit, he takes one of his own without a second thought for his toilets ability to properly perform.

Goose free golfing. An abundance of Pure Maple Syrup. Toilets that can do their job. Guess it isn't hatred after all. I'm jealous.

================

THE FIGHTING WHITIES

My battered psyche has been dealt another devastating blow. Ever since I found out about the latest blast by some clever college students aimed at not only me, but white people as a whole, I have been gulping down mood altering substances. Those bold college lads named their team "The Fighting Whities" in an effort to thumb their noses at white America and teach us a lesson about humiliation as exemplified in the naming of sports teams. As I read about these so-called whities, a few thoughts leaped across my screen.

Maybe the whole thing about naming teams The Indians and The Warriors or whatever was really a compliment to begin with. To examine this I ask the reader to suspend any knowledge of the current competition-without-losers mentality that is jumping from school to school from its birthplace on the West Coast. You know, where kids on teams don't really try to win or, God forbid, BEAT the other team - they just move the soccer ball around the field for a couple of hours. You need to think back to the halcyon days of school sports when teams tried to best each other on the field, court, rink or wherever.

Since beating the other team was part of the old plan, many schools identified themselves with people and animals that had a fighting spirit - combatants who could look defeat in the eyeballs and keep struggling to win. When they chose mascots and symbols like the Vikings, Panthers or Fighting Redskins it was in an attempt to give the kids something powerful and positive to rally 'round during the tough contests.

Speaking of Vikings…wait a minute, how come we aren't hearing from disgruntled Scandinavians? Aren't they tired of being portrayed as viscous Vikings out to conquer the other teams? I wonder if Garrison Keillor and the rest of the Woebegoners would rather we name our teams the Swaying Pines or something else less stereotypical and insulting of the Nordic folk than those invasive, violent, mustachioed Vikings.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Monday Night Football. Tonight's game features the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Fjords." (Ohmigod, I never thought about the "cowboy" thing. How must they feel? How can we arrange reparation? Should it be cow-persons?) I am all for compromise, lets balance things out by re-naming 50% of the current Native American teams something having to do with cow-persons - the Buckaroos, the Rustlers or the Bowlegged somethings.

Where the heck are the PETA-pals when you need them? Are they going to let all the school teams named for animals survive with no court action? In my years of education, I attended a couple of different school systems. One of them fed into Tucson High School - they were called the Badgers. At first glance a badger isn't a very impressive foe, they are built low to the ground and tend to keep to themselves. Badgers move kinda slow and don't have a loud roar or big, huge claw covered paws or giant, pointy teeth. However, badgers are quick, strong and more than willing to take on just about anything. Having a badger in your corner during a scrap would be great. My hunch is that is exactly why the name pickin' squad at Tucson High picked 'em. I'll wager much the same thought went into choosing the Wolverine for the University of Michigan. If memory serves, badgers and wolverines drop from a real similar branch on the tree of life.

Aren't we all showing our collective insensitivity to badgers and wolverines by cheering for teams so named? If PETA People really were for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, then wouldn't they be fighting to stop all that? Haven't we devastated the long horned cattle in Texas enough with our non-stop meat consumption and wearing of leather - must we add insult to injury by portraying them as mean, violent animals who have no greater desire than to "hook-'em horns"? At the very least, cheers for the Longhorns should also try to incorporate the placid, cud-chewing side of the animal. "Belch 'em up and wear 'em down, Go, Go."

Henceforth all teams named after aggressive animals should have their name changed to support and recognize the non-violent or possibly the life-affirming animals. Let's see, there are butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals which nurture and give life by pollinating plants. There are also pretty neutral ones - squirrels, gazelles, antelope, and such. "Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar - all for the koala bears, stand up and holler." Forget everything bad you heard about Florida, the Miami Dolphins were way ahead of the curve on this critical issue.

If you wanted to put a positive spin on things, then maybe it was a compliment to Indians as a whole when various permutations of Native American nomenclature were used as mascots or logos for school teams all over the nation. Maybe people admired a never-say-die spirit that persisted even when outnumbered by a ever-growing and ever-moving foe.

Maybe all the "Indian-named" teams ought to switch their names to something which honors the greatest victory ever handed the white man by Native Americans. The Indians of Cleveland could become the Casinos and the Braves could become the Atlanta Slots.

================

TENNIS ANYONE?

Return of service.
Not a lawn game, no nets,
But the game of true living.
Were you to collect the fees due for services rendered,
Then I would be forever in your debt.
Would it not be better to pay
With a return of service?
Truth for truth
Wisdom for wisdom
Kindness for kindness
Counsel for counsel
Love for love
A wonderful volley this,
Where the score is always deuce.