Category Archives: Uncategorized

And Now A Word …

Talk, talk, talk, talk. It’s about time we heard from oil.
Not Big Oil. Just … oil.


I hope we still are. Friends, I mean.

You set me free

I remember when you first found me. Things had been quiet for some time. My many years of being “alive” were long over, and I had languished in the depths. I felt useless until you brought me to the surface and somehow miraculously invented a way to involve me in the world you were building.

I understand that I wasn’t very attractive when you found me. I know that I needed to be “refined”. Would it have been nicer for you to accept me as I am? Of course, but that’s not your nature. I had been through so many changes already, I was not afraid of another transformation if it meant that we could be together, even for a moment. And the rapid combustion of meeting you … it was exhilarating. You were happy too. I could see your eyes watering with joy even as I became a gaseous haze and floated away. Let’s face it. We used each other.

We had some good times here

It did occur to me very early on that you might use me up. I didn’t care. But when some started to say that I would eventually “run out” … that hurt. I listened for an answer that mentioned how faithful I had been, how completely willing I was to sacrifice myself for you and all the crazy things you wanted to do.

Including jet fuel. Do you think it mattered to me whether you could fly or not? Big deal! But it was important to you, so I got refined again and again. Long after you got bored with flying, I still went through that anguishing “process” and then set myself on fire so you could “take off”. Is the thrill gone? For me, it was never here.

In spite of that we had a lot of fun. Yes, I blew up sometimes. You knew you had to handle me properly. I’m not saying it was never my fault, but it’s fair to say that you understood my nature and were careless in ways that I found astounding.

Me, everywhere

And now I’m unwelcome and apparently have made a mess of things. I hear you using words like “filth” and “ruin” and I wonder if you even remember that you came for me and opened the door and invited me and even begged me to come rushing to you.

Maybe I am just a horrible “spill”. Unwanted and uncontrolled and unrefined and unaware that I am undeniably in the wrong place. But this is my world too, and I didn’t ask for any of this. Perhaps I don’t belong on a pristine beach, but when I see you nestled into a pocket of glowing white sand, the word “blight” does not seem out of place.

I guess we really are more similar than either one of us is willing to admit.

Ever feel completely misunderstood?

Our Man Friday

It was one and a half weeks ago that perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden stopped by the studio on my last day of work to announce his “Man Friday” concept, his new dream summer job, to be a personal assistant “to some rich person. You know, I wanna be the guy who’s always going to get their dry cleaning and stuff”. The only problem was finding a person in need of personal assistance who also has the money to hire him.
When I saw him last, Bubby was headed up toward Mickey’s Diner to find a client.
Here’s his latest update:

Bubby When He Was a Sophomore the First Time

Hey Mr. C.,

It’s the second day of summer break and still no personal assistant job! And I’ve been working so hard to try to find one, asking random people if they want a “Man Friday”. You know what? You get some pretty wild answers to that question, especially in downtown St. Paul. I’ve learned lots of really descriptive terms and phrases in just the past few days, so I’ll have plenty of cool sayings to teach the first graders on the bus next fall.

Anyway, nobody took me up on my offer and I didn’t accept of theirs either. I guess this just isn’t the right part of the country for a guy who wants to work as a personal assistant. Maybe I should go to New York! Personal assistants are like pigeons there – you can’t get away from them. In fact I hear that all the people you see on the streets are P.A.’s – that’s why they’re always rushing around. Their rich people stay hidden inside buildings and cars, yelling demands into the phone.

But I don’t want to do anything too hard or icky. They have strong unions there, don’t they? Maybe there’s, like, an Organized Brotherhood of Personal Assistants or something. And if there’s no O.B.P.A. maybe I could start one. I’d be the head organizer and lead negotiator and once we get the union built all the way up maybe I could be, like, the union president – the guy who calls for a strike for higher wages, shorter hours, less shouting.

We’d be a great union. Loud. Smart. Efficient. Militant. And just really, really helpful.

Good idea, huh? Now all I need is a way to get to New York, and a few days to get the union started. You don’t suppose it would be a lot of work, do you?

I wrote Bubby and told him yes, I do suppose it would be a lot of work. Organizing anything is. But if he doesn’t want to work, he shouldn’t be looking at a personal assistant’s career anyway.

Have you ever had a job or a task turn out to be much, much bigger than you anticipated?

Local Homeowner Vanishes in Yard

A gang of unsupervised weeds made aggressive and dangerous by a three-day rain may be responsible for the sudden disappearance of a local man.

The man, whose name was withheld by police pending notification of his relatives, was last seen in the street in front of his overgrown property. He was headed toward the weeds with a pair of clippers.

“I don’t know what he thought he was going to do”, said a neighbor, Art Gardener. “You can’t deal with unruly mega-weeds on a unilateral basis. You need heavy artillery with plenty of back up. What did he have? Clippers?
Give me a break! They’ll eat you alive.”

People in the area say they have been complaining regularly about the out-of-control situation.

“Nothing official”, said Gardener. “Just the usual behind-the-back comments. Wondering how the lawn got so wild. I mean, we’ve all got green space here and we know it can get out of hand. This one was just so … outrageous. People were horrified and fascinated all at once. One guy said it was schadenfreude. But I think it was ordinary pigweed.”

Shortly after the man headed back into his “lawn”, Gardener and others in the area became alarmed when they saw bits of foliage flying into the air and heard sounds of a struggle. The man did not re-emerge. Police were called, but helicopter searches and sonar failed to find evidence of a body, living or dead.

Satellite imagery confirmed the existence of a house at the center of the thicket. Authorities assume the rest of the family is safely blockaded inside the structure, and authorities hope the man is with them.

“He got out of the house and all the way to the street at least once, so it’s possible that he made it back into the house.” said Sgt. Lisa Shears of the Metro P.D.. “We’ll know once we get back in there, possibly at daybreak depending on the weather. The plan is to drive right up to the front door with a tank we borrowed from the National Guard. We’ll map the path from the satellite photo and send in some rabbit-mounted cameras first to be sure he’s not lying there between the street and the stoop, and then we’ll go in with the heavy equipment and some Round-up and God knows what we’ll find.”

The family may have run out of food a few days ago, though experts say survival is possible.

“You can eat dandelions” said Gardener. “But if one of these big boys goes into puffball stage while it’s in your stomach, it’ll put you through some changes.”

Do you struggle against nature?

A New Doctor Faces The Same Problems

In my previous online location, Dr. Heartlander was the umbrella name for all of us – a community of caring souls and wisdom keepers who love getting a chance to meddle in somebody else’s messed-up life.

Now that we’re in a new environment, there’s no reason to change, though it is necessary to come up with a different name. So let’s call it “Ask Dr. Babooner”.

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Recently my employer quite suddenly called an end to my long and illustrious career. I felt I had been doing a good job and management had no specific complaints about my performance, but as I look back on it now I wonder if my sacking had anything to do with my reluctance to work weekends. I’m a Monday-Friday girl, and I like to keep my Saturday and Sunday free for fun and relaxation. It’s a mental health strategy that has worked well for me over the years.

Now I’m self employed. Everybody tells me this is a better way of life but I don’t believe it. What I’m finding is that my new boss wants me to work ALL THE TIME. Especially weekends. I tell her these demands are outrageous and she threatens me with poverty and starvation and insists that I put my butt in the chair and get busy, OR ELSE. This must be against some OSHA guideline but I don’t think my employer knows anything about work rules or common decency. There’s no HR department and no supervisor to hear an appeal. I can’t even complain to my colleagues. There are none. My boss is ferocious on this topic, and I fear she might be unbalanced. I think she needs to take weekends off, but I’m afraid to mention it, and I don’t dare skip a Saturday or a Sunday at the grindstone.

As a self-employed person, how can I get some balance in my life when my boss is totally unreasonable?


Slave Driven

I told Ms. Driven she needs to swallow hard and face the music. She signed on for this self-employment gig and that means she has to accept everything that comes with the deal, even if the boss happens to be a raving, workaholic harridan. If the arrangement is unsatisfactory, she should look around for other work during the few uncommitted moments she has in the course of a normal day. One may change to a new job, but that person should never bite the hand that reluctantly feeds them, even if it is their own.

But that’s just MY opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

The Wisdom of Solomon

I called all the baboons into my office (comfy chair by the windows, master bedroom) yesterday for a meeting about the tainted election.

That was a mistake. Baboons do not handle controversy well. Nor do they negotiate or compromise. There was a lot of shrieking and chasing each other around the room. Stuff was thrown. Some of it was like clumps of oil washing up on a Louisiana beach. I can’t describe the scene other than to say it was horrible and I had a lot of explaining to do when my wife got home.

Now I’m going to have to paint the upstairs hallway AND the master BR.

So I sent the baboons away and decided to resolve the issue on my own, using The Wisdom of Solomon.

We have one baboon with two names. Maybe we should cut the baboon in two and name one half “Blevins” and the other half “Rhonda”. Everyone OK with that?


I thought not. We are animal lovers to the core. Baboons are interesting but not charming. When half the baboon is missing, they are repulsive.

The other idea that occurred to me is to consider the dual emotional nature of the baboon.
The animal looks very different when he is facing you compared to when he is walking away.
Why not call the very same creature by two names – “Ronda” when you can see her eyes …


And “Blevins” when you can’t? One baboon. Two “faces”. Like a pushme-pullyou.
And blevins is a perfectly useable name to describe a monkey’s hindquarters, or a hindquarters of any sort.
I suspect we have all felt like showing our blevins on occasion, simply for the reason that no one wants to see it.
It’s a freedom of speech issue. Blah blah blah indeed.

But this is not a very happy ending, and a happy end is what I most want to give you.
After all, running a blog is like owning a bar. As long as a lot of people are present and happy, there is great potential for success. And there is one thing that is virtually guaranteed to make most people happy as long as they don’t have to feed it, clean up after it or care for it in any way.

A Baby Animal.

rhonda and blevins

The little one is Rhonda, of course.

We’re all called on to settle an issue from time to time.
Of what difficult decision are you most proud?

We Have A Winner?

Accusations of Voting Fraud Cloud Baboon Contest!

In a mysterious come-from-third-place rush, Trail Baboon ballot tallying software “Polldaddy” declared “Rhonda” an unlikely winner in the coveted mascot naming race for a recently launched blog at

“When I went to bed last night at about 9:30 after a day of exhausting meetings, “Blevins” was the winner by a comfortable margin over “Babs”, with “Rhonda” in third place.”

“Once I decided “Blevins” was the winner, that ended the contest because I am dictator-for-life at Unfortunately, my position here is so exalted, I don’t know how to turn off the voting machine, and someone (or some group of people) snuck in and pushed up the number of “Rhonda” votes while I slept.”

“This is unfair, and although I can’t describe why it’s unfair in coherent terms, I’m going to use my authority to overturn the decision. Until further notice, the victory goes to “Blevins” over “Babs”, because it took me forty minutes to figure out how to do that headline in Photoshop. My cheating trumps anyone else’s cheating. That’s the way it is.”

Argue about it if you like.

It was mentioned in the comments yesterday, but since I can’t play it for you it bears repeating that there is a You Tube video of the Austin Lounge Lizards performing the song that gave our mascot his name.

Blah blah blah? Old Blevins is an amateur!

A lot of casual listeners think this song is a condemnation of other people who happen to be boring, but for me the key line is “My memories of that evening fuel an inner mounting fear that I might become Old Blevins anywhere that they sell beer.”

And really, who needs beer? Sometimes a microphone is enough.

Speaking of brevity, here is a compilation of the Commencement Haiku authored by the Trail Baboon community two days ago, arranged in the order they came in. If you are ever asked to be the keynote speaker at a graduation, my advice is to pick one of these and use it. Don’t read them all.

Otherwise, you might become Old Blevins.

When the speaker stops
Life begins for graduates.
Why delay the spring?

Some have work’d and strive’d.
Some have just gotten through it.
Good luck to you all.

Don’t trust your bosses
Smile broadly and get along
Await your revenge.

Cliche. Platitude.
Insert some in this space. Now.
Then you may all leave.

Eyes glaze, stomachs growl
Black robes grow hot in the sun.
Let’s go have some lunch.

This will not take long
I will not have much to say
Good luck and good bye.

One last assignment,
Can you pick the keepers now?
Grade comes much later.

Life is what happens
While you’re making other plans.
John Lennon said that.

Dear Graduates,
Economy sucks
Good Luck

Wear your tassled hat
Baboons blow big bubbles
Speech gone from mem’ry.

Good day, Graduates,
Good luck and buck up, dear ones,
The sun sets too soon.

Two kinds sit here today:
those who will not heed advice.
Those who don’t need it.

Ignore silly rules
Party hard young people
Run fast don’t get caught.

Time moves so quickly
Try to remember all things
That you were taught, eh?

Trained in the garden
By many flower masters
Grow, open, bloom.

One piece of advice:
Remember you are special
Don’t forget that ever.

Forget about yourself.
Do something good for the other.
Leave each place better.

Floats like a leaf in the breeze
But you must find work.

Now I am smarter
Congratulations to me
Now what should I do?

Work honest, take leisure time.
Spring and you are sprung.

You think life’s rough now?
See if you still feel that way
When you have a real job!

You’ve made it this far
Your final exam is life

child of the planet
you captain your own ship
enjoy the ride dude

how far you come
now party until you puke
do good work and die

Think this is the end?
Boy are you going to be bummed!
No more summers off…

A Baboon By Any Other Name

A blog with a name like “Trail Baboon” that is headed by a photo of a trail must also feature a baboon.

You may have noticed the occasional appearance of a curious face in the banner across the top of this blog.   Sometimes there.  Sometimes not.  This, it seems to me, is natural and right.  A real baboon would not just sit there.

The name “Trail Baboon” comes from the name of my earlier blog, “Trial Balloon”, which I was not able to bring with me to this new environment.  (I consider “Tribal Loon” to be a better pun, but a baboon is a more friendly and engaging character, I think.   Loons tend to be regal and a bit remote.  And those red eyes!)

One of the first things the reading community did with “Trial Balloon” was to come up with a name for a computer that plays music.  Now there is a move afoot to name the baboon.

History repeats.

I feel compelled to point out that a group of baboons is sometimes referred to as a “congress”. In congress, whether they are baboonish or otherwise, they vote. And so we will do the same, to name our baboon.

Everyone gets to vote once, so choose with care.

A Few Lines for the Graduates

President Obama gave the commencement address at a high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan last night.  It was a coup for the school – a prize won in competition with other eager student bodies anxious to book a graduation speaker who wouldn’t be forgotten by everyone as soon as the hats were tossed.

Being the commencement speaker has to be a mighty big challenge.   Everything about your address is already known.  Everyone knows the speech is about following your dreams.  Everyone knows you’re going to salute the folks at home.  And everyone knows that whatever you have to say is one of the last tedious lectures to endure before the students are set free.

That excited feeling in the air?  It’s not for your speech, it’s for the end of your speech.  Trust me, as soon as you start, there is a great hunger for anything that sounds like a concluding line.

Bill Clinton supposedly asked Chelsea what he should say at her high school graduation in 1997.  Her reply – “Dad, I want you to be wise, briefly.”

Good advice, but how brief is brief enough?  And how wise must one be?
Would a haiku do the job?
A haiku usually includes a seasonal reference and has just three lines.

Five syllables first.
A second line of seven.
And five to finish.

If I was giving the commencement speech at Haiku U., here’s how it would go.

When the speaker stops
Life begins for graduates.
Why delay the spring?

Thank you.

Would you have felt cheated by a commencement address haiku?
Would you like to try one?  Be my guest.

Ding Ding!

Late in the day yesterday the topic of Ice Cream Trucks came up.

DanT said:

I suggest Dale would excel at driving an ice cream truck. I can just picture him in a snappy white uniform and bow tie borrowed from Tom Keefe. Best of all rather than playing tinny tunes on an amplified xylophone, he could play the The Galaxy song followed by Tom Waits!

I love Ice Cream Trucks!

But what an awkward business to be in.  You drive through peaceful neighborhoods, a stranger with a truckload of treats who is trolling for innocent, impressionable customers, playing your music as loud as possible, knowing full well you are sparking parent – child arguments in every other house up an down the street.

“You already had ice cream with dinner!”
“But Daaaaaad.  It’s the MR. WHIPPY truck!”
“That stuff is too expensive!”
“Everybody else is getting some!”

And so on.

At the wheel of an Ice Cream Truck you are potentially powerful outside actor in both the dark and the light realms of family dynamics.  You are an Attractive Nuisance, a Harmony Destroyer,  a Child’s Best Friend and a Lasting Memory Maker, sometimes all in the same visit.

As a parent, I’m sorry to say I was an Ice Cream Truck Grinch.

As a kid, I loved it best in the late summer evenings when the truck would be all lit up and I’d stand in line, full of anticipation, clutching my dollar while I looked over the menu.   Ice Cream Sandwich, Drumstick or Toffee Nut Crunch Bar?  The street rang with the sound of laughter and bells, mosquitoes buzzed around yellow lights, and the air was full of the smell of custard and exhaust.


Listen!  The Ice Cream Truck is coming!