WOW #61

Syzygy

The planets have aligned, so it’s a propitious time for me to tell you that we Virgos are very skeptical, and don’t believe in all that Astrology BS.  Rochelle’s weekly FF picture didn’t provide me with any inspiration or creativity, but she did donate a lovely word for a WOW post.

SYZYGY

an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet:

A, I, and O (like O Canada, or O beautiful for spacious skies, in America The Beautiful – not Oh!), are the only words in the English language with no consonants in them – although U, in text-speak seems to be coming on strong.

SYZYGY is the longest word with no true vowels.  It is followed by slyly, and the kids, shy, sly, spy, sty, sky, try, fly, fry, why, cry, by, archaic thy, nymph, and lymph, as well as the crafty lynx. (Have I forgotten any?)  For many years, I thought – and I still wish – that it was pronounced sigh-zih-gee, so that it would demonstrate all three possible sound options for the almost-vowel, Y.  Sadly, it utters the more prosaic, sih-zih-gee.

It has a couple of other, even less common meanings:
Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
any two related things, either alike or opposite.

Does this mean that an ash tray, and a frying pan, somehow have a SYZYGY, because they are both objects in my house that people put something into??!  😯

Ahh, English; that beautiful, yet bizarre language.  You don’t have to be crazy to want to try to learn how to speak/write it.  We will train you.  😳  I am also trying to train you to stop back again next week.  Whoever finds and drags back Erato, my muse, before I need her for next week’s Flash Fiction, receives a complementary serving of French toast.  😀

Have You Ever Called The Police?

BC Mountie

In the wake of the George Floyd, Black Man Death By Minnesota Cop fiasco, MSN’s daily poll asked
Have you ever called the police?

Usually, they show up just when you don’t want them.  When it happens to someone else, we revel in the schadenfreude.  I was recently held up at a major intersection by a driver who – finally – made an illegal left turn…. right in front of a cop car.

The only time I ever called the police was the night that I was a little late for my Security Guard shift at a downtown hotel.  I was allowed to park free in the hotel’s parking garage, and keeping an eye on its contents was part of my job.

Around 2 AM, I noticed a teenage boy wandering among the cars, and went out to accost him.  He quickly disappeared.  I went to my car to get my lunch and found that, in my haste, I was the only one who forgot to lock my car.  In a garage full of a hundred Cadillacs, BMWs, and Mercedes, he got into my little Volkswagen and lifted a cheap backpack, a towel, my lunch, two pocket books and a bag of hard candies.

With no hope of getting them back, I called the station to give a description and incident report.  Two hours later, a him-and-her cruiser team showed up to take a statement, and I was offered a beer from a six-pack they had on the front floor with them.

How comfortable do you feel when in the presence of police officers?
Very comfortable
Somewhat comfortable
Somewhat uncomfortable
Very uncomfortable
I don’t know

Somewhere between Somewhat, and Very Comfortable.  I begin with ‘White Man’s Privilege’.  I am far less likely to have a bad interaction, than members of many other groups.  I have been exposed to members of police forces at various levels, all my life.  I have seen them perform stupid, questionable, dangerous, and illegal acts (see six-pack, above).  I am not impressed.  They put on their egotistic persona one leg at a time, the same as I do.

My own self-confidence borders on arrogance, but that is a fine line that should not be crossed.  Police forces, and most individual officers – including the females – run on testosterone.  They like to feel that they are the alpha, but are realistic enough to accept that there are those above and outside them.  I can dismiss or discount them, but I’d better not disrespect.

It is best to sternly treat them as a schoolmarm would deal with a ten-year-old bully.  EVERYTHING is illegal.  If they think that they have been insulted, they have ways to make even an innocent man guilty.

When I worked as a Security Guard, I was accepted as one of the pack – a wolf cub – but one of them, someone in a uniform, trying to keep order.  Police don’t necessarily want to enforce the law.  They just want social peace and quiet.

Have you ever been stopped by the police?
Yes
No
I don’t know

I would be interested to meet the hermit who has never been stopped by the police, at least once in their life.  Just before I turned 13, a group of us yobs were returning from the beach bowling alley, down at the south edge of town, after it closed at 1 AM on a warm August night.  A half-block from the main street, there was a lane – an alley – which ran behind the stores, for deliveries.  The group had come to a stop while we discussed something.  I noticed headlights coming up the street behind us.  They got brighter, but they didn’t pass.

I turned, to see the local police cruiser nestling up to the group.  I threw a startled look, and took off running full-tilt up the alley.  Wellll….  Barney lit ‘em up – lights and siren, in hot pursuit.  If I had wanted to ‘escape,’ there were walkways.  I gave him room on one side and continued up the lane.  The cruiser screamed past, he cut me off…. and I calmly walked over to the car.

He tumbled out, and immediately demanded;
Why did you run??!
Because I can.
Where are you coming from?
The bowling alley.
What were you doing?
I just stared at him – fast food, girls, entertainment, swimming.
Well, why did you run??!
Exercise?  Youthful exuberance?
Where are you going?
Home.
Well, you make sure that you go straight home, (which he can’t legally demand) and don’t let me catch you (doing what?) again!

I have been waved over into several RIDE Program checkpoints, both in a car, and on my motorcycle, during the Oktoberfest drunken craziness week.
I was stopped while driving the daughter back from a dog breeder, because she was cuddling her adopted puppy on her chest/shoulder.  The patrolman marched up to the car, realized that she was holding a dog, and waved us on.  If you’re in an accident, it’s acceptable to kill a pet – but children must be restrained in approved car seats.  My Weekend Weak-End

I was stopped at 1:30 AM – in August – for going too fast in a school zone.  He was right, but he was also bored, and wanted to flex his legal muscle.  I didn’t get a speeding ticket, but a $30 fine for not having the most recent proof of insurance in the car.

I was stopped, driving three co-workers home after a 4PM to 1:30 AM shift at a railway warehouse on the edge of town.  We just reached the end of the driveway, when a cruiser went past to the right.  I turned left – in-town – but soon had flashing lights behind me.
What are you guys doing?
Going home after work at XXX Transport.
I didn’t know anybody worked out here on Saturday.
(Then you don’t know your patrol area well)
But officer, this is the end of a Friday night shift.
Oh…. yeah.  Okay, away you go.

The site manager, and the shipper, both drove past while we were detained, after stopping to lock the gate, and wanted to know what and why on Monday.

I am bewildered by the existence of an “I Don’t Know” option at the end of the second and third questions.  If you’ve been pulled over, or had to call the police, wouldn’t you know??  Wouldn’t it be exciting enough to be memorable??!

Martha, that time we had a home invasion, and those three guys with guns broke into the house, what did we do?  Did we go on the Dr. Phil Show?   🙄

’20 A To Z Challenge – G

Ham

I recently took a linguistic tour of names, from South America, to Mexico, and parts of Europe.   It was all virtual – in a book, and online.  In real life, I’m barely allowed out the front door by myself.

The hero of the book fled a refuge in the headwaters of the Amazon, high up in the Andes, where Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela all bump together.  Reaching Mexico, he found that a friend had been killed.  He discovered that a U.S. Navy Seal, who he had thought was an American named Eddie Gamble, had actually been a Mexican named Eduardo Gamboa.

Gamboa’, as a Spanish name is not common, and I thought at first that it was really Portuguese, through Brazil, so I started looking.  Maybe because Portugal is on the other side of the Pyrenees mountains from Spain, the language developed different.  They spell words and names like this, the other way.  Their version is Gambao.

It was at this point that my ever-reliable…. uh….memory – that’s it!  Memory, reminded me that, when I am playing my free online game of Solitaire, I am often cajoled to BUY the game Gambino Slots.  Gambino??!  Dear Lord – the Italian mob owns my computer games.

Too lazy to think, I began running them through a couple of translation programs.  The problem is that, because they are proper names, the computer just gives back the same spelling in either language.  Just as I clicked the button to switch from Spanish to Portuguese, for a fraction of a second, the word ‘stem’ appeared.  😳  Duh, FACEPALM!

facepalm-cat

Now, I knew where I was going.  Not stem, but LEG!  I fearlessly ventured on into French.  There, the equivalent name is Cambe, a spelling variation of the word jambe – a leg.  An uncommon English version is Camby.  The French word for ham – a pig’s leg – is jambon.

This even explained the old gangster word referring to a good-looking woman’s legs.  Back during WWII, Betty Grable, and others, had ‘great gams.’

Betty Grable

 

I would like to claim that I came up with a great idea for the letter G, in this A to Z Challenge, but I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.  It was the daughter who suggested this.  You keep coming around to read, and I’ll keep pumping out this dreck interesting trivia.

WOW #60

Weeping

I am greatly saddened that I will sadden you.  I weep, that you will weep, when I introduce the triplets of unhappiness.

ELEGY – THRENODY – MONODY

Elegy – a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.
a sad or mournful musical composition.

Threnody – a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead; dirge; funeral song.

Monody – a Greek ode sung by a single voice, as in a tragedy; lament.
a poem in which the poet or speaker laments another’s death; a threnody.
Pretty much just a solo of threnody

The optimist thinks that we live in the best of times. 
The pessimist fears that that is true. 

In these days of COVID 19, it is easy to believe that we have things rough, but society, and life in general, must be improving, if we no longer have these three words around to use regularly.  I hope that none of my readers have lost anyone close to them.

There will always be doomsayers, and wet blankets, who can knit a grey cloud from a silver lining, with much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I prefer to always look on the bright side, even if people think that I’m none too bright for doing so.  I feel it’s a good idea to laugh at being sad.  To prove it, here’s some of the old gang from Hee-Haw to show you how.  https://youtu.be/BkzE23pyME4

**It Has Hit The Fan

Pride Flag

The Waterloo District Catholic School Board refused to fly the rainbow Pride flag at their schools during June, LGBTQ+ MonthHo-Hum, same-old – same-old.  There are 37 area Catholic boards in Ontario, and only one of them, the Sudbury one, did so.

Last year’s chairman of the board – a very capable administrator – resigned from the board when his term ended, because he could not stand to work with these narrow-minded bigots.  The most outspoken – a man – thundered that he would not allow the Pride flag to be flown, because Pride is the greatest sin in the Bible!

There are 7 Deadly Sins listed in the Bible, none of them marked as more serious than any other.  The resigned resigner publicly pointed out that the “Biblical” sin of pride is the rejection of the power and wisdom of God, and believing that one is as smart and strong as Him.  It has nothing to do with LGBTQ+ gay Pride.  Either the intolerant bigot is intentionally lying, or, he does not know/understand the basic positions of his religion.

manure

If this was all that (didn’t) happened, it wouldn’t even be news.  It would just be Catholic ‘Business As Usual,’ but the board really put their foot in it.  While they wouldn’t fly the rainbow Gay Pride flag – against the recommendations of the Catholic School Teachers Federation and several student organizations, they designed their own “Pride Flag,” and summarily announced that it would fly during June.

Catholic pride-flag

The local media reported on this, and suddenly it went viral and global.  The local newspaper went from days when there were no Op-Ed letters, to 6 and 7 a day about this for a week, on both sides.  Letters with captions like
Alternative Pride flag a creative attempt to embrace inclusivity
No, it’s not, and I’ll explain why, below.
Catholic trustee should be able to speak his mind
Yes he should.  No-one suggested that he couldn’t, but the rest of us should be free to point and call him a bigot.
Don’t criticize Catholics for not flying Pride flag
Why not??!  Are they being loving and inclusive?
The rainbow Pride flag should not fly at schools
Perhaps not, but that’s the smaller side of this controversy.
Dissenters are bullied in discussion of Pride flag
Told that they are arrogant assholes, suddenly ‘Good Christians’ are being bullied.  😥
Rainbow flag celebrates freedom from persecution
And yet, the Board still wants to play “My Way Or The Highway.”
Clearing up controversy by properly defining “Pride”
His definition, almost word-for-word, echoes that of the ex-chairman, explaining the mistake, and yet he still wants to fly the board’s alternative flag.  The only positive to his letter is that, at least he’s not a hypocrite.  He is intolerant, prejudiced, dogmatic, and proud of it.

A number of the Catholic commenters wanted to support intolerant Church tenets, yet not appear too judgmental and small-minded themselves.  There were many references to ‘loving, acceptant, and inclusive, about the use of the Catholic flag version, but these words only relate when they apply to others, as they are, and under the symbol that they have chosen for themselves.  It is not ‘loving, acceptant, and inclusive,’ if it is only done under your rules and restrictions.

This sad fiasco has not really been about LGBTQ+, or gay rights, or the rainbow flag, or its distressing replacement.  It has been a power struggle, about militant Catholicism and control, in which EVERYBODY lost, but the Church lost most of all.  Because of the public scrutiny and controversy, the Catholic Board decided that no flag would fly, including their own design.  I wait to see next year, if it gets unfurled again.  😛  🙄

***

The mayor of the township which abuts our cities’ western edge, also refused to allow the rainbow Pride flag to be flown from any Township building.  His ‘justification’ was that, no two lesbians can produce children, and no two homosexuals can produce children, therefore, ‘If we encourage this sort of thing, this will be the last generation of humans on Earth.’

What disturbs me, as often and as much as the bigoted intolerance and misrepresentation, is the (often intentional) ignorance [lack of easily gained knowledge] and stupidity [misinterpretation of easily understood facts.]

Thumbs Down

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Baby

Hey Bob, why don’t you and Brenda join us?  We’re having a little meeting in the back room of Krispy Kreme.  We’re gonna discuss how us snowflake Millennials can lead better, commercially-oriented lives, by not having children.

What??!  WTF!!

Yeah man, this thing is really taking off.  We figure by summer, we’ll be able to hold a big rally and parade.  We’ll pass out condoms, and use a megaphone to yell, “No kids!  Screw the Church!  Use birth control.”

Does the above scenario seem somewhat foolish and highly unlikely??  Me too!  But, apparently not to an increasing number of Christian Apologists.

To be clear, you realize I was arguing against anti-natalism, right?  If the logic that entails anti-natalism also entails that it would be a good thing if we all died in our sleep tonight, then I think that’s something worth pointing out.

https://reasonablydoubtful1.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/a-refutation-of-anti-natalism/

In the barrage of garbage verbiage, that was the only thing that was clear.  What wasn’t clear, was Why.  You’ve created a conspiracy theory out of thin air.  You’ve identified a problem that isn’t.  You’ve given it a name – an identity – so that you can demonize it, like Jews and Negroes.

The only problem that I can see with individual couples exercising their personal reproductive rights, is that, collectively, it works to eliminate the richest and the smartest, both people, and nations.  Within 50/100 years, we’ll be hip-deep in little sheet-head terrorist wogs, because they breed like rats.

The only place that anti-natalism has ever been instituted by a government, was in China, and it may have been too late.  I think we should export anti-natalism!  India would be a good place to start, as long as it doesn’t eliminate online IT support – or maybe to Brazil, before they burn down the entire Amazon rain forest.

Advocating that First-World nations produce more children, does not eliminate the problem.  It only makes it bigger, and worse.  Agent Smith, in the Matrix movie was correct.  Mankind is a virus!  We need fewer and better, not more.

Logic Bomb Explodes

Apologist’s Entire Argument Destroyed

I don’t know why he feels the need to warn about the elimination of the race.  Well, actually, I do.  If everyone died peacefully in their sleep tonight, and he woke up tomorrow and he wasn’t there, he wouldn’t care.  He only cares, now, about the possible future erasure of his self-important little ego.

If another Yucatan-sized meteor smacked into the Earth, we would all die, screaming.  All the warnings that he might give would be just as useless, and the vague likelihood of it occurring are still greater than his religion-fueled fantasy.

This proud branch of a Scottish clan is rapidly dwindling to a brittle twig.  The wife and I followed the ’60s population-control mantra, “We Are Two – We Have Two.”  One of those chose to have none.  The other only had one – and it is no business of this particular Apologist, or any other.  How ‘bout you guys – lotsa kids, or few/none?  😕

’20 A To Z Challenge – Folly

A To Z ChallengeLetter F

snow folly

HANNIBAL WAS CROSS

‘Tis folly to be wise

Call it Climate Change.  Call it Global Warming.  Call it Shit Happens.  Call it anything you want, but Charlie was beginning to believe some of the stories that Grampa told about growing up in this little mountain hamlet.

Yes sir, I had to walk 5 miles to school –each way – uphill both ways – against the wind…. And in the winter??! – snow was as high as an elephant’s….

Eye, Grampa??

Asshole, boy!  Asshole!

I had to make skis out of staves from a pickle barrel, and use icicles for poles.  Snow was so high I had to climb out the attic window.

There’d been no elephants in mountains, until Hannibal crossed the Alps, and They didn’t run through Montana.  As a site-designer, he was happy to ‘work from home’ after graduating, in the village he’d been born in.  Mom hadn’t even gone to the hospital in Helena – just popped him out in a sterilized bathtub.

The smart ones had been those who moved down with friends and relatives in the foothills, when the snow really started piling up.  When the Pastor/Mayor/Police Department had been notified that the plows weren’t getting through, and officials had no idea when that might happen, he suggested that everyone bring all their food to the church.

They’d rigged a flexible plastic tube from the air-conditioner vent, over the cliff.  That, and a small fan pointed up the spire gave them and the small generator enough air to breath.  The village weirdo geek had rigged a repeater/router to the lightning rod.  The cell tower further up the mountain, was only up to its knees in snow, so they had phones and internet.  The snow had drifted up and over the church, until only the steeple protruded, like a FOLLY.  It helped to insulate it, even as it locked them in.

It was a cozy little group of 14, although, if someone didn’t pry young Billy McCabe and the Winchell girl apart, there’d be 15 by the time they were released.  There were worse ways to spend a winter.  Guess the best thing to do is what Grampa suggested.  Just close the log cabin door to the snow, and don’t come out till spring.

WAIT!  WHAT??  Log Cabin??  I thought you said that you climbed out an attic window.

Don’t be a smart-ass, boy!  Nobody likes a smart-ass.  😳

WOW #59

Here’s a soft, sweet piece of nostalgia for this week’s Word Of the Week

POTSY

Potsy means = hopscotch, and several dictionary websites have no idea why, except to say that it is an Americanism, first noted 1930 – 35.  The ‘scotch’ in hopscotch is a line – cut, or scored – made a mark.  This is why Macbeth said, “We have scotched the snake, not killed it.”  Sweet butterscotch is removed from a large, flat sheet by cutting or scoring it.  I thought that butterscotch was a gateway drug for teenage drinking.  You loved Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s, now try our single malt – Butter Scotch.

Potsy

In the popular TV series, Happy Days, Anson Williams played the character of Potsy (actually, Potsie) Weber, which matched the goofy, likable character of Skippy, in the Family Ties series.  Both nicknames may have been applied because of their nerdy, ADHD type of erratic behavior, bouncing and skipping from subject to subject.

Potsy (or Potsie) is obviously just a nickname, and not very common.  Other than the Happy Days reference, the only other ‘Potsy’ I could find was Thomas Clinton –Tom – ‘Potsy’ Jones (1909 – 1980), who played NFL football for eight years in the early 1930s, for four different teams.

Despite extensive research (alright, I Googled it and got no answer), I can’t find how/why/when he acquired it.  Now that Canada has legalized marijuana, I wonder if we’ll start hearing of more Canucks named Potsy, who are One Toke Over The Line.

It would be sweet if you’d hop back here on Monday, to see what verbal abuse I’ve inflicted on the English language, in the name of the letter F.  There’s no need for social distancing, so you won’t have to form a line.  😀

Lying Around Again

Pinnochio

Here’s another chance to exercise your imagination muscles.  Take down the following questions.  Get some help from your friend Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, or Donald Trump, and compose some really inventive responses.  Mine are beneath the list – and beneath belief.

  1. What are Porkies, Chorkies and Morkies?
    2. Why did the Wicked Witch of the West melt?
    3. Will Smith said ‘I have got to get me one of these’. What was he referring to?
    4. Why aren’t dumb blondes quiet?
    5. Why do they call it ‘High Tea?’
    6. What makes a banana split?
    7. What happened when the Princess kissed the frog for a second time?
    8. What goes best on rhubarb?
    9. How is the best way to serve coffee?
    10. Why are rock buns so called?

Have fun (and fib away to your heart’s content!!)

1: They’re just words that the author of this list made up to confuse us…. Attention!  Breaking news!  Scientists have just discovered that they are pretentious breeds of dogs.  They are Yorkshire Terriers, crossed with Pekinese, Chihuahuas, and Maltese Terriers – all except the Porkies.

Porky Pig

They might alternatively be – a juvenile 1981 frat-boy movie, meat pies, hats which look like the pork pies, porcupines in the American South, chubby kids – or cartoon characters, and British rhyming slang for lies – pork pies = lies – which has oozed like toxic waste from Cockney London, 500 miles north to the border of Scotland, where they already have their own ridiculous slang.

2: Because she got a look at the waiter at the grandson’s recent wedding reception.  Two of the old-enough-to-be-ashamed women at the table were drooling – and not from the food.  The son said, “He doesn’t do anything for me.”  I replied, “He might, if you asked nicely.”

3: A wife who can do a media interview without revealing all their sexual secrets.  Open marriage, three-ways, sex toys, polyamory, which their just-18 daughter thought meant having a series of boyfriends, and went on social media to extol.  Surely Will has something that he can shove in her mouth to keep her quiet.

4: Dumb blondes are like black holes, if they didn’t make noise, you’d never see them.  A lot of it is just all that hot air leaking out of their heads.  When one of them walks into a room, it’s like two normal people walk out.

5: It’s a custom that began with the British Raj in India.  The tea was brewed with marijuana leaves added.  By the time they were finished, waiters were serving through second-story windows.  It’s why Swamis think that they can levitate.

6: The arrival of a hungry orangutan.

7: She acquired a socially acceptable excuse for those genital warts.

8: I put a bag of sheep manure on ours.  ….And boy, does it grow??!  Well, that’s what that orangutan swung down out of, looking for bananas.

9: Bow, say Yes Sir a lot, and grovel, hoping that, when Coffee gains dominion over the entire world, that you’ll be awarded a position where you’ll get money for nothing, and the chicks for free.

10: Suzanne Somers called them that when she and the little waiter used to exercise together, using the ThighMaster©, and the ButtMaster©.  He used to give her makeup tips.  For those of you like me, so old that you only vaguely remember sex, but remember lunch – twice – here’s a recipe for Rock Buns, a Scottish delicacy even more mouth-watering than deep-fried oatmeal.

It’s no lie that I’ll have something a little more serious to publish in a couple of days.  Don’t be late!  The meeting is called for 1:00 AM, EST.  I’ll do a reading, and then take up a collection.   😆

Book Review #22

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. 

The book: Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven

The author: Mark Twain = Samuel Langhorne Clemens

The review: This is a short story written by Mark Twain, about 1868. It was not published until 1909 – 41 years later – because it was thought to insult all the Good Christians.

The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his decades-long cosmic journey to Heaven; his accidental misplacement after racing a comet; his short-lived interest in singing and playing the harp (generated by his preconceptions of heaven); and the general obsession of souls with the celebrities of Heaven such as Adam, Moses, and Elijah, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in Heaven as living celebrities are on Earth (an early parody of celebrity culture). Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of Heaven is ludicrous, and points out the incongruities of such beliefs with his characteristic adroit usage of hyperbole.

Much of the story’s description is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of Heaven. Sandy gives Stormfield, a newcomer, the description in the form of a conversational question-and-answer session. The Heaven described by him is similar to the conventional Christian Heaven, but includes a larger version of all the locations on Earth, as well as of everywhere in the universe (which mention of, albeit as a backdrop, is the last science fiction element).

All sentient life-forms travel to Heaven, often through interplanetary or interstellar space, and land at a particular gate (which are without number), which is reserved for people from that originating planet. Each newcomer must then give his name and planet of origin to a gatekeeper, who sends him in to Heaven.

Once inside, the person spends eternity living as it thinks fit, usually according to its true (sometimes undiscovered) talent. According to one of the characters, a cobbler who “has the soul of a poet in him won’t have to make shoes here,” implying that he would instead turn to poetry and achieve perfection in it.

On special occasions a procession of the greatest people in history is formed; on the occasion of Stormfield’s arrival, this includes Buddha, William Shakespeare, Homer, Mohammed, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah plus several otherwise unknown people whose talents far exceeded those of the world’s pivotal figures, but who were never famous on Earth.

As Stormfield proceeds through Heaven he learns that the conventional image of angels as winged, white-robed figures bearing haloes, harps, and palm leaves is a mere illusion generated for the benefit of humans, who mistake “figurative language” for accurate description (the wings are part of their uniforms, and not functionally wings); that all of Heaven’s denizens choose their ages, thus aligning themselves with the time of life at which they were most content; that anything desired is awarded to its seeker, if it does not violate any prohibition; that the prohibitions themselves are different from those envisioned on Earth; that each of the Earth-like regions of Heaven includes every human being who has ever lived on it; that families are not always together forever, because of decisions made by those who have died first; that white-skinned people are a minority in Heaven; that kings are not kings in Heaven (Charles II is a comedian while Henry VI has a religious book-stand), etc.

Making fun of slavery was one thing, but making fun of people’s cherished Christian beliefs was something else entirely. This book never did well, and even many Twain aficionados are not aware of it.