April 26, 2018

No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

The avidity with which my employee Mark Shockly tackled the grammar texts I assigned him and the mastery he achieved led me to assign him coverage of local news while I handled syndicated material and editorials. But I came to regret my decision when several people stopped me on the street to inquire the meaning of words Mark had used. One person went so far as to swear: “I’ve never seen such vocabulary in my entire life, and I doubt some of those words even exist!” Now, as editor of the Doodlebug Island Run-on, I’m used to catching the brunt…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

That part of my business dealing with the publication of romance novels, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, or family histories had been inordinately slow for so long I had begun to fear it would lead to the loss of my ability to exaggerate, embroider, lie fancifully, or invent outlandishly. At that very moment, the Reverend Wilkens stopped by to inquire whether or not I would publish his life story on which he’d been working for some time. I told him I’d consider it. The next day he returned with a many-page manuscript, written in cursive and held together with spring clips—BIG spring…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

Those of us who edit newspapers in the Sedona area meet several times each year, not so much to form editorial bonds as to reassure ourselves that what we’re doing is important to a free and democratic society, and that journalistic triage is available should the wounds of battle prove amenable. Naturally, there is an abundance of kidding. At the last meeting, for example, someone brought up the question of complaints, saying his reason for doing so was to laud the manner in which Charlie Huffington, editor of the Sedona Whisper, deals with them. Now, complaints are the bane of…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

Dr. Harold Waters, recently retired from the University of Doodlebug History Department, had been a popular professor whose lectures on Egyptian and Middle East history were well attended, and whose books on that region had been selected as textbooks by a goodly number of other colleges. Now, retirement was about the last thing I would have predicted would suit the good doctor; his was a restless nature, more used to field trips to ancient places of interest, and seminars dealing with historical topics. It was my hunch that the idea of staying home largely unoccupied would appeal to him on…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

As if enduring the remodeling that has swept Doodlebug Island were not enough—dust, debris, and inconvenience—we husbands are now being asked to tour the newly created masterpieces our wives have created, where, by implied but nevertheless implicit expectation, we are being given the opportunity to pronounce the changes way past due, very much worth the cost, and encompassing perfection itself. Now, this is not on any great order of difficulty for us old timers, for we have had the practice of several prior remodelings to guide us. Newly minted husbands might stumble, understandably. In my own home, everything is white…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

Home remodeling is all the rage on Doodlebug Island these days. Contractors and sub-contractors have been engaged for a hundred miles in every direction, and they’re busier than a team of psychiatrists at a Tea Party convention. Delivery trucks are lining up to cross the narrow bridge leading to the Island, while a few impatient drivers have found their own crossing, and all but a couple have made it. Those two learned to their regret that the placid waters of Oak Creek can be treacherous, especially when augmented by runoff from summer rains. Both the matter of change and the…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

In what must be regarded as one of the more remarkable turn-arounds, Giles Ferguson, our resident atheist, has gone from a major critic of those within the community of believers to a fellow of sympathy and understanding, and no one on  Doodlebug Island can explain the change. It’s wondered if, like Saul of Tarsus, who undoubtedly suffered heat stroke on his way to Damascus, and who went from a persecutor of Christians to the self-proclaimed Apostle Paul, Giles might be experiencing the results of a brain tumor or early signs of a mental breakdown? There’s general approval of the difference,…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

“The trouble with atheism is that it’s unattractive, argumentative, and dead-ended,” said Giles, casting his line into the swollen waters of Oak Creek, which, so far as our luck was concerned, seemed to have washed the fish downstream in the direction of Cornville. “Far be it from me to interrupt a repentant nay-sayer, but aren’t those three troubles?” Giles pulled a wry face. “I’ve made a complete examination of the field of agnoiology—the study of ignorance—and have found you to be a ready specimen. Now, suppose you pretend you’re not the editor of the Doodlebug Run-on—a rag of questionable reputation—and…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

Slanting rays of late morning found me seated at my desk at the Doodlebug Island Run-on Newspaper writing a biting editorial about something or other when the front door opened and Matty Bigelow came in. “Shouldn’t you be at your post in the library?” I asked her. “Or you here to remind me of an overdue book?” “Well, now that you bring the matter up, you do have not one but several items overdue, but we’re in no hurry to get them back, not with the promise of a hefty settlement when you get around to returning them. But that’s…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

It was Friday; I had my feet up and was congratulating myself on having my newspaper, the Doodlebug Island Run-on, ready to go to press when  Randolph Spitzenberger dropped by. “Bill, I’ve just had the most paradoxical experience of my life, one with extraordinary implications! I was at Madelyn Fisher’s home examining her collections and overheard a conversation between her and her son Morgan. He asked if there were anything she needed, or if there were anything he could do for her before he left? She pointed to a postcard on the kitchen counter and said, ‘Yes, you can mail…

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No News From Doodlebug Island

The Doodlebug Island Philosopher’s Society meets more or less monthly in a back room of whatever hotel, tavern, or business from which their rancorous disputes haven’t gotten them barred, so, over time, their circumstances have been reduced to less conducive places, and the meetings themselves occur somewhat sporadically. Festivities this month took place in Mildred’s Hair Salon amid dryers and styling paraphernalia. But, strangely, it was reported to be the most peaceful and decorous on record! Why, it might have been thought to have been a gathering of Quaker Friends, for in the face of normal threats of violence and…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

Christmas on Doodlebug Island got off to a promising start this year when Gustave Fleming began decorating his store—Gustave’s Candy Kitchen—with lights, ribbons, ornaments, figures, tinsel, and wreathes in honor of the season. No religious recognition this! All was fantasy, and his plan was that he would be the center of it! He looked forward to the day before Christmas when he would sit ensconced in a wicker chair surrounded by figures of elves and gnomes, dispensing candy canes and other confections to passers-by and ho-hoing in tones loud enough to be heard a block away. He rather figured that…

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Heavy Dose of Notoriety

Snow was gently mantling the pines and oak trees of Doodlebug Island when I returned recently from Washington, D.C. The icy water of Oak Creek murmured a gentle welcome as it made its way through the salt grass and holly bushes lining the banks. Nothing seemed to intrude on the quiet, peaceful reverence that gathered in the glades and rocky outcrops. “Home, at last!” I thought with happy contemplation, “And may the devil take me if either fame or notoriety is ever welcome at my door again!” For it was at the behest of those lusty twins that I had…

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Misbehave in Quickness, Regret in Leisure

Astute readers of this column will remember that in a ceremony held a year ago I was voted Liar of the Year, a dubious honor I neither sought nor coveted. It was presented to me for a favorable biography I wrote and published of an unsavory old reprobate who had the good fortune to have a well-heeled nephew who wanted to enhance his family image about the time I was in need of a little ready cash. Reprobate himself had expired ten years earlier, so I took a chance that memories of the old villain had sufficiently faded, and I…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

The conviviality at Barney’s Pub and Suds had nearly reached its zenith when Frank Turpin asked Amos Baker how he accounted for the rise of the tea party movement? Actually, he inserted a pejorative before the words ‘tea party,’ which described his own opinion of a group he obviously disdained. “Well,” began Amos amidst the groans of his table mates who knew that when he began with the word ‘well,’ a sizeable lecture might normally follow. In this case, however, he surprised them. “It’s caused by the same strain of virus that infects many mothers-in-law.” “That’s ridiculous,” replied Frank, busily…

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No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

If current thinking among social scientists is correct, there is roughly 20% about the nature of everyone else we won’t or don’t like, but since that leaves 80% we might like, residents of Doodlebug Island view the whole matter optimistically and tend to minimize what might be perceived as shortcomings. Vanity being what it is, however, we ascribe greater acceptance levels to ourselves, thinking that if people only knew us better or could read our heart we would score in the late 90’s or approach the 100% that more nearly describes our own opinion. Nor am I immune to such…

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Perfect Tolerance for Problems

Age and experience have taught me that I have a perfect tolerance for problems–those belonging to other people–and I have an entire collection of solutions that I stand ready to advance when opportunity presents itself. Not for nothing have I practiced the counseling techniques “I hear you saying. . .”, or “Go with that . . .” or “I feel your pain .. .” But little of this mattered much during a recent visit I had with Paul Murchison, Principal of the Doodlebug High School. Paul is normally the picture of affability; so when I ran into him at the…

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Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Whether out of boredom, pure cussedness, or faulty genetics, a goodly number of our Doodlebug Island residents allowed themselves to get caught up in the controversy currently entertaining the rest of America–namely evolution vs intelligent design. The furor has died down, and evolution has been restored to its former position as the single best theory available, but not before much wrangling, vituperation and near bloodshed; and strangely, not with the slightest involvement of the theory’s advocates. No, the dust-up appeared to be the work of that small percentage of our population given to the notion the universe cannot operate or…

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Cowboy Poets

What with all the ugly things I’ve said about cowboy poets over the years, together with the even worse things I’ve written about their zany poetical flounderings, I thought I had ’em folded, stapled, and mutilated, boxed in from any further mischief, cadged from inflicting any more pain than they already have on a world that has had to put up with their rhymed nonsense and tortured meters. But they’ve rallied recently and seem more determined than ever to defy decency, manners, and good taste in the mistaken belief they are adding something to a world literature of which they…

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Distinctions Without a Difference

The Doodlebug Island Philosophical Society meets once a month in the back room of Dandy-Lee Gifford’s ale house and chic boutique, where the wrangling won’t disturb anybody. The room is large enough to accommodate pugilistic exercises should shouting, swearing, and name-calling prove inadequate. Now, not all meetings end this way, just those at which participants have been frisked and weapons removed. The reader, should he or she be contemplating going out, would be advised to seek other ale houses or boutiques, because the season’s first meeting is tonight at 7:30, and the discussion topic has to do with whether or…

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