Baggus Grocerus. This common species of the wild may soon be threatened with extinction, from an emerging pandemic.

Baggus Grocerus. This common species of the wild may soon be threatened with extinction, from an emerging pandemic.

My nephew Herbert is a brilliant young man with a PhD. He spends his time in his basement conducting scientific experiments and developing cutting-edge inventions that make this world a better place.

He’s been worried about plastic for a long time. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down in our landfills and oceans, and even after it breaks down it remains in tiny particulate form that threatens wildlife.

But a group of Yale students recently discovered a fungus in the amazon that devours polyurethane at an astonishing rate. And then there’s the Canadian high school student, Daniel Burd. Burd developed a cocktail of bacteria that can completely dissolve plastic bags in just three months.

Herbert decided to build on these recent discoveries by trying to genetically engineer a super-hungry, plastic-eating bacteria. He wanted to release this powerful microbe into the world, so it could quickly and naturally dissolve all the plastic buried in our landfills and floating in our oceans.

My nephew kept me updated on his progress. I’m not smart like him, so I really don’t know how he was able to extract the DNA from that amazonian fungus and combine it with that Canadian bacon, I mean bacteria, to engineer the new organism that he developed. All I know is that something went very, very wrong.

I got a call from him last night. He sounded panicky. “Unc-unc-unc Uncle T-tippy!” he was breathless.

“Calm down Herbert, calm down. Do a few math problems on your calculator. There that’s it. Feeling better now? Good. What’s going on?” At least I’m smarter than him when it comes to psychology.

“I won’t be able to use the calculator for very much longer, Uncle Tippy. Oh Uncle Tippy, what have I done?! The calculator keys are dissolving right before my eyes. And so is this phone. Not sure how much longer we’ll stay connected.”

“Why? What’s happening? Tell me what’s wrong? Is there anything I can do to help?” Now I was the one feeling a little panicky.

“It’s PLASTICILLUS!” he shouted.

“What the hell is that?”

“I invented it. Plasticillus, I call it. It’s a brand-new GMO bacteria that I, Dr. Herbert Veervender, invented. I should win the Nobel Prize for this. Except one thing. It’s one heck of a lot more virile than I intended it to be. It escaped my petri dishes and it’s taking over everything.”

“But isn’t that what you wanted, Herbie? Isn’t this how you’re going to save the planet from plastic?”

“You don’t understand. It’s dissolving everything plastic in the house. My computer keyboard is flaking apart. Our polyester curtains are shredding. Our vinyl flooring is decaying beneath my feet. Even the polyester fabric in my clothes is coming apart. I’m looking out my window and can see my neighbor’s artificial lawn turning from green to splotchy brown and gray. But I can’t go outside and warn my neighbors and community about this spreading bacteria because my clothes will fall off, and that would be very embarrassing.”

“This sounds crazy, Herb. What can I do? How can I help?”

“You have to do something, Uncle Tippy! Warn everyone! Warn the world!! You have a blog don’t you? Write a post to warn people. Soon no cars will be drivable, because the plastic parts in the frames and engines will decay. Soon the water utilities of many cities will cease to function, when their PVC water mains dissolve. And the electric grid will be destroyed nationwide, then worldwide, as plasticillus devours the insulation of power lines. Civilization is coming to an end!”

“Gee, this sounds serious. Alright, I’ll write a post to warn everyone. Anything else I can do?”

“Yes, you’re in a very unique position to help. So listen very closely. This is critically important to stopping the spread of this bacteria. You have to–”

We were suddenly cut off. The plasticillus must have finished off his phone. I can’t communicate with my nephew anymore. So now I’m left trying to figure out for myself what I have to do to save the world. Any ideas, anyone?

Rapping It Up

Where rappers rap it up.

Where rappers rap it up.

Why do people keep killing rappers? I’m no fan of the genre. And I can certainly understand why someone would want to shoot those who play this music so loud, every house in the neighborhood vibrates. But why kill the rappers, themselves? It’s just music, everyone.

Country stars drink themselves to death. Rockers overdose. But rappers–they die of lead poisoning.

The latest rapper to bite the dust was a rising star from Atlanta, named Bankroll Fresh. Last Friday night he was standing outside his recording studio, when blangdiddy, blam, blang, bang, a hail of bullets cuts him down. He was only 28 years old. No arrests have been made.

Here’s a list of other rappers that have been murdered:

Big Hawk: 1969-2006. Shot dead by an unknown suspect, when he went to a friend’s house to play dominoes. No arrests have been made.

Big L: 1974-1999. Shot in a drive-by shooting in Harlem. The murder is still unsolved.

Bad News Brown: 1977-2011. Found dead in an alley, apparently the victim of violence. The case is still unsolved.

Blade Icewood: 1977-2005. Shot at a car wash in Detroit by an unknown gunman.

Camoflauge: 1981-2003. Gunned down outside of Pure Pain recording studio, while walking his toddler son. Whodunnit? Not me! Nobody knows, who’s willing to talk.

Charizma: 1973-1993. Shot dead in a mugging. His killer was arrested the same day.

Chinx: 1983-2015. Shot in a double-homicide in Queens, New York. The murder has not yet been solved.

Doe B: 1991-2013. Shot at the Centennial Bar and Grill in Montgomery Alabama. His killer, who had been in an ongoing dispute with him, later turned himself in.

Dolla: 1987-2009. Shot in L.A. by Aubrey Louis Berry. Berry claimed self-defense and was acquitted by a jury in 2010.

Fat Pat: 1970-1998. Brother of Big Hawk (see above). Shot in Texas by, who knows, while collecting an appearance fee.

Freaky Tah: 1971-1999. Shot at the Sheraton in Queens, New York, by Kelvin Jones, who plead guilty to murder.

Half a Mill: 1973-2003. Shot in his apartment in Albany, New York. Details about the shooting are sketchy.

Jam Master Jay: 1965-2002. Shot execution-style in a recording studio in Queens, New York. Suspects exist, but no one has been convicted.

Lil Phat: 1992-2012. Shot outside a hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia, while awaiting the birth of his daughter. Three men were convicted of this murder in 2014.

Mac Dre: 1970-2004. Shot while a passenger in a van, in Kansas City, Missouri. There have been no leads or arrests in this case.

Magnolia Shorty: 1982-2010. This female rapper was shot 26 times, in New Orleans, in a double-homicide that also took the life of Jerome Hampton. In 2014, Gregory Stewart confessed to being one of four men who participated in this gang-related shooting. This was part of a plea agreement that resulted in no prosecution for the murders.

Pavlos Fyssas: 1979-2013. This Greek anti-fascist rapper was stabbed to death in Athens by a member of the neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn.

Proof: 1973-2006. Shot four times while playing a game of pool that turned into a heated argument. Proof first shot and killed Keith Bender. Then Bender’s cousin, Mario Etheridge, shot Proof twice in the head and twice in the chest. Authorities determined that Etheridge was acting lawfully, in defense of another. Even if he did shoot him four times.

Sabotage: 1973-2003. This Brazilian rapper was shot four times in the head and chest. No arrests have been made.

Seagram: 1970-1996. Shot in a violent neighborhood of Oakland, while exiting a van. It’s still an unsolved mystery.

Soulja Slim: 1977-2003. Shot four times on the front lawn of his mother and stepfather’s home, in New Orleans, by an unknown gunman.

Stretch: 1968-1995. Shot four times in the back while driving his minivan, in Queens, New York. The murder is unsolved, but many believe Tupac Shakur was behind it.

The Jacka: 1977-2015. Shot in Oakland, while rapping with friends in a van. No arrests have been made.

The Notorious B.I.G: 1972-1997. Considered one of the most influential rappers of all time. But it’s rumored he was behind the shooting of Tupac Shakur in 1996. This young man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, while stopped at a red light. His killer has never been arrested.

Tupac Shakur: 1971-1996. Got into a brawl with Crips gang member Orlando “Bobby Lane” Anderson, in Las Vegas. A few hours later he was murdered in a drive-by shooting. Fellow rapper, Suge Knight, was with him, and received a head wound. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect, and only interviewed him once. The murder remains unsolved.

VL Mike: 1976-2008. Shot in New Orleans while exiting his vehicle. An unknown assailant escaped on foot.

Yaki Kadafi: 1977-1996. This friend of Tupac Shakur was accidentally shot in the head two months after Shakur was killed. His killer served 10 years in prison.

That’s 26 murdered rappers, not counting our most recent, Bankroll Fresh. 18 of these murders, or 69%, remain unsolved. That seems like a hell of a high rate of unsolved murders. By the way, what is this about shooting rappers four times? What’s with the number four?

I guess if you want to get away with murder, shoot a rapper. You have about a 69% chance of never being caught. And if you do get caught, there’s a good chance you’ll beat the rap, so to speak.

And that about raps it up.

Dogtoothed Dogfight

In this corner, Mona "Don't Mess With My Teeth" Lisa

In this corner, Mona “Don’t Mess With My Smile” Lisa

And in this corner, Peone "The Alpha Hygienist"

And in this corner, Peone “The Alpha Hygienist”

Yesterday two of our wiener dogs, Mona Lisa and Peone, got into a fight. Mona Lisa is a 13-year-old cranky Tasmanian Devil. Peone is a 5-year-old hyperactive ball of energy, and the alpha female of the house. Although she’s small and the youngest, her unsuppressible energy makes her the leader of our pack of four dogs.

Peone loves to clean Mona Lisa’s dirty, stinking, rotting teeth. Usually Mona Lisa tolerates this intrusive activity, much as we humans tolerate the dental hygienist who picks, scrapes and grinds away at our ivories, every six months, as we dig our fingernails into the naugahyde arms of the chair.

But yesterday Mona Lisa had enough, and she bit Peone’s tongue. The fight was on. My wife broke it up and gave Peone a severe scolding.

Was my wife in the wrong? After all, Mona Lisa’s old teeth truly are rotting out of her head, and perhaps it’s for her own good to have her teeth cleaned regularly by her sister, whether she likes it or not.

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