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©2003

Judging the Nobility of a Fly

Hey, I thought flies only lived for a couple of weeks. So how come you're still around?

Sincerely, Shelby

I know what you're doing. You’re trying to mess up my plans. I had immense plans. I was on the threshold of great things. I was going to be great and noble. The nobility of a fly is judged by how much truth he can throw out there. I threw out the best truth I could, and then I threw out whatever I could, and sometimes I even threw out nothing but fly poop. And now it is my turn.

My farm ... my people ... my animals ... my ideas ... my answers ... my questions. ... My wings are completely still and yet I hear a buzzing. The horror, the horror.

Are You Following Me?

Dear PhilosoFly:

Now that I’m on the “outside,” now that I am, am, am … free as a bird now, now that I must be traveling on now, now that there are too many places I’ve got to see, now that like a bird I cannot change … I am happy. Really, I am.

But … But I cannot shake this feeling that my old boss is right behind me, watching my every move, etc. I feel as if he’s just waiting for the right time to jump out from behind the nearest tree, fire hydrant or 7-Eleven beverage cooler and haul me off back to the farm. Am I just being paranoid? Have I watched one too many episodes of “Starsky and Hutch”? And how am I supposed to relax if I’m always paranoid? And if Starsky and Hutch got into a fight with Russian femme pop starlets Tatu, who do you think would walk away with the prize belt?

- R.C.


Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re not being followed. In all honesty, you probably are being followed. So, you have every reason to be skittish in your new freedom.

But that’s how freedom is, it’s great at first, yeah, it’s a good time. Everything’s slathered in cool, everybody makes you want to do a little dance. And you’re just soaking it up like a soggy loaf of bread when you hear a knock at the door. You have no idea who it is. You weren’t expecting anybody. Who can it be? Maybe it’s Grandma, maybe it’s some hot stud bull with a mouthful of rose-cud or maybe it’s Farmer Bob with the hydraulic, high-tension, automatic Cow Captor Plus. He flips the switch, pulls the lever and BLAM-O, it’s electrified fences and extra hours on the milking machine for you. Every time that door knocks, it could be anything, good or bad. And that door is always knocking. 24-7, that door’s knocking, and you have to get it. You just have to. If you let it keep knocking, it will drive you insane.

When you get freedom, you don’t just get freedom, you also get the fear of losing freedom. It’s what you do with that fear that will make the difference. Some folks load up on double-barreled pitchforks and hire a wild pack of sweet ninja escorts, some folks bolt the door with 30 locks and become hard-stinking hermits. But solitude isn’t freedom, and even though ninjas are sweet, being surrounded by them all the time isn’t freedom for a cow. Benjamin Franklin said when you exchange safety for freedom, you lose both. So I recommend making a subtle safety exchange that favors the continued enjoyment of some smooth, smooth freedom.

Take a deep breath, relax and think up some simple measures to watch your back. For instance: Never stay in the same place for too long. Learn how to turn around real fast at a moment’s notice, and do that as often as possible. Move in a zig-zag running pattern, making it harder to track you. Don’t ever have such a good time that you forget where you are or what you’re doing. Stay sharp. Stay on the lookout. And wherever you go, think out an escape route. These are things you can do on the down-low without anybody suspecting you of riding the E Train to freak town.

Thought of the day: Ninjas are sweet, but they aren’t sweet, sweet freedom.

Flip-flopping Like Flap-jack City

Dear Philosofly,

I’m worried my girlfriend is growing away from me. She’s turned her back on farm life with her folks and she started reading weird books, and all that is fine with me, but now she’s on a road trip – with a cow. She’s going places I’ve never been. She’s seeing things I’ve never seen, like mountains and big balls of twine and “Scenic Overlooks” and whatnot. I’m afraid she’ll decide that I’m not sophisticated enough for her and, okay, maybe she’s right, but what can I do to keep her interested in me?

Almost Gone, Luke

You’ve got three options:

1) Be the crying sap. This is the most popular option. All you have to do is sit around the house obsessing over whether or not she still likes you. You’ll eventually overanalyze yourself to pieces, rot out your own confidence and wind up leaving way too many desperate messages on her machine. You’ll also find that the uncomfortable silences follow you around like an oil slick. And after a good stretch of time, she’ll most likely dump you for all the reasons you feared, breaking your heart and leaving a big black mark on your future chances of being a positive contributing member to the dating public. Can you say ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’? On the other hand, if the crying sap thing works, then congratulations, you’ve discovered the co-dependent relationship and perhaps you'll find happiness in dysfunction.

2) Break it off. Sever it, cut it, chop it, dice it, lop it right off. Let her go and watch your sadness get ground up in the disposal like yesterday’s fruit peelings. Bob Marley said it best, “No woman, no cry.” If you got no woman, you probably ain’t crying. (In all fairness to the ladies, you ain't smiling, either.) Sure, you’ll feel ill from swallowing some pain and some pride, but it will be worth it. Everyone knows that the breaker-uppers are much better at re-entering the dating pool than the broken-offs. And you can't seriously believe that you've got your best love option this early in the game. Of the millions upon millions of people out there, you've had relationships with what? Like, five of them? So you’ve learned five letters of the alphabet and now you’ve mastered the language? I don’t think so. Then there are the changes people go through in their 20s. They are huge. We’re talking mass emotional mutations here, not to mention priorities that flip-flop like flap-jack city. Committing to someone this early is a huge gamble. I know too many people who stay in relationships because they are afraid of being alone. Let’s assess the current situation: You’re alone, and you’re in a relationship. So how much difference would it really make if you just beat her to the punch and made the separation formal?

3) Or you can forget the two options above and go with my personal favorite: “The Space Maker.” Also known as “The Sensitive One,” “Mr. Wonderful” and “Playing It Cool.” The name changes depending on where you’re from, but the end game is always the same: with you looking damn good. And all you have to do is let her go and do what she wants while being happy for her. How easy is that? But don’t go getting freaky on the fact that some of these experiences might be more important than you and that the distance means you could lose her. If you’re going to do that, just commit to Option 1 and save us all the flim-flam. You want her to see that you got your own adventures too, so go about digging in your own life while she goes about digging in hers. There’s nothing more magnetic than a dude with his own thing going on and she’ll be overwhelmed with how cool you are about her doing her own thing. The lack of jealousy, the genuine interest in her life (including stuff she does that has nothing to do with you), the supreme confidence in your relationship, those are things that win love at long distances. I guess it wins love at close distances too, now that I think about it.

Aching For a Jail-Breakin'

Dear PhilosoFly:

I’ve got the plan, the “grand scheme” if you will. I’ve even got a partner “on the outside,” I think, but in order to pull off this caper as I envision it, I need some assistance.

I mean, my assistant on the outside, my partner in paranoia, my overly earnest companion on the road to something new and different, she has come up with a program to liberate yours truly, but I am afraid that her plan is … well … too simple. “I’ll unlock the gate and let you out after Daddy-O has gone to sleep,” she tells me. That’s so simple it cannot possibly work.

Thus, my dilemma. I need to find some help “on the inside” willing to put their hoof, wing, paw, etc. on the line in order to aid me in my plans for self-liberation. Specifically, I need to find someone here in the barnyard that knows something about electricity.

The other aspect to my problem is that I have been confined, sequestered, relegated and remaindered to my own little corner of the barn, and all of my compatriots have been strongly urged not to associate with me “until I simmer down a little.”

Simmer down a little? Simmer down A LITTLE? I haven’t begun to simmer, I’ll tell you that right now.

So … how do I get the willing participation of some of my barnyard buddies? To help me escape? To “get with the program”? Hmmm?

Also, do you know how one would go about hiring some monkey farmhands? With jet-packs?

Aching for a jail-breakin’, R.C.

An old American philosopher, writer, handyman, a generally woodsy and bearded kind of man named Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” Your own mind, Raging Cow, is all you got in this world. It’s your mind and your mind alone (along with the several hundred pounds of Cow) that will set you free. But your mind is straight tripping on you. It’s dissing on the plan. You have a simple, beautiful plan involving a late night, an ally on the outside and an unlocked gate. Three steps to freedom. But that’s not enough. You want to make it complicated. You want an extra wing, hoof or paw to make you feel better. You want to know a little about electricity. Next thing you know you’ll think you need a wrecking ball, jackhammer, a 20-man shovel crew, 400 feet of orange tape, a license form the city and a yellow construction hat with holes cut in it for your ears. Sounds like you won’t be satisfied until you’ve sabotaged your own escape. So before you wreck the whole thing by not trusting yourself and getting all paranoid and unsure, I’m going to tell you what everyone else is telling you: SIMMER DOWN!! I love ya like a brother, but you got to chiiiiiiillllll.

So, relax, read a book, clear your mind and roll with the cud. And here’s how you get your barnyard so-called buddies to help you with your escape: You don’t. Their greatest contribution is staying the heck out of the way. Your alienation is your greatest asset now. And the less they know about your plans, the better. That’s all I’m going to say about that, I don’t want to annoy a smart cow by kicking a dead horse.

But I can’t say enough about monkeys wearing jet-packs. Monkeys are great. Jet-packs are great. Put the two together and you got yourself a revolution in funny home videos. Ever see that monkey who picked his butt, smelled his finger and fell out of the tree? If that monkey were wearing a jet-pack? It would have been funnier by a factor of 12. Seriously. And with the combined power of jet-packs and monkeys, you can have “Insta-monkey” any time, anywhere. You want to hang out with a monkey, call Insta-monkey and a little Curious George will be jet-packed to you presto-change-o, just like that. Never again will you have to endure long stretches of time without benefiting from the presence of a flying primate. Whether you need a farmhand or event entertainment, everybody could use an Insta-monkey. And for all of those people out there hating on the monkeys with jet-packs, I’ve got another Emerson quote for ya, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Remember that, Cow. So today’s Thought of the Day is compliments of the wise but smelly Ralph Waldo Emerson, the transparent eyeball himself.

Thought of the Day: To be great is to misunderstood, but to be a monkey with a jet-pack is to be even greater.


Setting Free the Cows

Dear PhilosoFly,

I know a very sad cow. The farm she lives on makes her miserable. (I can TOTALLY relate.) Would it be ok for me to set the cow free? I think she should experience life beyond the cattle guard.

Signed, a FED-UP farmer’s daughter

I’m assuming that you have exhausted negotiations with the farmer and he has made no concessions regarding this cow’s expanding of freedom within the confines of legal ownership.

Is it then moral to liberate what is not yours? From your perspective, yes, you should free the cow. No one else is going to do it, and you’re very capable. From the cow’s perspective, the answer is yes, absolutely. From the farmer’s perspective, the answer is no, that’s stealing, it’s wrong and you may have to face consequences if you are discovered.

At a first glance, the vote seems to be 2 to 1 in favor of freeing the cow. But what about the local community, how will it be affected? And will the cow’s removal disrupt the balance on the farm? And what do you plan to do with the cow after you’ve given her freedom? Are you going to make sure she doesn’t wind up in a worse situation than she is in right now? In thinking through all the elements of the situation, the answer will become totally clear.

The thought of the day: There are no simple votes.

On Falling Down ... And Getting Back Up

Dear PhilosoFly,

Those little collegiate punks have struck again, and it really cheeses me off. Three times last night – THREE times – yrs. truly was tipped. Do they have it in for me in particular or something? I mean, three times. In one night. Nobody gets tipped three times in one night. Nobody.

Did I mention they tipped me three times last night?

SOMEBODY was supposed to help me stay awake, though, weren’t they? Weren’t they?

I’ve fallen and I can barely get up, RC

That’s some hard luck RC, I’m sorry about that. Lame stuff just happens to everybody. We flies don’t have it so good, either. Try getting stuck in the throat of a cow for two days. As you know, the mouth of a cow is prime real estate, especially when it’s hot and sunny. But it’s also the most dangerous place to live. The best stuff is the most dangerous? What kind of a cruel trick is that? You’re relaxing on the cow lip. Having a good time. You decide it would be cool to hang out on the tongue, ‘cause that’s where all the action is. You find some friends and y’all start talking and dancing and then – boom. You’re stuck in the throat. But you come out OK a couple days later and get over it.

When it comes to getting cow-tipped in life, we all want to know what the chances are of avoiding it. We’ll shape our lives based on the safe percentage. But it doesn’t matter. In the end, you get tipped or you don’t. Bad luck is always 50/50.

The thought of the day: You can waste a lot of time trying to get around bad luck.

The Best Way to Tip a Cow

Dear PhilosoFly,

What’s the best way to tip a cow?

Rock on, The Rowdy Frat Guys


It’s definitely time for you fellas to look inside and see if you can’t find that intelligent person of interest within. Cow tipping is old school, boring. No creativity required. Very little risk involved. It’s kindergarten class compared to what people are pulling off these days. Where’s the pizzazz? You got no sizzle.

Hmm….

I wonder… What would TV do to jazz up the whole cow-tipping thing?

Ok… I can see it:

MEGADRENALINE BULL BATTLE. You’d have to drive a Lincoln Town Car filled with scorpions around a small platform suspended 100 feet in the air for 500 laps going about 90 mph. Then dive out of the car and parachute down onto the roof of a skyscraper, where a herd of wild mustangs tries to push you off the building. When you find your way to the ground, you meet 20 bulls that just got branded with your name on their backs. And wearing laser beam underwear on the outside of your jeans, you need to put a cowbell around each of their necks. I don’t know what laser beam underwear is, exactly, but you’d have to wear it carefully, I imagine. Also, there are nice prizes.

The thought of the day: The MEGADRENALINE BULL BATTLE is TV gold.

Haiku Is Your Friend

Dear PhilosoFly,

How can I be more accepting of the morons and imbeciles I have to share this farm with?

Yours, The Pig

It’s common knowledge that many folks suffer from the delusion that they are somehow smarter than everybody else. It’s like a medical condition. It’s not terminal, but it can create festering little angst blisters in your life, causing discomfort and inflammatory episodes.

Overcoming this condition will take some treatment. I’m not talking about prescriptions or physical therapy, I’m talking about work that you do with your heart. And since poetry is the pencil of the heart, and since those people seem to annoy you badly, try poking all of them with a haiku. The haiku is the best. It’s awesome. It’s a 17-syllable, three-line poem broken down into five, seven and five syllables, like this:

You mention morons. (5 syllables)
You mention the imbeciles. (7 syllables)
What about haiku? (5 syllables)

First, write some of your own. Your ultimate goal is to speak in haiku. Everyone will love you for it. Trust me.

The thought of the day: Do not be afraid. When you are alone or not, haiku is your friend.

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Eat What You Want

Dear PhilosoFly,

Can cows eat sushi?

Sincerely, RC

To those of you feeding your cow sushi: Culture is what separates civilized individuals from barbarians and pirates. So when feeding a cow sushi, it’s ideal to use chopsticks, so the cow can benefit from all those cultural aspects. And consider plus-sized chopsticks, because a cow’s mouth is a black hole and a regular pair of little chopsticks might get swallowed up.

Don’t forget the sushi condiments: Soy sauce, ginger and wasabi.

To all you cows out there, go out there and eat sushi. It’s the right thing to do. You got four stomachs and my full support. You can eat whatever you want. You could eat a brick if you put your mind to it.

Keep an eye out for sushi snobs. They will scoff at your avocado roll and seared salmon, but don’t let it get to you. Latest reports show that sushi snobs have a very low friendship success rate, so be nice to them, but still ignore them.

The thought of the day: You eat what you want… eventually.

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Sometimes a Fence Gets Your Back ...

Dear PhilosoFly,

How would you recommend a hoofed creature go about taking out a fence?

Imprisoned in pastures, RC

So you want to take out a fence?

Hooves or no hooves, here’s the secret: listen. Look for that common ground, the likes, the dislikes. Figure all that stuff out. Trust me, it won’t take long. Fences are simple things. If he likes you, you’ll see it pretty clearly. But, fences have sensitive wood and crossed wires, and as psychotic as it sounds, they will eventually accuse you of holding them down. That’s when you start kicking his post as hard as you can. After a while, he'll be on the ground, and you can just mosey on over him to freedom. Yes, it is that easy.

The thought of the day: Sometimes a fence gets your back, and sometimes a fence holds you back.

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Keep a Healthy Diet of Different

Dear PhilosoFly,

What do you like to eat?

Just curious, RC

I’m going to drive this topic severely off-road for a moment and say that I like the idea of wearing a brand new pair of socks every day. I’ve heard people talk about doing that and it sounds like the way to go. Just trying it for a week would be cool. I really appreciate the excess level of newness involved.

It’s a great approach for socks, but when it comes to food, instead of eating something new every day, I prefer something different every day. It’s kind of the same thing, but not really. As long as it’s different, I like it.

The thought of the day: Keep a healthy diet of different.

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The Less You Know ...

Dear PhilosoFly,

Is this all there is to life?

Milked out, RC

A guy covered in body piercings and tattoos walks down the street, painted gold from head to toe, playing a tuba and shooting lightning bolts out of a Hello Kitty helmet he’s got on his head. We look at him, shrug, and say, “Is that all there is?” After tens of thousands of years trying to be different and new, have we lost the ability to have an original idea? We do have a lot of reruns, retros, re-dones, rewinds, replays, and records.

I would say yes, this is all there is, if it weren’t for one thing: Science! Legions of dedicated scientists are out there working around the clock to ensure that our future holds, for us, unlimited bounds of freakish occurrences. It’s true.

You want to have hands on your feet like a monkey? Sure you do. Who wouldn’t? The surgical procedure will be introduced in 2025. Want to get carried around by your own personal 50-foot person? I know I would. They say 50-foot people will be hitting the shelves in 2033. Ever want to download your pet’s brain into a robot mo-ped and have it drive you around while you surf the Net and call your friends on a phone implanted on your eardrum? That’ll be what everybody’s doing, come 2015.

So buck up, camper, science is our freaky little friend and those nerdy lab jockeys are mixing up all kinds of tripped-out blends of ultimate individuality. And they’re doing it all for people like you.

The thought of the day: The less you know about the future, the more stuff you can make up.

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Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Dear PhilosoFly,

Moooooooo Mooo Moooooo.

Signed, the herd

I hear you, herd.

The thought of the day: Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Clones Are Confusable

Dear PhilosoFly,

Why doesn’t my dad understand I don’t want to take over his dairy farm one day? I just want to be me.

Signed, a farmer’s daughter

My guess is your dad is a clone. And all clones are bent on their own way. They do not accept change very easily, offering you endless opportunities to mess with their heads:

    If your dad doesn’t like what you’re wearing and asks you to change, tell him, “change comes from within.” Wait a while and then start changing clothes every fifteen minutes for the rest of the day.

    If he doesn’t like your boyfriend, tell him he’s more of a psychology experiment than a boyfriend. Go ahead and refer to your boyfriend as a “guinea pig.” Do that as much as possible.

    When dad talks about “the way” that “one” should live her life, tell him you saw a big crack in his bathroom mirror. While he’s checking it out, he’ll forget what he was doing and leave you alone. This only works once, if he has half a brain, so save it for when you really need it.

These simple things will put him in a state of confusion and after being confused for a while, clones tend to give up.

The thought of the day: Clones are confusable.

Fly on the wall
Cow, sweet cow