Handsome Joe Goes To The Petting Zoo

…and meets some goats


Sasha Explains It All

My Family: An Adventure In High Strangeness

I know what you’re thinking, folks. Everybody has a strange family, right? You’ve got that crazy aunt or that strange brother or the funny uncle or whomever. Every family has at least one strange member and many families have several.

Well, I’ve got you beat. Right off the bat, what you’re reading right now was written by a not quite 6 year old dog using the tentacles of the symbiotic air breathing octopus that she created in her ultra advanced genetics laboratory. You’re grandmother who drives in off road races can’t touch that.

At first, I was going to do this piece rating my family from least strange to most, but I’ll be damned if I can choose who is strangest. I do know that my human mom is the least strange, but after that, it pretty much comes down to fractions. Instead, I decided to go from youngest to oldest, so here you go.

Daisy, Age 3, Basset Hound: Daisy has been my sister for just over a year and is sweet, goofy (a term that applies to all of the Cross family) and as big a nerd as you’ll ever meet. No, really. I’ve seen her argue for hours about the best Star Trek series, the best Doctor or why a certain set of roleplaying rules sucks. She is into cosplay, filksinging and pretty much anything to do with fantasy or science fiction. On top of all that, she is also a brown collar in Drunken Fox style Dog Fu. I have seen her kick the ass of a brutish 120 pound mixed breed male, folks. She’s not cocky about her martial abilities and mostly comes off as a loveable & mildly hyperactive geek.

Her best pals and gaming/geek partners include humans, cats, dogs, pigs, rabbits and a skunk. (Janet, the same skunk that Flash had a drunken interlude with) They get together to play AD&D, watch Doctor Who or Star Trek or anime and do the Mystery Science Theater thing with bad old movies.

Daisy also enjoys painting (surrealist style), helping Dad cook and chasing squirrels.

Jazz, Age 4, Dwarf Longhair Portuguese Jungle Cat: There is mounting evidence that Jazz might be either a reincarnation of Janis Joplin or quantum psi linked to an existing Janis in some other reality. We’ll know more when my friend Stephen (whom I met via my friends Tony & Bruce) examines her.

Anyway, Jazz is the wife of my brother, Flash, and she is a top notch blues/R&B singer. She can really belt ’em out, but is also great at the slower tempo songs. Jazz also writes songs and, using an Ottopus (our name for the symbiont octopi) is learning to play guitar. She also likes boardgames (she’ll kill you at Settlers of Catan) and LARPs.

Jazz has only been married to Flash about a month, but we’ve all known her most of a year and she has known Flash for two years. Her early days are almost as much a mystery as Silky’s are. We do know she was born into a small family in Texas, but spent a couple of years “on the road”. At one point, she lived on Willie Nelson’s bus, but left because she got tired of being high all the time.

Jazz is a big fan of fish, both raw and cooked. She is also pretty fond of bacon, but then, who isn’t? She does not like Mexican food much.

Jazz also enjoys reading mystery novels, trying to convince Flash to start a family and chasing squirrels.

Flash, Age 5, Dwarf Shorthair Portuguese Jungle Cat: My brother, Flash Alexander Cross, was adopted into the family at 5 months old. He was born into a very large family (litter of 10!) but left home at 10 weeks old. Mostly, he just hung around with lounge singers, comedians & showgirls in Las Vegas until joining Mom, Dad, Lucy & Winker just before the trip to DogCon 3. He and Lucy became especially close, mostly because they were both prone to violence, property damage and other bad behaviors. However, contrary to some rumors, neither Flash, nor Lulu is a psychopath. They are just rowdy amoral goofballs with a profound lack of trust or respect for authority figures. See also: Daddy.

Flash is a HUGE fan of Frank Sinatra, but really enjoys many styles of music (he’s also a big fan of Warren Zevon, Pink and Bob Marley). He’s a pretty good singer, too. He also loves action and superhero movies. Despite only weighing 8 pounds, Flash is a 100% alpha male. He is known to have fathered at least 4 litters, back in his younger days.

Flash pretends to not like geeky things, but he really does. He’s a big Star Wars fan and his Wars vs Trek arguments with Daisy are legendary. He also loves LARPing at DogCon and playing video games.

Earlier this year, Joe and I built Flash a suit of Tony Stark style power armor so that he and Lulu could go to an alternate reality and kick ass on Nazis. When he wears it, he calls himself “Iron Cat”. Mom has still not completely forgiven me for making that suit. Fortunately, Mom & Dad make us keep the armor under Level 5 security most of the time.

When Lucy died in 2013, Flash just fell apart and started using catnip pretty heavily. When we revealed Lulu to him, he cried and cried and didn’t leave her side for days. Despite the way he talks all macho, like Daddy, he is a big old marshmallow inside.

Flash enjoys record collecting, fishing, trying not to become a father (which he will ultimately fail at because he likes sex) and chasing squirrels.

Me, Age 5.75, Basset Hound: I was born into a family of 5 puppies, a mom and a dad back on Jan. 2, 2009. I was adopted by a nice older man when I was 11 weeks old, but by the time I was 1.5 years old, he could no longer care for me properly and gave me to his daughter and son in law. They mostly kept me in their back yard or garage with two bigger dogs who were, to say the least, thick headed idiots. When Mom & Dad came to adopt me after the young couple had a baby and could no longer really care for any dogs, I was nervous, but glad to be gone. Little did I know that exposure to our bus (AKA The Magic Bus), would change me forever. But that’s for another rant.

My first love is working on machines and I am a pretty skilled mechanic, both on the ordinary and ultra tech levels. I have a pretty good knowledge of transtemporal/spatial theory and quantum foam vibration effect (the thing that keeps the realities apart). I’m also about at the PhD level for ordinary physics, chemistry and engineering. Gotta love being mentally connected to an Ottopus and a T-Control Computer.

About a year ago I undertook and passed a course on Mad Genetics from the Narbon Institute. It was loads of fun, gerbilsnake/gerbilspider/gerbilwolverine escapes notwithstanding. I later took the advanced course, which allowed me to create both my Ottopus symbiont, Otto, and my pet giant garden spider, Joyce. Genetics will always be fun, but will always take a backseat to mechanics for me. Nothing like getting grease on your tentacles.

I’m a pretty big geek, with a decided leaning towards RPGs, anything steampunk and superhero/kaiju/science fiction movies. I can play the piano well and my idols are Elton John and Fats Waller. My favorite food is an In N Out cheeseburger with bacon added. I’m also a really big fan of sex, which is why my FWB Buster and I hang out together. (Note to humans: No, ordinary spayed female dogs do not have a sex drive, but I’m not ordinary, am I?)

Although it is a subject of a future rant, I do feel obliged to say that, like Daddy, I am Mad. Not insane, really, but Mad. You might even say I’m barking Mad. Heeheehee.

Other things I enjoy include reading parts catalogs and quantum mechanical journals, rebuilding my 1959 Cadillac and chasing squirrels.


Silky, Age 8, Basset Hound: Silky has only been with us since Father’s Day of this year (2014), but she has fit into the family very well. Much like Mom, she lends an air (a thin air) of normality to things. It’s actually kind of amazing how quickly she got used to all our strangeness.

On the other paw, normal is relative and Silky has more than her share of strangeness. First off, she seems to channel the memories of somebody, canine or human, who lived through the 1960’s. Not all the time, but in flashes that last about a minute. This could explain why she is such a big fan of the Grateful Dead and other Bay Area groups. She and Jazz have some pretty interesting conversations.

Secondly, Silky does not speak about her first three years of life. If you ask, she just says “I was out and about and had some adventures.” Daisy thinks she was hanging with bikers and Flash thinks she was a spy. Whatever the case, those years might explain why she can speak fluent French, Owl, Hedgehog, German, Bear & Spanish AND how she knows so much about computers, security systems and baking.

Shortly after her third birthday, Silky was “sold into bondage” to an older Hispanic lady and her family and was used as a breeding bitch by the old ladies son & daughter in law. They bred her once a year for the next four years, then moved away. About a year later, the old lady gave her up for adoption and she came to live with us. She was VERY happy about that.

Silky likes boardgames and is getting into card games and RPGs. She really likes old school computer games and plays the hell out of Tetris. When it comes to food, she likes most types, but doesn’t eat broccoli or carrots. Her favorite television shows are CSI, Grimm and Downton Abbey. Musicwise, she likes soft rock and old country music.

Other things Silky enjoys include reading spy novels, writing her memoirs and chasing squirrels.

Lulu, Age 11.5, Robot Dog: Lulu was born Lucy and we know next to nothing about her early years except that some foul human woman kept her in a crate most of the day because the woman’s little dogs did not get along with her. That set the tone for the next 5.5 years of Lucy’s life until a couple rescued her. A few months later, Mom & Dad adopted her.

Lucy had many mental problems due to her terrible upbringing. She took years to get even partially better. Then, in early spring of 2013, she was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma. She died peacefully at the vet’s office on August 14th of that year.

Well, her body died. Her katra (a Vulcan word for intellect/life force/soul) had been transferred into a silicon brain by me a few days earlier. To make room for the best parts of her, I wiped most of her memories before she came to live here. I put in a vague memory of being a puppy, but everything after that and before Mom & Dad is a blank. We also gave her the new name of Lulu

Lulu’s original body was a cyborg deal that I kind of cobbled together quickly to get her new brain into. Later, she got a snazzy new body with an adamantium skeleton and a vibranium outer shell. She is damned near indestructible by anything here on Earth. She is powered by a mini sized Mr. Fusion, which is why she sometimes eats organic matter. She also sometimes eats inorganic matter that her nanotech innards use to repair her. If she needs to, Lulu can mount up to three weapon pods on her sides & back.

Lulu loves kaiju movies, robot movies, westerns and Marx Brothers comedies. In stark contrast to her appetite for destruction, Lulu likes to paint landscapes to relax. Her favorite food is carne asada tacos with a sprinkling of copper and titanium.

One little note here: That evil woman who mistreated Lucy? I used the bus to go back to the day after Lucy left her and gave her several crippling mental disabilities, chief among them agoraphobia, to keep her a prisoner in her own house. She also has a severe phobia of dogs. She will have these for the next 20 years or so. Fuck with my sister, fuck with me, bitch!

Other things Lulu enjoys are playing computer games, having cybersex with military grade autonomous robots and chasing squirrels and/or velociraptors.

Mom, Age 56, Human: Despite being mother to all of us and having been married to Dad for almost 18 years, my mom is a beacon of sanity & reason in our family. Well, most of the time. Sometimes even Mom has her moments.

There is less to say about Mom’s strangeness than there is to say about her acceptance of strangeness in others. Which, if you think about it, is pretty strange in itself. And kind of recursive.

Mom is the eldest of 4 children born into a Catholic family. Fortunately, she got better. She is also a veteran of the United States Army.

Anyway, Mom takes most of our shit in stride, but when she slams down the law, we all are quick to step & fetch & straighten up. She has “The Mom Look” down to a fine degree. She has been known to stop Dad, Flash & Lulu dead in their tracks.

Mom very much enjoys going to school and learning things. She usually has a 4.0 average, which boggles Daddy, whose philosophy in school was “if it ain’t an F, it’s ok by me”. When she retires, Mom plans on taking classes for the rest of her life.

Activities Mom enjoys are reading, doing stuff on computers and taking naps. So far as I know, she has never chased a squirrel.

Dad, Age 60, Human: My three favorite things about Daddy are that he loves animals, is very funny and, like me, he’s mad as a March Hare. Really, if you don’t think Daddy has paid in full the toll that madness takes, go read the Doclopedia. Actually, I’ve found that a great many creative types are Mad.

My least favorite thing about Daddy is that explaining anything more technological to him than a hammer is pointless. What really makes it frustrating is that he uses ultra-tech with no problem. I’ve seen him pick up a Thovian Cellular Knitter and use it to heal a cut as though he were taught to do it from birth. But if I try to tell him how it works, his eyes glaze over and he starts thinking about beer or something. He does that when Mom tries to explain computer stuff, too. Sometimes you want to just hit him on the head.

Daddy is the eldest of three children and was raised way out in the country on a farm. Actually, Grandma used to say he and his sibs were less “raised” than they were “prevented from getting killed”. She also said that Daddy resisted becoming fully civilized until he was in his 30’s. Most of us think the jury is still out on his civilized status.

Mom says she and Daddy met on a computer BBS back around 1994. Daddy says they met when she pulled a thorn out of his paw. Whatever the case, they got married in 1996 and are coming up on 18 years of wedded bliss, even though there are days when I expect Mom to use the bus to go back and marry a nice sane guy.

Daddy is a dedicated roleplaying gamer and an avid boardgamer. He’s also a first class cook, has a good singing voice and is, so I’m told, that rare human male that will willingly clean a toilet at home.

Daddy has many hobbies and interests, including Sherlock Holmes, collecting books, writing, traveling, collecting little plastic figures of all kinds, gardening, basset hounds, wildlife, being deliberately goofy and eating insanely hot & spicy foods. Rumor has it that he has chased more than his share of squirrels.

So there is my family. Strange as all hell, but I love them.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross

No Escape From Bunnyland

…and they are NOT nice bunnies


The Doclopedia #1,163

Fish Of the Day: Yelling Carp

This fish is a large blue-gray carp that periodically comes to the surface to yell things in a surprisingly human voice. This always scares the hell out of most humans and animals nearby. During the Yelling Carp mating season, the rivers and lakes are very noisy.

The Yelling Carp grows to a length of 8 feet, weighs up to 100 pounds and can live 75 years. Things they yell include HELP!, MURDER!, HEY YOU!, SONOFABITCH! and PISS OFF!, among many others.

Many communities hold “Kill A Yelling Carp” days, but the wily fish are hard to find when threatened.

The Doclopedia #1,164

Fish Of the Day: Ghostfish

Throughout the multiverse, there are many game fish that can really challenge anglers, but none so much as the Ghostfish. Found in coastal waters all around the Pacific Ocean on Earths 4,11, 28, 59 and 136, the Ghostfish is tricky to catch because it can become incorporeal at will.

Most of the time, the meter long fish, which travels in schools of up to 200 individuals, is a beautiful pale white with light blue streaks. When it decides to go ghostly, it fades to near invisibility and can pass through solid matter as easily as it swims through water.

Catching a Ghostfish often means using various arcane charms, specially enchanted hooks and Vibroshrimp as bait.

My Life Among The Crazy People

…AKA my friends and family

The Doclopedia #1,127

Strange Bandanas: The Purple Paisley One

I own hundreds of bandanas. Many of them have strange stories connected to them. Here is one…

Oh, the stories I could tell of my faithful purple paisley bandana! There was that time, in 1964 East Berlin, when I used it to escape the hot pursuit of several assassins. Or the weekend in 1985 when, using the bandana in just the right way, I was able to seduce that famous actress, <NAME DELETED FOR SECURITY PURPOSES>. Oh, my friends, that was a weekend to remember!

I cannot even count the ways the purple paisley has helped me survive in jungles, deserts and other hostile places. And when it comes to confusing a deadly alien long enough to grab a ray gun and give it hot laser death, that bandana cannot be beat!

Can there be any doubt why the purple paisley bandana is among my favorites?


The Doclopedia #1,128

Strange Bandanas: The White One

I own hundreds of bandanas. Many of them have strange stories connected to them. Here is one…

My white bandana was created some time in the 12th century by an old woman later burned as a witch. She was a witch, but a good one, pure of heart and kindly. Upon her death, her spirit went into the bandana, where it resides to this day.

When I wear it, the white bandana offers me protection from evil and grants a good amount of extra healing…as long as I’m being good. When I am not being good, the bandana will use it’s powers to cause me to become incontinent.

As you can imagine, I seldom wear this bandana.

The Wildly Improbable, Yet Still Down To Earth, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Yellow Elephant

…featuring her good friend, Selma Pookinwinkel

The Doclopedia #950

Things You Should Not Do: Steal Vink Eggs

Despite the fact that the eggs of a Vink are delicious, nutritious and large, you take your life in your hands every time you rob a Vink nest. The female Vink can weigh up to 1,800 pounds and has terribly dangerous claws on all four feet. The beak is also razor sharp and if the Vink in question is a Crested or a Five Striped Vink, it will be able to spit highly acidic stomach fluids. Don’t think about running, because an adult Vink can hit 75 miles an hour and keep it up for half an hour.

Then there’s the problem of Nest Worms. These are actually a sort of caterpillar that live in Vink nests and eat Vink feces. The measure up to 10 inches long and have strong jaws that can deliver a painful and poisonous bite.

So, as we said, you should not steal Vink eggs.




The Doclopedia #951

Things You Should Not Do: Go Into The Goblinwood

Air yew crazy inna head, laddie? Yew dunna just go a’walkin’ inta the Goblinwood! I dunna care how many ye be, it’s the bleedin’ GOBLINWOOD! If there be a million of ye, the Goblins’ll still outnoomber ye a’hunnert ta one! An’ even if yer wee magical trinkets give ye all sorts of protection agin’ tha Goblins, will they protect ye from tha Trolls, Ogres, Slimes an’ other beasts what’ll eat ye as soon as look at ye? Them swords may be sharp an’ ye might be good wi’ ’em, but ye’ll still end up dead or worse.

Oh, ye’ve got a Wizard an’ a Cleric ta go wit’ ye, have ye? Well then, that’ll make ye safe as houses, won’t it? Oh yeah, nuthin’ ta fear…until ten thousand screamin’ hellspawns come outta the ground ta drag yer fancy Wizard ta Hell an’ a Dark Stalker takes yer Cleric down wit’ one swipe o’ his cold clawed hand!

Ah, bugger the lot of ye! Go off inta the bleedin’ Goblinwood an’ if ye come back, ye can buy me a wee drink an’ tell me how wrong I was.

Not In This Issue: Italian Shoes, Kumquats or Hydrothermal Vents

…but we do have quilts

The Doclopedia #926

The Alphabet: P

P is for…Peaches & The Creamettes: These four young ladies (Janet, Katy, Nancy & Dixie) from Atlanta, Georgia, were one of the most popular girl groups of the early 1960s. They first got into the music scene in 1957 when, as sophomores in high school, they got work singing backup for “Guitar” Bill Calhoun on one of his albums. Over the next three years, they worked steadily with such acts as The Charmers, Jackie Hull, Lance Marvel, The Knights of Blues and Doreen Pearl.

In 1960, they were signed to the Gold Moon record label and given the name Peaches & The Creamettes. Their very first single “Johnny Boy”. Went to number two on the charts and got them on many national television shows. This was followed by several more hits over the next three years, including “I’m Waiting For Him”, “Dancing In The Gym”, “Summer Sweetie” and their biggest hit, “Magic Love”.

Like many early 60’s groups, Peaches & The Creamettes fell out of the public eye with the coming of the British Invasion. They broke up the act and either got married or went to college. Dixie got her PhD in Economics and eventually wound up working for the Carter administration. Katy became a veterinarian. Janet was a stay at home mother and Nancy was a working mother with her own catering business.

When the 50s/60s nostalgia craze hit in 1980, the group got back together for a series of shows and a new album, “The Return of Peaches & The Creamettes”. Both they and the album were well received.




The Doclopedia #927

The Alphabet: Q

Q is for…Quilt Woman: The legend of the Quilt Woman is well known throughout the homeless population of Canada. The legend goes that on cold nights, this old and dirty looking woman wanders the streets pushing a shopping cart full of all manner of things. When she sees some poor soul huddled asleep in a doorway or other spot, she pulls a heavy quilt from her cart and covers them with it. Those who have gotten this gift report that the quilts keep you toasty warm on even the coldest nights. They even seem to warm the ground, floor or pavement underneath you. Nobody who has one of these quilts will ever give it away. If one is stolen, it always seems to wind up back with the proper owner within a day or two.

Nobody knows who or what the Quilt Woman is, but she’s not a ghost, because she has been videotaped many times over the years. Attempts by the police to bring her in for questioning her have all been unsuccessful so far. She has yet to even leave fingerprints anywhere. Asking the homeless for help in finding her is pointless, as they will never tell the cops anything about her.

Spider And Blondie Encounter Cattle And Goats

…in the middle of the night in the rain

The Doclopedia #925

The Alphabet: O

O is for…Orbital Eye: Science has no explanation for the Orbital Eye that circles Earth 87. It is known to have entered out solar system sometime in 1966 and reached Earth on March 7, 1969. It orbits at an altitude of 1,000 miles and alters its orbital path a couple of times a day. In the course of a couple of months, it looks at every spot on the planet. The Eye is 100 miles across and is a living entity of some sort. It appears to subsist on solar energy. It will let spacecraft get within 50 miles of it, but will move away rapidly if they get any closer.

The Eye has never done anything but look down upon the planet, but it has had a profound effect on science, politics, popular culture and especially religion. There are at least 90 new religions that worship it. Most of them are cults. On July 23, 1998, the Eye blinked twice in the course of 5 minutes. Several religious leaders declared that the end of the world was near because the Eye was getting ready to fire a heat ray. Of course, this never happened.