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The Mystery of the Missing (Fill in the Blank)

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom by the sea known to its inhabitants as "The Coastside." It was comprised of several small communities, strung along the coast like glittering jewels in a pirate's treasure chest. And indeed, each of the communities was a treasure chest brimming with secrets, controversies and passions.

The Coastside was a land ripe for mystery, and it was no surprise to its inhabitants that the mysteries began to weave and twist and unravel in the online forum of its local newspaper. On a clear, moonlit night just after Thanksgiving, one of the many anonymous Talkabout participants began a thread designed to illuminate the darkest corners of the Coastside.

Inspired by such grand Talkabout characters as Secret Squirrel, Rosemary Potatoes, Scorekeeper, Billy Bones, Tawdry Glamour, Rocky Cliffs and a host of other venerable (and happily anonymous) literary geniuses, The Great Mysterious embarked upon a mystery thread whose story could be continued by anyone with half a brain and most of a sense of humor.

Our story begins when a door slams, a crash sounds and a voice calls out...

(to be continued...or not?)


the voice calls out "Where oh where is Paul Perkovic to expand this lone sentence into an epic length historic novel"?

And over the rocky cliffs, and up from the dank cesspools, wafts a deeply sulfurous smell...and then...

"Hark! Who goes there?"

And the long-shuttered doors of the House of Charts swung open to reveal...

A shrouded figure, neither man nor ghost (or perhaps both) who moaned in a tortured voice, "You - you - must help me, for I was once ruler of this kingdom you call the Coastside. Long before the LCP and CCF and all those other acronymous, acrimonious tribes, I reigned supreme over this land. And now I have been captured and held hostage by..."

Before the figure could utter a definitive syllable, it collapsed outside the door of the ramshackle bungalow of Mack Montara, Coastside P.I.

Mack lit a cigar and gazed contemplatively down out the ragged bundle on his doorstep. Another door-to-door campaigner? Nah, that was last month. Wayward streaker covered in rags by high school officials -- or maybe one of those poorly dressed bad-behavior-at-the-library kids? Yeah, either was a possibility...

Just as he was trying to decide whether to drag the figure into his house (did he need a permit for that?) or just leave it there until after he finished the notes on his latest investigation, a sleek Mercedes SUV roared up to the curb and out stepped...

Chief Cole, who was mugged by...

...we will never know because the post was deleted by Clay for being racist.

Meanwhile, back at the offices of the HMB Review, editor Clay Lambert and ace investigative reporter David Smydra were hard at work on a groundbreaking story. Revolving around the intricacies of breaking ground on the Coastside, it was fraught with Evil Developers, Strident Environmental Activists and Slippery Local Officials.

These were Serious Journalists, both bored and bone-weary from the verbal babysitting and pacifying required by the monstrous playpen called Talkabout. True, Clay pondered his journalistic code of ethics long and hard before deciding not to delete the post claiming Chief Cole had been mugged by -- an Alien.

The poster had claimed the assailant was, after all, a vibrant green Spaceship Alien with googly eyes and wiggly antennas. As far as he knew, there was no law against chronicling their antics.

As it turned out, it didn't matter anyway, because Rosemary Potatoes -- a devotee of a brisk daily constitutional -- strode by Mack's house just as the Spaceship Alien was thinking about pulling a fast one on Chief Cole.

Reaching into her trusty pocketbook, she drew out a harpoon and skewered the SA like a shish kebob, bearing it triumphantly home to add to her Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Soup.

However, in the neighborhood around Mack Montara's bungalow, the action was just beginning to heat up. In fact, someone was about to get A Fiery Wake-Up Call.

Mack couldn't believe his bloodshot eyes when he saw...

Enraged homeowners bearing pitchforks and torches, and one man armed with a dull Skil saw, about to do battle with...

... excuse me, I'm LOL so hard, I can't type...

Anon was LOL so hard that his mouth widened to the point that a developer was pursuing plans to build a subdivision there. After 24 years of wrangling, it was determined that the trace amounts of saliva in Anon's mouth classified the area as protected wetlands. As a result, the new site of the middle school will be ...

Outer Space! That was it!

CUSD officials, gathered for a kaffe klatsch on one of Half Moon Bay's Very Local Non-FranchisedMain Street coffee shops, chortled and guffawed with glee (and not a small amount of relief). Their ongoing problems were solved by an idea that had dawned upon one of their members as Rosemary Potatoes skipped by the window on her way to Cunha's, brandishing her newfound Space-Alien-On-A-Stick.

The skewered SA catalyzed creative thoughts, and it was soon agreed that they would simply shoot the kids into Outer Space each day, leaving it to gravity to retrieve them at the end of the schoolday (and thus solving the Kelly Street traffic debacles and afterschool library mayhem with one neat trick).

Meanwhile, the mob outside Mack Montara's place was growing larger. Sabers and chainsaws rattled. And from out of the shadows of a rare endangered wetlands bush stepped...

...could it be? Where those pitchforks in the distance? Large pieces of wood...so..difficult..to make out. My words...it isn't..it couldn't be...large signs on sticks? Are eyes deceiving me?? They are picketing...they are wooden signs on sticks!

And front and center is the famous StreetsLucinda, savior of all that was, crusader against all that could be, brandishing a pot of home brewed, not from your local franchise -- thank you very much, coffee. Feet planted squarely in the dark, mushy land of wet, she readies the picket army to...

...attack whatever hideous beast would emerge from the wetland scrub. Staggering forth from the creekside, covered in pond scum was the developer, holding several red-legged tree frogs. When faced with the prospect of being torn limb from limb by the angrybmob, the developer explained that he became desperate after his diabolical plans to fill every empty space with subdivisions had been thwarted once again. His only course of action was to capture all the endangered amphibians and put them in the only place where he did not plan to develop -- inside the baggy pants of the students hanging out at the library...

But before he could escape, Mack, the pi screamed "Those signs are from the last election! It's ok". But then he bumped into Lane Lees who was meeting Chief Cole, and Mack's cigar fell in the grass and started a fire. Just then Paul Perkovick showed up with a laptop, generator, copies of the MWSD meeting minutes for 15 years and a lawyer. As the fire started to spread and the crowd began to panic, he opened his mouth and said..........

Oh pleaaaaaase let them streak

Something erudite but unintelligible, for he was drowned out by a the shrill cry, "cuckoo-cuckoo-cuckoo" and the answering call of the loofah, whose soft but relentless scratch-scratch-scratching had driven him nearly insane these long months...Meanwhile, the fire was beginning to spread, but the fire department couldn't reach it because...

a cement truck hit a tractor trailer just east of 92 and main st and traffic was backed up for miles. The Point Montara fire station was unmanned, and now Perkovick screamed I'll turn the water on the new well on, let me just talk to the Coastal Commission, but he was drowned out by the cries of the mob who had turned to look at Devil's Slide. Just then...........

...no, the fire trucks were fighting the blaze and people were blocking the camera's view of the action...

Which would have revealed the heroic bucket brigade, formed all the way down Highway 1, stretching far past the airport and into the foggy distance. Even the lords and ladies of the distant southern colony could not help but come out from behind their castle walls, to see and admire. And who would save our fair towns? Surfers, librarians, ranchers, students...

no, it would be the illegal aliens... bringing hundreds and thousands of pitchers and glasses of water from It's Italia, Pasta Moon, Mezza Luna, Sam's and the Half Moon Bay Inn..just when the fire seemed under control, Mike Ferreira arrived on the scene and

and shouted get off this property. Everything between the Chart House, the beach, Devils Slide and Alta Vista Well has been purchased by the City of Half Moon Bay for a park. The crowd chanted "Whose going to pay, whose going to pay, and the City Council said.........

Made a brilliant observation that no one else had.

Like so many other times in the past, Mike's acute powers of observation and analysis once again came to the fore. "Hey, what happened to that ragged bundle on Mack Montara's doorstep?"

There was no sound except for the cheerful crackling of flames in the eucalyptus trees. The crowd's eyes rolled as one toward the rough concrete step, now empty except for a few ancient cigar butts and a bright red puddle of blood.

It was true: the figure was gone. But where? And who would provide the overheated Coastsiders with much-needed answers now?

Would it be Mike or...

Meanwhile in Outer Space, a gaggle of giggling green (Space) Aliens watched the Coastside chaos with delight.

Their cybersignals, flung like blogging bolts of lightning through the charged atmosphere, scrambled the signals on Talkabout, confusing even The Great Mysterious.

However, despite the apparent breakdowns in the Talkabout plot, everything was going exactly as planned. Exactly one month ago, the savvy Space Aliens had sent down one of their own creatures, disguised as a prominent local official (well-versed in the LCP and County statutes). They'd been a bit worried that their masquerading marauder would be found out immediately. However, their fears were baseless: the creature merged effortlessly into the Coastside political scene.

In fact at this very moment, in a typical house in HMB, it looked at itself in a mirror and was pleased to see that face gazing back at it was that of noneother than...

met up with Charise McHugh who was regaling all within earshot that by 2020 we would have plants in the medians but would never Carmelize Moon Bay..where upon Dave and Deborah wildly applauded in between sips of

Chilled yet potent Anti-Cosmopolitans, served in environmentally-friendly stemware.

Refreshed by her politically correct cocktail, Deborah whipped out her cell phone and speed-dialed Mack Montara, Coastside PI.

"Mack, it's Deb. I've got a sizzling new case for you -- spare no expense! I need you to find out..."

if Bev Cunha is available..she has the goods on everyone in town..lets all rendevous at Johnny's..see if that round table in the corner is open..

"Okay, Debster, I'm on it, " Mack growled into his antiquated mobile phone, which was quite hot by now due to all the flames in the neighborhood and everyone squabbling over the trickle of brownish water that was available to put it out.

"I hear ya loud and clear," he continued. "Or at least I would if only I got cell phone service in Montara. But before I take on this case, I have one really BIG question -- and that is..."

Could Marina and her posse over at City Hall re-route some of that 4.6mil in the police buidget to my coffers. I have expenses you know..new cell phone, wardrobe, disguises and gas for Bev's guzzling white sedan that

is just as big as her eye glasses. I'm so glad the whole coastside community came together to help Bev put her store back together so that she could sell it and hang out with me. I just love the plaque that is hanging in the store thanking all the people who helped restore it, but why is my name not on there? Happy Day!

blazing hot video from the Pumpkin Festival. From the room next door, came the muffled sounds of someone saying, "Oh! Spank me!"

"Deb, what the heck are you saying?!?! Goldang this gosh-durned cell phone reception anyway!"

Mack shook his head over the Coastside ruckus coming over the airwaves (wait: did cellphones use airwaves?). Oh, well, no matter: he had a case – and a big one from the sound of it.

Dreaming of sleek Mercedes SUVs, pristine white sedans and shiny red fire trucks (which by now had surrounded his house), he hopped into his rusted-out Dodge Dart and made a beeline for HMB.

However, his eager progress was thwarted as he made his way down Highway One, now blocked in front of Harbor Village by an enormous...

truckload of clams which was being delivered to Mezza Luna who had planned a surprise lunch for

Sheriff Munks! Meanwhile, the scandalized Ms.Betty Dubal, hidden in the shrubbery outside the restaurant, was ready to launch...

a firecracker at the el granada fire department. She wanted to see if they were awake, and how long it would take for them to respond to the ...

...to respond to the alarm sent out by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District because of the ghastly PMs Web Link they thought were coming from the deadly human owned wood burning devices they thought were emitting all that smoke.

Not knowing that the clouds of particulate matter were actually coming from natural organic eucalyputus (a protected class, being an alien minority) BAAQMD had called out the Fire Folk!

Meanwhile, back in the shurbbery...

An unsuspecting skateboarder said "dude" for the last time when Ms. Betty Duball lunged at him after he ran over her toe, which had been carelessly poking out of the shrubbery. Meanwhile...

Overhead a large bird circled, spirling ever closer on the gentle coastal currents.

From Wavecrest came a cry, "It's a Perigrine Falcon!" The man swung the high power binoculars around and cried, "Look! See! I see the bird! It is a rare falcon!"

He jumped up and down in excitement. From up the coast another voice hollered, "No, that's just a giant anonymous canary! Don't you see the camera clutched in his talons?"

A local representative of the Audubon Society grabbed the binoculars, quickly swiping the lenses with an enviromentally friendly cleaner made from processed MWSD...(uh, was it well water or from the sewer plant...I forget...). "You big silly! That's not a falcon, it's Cathartes aura! A Turkey Vulture." The Audubon Lady handed back the sparkling clean binoculars and added, "I think you'd better do something with the skateboarder..."

And then...

The Venerable Chessmaster said, "I'm famished after all this thinking. Let's go out to eat!"

And they thought, and they thought, but none could decide where to go, to find healthy, nourishing vittles on the seaside. So they went to the Harbor to find a fish dinner. Lo and behold, all the seafood specials had been crossed out, with "Goat" written in crayon over every item.

"Oh well," said the Chessmaster," I'll have the Goat n' Chips with a side of those great rosemary potatoes!"

And, then...

... far off in a remote dark corner of Montara, a secret society known only as the "LCP" was holding a meeting of the Grand Wizard and his high priests. They discussed their latest evil plot to purge the coastside of all human activity.

And the Grand Wizard spoke thusly: "Our powerful weapon, the red-legged frog, has served us well. We have destroyed many attempts of human progress and enjoyment: the devil's slide bypass, the boys and girls club, a new middle school, soccer fields ... but, of late our power is dissipating and we need to find a new source of power. High priests, join me in our chant to the evil lords of the Coastal Commission..."

And their voices rose in unison:

NIM ... BY

NIM ... BY

NIM ... BY


and then...

...Giulia Bambino strode into that room in the remote, dark corner of Montara, a paper crackling in her fist. Shaking the paper in the face of the Grand Wizard, she asked, "Would you like to look at our menu? And our special today is red legged frog pickled in Coca Cola."

Meanwhile back at the...

Meanwhile, back at the harbor, Ms. Betty Duball was faced with the quandary of disposing of the skateboarder she'd offed. One thing she hated was messes -- and this impertinent young dude was one bloody mess. Ms. Betty looked around for a public trash can (a rarity on the Coastside) and was pleased to find one just behind what she liked to think of as That Towering New Monster Mall.

Crafted in the cunning shape of an artisanal (Fair Trade) coffee cup, it was already festooned with campaign stickers for the 2008 election ("lucindastreets for president!!!!"), but, well, you couldn't have everything. With the strength of a thousand grinches, she hoisted the gnarly dude into the cup and briskly slammed down the lid.

Now if that didn't show Today's Youth who was boss, she couldn't imagine what would!

Meanwhile, in HMB, a Battalion of Assorted Old-Guard Bigwigs was impatiently sipping cappuccinos and glaring at their Rolex watches as they waited for Mack Montara, Coastside PI (still stuck in the clam spill traffic on Highway One) to arrive.

Suddenly, right in the middle of Main Street...

...a Latino youth tried to cross the street in the crosswalk, but was run down by a speeding, rusty F150 with a 'Coastside Minutemen' bumpersticker.

A crowd gathered around the injured youth and began to discuss his fate. A 40-somthing white, upper middle class mother checked her manicure, tossed her perfectly highlighted blond hair and announced to anyone who was listening that her child would never meet the same fate because he attended a local private school that taught children advanced truck-dodging in the 1st grade.

Just then, the paramedics arrived, but their progress was blocked by the crowd who shouted that the unfortunate boy's parents should be rounded up and sent back to Mexico right away, or at least as soon as his mom finished vaccuming their living room and his dad picked an adequate supplied of fresh flowers for their latest centerpiece because, after all, if was the holidays and we must stay in the holiday spirit at all costs.

At that very moment, the ship of Green Aliens landed in front of HMB Feed and Fuel. The door to the ship slowly creaked open as steam rose from the bowels of the craft, revealing ...

rocky cliffs, dressed in pink and waving a peace sign. He emerged from the bowel of the ship and raised his hands in the air to quite the crowd. When all were quite he said, "cuckoo...cuckoo...cuckoo." The people in the crowd all looked at each other curiously, wondering what those aliens had done to the poor, compassionate conservative, then . . .

Hundreds and hundreds of tourists!

The Space Aliens had come from a highly advanced capitalist consumer culture in the galaxy Andromeda, and were eagerly anticipating the Nights of Light celebration, which they had been observing for years from their home planet...

Meanwhile, down at the other end of town, the Knights of Columbus were sharpening their swords, in preparation for...

...in prepartaion for helping the I.D.E.S society carve their Chamarita Beef for their annual free feeding of the community at the Festa do Espiritu Santo, otherwide known as Chamarita.

On the other side of town...

..on the other side of town the "Latino" youth regained consciousness and cried, "I am not a Latino! The US government does not recognize Portuguese as being Latino! My family is from Pico! My grandfather came here as a whaler!"

AT the edge of the crowed, clad in a "Farm Bureau" sweater, Scorekeeper winked, adjusted his "Farm Bureau" cap and headed for the open fields (now fairways) at Ocean Colony where, right out in the open the following was transpiring...

The mild-mannered librarians were donning karate costumes, in preparation for their martial arts training. It was going well.

Up the hill, at the high school, the coach was admonishing the basketball team to "Talk with their pads," when a player broke in and said, "But, we're the GIRLS team!"

Meanwhile, down at Oceanside Hardware, a strange customer appeard and asked for...

A rattling saber and a handy dandy Organic Veg-O-Matic Goat Chopper & Roaster, the perfect additions to a Coastside holiday dinner party.

Meanwhile, over at Coastsider Mr. P, pencil behind his ear, squinted over the top of his half glasses, pulled off his green eyeshade and glanced over at a neighboring desk. Someday he would rate a glass enclosed office (with ocean view)all to himself, but for now this broom closet (steaming hot from the raging server that served up Coastsider.com pages) would have to do. He adjusted his sleeve garters and made his decision. He had the star reporter to cover this story! The unfolding tale of mayhem, carnage, feasting, golf and arriving aliens!

He took a deep breath and called out in a loud voice, "...

"Bovillator, I require your esteemed wisdom and cutting-edge video expertise. There's a smokin' story out there, and you are the most laudable of my faithful to have penetrated the inner chambers of Talkabout. I may have a press pass, but you've got the street cred. I bid you to go forth and film!"

With that, Mr. P sighed and went back to reading his tattered copy of "1984."

Meanwhile, back at the Farm Bureau...

All the animals were dancing about singing,"With a neigh and a moo and a cockadoodle-doo, everybody promenade two by two" . . .

Mesmerized by the scene before him, Scorekeeper adjusted his "Farm Bureau" cap and surveyed the dancing "animals." Wait a minute: those weren't animals at all. They were City Council members and LCP leaders dressed in animal suits (leftover from their Halloween/Election revelries). And they appeared to be intoxicated.

A "donkey" stumbled over and licked Scorekeeper on his astonished face. "Hey, M--I mean--Master, come join us for some ollalieberry wine. Rosemary Potatoes made it to go with her Alien Stew, but she offered us the leftovers and it's really terrific!"

A City Council member in elephant garb gathered her fellow council-ites and began to lead a drunken rendition of a Rockettes-style dance to the tune of "New York, New York," changing the lyrics to:

"If we can make here, we'll make it anywhere -- we're the Rulers of Half Moon Bay!!!!!!!!!!"

Meanwhile, within the guarded gates of Ocean Colony...

A Botox party to aid starving Illegal Children and other Public Schoolers was in full force.

Vintage champagne flowed like water (in places other than the Midcoast) and lowfat caviar canapes fed the starving Ocean Colony women, exhausted from early morning personal training sessions and shopping for outfits to wear to the holiday charity events at the Ritz. But inside those beautifully coiffed heads, brilliant brain cells were firing and vendettas were being forged.

One thing was certain: this would be a holiday season to remember, especially since...

...since the live Nativity Scene had been banned at Our Lady of the Pillar by Peta and the ACLU.

Yes, it would be a holiday season to remember because, in addition to this...

CCWD Larimer was planning to announce since he can lay the biggest pipe anytime anywhere, in the spirit of the season he would distribute Arrow bottled water to all MWSD board members, but residents would have an increase on their prop.tax bill if they wanted any. Just then Billy Bones pulled up on Harley with Mack the PI on the back and.......

quickly pulled off his helmet, lined with tin foil of course, and came up with a quick one liner to show his supreme intelligence over all the other Talkabouters saying, "the nutcases must all be out on furlough," but just as the words squeezed out of his cracked lips he was hit in the back of the head with a burst of water from a group of pissed off firefighters and . . .

...a dozen parched Montara residents wrestled the hapless fireman to the ground and fought over his hose. After the first one took a long, satisfying gulp of the water, he proclaimed, "wow, it tastes pretty good without that petroleum aftertaste." After the fireman regained consciousness...

He and the others heard a strange sound. The waters of the ocean had rushed out of the harbor. All of a sudden, they could see an enormous wall of water rushing back in, straight for the...

...rushing straight for the Tsunami signs that warm people to head for higher ground. Fortunately a few people were actually able to read them before they (signs and slowpokes) were washed away.

The good news is, many were able to scramble to the roof at Harbor Village and take cover. The bad news is, the gulls from the former Venice Beach also sought refuge there, leading LCPers and Peta supporters to say, "Can't well all just get along?"

In other locations on the shoreline...

Up the debris strewn former beach stumped a tall figure in a flapping overcoat, a dark fedora pulled low over his face. His gait was somewhat unsteady and he could be heard muttering as he made his way forward. As he approached it became apparent that his unruly gait was due not to over-indulgence in certain adult beverages, but to the tall wooden stilts he was using that he was not yet proficient enough to handle.

"I'll tell you how these saved my life," he said, indicating the wooden contraptions strapped to his legs. "By the way, these are made of eucalyptus, a noxious weed and so they need not even be sustainablely harvested. MWSD has gotten a grant to hire legal green card workers to manufacture them."

He stopped and leaned against what was left of MWSD offices for support.

"Just for the record, my comments here in this thread on TalkAbout have not been pre-authorized or pre-cleared by MWSD staff or other members of our board. That is the reason I always indicate that my postings regarding MWSD issues are written from my own perspective and represent only my own opinions (even though, in most cases, I suspect that our staff and other board members would concur with my hysterical summaries and other voluminous background information). Furthermore, if I accidentally write something that turns out to be non fiction, I do not want to expose the District to potential liability.

"When I comment on non-MWSD-related issues, I am just an ordinary citizen of the community, like everyone else. I might have access to more detailed data (such as my monthly selection from the Writer's Book Club(tm) and from years of literary experience in the public sphere, those comments really just carry the weight of an ordinary citizen."

He sighed and continued, "Furthermore, when someone presents a strange plot twist, I try to "think outside the box" and come up with some alternative approaches, even though some or all of them might be impractical or even totally ridiculous, or worse yet, factual. For instance, to address the concern about danger from rampant firefighters in the community, I suggested that we work together to get funding for one or more firefighter survailience aircraft that could be stationed at the Half Moon Bay Airport and that would be under the control of the Coastside Protection From Firefighters District, so they would be available to defend our communities against firefighters in the hills surrounding Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Montara, and Moss Beach. That suggestion may not be practical for many reasons, but offering it for discussion is a better approach than trying to scare the residents of our community about insane firefighters without suggesting anything at all to improve the situation."

He sighed again and then continued, as he straightened up unsteadily on the stilts. "I need to rest. It was really difficult running with these stilts. But don't worry, I'll be back later with more suggestions and writing tips. And I still need to tell you how they saved my life."

And then...

...the giant waves washed away the long necked booby nests that lay in the Wavecrest fields. Their nests now lay far inland on the fields of of the Half Moon Bay High football field. With an unfinished tunnel, starving students were cut off from humanity and resorted to eating the Booby eggs rather than throwing them rescuers. Alleged reports of racial slurs prevented rescue teams from helping out.

Despite the flooding caused by the tidal waves, the MWSD still declared a water shortage and would issue no new permits because...

coastside...was this a freak event of mother nature, or were the aliens showing Billy Bones the true meaning of "carma"...was goes around, comes around. As the water swelled into a 100 ft wall of water, the sky suddenly changed colors before everyones eyes. What to do? Run? Find cover in an airtight location? Jump into a docked boat and ride this out? Just as these "last" thoughts crossed the coastsider's minds...

...Skateboarders in baggy pants invited the Coastside Hope volunteers to hop aboard, but...Betty Dubal...

screamed, "Call the contestants, Mavericks is on. Just tell them to hurry". But then...

a rock from the crumbling radar station cliffs came tumbling down and cracked Ms. Betty Duball on the head. As she fell to the ground, cursing those dirty necking adolescent illegals, along came . . .

...several hardy, floating septuagenarians, whose lives had been miraculously saved by gathering up all the tarballs that had washed in from the oil spill. In spite of their ordeal, they still had a sort of tawdy glamour about them.

Beyond them, something else seemed to be drifting in--but what was it?

It was a familiar figure. The tall stilted man wandered by again, looking dazed, as if he had just seen space aliens. He wandered up to the skateboarders who said, "Awesome, dude!" as they craned their necks to look up at him.

He cleared his throat and said, "I intend to participate in TalkAbout on a regular basis. I have found that I can learn a lot about what is going on in the community, and what concerns my constituents may have that they have not communicated to me directly. There are also many unsubstantiated or incorrect statements where I can clarify the facts. Espcially here in this topic."

The dudes and dudettes looked up expectantly.

Tall Paul went on, "We really need to get back on track here in this topic."

The kids looked at the Oceanshore Railroad right of way and wondered if the Coastside Land Trust could help with that. Maybe a call to Zoe...but then that was another topic and she had, sadly, left the local non profit. (Note: the Oceanshore was also non profit and that's why the right of way no longer has track on it. Can't tell you much about Coastside Land Trust. You might check out Web Link

"To that end", he continued in his stilted prose, "I would like to see us return to the original thought of this topic! It would actually help the community recover from an ugly, nasty topic like this one to learn the facts before you repeat the same tired falsehoods about the Ms Betty Duball, Scorekeeper, BILLY BONES, Mack Montara (Coastside P.I.) and myself. There was nothing "fake" about turning mentioning the the space aliens. My understanding is that the space aliens are contributing about 40 pounds per day to our current charity winter holiday food baskets. Those baskets are being served to Montara and Moss Beach customers today."

The dudes and dudettes clapped their skateboards and cheered. Or he thought they did. Unfortunately the surf was pretty choppy and instead of cheering they were jeering.

In the meantime over at...

Over at the Ritz, the plotting continued.

Deb and Dave bought rounds of eco-friendly cosmos for the house, and soon everyone had agreed to the unthinkable. Provided they didn't get arrested by an overpaid civil servant, they would actually attempt to...

...Screen an underground "art" film on Friday night at the local film festival! Meanwhile, termites had begun relentlessly chewing on the stilts of the Tall Man. And somewhere, a saw was revving up...

As all Coastsiders who read various newspapers were now aware, CalFire was said to unleash convict labor on chainsaws. Then again, Union Guys had also been known to whip out the saws after a long day at work.

This time, however, it was neither. In the parking lot of Oceanshore Hardware, a champagne-fueled gaggle of Ocean Colony Botox Babes were whipping out credit cards and loading up on power tools. Something definitely had these worthy women all fired up -- but what...?

Imbibing with champagne and undergoing every masochistic beauty treatment known to man did not cure the Botox Babes' boredom from being priviledged OC dwellers. During their latest botox party, one of them recalled the saying, "build it and they will come". "Who will come?", she wondered. "Maybe our husbands finally returning from the golf course?" Their eyes brightened. Altogether, they raced out to their respective late-model luxury SUVs and peeled out on their way to the hardware store.

After purchasing their power tools, the Botox Babes suddenly realized they didn't know what to build:

*A new middle school? Nope, that's in the works. Botox Babe #1's future great-granddaughter is signed up to cut the ribbon on that one.

* A skyscraper with 21 kitchens on Church street? That's been approved. Actually, the builder only asked for 20 kitchens, but the City Council threw in another one just in case, as long as it had a Spanish theme, thereby bringing the project into compliance with section 5.4.2, Requirements for Spanish-like Charminess of the town's planning document.

As the botox seeped through their skulls, the Botox Babes were running out of ideas. Finally, they settled on building a giant billboard at the HMB HS football field and paint on it, "I know you are, but what am I?" to deflect any slurs that might come from opposing teams. Botox Babe #2 suggested making the billboard portable so that the school administrators could use it to shield the streakers as they run across the field.

Having settled on their project, the Botox Babes applied for a permit ...

down at city hall but when they arrived there was a line out to Kelly Ave.

Somewhere near the front of the line was Cameron who had an unfair advantage by handing out free drink tokens to work his way up to the front.. he kept shouting "my smoking bus is"

being overrun by red legged frogs"..

the Coastal Commission wants to shut it down.."that Ferreira never forgave me for hosting that Patridge victory party and I know he had those frogs planted"

where will my patrons smoke?, where will my patrons smoke? he shouted as

the powertool laden Botox babes rushed him all demanding free drink tokens ...

but when they found out they weren't redeemable at the Ritz they sent an emmissary across the street to Mac Dutra Park where they distributed them to the UI's(undocumented immigrants)..(another good ddeed and tax write off)

the UI's leader wanted to know if the Babes were hiring for their scoreboard project.

They said to see the man with the clipboard sitting on the bench. Little did they know that the suspicious little man(in disguise) taking the employment info was none other than the evil Tom Tancredo.

As the unsuspecting UI's were signing up, evil Tom was planning

to register them all as Republicans!

Meanwhile, the Space Aliens had stolen Cameron's smoking bus, and were driving it hell bent for election down Highway 1 toward the Corn Maze. The aliens were smoking up a storm, having cleared out the 7-11 of all its American Spirit and Camel unfiltered cigarettes.

Mack Montara, Coastside P.I., preferred cigars. Stubbing one out in his palm, he contemplated bringing in Ms.Betty Duball for questioning in the matter of the missing skateboarder. And just what had become of that ragged bundle on his doorstep? The bodies were piling up,and someone was going to take the fall. That someone was...

The man on eucalyptus stilts, Tall Paul, had been tripped by a member of the Skoron family, and as he fell to the ground, narrowly avoiding being hit by an SUV running the red light at the intersection, Mack saw the ragged bundle fall out from the stilt mans long coat, and the stilt mans pants became entangled in the stilts, pulling them to his ankles. Mack stared in amazement at the ragged bundle and the Stilt Man, and said look at the size of those......

Are those Squirrel nuts, or Rosemary Patatoes...

From his tangled coat, the now fallen stilted one cried, "Fowl! Er, I mean, foul!"

He carefully hid the ragged bundle in his coat tails and went on, "It is, after all, difficult to ascertain the "direction of this topic", especially when there is a razor-thin margin of "irony". Many undocumenteds still bristle at the Supreme Court decision handing the 1996 coastal writing honors to Oh Spank Me. What does distinguish the coastside from some other parts of the county (at least so far) is that our population does not generally rise up and take up arms against the spellcheckers, or engage in military coups. We accept the outcome and then work to change the spelling and grammar ourselves, if possible, in a future edition by lobbying and secret means I am not at liberty to tell you."

As the onlookers sidled away, he contintued, "In a perfect world, our story tellers in such situations would seek a moderate, compromise solution that makes both sides happy (or at least equally unhappy). Instead, we are moving more and more towards extremism, with a "aliens write all" attitude. It is not just on the coastside. It infects writing at all levels. Just look at the screenwriters!

"You might find the recent book review in the Arts section of the New York Times, from Tuesday, November 13, 2008, enlightening. Headlined "Writers Strike of the U.S. Didn’t Occur Overnight", this review by Arlo Thuringin looks at "The Second Vowel War" by Ronald McDonald, who explores "How Extreme Penmanship Has Paralysed California and Caused much spilled ink."

As if suddenly realizing he was alone, he stopped and looked around in amazement. "I wonder where they all went?" he mused.

Little did he know...

...they were at Starbucks, asking gentle folk, who were trying to relax, to sign a petition to save "local" jobs for ff's Union 2400. One neatly dressed cadet had to be taken away when he rushed in front of a cutomer and said, "I know only 9 out of 19 active fire fighters live locally but we need your extra tax dollars...

Little did Tall Paul know...

That inside his extra-long coat tails, the ragged bundle (who, you will remember if you read way back in this story, is the tortured, benevolent Pre-LCP/CCF Ruler of the Coastside Kingdom) was up to something tricky.

In fact, it was ready to...

..." so, stop spending your money on expensive coffee and let me raise your taxes for my salary increases."

and Tall Paul could not understand where the small voice was coming from, that seem to be directing him to start a new coffee shop, one that would serve only percolated coffee, in extra grande sizes, with pamphlets for extensive nutrition information and social responsibility.

Little did Tall Paul know, but the "Ragged Bundle" he carried was but a plant, part of a heinous plot to control his thoughts...He heard a small, still voice say...

"Could you please put me in your musical?," the feeble voice squeaked.

"My WHAT?," Tall Paul asked incredulously. He was many things to many people, but although he considered himself a creative genius, he'd never advertised his uncanny ability to carry a tune.

"Your musical," the voice repeated impatiently. "When you disappeared from the blogosphere, word was that you'd hotfooted to Broadway to star in the newsworthy-but-wordy new musical "Perkabout!"

"That was supposed to be a secret! Where did you hear about that? Did Clay leak that before he got the scoop on Chop Keenan?" Paul cried.

"I heard it when I was huddled on the cigar-ashed doorstep of Mack Montara, Coastside PI.," admitted the ragged bundle. "As you know, I once ruled this entire kingdom, but now that HMB is bankrupt by the lack of Beachwood-by-the-Sea, they're going to crown King Chop and I'm out of a job yet again. I heard that Perkabout! is fascinating civic-minded fun for the whole family and that judges will insist it goes on no matter how many strikes there are. So whaddaya say -- am I in?"

Before Tall Paul could respond, this scintillating conversation was interrupt by a hideous...

The hideous shrieking of Ocean Colony Botox Babes, who were now so trashed that no one on the Coastside would sell them any more alcohol. One particularly desperate Babe stooped to drinking nonvintage champagne and keeled over in agony.

Meanwhile, back in the LCP enclave, the Grand Wizard said...

"Bring me the head of Activist on a plate, and then..."

Tall Paul started tapping out a dance number with what remained of his stilts.

To the tune of "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little" he began to sing...

"Perk-A-Little, Poke-A-Little, Perk-A-Little, Poke-A-Little -- Perk! Perk! Perk! Perk!"

Of course, he couldn't stop there. Not Tall Paul.

So he amended his ditty with the following addendum:

"Of course, "perking" and "poking" are relative terms (see the aforementioned article in the New York Times, which is adjacent to the glowing review of the sneak previews of Perkabout!)," he droned melodically.

"With all due respect to others in this forum, I would ask that you understand the difference between MWSD wanting to poke around Other People's septic tanks to discern their potential perc-ability and overall perkiness of perco-lation-- and impertinent Talkabout posters questioning my personal perks."

With a stilted little jig, he danced offstage, the enraged bundle still poking out from his oversized overcoat.

Meanwhile, in HMB...

. . . a civil war was breaking out between the poor sots of HMB and the rich, overly-educated elites of the Midcoast. The city council quickly drafted all the poor landless white peasants and undocumented workers to fight and die in an effort to keep the coast united. It would be a hard fought battle in taking the EG highlands from the well dug in Midcoasters, but what HMB lacked in brain, they made up for in brawn and sheer, overwhelming numbers. But the City Council had one secret weapon up their sleeve . . .

They were broke. No matter what happens in the civil war, the HMB City Council wasn't worried, cause they spent $36 million on the lawsuit, litigation fees, the park on 92. The aliens started laughing hysterically because.......

Chop Keenan was on their payroll!

Meanwhile, over at Ted Adcock, the city council was huddled in closed session.

A gavel pounded and a strained voice croaked...

"It's not easy being green. Speaking of which: where the heck are we going to get the cash to cover this Really Big Boo-Boo Blooper Blunder?????"

Meanwhile, back on Highway One, Mack Montara, Coastside PI was still sitting in traffic.

Between the clam spill, tsunami, dudes/dudettes and the antics of Botox Babes, Space Aliens and the unsinkable Ms. Betty Duball, there was no way he was going to make it to HMB before Debster had succumbed to the life-prolonging yet somnolent effects of the Ritz's eco-friendly Anti-Cosmopolitans.

So much for his big case...

Mack sighed and whipped out his briny-smelling cellphone, figuring he'd check in with his next-door neighbor and (in his dreams) paramour: Brandy Alexander. A blowsy, buxom ex-stripper from back in the days of North Beach's celebrated Carol Doda, Brandy had a heart as big as her bust -- and a brain to match.

"Hey, Brandy, just as I was peeling out on a smokin' case, I had A Fiery Wake-Up Call. Sorry I couldn't stick around, but I just thought I'd check in to see if the neighborhood had burned to the ground yet."

"Oh, Mack, I'm so glad you called -- I was worried about you, you big lug!"

Mack's heart (and other parts of his middle-aged male anatomy) swelled with joy.

Brandy's sultry voice was as rich and mellow as hot buttered rum as she continued, "Honey, I got good news and bad news: which one do ya wanna hear first?"

As Mack weighed the enticing options, his cell connection fizzled -- and so did the rest of him.

Good thing, though, because at that moment...

Crab season had opened!

And large kettles were not the only things beginning to steam. In a dim, shadowy kitchen not far from the harbor, someone's blood was boiling.

Revenge, a dish best served cold, was on this evening's menu.

And the unlucky recipient would be...

...anyone who tried the new coffee flavor of the month, Gingerbread Spice Crab Latte Surprise, that a hapless new barrista had created by mistake!

Meanwhile, the lamp-post/art object in front of Pasta Moon had begun to glow with a strange light. This was nothing new to people sitting in the bar, but restaurant patrons pressed their noses to the window and gaped as the Tin Palace Oracle began to speak. In a deep, sonorous voice, the Oracle repeated this word...

but it wasn't a nice word, as the Oracle had been listening in on City Council meetings, so that word won't be repeated here!

Okay, Okay: I'll keep it PG.

Here's a family-friendly version of my prophecy...

@#$#@*! *)n%^g!! Furthermore, %p%**@& sp%($&**!

Oh yes, the Oracle was incensed all right. Meanwhile, from the other end of town, a crowd was gathering. They were singing,

Trouble, oh we got trouble,

Right here in River City!

With a capital "T"

That rhymes with "P"

And that stands for...

A metalic cough, a sort of tinny throat clearing came from the vicinity of the Pasta Moon. The Oracle was out of sorts from being upstaged from the other end of town. Who cared about overblown, over worked and over performed musicals!

With a a creak in need of WD-40 the Oracle began to proclaim The Word, now formatted for all audiences with a PG rating (guaranteeing that the younger folk would not even listen, unfortunately).

With the resonance of a County official, The Oracle spoke:

Paul, Paul, Paul...

Meanwhile, at HMB High School, the Botox Babes were building a scoreboard.

Since only a few had been able to divert their husbands from local politics and the volatilities of the stock market long enough to score themselves, they had more than a little pent-up energy to spend.

And plenty of pent-up ideas.

With the city in crisis, these finance-savvy OC sophisticates had answers that could save the day. They gathered in a huddle at the 50-yard line and...

All we got to do is get to the City Council and tell them to declare bankruptcy, cut all employee wages,pensions,healthcare,void all contracts for pennies on the dollar and life goes on; at least for us. The airlines do it all the time. Problem solved. Say lets get that guy scorekeeper for this scoreboard project; don't spill that champagne on me. Meanwhile, Mack the PI was getting desperate to make it the City Council meeting. He spotted Rocky Cliffs on a kid's tricycle with a Red Flyer wagon hitched to it and a boombox on the handle bars blaring Rush Limbaugh. He was trying to convince the group of skateboarders to listen to Rush, but didn't realize beneath their hoodies they were listening to IPods. Mack jumped in the wagon pointed his cigar directly to Rocky's head and growled, "Take me to the Ted Adcock Center, pronto, or I'm turning you in for illegal oxytin drug use!" Little did Mack know that at that very moment, the city council was locked in a philisophical argument on fingerpointing, and whether that meant the Roberts or Larimer-Muteff rules of debate, and just how many fingers could be used. Just then.........

Just then, back at the harbor, the "trash can" behind Ms. Betty Duball's favorite Monster Mall began to glow.

Harmonizing with the rose-gold light of dawn, the Trash Can In The Shape Of An Artisanal Fair Trade Coffee Cup was emitting an unearthly light -- and then began to shake, rattle and roll.

Suddenly, out popped...


Suddenly, out popped an irate (Space) Alien and the bloody, bedraggled skateboarder, who was injured and embarrassed by Ms. Betty's Rough Justice, but nevertheless grateful not to be dead (or bankrupt).

"Dude!!!!!" he exclaimed. "You're a genius."

The Alien shook his head wisely, looking far more educated and affluent than the one Rosemary Potatoes had skewered with her harpoon. (He was, after all, from the Outer Space equivalent of the Midcoast).

"I told you Tin Palace Oracle said "Pull, Pull, Pull -- not "Paul, Paul, Paul."

"Whatever, dude: you sure pulled that gnarly lever in your gnarly coffee cup space ship and got us outta there, " the bloody boarder said admiringly.

"Thank you," said the modest, articulate Alien (whose kids back home attended private schools). "No time for admiration. Take me to your leader!"

"Dude, even from inside that trippy trash can/space ship I could hear people yelling that our leaders are bankrupt. I know: I'll take you to see..."

Bev Cunha...

Mike Ferreira!

Mike Fereirra could not be located. But Bev Cunha was definitely up to the job.

If she could save the store, she could certainly save HMB.

But she might need a little help from...

Brian Ginna, who was always ready with innovative ideas. He and Bev could save the city -- and together they began to formulate their plan.

Meanwhile, back in Montara...

Mack Montara's big-hearted, big-brained ex-stripper/next door neighbor Brandy Alexander had finally managed to get her favorite private investigator to answer his antiquated cellphone.

"Mack! Where the heck are ya, sweetie?"

"Can't say, Brandy: top secret!" Mack sounded as though he were in a bomb shelter or Guantanamo Bay or the Half Moon Bay Library. "Talk fast, babe. I'm on the case of the century."

"Gotcha. Well, when we got cut off last night, I told you I got good news and bad news. Which one you wanna hear first?"

Being a Macho Macho Man of the first caliber, Mack would normally bite the bullet and say give me the bad news. But there was way too much of it around the Coastside today. In fact, according to Brian Ginna, the situation was not only depressing and uncoventional, but downright surreal.

In the interests of keeping the story moving, Mack said, "Gimme the good news."

But before Brandy could utter a word...

The Midcoast was invaded by...

A rag-tag army of marching Eucalypts, clad in muted green with bark like whiskers obscuring their faces, their field caps sporting cheerfully dangling pungent woody berries, sang as they marched:

Rip rip woodchip - turn it into paper

Throw it in the bin, no news today

Nightmare, dreaming - can't you hear the screaming?

Chainsaw, eyesore - more decay

Rip rip woodchip - turn it into paper

Throw it in the bin - don't understand

Nightmare, dreaming - can't you hear the screaming?

Stirs my blood - gonna make a stand

And they marched. And marched. Down the hill to the coastal plain, where they...

where they were met by the Botox Babes exclaiming, "see, ask and thou shall receive!! What better use of these new power tools we just purchased than to try them out on those tree!" Their drunken faces enlightened with the thought of actually following through with a task at hand.

"We won't get in trouble for this will we?" One Botox Babe questioned.

"Nah," answered another,"and even if we do, our husbands can buy our way out!"

Just as they revved up the chainsaw...

...Skateboarders were quickly spiriting away all the wood in Botox Babes Billboard, and were now hard at work fashioning it into a gargantuan double Moebius ramp for an awesome HMB version of the X-Games! (they'd cleverly convinced the high school that it was a science project)

Meanwhile, thousands of crabs were streaming into the harbor...


With a click-click here,

And a clack-clack there

Here a click, there a clack,

Everywhere a click-clack!

...which set off an odd trilling sound from all the Space Aliens, who'd come back into town jonesing for more cigarettes.

Meanwhile, off in the distance, a fife and drums were starting up...

It was the Cunha band, getting ready for the Nights of Lights parade, but then the power had gone out because PGE knew that the city was broke and didn't want to get stiffed from the electric bill. Out of the dark streets snuck....

The botox ladies turing to find their way around in the dark. They were met by

Half Moon Bay's Finest! "Hey, Earl? These ladies look drunk in public and it seems they've been defacing public property! Should we take them in?!"

Under his breath, Earl replies, "What's wrong with their lips?!"

"I dunno, maybe they ate puffer fish or were stung by something!"

Just then, one of the Botox Babes...

...batted her eyes at HMB's finest, who couldn't see in the dark.

"Hi there handsome," she crooned breathily. "Could you help me with..."

(Aside: I don't trust the next person with this so I will not end it here!)

"What's that?" asked Earl. "Here, let me have a feel."

His partner heard Earl yelp in the dark.

"Ouch! That chainsaw muffler is HOT!"

Earl's partner finally found his tiny LED flashlight and flicked it on. But the Botox Babes had taken advantage of the confusion and skedaddled (actually it was hard to say how they had gone in the dark. Maybe they'd been abducted by space aliens or renegade skateboarders.) Earl himself was blowing on his steaming hand.

Suddenly they heard...

The botox ladies had tripped over a branch laying across the path and they dropped their power tools...

The Botox Babes -- having run out of booze, bar snacks and power tool fuel -- made a run for Montara, which was only vaguely smoky from the recent cigar-induced fire. The flames had been serendipitously squelched by an impromptu rain dance performed by Chief Cole before he'd presciently rushed off to put out the imminent political fires in HMB.

It was a well-kept Coastside secret that Brandy Alexander ran a small, (unpermitted!) organic foods cafe out of her home kitchen, seating patrons around her old pine table or out on her back patio (depending on the day's depth of fog and/or controversy).

Stripping had made Brandy the bucks to buy her bungalow, but in order to pay the MWSD bond tax and other affluent, well-educated Midcoast expenses, she'd been forced to come up with a number of creative enterprises.

Having learned the art of rustic Italian cooking from her beloved Aunts Giulia (Bambino) and Rosemary (Potatoes), Brandy Alexander (nee Biba Bambino) was now legendary among Midcoast (Stay at Home) Mamas and Ocean Colony Botox Babes for her politically correct, organic, fair-trade, low-carb/lowfat/lo-cal catering, as well an amazing ability to concoct exotic aphrodisiacs and other intriguing potions.

A jill-of-many-trades, the wily retired stripper could feed the hungry AND get power tools up and running -- in more ways than one.

At the moment, however, she was baking up a storm for tomorrow's Holiday Bazaar bake sale at Farallone View Elementary, which (because they had affluent, well-educated Stay-at-Home Mamas) the kids had quietly, politely and generously agreed would benefit their poor bankrupt neighbors in the city to the south.

Several of the Midcoast Mamas were altruistically assisting Brandy with her baking (and surreptitiously licking organic fair trade chocolate-chip cookie dough from their affluent, well-educated fingers) when the inebriated roar of the hellbent Botox Babes shook the bungalow.

Meanwhile, in the dark woods around the secret LCP enclave, the Grand Wizard and his high priests...

...were donning their scuba gear and plotting to retreat to their vast, secret network of underground tunnels and pipelines, stretching from Montara to HMB!

Fortunately,no one had yet divined the true meaning of the mysterious "dark areas" and "hatchings" found on certain recently seized documents of interest to the court. Not just "depressions," nor even the fabled "wetlands," but the initiation of a secret undermining of the entire continental plate--which, in combination with rising seas from global warming, would submerge all development, now and in perpetuity!!

But, Mack Montara was able to stumble into the proceedings...

But just Mack was getting into his wetsuit, he was accosted by...

Ex-SoCal Girl -- who had been up all night with her good friend Former San Diegan celebrating the much-needed rain in the Southland -- and she was dragging a confused Chief Cole and a crew of assorted local and Cal Fire firefighters behind her.

According to some folks, Chief Cole was a little overpaid.

(Ex-SoCal Girl, however, was not political and did not wish to take sides on this sensitive issue. The chief was a character in this story and that was good enough for her.)

But, whatever one's political stance, his compensation had been earned by the brilliance and grace of his impromptu rain dance, which had not only vastly reduced the season's chance of A Fiery Wake-Up Call in Montara -- but had single-handedly vanquished the parched earth in the devastated towns of So Cal.

Teary and grateful and under the influence of a little too much tequila, Ex-SoCal Girl had handcuffed herself to the chief and any firefighter she could find to show her apolitical solidarity.

Since she'd been roaming the Coastside proclaiming the miracle of the rain dance all night, she'd learned a few things -- actually, more than a few things. And it was information only Mack Montara would know what to do with.

"Mack," she cried. "You won't believe this but..."

...the Red Legged Frog, who had been gently escorted by Clay, Oh Spank Me and Brian Ginna from the serious topics on Talkabout to where they thought the large olive green amphibian rightly belonged.

Mack Montara stubbed out his cigar and winked at his busty companion, . "Ever cooked on of these?" he asked?

His companion, BILLY BONES, replied...

..."Now look what you did, RLF. "You messed up Ex-SoCal Girl's part!"

Red Legged Frog, cheeks now matching legs, said, in a voice very much like that of Ex-SoCal Girl if she had, say, a frog in her throat, ""Mack, you won't believe this but..."

"Mr. Perkovic has asked me to be in his musical! And Chief Cole has invited me to be an apolitical volunteer firefighter! But the real news ---"

Before the unsuspecting Ex-SoCal girl could convey her vital, top-secret information, a mysterious scuba diver in a Sierra Club wetsuit reached from the watery depths and dragged her kicking and screaming beneath the murky surface.

The brave firefighters, still handcuffed to her slender wrists, valiantly glubbed-glubbed into the water in apolitical solidarity with their admiring damsel.

It looked like someone was about to get A Watery Wake-Up Call.

Meanwhile, on the streets of HMB...

...Editor Clay and ace investigative reporter, David Smydra, had appeared in tasteful plus-sized frocks from the unique boutique a few blocks away! This was to be their new working attire for newsgathering, as disguises were now proving essential for most town functionaries.

Clay, decked out in blonde wig and large hoop earrings, was valiantly trying to position a lovely silk scarf over his beard, while David, plus-size dress notwithstanding, was struggling with his too-tight chiffon shift.

Just as they rounded the corner near City Hall...

A CSI said that gal who says she's from So. Cal. is actually a fire fighter volunteer looking for some sympathy for ff's Local 2400. Since the case of mistaken identity didn't have much importance, the HMBR reporters were interviewing the PGE on their cell phones to try to find out when the power to the Coastside was being restored. In the meantime, CSI investigators were gathering samples of blood that were left on a limb laying on the HMB path. Their bight flashlights and head lights from their cars helped with this collection of evidence.

The city council was stumbling about after their closed session with legal advice present, and as with any group of elected officials after a productive meeting, were parting ways with jovial comments on the intelligence level of taxpayers, what should they do about the $36 million judgment, laughing about the final decision that fingerpointing under the Larimer-Muteff rules of debate meant 2 fingers like they do in Europe. Clay spotted the departing group just as David whined for the 2nd time that he didn't understand how ladies wore dresses, all that cold air and drafts right between...but just then a figure, a bundle of rags, appeared in front of the dispersing council members and in a sad voice asked who among them that would listen, "What is the future of the Coastside? Chop wants another Carmel so he can walk away with millions, Chad wants a smaller version of the same, and then there are those that want to prevent any improvements in roads, sewer or water in the name of no growth. Is there no compromise? Is there no solution? Or is it the same old song, endless greed, narrow interests, I'm right, you're wrong, and the people that live on the coast and pay the taxes end up stuck in traffic, with totally incompetent local government, struggling schools, fire and police dept in a quagmire, inundated with illegal immigrants trying to make a better life at the expense of taxpayers, and rich people who just pay whatever it takes to keep living their fantasy lives. You are our leaders. What is your plan?" Just then Ms.Betty Duball hurled a 5 gallon plastic bucket full of horse manure she had stepped in on the way from Pillar Point after getting brained by that rock from the cliffs for the Mavericks contest directly at the council members. There was a blinding flash of light and.......

...the ghost of Elbert Marsh appeared atop his rusty red combine. He shook his head and called down to his sidekick, Louie, "I knew I should have gone hunting instead of trying to finish that field in the dark! I don't recognize this place! What's all this brush doing in the field?"

The time warp shimmered. Louie grunted his agreement.

The combine made a wide turn, the reel churning. Elbert called, "Tell me this is a nightmare, please."

Louie thought a moment and muttered, "Looks pretty real to me."

The time warp shimmered again and the combine, Elbert and Louie faded away just as...

Review Editor Clay Lambert and Ace Investigative Reporter David Smydra, now familiar with the hazards and windchill factor of feminine attire in coastal climates, glided gracefully along Main Street.

Their garb was eliciting a raised eyebrow or two from Tawdry Glamour and other HMB fashion mavens who frowned on wearing pastel chiffon after Labor Day, but other than this, the disguises appeared to be doing the trick.

In fact, Rocky Cliffs, who was on his way over to Rite Aid to refill his Oxycontin prescription, made more than one lewd suggestion to the pair of voluptuous vixens (which were pointedly ignored, but not deleted, as Clay had run out of the Review offices in such a hurry that he forgot to tuck his trusty laptop into his lavender sequin handbag).

Shivering beneath his baby blue chiffon shift, David suggested they duck into M.Coffee for an organic, fair trade, local-business supporting caffeine blast. In addition to boosting the belly-up HMB economy and reviving the java-starved journalists, the idea paid off in spades.

At that moment, in search of a mega mocha and a taste of sweet revenge, in walked...

...a mysterious figure in snorkel, mask, and a dripping wetsuit, festooned with seaweed and and hermit crabs. No one noticed as he slapped his swimfins up to the coffeepots and helped himself to some of the life-sustaining brew.

Meanwhile, Tall Paul continued to recruit for his new musical, and was auditioning the Botox Babes for a chorus.

The ragged bundle, too, had found himself a new job, selling waterless cooking utensils door-to-door in Moss Beach.

Back at a local HMB restaurant, Mack Montara was finally settling himself down to dine on the new entree of the month--Chop Steak topped with Carmelized Onions. As he washed it down with a generous slug of whiskey, he saw...

Ken King, seated at a large table across the room, where he was dining (as he had back in 1976) with a dozen pacific tree frogs. They were soon joined by a hungry contingent of Lincoln sparrows, rough legged hawks, breeding Yellowthoats and Swainson thrushes.

All were perusing the menu with great consternation, as every entree seemed to share a common culinary technique that they all abhorred. No way were they going to support the new king (not Ken) of HMB by eating Chop Steak or Chop Suey or Grilled Goat Chops or any of the other inedible atrocities articulated in the offensive calligraphy that lay before them.

Suffering from low blood sugar and bottomed-out civic morale, a cantankerous tree frog got into a raging argument with a rough-legged hawk, accusing the hawk of being both a seasonal interloper and insipid supporter of private schools.

Just as the manager was about to ask the entire table to take it somewhere else...

... a stranger walked up to Ken King - a parrot who was obviously not a resident of the coastside. She was a beautiful "Norweigen Blue", quite a rare parrot and most certainly an endangered species. Ken's jaw dropped, so awestruck was he by the incomparable beauty of the Norweigen Blue. He was speechless, but the other patrons could tell that Ken was smitten, and most certainly it was love at first sight.

Ken struggled to speak, finally croaking out the words..."

"George, oh sage of sages, you are entirely, extraordinarily correct as you always were, always are and ever shall be."

Ken's eyes had glazed over and he seemed to be staring at an empty spot in the far corner of the restaurant.

He continued in an eerie, parrot-like squawk: "Since I am so confident that Judge Walker is inept, and that Chop will lose on appeal, why don't I put up our bond money and pay all the legal fees, on the City's behalf, going forward? Why don't I? Why don't? Why...?"

Ken's uncharacteristic avian-voiced speech came to a horrifying halt as...

...Ingrid, the Norwegian Blue, looked at Ken with a disgusted expression, and said "All you ever talk about is land use, developers and lawsuits! What about me? What about our relationship??"

And with that, Ingrid flew away, never to return to the San Mateo coast again.

Ken was heartbroken, but this wasn't a time for crying, because something earthshattering was about to happen...

Yes, something earthshattering was about to happen!

In fact, the earth itself began to shatter. Ken's wistful eyes bugged out as the sidewalk in front of the restaurant opened up and out popped...

two cub reporters. One representing the HMBR and one from Coastsider who both were trying to get the skoop on what was going on. Some passer-by said why don't you go to POST to write a grant or purchase the property for a center on environmental studies.

The cub reporters looked sheepish (or maybe it was goatish) and disappeared back into the hole.

But then, out popped Bev Cunha and Brian Ginna, who assured the astonished onlookers that they were working on a plan and would get back to them with the details shortly. They gave a thumbs-up sign as they disappeared back into the hole in the pavement, which closed over them with astonishing rapidity (not being under the care of Cal Trans.

Meanwhile, back at the harbor...

there was a group forming at Ketch Joann's who were celebrating their crab catch. Someone at the bar said we have faced worst news in the past. Let's relax and have another brew...

The revelers lifted their foamy mugs in unison, toasting to the restored health of Coastside crabs!

Meanwhile, over near Harbor Village, the argument continued between the well-dressed Space Alien and the bedraggled skateboarder who had suffered the legendary wrath of Ms. Betty Duball. Readers will recall that the skateboarder had been ignominiously stuffed into a coffee-cup shaped "trash can" that turned out to be a hightech craft from another galaxy.

"Dude," the skateboarder repeated with surprising affability and patience (he had attended Seacrest before moving on to Cuhna). "I can't take you to our leader because, like, I don't know who that is anymore. When we were stuck in that gnarly spaceship thing I heard dudes yelling that it all belonged to King Chop now but, like, I don't even who that is either..."

"Dude," said the SA. "I will, as you gnarly earthings say, cut to the chase. Someone in this strange Coastside kingdome has killed my cousin Vito. He may not have been the brightest bulb in the cosmos, but he was a Made Guy and honor requires me to avenge his death. Who in your world can find out who committed this unforgivable crime?"

"A dead alien mobdude? Dude, why didn't you say so? We gotta go see Mack Montara -- let's roll!"

The two hopped onto the skateboarder's bloody board, the SA in front -- and, not surprisingly, riding goofy foot.

Meanwhile, over at HMB High School...

Skateboarders were doing their grabs, grinds, and flips on the excellent new structure they'd built for the HMB X-Games!

Planning to include motocross, too, they had rented earth-moving equipment and were busy building mounds and hills for an awesome set of washboards.

Meanwhile, someone else was doing their own set of grabs, grinds and flips...

While inside the school - The TV production class was viewing the Oprah show. During the Unique Christmas Gift segment – to the surprise of everyone – there was our own Rocky Cliffs promoting his newest creation – a solar powered, bilingual cuckoo clock made from recycled skateboards.

Oprah took a liking to Rocky as he told her of the pickle the City of HMB was in. Will Oprah Nation come to the aide of HMB???


Oprah had been called to HMB for a top secret underground emergency meeting with Bev Cunha and Brian Ginna.

The plan was that Oprah would meet with Chop Keenan and...

Together they would buy up all the land on the coastside and turn it into one great big...

...human study of what happens when no-growthers and developers live side by side

Oprah suggested that the Coastsiders invite Dr. Phil into the discussion so that Phil could study the underlying emotions driving each side...

Dr. Phil thought it was a great idea. There was so much lunacy on the wacky Coastside he would have a field day. But who should he invite to be his first guest?

He thought a long time. Then it came to him. The answer was...

Dr. Laura could shame a parent in each home to stay home and work from home so that there wouldn't be so many cars on the road. Then, she and Dr. Phil would do group therapy with PCF and LCP members to promote better communications, and conflict resolution. The timing was right because making New Year's resolutions was approaching at year's end.

Dr. Laura was a great idea!

Besides the professionals, Dr. Phil thought it would be good to feature some local personalities who could illustrate that it really was possible for coastsiders to get along. He made a note to call Darin Boville and George Muteff, who were currently deep in thoughtful discussions about web browsers and the possibilities of building a scenic bypass around the high school.

Of course, that might be a little difficult with the skateboarders holding the HMB X-Games and Botox Babes running around with power tools. They weren't the only ones at the high school though.

Hiding behind a beat-up pick-up truck parked near the football field was...

A group of Space Aliens, smoking furiously, who had just gathered around a purloined portable DVD player to watch their favorite video,"The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Cheering "Klaatu barada nikto!" in unison, all watched intently as Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerged from his ship to admonish the squabbling earthlings to make peace with each other, or else be destroyed.

The Space Alien trilling then reached a fever pitch and increased in intensity, causing massive interference with local cable television reception and DSL, as...

Coastider.com continued to apologize for being "offline for software updates," not realizing that alien signals were deviously scrambling Barry's server.

Meanwhile, behind locked doors in City Hall, a Super Secret Meeting was going on.

Attending were all the usual suspects, with the surprise addition of...

...Warren Buffet who read the terrible news, about Half Moon Bay, on his internet while flying into SFO on his Net Jet aircraft. While on his stop over, he rented one of his rental cars and went to See's candy, which he owns. After buying boxes of chocolates he went to city hall to find out how he could help...

Of course, chocolate made all the difference. Naomi, Marina and Bonnie got into the tiniest little tiff with Farmer John over the pumpkin cream-filled ones, but that argument blew over quickly when the locked door was broken down by...

Jim Grady and his faithful sidekick...

Scorekeeper, who was there to keep score -- and settle a big score with...

Geroge Muteff, who, by the way was at that very moment...

Settling scores all over Talkabout in hopes of...

engaging King Kenneth in dialog. However, that proved next to impossible as the king was once again pontificating:

"Editor Clay handed the Space Aliens an arbitrary and capricious kickflip that will end up in an ugly a** knife." he stated. "The case was about a simple argument--that the city created a skatebaord park in 1984 where there were none before."

He shook his fist in the direction of Redondo Beach Rd. and continued.

"There is a ton of blame and a host of irrelevancies spewed by many who, while acting schralped, are actually gleeful at this loony chode. Remember that the Space Aliens twice lost in the parking lot claiming there were no skatebard parks. Blaming the gnarly dudes forced to defend the city against a determined individual is merely politics as usual here.

"Having lived on the half pipe since 1976, and only 120 feet from the southern edge of the Donut Shop, I avow this area was always a skateboard park. Leaving aside the recent vert skating the case turned on for a moment, the inhabiting dudes were locals, I enjoyed early in my residency."

He was about to go into more detail about this when something caught his eye.

"Oh hamster! I gotta run--I see Ms Duball and she's really such a betty...!"

And so off the king went. But little did he know...

That the pacific tree frogs had allied with their red-legged cousins, leaving poor, amphibian-friendly Mr. King in a wetland depression.

Meanwhile, in the oversized Ocean Colony home of one of the Botox Babes, the husbands (widowed by power tools) were hatching a plot to get their wives back under control.

What they planned to do was...

...climb into their annoyingly loud single-engine Cessna and fly touch-and-go loops over l Granada and Moss Beach to look for heir wives. To be sure they didn't miss them, the husbands flew so low that they could see they ELG and MB residents shaking their fists at them from inside their houses. When they caught a glimpse of airport_sufferer writimg something down in his notebook, they flew in a little closer to see he was writing, which appeared to be their tail number. Just then, they saw the white ball on top of the radar station and realized that they hadn't played golf in nearly 6 hours. As they made their way out of the airport with their golf bags slung over their shoulders, their wives stepped in front of them, power tools in hand, saying, "Where do you think you're going? We knew we bought these tools for a reason." Before you could say, "noise-abatement procedures", the babes...

Got on the phone to Oprah and...

... and said, "We need Dr. Phil. The Botex Babies and their hubbies are about to rumble. Someone call the police!" Just then over at Police Headquarters...

Over at Police HQ, the guys were going over secret security plans for Queen Bonnie's coronation.

With the looming possibility of King Chop chomping at the bit for control of the kingdom, the stakes were high -- and getting higher all the time.

The Coastside's brave Boys in Blue (now wearing overalls because the city had no budget for uniforms) had bigger fish to fry than a disgruntled group of wifeless golfers.

This became all the more evident when through the hallowed HQ portals burst...

Queen Bonnie's campaign manager, screaming that the Boys in Blue had to do something about all the rumbling. Not just golfers and Botox Babes. Oh no -- something way bigger (maybe those fish TGM just mentioned).

There were rumblings and Bright Ideas all over Talkabout saying that Empress Naomi should be the one chosen to save the kingdom of HMB. So between King Chop, Wanna-Be King Kenneth and a bunch of Space Aliens, there were way too many folks in line for the throne.

There was also one person no one else had considered yet, and that was...

...John Muller with his exquisite language skills and knowledge of the area, coupled with his experiences on water boards make him the logical choice and the best voice of reason during the chaos. Also,his being a farmer brought just the right packaging for the troubled town...

Judge Walker, with his libertarian streak and alleged alliance with CCF!

Don Bacon, with his moderate political stance and scholarly knowledge of global warming, roadbuilding and the terrors of the Devil's Slide tunnel.

Dr. Phil, with his insider knowledge of Oprah's empire and expert training on dealing with sensitive emotional issues.

Brian Ginna, with his winning personality, wiseacre mentality and dead-on political acumen.

Darin Boville, with his mastery of the video camera, eternal patience with Talkabout wiseguys and close ties to local wildlife.

No, the minions, need John Muller who is deeply respected and very logical. Think about it; he has both the wet land experience from his work on numerous water boards reaching federal levels and he is a born leader. He is the real deal.

Okay, lots of brilliant suggestions, folks -- please keep 'em coming.

And now, back to our story:

Over at Police HQ, Queen Bonnie's campaign manager was still rumbling.

And off in an ivory tower high on a hillside, there was indeed a super secret meeting going on between the great hopes for HMB's political salvation.

The Top Secret Think Tank included: Farmer John, Judge Walker, Don Bacon, Dr. Phil, Brian Ginna and Darin Boville. Bev Cunha, who readers will recall was already in cahoots with Mr. Ginna, was also in attendance.

With Great Brains like this, how could the city fall under the reign of King Chop?

Meanwhile, in another mega top secret meeting in the dark woods of Montara...

... the Grand Wizard raged at his priests: "the infidel Keenan has struck a heavy blow to our cause! We must not let him prevail in his efforts to create homes of wooden frames and ground of asphalt, which will induce many more infidels to invade our land!

It is time, my priests of the LCP, to unleash our secret weapon. As you know, long ago in the year one-thousand, nine hundred and seventy six, we kidnapped an invader by the name of King of Terrace Avenue. The surgical procedure to replace his brain with a remote-controlled computer was successful, and we released him back into the public. Although his new brain has malfunctioned at times, we still can exercise control. Now, in our darkest hour, we must send the command to King of Terrace Avenue to.....

...get John Lynch to gather signatures recalling everyone but the hunky Jim Grady. The new council will be King Ken, Mike Ferreira, Ken Johnson and Hal Bogner. Together, they will finally...

...but the Grand Wizard's directives were temporarily drowned out by the cacophony created by the collective uproar of Space Alien trilling, skateboarders drumming on their boards, Botox Babes' revving their power tools (and aggressively tinkling their tennis bracelets) coffee machines grinding, ghostly farm combines whirring, and the collective clamor of citizens downtown calling for their three-minute spots on Tuesday night. Added to this, was the clanking sound of the Oracle starting up again, its metal box spinning around and around in a frenzy.

"Wait!" the people cried, "the Oracle is speaking!" And out from the tinny box came one word, and one word only ( since the Oracle was contracted on the economy plan). The people all craned their necks and strained to here the word, and it was...







Well, the overloaded Oracle soon spun itself into a jumbled mass of jagged metal, and came to an abrupt halt, its rusted shards swinging to and fro like small pendulums in the breeze.

Smoke began to drift upwards from the box, as it wheezed its last.

Meanwhile, at the medical clinic downtown, complimentary anti-depressants were being distributed from a large popcorn bowl.

At the shopping center nearby, a new advertising campaign was being devised to draw in tourists. Large billboards emblazoned with the new theme, "Got Crabs?" were being hastily tacked up at various locations around town.


Downsize all substandard lots.

The oracle apparently had one more concept to wheeze out before it toppled.

Little did the community know, however, that the Space Aliens had hired Chop Keenan to rebuild it on the sly -- and to their precise specifications.

Meanwhile, over at City Hall...

"Now hold on", said Dr. Phil. "Don't kick the suspect to the curb before getting all the facts. That's why I am here"...

Just then, Judge Judy burst into the room!

"Dr. Phil, Judge Walker called and said you needed my help. So what can I do for you?"

"Well, Judge Judy, there is one little thing -- and that is..."

..."really puzzling us. We need someone who can lead us through this crisis who has a good grasp of the law. Maybe, you Judge Judy could take a brief leave of your show, Judge Judy, and help us get this appeal on track. Than Dr. Phil can work with the depressed city leaders on how to start the healing process"

Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky-tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes, all the same. There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they're all made out of ticky-tacky And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses All went to the university, Where they were put in boxes, And they came out all the same. And there's doctors and there's lawyers And business executives, And they're all made out of ticky-tacky And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf-course, And drink their Martinis dry, And they all have pretty children, And the children go to school. And the children go to summer camp And then to the university, Where they are put in boxes And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business, And marry, and raise a family, In boxes made of ticky-tacky, And they all look just the same. There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they're all made out of ticky-tacky And they all look just the same.

The tinny melody rang out from the anachronism that was the car radio of Mack Montara, Coastside P.I.

At the moment, he was tuned in to the local AM radio station, desperate for news of tonight's closed session meeting. As the song ended, an eerie voice came over the airwaves, saying...

"Mack Montara! You must call your friend and neighbor Brandy Alexander this very minute. She has been trying to reach you for days with vital information but you keep getting sidetracked. Call her now -- someone's life is depending on it. That is all."

The voice faded away and was replaced by a cheerful version of Dan Hicks singing "Where's the Money?"

Meanwhile, on the streets of HMB...

...People were deciding where to send Judge Judy and Dr. Phil People thought well they could always share a room to save the city some money. Then Keet said, "I'll let them stay at my hotel on Highway One for free and they can eat at Cameron's...

Which will be a great place to hang out and eat burgers and re-cap the action after tonight's rip-snortin' city council meeting.

Of course, not all coastsiders were contributing to the local economy today.

At that very moment, in a country western joint in San Francisco, CCF Prez Charlie Gardner was hanging out at the bar with renegade libertarian Judge Walker. The discussion revolved around Vast Right Wing Conspiracies and whether it would be a good idea to legalize currently illicit Happy Drugs to hand out to city council members before the meeting.

The two hoisted their icy bottles of Lone Star as the jukebox blared "You Broke My City In 38.6 Million Pieces & I Can't Put It Back Together Again."

Meanwhile, in a monster home in Miramar...

Someone changed their front door lock without a permit and was arrested by one of Boys in Blue (overalls).

Meanwhile, in the top secret think tank..

In the top secret think tank, Don Bacon was checking the door to see if Global Warming's foot was caught in it.

Brian Ginna, currently in charge of the brainstorming session, suggested they initiate a new community activity called Blame Game.

If anyone could name one (1) political ally/friend of Kevin Lansing (ex-planning commish and yet another would-be usurper of Queen Bonnie's throne) that would be in a position to help him "help" the City, they'd win a prize.

Darin Boville eagerly offered to film the game, but just as he was cranking up his video camera...

...Barry Parr rushed in...

rushed in screaming:

"Our new design is still failing to load properly for some users. Until this problem is resolved, we’re returning to our old design. And be sure to check out all the great videos on montarafrog.com," he paused for breath, then turned white as a coastal ghost.

"Hey, wait a minute -- Darin, what the heck are you doing in this meeting of the dark side?"

But before the astounded videographer could answer...

The secretary said, "Everybody rise, the Honorable Judge Judy is presiding...

"Everyone sit down." Than, Brian brought to the bench all the speaker slips. George started to speak and Judge Judy very unceremoniously said, "SIT DOWN!, and, don't speak until I tell you to speak."

Just then, they all heard a loud CRASH as the door was kicked down by someone from outside. It was Kevin Lansing! He stood in the doorway, muscles bulging, a bandana around his head, a bandolier of 50 caliber ammunition draped over his bare chest, and a Coastal-Commission-issue machine gun in his hands.

"You're all in violation of the Coastal Act!" he screamed. "Rampant violation of the Coastal Act!. Everyone in this room is under arrest! In fact, everyone in Half Moon Bay is under arrest! In fact, everyone in San Mateo county is under arrest for See-Quaaa violations and violations of the Coastal Act!"

Judge Judy had her deputies coral the intruder and sent him to the town jail for a cooling down period. Once that was settled, Judge Judy reconvened the meeting...

Oprah and Dr. Phil were in the audience. They spent the afternoon working in the conference room with city staff, city elected officials, and mounds of legal paper.

But In the streets outside, shouts rang out. "Viva Half Moon Bay! Viva Half Moon Bay!"

And in a downtown bar, a waitress with a guitar began to sing the "La Marseillaise" as...

Judge Judy, who had been treated to too much bad booze by the Botox Babes, drunkenly pounded her gavel.

"Order! Order! I'd like to another another drink -- and preferably one that doesn't taste like power tool fuel!"

And speaking of tools...

Speaking of tools, Enabler was a tool of corporate meeting, and judging from his/her typing, had also had one too many cocktails with the Botox Babes.


in walked Rocky Cliffs regurgitating the latest talking point that he had overheard from his favorite Wing-Nut talker. He was obviously looped off of something, and whatever it was it must have been pretty good because . . .

Everyone else in town was looped on it too.

For example, the codependent Media Mogul felt an overpowering need to fix Power Tool's apparent typo. Corporate meeting?

Power Tool meant corporate media. Yeah, that was it.

But at this point in the evening, it was only natural to be flustered.

As clocks all over HMB tick-tocked ominously toward the time that would mark the opening of the dreaded closed session, the city was in (more than a financial) frenzy.

In fact...

In fact, it was becoming more and more obvious that the Space Aliens had not only thwarted Mr. P's exciting new redesign, which he had been working on for a while and dreaming about for a lot longer than that and had been achieved with the magnificent assistance of about thirty Coastsider readers at the Point Montara Lighthouse.

Oh no, they had scrambled much more than Mr P's masterpiece and the cybersignals on Talkabout.

This horrifying fact became all the MORE obvious when...

...when all of a sudden everyone on the Coastside was alerted by the City hall messengers that a fight broke out on Main St. in Half Moon Bay...

...and rumor had it that Judge Judy had supplied some middleschoolers with bubbly. This, of course, was totally untrue.

The real cause of the chaos was...

Brian Ginna tried to take control of the meeting. He shouted over Judge Judy's slamming gavel. The crowds were pouring over into the streets and...

taking the lead of the more articulate Talkabout posters and proclaiming well-known local developers as "poo-heads."

Yes, things were getting pretty wacky in good old family-values HMB.

The educational and maturity level of the seething crowds was further evidenced by...

...the bizarre results of an extensive battery of intelligence and personality tests being administered to them by a bevy of social psychologists flown in to study the mass hysteria phenomenon in HMB.

The psychologists noted a marked elevation in mood, accelerated speech and motor activity, as well as flight of ideas. After some thought, they attributed this to the cocktails being served up at the Ritz.

Meanwhile, Ms.Betty Dubal was now calling for decorum, having regretted that she'd earlier abandoned order for ordure...

Mrs. Betty Dubal looked very tired. It had been a long day with no resolution in sight. She excused herself to go home and get some sleep. However, she couldn't relax and started to pace the floor. Then, she decided no matter what the time of day, she had to reach the Judge...

But little did she know that reaching the judge (Judy or Walker, take your pick) would prove far, far more difficult than anyone could ever have imagined. Not even in their wildest nightmares...

Enervated from evening's proceedings and contemplating the deeper meanings of order and ordure, Ms. Betty decided to take a little walk to clear her head. Well, actually, it was rather a long walk -- and she zeroed in on her destination by following her nose.

On this dark, windy coastal night, she found herself wandering along the dark cliffs of Montara in pursuit of a pervasive sulfurous smell. Like a well-trained hunting dog, Ms. Betty sniffed the air. Then she sniffed again.

Yep. No doubt about it: excrement was in the air.

Now Ms. Betty was the area's acknowledged expert on the excrement of horses and the potty mouths of skateboarders. But this time the pungent aroma could not be attributed to either of those beasts. No, this beast was more dangerous -- and far more cunning.

Nose in the air and eyes to the sky, Ms. Betty didn't see the menacing figure creeping behind her. Not until it was too late.

With the attacker's icy fingers clasped around her throat, she struggled for breath and gazed into the fathomless eyes of...

...The Grand Wizard and his band of merry high priests, appearing from the secret network of underground tunnels and pipelines, stretching from Montara to HMB.

It was then that Ms. Betty realized that the fetid aroma eminated from...

...a weary and bedraggled Tidepool Interpretive Aide, who had just spent all day explaining to eager bands of schoolchildren that those aromatic objects floating by were bits of "moss" and "Midcoast sea-snakes."

Just then, the Grand Wizard began to chant...

"Appeal! With zeal! Appeal! With seals! Appeal! Raw deal!"

But his somber and sonorous intonations were interrupted by the overpowering stench of...

Eucalyptus oil, the main ingredient in Ms. Betty Dubal's Palliative and Restorative Tonic, which, when sprayed overhead by Cessnas rented from the airport, mingled in a pleasantly funky way with the atmosphere below.

The intrepid Ms.Dubal hoped to make her fortune and save the downwind coastal area by bottling and distributing the mix at all the local shops. "Just a whiff of Ms.Betty's Tonic, and you'll never notice the stench!" was to be her watchword.

Meanwhile, at a secret meeting place upwind...

Darin and George were sharing (computer) software (but not hardware) and making a video that would rock the Coastside's world.

Entitled "Mama Mia, It's Logorrhea!", this surefire Academy Award winner, which will run 117 hours (give or take a day or two) and is still is in development (Producer Perkovic has final cut, after he learns the meaning of the word "edit") features the following A-list coastside celebs...

...Paul (as himself), Paul (as Talkabout guru), Paul (as local official) and Paul (as premier cut and paster), along with cast of thousands of prominent LCPoliticos.

In a surprise cameo, viewers will be astonished to find...

Dr. Phil was seen this morning motoring his way, with Oprah, to his private jet at the HMB airport. He left some phone numbers with the Mayor for counselors that he will offer to pay for mediation and for peer counseling among city staff, the city council and the public. Phil was heard saying, "This dog won't hunt".

Meanwhile, in a grandly overbuilt manse behind the gates of Ocean Colony, an unsuspecting OC husband was eyeing his wife's latest compulsive purchase from Williams-Sonoma, a charming vintage-inspired earthenware platter, handpainted with a merry band of athletic snowmen wielding handcrafted golf clubs.

Surprisingly, the platter was brimming with freshly baked gingerbread cookies. Huh, he wondered, what the heck was up with that? As far as he knew, Bootsy's concept of a kitchen was as a storage space for Viking appliances, Capresso espresso makers and fine cutlery hand-forged in Solingen, Germany. Her idea of a horror movie was "Debbie Does Dishes."

And yet, there were the cookies, warm and spicy and sweetly enticing. They were cleverly baked in the shapes of diminutive city council members: tasty little Empress Naomis, Majestic Marinas, Queen Bonnies, Farmer Johns and Hunky Jims all grinning up at him.

Glancing over his shoulder to make sure there was no Bootsy in sight (who was still firing up refueled power tools with her fellow Botox Babes), he picked a chewy little Naomi and took a bite.

And what happened then was a horror movie in itself.

Meanwhile, over at City Hall...

Chair legs were screeking across the floor and the coffee maker was being filled in what might be the last city council meeting to feature refreshments.

Kim, the city hospitality manager (who might be out of a job soon) consulted her phone list. As a measure of economy, instead of ordering out from Moonside (hmm, maybe she could get a job there...), she had requested members of the community to bring something to share. One of the first to volunteer had been Inocencia, who cleaned houses for some of the better off members of the community who lived in that gated community south of town. Kim punched the number, intending to tell Inocencia that she could bring in the cookies any time now.

Back at the Top Secret Think Tank, the Big Brains were cooking up some sizzling ideas of their own.

One of the most interesting came from Dr. Phil, who...

...had been working with social psychologists from a well-known local university, in an attempt to find a resolution to HMB's problem. Told that young chimps seemed to be brighter than humans, Dr.Phil contemplated offering simian help to advise the town council.

Meanwhile, back in her kitchen in HMB, Inocencia smiled to herself as she thought about her secret cookie recipe, the one that included the "special spice," the traditional medicinal herb that brought so much joy to so many people.

Whenever things looked bad, whenever someone was down, Inocencia would make her special cookies. They were always a big hit at holiday gatherings, and had been very popular at the church bazaar. And now, she could bring some happiness to the whole town of HMB, even in its darkest hour...

As it grew dark, the self important little man, kindly dubbed "The Professor" by his friends, stealthily approached the gigantic pile of wood that that loomed off Highway 92.

"Disgraceful!" he muttered, clasping the bulky object in the brown paper bag tighter to his chest. He would have been interesting to observe, had it not been nightime and this area of the highway not particularly well lighted. His Deadhead tie-dyed tee shirt was in contrast to the baggy '70s JC Penney business suit but in any case, no one was nearby to observe--most of the populace of once bucolic Half Moon Bay were attending the City Council meeting to observe the swearing in of the new mayor and the swearing at of the council as a whole.

The perfect time to accomplish his mission!

First on the list was the posting of the sign at the woodlot!

Oh how he hated that stuff! Smoking a burning log was scientifically proven (as well as peer reviewed!) to be forty times as bad for you as smoking a cigarette! People must be protected from this! Huge stockpiles of this toxic material should be banned outright and would be if he had his say!

Why just one hour of breathing wood smoke could reduce a person's ability to fight infection by 25 to 40 percent. Who knows what breathing more that that a day would do! Surely kill you outright!

As he tacked the notice to the gate of the wood yard, The Professor was reminded of his favorite mantra: If you can smell it, you're breathing it!

Besides, we must save engangered wood! He liked to quote one young fellow who often said, "Wood is a valuable resource--too precious to waste. We can do lots of neat things with wood. Please don't burn it!"

The Professor stood back to read his handiwork:


Any person offering for sale, selling or providing solid fuel for use in a wood-burning device shall:

Attach a label to each package of wood or solid fuel sold that states the following: Solid Fuel Labeling Requirement

HEALTH WARNING: Wood smoke contains harmful particulate matter. On cold, windless days the Bay Area Air Quality Management District may announce a curtailment on burning wood or any solid fuel. On these days you should not burn either indoors in your fireplace or woodburning device or outdoors in fire pits.

Burning during a curtailment is a violation of air quality regulations, unless it is the only source of heat (and believe me, we're trying to get rid of the "only source of heat" clause!).

If the solid fuel is seasoned wood, then the label must also state the following:

This wood has been tested to ensure it meets air quality regulations for moisture content to be less then 20% by weight for cleaner burning.

Note: If you need testing by a Bay Area Air Quality Management District Certified Moisture Content Certified Wood Moisture Certifier, please contact me because my brother-in-law is presently the only Certified Certifier.


The Professor smiled and skulked away towards the little town. Holiday lights twinkled brightly in the yards and on the houses of the residential streets. The only noise came from somewhere in the vicinity of the city council chambers and this was a low pitched grumble. Smoke issued from some of the residential and most of the restaurant chimneys. And that was a problem. He would get to that soon. He clutched his parcel tighter and scurried off.

The volume of rumbling at the council chambers increased, but The Professor had other things to do and see. He was not at the chambers to witness...

Bonnie trying to yank President Naomi's gavel out of her capable hands. Suddenly the gavel was air borne and Katherine Weber reached up and caught it. Everyone said, "This must be a sign". Than they coronated Ms. Weber as their new Mayor. The crowds were cheering since most had been a Cunha student and Ms. Weber was their counselor. People started to calm dow. Ms. Weber was about to speak...

But Judge Judy (still buzzing from last night's wild meeting) interrupted in her typical bossy boots manner, bellicosely bellowing...

She stood. She cleared her throat. She gazed about the room. And then she calmly returend to her seat. A superhero can't reveal her true identity. Instead, she used her wrist radio to contact Bev, and via morse code, sent the message to changed the course of events to this point . . .

Judge Judy couldn't help herself. (Of course, she didn't know the course of events was being altered by a superhero with a cool wrist radio. Really, she should have known better, as I'm sure we'll all find out very soon).

But she hadn't achieved the megastardom she had without throwing around a little verbal muscle.

Twirling her gavel like a baton (much to Naomi's dismay), she barked out...

The message was: "The cookies worked! They have all been hallucinating!"

The powers of the cookies extended far beyond the city council chamber.

Someone over at Ocean Shore Hardware had eaten one and...

having surmised that the city would likely go bankrupt no matter what she did, Judge Judy decided to return to her TV gig rather than provide legal help to the city, which would most likely stiff her like they would PG&E.

As she walked out, the council came up with another idea for obtaining legal help: They would ask the students taking the course Social Science 12: You and the Law at the SMCC if they could provide legal advise as part of an unpaid internship. They readily agreed and got started immediately.

While the students were looking up the terms "appeal" and "wetlands" on wikipedia...

While students were Wiki-ing, a customer at Ocean Shore was hallucinating big time.

Disguised as a red-legged frog, it was none other than...

Ken King on crack...who....

Judge Vaughn Walker, who had been transported by the Space Aliens to Half Moon Bay.

The nice helpful lady at Ocean Shore called 911 and...

The Boys in Blue (overalls) came and politely hauled the Judge and Ken (who it turned out had eaten cookies -- the only cracks associated with him were the ones that shot from his eloquent mouth) down to the HMB jail.

Since the jail was currently headquarters for the historical society, there was a bit of confusion when a perplexed historian saw the Judge...

Escape from the Boys in Blue and make a beeline towards Main Street.

After all, the coronation of Queen Bonnie was imminent, and no one in town wanted to miss the festivities.

Well, except for one devious, disgruntled onlooker -- and that was...

The Professor, of course.

The Professor removed the Sharper Image Night-Search Eye® from the now tattered paper bag. It glistened with a retro hightechiness.

In the past he had chartered a plane from HMB Airport to accomplish his careful surveilence, but had been the target of a ground to air missile launched from the El Granada Highlands by an irate resident. Tonight, up close and personal and on foot was to be his method. And the Night-Search Eye® was up to the task with its nifty quartz halogen spotlight and a soft ambiently lit lantern body, not to mention the cool nylon carry strap. Web Link

The Professor's destination was one of the residential areas of Half Moon Bay. A more central location than the far flung neighborhoods of Frenchman's Creek or Ocean Colony would work the best for his inspection, so he chose an area of substandard lots, where houses were smaller and more likely to be heated by wood. His reasoning was that, possibly being lower income areas, the fragile, endangered young people of these neighborhoods might not be adequately protected from the harmful toxicity of fireplace smoke. Dangerous smoke containing endocrine disrupting chlorinated dioxins. After a rain (and rain was expected late tonight!) the smoke would be washed to the ground and the dioxins would get into the water and food chain along with cadmium, lead arsenate and other poisons!

As he tiptoed down Spruce, he was reminded that once he and his supporters rid the world of toxic smoke they were going to move on to the Next Big Thing: clothes dryer emissions! (Did you know that perfume masks underlying odors of toxic ingredients? Notice on your next walk, that after wood smoke, the most annoying odor outside is the sick smell of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets: ethanol, benzyl alcohol, limonene, chloroform and others--more on that later. Just remember that "If you can smell it, you are breathing it. If you can't smell it you might still be breathing it!)

The Professor looked quickly around, not that he cared if anyone saw him. He had grown used to being accosted on his evening journies, and after being hauled in to Brisbane Police Station he had figured out how to handle questioning police officers with tact (but don't you expect him to divulge his method). He turned on the Night-Search Eye® and it blazed proudly with all its halogen brightness. Expertly he manoeuvered it so that it shown on the chimney of the nearest house. Nothing. He walked three blocks before he found a house with blue hazy smoke issuing from the chimney.

What was wrong? Usually most homes had a cheery fire in the fireplace or wood stove. What was going on? Porch lights were on but hardly a light burned from inside a house. A chill ran down the The Professor's back. Had there been a nuclear suitcase bomb attack? Was the town deserted?

Of course, he was mistaken about the suitcase bomb. Something much worse had occurred in the City of Half Moon Bay. As he skulked uselessly around the neighborhoods, in the city council meeting something was brewing. There was smoke and he was missing out...

Down in the bowels of the HMBVB&CC, the Bureau Trash were hatching a new plot. Medians smedians. Small potatoes those. Cal Trans could plant the medians. Lord knows, Arnold would fund anything that sucked up more natural resources. Lady Charise and her minions knew that with the wetlands now on the block, and the City in a pool of debt, that this was the time to act. Crafting a deal to benefit both the City and the developers, she brokered a 50% reduction in the $40M verdict, funded a second story on the Chamber building, and with her victory cry of "Half Moon Bay is open for business", she geared her happy team to give paid Ecotours of the now famous marsh lands. Garnering a 2000% margin on her first month of business, she then . . .

Put in a call to set a different kind of business in motion -- and the results were beyond the community's wildest and wackiest dreams.

Meanwhile, Ocean Colony was getting a little sweet action of its own.

By the time Bootsy von Krum returned from an exhausting day at Nordstrom, the rain had stopped and the sky over Ocean Colony was crystal clear and punctuated with brilliant stars. As her Hummer purred into the custom-tiled driveway, Bootsy paused to admire the awe-inspiring natural beauty constellations -- and made a note to explain the exact patterns to her favorite Main Street jeweler so he could create a custom diamond necklace from them.

Gathering her bags, she opened the door that led from four-car garage into the butler's pantry, where she stopped dead in her tracks. WHAT was that smell?

Sulfur? (No, that was over in Montara.)

Illegal woodsmoke? (Nope, that was over on Spruce Street.)

Hmmmm. Could it be? Yes, it was gingerbread, mixed with the overpowering aroma of Armani cologne. Bootsy flipped on her environmentally-friendly lighting fixture, which glaringly illuminated the homebaked carnage before her.

From the looks of it, her hapless husband had been transformed into a gingerbread man and exploded all over the diamond-studded countertops.

Little did Bootsy know that the chewy little city council cookies he had devoured that morning was no ordinary holiday treat. Imbued with strange powers, they gauged the personality of whomever ate them, then revealed and magnified even the most would-be secret character traits for all to see. In this case, the ill-fated Mr. Barrington von Krum had been exploded by his own enormous ego.

After the initial shock, Bootsy shrugged and whipped out her sleek little cellphone, her French-manicured fingers speed-dialing with practiced precision. First a call to Neiman Marcus to cancel her holiday order for antique golf clubs, then to her attorney to tell him she wouldn't be needing that divorce after all.

Of course, Mr. von Krum wasn't the only person who had eaten those cookies.

Just then, over at Police HQ, the phone rang...

"Hello? Hello? Police HQ? I need to speak with the top brass -- I mean the absolute biggest Boy in Blue (overalls) you've got."

Darin Boville, crouching in the midnight shadows outside of City Hall, spoke fervently and furtively into his ultra-state-of-the-art-beyond-high-tech cell phone (sorry, no web link available for purchase, as the phone is still in development).

"You-you-you've gotta get over here right away -- I just filmed something you won't believe!"

But just as Darin was about to reveal his deep, dark, cutting-edge secret...

...the Space Alien mothership had now descended and was hovering silently in the vicinity of Terrace Avenue. The craft's myriad hull lights twinkled in strange patterns. Suddenly, a blinding shaft of light lit up all the vacant land nearby.

Under the powerful alien beam, an astonishing time-warp into centuries past began to take place. First, all roads, ditches, and drains disappeared. Next,a sign for "Hog Wallow" materialized, and ghostly stagecoaches were seen making circuits around and around the property. Then, at five centuries past, native peoples could be seen burning the bunchgrass there, to clear the land for hunting. Finally, by ten centuries past, the whole area was transformed into a treeless dune, bereft of any sign of human encroachment, and stripped of its non-native plants. The entire property was now surrounded by a shimmering, impassible force-field.

"A-ha!" Space Alien Number One cried, "Another delightful puzzle for the humans to solve!"

"Indeed!" said Space Alien Number Two. "Many of us are now studying their reactions to this predicament..."

As the Aliens clapped their hands in glee, another tragic ginger incident was about to occur across town...

Meanwhile, over at Burger King, three mysterious figures in trench coats were clogging their digestive systems with disgusting Double Croissan'wiches™, drinking bad coffee and discussing the events that had taken place the night before.

The big topic of controversy was...

Why the city was allowing Ken King to roost in the middle of a wetland.

"It's decided," said one figure, taking a sip of the hot battery acid that passed for java in this joint. "The house must go, but Ken can stay now that he's turned into a frog."

Just then, a slippery snake named Mike slithered up to the counter, ordered some Cheesy Tots and joined the figures at their sticky table.

He whipped out his favorite newspaper, hot off the presses.

"Hey, have you guys read this yet?"

Web Link

Mike didn't have the only news in HMB, however.

At that very moment, over at Peet's...

Over at Peets, a group of coastside moms were trying to figure out how they could save the city. They didn't have any official political experience, but many of them had spent years in the trenches with rebellious toddlers and surly teenagers. Surely they could figure out a way to stop all the squabbling in HMB.

One of the moms had a brilliant idea. She suggested that they...

...send all interested parties to separate Time-Out areas in all four corners of town, until they learn to behave themselves!

Meanwhile, an unseen hand was placing a plate of gingerbread cookies on the counter at Peet's. Similar plates were appearing all over town. For a moment, it looked as if the hand was something else altogether. Were they fingers or were they tentacles? Who knew?....

Who knew that these cookies had unpredictable powers?

Sure, they had worked one way on the greedy and arrogant Mr. Von Krum, but that was because he had a Giant (really mega-colossal-super-duper) Ego.

But how many of those could there be on the Coastside? (Hmmm, perhaps we should not go there).

Still, the festive gingerbread men and women (which, it turns out, were baked in the clever shapes of all sorts of local figures and maybe even a few Space Aliens) could affect everyone differently.

As we learned earlier, upon eating the delectable treats, one's innermost ambitions, desires and character traits were instantly revealed and magnified to indeterminable proportions.

So really, this could turn out to be a good thing? Couldn't it...?

Meanwhile, over in Montara...

Meanwhile over in Montara, a mom going crazy from fighting with her two-year old all morning got desperate and called her friends at Peets and asked if she could meet them there for some talk that did not include Elmo.

She used to say she'd never go to a franchised coffee place, but that was before she had kids and had started living on high chair scraps and leftover Lunchables, along with large amounts of all the caffeine she could get. At this point even those wacky gingerbread cookies sounded good.

MB Mom told her to get her sweatsuited self down there from some high-octane caffeine and strategizing. She liked the Time Out idea, and there were lots more ways to get this community in line.

One thing that might work on the grumpy town that always worked with crabby kids was...

..was arranging a bus trip to Disneyland for the kids and a bus trip for the adults to Las Vegas. The town was in such a funk that the adults needed to get out of town for a couple of days while the nice owner of Wilkinson's volunteered to take over the Disneyland plans.

Since Bonnie was now the Mayor, she put together a committee to make the Vegas arrangements...

Back at Peet's, several new folks showed up to have a cuppa, grabbed the gingerbread cookies to use as dippers and showed their innermost desires. Among them were Chief Cole who stepped on Chief Ferriera's neck and took over his job. (God had told him to do this while he was meditating on the bluff... or maybe he was hearing Alien voices and not God's voice. Oh well, doesn't matter whose voice it was.) Bi-county Chief Cole immediately made every fire station from Montara to Santa Cruz CAL FIRE, appointed a fully trained paramedic (a total of five whimpy calls each) to each station and nominated himself for State Fire Chief of the Year. His best friend and puppet master Lane Lees also ate the gingerbread dippers, and he turned into...

Lane turned into a happy man with a great marriage. He decided to resign from the fire board, move out of his Pet Lawyer's house and move back to Folsom to his house with all his stuff.

Another person who ate the dippers was...

...planning on signing up for the Vegas trip. They sought out the Mayor and couldn't find her. They were in closed sessions deciding how many galas they could give at the Ritz to pay off the lawsuit. Suddenly, Bonnie opened the door...

Bonnie opened the door and belted out:

"We're in the money, we're in the money..."

People's jaws dropped and eyes bugged out, both because Bonnie had a truly amazing singing voice and because everyone knew that HMB had no money -- in fact, they had even less than none.

Bonnie treated everyone to a dazzling smile and began to outline her plan. She and her honor guard would gather all the citizens they could for the Big Holiday Vegas Trip.

The citizens could pool their savings and their kids' allowances and feed it it all into slot machines (or black jack dealers or whatever they liked most).

The council members, who were excited about all pulling together to make this community trip a reality, would continue to play (Russian) roulette with the city's budget.

The most important thing about all this was that the public issue take the city's situation seriously, which Farmer John feared the public was not doing. Hopefully this trip would do the trick.

Meanwhile, in the bar at the Ritz, there was a grudge match going on between...

That wild and crazy Judge Walker and M. Massara Esq. of Club Sierra (who had it all figured out -- just ask him.)

Outside the window, the roar of the surf drowned out the whimpers of an old dog named Bolsa Chica, whom everyone was trying to teach new tricks.

But BC wasn't the only one getting battered by a new agenda.

At that moment, in an undisclosed location...

There were probably a lot of things going on in undisclosed locations right now.

But in an undisclosed puddle or pond somewhere in town, an elite group of red-legged frogs was trying to figure out the definition of a wetland. That was really one of the keys to the mystery that was tantalizing the entire city.

The other, of course, had to do with the cries of Bolsa Chica, which had now escalated from whimpers to howls. The frogs had to croak very loudly to make themselves heard. That old dog was putting up quite a racket.

The largest of the amphibians puffed its throat and began to speak, "Ribbit-ahem-ribbit, there is one human who can provide answers to our questions and that is..."

The master of frogimonies was interupted before he could finish revealing the name of the one human who could provide answers and perhaps silence that annoying dog.

A blinding light brightened the sky! And it was not The Professor!

A striking long haired blond...dare I say hunk?...appeared, as if from nowhere, clutching a surf board. (This board is perhaps the prototype of the locally revered skateboard, citation needed.)

The god-like figure stated in an imposing voice, "I am Mark Adonis Arassam! I am here to save the wetlands!"

Silence reigned in the frogatorium. The figure went on, "I am an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. My cult belongs to women: the cult of dying Adonis is fully-developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos!" (Citation: Web Link )

The chief frog muttered, "Whatever..." and wondered if the cult this being was talking about was a part of the human anatomy...

Somewhere in the aether of an Ocean Colony kitchen a spirit cackled and was cheered that the cookies were working so well...

Life was good!

The spirits of Ocean Colony, of which there were three, cackled:

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair:

Hover through the fog and filthy air!"

And off they flew, to watch the trouble brew, in our fair town.

Would it all end like "The Scottish Play," whose name it is but a curse to say? Or....?

Would the jokers keep jousting with their local lances and battle axes?

Would HMB find salvation and a happy ending?

Or would the mystery continue...?

Mysteries continue until they are solved or somebody dies. Mack knew that, and he knew he couldn't rest one minute more. He couldn't rely on the flat feet to help him out this time.

He knew he'd spent too many minutes in the last days watching the farse of the cookies unfold. Disneyland had been fun, but it was time to act. The town was about to erupt like Mt. Fujiyama, and it wasn't going to be good.

Landlocked marshes, over-entitled frogs, fights between 100 year landowners and mere 10 year residents, Peets vs. Starbucks, who's buying the town, $40M lawsuits . . . his head was beginning to spin. And, when a big guy like him spins, baby it's no ballet. He slugged back some blue-green algae (which the Chamber was now selling at the fabulous new Ecotour Pond Spa), and radio'd Bev. She'd know what to do.

Bev did. She . . .

"Continue schomontinue!" thought The Professor out loud as darkness fell once again and he began his examination of another neighborhood with his trusty Sharper Image Night-Search Eye®. He would continue his campaign until he dropped!

Tonight he would cruise through Sea Haven, looking for dangerous plumes of PM laden air. Those small polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons would be the death of this town yet! Why couldn't they see that?

The Professor felt it was his duty, his dog given right to do something! Once his data was compiled he would go before the city council with charts and graphs and his trusty Sharper Image Night-Search Eye® and get some teeth put into the law!

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas trip being planned at the above mentioned city council's chambers was morphing into something else...

Bev had a great plan that involved Las Vegas, but only marginally. In fact, the more she thought about Las Vegas the more she hated it.

So she...

Decided to comb the local blogosphere for clues.

The first thing Bev did was examine the motives of the community and those who were supposed to be leading it: some official, some behind the scenes -- and some WAY behind the scenes.

On this blustery Coastside night, Bev settled in with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and her trusty laptop. If she scrutinized all the threads on Talkabout, maybe she'd get a clue as to what was REALLY going on in this wild and crazy town.

It didn't take long before she stumbled on something fascinating.

On the supercharged TA Blogwaves, someone inadvertently revealed that...

Bev learned that the whole Beachwood mess was the fault of Corporate America!

(Wanna-Be) King Kenneth made this clear in a valiant proclamation defending his best friend and wetland water snake.

Web Link

Well, now, that was a relief!

Since the city had been schnookered and bamboozled by Corporate America, Bev figured that best thing to do would be to beat the corporate criminals at their own game by...

The Professor stumbled about dizzily. The beam from his Sharper Image Night-Search Eye® arced out like a huge search light from his youth, celebrating the new model year for tail finned American made cars. (He and his cronies had managed to get rid of those with strict emmission laws, of course.)

He was very very dizzy from following weblinks out of the story and back into it.

It was surreal.

In the vicinity of Terrace Avenue the Mother Ship still hovered.

And then...

...Strains of that new holiday carol, " Our Frosty Clandestine Benefactor is Coming To Town," rang out somewhere in the rainy streets of HMB.

In an attempt to cheer the downcast residents of that unlucky city, an ecumenical choir had hastily formed. Donning makeshift choir robes, they'd grabbed their umbrellas and gathered at the end of Main Street. As they began to harmonize, even the ragged bundle lifted his voice in song. And for a brief moment, the croaking of frogs and the trilling of space aliens didn't seem quite so shrill. It was the season of goodwill toward men, after all...

... we're all Coastsiders. Whether you're an unkempt El Granada activist, a botox-swabbed OC golfer, a parched midcoaster, or a deer-in-the-headlights council member we're all in this together.

After listening to the choir on Main Street, everyone returned to their cars, and the aliens returned to their space ship, satisfied that the coastiders would band together to overcome the judgement cast against them, whereupon they found that some meddling kids had slashed their rocket booster. Looks like the aliens had to hang around for a while ...

Farther up the coast, in a small residential retirement home, the activities director was dutifully attempting to read a newspaper article about the $36.8 million Beachwood judgment, to her six elderly clients.

"Wetness? Did you say they've always had a wetness problem out there?" shouted 103-year-old Granny Granada.

"No. No." sighed the director, I said, "Wetlands."

"Speak for yourself!" yelled Granny G., taking a few vicious swipes with her cane, as...

Seeing as the aliens would be staying a while, they decided to find shelter. They found out from reading the HMB review that to find shelter, you must first find a real estate agent who can find the shelter for you.

This seemed like an odd way of doing things when houses are quite large (especially here on the coast) and are therefore easy to find. And real estate agents are somewhat smaller and would presumably be harder to find. Well, as we say on Zerkenisto, when in Kerplexia, do as the Kerplexians do.

Much to their delight, the aliens discovered that they couldn't open the space ship portal without hitting a real estate agent here on the coastside, and these agents were eager to do business (a little too eager, but the aliens were property virgins and therefore too naive to notice). When the first agent the aliens hit with their portal regained consciousness, ...

The befuddled RE agent, eager to get a real pro on the Alien case (and perhaps drum up another overpriced listing), tried to get Mack Montara, Coastside PI on to pick up his recalcitrant cell phone.

Little did he know that a certain well-dressed (and well-connected) Space Alien was already on Mack's case -- and someone else was hot to get the PI to pick up his cell phone.

At that moment, Mack Montara was wondering where to go for lunch. It was only mid-morning, but like everything else in town today, his stomach was rumbling. Just as he was trying to decide between a San Benito deli sandwich or stopping by Cunha's to pick up some of those Old-Fashioned Italian Sausages that Think Tank Wizard Brian Ginna liked so much, his cell phone rang.

"Mack, it's Brandy and I don't care how big a case you're on -- DO NOT HANG UP!" Brandy Alexander, former stripper and Mack's big-hearted, big-brained, big-busted next-door neighbor and would-be (if Mack had his way) paramour sounded more frantic than most people on the Coastside -- and that was saying a lot.

"Okay, okay, Brandy, don't get your g-string in a twist: whatcha got for me?"

"Good news and bad news, you big dope. Geez, if you can't even recall a conversation, I don't know how you ever got to be a PI," Brandy took a deep, yogic breath to regain composure, a trick she had learned when performing dangerous pole dancing maneuvers.

After centering herself, she continued, "Good news is, the fire's out in Montara, angry mob is gone and it looks like the Botox Babes have calmed down for the moment and taken a spa break. And the first part of the bad news is, I've gotta hella bloody skateboarder on my doorstep, along with a very stylish Space Alien in a Versace suit. They're looking for you -- got a case they want you to solve."

"Versace, " Mack said thoughtfully. "Sounds like that SA's got money. That's great news -- why are you calling it bad?"

"Because, Mack, " Brandy said impatiently. "This SA's mobbed up. He's here on earth to avenge his cousin Vito's death. He says some earth bozo killed Vito and he won't rest till that bozo is sleeping with the fishes. Wearing cement shoes, I might add."

"Sounds lucrative. And that is bad news because...?"

"Oh, Mack, don't you remember what happened last time you got involved with the mob?"

Mack did -- and he had the scars to prove it. (Being a family-friendly story, further details will not be revealed at this time). But that wasn't going to stop the intrepid PI from taking the case.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on the Coastside...

That somewhere else on the Coastside was right in the Burnham planned master community of El Grande Granada. The Wizards somehow had gotten transported down to somewhere, they weren't sure even with an address and a street map, but somewhere with the burning torches in hand they managed to catch another house on fire, a real fire, a real big fire that was threatening all the other homes around it.

The fantastic boys from El Grande Fire Station who knew all about the Burnham master community got there in time to rescue the maiden and her four footed friends, put the fire out, and save all the other homes.

But alas, the poor, Colely trained boys from near Mack's house were driving their nice firetruck around trying to figure out how to get from the 600 block to the 800 block. You see, Grand Puppetmaster Lees was trying to save so much money for the district and his own medical that he wouldn't even buy a map for the wall at the station near Mack's house. What the Grand Puppetmaster really needed to give them was a fancy transporter like the other guys got. He was trying to figure out a way to sue someone to get those when....

Is this going to be another bashing Lane Lees thread? I'm already bored. Keep the union vrs. union drama off of the website.

No one was bashing firefighters, their leaders or any of their politics.

Because something way hotter than that was going on!

All up and down the coast, beaches were being stormed by crowds of wild coastside wives and single gals, all of whom were absolutely on fire -- for the community's new hot pin-up surfer guy, Mark Adonis Arassam!

Every female heart was aflutter for the hunky Adonis (who was even hunkier than Hunky Jim Grady, and that was saying quite a lot).

The Botox Babes revered him because he was rich, famous (even had his own Wikipedia site: Web Link ) and obviously had a great personal trainer and hair stylist.

The Midcoast Mamas were wild about Adonis because he had begun his self-sacrificing career in environmental activism at the tender age of seven -- and what mom could resist that?

Oh, yeah: Adonis was hot all right.

In fact, the only person causing more of a ruckus today was...

An outer space band who called themselves "Thomas Jefferson Starship," was rehearsing a new number.

This intergalactic group of musician/environmentalists had been avidly studying American history and pop culture, with a special attention to the Coastside. After all, where could one find more exciting inspiration these days?

By perusing various scholarly texts and the cyberspace postings of the HMB review, they'd learned that they could now purchase Beachwood at the bargain price of $36.8 mil, which was only ten times greater than Thomas Jefferson had shelled out for the Louisiana Purchase (basically, the entire American West).

Who could resist a holiday deal like that?

Led by hunky guitarist Grady Slick, the band burst into what would become a chart-topping tribute to HMB city councils past (to the tune of "We Built this City on Rock & Roll")

"Oh, we bankrupted this city! Yeah, we bankrupted this city. We bankrupted this city on cock and bull!"

Meanwhile, back on the Coastside, other songs were being sung...

Like Bonnie, Naomi and Marina in chic Cyndi Lauper 80s rocker outfits, singing:

"Money Changes Everything!"

Another favorite was...

Daddy he once told me son you be hard workin man

And momma she once told me son you do the best you can

But, then one day I met a man who came to me and said

Hard work good, and hard work fine but first take care of head

I smoke two joints in the morning.

I smoke two joints at night.

I smoke two joints in the afternoon, it makes me feel alright

I smoke two joints in time of peace, and two in time of war

I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints,

And then I smoke two more

Chop Kennan sang "Liv-ing in a material world!" And the Botox Babes sang backup, "Material!"

Indeed, the strains of that last ballad had barely died out, before the Professor appeared again with his trusty smoke detector.

Smoke from wood fires, smoke from the Space Alien's malfunctioning rocket booster, yet more smoke from their blasted cigarette habit, and now, he detected traces of smoke from that infernal weed!

Something must be done about all these polluters. Who to call?

Mark Adonis Arassam! I am sure that the long-haired hippy surfing attorney would be happy to help finish off the weed so that there would be no more pollution, but first take care of head . . .

Wow! What a splitting headache...

Mack Montara, P.I., woke up in the trunk of a car, bound and gagged. From the twists and turns the vehicle was taking, the car seemed to be speeding up Highway 1, probably on Devil's Slide. Someone must have put his lights out right after he'd finished his phone call with Brandy Alexander, the one about Vito, the Space Alien who'd been offed.

As he struggled to free himself, Mack hunted for clues about the driver's identity. Something seemed familiar about this car. But what was it? If he could only remember...

Due to the increase in the incidence of head lice among our district pupils, we are alerting parents and guardians and emancipated minors to the problem. The following websites provide information that may be of help with these sorts of "head" problems.

Web Link Web Link and Web Link

The videos are incredible...er, incredibly helpful in ridding the subject of lice.

From the CDC Web Link

Lice are most commonly spread directly by head-to-head contact and much less frequently by lice that have crawled onto clothing or belongings. As a short-term measure to control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp, you can teach children to avoid playtime and other activities that are likely to spread lice.

* Avoid head-to-head contact common during play at school and at home (sports activities, on a playground, slumber parties, at camp).

* Do not share clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons.

* Do not share infested combs, brushes, or towels.

* Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.

This has been a pubic sevrice announcement.

All over the coast, a thoughtful public service announcement was helping folks with their holiday shopping -- especially the nitpickers.

Fingertips were clicking on weblinks and credit cards were burning hotter than the Adonis cult.

Among the suggestions for the recipient who has everything (except a clue):

A refreshing natural Colon Cleanse would be a wonderful gift for many local officials, as it would clear their pipes of any excess -- er -- waste matter.

For those CCFers looking for more ways to stomp on wetlands, a high-end all natural solution was available (please see heartwarming video mentioned above for details).

Hmm, if it could kill crickets with such grace and aplomb, could it do away with frogs and other pesky wetland creatures as well? A nice addition was the use of aromatic essential oils that were as gentle to the skin as they were tough on insidious crawly things that messed with one's head, which reminded the Botox Babes to schedule facials and hairstyling appointments for next week. In keeping with the holiday spirit, it would be shipped plain brown box, so as not to spoil the festive surprise.

And for those folks who were too jumpy to shop, well, there was a helpful site offering Panic Button to help them if they felt like bailing out.

Of course, most coastiders were just out enjoying a merry Friday evening.

One of the more intriguing gatherings was a party going on at...


The place was lit up like a neon Xmas tree. The windows were steamed with good cheer. Music blared from speakers as Open Mike (Ferreira? Massara? Savage?) sang kareoke.

But outside by the double decker bus, a familiar figure was branshing his favorite Sharper Image weapon, screaming, "I can smell it and I am breathing it! Even if I can't smell it I might still be breathing it!"

Someone inside the bus looked out through the window, waved a smouldering stogie and stuck out her tongue.


Meanwhile in a messy house in Moss Beach, MB Mom was tearing her hair out (well what was left of it anyway -- much of it had to be hacked off after a little chewing gum incident with her seven-year-old, who needless to say had not started on a career of selfless environmental activism like certain surfer guys mentioned above).

If there was a party going on, it was between her toddler and the DVD player which was blaring out The Grinch for the zillionth time this week.

MB Mom was bored and lonely so she crashed her favorite mystery story. She couldn't say who she was because she had told another mommy who was having a holiday kid party that MB Mom couldn't make it because she was going to another party for her husband's business, which was a total lie. But MB mom had no clean clothes for her or the kids because the laundry was still piled up from the entire week. She also had not baked the cookies or brownies or cake that good mothers were supposed to bring to this thing.

MB Mom sighed. She needed adventure in her life. Could Mack Montara or a space alien or anyone else tell her how she could help save the coastside?

Gruff as Mack Montara was, he could never have resisted a heart-felt plea like the one from MB Mom. However, he was tied up at the moment, in more ways than one!

He felt for his cell phone, which had slipped underneath him onto the car truck floor. If he could just loosen these ropes a bit, he could grab the phone...

Meanwhile, he heard a song playing through the car's speakers--what was it?...

Fah-who foraze!

Dah-who doraze!

Was that the sound coming from the car speakers?

The music continued:

Welcome, Christmas, come this way!

MB Mom blinked and shook her sleep-deprived head. No, the song was coming from the DVD player, where her toddler lately known only as Terrible Two was once again glued to the Whos down in Whoville while she spilled dry Cheerios all over the rug and refused to get dressed.

MB Mom really wanted to help Mack Montara. She wanted to help him a lot more than she wanted to drive over the hill to go Christmas shopping with Terrible Two screaming her head off in her car seat and her son Lucky 7 yelling once again about why their beat-up car didn't have a DVD player like the nice SUVs a lot of his friends' moms drove.

But when she asked for advice on Talkabout, no one responded. She understood Mack was stuck in a car trunk, but still.

She yelled at Lucky 7 to stop tormenting his sister. No response. Upstairs, her husband slept peacefully. Another Saturday morning.

And everyone was ignoring her, as usual. MB Mom sighed. She seemed to be doing a lot of sighing these days. Oh well. Whatever. If she wanted in on this story it looked like she'd have to figure out how to do it herself. She decided to do some snooping around on her own.

Meanwhile, in the trunk of that car...

(MB Mom was now on the case! And, given the gravity of the situation, so were a lot of other folks. Including a few you might not expect. But more about that later...)

Somewhere up the coast, in the chilly trunk of a now-parked car, Mack Montara, Coastside PI, drifted in and out of consciousness.

His head hurt like hell and his brain was foggy from the effects of some evil thing or other. Since he'd been abducted before he'd had a chance to slam back his usual nightly dose of Rebel Yell, it couldn't be a hangover.

Nope, he'd definitely been drugged -- and he didn't think that this time it had anything to do with cookies.

Mack couldn't think straight about anything right now, except that his body was going nuts from being bound and gagged all night. He also had to pee like a race horse -- but he would have to ignore that one for now.

And speaking of racing, fragments of songs were twisting and dancing through his garbled mind, coming to him from all over Talkabout -- and beyond.

"Where's the money, where's the money...Am I losing you...We bankrupted this city on cock and bull..Country roads take me home...City council members just want to have fun...You broke my city in 38.6 million pieces and I can't put it back together again...Like a bridge over troubled waters...Gypsies, tramps and thieves...You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch!"

As the music flowed over him, Mack remembered what Brandy had told him about messing with the mob. Why was it that dames were always right? Well, at least this one would have the brains (and heart) not to say I told you so. That is, if he stayed alive long enough for her to speak to him again.

Meanwhile, it was a sunny Saturday on the Coastside. Back in HMB...

It was clear that the way-too-funny MB Mom and the aching Mack Montara, PI had to get together to get this cased solved. Now, the writer of this part cannot remember what the case is anymore, but that doesn't matter.

Suddenly, Brandy became very upset that she wasn't able to get a hold of her favorite stogey smokin' Sugar Daddy and came up with a brilliant plan, at least she thought it was. She called the fire department to find the missing Mack and spring him from the trunk. After all those hunky guys had opened her car door to get her keys four times before. (They were always quick in their response.)

Now the only problem was that this was a Montara call so the poor Colely trained boys just drove around lost trying to find the vehicle. Not until the El Grande Granada Half-way House boys showed up, did they find the car that Mack had spent the night in. They heard such sounds from the trunk.

They sprung the trunk with the jaw of life and....

were shocked to see MB Mom in the trunk. During the night she had switched placed with Mack, leaving him time to track down some leads she came up with. Out she popped, fresh as a daisy, having had the first full night of sleep in 7 years. God, it felt good, actually sleeping through a full night. It did occur to her to wonder how the sleeping hulk at home did with Terrible Two and Lucky 7, but she didn't spend more than a couple of thoughts before she drifted off for 8 full hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Meanwhile Mack had been hot on the trail all night. MB Mom had been right. SAs can be crafty, and these guys were no exception. Pretending to be aligned with a certain group (really - c'mon. An SA named "Guido?"), they diverted attention from what they were really after. Snaking around a shed in Princeton Harbor, Mack found what he was looking for. Piled high in the dark recesses of the shed were hundreds of . . .

... beautifully shaped and decorated longboards! These were carefully stacked inside the shed, as well as numerous other important objects associated with that annual December ritual on the coastside, where the legendary surf-gods gather.

But what purpose could the Space Aliens possibly have for hiding this cache of gorgeous treasure? Could it be that they were planning to...

Infiltrate the now infamous Mavericks surf contest. Mack thought to himself, "But, on Longboards? Leave it to the SAs to biff yet again. Everyone knows that the short board is the official board of the Mavericks surf contest. Or is it?"

Then Mack realized he didn't know diddly squat about surfing. He was a PI for crying out loud, not some big-shouldered pecked-out bleach-blond cutie. And lord knows that MB Mom and Brandy wouldn't have wanted him that way. No limited edition cold water wetsuit could make him look like a bombshell. His charm was in his smarmy standoffishness and his slightly paunchy tough-guy attitude. In the way his hair curled slightly at the back of his neck. His jeans just a little tighter than they were 10 years ago. And that slight odor that preceded him through the door . . . a little bit of old Colt 45 behind the ears in the morning and a shower at least once a week. That's what really worked with the dames. . .

He shook himself. Better get back on the case. Think, do some analysis. Work through the puzzles.

Why were the SAs stockpiling longboards? Was it part of some plot against the Mavericks competition? O'neill vs. Billabong? Locals vs. Outsiders?

Was it a plot against the City? Against the environmentalists? Was it some type of takeover attempt of the entire town - growthers, no growthers, farmers, local business owners, schoolteachers? Was it a way of hiding red, green and orange legged frogs? Three legged cats?

Mack knew that this Mystery of the Missing was just about that. And as far as he knew, there were no longboards reported missing. But, where were their riders. Where were the surfers that rode those mighty boards?

Feeling close to something, Mack felt he had stumbled on the crux of a clue. Maybe the Mystery of the Missing is about what is actually missing. Where were the riders of those longboards? And where were the SAs who took them?

Mack scratched his head for a moment, contemplating the puzzle of the out-sized boards and the Space Aliens.

It was true that the SA's were physically large beings, heavy, and none too graceful. Their big green limbs protruded out of their borrowed pin-striped suits in a way that was hard to hide.

Could it be that the longboards had been fashioned just for them?

Mack had noticed a group of the green creatures looking toward the surf with a great longing, directing their wiggly antennae in a straight line toward Pillar Point. Were they trying to commune with...

...trying to commune with their glorious leader, Mark Adonis Arassam, the most excellent kahuna to shoot the tube!

Nearby, a strange voice seemed to issue from an apparently abandoned ginger-red building hunched next to Hwy 1. The building had an uncanny resemblence to a remodeled train station--newly updated due to what appeard to be a new paint job. But it had the abandoned look of a Christmas tree lot the day after.

The voice faded in and out like a bad AM station. And then...

it finally began to dawn on Mack that the Space Alien's antennae weren't just tuning in the Maverick's festivities--but were directed instead toward Pillar Point station's mysterious Golf Ball on the hill. Of course! They were attracted to the station's powerful radar...

These SA's were a puzzle alright. Disarmingly naive, yet simultaneously devious, they'd apparently gathered the bulk of their information about humans from just two sources: the Half Moon Bay Review TalkAbout pages, and a battered set of 4 DVDs--The Sopranos, Second Season.

Lost in thought, Mack absentmindedly ran his hand along one of the longboards. It was a beauty--such an unusual design--and what was this material? Suddenly, the board lit up, and for a moment, Mack thought he saw down through the surface to what looked like fantastically sophisticated electronics inside. There were glowing wires, circuits, and what looked unmistakably like a map...a map of...

...a map of Beachwood, Pacific Ridge, Podesta...and suddenly it was all clear to him in a way it had never been before.

Meanwhile, the Space Aliens had indeed been studying the postings on TalkAbout assiduously, and had now decided that certain TalkAbout luminaries, by virtue of the frequency and vehemence of their postings, must be regarded as Earth beings of particular creative genius. In this, they believed that the one called "Oh Spank Me," must be the one most worthy of emulation.

"Bla bla bla bla," the SA's chanted, in unison.

"WE KNOW ITS BROK-LETS FIX IT," the Space Aliens continued.

All bowed their heads in silent respect, as...

...As the frenzied cybersignals leaped and sparked and exploded in a cheerful, rainbow-hued smiley face over the harbor's venerable Golf Ball. Then fizzled out -- for the moment, anyway.

Yes, it was obvious that Space Aliens were running wild on the Coastside.

Given that the original organic-fair trade-coffee-cup-shaped spacecraft had landed at the harbor (just behind Ms. Betty Duball's favorite monster mall), it made perfect sense that those wily SA's were plotting and planning to crash the Maverick's surf contest. The timing was just a little too perfect to be otherwise.

As for the Beachwood debacle -- well, since no self-respecting Coastsider would behave with the crazed mania that many local blogoholics and other politicos were demonstrating, it was obvious that there was some SA possession going on there as well.

And as for the Coastside presence SA mob, much as some eloquent local mystery scribes did not wish to believe it (who would?), there had indeed been a murder of a not-very-intelligent SA very early in this story (check it out for yourself if you don't believe it). That doofy SA (whose name, we later learned, was "Vito") was indeed "connected" (in space) and like it or not, his Family was honor-bound to avenge his untimely demise.

And that is why the stylish SA in the Versace suit (who, when on earth, called himself "Tony") was combing the coastside for his cousin Vito's killer.

In order to glean inside local info, Tony the SA had gotten himself a job making mozzarella at several of the Coastside's esteemed Italian restaurants, dividing his time between It's Italia, Pasta Moon and Mezza Luna. He had accomplished this by introducing himself as "a friend from the other side." Now, since there are no real mob guys on the coast, the naturally friendly restaurateurs didn't get the -- uh-- connection and simply thought he was being friendly. Which was, perhaps, a mistake.

However, at this moment, there was something very odd going on over at the "vacant" Red Ginger restaurant...

Something was going on at Red Ginger? Really? MB Mom had always wanted to go there when it was open but it was never quite within her budget and besides no babysitter on the coastside would subject themselves to the horrors of Terrible Two & Lucky 7.

Wait, speaking of babysitters, who was taking care of the kids? MB Mom yawned. The night she had spent in the trunk of that car was the best sleep she had gotten in, what? Seven years? Probably longer if you counted the pregnancy from hell she had with Lucky 7. Yeah, compared to her usual nights, the trunk was heaven.

No Legos or Leap Frog parts poking her. No Cheerios or bits of trail mix under her pillow. Well of course there was no pillow, but the spare tire was good enough for her. Best of all, that whole long night there was no one shrieking "MOMMY!" Over and over and over.

Oh, well, Mack Montara said he'd either take care of them or arrange something. The kids' father, who was so easygoing he called himself The Potted Plant, had a golf date today. (Note to everyone who thinks only Ocean Colony guys are golf addicts: totally propaganda). So he wouldn't be around.

Huh. Last MB Mom had read, Mack Montara was at the harbor trying to zip up his wetsuit. So maybe he had arranged for that nice Brandy Alexander to babysit.

Good luck with that one, MB Mom thought.

Some moms might not want an ex-stripper watching their kids but MB Mom was way too desperate to care. Besides, she had read that Brandy was a really nice person who was friends with lots of people in Montara.

Anyway the stripper job was a long time ago. Hey, maybe Brandy could teach Terrible Two a little something about stripping and get her to take off that gross Little Mermaid sweatshirt she'd insisted on wearing for the past week. As for Lucky 7, if Brandy had ever tangled with hardcore criminals she'd probably be okay with that little guy.

MB Mom shrugged. She was feeling really good today. She hadn't even sighed once (yet). This mystery adventure stuff was turning to be very good for her.

Her mommy radar told her the kids would be fine (not sure about the wellbeing of the babysitter though).

MB Mom headed for Red Ginger...

Red Ginger was locked tight, but all kinds of strange things were happening in HMB.

There was a mysterious death at McDonalds and some people were questioning what the unfortunate guy might have eaten.

It wasn't just what folks ate that was causing odd reactions, but what they drank. Since this was a time to stay focused, most everyone had given up liquor in favor of soft drinks.

A favorite was Kool-Aid, which was evidenced by the stands that were popping up all over town. Every organization had its own special flavor -- in fact, those with lots of internal creativity offered several different flavors.

The beverage was so popular that folks could even do a vertical tasting flight. Of course, since the effects could knock you horizontal (as was evidenced by some of the local bloggers), this was not necessarily recommended.

One person who was drinking the Kool-Aid was...

ONE person who was drinking the Kool Aid?

Even from all the way up at the North Pole, Santa could gaze into his crystal snowball and see that there were so many elected officials and local pundits guzzling the stuff that it was pointless to try to figure out who was imbibing the most.

Santa felt sorry for the coastside. After all, most folks hadn't even been aware that their town might be facing something as serious as bankruptcy. They were busy people with kids and jobs and personal lives to lead. Not mention holiday shopping to do and cards to write and parties to go to.

When this Beachwood mess hit, who could blame them for being a little confused?

Santa decided to take a little time out from tuning up his sleigh and overseeing elf operations to give the good citizens of HMB an early Christmas present.

His special surprise was...

Santa's surprise gift to Coastsiders was a magic crystal snowball, very similar to the one described above.

Whoever looked into it (provided he or she had the proper holiday spirit) would be treated to select scenes from past, present and future. A lucky few would even be able to witness what might be or could have been. The real grinches and scrooges, however, would see nothing but their own grumpy reflections.

On a chilly, starry Monday evening when most folks were rushing home from work or picking kids up from afterschool sports or deciding what to have for dinner, Santa hitched a couple of ultra-fast reindeer (with high security clearances) to a scaled-down version of his usual sleigh (which was already being loaded for Christmas Eve).

The visitors from the North Pole landed on Main Street, unnoticed by the busy Coastsiders who were engrossed in ordinary life and extraordinary politics.

Santa set up the magic crystal snowball in the little park over near Stone Pine Center, then took to the skies with his team and disappeared into the the almost-winter night.

Glowing with an enchanted, opalescent light all its own, the crystal snowball waited for someone to discover it.

Just then...

A man with a stilted gait halted in his quest for morning coffee. Noting the glowing opalescent object as its luminescence was challenged by the rising sun, he carefully crept closer and gazed into the crystal snowball.

As he peered into the swirls of light and snow thw swirls came together and a scene began to coalesce.

He was standing on Main Street. Okay, maybe it was a holographic image of himself, because he was crouched here gazing into the sphere...but anyway, he found himself standing at a poduim on Main Street, downtown Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, California, USA, North America, United Nations, and he was giving a speech!

And this is what he said:

"No, I am only going to post revisions in the topics where I referred to Viggo Mortensen by the incorrect name. (I called him Viggio.) Remember, The Mystery of the Missing (Fill in the Blank) is searchable by Google (and other search services), so I want each plot twist to be self-contained with all appropriate corrections or clarifications. I have tried my best to keep the plot on track, but diversions by others make that impossible. I'll have updates for some of the other plot twists where I appear soon."

His rapt viewing was interupted when...

When a noisy group of mysterious figures converged upon the shadowy park.

Had they heard about the powers of the crystal snowball -- or were they looking for...

A group of mysterious figures descending on the park? Oh, no!

MB Mom gulped. She really, really hoped it wasn't Child Protective Services hunting her down for leaving Terrible Two and Lucky 7 with Brandy Alexander the ex-stripper for all this time.

MB Mom had meant to go pick up the kids but she was having so much fun snooping around the coastside she totally forgot. Also she couldn't remember exactly where Brandy lived. It was probably in this story somewhere but so far MB Mom had been too tired to read back through the whole twisted thing.

You probably had to be a mom to relate to this but MB Mom honestly could not recall the last time she'd left the house without one or usually two screaming appendages. Well, unless you count the time she was rushed to the hospital to have her appendix out, which MB Mom didn't.

Anyway, MB Mom's cell phone hadn't rung and she hadn't heard any sirens lately, so the kids must be fine. So here she was in the park with the same question she had back at Red Ginger, which some other Talkabout sleuther had locked her out of.

(Oh good: the mysterious figures were just high school kids walking over to get a pizza. Whew. Close call.)

But where was everyone? Where was Mack Montara and the Grand Wizard and Twin Peaks and Secret Squirrel? As usual, it looked like MB Mom was too late. Story of her life. Late for play group, late for school, late returning library books and now too late to solve mysteries and save HMB.

But wait, there WAS a weird little guy on stilts looking into that crystal snowball thing.

And it looked like there was someone sneaking up behind him. It was...

aliens?...Botox Babes?...Mack Montara?...MB Mom?...Bloodied Skateboarder?...County Officials?...HMB's Finest?...no, maybe none of these...maybe they were looking for...

They were all looking for Ms. Betty Duball, who had mysteriously disappeared awhile back.

She was following her nose along the dark cliffs of Montara or Moss Beach (not sure exactly where) in search of a stinky sulfur smell. Apparently, she stuck her nose in other people's smelly business once too often because someone sneaked up behind her and did something or other with her.

Hmmm, come to think of it, Rocky Cliffs seems to have disappeared too.

Could it be that Rocky and Betty were...

Could it be that Rocky & Ms. Betty had eloped?

Were orchestrating a war against wingnuts, skateboarders and anything that pooped?

Or could their sudden disappearance be something more sinister, like...

... Black Helicopters! In the dark night, flying without lights and markings. Inside were the high priests of the LCP, who had received pilot training in secret camps in Kramistan. The craft were recently purchased from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which had used them for their own paramilitary operations in Idaho.

What was the LCP up to? It could not be anything good. From the command center deep in the remote corner of Montara, the Grand Wizard attentively watched his Radar screens and kept his radio unit close by. The time was near for their mission to start.....

But Santa Claus had other ideas.

He was determined to bring joy to the coastside and ram it down their chimneys (which, BTW, was NOT considered development by Darin Boville), whether they liked it or not.

Santa and his team of top security clearance reindeer were well on their way back to the North Pole when the frenzied helicopter noise interrupted the festive rounds of "Jingle Bells" being sung by Rudolph to alleviate the tedium of the journey.

The intrepid Mr. Claus turned the sleigh around and headed for Montara.

Meanwhile, in HMB, the glorous Botox Babes were back. And like everyone else in town, they had a plan (but had not yet gotten around to releasing a "white paper," which would have ruined the white tips on their French manicures).

They were, however, releasing something else -- and that was...

We pause in these exciting adventures (which we will get back to shortly) to bring you a Public Service Announcment from

The Professor

"Please do not use the term 'ram it down their chimneys'. This could cause damage to those inside the house by exposing them to higher concentrations of Particulate Matter. People get sick from breathing wood smoke's fine particulate matter (PM2.5), some even die: 30,000 every year in the United States and almost two million worldwide. Some people would not have died at this point in their lives if something hadn't been rammmed down their chimneys, causing their houses to overflow with PM2.5 filled smoke. However, we honor these people in their selfless absorption of the deadly PM2.5s that otherwise would have escaped into the air and killed others instead. These victims of chimney ramming are true martyrs. An though I feel for them, they really deserve to die because they had chimneys and fires in the first place."

Now, back to our story.

They were, however, releasing something else -- and that was...

a fantastic new fragrance called "Tit-for-Tat," a concoction that the Botox Babes had just whipped up from the coast's very own special blend of ingredients.

Three parts vitriol, one part alcohol, with a strong whiff of sulfur and a hint of mint, the Botox Babes felt sure their exclusive new perfume would make a big hit in all the toniest boutiques, especially when packaged with the companion cologne for men, "Lord of the Flies."

Meanwhile, Ms.Betty Duball was struggling with the stilted figure to get a look into the crystal ball at Stone Pine center. Pulling off one of his stilts, she dealt him a roundhouse blow that sent him reeling, then stared down into the swirling globe to see...

There were so many things being revealed inside Santa's magic crystal snowglobe that it was hard for Ms. Betty (despite her cool coke-bottle glasses) to make sense of it all.

The first image was of a wild, snapping creature (whose collar tag read "King Kon") being exercised on a leash by two hooded figures. According to Brian Ginna, the leash was too long. However, it seemed to be provided plenty of roaming room for local satirists.

Next, Ms. Betty (who, despite her razor-sharp-out-of-control tongue, really had lots of holiday spirit) saw images of the HMB that might have been.

A far cry from the disastrous Daly City slickdom predicted by King Kon, it was a picturesque little town whose pastoral splendor was enhanced by efficient roads, good schools and even a club for the area's charming Boys & Girls (who all got along whether they went to private schools or not).

Suddenly, the sparkling snow inside the globe whipped into a blizzard-like fervor, revealing a terrifying tableau that shocked even worldly wise grande dame like the salty Ms. Betty.

Her myopic eyes bugged out in holiday horror as she saw...

a truly dark and Hobbesian vision of HMB, a "war of all against all," in which every citizen was pitted against every other citizen, in hand-to-hand fighting. Pitched battles were being fought from avenue to avenue over every square inch of ground, earthenworks had been hastily thrown up around Terrace Avenue, and the hills were ablaze.

An anonymous rabble had already stormed the bastions of Ocean Colony three times.

Downtown, city hall was a fortified bunker, with a rotating pillbox on top from which issued occasional bursts of cannon-fire. Outside the city limits, an army of lawyers waited, their eyes gleaming with excitement, as they contemplated pillaging what remained of the fabled city...

Ms. Betty Duball shuddered at the sight, and rubbed her eyes, just as...

Just as the snowglobe began to spark furiously, treating the appalled Ms. Betty to an equally abominable coastside scene that was happening at that very moment.

Did that hussy Brandy Alexander have no shame?!?!?!?

As the snowflurries in the magic crystal globe cleared (or actually, melted at the sizzling scene before them, which had nothing to do with global warming), the image came into focus. It was the cluttered kitchen table of ex-stripper Brandy Alexander, Mack Montara's big-hearted, big-brained neighbor.

Brandy, accompanied by two grubby kids that must belong to MB Mom, was happily cutting and pasting as she put together a holiday calendar to be sold to benefit the needy citizens of HMB.

Entitled "Totally Hot Guys of the Coastside," it featured breathtaking color photos (some shot by anonymous canaries, others pulled from Review archives and Wikipedia pages) of assorted local heart-throbs: Hunky Jim Grady, Dreamy Chris Mickelson, Cheerful Charlie Gardner, Hooah! David Smydra, Marvelous Mark Massara...

This was as far they'd gotten (it was tough to choose with so much civic-minded sizzle and tempting testosterone in town), but it was enough to make Ms. Betty's blood boil -- and not in a good way.

Muttering to herself about the dearth of good old-fashioned morals in this fool anarchist community, Ms. Betty set off to correct the shocking situation.

Meanwhile, in his speeding sleigh high above the coastside, Santa Claus was...

Santa Claus was making good use of travel time by making a list and checking it twice, trying to figure out who on the coastside was naughty and who was nice.

With all the squibbling and squabbling lately, this wasn't easy to figure out. Even previously easygoing folks were starting to show signs of holiday/lawsuit wear and tear. Rumor had it that instead of eating Christmas cookies at city hall, people had resorted to throwing them at each other.

Even the mellow HMB Review editor was feeling the strain. Clay had considered hiring Mack Montara to figure out who was masquerading as whom on Talkabout. However, ace publisher Deb Godshall had brilliantly bagged the impostors with swift cybershot.

Up in his sleigh, Santa (at Ms. Godshall's direction) was busily jotting down IP addresses (in addition to his usual chimney notations and reindeer landing pad locations).

He was also noting more ideas for early holiday gifts to cheer up careworn coastsiders. Santa had already given Charlie G and CCF some free publicity (via an eloquent editorial by a very talented if somewhat harried elfin journalist, who also provided the gift of proving that CCF was not the tool of the Review, as many of the organization's detractors had assumed).

Santa had also thoughtfully provided Wanna-Be-King Kenneth and the Perky Professor with great wildlife-watching/well-drilling weather and an articulate elfin admirer named "Crosswalks = Growth."

What more could anyone want?

Well, there were a few other things coastsiders could really use right now, like...

How about a sense of humor?

And maybe some...

Some straitjackets. Actually, make that a lot of them. For the holidays, they could be decked out with loony reindeer and insane Santas with little holly berry ties. We could also ask St. Nick for some mufflers to silence all the crackpot lunacy around here. About the only thing we don't need are blindfolds. Plenty of folks seem to be wearing those.

If we're really desperate though, we could request...

Pray for surf, kooks!

Nothing better than that, right?

Yeah, well surf wasn't the only thing that was up around town.

Over at McD's in HMB, there were plenty of unsolved mysteries (and not just the ones revolving around exactly what was IN those burgers, anyway).

Nope, there was trouble lurking around those golden arches.

But where the heck was Mack Montara...?

Just as the snowglobe began to spark furiously, treating the appalled Ms. Betty to an equally abominable coastside scene that was happening at that very moment.

Did that hussy Brandy Alexander have no shame?!?!?!?

As the snowflurries in the magic crystal globe cleared (or actually, melted at the sizzling scene before them, which had nothing to do with global warming), the image came into focus. It was the cluttered kitchen table of ex-stripper Brandy Alexander, Mack Montara's big-hearted, big-brained neighbor.

Brandy, accompanied by two grubby kids that must belong to MB Mom, was happily cutting and pasting as she put together a holiday calendar to be sold to benefit the needy citizens of HMB.

Entitled "Totally Hot Guys of the Coastside," it featured breathtaking color photos (some shot by anonymous canaries, others pulled from Review archives and Wikipedia pages) of assorted local heart-throbs: Hunky Jim Grady, Dreamy Chris Mickelson, Cheerful Charlie Gardner, Hooah! David Smydra, Marvelous Mark Massara...

This was as far they'd gotten (it was tough to choose with so much civic-minded sizzle and tempting testosterone in town), but it was enough to make Ms. Betty's blood boil -- and not in a good way.

Muttering to herself about the dearth of good old-fashioned morals in this fool anarchist community, Ms. Betty set off to correct the shocking situation.

Meanwhile, in his speeding sleigh high above the coastside, Santa Claus was...

Where the heck WAS Mack Montara?

Funny, that's just what Mack Montara, Coastside P.I., was wondering as he blinked and looked around him in what was getting to be a perpetual state of confusion.

Last thing he remembered, he was struggling to finesse his wetsuit over his well-fed middle-aged physique when -- boom, some bozo beaned him on the head and knocked his lights out. Next thing he knew, he found himself high and dry on those mysterious rings over at Surfer's Beach (the ones some folks claimed were part of a Coastside anachronism once known as "infrastructure").

Well, whatever had happened, his disgruntled stomach was growling that it was well past its lunchtime. Still half-zipped into his thrift-store wetsuit, Mack hopped into his rusted-out Dodge Dart and headed over to McDonald's to fuel up on a quartet of QPs with extra cheese, super size me fries and the biggest chocolate shake their machines could spew out.

Over at McD's, he was treated to a contingent of Coastside lookie-loos pretending to be CSI investigators. Beside speculations on a recent death (by natural causes, so said HMBs Boys in Blue), folks were worrying about whether or not to arm themselves against a spate of holiday burglaries.

The P.I.'s droopy brown eyes lit up: hey, this could be another case for the insatiable Mack Montara!

At that moment, Mack caught sight of a furtive figure slinking around over by the drive through. Holy Hamburgers -- could this be the culprit folks were fearing?!?!?

Yep, the guy looked just like his mug shot (which readers can check out here -- hint, he's the one in the stylin' striped outfit: Web Link ).

All thoughts of lunch vanished from his mind as Mack took off in hot pursuit...

All the time Mack had been washed up on Surfer's Beach jealously hallucinating about Brandy Alexander and her candypants calendar boys, Brandy had been dreaming about him.

Like everyone else, she was unnerved by the holiday home invasions. Space aliens were bad enough, but real live human burglars were something else. She was a liberated gal, but times like this she wished she had a big strong man to protect her.

But she didn't. She didn't even have MB Mom's kids, who were currently across the street tormenting the neighbor's cat.

And all the while, someone (the same sinister figure Mack had glimpsed at McD's?) had been watching and waiting -- and he was getting closer by the minute...

As the hulking figure approached the house, Brandy noticed that he appeared to be a hunchback. Paralyzed with fear, Brandy huddled under the kitchen table, just as she did when Lucky 7 and Terrible Two were chasing each other around the house earlier.

Just then, the hunchback opened the door to the house and called out, "The potted plant's back. Hello? Anyone?". When Brandy tentatively approached the figure, she saw that he wasn't a hunchback after all, but that he was carrying a golf back, which he then dropped carelessly on the floor.

He turned to look at her and said, "Hi Honey, what's for dinner?" Hmm, thought Brandy, he thinks I'm his wife. They must not see each other that often. Being hungry for a strong man, Brandy had an idea...

Wow, Santa's cool crystal snowball was coming in really handy!

MB Mom stood in the park by Stone Pine center with a slice of It's Italia pizza in one hand and a beer from 7-11 in the other. This surveillance stuff was so great -- way more fun to stare into a magic snow thingy and see weird scenes than to be bombarded by those happy Whoville whos (who were probably all on Prozac or had never had kids, one or the other) all day.

Snowball thingys were also a great way to keep track of kids. Much better than the zillion dollar nanny cam system her friend OC Mom had. (Note: For the record, MB Mom didn't know any actual moms in Ocean Colony who had ever had time for botox, despite all the Botox Babes in this story. Maybe the Babes were smart enough to have grownup kids.)

Anyway, earlier, when MB Mom had looked in the snowball and watched Terrible Two and Lucky 7 help Brandy making the Totally Hot Guys of the Coastside calendar, she thought: you go, girl! After all it was a charity project and the guys were all political and that would teach the kids about civics.

But mostly she wasn't going to argue because there were two words MB Mom would never, ever, ever, question: Free Babysitter.

Okay, so now there was this complication: her husband (a.k.a. The Potted Plant) was home from his golf marathon and seemed to think Brandy was his wife. How the heck he could make that wild mistake MB Mom did not know, as the last time her boobs had been as big as Brandy's was when MB Mom was nursing and her mind was even more garbled than it had been lately. Back then, MB Mom felt like a regular walking dairy. Moo.

Brandy was no dairy, though. She was a tall, cool drink of water or maybe primo vodka. The Potted Plant had a real weakness for Ketel One martinis too. Hmmmmm.

MB Mom wished the snowball would let her read minds, not just see images.

What WERE those two thinking?

Just then...

...a sharp rapping on the windowpane drew the attention of Brandy Alexander and her bewildered inamorato, the Potted Plant, to the front window, where the fierce visage of none other than Ms.Betty Duball appeared over the hedges...

Ever resourceful, Brandy was well armed as well as well endowed. She reached into her, um, cleavage, knocking The Potted Plant aside (he was attempting to repot himself rather close to her, much to her chagrin, so you could look at this as a two birds with one stone thing).

"I am prepared!" she proclaimed gleefully. "I read the article in the Review and then the comments on that marvel of informed discussion, Talkabout, and I....am....pre....pared!"

From the depths she pulled out a cannister of pepper spray! Or she thought it was pepper spray. She'd not looked at it closely when Mack Montara had handed it to her. When she'd mentioned making the purchase the other day, Mack had patted her hand and told her not to worry her pretty little head, he had some in his desk drawer.

The idiot! As she gazed that the bottle of Tabasco the sharp rapping on the window pane sounded once again. She had the feeling someone was peering in the window.

And then...

The security alarm on the back door went off. The Potted Plant dove for a safe position behind the couch, as Brandy turned to face this new challenge. Someone was testing the doorknob...click...click...

Click, click went the doorknob. Yup.

Now normally any time something clicked or screamed or pooped, MB Mom would come running no questions asked. But she was not feeling normal these days. And this, as Martha Stewart (the nemesis of all mommies except the Stepford ones) would say, was a good thing.

MB Mom was really grooving on this P.I. surveillance stuff which had way better hours and lots more perks than her usual routine.

Take last night, for instance. She'd upgraded from sleeping in mob (or whoever's) car trunks to getting a room at the San Benito House which was right across the street from Stone Pine park and that crystal snowball thingy. For breakfast she went to HMB Coffee Co. where she actually got to drink caffeine without grody frosted flakes floating in it. Of course she got take-out because she was on a stakeout after all and you couldn't just go sitting around in coffee shops like everyone said the police did.

So now here she was looking into the snowball in Stone Pine park and checking out the Potted Plant's little lovenest fest with Brandy Alexander. Well lovenest might not be totally accurate because so far the hottest thing MB Mom had seen was flying pepper spray. Ha! Take that, Potted Plant!

MB Mom really did love and trust her easygoing husband but face it: he was always so cheerful because he spent most of his time on the golf course or in a kidfree, whovillewho-free, pepperspray-free office where no one ever clicked or pounded on the door when you were in the bathroom or anywhere else. It would be interesting to see what he did with this one.

Okay, so: click, click, click.

Another cool thing about magic crystal snowballs that MB had not already mentioned was that they could show stuff in the scenes that the actual participants had no clue about. Like who was outside the door.

Hey, MB Mom recognized this slimeball from the wanted posters in town plus a few Happy Meal boxes! Looks like old Mack Montara was right about the holiday burglary spree.

It was this guy: Web Link

MB Mom dropped her triple shot latte and made a run for...

The Golden Arches!

MB Mom's first choice was to go back and save her family from the Hamburglar and break up the lovefest. However, there was too much traffic for her to get out of HMB. She would have tried to keep track of the situation using the magic crystal snowball, but the city council members were all crowded around it trying to find solutions to their latest problems.

McD's seemed a good place to hunt down clues on this high-cholesterol villain. All mothers have excellent instincts and MB Mom was no exception. She could hard believe her eyes when she discovered...

a Space Alien shuttlepod ahead of her in the drive-thru!

Two bright-green tentacled limbs eagerly reached out for a milkshake and an order of fries.

MB Mom thought she heard a kind of hollow, tinny giggling issuing from inside the craft, just as...

One of the Space Aliens poked its head (wearing a santa cap) out of the shuttlepod window and made a request, apparently under the impression that the drive-thru could provide more than just super-size sizzle with extra ketchup.

If MB Mom couldn't believe eyes when she first saw these giddy creatures, she REALLY couldn't believe her ears when she overheard the festively attired SA ask the shocked McD's worker for...

a meal and a toy for every kid in town!

And that's not all they were asking for.

Right after the toy-for-every-kid thing, those giddy SAs casually inquired whether the drive-thru attendant knew where they might be able to find Mack Montara, Coastside PI.

Unfortunately for the eavesdropping MB Mom, who was crouched behind a nearby bush, a spiffy little scarlet plane roared by overhead with Eddie Andreini perched on the wing, wearing a bright red Santa suit and merrily ho-ho-ho-ing.

Even MB Mom, who had seen every holiday DVD on the planet (or probably the whole galaxy), got a little distracted by this festive skyscape – and by the time she refocused her attention on the drive-thru conversation, the shuttlepod and its inquisitive crew of giggling green SAs had disappeared.

Meanwhile, Brandy Alexander was equally distracted by...

But no, "a meal and a toy" is not what she heard at all! What was it they were demanding? Was it improved public education for every kid in town???? Or were the Space Aliens demanding something else equally atrocious?

The Space Aliens and their secret demands remained (as yet) unknown to everyone except for the privileged few inside the shuttlepod.

Meanwhile, over at Brandy's, the ominous clicking sound continued. It was a distraction all right -- and much more.

But what the heck was it? The doorknob again -- or something even more sinister?

Yeah, right. What WAS that clicking?

MB Mom squinted into the magic snow globe to see if she could convince it to stop showing all these gloomy Beachwood scenes and help her check on her family. She was all alone in the park right now but the thing seemed to be stuck.

You'd think by now she would have better things to do like wrapping presents or Christmas shopping or going to glamorous parties or even being a responsible parent and actually taking care of her own kids. But this PI gig had totally cured her chronic sighing and was even giving her time to read. Last night MB Mom read a whole book that some lady had left on a bench. Secret Lives. Well, this was hers.

Anyway. Click, click.

The picture in the magic snowball now showed Brandy looking distracted all right. But where was the good old brave Potted Plant? Oh wait. THERE he was. Still hiding behind the couch but now he was clicking away on his beloved Blackberry as he sent emails to his office and golf buddies in the who-free zones. Typical. He didn't even notice that Terrible Two was drawing Elmos on his back with one of Brandy's lipsticks.

Huh. You'd think Lucky 7 would be -- wait a minute. Where was Lucky 7? MB Mom started to feel truly panicky because she was not so bad a mother that she would actually let some wacko hamburglar intruder hurt her son, even though it was unlikely as there were way more wanted posters around town for Lucky 7 than for any McDonaldland characters.

MB Mom begged the snowball to please, please, please show her what was happening to her beloved seven-year-old son. And hey, there he was, right out there in the front yard!

Using the neighbor's clothesline, Lucky 7 had wrangled the intruder like a true cowboy and was now sitting proudly astride his roped-up little dogie. (Note to moms who think DVDs totally kill kids' impressionable little brains: SEE -- they can learn some really vital things! So don't feel guilty when you can't take it anymore and desperately shove a DVD into the player. It's actually good for them.)

Wow, no wonder Brandy had that weird look on her face! The intruder Lucky 7 had nabbed wasn't the hamburglar at all! It was noneother than the notorious...

Stephen King!

Had he been transported to our beloved coastside by the Space Aliens? Perhaps he had taken refuge in this out-of the-way hideaway when confronted by the John Lennon Guy while King was on a holiday visit to his friend Amy in San Francisco? (There'd been rumors that the Rockbottom Remainders were again on the prowl...er, planning a tour.)

Or, could Stephen be researching another novel, perhaps set in an abandoned Ritz Carlton on the pounding Pacific cliffs? Or a takeover of a small coastal town by mysterious wetland plants with the help of diehard state, county and city commissioners?

Whatever. Lucky 7 was having a great time spurring the perturbed writer.

MB Mom thought for a moment and then...

MB Mom, after thoughtfully considering the situation, decided to bag it for now and go to Sushi Main Street.

After all, with Stephen King added to the already zany menage, there was no way Brandy Alexander and the Potted Plant could get too cozy with each other, if that is indeed what they had been hoping for. Besides, when else would MB Mom have the chance to savor what Lucky 7 called "barfy, disgusting raw fish," accompanied by some nice warm sake? Priorities were what mattered: sake first, sleuthing later.

Speaking of sleuths, at that very moment, a lonely, disheartened Mack Montara was wandering along the coastside trail, where he'd last seen the wily Hamburglar.

It was a dark, windy Sunday night, with a storm blowing in from the south. From the trail, Mack caught glimpses of the warmly lit interiors of HMB households, all colorfully decorated for the holidays. Fires crackled merrily in dining room fireplaces as home-cooked dinners were set out on festively laid tables.

Mack's stomach rumbled. He couldn't remember the last time he'd actually had a meal, much less a home-cooked one. Brandy (nee Biba Bambino), who'd been well-taught by her Aunts Giulia Bambino and Rosemary Potatoes, was a terrific cook. He'd been hoping she'd invite him for Christmas dinner. Or a just a drink and a snack. One (non-hallucinogenic) cookie, even. But Mack hadn't talked to Brandy since that long-ago cell-phone conversation, when she warned him not to mess with the (Space Alien) mob.

And now here he was: still embarrassingly half-zipped into his dorky, ill-fitting wetsuit, whose rusty zipper seemed to be permanently stuck. His cell phone battery was long dead. And he couldn't even hunt down a dang Hamburglar, much less deal with the SA mob, rescue Ex-SoCal girl (who was still trapped in the underwater hideout of her Sierra Club-wetsuit-wearing captors), solve the Mavericks mystery or track down the ragged figure that had appeared on his doorstep at the beginning of this story.

The holiday world around him was illuminated in shades of red and green -- but Mack Montara had a definite case of the blues.

Our favorite Coastside PI wasn't the only one feeling out of sorts tonight. So was...

So was much of HMB's political (or wanna-be political) populace.

On this gray, wintry Monday morning, the stormy sky had cleared a bit -- but the financial forecast for the town remained as bleak as ever. Like Mack Montara, many folks seemed to be wandering about aimlessly singing their own particular brand of the blues.

Of course, holiday libations are a time-honored way to raise the spirits, so the KoolAid stands were busier than ever. At each one, the colorful potions (which the righteous and robust Ken King/Mini Mike claimed to have never imbibed as a child because his loving mommy wouldn't let him) took on startling new effects.

For example, a crotchety local character who wishfully called himself "Oh Spank Me" had suddenly become the Coastside's very own John Lennon, regaling the town with a rousing rendition of "Imagine." Folks imagined Queen Bonnie running a thrift store, Empress Naomi selling popcorn at the new movie theater, Jumpin' John L. delighting good girls and boys at a signature club built from recycled LCP signs.

Oh, the playful possibilities of KoolAid -- especially now that many of the local organizations were serving hot spiced versions in attractive layers of holiday red and green!

With Christmas coming and a sizzling city council meeting looming, the carnival atmosphere was enough to inspire even the most Scroogelike of civic-minded characters to attempt new and exotic endeavors.

For example...

... an enterprising newcomer to the area, known locally as Frank-O San Benito, wanted to get into the entertainment business in a big way. With dreams of making the town of Half Moon Bay become the California coastside version of Las Vegas, he was struck by a sudden inspiration. Why not hold a charity event to raise money for the City's legal debt? With a high profile event, big enough names, he could stage the event at the corner of Main and Kelly, block off the roads like Pumpkin Festival, and charge at least $400 a ticket!

But what kind of event would be big enough and draw enough people?

Of course - a wrestling match! Sponsored by the premier pro wresting organization, WWE! Once the idea crystalized in his mind, the contenders for the title match was obvious. It could be none other than ....

Ken "Mini Mike" King versus George "Little Chop" Muteff!

Bursting with excitement, Frank-O got to work producing the event, while in another part of town...

In another part of town, MB Mom had been having a great time Christmas shopping and doing her part to help the HMB economy so that it would not go bankrupt no matter how many lawsuits there were. One thing the chamber of commerce never told you when they mentioned bringing an appetite for fun coastside dining and shopping was what NOT to bring. (Um, one guess...)

Speaking of which, it looked like Lucky 7 and Terrible Two were now being wardened by the perfect babysitter (well when Lucky 7 wasn't sitting on him, that is). Now that MB Mom thought of it, there really was no one better qualified for the job than Stephen King and she wouldn't even have to pay him since he would get plenty of inspiration for his next book.

So now here she was browsing around the Paper Crane happily throwing handmade artisan paper greeting cards and gourmet recipe journals into her shopping basket. The recipe journals were proof that somewhere in all this she had truly lost her mommy mind as the last thing she cooked for her little epicures was not organic fair trade anything but a really scary version of tiramisu made with hot dogs (Note: this is a surefire hit with kids and immature adults and probably Stephen King -- for instructions click here Web Link ).

MB Mom realized she had to get out of the store before she started buying imported natural fiber knitting patterns or something so she paid up and went out to stand in the little atrium thing of the Tin Palace. Outside, the rain was coming down so hard she wasn't even going to try to make it across the street to her room at the San Benito House.

She pressed her nose against the inside window of Pasta Moon, wishing she had not already maxed out her credit card. The restaurant wasn't quite open for lunch yet but she could see into the open kitchen where cooks were doing their prep stuff.

Whoa! What the heck???

One of the cooks seemed to be making fresh mozzarella which was completely predictable knowing Pasta Moon's sky-high reputation (and prices). That wasn't the weird thing. What stopped MB cold was the fact that underneath his chef togs, the mozzarella maker had slimy green tentacled arms. Wiggly antennae had escaped from underneath his toque -- and peeking out from his apron was an evil-looking souped-up space ray gun that would have made Lucky 7 turn green with envy.

This could not be good.

Meanwhile in more normal places in town...

"Horse Poop! That's sheer, unadulterated Horse Poop!" shouted Ms.Betty Duball, who was madder than a wet hen at being left outside MB Mom's house in the shrubbery all that time. But nothing, not rain, nor sleet, nor the inexplicable appearance of Stephen King in MB Mom's backyard, would deter the indomitable Ms.Betty from her campaign to save the coast from itself. That hussy Brandy Alexander must be stopped!

Ms.Betty's keen eye and sense of smell fitted her perfectly to seek out coastal horse-puckey and hanky-panky of all sorts. She, and she alone if necessary, would ensure that Moral Values, Decency, and High Standards were being upheld at all times.

No more lovers "entwining" under the Eucalypts! No more hand-holding behind the stacks at HMB library! And no more of Brandy Alexander's shameless cavorting...

"Once More Into The Breach!" Ms. Betty shouted, as she threw herself against MB Mom's front door...

Unfortunately, there was no one home at the moment except for the placid Potted Plant, who was still clicking away on his Blackberry and he was too oblivious to mega-decibel noise to even notice Ms Betty's maniacal pounding, much less actually answer the door.

There had been a bit of an argument over the evening's entertainment between Stephen King (who wanted to see a local version of a horror show) and Terrible Two & Lucky 7 (who wanted to go to the circus or see fireworks or preferably both).

Ever the peacemaker, Brandy decided to fulfill everyone's wildest dreams by taking all three of them to the city council meeting.

Just then...

Just then, something happened that made even the implacable Potted Plant look up from his illuminated screen. There was ferocious roaring in the pipes, shaking the house and filling the rooms with a distinctive sulfurous smell that overpowered the holiday aromas of evergreen and scented candles.

The astounded Potted Plant nearly lost his leaves when he was treated to the sight of a slime-covered Ex-SoCal girl exploding in a shower of potato peelings and soggy Cheerios as she shot out of the kitchen garbage disposal and into his khaki-pant-clad lap.

"Wow," she exclaimed breathlessly. "That was some Watery Wake-Up Call! I've been swimming around in the MWSD sewer system for weeks -- after that Sierra-Club wetsuited guy kidnapped me, I was sure someone in this story would come to my rescue. But even Chief Cole and the union firefighters and the Cal Fire guys eventually had to leave to go Christmas shopping."

The Potted Plant, who had dropped his Blackberry, tried as politely as he could to edge away from the foul-smelling female in his lap. Still, being a nice guy, he did his best to make polite conversation. "Uh -- so how'd you escape?"

"Well," said Ex-SoCal Girl, who was dripping an odd sepia substance onto his once-immaculate Dockers (on the bright side, at least she wasn't leaching into the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve). "My captors used a non-Geneva-convention-certified method of torture known as 'water boarding.'"

The Potted Plant nodded uncomprehendingly. "Uh -- and that is...?"

"Basically, Mr. Perkovic (sometimes speaking his Own Opinions, sometimes speaking as an MWSD Board Member) reads to you from his canon of coastside common sense and dogmatic diatribe until you want to rip your own head off. I got lucky, though, and he eventually read himself into a long winter's nap."

With that, Ex-SoCal Girl cheefully sprang from perch and headed for the back door.

"Looks like you've got a visitor out front and I wouldn't want to offend Ms. Betty with my unseemly aromas, so I'll let myself out the back. Happy Holidays!"

Elsewhere on the Coastside...

In the middle of a deserted Mac Dutra Park (it was dark and cold out, with a spattering of rain...) the King (not of the Stephen variety) practiced his harangue.

(Since this forum can also be used for educational purposes, let us define the word before getting on with the story.

harangue: [n] a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion )

The king swept his hair back, barking his knuckles on his free trade gold crown and began. "Mack Montara is another cog in the fearmobile, along with Betty Duball, MB Mom, Chief Cole, and the other growth environmentalists who, under the guise of false concern about the wetlands counsel prudence of expenditure and reasonableness of nature, to accommodate the space aliens whose track record indicates they care ONLY about their own self interest."

He hiked up his robe a bit as the faux ermine at the hemline was tending to drag a bit and become grimey and wet, and then continued.

"Montara and the others' agenda is to leave Pottted Plant's "sitting" decision standing as precedent so that the rest of the Review's topics will lose to readers going forward. This is purely distilled right-wing ideology working overtime, now playing the property-values-will-drop because of space alien neighbors card. Real smooth, Mr. Montara. And nice comment from you and your business friends last week that 'the snow globe at Stone Pine and Main showed that the characters in this story got what they deserved.'"

He nodded with satisfaction and angrily strode off toward the city chambers.

And elsewhere yet again...

Let it be said that very few things in life were clear to MB Mom (other than, say, diapers and ominous parent/teacher conferences and taxes).

However, she had finally used one of her quiet San Benito House nights to read over this whole story and she realized that while everyone else (including her own kids) seemed to be spending their time at city council meetings, there was someone in town who was about to be murdered by a vengeful but well-dressed Space Alien. And this person was not even a politician!

Now although MB Mom admitted to having abandoned her offspring to the (free if somewhat unconventional) babysitting of fringe elements like Stephen King and Brandy Alexander, she did have SOME maternal/human instincts. For example, there was no way she'd stand by and let a murder occur, even if the intended victim was definitely kind of, um, strange.

MB Mom's reasoning here was that if she could save one innocent local eccentric from the clutches of an intergalactic mobster, it would totally redeem the lifetime of Bad Parenting she was heretofore guilty of. Well, something like that.

She'd have to be smart and act fast because Christmas was looming and there was no way her current babysitting situation would last. After chugging her third triple-shot latte of the day, an amped-up MB Mom set off in search of...

(Okay - Anybody printing this as it goes, to later be reprinted into little pamphlets for all that offered up bits and pieces to enjoy? Maybe once we round out this story someone will take on the task of collecting donations to have this story re-printed for all us coastsiders to enjoy again and again! I'd do it, but unable! Anyone?)

(What do you say we discuss it over here: Web Link so the characters in this story can get up to their usual devilment...er, business?)

Rosemary Potatoes!

Mack Montara, who'd fallen into a depressed sleep on the beach just alongside the Coastside Trail, sat bolt upright. Dislodging a disgruntled family of snowy plowers who'd been nesting in his half-zipped wetsuit, the newly invigorated P.I. sprang to his feet.

He'd been having a recurring dream that had haunted him since the beginning of this story.

For those who dislike scrolling back, here it is:

"Meanwhile, back at the offices of the HMB Review, editor Clay Lambert and ace investigative reporter David Smydra were hard at work on a groundbreaking story. Revolving around the intricacies of breaking ground on the Coastside, it was fraught with Evil Developers, Strident Environmental Activists and Slippery Local Officials.

These were Serious Journalists, both bored and bone-weary from the verbal babysitting and pacifying required by the monstrous playpen called Talkabout. True, Clay pondered his journalistic code of ethics long and hard before deciding not to delete the post claiming Chief Cole had been mugged by -- an Alien.

The poster had claimed the assailant was, after all, a vibrant green Spaceship Alien with googly eyes and wiggly antennas. As far as he knew, there was no law against chronicling their antics.

As it turned out, it didn't matter anyway, because Rosemary Potatoes -- a devotee of a brisk daily constitutional -- strode by Mack's house just as the Spaceship Alien was thinking about pulling a fast one on Chief Cole.

Reaching into her trusty pocketbook, she drew out a harpoon and skewered the SA like a shish kebob, bearing it triumphantly home to add to her Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Soup."


"Meanwhile, over near Harbor Village, the argument continued between the well-dressed Space Alien and the bedraggled skateboarder who had suffered the legendary wrath of Ms. Betty Duball. Readers will recall that the skateboarder had been ignominiously stuffed into a coffee-cup shaped "trash can" that turned out to be a hightech craft from another galaxy.

"Dude," the skateboarder repeated with surprising affability and patience (he had attended Seacrest before moving on to Cuhna). "I can't take you to our leader because, like, I don't know who that is anymore. When we were stuck in that gnarly spaceship thing I heard dudes yelling that it all belonged to King Chop now but, like, I don't even who that is either..."

"Dude," said the SA. "I will, as you gnarly earthings say, cut to the chase. Someone in this strange Coastside kingdom has killed my cousin Vito. He may not have been the brightest bulb in the cosmos, but he was a Made Guy and honor requires me to avenge his death. Who in your world can find out who committed this unforgivable crime?""


Like MB Mom, Mack Montara knew he had to find Rosemary Potatoes.

But was it already too late...?

Rosemary froze. Was that voice in her head? Or did she hear someone calling her? Was that someone calling from another Mystery or someone calling from this mystery?

She was so confused!

But nowadays, in HMB especially, who wasn't?

As she glanced around she realized that this was the warm fuzzy familiar story with the Space Aliens, Ms Betty Duball, MB Mom and her two terrorist tykes, the Boys in Blue (overalls) Mack Montara and those other familiar folks.

But still, it kept creeping into her head, that omnidirectional otherworldly plaintiff voice floating by as if from another story. And it was accompanied by a sharp spanking noise that was more than a little unnerving...

But wait! That was it! The voice was plaintiff, not plaintive! Ah ha! She was on to them. The other story was about a lawsuit! Litigation! Plaintiffs, filings, briefs, settlements! Money!

She didn't have time for that.

Rosemary strode off in search of Mack Montara...

Well. How late was too late?

MB Mom, still buzzing from the morning's gigantic java blast, stood on a dark, silent Main Street realizing that she was yet again totally clueless. She'd been hoping the magic crystal snowball would come to her rescue and show her how to find Rosemary Potatoes (kind of a bummer that no one posted addresses on Talkabout, especially when they were in serious danger of being murdered).

However when she went down to Stone Pine Park for her nightly snowball fix, the magic glowing ball had disappeared. Rats. And the only GPS system her sorry-a** family owned was the one built into the Potted Plant's precious Blackberry. Not much chance of scoring that overpriced gadget right now.

Uh-oh. Wait a minute.

The snowball had definitely gone missing. But something much more sinister had taken its place...

Fat Fanny Duball shook her head in disgust, triple chins wobbling as she took another indignant bite of her giant cream-filled Sunshine doughnut.

Folks all over town were talking about the HMB thefts -- and the one in Stone Pine Park was among the most disgraceful. Some local Scrooge had not only stolen pretty snowball from Santa, but left something truly hideous in its place.

Where the magic snowball used to be was now a large blue sign with the sort of coloration and font style most folks were supposed to think of as "tasteful." Flashing with an understated glow it proclaimed: PARTICIPATE IN THE LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE. CLICK FOR DETAILS.

Now that, Fat Fanny thought, was the sort of trash talk best reserved for websites like the Review's. Hmmph! Lifestyle Challenge, indeed! Here it wasn't even Christmas yet, and scrawny meddling do-gooders were already trying to get festive folks to change their hungry ways. She wondered what her cousin Ms. Betty Duball would have to say about that one!

Come to think of it, Fat Fanny hadn't seen cousin Betty lately. She sure hoped that something wicked (besides the lifestyle sign) had not this way come...

From somewhere near the bridge, in the vicinity of Pasta Moon, a rusty clanking and whirring commenced. The rain after the persistant damp, salt laden fogs of summer had enhanced the oxidation on all things metal.

The Tin Palace Oracle groaned.

"I have a message..." it skreeked. "It's about the s..s..snow globe and a..a...a prophecy." A gear seemed to seize up momentarily (sort of like when your DVD player goes wonky...but alas, that comment is ruining the pace and mood of this story.)

The Tin Palace Oracle drew a lubricating breath (olive oil fumes from Pasta Moon may have been in the air...) "I can tell you what is about to befall us...but...but...but...first I need a shot of WD-40 and..."

But the rusty voice broke off with the suddeness and finality of an axle breaking on Highway 92...

Folks in town who liked history that went back farther than the origins of HMB city council squabbles were not surprised that the Tin Palace Oracle had chosen the day of the winter solstice to utter its rusty proclamation.

As Talkabout intellectuals (no names or they'll start intellectualizing) could probably tell you, the word "solstice" means to stand still. Which is pretty much what HMB townspeople were doing on this sunny Friday afternoon. Amidst all the holiday busy-ness and local political crisis, there was a stillness in the clear blue sky that made folks stop and take a deep breath and be glad that, if nothing else, they were alive and lived in interesting times.

In cultures more ancient than HMB's, the winter solstice was heralded as a turning point marking the return of the sun. Mesopotamians were said to have used the day to begin a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

As Mack Montara and MB Mom knew, chaos and monsters in various forms abounded on the Coastside these days. Mob aliens were among them, but far darker forces were visible to those who could see them.

For now, the sun shown brightly and the air was sweet with the fragrances of pine and ginger cakes.

But later, when the winter darkness fell...

When darkness fell MB Mom found herself in the dark, as usual.

She didn't have Rosemary Potatoes' address, but that sure wasn't gonna stop her from stopping a murder. No way. MB Mom had found plenty of play date houses when she wasn't sure of the address either. She just used her mommy homing instincts.

Well, that and the fact that usually any other moms nice enough or dumb enough or drunk enough to agree to let their children have playdates with MB Mom's kids usually wised up and drew the curtains and put big QUARANTINE signs on their locked doors when they heard MB Mom's beat-up Subaru wagon coming. MB Mom hoped the SA mobster who was planning to carry out the hit on Rosemary would at least show the same courtesy.

Okay. So now she remembered Rosemary lived in Pesacadero. However, the aforementioned beat-up Subaru was in the repair shop (again). And she didn't have time to go home and get the Potted Plant's cheerio-free leased BMW.

It looked like MB Mom was gonna have to hitchhike down Highway One...

It was the darkest hour on the night of the winter solstice.

Highway One was bright with moonlight, cold with dead stars, alive with December shadows.

Inside the cab of the truck it was warm like always. Hot with the good honest comfort of whiskey and cigarette smoke and the faraway sounds of Nashville. Safe with a knife in the glove compartment and a good old gun in the passenger seat.

He was headed south. Just fueled up in a sad self-important little town that thought it was so great because it had a romantic ocean-sounding name.

Half Moon Bay.

Well, ain't that special?

He took another slug from his half-pint, a drag off his Marlboro and a look at the road ahead out his steamy front window. Then he saw her. Thumb out. Goofy smile on her face.

Hitchhiker. Askin' for it, if you asked him.

He pulled over...

MB Mom felt a little foolish, dressed like this. But she knew it was the only way. She'd never picked up enough to defend herself from watching Lucky 7's karate classes from the sidelines. She'd never hitched (alone--there had been a time before the steadfast potted plant when she had hung around with another fellow, but that was long ago...) and wasn't even certain about the thumb protocal. Was it supposed to be held at a certain angle? Did your stance indicate some secret meaning known only to those in the know? How could she keep from betraying the fact that she was a naive novice?

She clutched a limp burlap sack that contained her street clothes, pepper spray, a beribboned box of Chocolate Petit Fours from Costco (half gone--an odd little Professor had shoved the box at her a half hour ago with a hearty "Merry Christmas...smoking a log is 40 times more harmfull than smoking a cigarette...Happy New Year!) and a well thumbed, but most unhelpfull copy of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

She only hoped that the guy in the Silverado 3500HD Big Dooley Extended Cab Long Box 1L 4x4 (thank you Lucky 7 for your obsession with Hot Wheels) wasn't named Ford Prefect. Oh, of course not, she thought as the wheels spit gravel and the truck pulled to a stop. Someone named Ford would not be driving a Chevy...

As the car pulled over she adjusted the Santa hat and pulled up the sagging red pants.

No one would dare harm a hitchhiker dressed like this...would they?

MB Mom looked down at the big red-faced guy collapsed over the wheel of his giant he-man pick-up truck. She almost felt sorry for him. He had been so sure his good old gun and glove compartment knife would be enough to turn her attention to his manly charms. Yeah, right.

Of course it was true that she and the Potted Plant had not been -- well, you know -- on a regular basis lately, but if that redneck creep thought her Santa suit was a come-on, he had another think coming. When he came at her with that stupid gun clutched in one of his hairy paws, MB Mom was forced to use the most powerful weapon she had (and it wasn't even pepper spray).

She'd reached into the bottom of her giant mommy-size totepurse and amidst the crumpled kleenex and half-eaten fruit rolls and broken Hot Wheels cars, she found the most potent weapon of all (and one totally unbeknowst to Nightstalkers): one of Terrible Two's majorly -- uh-- soiled diapers that had been fermenting in ziplock bag since a little incident at Hillsdale Mall last week.

As the guy's hot, boozy breath and macho weapons threatened to overpower her, MB Mom unzipped the bag -- and the reaction was nothing less than nuclear (or as this Einstein would probably say: "Nukulur").

MB Mom, who was totally impervious to all bodily secretions and smells, left the bag and the Professor's woodsmoked chocolates on the seat beside the succumbed stalker.

Well, anyway, it was a beautiful Sunday morning. She'd walk the rest of the way to Pescadero -- time was running out and MB Mom had serious PI stuff to before it was time to wrap the kids' Santa presents.

Meanwhile, back in HMB...

Chief O'Malley got a call about a burglary over on Poplar. He had to respond to the call himself now that his officers were let go because the city was bankrupt. Without delay, he strapped on his gear and headed out.

Meanwhile, MB Mom was hoofing it to Pescadero and spotted some young drifters up ahead. Anxious for some adult conversation after 7 years of listening to the incoherent whining of her kids (and Potted Plant, come to think of it), she ran to catch up to them.

She soon realized, however, that she couldn't shake her mommy inclinations when she found herself licking her thumb and using it to rub some grime off one of the drifter's cheeks. What's more is that she couldn't help excitedly pointing out every truck, bulldozer, and tractor that passed them on the highway, as she had done for Lucky 7 to keep him from raising hell. As a result, the drifters were starting to distance themselves from her. Great. She's alienated play-date moms and now drifters. What next? Why is she kidding herself with this whole sleuthing business? What is she trying to prove?

Just then, she heard someone running behind her, and she turned to see who it was. It was Sheriff O'Malley, sprinting up to them wearing a flashing red light on his head and screaming "Woo, woo, woo!" MB Mom blurted out, "What's going on officer? Why are you wearing that flashing light on your head? Where is your cruiser?" Officer O'Malley replied breathlessly while running in place next to her, "Don't have a cruiser. City sold it to pay lawyers filing appeal. Now I have to respond to all calls myself on foot. Gotta go. Burglary on Poplar in progress.." and off he went, screaming "woo, woo, woo".

Suddenly MB Mom had a great idea...

In fact, she had lots of great ideas. She was beginning to realize that she always had, it was just that they'd been trapped beneath the layers and layers of genetically and societally programmed mommy thoughts that seem to invade every maternal creature's brain.

MB Mom was now standing at the edge of the Pescadero marsh (wow, a REAL wetland!), where she found a little red kayak hauled up on the sandy shore. Now she was pretty sure that, since Rosemary Potatoes was not a water fowl (despite her eponymous cameo in the coastside's notorious Voice of the Coast), paddling around the marsh probably wouldn't be the quickest way to her house.

But a shimmering island seemed to have formed in the middle of the marsh -- and there was some kind of structure on it (obviously built without permits).

MB Mom couldn't help herself. Gathering her baggy Santa suit around her and tossing her trusty totepurse and limp burlap sack into a little compartment that seem to be meant for dive tanks, she lowered herself into the kayak and paddled off to investigate.

Just then...

The house stood up! It started to move in a circular manner, as if on legs that were turning in place!

MB Mom squinted and cocked her head. The house appeared to be turning in place on chicken legs! Actually, from the size they were probably turkey legs. Or even ostrich legs!

An absurd thought flitted briefly through her mind--since the shack had no foundation and was "mobile" it probably didn't even need a permit! More flitting in her mind and she remembered reading of such a house...owned by...hmmm. A witch! That was it! And the house turned on those legs whenever the witch was gone!

All flitting abandoned her mind as MB Mom heard behind her the crackling of rushes and other hydrophitic plants.

She turned and saw...

She turned and saw The Professor, perched jauntily on a Sharper Image Unsinkable Pool Float®, clutching his trusty Sharper Image Night-Search Eye®.

A voice floated by on the encroaching fog:

"Happy Birth of Christ by the Virgin Mary, son of the Almighty God. Who was visited in a manger by Three Wise Men who followed a star the the stable where He lay."

But this was not The Professor. He put his free index finger to his mouth in a "shhhhh" gesture and then pointing toward the hopping house.

The voice continued: "Enjoy your Pagan Christmas trees on a truly Pagan holiday and enjoy the orgy of consumerism."

The Professor paddled closer with his free hand. "I think the voice is coming from another Talkabout Topic!"

Again the voice rang out: "Christmas can be so confusing."

The Professor looked quizically at MB Mom. "You look the type who could sort this out..."

Just as MB Mom was about to sort things out, something (more) unexpected (than usual) happened.

A luminous scarlet bottle that must have floated in from the sea thumped gently against the side of MB Mom's kayak. Having been a member of the Sierra Club back before it got all political, MB Mom automatically reached for the bottle and hauled it into the boat. (Hey, maybe that compensated for having missed the latest beach clean-up!).

As she admired the strange, beautiful colorful of the glass, the Professor continued to expound on woodsmoke and sewer connections and the city council versus the Supreme Court. Jeez, it was Christmas Eve -- couldn't the guy take a minute to manifest the golden concept of silence? His incessant chattering was worse than Lucky 7's.

"Oh, I wish you would go away..." MB Mom muttered desperately.

And, in a puff of scarlet smoke, the Professor disappeared.

MB Mom stared at the place where his Unsinkable Pool Float had been. Nothing but calm, glassy water.

Wow, this was probably the first time in MB Mom's life that someone had actually done something the first time she'd asked. Hurray! She needed a drink to celebrate.

MB uncorked the scarlet bottle, figuring whatever was in it couldn't be worse than the pathetic libations in her liquor cabinet at home.

Just as she tipped back the bottle and prepared to swallow, another puff of scarlet smoke shot from the bottle, followed by a barely corporeal figure who looked to be part genie, part North Pole elf and part...

Santa Claus? The Potted Plant? Ron Paul?

Before MB Mom could decide who the genie most resembled, it spoke.

"You have freed me from my captivity. In return, I am obliged to grant your wishes."

"Wishes? Really? Okay, then, I'm not even gonna give you a chance to change your mind the way everyone else I know seems to. I wish that I could have a peaceful Christmas in this blissfully peaceful wetland wonderland, with just me and the waterfowl and whatever magical being is hanging on that island."

"Your wish has been granted," intoned the genie. "I have created a mute but attractive mommy clone to take your place during the holiday festivities at the Potted Plant's parents house. The clone will endure all dyfunctionality with a festive smile, then disappear at the end of the evening, at which time the babysitting of Stephen King and Brandy Alexander will resume."

MB Mom could not believe her good fortune. "Okay, well I also wish for a clean house, a car that won't break down and is impervious to spilled or spewed anything, and -- wait how many wishes do I get?"

"Well," said the genie. "That depends on..."

"That depends on how many bottles you find. Every one has a different genie (with a different agenda) inside and will grant you as many wishes as it pleases." The genie crossed its arms and looked pleased with itself.

"But how many will YOU grant me?" asked MB Mom, who was really desperate to at least have a clean house and barf-proof car.

"Well, since it's the holiday season and there are twelve days of Christmas, I'll give you a dozen. You've already used four."

"Four? No way, I only used three!," MB had been a mom for seven years, which meant she had watched a lot of Sesame Street and was an excellent counter (even if she wasn't the best at cleaning up after Terrible Two).

"No. Four," said the genie smugly, who counted with the skill of Lucky 7. He ticked off the wishes on his long scarlet fingers. "You used one disappearing the Professor, one on the clean house (good luck with that one lasting) and two on the car (has to run AND be barfproof).

"So," continued the genie. "You have eight left, but I am making you share them with Lucky 7, who has just wished for his cousin Fab 5 to come live with him forever. So you now have four wishes and three kids, one of whom could already terrorize the most notorious terrorists and still has three wishes left. Have a nice day."

The genie disappeared in a puff of smoke.


Back in MB, Lucky 7 was in his "gimme" mode in which he whined, "I want this. I want that," incessantly. As usual, he was calling out his wants in such rapid-fire succession that by the time he realized he was actually getting what he was demanding, he had exhausted his wishes.

And so, when Potted Plant finally glanced up from his Blackberry, he discovered that Fab 5 had moved in, a T-rex was stomping around outside, his daughter had sprouted antlers, and his son had grown a beard.

Sigh. Where was MB Mom? She was always the one to handle these kinds of problems.

Meanwhile, a neighbor had called the cops about the T-rex. Captain O'Malley caught the dispatch while at the scene of the burglary on Poplar. "Rats," he thought, "Now I have to hoof it all the way to MB. Well, better get started." So, he strapped on his flashing light and sprinted toward the highway, screaming, "Woo! Woo! Woo!"

Time was ticking by. Apparently, residents were either getting tired of this story, or they were all busy returning their gifts at the mall.

MB Mom had been reading the other sections of Talkabout and got a great idea from Cookie McShiney. She wanted Chief Cole to have more "face time" so everyday, Monday through Friday (at least on those days he actually came in and not Wednesday because he still had to cover the duty), when he left the office between noon and two, he would go and babysit Fab 5, Lucky 7 and Terrible 2. He could drive the kids around in his fancy white car, go the bluffs and teach the kids to meditate. It was a brilliant idea and she wanted to thank Cookie for it.

Now, just how did she get a hold of them? Call the office? Yes, that's it. The secretary said only Chief Cole could answer that question, and he was out of the office today. Call Lane on his cell phone? No, that was Lane bashing, and that was so boring...

Meanwhile, back in the wetlands of the beautiful and protected Pescadero Marsh, all was calm and bright.

The strange looking shack still turned on its avian legs. All human life had disappeared. The Outdoor Ed classes were in hiatus for the Days Off season. Docents were having coffee and pie at Duarte's. Citizen explorers were busy returning their gifts at the mall (or maybe just too tired to write themselves into the story...).

Under the surface, a redlegged frog breast stroked down to explore something strange at the bottom of the pool. If he could read he would have noted an algae coated tag on the object that proclaimed: Sharper Image Unsinkable Pool Float®.

A scarlet cork bobbed on the surface...

What had MB Mom done with her remaining (Four? Three?) shared-with-Lucky-7 wishes?

Lucky wishes, lucky wishes. MB Mom looked up from Talkabout. She had finished her daily read of all topics new and commented, having learned a neat trick of sorting these things from one of the Talkabout posts. Using the library computers, because she daren't return home and give up her hotel nights and great coffee mornings, she read the last post again. Astonished, MB Mom realized she still had her wishes. Lucky 7 probably used his already - such is the nature of children to want to spend everything in one shot. He probably had a new bike, new games for his WII, a WII in fact, and just as likely, Terrible Two was missing or had become a dough ornament on the now drying Christmas tree.

A thought emerged. At first it was just a small seed, in the back of her mind. It began to take shape, become a kernel, and as soon as it became a clear, definable thought, poof and reality, a wish was used.

"Oh, my," she thought, "I'll have to control this better in the future." Well, if wishes can come true, and they had so far, she determined that she needed to view the extent of damage she had just caused.

She drove to City Hall, and found . . .

(in case you all missed it, Lucky 7 wished for a t-rex, for his sister to grow antlers and for himself to grow a beard. Ok. Carry on.)

Suddenly, MB mom, bearded Lucky 7, antlered Terrible 2, Fab 5, wet suited Montara Mack, Brandy Alexander, wooing Captain O'Malley, The Professor, Rosemary Potatoes, and Fanny Duball (but not the Potted Plant, Chief Cole, or Cookie McShiney) were all tumbling, tumbling, tumbling... They felt they were in water and it was snowing in Half Moon Bay. They tried to break loose, but they ran into a wall like Marcel Marceau. They kept tumbling, tumbling in the snow flurry. Gradually they settled down and began to realize that something incredibly strange was going on. They realized that..

They were IN the snowglobe!

What would happen to them all now?...

Meanwhile, Stephen King sighed deeply as the slight blip you feel as the wheels leave the runway combined with the change in angle indicated that he had made his escape unscathed.

These West Coasties were weird. Really really weird.

Stowed in the overhead were voluminous notes to be used for his final novel. It would be the creepiest most chilling money maker ever.

Some people accused him of writing a form of fantasy.

If only they knew...

And back on the streets of Half Moon Bay...

The townsfolk were getting ready for a big New Year's Eve celebration in HMB's very own version of the legendary Times Square: Mac Dutra Park.

A special tower, courtesy of King Chop, was to be erected for the occasion. There had been some development dispute over whether the park constituted a wetland, as it did have restrooms. However, since the running water only ran some of the time and no hydrophilic soils had been found inside them, a complimentary variance was granted.

On New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, a very expensive ball would be dropped from the top of the tower by the entire city council, whom everyone agreed was extremely talented when it came to dropping balls.

Other festive plans included...

Frank-O San Benito's big money-making wrestling match was also planned for New Year's Day to give folks a break from hangovers and football.

This totallytestosteronous grudgematch would be held in Mac Dutra Park, with the ring set up right alongside the dropped ball.

The contenders, "Mini Mike" King and "Little Chop" Muteff, had been diligently training all throughout the holiday season, continuing to wrastle and chokehold on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

No doubt about it: this would be a match to remember.


But what was happening to everyone trapped in the magic snowglobe?

Inside the snowglobe Brandy Alexander shook her fist at a large distorted eye that appeared to be gawking at her from without.

"Shut up, kid!" she barked at Lucky 7, who was whining and looking completely ridiculous doing so with that beard. She turned her back on Captain O'Mally who was nursing an antler scrape inflicted by Terrible 2 who kept admonishing everyone: "No! No! No!"

What had happened to the good hearted, patient Brandy Alexander, faithful pal to Mack Montara? Was the atmosphere of the snowglobe so full of The Professor's dreaded PMs that the personalities of all were changing for the worse? Or was it just post holiday let down?

Brandy sighed deeply and looked around at the others...

It was getting late, and most of her fellow snowglobe prisoners had curled up or stretched out as best they could in their surreal glass enclosure.

Maybe this would be a good time for heart-to-heart with Mack. After all, they had a lot to discuss -- and their last attempt at conversation (with Brandy yelling across the miles into Mack's luddite cell phone) had been half-hearted at best.

But matters of the heart were not what was weighing heavy on Brandy's mind.

During her time away from Mack, Brandy had overheard a dark and powerfully disturbing conversation, which had given her a terrifying glimpse into the Coastside's past -- and future. She'd be the first to admit that she had often had doubts about men and their listening skills, but if anyone could help her now, it was Mack Montara, Coastside P.I.

However, a glance around the dimly glowing globe revealed that one of its unwilling inhabitants had vanished.

Mack Montara was gone, leaving only a scrap of paper upon which was scribbled the words...



Mack Montara stood on the runway of the HMB airport, squinting worriedly at the dial of the Wild Planet XP-6 Spy Watch ( Web Link®-XP-6-Watch/dp/B00023HUXK ) that his mom had sent him for Christmas.

Realistically, he knew there was absolutely no reason that a big-hearted, big-busted, big-brained, (non-Botoxed) babe like Brandy Alexander would ever fall for a paunchy screw-up of a detective like him. But being the goofy, starry-eyed guy that he was, Mack had hopes.

And for Mack Montara, Coastside P.I., hope was a good thing. He had been feeling pretty down lately. There were dozens of unsolved mysteries on the Coastside, but he was too burned-out and dog-tired to solve them. Heck, he couldn't even get himself out of this dang half-zipped wetsuit. (Maybe Brandy, with her stripping expertise, would take pity on him and help him out. Hey, a guy could hope, couldn't he?)

Anyway, when Eddie Andreini (for whom Mack had once solved a top-secret case) had offered to fly Mack and the gal of his dreams to Tahiti for New Year's Eve, Mack's heart (and other parts of him) had leapt at the thought.

In Mack's note to Brandy, he had written of wishes. He hoped that Brandy had conveyed the message to MB Mom -- and that MB Mom had made the right ones. At the very least, he hoped she had wished the captives out of their surreal snowglobe prison (and maybe de-antlered the unfortunate Terrible Two).

As the luminous dial on his watch crept toward take-off time (and Eddie began to look impatient to start his New Year's aerobatics), Mack wondered if Brandy and her affections would remain just another unsolved mystery.

And then he saw her, walking towards him with a bottle of Dom Perignon in one hand and a mysterious package in the other.

Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Not Beachwood lawsuits or Space Aliens or cantankerous Ms. Betty or the Professor's logorrhea or the outrageous antics of Lucky 7 or gnarly skateboarders or the eternal CCF-LCP battles.

Tonight, Mack only had eyes for Brandy. The rest of the mysteries would have to wait.

The end...?

Brandy smiled when she said that. "The end?" she said again.

Mack gulped. "Huh?" was all he could stupidly grunt.

With a tastefully rose tinted finger-tip she indicated the zipper on his bedraggled wet suit.

"The end. Pull the end of the zipper. I think we can get you out of this."

And so...

And so Mack tried one more time to extract himself from his gamey, waterlogged scourge of a half-zipped wetsuit. Too shy to ask Brandy for help, he'd worn it on New Year's Eve as they companionably sipped Dom Perignon under the brilliant Tahitian stars.

And now here he was, a couple of days later: still wearing the fishy-smelling thing. So much for romance.

"Sorry, Mack, but I can't get thing to budge," Brandy said cheerfully. "I'll see if I can get one of those hunky island boys to help you out."

Mack (ever the macho detective) blanched as Brandy bounded out the door of their grass hut.

Meanwhile, back on the coastside...

A wild wind whipped through the pines and eucalyptus trees, which twisted and contorted under the storm's persuasions in a strange, acquiescent dance. The shrieking voice of the wind harmonized with the roar of the charcoal-grey sea -- and even the most vociferous of coastside folks paused in their activities to listen to the words of the year's first storm.

Well, all except for one. Clad in a neon-yellow rain slicker and heavy fisherman's boots, Ms. Betty Duball was prowling the soggy streets of Pescadero, in search of a clue that would shed some light on a conversation she'd had with Brandy Alexander when they were trapped in the surreal snowglobe.

Ms. Betty -- always one to take precautions -- wore a dive mask over her tailfin glasses to keep the raging rainwater from messing with her vision, which wasn't what it used to be.

However, it was certainly good enough to see...

To see that she had come face to face with an exact replica of herself, right down to the neon slicker and funky tailfin glasses.

Now Ms. Betty had never heard of doppelgangers and seldom even bothered to study her own grumpy reflection in the mirror (usually being too busy setting folks straight on Talkabout). So the sight of the pinched face before her, distorted by the rivulets of rainwater running over her diver's mask, gave her quite a fright.

In fact, the scream she let out was downright Munchian in nature. Her howl echoed through the stormy streets of Pescadero.

What the heck was going on around here, anyway?

Now that was just what Ms. Fanny Duball was wondering!

What on God's green earth was all the ruckus about?

Now that it had stopped raining some, she could see right into that silly diving mask her cousin Betty was wearing and Fanny didn't like the way Betty's eyes were bugging out of her grouchy old face. Drama queen strikes again!

Why she was howling like a coyote in heat Fanny did not know. Of course Betty had always been prone to spells and all the folks in town knew that she got her undies in a twist over the least little thing.

So seeing Fanny (who everyone knew had always been the prettier and smarter of the two girls) dressed exactly like she was probly couldn't help but set old biddy Betty to howling a bit. Even though she wanted to slap her cousin silly, Fanny restrained herself and acted like a lady. Not that it was easy. But Lord knew the two had been feuding long enough.

However with evil doings like this in town the old girls would have to set aside their differences and settle into some good old-fashioned teamwork. But just as Fanny was about to start explaining what they needed to do...

The rain began to fall again, triggering a wash of muddy water that ran through the streets of Pescadero like a raging river.

With their mouths wide open as usual, the cantankerous Duball cousins were swept away on the capricious currents, which fortuitously carried the old curmudgeons right where they were needed most...

...where they were needed most--up the coast.

But first they had to negotiate the low bridge (or high creek) outside Pescadero! Fortunately the raging waters of the Pescadero caused a suction at the bridge--and there were no snags to impede the progress of the two women, who were fortunate indeed to have the tailfin glasses and swim masks. The heavy boots were another matter. But this being fiction, they were sucked right through with a resounding gulp.

Once out to sea they found themselves foating next to black plastic raft-like stuff that could have been the bumper from a bridge, but who the heck knew what one of those looked like? Anyway, it sort of floated.So they clilmbed aboard.

"I wish I had the old Jolly Rodger to hoist!" screamed Ms Betty, above the howling wind and crashing waves.

"I wish we had a mast. Or some oars," Fanny muttered under her breath.

The two Duballs found themselves furiously paddling northward, trying to keep the coastline in sight so they didn't end up at the Farallones.

But then...

MB Mom came breathlessly paddling up in her trusty red kayak (which was not barfproof but didn't matter as the kids were not with her and her own queasiness threshold was way beyond little annoyances like seasickness).

Ms. Betty and Ms. Fanny (who were not easily surprised by almost anything anymore) blinked at her from behind their dripping tailfin glasses but otherwise showed no reaction.

"Ms. Duballs, I have never called you ladies the "B" word before but I'm afraid that the time has come to call a spade a spade (only this isn't exactly a spade)," said MB Mom.

Okay, well, NOW the ladies' eyebrows raised indignantly as you could tell they thought MB Mom was a shameless hussy who was about to say a naughty disgusting word. And this was true.

Only it wasn't the word they thought.

Trying to keep her kayak steady in the churning water, MB Mom continued: "Ladies, with Mack Montara and Brandy Alexander away in Tahiti, we all need to work together to solve mysteries and battle evil on the coastside. And I also need you both to cooperate and also help with something even more dire."

MB Mom took their silence as a good thing, but it might have been only that the Duball cousins were preoccupied trying to wipe a giant glop of seagull poop off their makeshift raft.

"Ms. Duballs, in the name of all that is good I need to you to come home with me and act like the B-words you were meant to be: BABYSITTERS!"

As MB Mom desperately shrieked out her last word, the Duballs began paddling furiously in the direction of the stormy Farallones. But then (proof that miracles really do happen even after you've sacrificed all your best years to your beloved little blood-suckers), the raft turned around.

"You know Fanny," said Ms. Betty. "That might not be half-bad idea. In fact it suits our plan just fine. If we were disguised as babysitters, with those young 'uns as cover, we could..."

"Betty Duball, you shut your mouth this minute!" Ms. Fanny yelled.

Ever since they were girls, Betty had been one big blabbermouth and now here she was about to blab their top-secret plan right out over the ocean (sound carries you know!), where any Coastsider could eavesdrop on their private doings.

Why, right over there was that perky little knowitall Professor paddling by on his newfangled Unsinkable Pool Float, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in his everlastingly open mouth (or water run in his rusty pipes).

And there was that cassanova Diamond Jim Grady cruising by on his highfalutin' yacht singing "I Feel Good!"

No sirree, this would not do at all. The daring Duball cousins needed some privacy so they could swap secrets with MB Mom who had heard tell of some very interesting local dirt on some individuals we will not name here at this time in case anyone who shouldn't be is listening.

Ms. Fanny and Ms. Betty grabbed ahold of MB Mom's kayak and they all paddled like heck for the shores of Moss Beach...

Meanwhile, back on dry land, other kinds of storms were brewing.

Swampy mysteries mingling with big-frog-in-a-smalltown aspirations.

This might have had a little something to do with what those nosy Duballs were plotting. Or it might not.

The only certain thing was...

...Maverick's was on!

The indomitable Duball sisters, the unsinkable MB Mom, and the perky Professor were all making their way up the coast, just as the big event was about to unfold.

Meanwhile, a mysterious shack in the harbor was beginning to give off an unearthly glow. The Space Aliens, who'd arrived on New Year's Eve at 5:30 p.m. through a strange hole in the clouds, were converging on the building, in preparation for...

Winning the war and taunting the nut jobs!

There was no nuttier place than the coastside and the glowing shack looked like a perfect nuthouse.

This became even more clear when the Space Aliens looked inside because...

...because, there was Vito!

Vito was a Space Alien mobster who had a penchant for attiring his dashing (if somewhat wiggly) green self in stylish Armani suits. He was proud of the fact that his kids went to the finest private school on his planet -- and that he was here on Earth (well, the coastside -- if you want to call that Earth) to avenge his clueless cousin's death.

His dumb cousin had had it coming to him, especially when you consider the capacity for vindictive behavior some folks have. That clueless SA had tried to mug Chief Cole, then REALLY taken his fate in his hands by getting anywhere near the infamous Rosemary Potatoes (who had been written up in the food section of a Pulitzer-prize-winning Newspaper (according to some other folks around here) called Voice of the Coast.

Well, that was just plain asking for it. So that guy ended up in Mrs. Potatoes' turkey stew, and now his cousin Vito was on the warpath.

But as anyone who attended Wednesday's MCC meeting knows, that was not the whole story.

And that was why Vito the SA was shacked up at the harbor, plotting to use the Maverick's competition as a cover for...

The fact that the biggest waves were being made by the MCC, which had been transformed by a tall bald guy with glasses. Or so some folks were saying.

Vito was not tall and he didn't wear specs, but he was certainly hairless so he felt right at home arguing in person instead of doing it online. He wished he had a perky little hat like this one guy who spent all his time filibustering, but that would come in time. And so would a lot of other things, if Vito had anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, the tall ball guy and the perky little guy with the giant mouth were...

...astounded when Vito wheeled in a large, ungainly object covered by a plastic tarp. Vito drew up to his full height, flexed his muscles, and whipped back the covering to reveal...

Kathryn Slater-Carter!

From the looks of it, the renowned local politician had been abducted by the infamous Hamburglar, who with the help of his pal the Evil Grimace ( Web Link ) was hellbent on bringing Ms. Slater-Carter back to McDonaldland to run their water/milkshake district.

(In case anyone is wondering whether Ms. Slater-Carter would still be eligible to hold public office on the coastside, please rest assured that it's perfectly legal to have as many primary residences in McDonaldland as you want).

Now Vito hadn't been expecting Ms. Slater-Carter, and yelled all sorts of SA epithets at the Hamburglar and Evil Grimace for bungling the job and bringing back the wrong ungainly bundle in a tarp.

But then, after he'd thought about it a bit, Vito figured that as long as he had such an experienced local politico's undivided attention, he might as well...

See if he could talk KSC into his secret strategy for the Coastside.

Actually, it was perfect for KSC because it dovetailed perfectly with her...

...it dovetailed perfectly with her expansionist wish to extend McDonalds franchises to other planets.

But besides that...

Besides that, MWSD water emerged from the typical midcoast household's pipes looking and feeling as thick and brown as a chocolate milkshake. (Uh, it did not taste like one however. We will not provide THAT unappetizing description here, as it is getting to be thedinner hour.)

And not your typical McDonald's one, either. No sirree, this one was a deep, dark premium artisanal chocolate brown, which was perfect for Kathryn, as she was known to be a beyond-zealous foodie (who could effortlessly recite the entire menu and wine list of every upscale coastside eatery by heart, with great passion and gravitas).

But let's get back to the expansionist plan and all the other possibilities....

...possibilities that seemed limitless to Vito, Space Alien Realty's top sales earner and Certified Intergalactic Property Specialist. While the rest of the SA Realty team was busy checking out Stephenville, Texas, Vito was about to unveil a diabolical plan that would put the entire West coast in his back pocket.

First, he would engage the Professor to broadcast a nightly science and nature lecture series, simultaneously pre-empting all shows on cable and dish networks. Then,with the whole coastside lulled into a state of somnolence, the Space Alien Realtor would descend, and...

...the Space Alien Realtor would descend, and say "We must protect the Coastside from particulate matter! Even the smallest microns of particulate matter! Could the rock crusher be moved so the particulate matter does not affect my view of the radar station? I need to wrap my head around the particulate matter!

The Professor surely could tell us how the...

How the heck folks had managed to have a thread on Talkabout without one singlesolitarylongwinded post from a certain perky MWSD official?

Now there's a mystery for Mack Montara to solve (if he and that ex-stripper Brandy Alexander ever come back from Tahiti)!

However, we do have the learned and equally longwinded Professor, who was just about to explain...

(Throat clearing noises)

Hrmph. I was just about to explain that the reason you have never seen me at any of the MWSD meetings, or any gathering where the so called "Perk" is in attendence is because (and I hesitate to reveal this but in the interest of honesty and disclosure I feel obligated to do so) as some of you more intellegent folks have probably already figured out (some smart kook...er, cookies on the coast aren't there!) Paul is my secret identity.

There, I've said it. I suppose I shall have to retire my trusty Sharper Image Night-Search Eye®, but then again it might come in handy for locating those pesky nocturnal water leaks.

That said, I feel the need to take a walk on the cliffs and check for septic leaks, too. However, I believe that in the interest of safety I should do that during daylight hours.

Yours personally, and speaking only for myself as an individual and not a space alien,

I remain,

Yours truly

The Professor aka PP

Holey Moley!

The Professor's last disclosure was more revealing than a slow striptease done by Brandy Alexander!

Now, more than ever, the Space Aliens resolved that nothing should thwart their plans for the coast; their secret should not be revealed until the fullness of time demanded it. Vito and his brethren rushed to a local electronics store to buy enough parts to quickly cobble together a Coastal Cloaking Device. However, in their haste to build, they forgot one vital piece...

They forgot to include something that would keep the kidnapped KSC hidden.

The Honorable Ms. Slater-Carter was beginning to worm her way out of the ropes that the Hamburglar and Evil Grimace (who were sitting around eating French fries and gas-bagging about the last MCC meeting) had tied around her wrists and ankles.

As KSC struggled to escape from her captors...

As KSC struggled, her cell phone knocked against the chair she was tied to and automatically dialed one of the numbers stored in the phone's memory.

Even hardcore criminals like the Hamburglar and Evil Grimace would have been shaking right down to their golden arches if they knew that KSC had just inadvertently placed a call to...

Lennie Roberts!

Not surprisingly, Lennie Roberts was in the middle of an important meeting herself (although she, unlike KSC, was not bound and gagged) when her cell phone rang.

She glanced down at the caller ID in annoyance -- then, as it dawned on her what the caller might be calling about, her expression changed.

"Excuse me," she told the Board of Supes and the State Senate and the Coastal Commission and the United Nations. "I have to take this call."

She scurried from the room, her organic fair trade briefcase dangling behind her.

Meanwhile, in HMB...

Meanwhile in HMB, Diamond Jim Grady was bending over backwards not only to avoid conflicts of interest, but to avoid the appearance of conflict.

As fit and athletic as he was, the contortions were getting pretty uncomfortable -- and became even moreso as he twisted and pretzeled his arms in the attempt to extricate his latest votes, positions -- and ringing cell phone -- from various deep pockets.

When Diamond Jim finally did manage to reach and answer his cell phone, his dreamy eyes grew wide with disbelief, then narrowed with interest and cunning as he listened to the caller's breathless voice.

"Jim? Lennie here. I've just had the most extraordinary call..."

KSC is being held captive, and her kidnappers know everything. Quick, call Diamond Jim and tell him to get Mighty Mike to meet him at 144 Kelly. Tell him to bring ...

"Tell him to bring his cloaking device. We'll spread it out on 144 Kelly, and everyone will forget it exists. During the resulting confusion, we'll hire Gov Terminator to help us extract KSC from the grips of her nappers. We need her free, so she can continue her MacDonalds expansions while leading the mid coast into damnation. I'll tell this bunch I have to go find another wetland, and you, Diamond Jim, Mighty Mike, Gov Terminator, and I will go teach those kidnappers - those rampant pavers, that they can't ..."

...That they can't build anything where we live. No Pavers In Our Backyards!"

Just as she was getting up a head of pious steam, Lennie's eco-friendly cell ran out of juice.

Meanwhile, someone else was running out of...

Toilet paper. MB Mom was running out of a lot of things (including patience but that's an everyday occurrence so she won't list it here).

Toilet paper was weighing heavy on her frazzled mind as her son Lucky 7 seemed to have been stricken with one of those gastro flus where every possible orifice is spewing projectile something or other. He swore it was the "gross disgusting" Farallone View lunches but MB Mom knew for a fact he'd been eating hoarded Christmas candy for every meal when she wasn't looking and never completely washed his hands of their dubious kidgrime even when she was.

So while every other even semiliterate person on the coastside was blogging about local and national politics, MB Mom was huddled at the sticky kitchen table listening to the sounds of Lucky 7s spewing and Terrible Two's belting out Little Mermaid songs while their barely sane mother was tapping away on the outdated laptop she'd inherited from The Potted Plant (who was out of town as usual).

Tapping away about toilet paper. Pathetic, but somebody had to continue the story and MB Mom needed an outlet and here it was. If she could find someone to watch the kids she would run down to Coastside Market for t.p. and gatorade -- and maybe even run over to that shack at the harbor where Kathryn Slater-Carter was being held hostage by McDonaldland goons and try for a super-hero rescue.

Or maybe someone else would get there first...

...but, it wouldn't be the Cal Fire boys from the Montara fire station.

Meanwhile, back at County Center in Redwood City, Lennie pawed through her purse and pulled out her trusty iSun™ portable, modular solar DC electricity generator with approx. 2 watts of power output, 50% more than any comparable devices on the global market ( Web Link) that would (she hoped) bring her cell phone back to life.

She especially liked the way the iSun™ was tricked out with a female socket adapter cable, 2 suction caps (to attach the iSun™ to a window), a power cable, a 2.5mm male adapter, a 3.5mm male adapter, a 5.5x2.5mm female adapter, a 5.5x2.1mm female adapter, a 5.0x2.1mm female adapter, a 4.0x1.7mm female adapter and a 3.5x1.4mm female adapter.

Gad, it was sexy!

Supervisor Gordon and Commissioner Blank pushed forward and gazed at the environmentally friendly gadget with awe.

Holy Hamburgers! All those flirtatious female adapters were titillating the senses of even the most respectable of our male officials.

But at that very moment, there was a female lurking in the courtroom who was neither flirtatious nor environmentally friendly. And she was packing heat (not the solar-powered kind either).

It was none other than the notorious...

Ms. Betty Duball!

The courtroom was as still as the traffic on 92 as the ill-tempered grande dame strode to the podium and grabbed the main microphone from a stunned Coastal Commissioner's trembling hand.

"Now, listen up, folks -- and listen good!" Ms. Betty thundered. "No one is leaving this courtroom until..."

...until the MCC is disbanded! I am so goldurn sick of those wingnut newcomers trying to use their high-falutin' wiles to tell us Real Locals what to do!"

Ms. Betty shook her fist, in which was clutched a loaded "No Barking" device, at the astonished crowd. She turned to glare in the direction of a certain solar-powered cellphone user who had also been known to tell a local or two what to do. Or, more often, what not to do.

"And as for do-gooder outsiders hellbent on keeping our foothills green so they can use them as a playground for their fancy-schmancy selves..."

...but Ms.Betty Duball was momentarily struck dumb, which for her was a novel phenomenon. Suddenly, she could do nothing but gurgle and wave her hands helplessly in silent frustration.

Ms.Duball had just been hit by a high-intensity thought wave emanating from beneath the earth, whose origin was in the secret chambers of the Coastal Druid Society. An ancient people, the Druids were said to be gifted with the powers of prophecy, as well as divination, levitation, and shape-shifting. They sought to foretell the future by studying the flight of birds, and by "reading" the entrails of various animals, such as goats.

The Archdruid lowered his hooded head, made a triangle of thumbs and forefingers, and began to chant...

His sonorous voice, as soothing and green as the verdant netherworld forest in which he dwelled, intoned:

"I call

Ms. Duball

to descend into our Druid Meeting Hall.

Leave Lennie

to gather pennies

for appeals and baby seals and assorted coastal land deals.

Ms. Duball,

it is our call

that you explain your rednecked gall

to honorable tree-huggers, one and all."

With a poof of all-natural, non-toxic, cruelty-free emerald smoke, the furious Ms. Betty descended through the floor of the courtroom and into the leafy chambers of the Coastal Druid Society....

When the non-toxic smoke cleared away Ms Betty found herself in a dimly lit chamber. Although she couldn't see the walls she got the impression of damp walls and greenery, both crushed and lushly growing.

A light in the center of the grotto pushed the darkness away and she saw several people gathered around a card table. A poster proclaimed: Coastal Greens!

A spotlight illuminated a board that proclaimed: We promote these Ten Key Values: Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Personal and Social Responsibility, Nonviolence, Decentralization, Community-based Economics, Feminism, Respect for Diversity, Global Responsibility and Future Focus.

Ms Betty Duball gulped.

Meanwhile, Kathryn Slater-Carter was still tied up, although the McDonaldland goons had kindly ripped the duct tape off her face so she could speak and eat French fries.

The bald MCC guy and perky little guy were nowhere to be seen, nor was Vito the SA Mobster. Which may or may not have been a good thing.

Kathryn had managed to mutter a view profound but largely unintelligible syllables into her phone before Lennie had run out of juice. Whatever she'd said, it was enough to get Lennie and Diamond Jim Grady and a few other folks with plenty of green aspirations into quite a tizzy. So now they were all hopped up about stopping the rampant pavers, but in all the excitement, they'd totally forgotten about KSC.

Now if KSC was anything, she was a polished political chameleon. She knew how to make a situation work in her favor. And, given her position as a McDonald's franchise tycooness, technically the Hamburglar and Evil Grimace worked for her.

So why not put them to work?

"Listen, fellas," she purred with her signature persuasion. "Here's a tasty idea that will benefit all of us..."

"It has come to my attention that people in this community are not happy with McDonald's (or MWSD) and that simply will not do. After all, McDonald's is happy place and so is MWSD headquarters."

The Hamburglar and Evil Grimace, whose mouths were too full of fries and moldy burgers to say anything, nodded happily.

"And so," continued KSC in her usual majestic manner, "we must make some changes to our Happy Meals. "From now on, every colorful box will include..."

An adorable little Perk action figure with its very own "mute" button!

After savoring a nutritious (and secretly Prozac-packed) Happy Meal, folks could enjoy the unprecedented pleasure of watching the little figure begin to open its tireless mouth – then instantly, blissfully silence it at the touch of a button.

Now if that wasn't a Happy Meal, nothing was!

While KSC and her adoring McDonaldland toadies were revolutionizing fast food, there were fast moves of another kind being pulled on the coastside...

Mack Montara, long suspected that the hapless denizens of the coast were being meticulously manipulated by a legion of lawyers, and now he had proof.

Using his tattered sat phone and a rolodex, Mack assembled the data base on his "symphony" program, and was in the midst of tranmitting it to all the media in the land when Bloviator interrupted him.

"Court is in session, as an expert witness you must come with me for your rehearsal with Meyers Nave so you can say the right message and save our fair city"

Mack, always ready to help, obliged, but in his haste....

In his haste, Mack made the mistake of gobbling down four McDonald's Happy Meals in a row.

He knew he wasn't supposed to be eating that stuff. In fact, right after Brandy had finally managed to peel his paunchy self out of that stuck-zippered wetsuit back in Tahiti, he'd promised to continue his New Year's regimen of freshly caught fish, tropical fruits and spring water.

Of course, once they came home to the Coastside, the temptations of fast food and Rebel Yell were more than Mack could resist. Sure, he regretted it. Just like he regretted being stuck in that dang wetsuit while Brandy cavorted with the lithe, fit Tahitian beach boys. But he loved McD's burgers almost as much as he yearned for the bodacious Brandy Alexander.

This time, out of respect for his healthy-eating promise to Brandy, he'd opted for portion-controlled Happy Meals rather than his usual unlimited QPs with extra cheese.

However, this proved to be a McGiant McHappy McMistake.

As the quadrupled dose of Prozac hit his Rebel-Yell-hungover brain, he smiled dazedly at the quartet of perky action figures, giggling as he gleefully pressed and re-pressed the magic mute buttons.

Meanwhile, a more computer-savvy coastal resident had intercepted his secret data base...

ATTENTION! We interupt this story to bring you a public service announcement from one of your local non prophets and their friends. ATTENTION!

We hereby proclaim:

First they degraded the land of San Francisco and the land of the Peninsula; but in the end we have saved the seaward road, the land west of the Skyline, the district of the Coastside.

Farmers have taken wing, dispelled is the chance of building a home: for there is no room where but now there are the Openpaces Peninsula.

We have saved you! In gratitude we adjure you to open your purses and divest yourselves of shekels, pieces of eight, coin, sterling and gold that we may continue our seaward drive.

Thank you. Lennie, Audry, and the elect guys and gals of the Other Openspace board.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled story, wherein Mack, always ready to help, obliged, but in his haste....

Mack had been hit by the exhilarating effects of too many Happy Meals (for details, please see description just above the important nonprophet public service announcement).

Some computer whiz coastsider had intercepted Mack's secret data base and...

Mack Montara was miffed and enraged at the zeal of a hacker that would dare to trespass on his turf, especially now that his bowels were discombobulated from McHappy McMistake.

Mack tapped bobble head thrice, kissed Brandy, and used his macro-encapsulator, quasi terabyte machinator, and he rebooted his laptop free from mayhem.

Lo, and behold, once his computer was humming with an updated data base, it was clear that the McDonald toadies were behind the intrusion using an access code from MeanGreenMachine.

Now, he wondered what would be the next step for the MeanGreenMachine…

HogWash, Balderdash, and crumble cakes. Furthermore, that is baloney.

I resent those remarks, it was not my fault or the fault of MeanGreenMachine that a sewer moratorium befell our municipality. Fate finds not a propitious niche for HMB.

Dude, time to renew our mantra, NIM…BY, NIM…BY !

Where is Mark Adonis Arassem from Club Sierra when we need someone to help save our wetlands?

HMB will be rescued, if not by Meyers Nave, by .....

by a small entity masquerading as a perky action figure riding a tiny green chopper with MeanGreenMachine airbrushed in miniscule script on the tiny single cap Fat Bob gas tank.

Hmmm. Was this a SA? An extension of the Tin Palace Oracle? Something totally new?

Or has the reader him/herself indulged in one too many Happy Meals™®?

If you children don’t behave and quit talking about Happy Meals, I will tell you a story about A Fiery Wake-up Call, along HWY 1, on a cold moonlit night in El Granada long, long ago, that will cause you great worry for your safety .

Boogie Bears are among us, and once you know the story, you wont just have “paul, paul, paul” to kick around any more, there will be “others”.

Speaking of others, hunky Jim Grady and Brandy Alexander were an item at Sam’s two nites ago, observed by MB Mom and Rosemary Potatoes as they nursed Vodka tonics after a bout with the hamburglar.

The Professor, aka pp, joined Betty Duball at her home after an acute case of amoebic dysentary beyond anything you have ever smelt. Please send flowers or anything fragrant, please.

As the Great Mysterious said In The Beginning, “The Coastside is a land ripe for mystery.” What was that sound, and that smell? I think it is coming from Ted Adcock center.

Mack Montara, PI extraordinaire, must solve this chaotic conundrum before…

Yesterday at dusk Marina and Bonnie met to discuss medians and normal city mayhem of the odor at Ted Adcock center, while walking along the OC coastal trail when their cells simultaneously rang, and both listened as multiple petulant moms expressed alarm that the local frogatorium had burst with frogs being quashed on Hwy 1. What to do? What to do? Could that be the source of the stench?

They immediately called Mark Adonis Arassam , who had not a clue, so Mark called a few SA who put him in contact with Mack Montara. PI extraordinaire. Mack called his buds at the secret base in Kramistan and they launched black predators to secretly provide intel to the Botox Babes so that they could corral escapees from the frogatorium, and hopefully mitigate or staunch the stench.

All was right with the world until, out of nowhere a little Perk action figure began to croon the words to “Somethings happening here…”, and an explosion blew up the…

An inexplicable explosion blew up the entire sophomoric, self-centered forum known as TalkAbout.

The mystery story that TalkAbout infants had been using to propagate lies about honest, hardworking local officials exploded in a colorful display of fiery tempers and hot-headed propaganda. It had been childish fun while it lasted, but now it was officially over.

Like all frivolities, this unimaginative tale came to its ignominious and decidedly overdue conclusion.

THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(((smoke clears)))

As the Professor unearthed himself from the rubble, he came up waving pages and pages of different font examples for the new Coastsider look.

"Here, Mr. Parr, use these!"

"Nah, I will just increase the type one point size. I think it improves the way the page looks and increases readability..."

Yes, there was no doubt about it: the new site looked great!

But more importantly, its well-researched content reflected the authentic spirit of the Coastside. Barry understood what locals wanted, and worked tirelessly to create a worthy forum for news, opinion and entertainment.

Now that the mystery story was over, folks would enjoy learning to behave like adults over at coastsider.com.

THE END (of the mystery: no further posts, please)

A GREAT NEW BEGINNING (for coastsider.com)

I am sorry for the type size changes, and the negative impact of policies I support that may have had a deleterious effect on coastsiders, and I am sorry that I am not truly for free speech.

Now, I confessed, will you finally leave me alone?

All I want to do is ….

Frivolities you say? (muffled laugher, and hoo-haahs.) This quest is just beginning, the tale is erupting day by day, and I dare say, it is not about frivolities. Rosemary Potatoes and MB Mom know what is going on.

Mack Montara is fast on the trail of all those that purposefully did wrong. Mack’s stupendous data base and archival information is so absolutely astounding that it will shine a spotlight on all the people that hide from truth.

Tomorrow Mack will announce…

End this bloated story.

"So much for that guy!" muttered The Professor. He was more interested in air quality, especially lack of it, anyway. Fonts, schmontz! He threw the pages into the air and they floated down around him, reminding him that this was a day of very still air. BAD AIR QUALITY!

But right now he was feeling rather pleased with himself. To combat the horrid and deadly PMs (see this topic, November 27 posts or, for the official version go to this Web Link )he had been looking into solutions. He really liked the Hammacher Schlemmer 4-Foot Oscillating Wind Column® but the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze QUADRA Silent Air Purifier™ had the benefit of cleaning the air.

Purer air or oscillating air? Hammacher or Sharper? Schlemmer or Image?

He knew what to do--but which to choose?

He heard a mournful cry in the distance. As he pondered his dilema the mourner approached and the dirge became clearer.

"THE END!" the voice cried. "The end is nigh! Prepare for the judgement!"

The Professor chuckled gleefully. Here was the solution! And as an added benefit this fan, Coastsider Fan™ not only oscillated and got rid of the deadly PMs, Coastsider Fan would warm up those foggy days with lots of hot air!

Above the futile, nonsensical whirrings of Coastsider Fan came a lone voice, crying in the wilderness.

Dressed in recycled organic rags, it very well could have been the ragged bundle that mysteriously appeared on and disappeared from Mack Montara's doorstep at the beginning of this torturous tale.

Calling himself Jesus H, Sonova Joe, he proclaimed:

"I have not eaten a single thing since August 12, 2006. I refuse to support the evil corporations that are ruining the local stores and family farms.

The only thing I drink is my spit and rainwater that I collect in a cup made out of the stomach of a dead seal I found on the beach. I slept next to the seal and her soul said I could have the stomach.

I painted it blue, like the ocean."

Nodding sagely, he disappeared into the stormy Sunday night.

But who had sent him -- and what did it mean?

It meant Jesus H, Sonova Joe, was soaked to the bone and in no mood to dally through another lackless, feckless, meaningless foray into the surf.

Blue, I know Blue, and you can’t handle Blue, you are pink to the bone, and if you had a soul you …..


Meaning perfuses my soul and I Know! Peggy Lee sang about it in her testimonial song “Is that all there is?”

Once the House of Charts is re-opened and we partake of Chop Steak with Carmelized Onions, slaking our thirst with Lone Star beer with a jigger of Jack, all will be crystal clear.

Then we can toast to the familiar cheer of “Klaatu barada nikto!” and await our leaders, and of course, Scorekeeper and mini-Mike.

The announcement we all await will fulfill our quest for the penultimate truth about life itself, even the definition of “wetlands” will be finally answered to our total satisfaction and delight.

All eyes were focused on the podium in Ted Adcock center, and the city’s expert witness arose to speak and stated.. .

...you would call Mack Montara and hire him to track down the secret identity of Coastsider Fan, an evil and deluded e-terrorist who was trying to blow up Talkabout and forcefeed his /her own pathetic politics down Review readers' throats like grain down the neck of a foie gras goose.

But Talkabout readers were not silly gooses. They were gonna get sweet revenge, just when their detractor least expected it.

CF had it coming. After all, he/she'd tried to shut down the mystery thread, which was about as likely as Kathryn Slater-Carter selling a No-Growth Hamburgar.

But who was this messed-up monster?

Was CF the lost Voice of the Coast? Of the MCC/MWSD/McDs conglomerate? Or had he/she been the hacker trying to usurp Mack's database?

A new villain was in our midst -- and the one person who could give Mack some clues was...

The expert witness, whose imminent testimony had been momentarily stalled by the flying rage against the dangerous Coastsider Fan.

The witness began to speak..

**Author's Note**

(I make no claims to be THE author or even AN author, nor am I an expert witness, or for that matter an expert anything, nor do I go door to door proselytizing.)

To paraphrase information at Web Link I would like to help the reader understand the meaning of "expert witness".

EXPERT WITNESS - When knowledge of a technical subject matter might be helpful to a trier of fact, a person having special training or experience in that technical field, one who is called an expert witness, is permitted to state his or her opinion concerning those technical matters even though he or she was not present at the event. For example, a wetland expert could testify about the probable cause of a suspicious wetland.

A person who testifies at a trial because she has special knowledge in a particular field, i.e. the field at Beachwood. This entitles her to testify about her opinion on the meaning of facts. Non-expert witnesses are only permitted to testify about facts they observed and not their opinions about these facts. In wetland law trials, common expert witnesses include: Actuaries, who testify about values of wetlands for the purpose of dividing them for subdivision; real property psychologists or development specialists, who testify about the best interests of the property when the number of homes to be built is in dispute; Appraisers, who testify about property values when the parties cannot agree, and; Career experts, who testify about aanything for the purpose of determining the amount and duration of payments.

MrMan to the rescue. Deep Roots to the past, Mind like a steel trap, and Nothing to lose. IF CF were smart, she should run for cover, and that would be to seek sanctuary with Coastsider.com, KSC, and the NIM-BYs that were past Queens of the coast in pre-historic times.

Brandy Alexander read all the news reports with glee for she knew that Mack would soon solve this long running case so then she and Mack could return to the Beachcomber inn on Papeete, Tahiti and bask in the infinity pool with a swim up bar and a private lagoon drinking Mai-Tais with sundowners over Moorea..

But, back to the story, Mack, amass with data on conglomerates of yore, sought to correlate four streams of data with 4D records from the….

We progress or digress to Ted Adcock community center...

And as the expert witness began to speak the listeners (especially Talkabout regulars) felt they knew this person. That they had heard him many many times before (but not as many times as the famous verbalizer who had a cute little motorcycle riding action figure patterned after him).

Something familiar about his phrasiolgy nipped at the edges of the listeners' minds.

Short sentences, almost free verse...

Long spaces between lines...

You could almost hear the words mispelled in his voice...

But since no one had really actually seen him (except another mysterious figure knowns as SpankMe2, who had irregular clandestine meetings with this personage under the full coastside moon) no one knew what he looked like.

Until now!

Up at the podium, making as much sense as always, which sometimes was not much, the populace of HMB gathered at Ted Adcock (and who the heck was he anyway? Hey, history buffs!), up at the podium was none other than the infamous Oh Spank Me, fondly referred to as "OSM".


You are my hero.

Finally your town gets to meet our friend OSM, and what a party that will be. Shall I bring all our old photos of times past, and hilarious stories of all our friends in the City having a spanking good time?

Since it will be center stage in Half Moon Bay, I suppose we will just get one spank each, and then the main agenda will focus on the expert witness and then Oh Spank Me will say...

...Oh Spank Me will say ""The views are hues of our co-creative sinews of threads of each web we weave and create. I'd like to state, love all as one."

W@it a Minute. Oh Spank Me said

"The party is ouer .

Time to pay the piper and mearge HMB into the County."

At which point, Mack Montara, hot on the trail of Coastsider Fan...

... Mack felt a current of remarkably warm air wafting toward him. Strange, considering all the stormy weather on the coast lately. This, by contrast, seemed almost--balmy.

He looked up, and right where he expected to see the sun breaking through the clouds, a huge purple disc appeared in the sky. A translucent, shimmering mandala, spinning and sparkling like a jewel. The buoyant symbol was being carried aloft like a balloon, gently drifting in the general direction of HMB.

As it passed overhead, Mack felt a sense of bliss and peace descending upon him, remarkably like the one he often got after a few belts of the better stuff. Maybe this was what some people said was brought to them each night on the wings of that phosphorescent green butterfly. Anyway, it was time to lie down now... Yes, that was what he needed...sleep....

While Mack was blissfully dozing and drifting, Brandy Alexander was taking care of business.

While she and her favorite (but still-platonic) P.I. were soaking up sun in Tahiti, their respective Montara bungalows had been taking a beating from January storms. Brandy sighed as she scheduled appointments with roofers and tree trimmers -- and wondered just how the heck they were going to pay for all this.

Brandy had a nice nest egg from her sensational stripper days at Carol Doda's in North Beach, but as far as she could tell from going over Mack's accounts, he was flat broke. If he didn't make some serious bucks from a case soon, he was probably gonna end up as yet another ragged bundle on someone's doorstep.

At the moment, Brandy was seated at Mack's messy desk, trying organize the piles of mail and other PI effluvia that had accumulated during their absence. Among the spy catalogs (dream on) and Soldier of Fortune (yeah, right) and Playboy (oh, please) magazines, a strange envelope stood out.

It was addressed simply to Mack Montara, with no return address. Inside, a message was pasted in from a collage of letters cut from magazines and newspapers.

The jumbled letters read:

Mack Montara:

Stop snooping and end the story. Or else.


At first, Brandy thought it might be a mailer from CCF, who may have been offended by Mack's pathetic lack of progress on the Beachwood case. But, no, they were a polite, civilized bunch (and after all, Eddie Andreini was an old buddy of Mack's who had been kind enough to fly them to Tahiti). Besides, the signature was missing a "C" -- also, from what Brandy had heard, CCF wouldn't be caught dead sending out something as impolitic and cheesy as this.

Hmmm. Were the SA's on the warpath again? Or was CF a more dangerous enemy...?

We interupt this story for a newsbreak.

An interview excerpted from Voice of the Coastsider Fanzine, the news rag for people who love...uh...something. Web Link

Coastsider Fan: KSC, how can someone as sensitive as you and a practicing environmentalist hold not one but TWO fastfood franchises?

KSC: I'll tell you, Mr. Fan. I genuinely believe that by doing so I can alleviate some of the worst excesses of the system.

Coastsider Fan: Thank you for your time and frankness, KSC.

KSC: No, they are McDonalds not Wienerschnitzel franchises and I'm not giving out samples.

(With appologies to Arthur Moyse Web Link )

Now, back to the story...

Thanks, that was very informative! Okay, back to the story.

Excerpted from Brandy's discovery (above), here's the latest mystery (besides how to create no-growth burgers & fries):


"It was addressed simply to Mack Montara, with no return address. Inside, a message was pasted in from a collage of letters cut from magazines and newspapers.

The jumbled letters read:

Mack Montara:

Stop snooping and end the story. Or else.



The questions: Who sent this horrifying threat -- and how will Mack & Co. hunt down this crackpot cyber-terrorist?

Unbeknownst to Mack or Brandy, a secret cabal, ensconced in a South county barn (red, as it were) were behind the Coastsider Fan (CF) threats. The cabal knew each other as the NIMBYs To Stop Newbies (NTSN) , and were a newly established coastal group with secret handshakes, a unique body language comprised of a slithery snakelike walk when approaching a podium, and a twitch when speaking publicly, coupled the mantra “I speak only for my self and not as…yadda, yadda, yadda.”

The core mission and principle of the secret cabal, NTSN, was to use eco-pseudologic (some say patho-logic) intertwined with group speak and a tad of intimidation to control the coast. NIM-BY RULES.

NerdMan, was a key player for NTSN and used every opportunity to sow viruses on opposition networks, with pfishing paraphernalia to gather advance knowledge of any attempts for requests for public records or attempts to penetrate the identities or opaqueness of NTSN.

NTSN strongly believes that any intrusion into the NTSN network, or to identify their agents, MUST be stopped at any cost.

Hence, NTSN is outraged with discussions on Talkabout about their existence or actions and all discussion must, and will be stopped. Secret Squirrel, TGM, Adam Had’m, OSM, MB Mom, Another Sonova Joe, and Rosemary Potatoes have met their match and will be destroyed. Since the intruders do not respond to direct threats, the next step for NTSN will be to …

Like a skipping audio book CD the story kept repeating the same lines, reinforcing the seriousness of the cut and pasted message:

Mack Montara:

Stop snooping and end the story. Or else.


After reading it over for the third time, Brandy folded it up and replaced it in the strange envelope.

Really, she had no business reading Mack's private correspondence.

Then again...

She took out the note again and gently unfolded it so that the glued on letters would not fall off.

Why hadn't she noticed it before! It was a clue!

The letters had all been cut from the same publication and she recognized the typography right away.

The letters were cut from...

I had no idea this was going on.

Of course I support open transparent government, no one told me about the secret cabal.

Really, no fooling. I don't even know NerdMan.

I don't even subscribe to any publications.

CF called me last week, but I did not return her call.

Please do not try to associate me with this CF association as it can be proven that I am busy flushing (and will be until January 31 as I have formally stated elsewhere).

Flushing may temporarily stir up sediments in the water lines, which may discolor the water. This water is treated and still safe to drink. However it will taste like the water that oozes from a leaky septic tank and is only advisable to serve to guests if it is tempered with large amounts of kahlua, vodka and heavy cream.

Just tell your cocktail recipients that they are enjoying a classic Montara White Flushin'!

Upon canvassing the electromagnetic spectrum emanating from the coast after the recent deluge, certain irregularities were noticeable, namely infrared emissions from certain human habitats.

Why emit, when intra-molecular entropy is an option?

Galactic cyber-signals interrupted cell phone calls for hours, yet SA was unable to explain to his earthling comrades the true import or implications of what was about to become..

Now was the time to reveal ALL, the publication from which the letters were extracted...

And what the NIMBYS TO STOP NEWBIES were up to when they...

I luv it when I am entertaining and somebody gets mud in their scotch and water.

I simply say I am in the vanguard of Montara Brown Flushin' so that I can save the planet and pay the 2nd highest water rates in the state.

happy days, and we are lucky to be here, right mwsd?

Mack awoke with a start. The blissfull feeling was gone. His heart pounding with fight or flight adrenalin, he looked around to see what had disturbed his contented slumber.

Voices. Disembodied voices.

Space Aliens? Podcast public notices? Thought waves from a secret cabal? Someone throwing KSC rocks at his window?

Where was Brandy anyway?

He'd dropped into his blissfull doze and left the TV on--maybe that was it. But right now Martha Stewart was innocently showing viewers the right way to mix a new drink that was all the rage. She deftly stirred and then offered the drink to the tiny animated action figure on the bar top beside her. He could just make out her words as the little guy climbed the glass and sipped through the stir stick. "Yes, it's called the Montara White Flushin' and it's a Good Thing!"

Swoosh, and a stifled cough, and another louder, much louder SHwoosh!

Splish, Splash, R U takin a bath? Somethings happening here…

Blim, Blam, Thank you Mam. Hoots all around. The crowd exclaimed “Kee-Ripes, and I’ll be ..”

Was that a toilet flushin? People want to know, when sounds ring out, what it is…Who caused it, and why. Is that water brown?

Nope, it was the roll of thunder, and another storm coming to the coast.

Life is good.

Don’t despair we will find the nefarious villains of the coast, and sooner than you ever thought possible. Follow the money. Follow the NIMBYS.

We have had storms before, and we dealt with them....

I am amazed at the astonishing insights into the coast that I am hearing here.

Where are you OhSpankMe. and Spankers of Spankers. Are not you in the zone, with admiration?

Apparently they've gotten a room. Speaking of which, there's no one left in this insipid chat room certain wanna-be writers call a story.

How sad.

The End!

I have been monitoring all of this long conversation, and I, not you, will decide when it is THE END. As long as anyone speaks, it is not over. I am speaking, my lips are moving. If any persons lips are moving (Clay permitting) it is Not over. It is not "the end"

Now that you, Coastsider Fan, have come to my attention, I will request Mack to reconvene the Grand Jury, subpoena a quorum, seek an appeal, and get back on topic. (and that request also applies to all the other respondents in this case)

CF, you may wish to return to whence you came...or not..I would love for you to stay, and share philosophies, values, and hopes.

The Tin Palace Oracle (not to be confused with or a subsidiary of any company in the database technology sector) groaned to life with a drawn out grate. He felt galvanized!

"I have determined that many poster boys and girls are posting here under assumed names! I have determined that some are using many names and many are using some names! I have found that some have a droll sense of humor and some humor is (in a sense) a troll."

For a moment the Main Street air vibrated with silence. The oracle continued:

"Brandy Alexander is on the right track. Mack really is hearing voices (and we would all do well to ignore them if we ourselves happen to hear them too). The secret cabal exists and is an extension of a galaxy wide movement being promulgated by the Space Aliens. Betty Duball is looking for her cousin in all the wrong places."

Before shutting down the oracle groaned, "Your time is up. Please insert a coin into the coin slot or insert your credit card in the card reader for additional messages. This machine does not give change."

Go with the basics, do no be enamored with anonymous claims, and focus on the secret cabal to enable you to identify the Space Aliens that can lead you to those responsible for relatives of Ms Duball.

"Deduce, Interlocute, and Decimate."

Well, even though MB Mom really needed a cocktail, unfortunately she did not have the ingredients for a White or Brown Flushin' (except for Moss Beach water). But on the bright side, for once in her frazzled life, MB Mom wasn't clueless!

She certainly had been earlier today, when Brandy faxed her over a sample of the evil note that some psycho had sent to Mack. But this evening, thanks to poor meal-planning, MB Mom had stumbled upon exactly where those cut-out letters were from. It was pure coincidence of course, in that MB Mom had been desperately trying to figure out what she could make for dinner using only the moldy ingredients in her fridge.

The reason was the usual one: Potted Plant gone -- going to Safeway with three hungry squabbling kids (hey, did MB Mom mention yet that Lucky 7's wish about his cousin Fab 5 coming to live with them was no joke?) was too horrifying a thought even for this daring devil-may-care mystery thing.

So anyway, MB Mom was digging through the pathetic pile of clippings that comprised her "recipe file" when she found some stuff she'd clipped in a happy burst of maternal domesticity right before Terrible Two popped out (and squashed MB Mom's feeble Martha Stewart ambitions once and for all).

And right there in front of her was the same lettering (only in the right order of course) as in that note.

(In case anyone still hasn't made dinner yet, here's what MB Mom was looking at: Web Link )

Just as MB Mom was about to call Brandy with her discovery...

Her power went out and she couldn't make the call. During the blackout she had a change of heart and decided to spend her time taking care of her children instead of neglecting them by posting on Talkabout.

The End

It was a good thing, too, that MB Mom's call couldn't go through, because she was about to strangle Terrible 2 and Lucky 7. All the other moms posting on Talkabout knew just how she felt and knew that a little creative diversion was good for her soul and helped keep her sane.

It was a good thing, too, because if her call had gotten through to Bandy just then, Brandy would have never been able to make it to New Leaf and help the inspections there so that MB Mom could drag her well-cared-for kids to someplace other than Safeway to shop.

While she was there, Brandy also noticed...

She noticed a woman getting out of her Blue and White SUV with two Coastsider.com bumper stickers on it. The woman wore a smug expression and was waving... Well, it looked like a fan. Yes. It was. It was a Coastsider Fan.

The woman with the CF obviously could not avoid getting into the mystery unfolding at the yet unopened New Leaf. She went up and jumped the flimsy plastic barrier and peered through the dusty windows.

She saw...

In the cabal control room situated at a remote location, a darkly cloaked entity nodded toward the monitor and said to his equally darkly cloaked companion entity, "Take a look at what we have on the New Leaf cam over in Half Moon Bay."

Both watched with interests as the woman with the Coastal Fan jumped the flimsy plastic barrier and peered through the dusty windows.

They had a pretty good idea of what she saw. And that was...

Rosemary Potatoes was trying to buy some fresh halibut that MB Mom linked her up to. She said, "Dern it. I thought Talkabout said that New Leaf was open. That Talkabout is always a straight shooter."

She turned about and went to that Italian run Cunha's market.

She had little idea that she was being watched by several darkly clothed entities, who (that?) were making their plans to again attack that sanctuary, Half Moon Bay, California.

Inside the dimly lit ex-Albertsons, onetime Lucky, previously Alpha Beta, the renovations were taking place slowly. Today work was halted. In a cleared area toward the back a group of scantily clad but modestly veiled women swayed and moved slowly in a circle.

Their leader, who had recently exited from a blue and white SUV and been caught on the New Leaf webcam, patiently instructed her ladies.

"Bend left...swoop...circle right...extend the veil behind you...peek over shoulders...bend right...swoop your fans."

An older women pushed her walker into the edge of the dance area. "Am I late?" she shouted. "Is this the Seniors Coastsider Fan Dancing Club?"

Meahwhile, at Cunha's Market...

Rosemary Potatoes noticed that Bev was no longer in attendence. Perhaps she was busy running for city council, certainly a breeze compared to running a Main Street grocery concern.

In the cabal control room a darkly clad entity noted Rosemary's movements on the Cunha Cam. He reached for the radio (as thought waves would not penetrate their hidden domain).

"Control One to Watchdog," he snapped into the handset.

"Watchdog over," crackled a response.

"Cunha's" he ordered. "You know what to do..."

School was out. Children swooped through Cunhas looking for treats and drinks, then scattered leaving on their way home or for practice. It was a rainy Thursday with a brisk windy cold front causing a few traffic problems around town.

NIMBY, always scanning the center of town, spotted JB, and MB Mom talking with SA in front of City Hall, and as he walked by to catch a phrase or two he heard them say “I just found where they raise the frogs along two watersheds..” but now they both recognized him, and…

It is a New Beginning

MB Mom and JB hurried off down Main Street to avoid NIMBY's endangered eagle-eyed gaze.

But they weren't quick enough.

NIMBY had overheard just enough -- and they would pay dearly for their casual words.

Meanwhile, up on the Midcoast...

Up on the Midcoast, Secret Squirrel had just begun to serve his sentence on the coastside road gang.

He figured he'd been framed by the Space Aliens. After all, he was just about to hand Mack Montara a clue to their latest SA plot--a devious scheme that included ancient Costanoans, a tribal claim, and a floating casino.

Ah well, that would have to wait. As the squirrelly prisoner adjusted his shackles and strained to look up the highway, he saw a long, long fence stretching out in front of him, with posts as far as the eye could see. It was his job to dig up and straighten out every one of them--every single post the Boss had ever thrown out. That, from the looks of it, was a job that could go on forever...

Yes, it was a job that could go on forever since they were the infamous Talkabout posts and they would be next to impossible to straighten out.

Back in the endangered little city of Half Moon Bay (perhaps to be reduced to even less than half in the near future) NIMBY stealthily cloaked the secret spy dvr/dvd recorder (so top secret it wasn't in the Sharper Image© catalog yet) beneath a striking desert camo trench coat (good for prowling the sandy beaches) before skittering off brazenly down the street.

Blackness enables so many actions, most of them bad. But some things happen in broad daylight and go undetected until observant people put patterns and trends together. Then paths are altered, before continuing lightly modified in a slightly different direction possibly with a different camouflage.

Cabals a go go, Costanoans redux, NIMBYs whining, lawyers lurking, property rights demanding, Spankers spanking, and activists of all kinds and stripes intermingling, clashing, and arguing--- all searching for ways to gain turf and keep their secrets hidden in the kingdom by the sea.

We can learn by what we no longer see as well and by what is missing. Whatever happened to Scorekeeper and The Great Mysterious?

I was just reminded that I forgot to mention my own cabal—

So, for fairness and full disclosure- “Klaatu barada nikto!”

Ps I have an urgent message for Voice of the Ghost “They’re back.”

Found on the bulletin board of Cunha's:


You may be under the impression that The Great Mysterious has abandoned the mystery, but rest assured this is merely propaganda being promulgated by the Dark Side.

The Great Mysterious (who lazily signs all posts as TGM) has been working privately with Mack Montara since the long-ago beginning and will continue to fight tirelessly in the battle against fiction-haters of all political persuasions.

At this bleak period in Coastside history, it is imperative that all local literati join in the crusade against those who would -- for their own pious reasons -- shut us down.

TalkAbout will keep Talking About -- no matter what the cost.

Acronyms always baffle me.

Like LCP, who or what is that all about? even CUSD makes me stop and think and my kids go there. Is there a master acronym list anywhere?

Guess I must even spell out my own name to help others (that will be my first).

Not In My Back Yard

"TalkAbout will keep Talking About -- no matter what the cost."

Not an acronym. But catchy. The little ditty kept running through MB Mom's fried brain like a jump rope rhyme.

Speaking of costs and jumpy things, MB Mom was just thinking that there really is never too great a cost for primo caffeine and all the perks (as opposed to Perk, who was nowhere in sight even though this was supposedly a favorite haunt of his) that came along with it.

At the moment, she was seated at a cozy window table in Caffe Lucca where she'd decided to stop off after dropping Lucky 7 and Fab Five off at school and checking on her sister's house at the back of Montara. It was a much bigger and nicer house than MB Mom's and that sad architectural reality -- along with the fact that her sister had a husband who (unlike certain Potted Plants who will not be named here) actually did things like take his wife to Europe when he had cool projects there -- should've made MB Mom pea green with envy.

But her sister was a nice person (even though she was kind of an airhead) and Fab Five was a classy kid and so far a good influence on Lucky 7. Plus, Rich Sis had insisted on reimbursing MB Mom for all extra caffeine consumed as a necessity in taking care of an extra child. Hurray for unlimited triple-shot lattes!

So anyway, MB Mom was feeling really cool and writerlike sitting here in a cafe blogging on the Potted Plant's old laptop but she kept getting the weird feeling she was being watched. Paranoia from too much amped-up Arabica?

Wait a minute! What the heck?!?

A message popped up in an inexplicable IM window:


To make things worse, someone who'd glimpsed MB Mom through the window had just entered the cafe and appeared to be headed straight for her table...

As he approached she noted he had a pocket protector and was mumbling to himself, could this be NerdMan?

What to do? MB Mom popped in her ipod, closed her eyes, and swayed to pseudo music. After 3-4 minutes when MB Mom opened her eyes, he was gone, but she noticed a message was left on her table.

Opening the note, it was in a foreign language on a sheet of unlined paper with many exclamation points. MB Mom knew she would have to get this interpreted and soon. People are trying to intimidate her. For what and by whom, doggone it, she will figure it out.

As MB Mom was leaving to retrieve Lucky 7, she wondered how to decipher the source of the IM and the note. She wondered if these messages were part of a bigger plan or group, then she remembered….

The NTSN (nimbys to stop newbies) were at it again, sowing messages to anyone actively engaged in the community. Had to be NerdMan with the IM, next he will be trying a backdoor hack through image files. DON’T OPEN IT ! Will they stop at anything to stop positive activity…

Meanwhile, up along the coast highway, Secret Squirrel continued to toil under his sentence of involuntary servitude for the coastside chain-gang. It was hard labor digging these post-holes, but at least he was outdoors, in the fresh air, and near the ocean he loved.

As the sun briefly lit the clouds, it illumined the cliff-face, and he saw a lone goat gamboling toward him.

"Gosh, mending fences is hard work! " the goat cried cheerfully. "Personally, there's just something in me that doesn't love a fence!" (for he was fond of Frost).

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said the squirrel, with a rueful smile. "But you know what they say..."Good fences make good neighbors..."

"No TALKING! " growled the guard...

She had appeared in this story before, but now she needed to be anonymous.

This was ironic, in that she had previously complained about the frivolity and pointlessness of anonymous comments. But things were getting way too close for comfort.

It hadn't helped that certain plot twists and turns had gotten her goat so badly that she'd actually found herself resorting to strident, pseudonymic postings of her own. Now, voices of ghosts were coming back to haunt her -- and she needed to make plans for retaliation.

She sat in the parking lot of the old Chart House, gazing at the shifting sea from inside her luxurious Mercedes cocoon. Water was one of her passions, and watching waves always inspired her.

Just over the horizon, it looked like a storm was brewing. In more ways than one...


Doo, Dah, Doo-Dah!

Forget bout pointless, this is for real, and NOW,

A Nexus for the Coast, finally people will have to take sides,

No more, Loosey Goosey, and La Ti Dah,

This storm will take YOU down.

Pick a Side.

"Excuse me, ma'am -- could you roll down your window, please?"

The Now Anonymous One jumped in her seat, startled by a voice just outside her Mercedes. Could it be one of HMB's Supposedly Overpaid Boys In Blue?

She pressed the window button, and the glass slid silently down. She craned her head in search of the source of the voice, which was now asking: "Are you with the League for Coastside Protection?"

She gulped. Perhaps she was not as anonymous as she'd thought. But she still could not figure out where the voice was coming from, although it continued to speak.

"Because if you are, could you protect me, please?"

"Where-where are you? And wh-who are you?" she hooted fearfully, sounding not unlike those louder-than-rock-crusher owls that had been keeping HMB folks up nights. This was decidedly out of character for a woman who normally spoke with great decisiveness and gravitas.

"I'm right here, ma'am -- the pampas grass growing right here on the bluffs."

And indeed, the stalk was speaking and being to sound decidedly ticked off.

"I speak for my entire family when I voice my outrage at being classified an "invader species" and eradicated from the coast. I'm a plant just like any other -- why should willows get preferential treatment? If I had arms I would get up a petition, but as a limbless stalk I just can't do it. Would you help? Or do you think John Lynch might be willing to help?"

With a bloodcurdling shriek (fear, annoyance or perhaps a war cry), she closed the window and sped off, leaving the invader stalk in her eco-friendly dust.


Are you kidding me?

We don't protect no willows. They are not esha.

We follow the law.

A certain person whose name will not be written here (because the authors of this mystery have been accused by someone in another location on Talkabout of verbally assaulting honorable journalists, concerned citizens and local officials) marched up and down the sometimes labelled "strip mall" that once was home to a chain supermarket. He particularly ignored Peets in a most obvious way and accosted a woman at the Wells Fargo ATM.

"I have a petition here," he said, waving a clip board. "Would you sign?"

The woman looked surprised and wary. "You tryin' to get something on the ballot? You doin' this for pay?"

"Goodness no!" he replied. "We have this empty ex-supermarket sitting here and many of us would like to see a Trader Jane's open up here."

"Oh!" the woman nodded. "Isn't that the sexy lingerie store? We could sure use one a those! Look, I gotta hurry over to Popeye's and get somethin' to eat."

The man frowned and wondered if this woman was one of the hoard of Talkabouters who went around verbally assaulting concerned citizens like himself.

"Nevermind" he said, stalking away.

A woman was climbing over the flimsy plastic barrier in front of the vacant supermarket, so he headed back over that way (pointedly ignoring Peets) to see if he could get her to sign.

Could I sign?

What does it say?

Will it help "Save our Coast?"

Kee-Rash! Boom! Puuu…Ssshhh….

Racket abounds at the beach, Waves Crash, and Swoosh to the caw of gulls,

Brandy wonders where Mack is waiting for her. She looks around.

pp is stupefied as he wonders where his next public appearance will be, and who he will be—what persona, representing whom?\\

A rep of the UN is taking notes, to assure the world population that all is right on our bio-diverse geographic location. A report is due at dawn.

All is right with the coast.


The woman who had just climbed over the flimsy plastic barrier in front of the so-called empty ex-supermarket paused once she had gained the parking lot side. She gazed up at the sky, open mouthed and then pointed. "Look at that!," she gasped.

The gray haired man with the clipboard looked up, and he too stood there wide eyed looking at the sky.

The blue of the fogless winter sky was bisected by a white line. (One of those deadly chemtrails! thought the senior citizen.) However, right above their heads the straight line of the trail was interupted by what looked like a numeral, writ high in the sky.

Something like this:


What on earth (or heaven, in this case) could this mean?

Several women had followed the first woman out of the ex-supermarket. These women were older than she and two with walkers were being helped over the barrier. The man recognized one of them as a well knowned senior activist he had tangled with outside the senior center when he had been trying to recruit for the LCP. He still had bad feelings about that and was about to turn away when one of the other women shouted, "I know what that is!"

"What?" the others gasped in unison. "Tell us!"

The one who seemed to know pointed north toward the airport. "That's Eddie Andreini's plane. I'll bet you anything..."

"I'll bet you anything he's trying to signal that double-crossing detective Mack Montara!"

The Supermarket Seniors roared their assent.

"Okay, folks," shouted the well-known senior activist. "Let's go see what's up!"

Walkers and wheeled assistance vehicles checked their compasses and set out for Montara...

The woman said "I bet you anything Eddie is sending us a message! He's trying to alert the whole city of Half Moon Bay about something dire that is about to happen!"

"Yes, said another woman, "This is the fastest way to do it! o telephone tree or email list. Some of us don't even have an email address."

"I go to the library to use their computers," another woman (one with a walker and the buttons done up wrong on her blouse). "You can get a free email address from yahoo or hotmail"

Thus ensued a discussion about various free email servies and how the mail sent from them got caught in spam filters and the kids never got your email but it was nice getting email from them with pictures of the grandkids and all.

The man with the clipboard took this opportunity to slink off.

Meanwhile, the Space Aliens, who had been the reason Eddie left his coded message for all to see, were meeting in the usual location on the Midcoast...

Signals were pointing to the Midcoast.

And so, it seems, were a few renegade Seniors and a top-secret group of Space Aliens.

In leafy chambers below Montara, the Coastal Druid Society was holding Ms. Betty Duball captive, using photosynthesis to fill her with enough chlorophyll to make her officially Green.

Above ground, in a nondescript cottage somewhere in the middle of town, NIMBYs To Stop Newbies was having a lunchtime meeting, led by the infamous computer geek Nerdman.

Over on Highway One, Secret Squirrel was toiling away building fences while he tried to figure out how to hand Mack Montara a clue to the latest SA plot--a devious scheme that included ancient Costanoans, a tribal claim, and a floating casino.

But where was Mack Montara, Coastside PI??????

Mack Montara, Coastside P.I. was trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It might have been the last traces of those Prozac-spiked Happy Meals or that strange blissed-out mandala business -- but he was hopelessly confused.

He sat at his paper-strewn desk, restoring Brandy's thoughtful organization to his preferred chaos. He was also ignoring the freshly brewed Cafe Lucca latte that MB Mom had dropped off earlier, opting instead to finish off the pot of his own signature black battery acid he'd brewed at the beginning of the week. None of that yuppie Euro stuff for him -- he'd drink real caffeine like a real man, thank you very much.

Mack squinted at the steadily accumulating pile of threat notes -- all made from letters cut from that same ghostly publication. Someone wanted him to stop snooping around. Around what, though? The Beachwood case? The SAs? Or that McDonaldland mess?

Or were all three related? Well, there was one way to find out...

Mack had fallen asleep with the TV on. He'd been dreaming of disembodied voices, or maybe he'd really been hearing them. It was hard to tell after sipping a Montara White Flushin'.

He awoke when he hear an airplane grinding away in slow annoying circles. In his dream state he'd even though of looking in the closet for his shotgun and running outside to get a little target practice...but then he awoke.

Something was up! He just knew it. He had a flair for empathically knowing that...that...something was up. Besides the airplane that is, because clearly it had landed by now.

He'd just have a little recce (it's a Web Link not a new drink!) and then decide what to do...

Okay, after his little recce (which in this case was another nap, despite all that aged black caffeine), Mack felt the little switch in his beat-up brain begin to move towards the "on" position.

He sat bolt upright on his beloved orange-and-brown plaid couch (which Brandy was always hounding him to haul to the dump -- good thing she was such a good-looking babe or he'd never put up with being henpecked by a gal who apparently preferred Tahitian pool boys to Montara P.I.s).



Duh. Why hadn't he thought of that before? After all, it was only the name of favorite breakfast spot (whose morning specials could cure even the rowdiest Rebel Yell hangover).

Mack Montara hopped into his rusted-out Dodge Dart (whose dang wipers were acting up again) and headed down the rain-soaked Highway One...

The rain was coming down harder and Mack could see that, up ahead, that pesky stretch of road near the airport was beginning to flood. Traffic had slowed to a crawl and he was too amped from the after-effects of rot-gut java to wait behind the rush hour commuter crowd.

Mack hung a right onto Cypress, figuring he'd loop around on the old airport road. Definitely the long way, but he needed to be on the move.

Unless something else got in his way...

What the hey? Did someone run into the house at the turn? Must have driven right into the house.

Mack had no time to think that through, no time to waste. Then, on Airport Blvd, he noticed a caravan of dirt bikes, very unusual, and they were all going into Pillar Ridge Mobile Home Park. He looked and briefly followed just to see what was going on. They all were going to the clubhouse. It dawned on him, today was election day.

In France. Election Day in France. Oh wait, it wasn't Sunday. Couldn't be Election Day in France.

Dirt bike election day?

Mack shook his head. He thought he kept hearing voices.

Maybe he was also seeing things.

But alas, no...

He wasn't?

Then it really was Dirt Bike Election Day at Pillar Ridge Mobile Home Park?

(Or was "Dirt Bike" a Coastal Druid/NIMBY code word?)

Mack smacked himself upside the head and removed his iPod earbuds. Why was it that they fell out without the slightest provocation when he--er--exercised (which consisted of hauling the garbage can to the curb) yet they could stay glued to his ears when he had completely forgotten about them?

So that settled the matter of the strange voices. Probably the new Coastsider Podcast he'd seen mentioned this week in the ultra secret Midcoast-L group he'd hacked into recently as part of his PI duties.

Well! that explained the funny voices he kept hearing. It did not explian the movement he'd noticed through his rainy windshield. With the defroster out (when had it ever worked? Back when Regan was President he remembered) the windows were fogged as well as rain streaked.

He pulled over to wait and see...

Mack Montara awoke with a start. What was that bright light shining in his eyes?

A Space Alien vessel? A Druid interrogation light?

No such luck. But it was lucky all the same in that a beautiful late winter sun was shining through his windshield. And that no Boys in Blue had arrested him for falling asleep on his stakeout of the Pillar Ridge Mobile Home Park.

If there was an election (or anything else) going on there, he'd missed it.

Mack headed over to his original destination: the Three-Zero Cafe. In honor of his all-night stakeout, he ordered a New York Steak, along with his usual Flying Farmer's Feast.

From the next table, came a laugh as hearty as Mack's breakfast. He looked up from his plate to see noneother than...

Catfish Hunter, just in town for a good time. and having a great time.

Catfish was deep in discussion with KSC about a new McD franchise at Harbor Village. It would feature a new salmon Mcburger with endive for the franchise.

Another lady dressed in sweats with a rain hat, a table away, was carefully listening to conversations around her, took a few notes and darted out the door without paying her bill. As she left she took a picture of the bright light in the winter sky.

Catfish watched her depart and ...

...watched her depart and looked past KSC to find Mack staring at him from the next table.

Mack winked and looked away.

That was the signal to...

Tactfully and gallantly escort KSC over to Harbor Village, where she and Catfish could continue the McD's machinations without being disturbed by an infamous local rabblerouser who was just pulling into the Three-Zero parking lot.

Catfish quickly paid the check and distracted KSC with sizzling conversation as they walked, arm in arm, out the cafe door.

Mack ordered another cup of joe, a stack of honeywheat hot cakes and asked for an extra menu for the rabblerouser, who looked to be in need of a good private investigator.

His unexpected dining companion was...

Brandy Alexander...

Vito the Space Alien

George Muteff

Coastsider Fan!

His unexpected dining companion was...

...certainly none of the above.

The infamous local rabblerouser looked over the menu and decided on the...


But wait, there wasn't any crow on the menu. That was okay, though, because the rabblerouser wasn't really a rabblerouser. He was, rather, the sole proprietor of a local coastside news blog whose sole remaining fanatical fan had been causing a lot of trouble on Talkabout lately.

Mr P, as everyone except for his charming wife and all his friends and a few other people called him, ordered a glass of plain tap water (kind of roulette-ish, as one is never sure whether Three-Zero gets MWSD or CCWD service) and sighed.

"Mack," he began. "I really need your help..."

Mack nodded, agreeably. "Sure, what can this old PI do for you?"

Mr P took a ddp breath. "According to a source at this Web Link Sen. John McCain and Secretary of State Condileeza Rice have reached an "understanding" that they will be the Republican nominees to battle the Democrat nominees of Clinton and Obama in November."

Mack's eyes widened in surprise at this strange news.

Mr P said, "I need you to find out if this is truth or fiction before I publish this on a well known news blog."

"Very wise of you," Mack nodded sagely. "You don't want the regulars complaining that the news was not to their taste or you might lose readership."

Mr P grasp Mack's hand in supplication but retrieved it quickly with a syrupy snap. "Can you find out if it's truth or fiction?"

With a pensive look, Mack considered and then said, "Well, first things first. Can we beieve the source? Is there someone named Condileeza Rice or are they referring to Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State?"

Mr P wrung his now sticky hands. "I just knew it! In this blog business it's always a matter of spelling and semantics isn't it?"

Mack nodded. "I hate to tell you pal, but I think you've got the wrong man for this assignment. I tend to go for the local angle and my spelling and semantics stink." He scuffled through his tattered attache case for a moment, papers sliding to and fro and sticking to his hands. "Ah, here." He handed a business card to Mr. P. "Try this guy. He's good on the semantics and probably has a better spell checker than I do. Goodnes knows I could use the money but I don't have the time right now anyway."

Mr P gingerly took the card and glanced at it. His face reddened. "Oh I should have thought of him myself!"

Under the sticky fingerprints on the business card it said...

Secret Squirrel patiently eyed the post for squareness. Actually the post was round but he had been instructed to make sure it was square. He hadn't made much progress and figured his sentence to "finish the job" was going to amount to several concurrent life sentences.

As he tampped the last bit of soil around the post he noticed a bright red piece of paper flapping from a bit of barbed wire a few feet away. It was clearly some sort of note--trash paper never being of that exact shade of bright.

He grabbed the note and read, (in cut out stuck on letters of clashing shades of orange and pink):

Vito has been spotted. Go to the bottom of the first post at this Web Link and you will find him.

Vito had been spotted, all right.

And it came as no surprise to Secret Squirrel (who had once held a high-level government position with super top secret security clearance) that Vito the Mob Space Alien and the floaty flowerchild Talkabout newbie known as Kissbliss were in cahoots.

Add that to the fact that we know Vito had hired the McDonaldland goons to kidnap KSC for a private conference (not sure how that turned out, however) -- and the plot was becoming thicker and darker than an MWSD Water Brown Flushin'.

Secret Squirrel knew that it was vital that he track down Kissbliss. But how?

Meanwhile, Secret Squirrel wasn't the only one who wanted to find bliss...

A lovesick seabilly (Mark Hershon's term for coastside hillbilly) was making a beeline for bliss -- Kissbliss, that is.

Jethro took one look at her pastel popculture postmodern posts and fell head over muddy tarheels in love with a gal he wished was his kissin' cousin.

Plus, his sassy know-it-all sis Ellie Mae was tryin' dis poor lil' Kissbliss -- which made the pairing all the more attractive.

Jethro set off on his quixotic quest.

Meanwhile, back at Three-Zero Cafe...

It was past closing time, but that did not matter to the MCC as they were using Three-Zero Cafe as a special meeting place.

Forlorn sub-committees of the Midcoast Community Council were trying to find topics that might entice community interest in them and their quest to re-make the midcoast, HMB, the south coast, California, and beyond.

First, they needed an idea, any idea (fresh, wilted, or bizarre), then they could craft an event to bring unsuspecting people in to help with their plan to re-invigorate the MCC.

But what idea could they use...

One idea that was suggested by the tall bald guy with glasses was to try to get the MCC to include an authentic sampling of real coastside folks.

What better way than to mine the rich veins of Talkabout?

Would the coastside be a better place if the council included the eloquent bloggers as bigwigs? Who could be roped into this thankless task?

The idea the MCC needs to use is to pick something the community wants and just do it. Then people might realize they are doing something and worth something and have some value added.

How about park benches on Mirada Surf? or REAL bathrooms with drinking water at Moss Beach Park, or at Montara Beach? (like they have at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve !)

But, if we had real parks with facilities and benches people may come here. Bad idea.

I give up, can't think of a reason to have a MCC.....

unless possibly something with KSC and Catfish at Harbor marina.....

Let us stroll back in time (I'll even light the way with my dandy new One Million Candlepower Handheld Spotlight™ from Web Link

) Remember, we are back breakfasting at Three Zero.

Mack Montara, so called PI extrordinaire, has just handed Mr P a sticky business card.

It reads:

King Kenneth

Half Moon Bay CA 94019

Not Employed/Retired

Mr P nodded a hearthfelt thanks to Mack, could not summon the gall to refuse a handshake and thus suffered a modicum of embarassment upon having to extricate himself loudly from the sticky imitation maple hand clasp.

He then hurried off to seek out the King before he might be employed by another party.

Now back to the present or future or whatever.

The ole KK sticky card. Think that will work?

He passed out a dozen cards in the hopes of nailing some kissy face named kissbliss, a southern belle, with a lilting mellifluous drawl. The talented kissbliss knew how to purloin quotes from across the land,and delighted folks with her "wisdom"... or whatever..

Mr P and Ellie Mae sat at the door, watching a few people arrive at -30-, windy conditions had stopped air traffic, and not many people were coming to -30- today. They had a chance to talk about the coast and heir hopes and dreams when Jethro approached, and asked "What are you two up to now?"...

"Gosh durn it all Ellie Mae! What in tarnation are y'all doin' with this Mr. P blogger fella in the funny green eye shade?"

Jethro's voice echoed through the cafe, sending KK and his sticky cards scurrying for cover.

"And speakin' of blogs, what's up with that catty ol' post y'all slung at a gal named Kissbliss? She's not hurtin' no one -- and I have a feelin' she could help us out a lot if she set her mind to it. 'Sides, I've already tole Grammaw I'm gonna marry that smart little gal. So don't you or Mr P or no one stand in my way!!!!"

With that, Jethro left the cafe and continued on his quixotic quest in search of the elusive Kissbliss.

Meanwhile, Mr. P and Ellie Mae...

Mr P and Ellie Mae watched as Mack Montara rolled his eyes. He made a quick exit and noticed a rattle-trap old truck with a still steaming radiator in the parking lot near his car. Amused at the technology (a radiator that also functioned as a still--imagine that!) he was slightly pleased that the Coastside was attracting visitors other than beach goers and Space Aliens. Of course, there was always the possiblity that the strangers collaborating with the MCC members WERE Space Aliens...Maybe the ALL were Space Aliens, for goodness sake.


here i am

bald guy with glasses,

you called?

i saw a pace alien once, but he had no card, must be illegal. anyone like mcc?

ksc wants me to meet her at the marina. a new agenda.

king ken and a new bliss await me.

stand back, the time is...

Hark! Who goes there? Was that a spanking sound I heard?

Whatever sounds were or were not occurring, there was certainly a sight at the harbor worth noting.

In a private restaurant dining room in the vicinity of Harbor Village, a tall bald guy with glasses had summoned some folks for a meeting. KSC, KK and Vito the Space Alien were in attendance, all looking a bit grim (for very different reasons).

Kissbliss had been called, but was too busy grooving on mandalas and performing random acts of kindness to show up.

This was just as well, as she undoubtedly would have been shocked by the meeting's one and only agenda item, which was to...

Create a happy, healthy coastal lifestyle!

Yep, Kissbliss would've been shocked all right, because she had suggested this very topic and it seemed like no one around here was listening to her lately (well, except for lovesick Jethro and the HMB Review, which was bombarding Talkabout with its Lifestyle challenge).

The happy, healthy lifestyle had a certain trio looking grim for these reasons:

1. KSC: How did McDonald's and/or MWSD have anything to do with happy or healthy?

2. King Ken: How could someone so fond of controversy contribute to happy/healthy?

3. Vito the SA: How could someone whose whole goal in life was to order hits and engage in profitable intergalactic crime contribute to happy/healthy?

Obviously, the tall bald guy would have his work cut out for him.

However, the above listed trio had more in common than met the eye.

When the tall bald guy left the room for a moment, King Ken suggested that...

Ken King suggested that they look into the following:

1. How can we best reach coastside residents who also have questions about the MWSD Altavista Well?

2. Where can a water group such as ours meet periodically (once or twice a month) to discuss what is happening within the MWSD Alta Vista Well Truth Movement, show DVDs, and work toward Reinvestigation of the MWSD Altavista Well?

3. Where can we show the many documentary DVDs that are available? (We have a screen and projector.)

The others thought long and finally someone spoke up...

"Right on, Ken!" said a voice from the corner. "There are way to many unanswered questions regarding the MWSD Altavista Well. The official story just doesn't hold water for many empirical minds. The best starting point for people who have questions is the Jim Larrimer white paper. I would encourage all coastsiders to read it with and open mind and ask yourselves the questions that it poses.

There is no doubt that many people will rush to demonise those that have questions about the official MWSD Altavista Well story, but a true patriot is a free thinking individual who doesn't swallow "official" water propaganda unquestioningly. Hopefully the future hold the truth to the past of the MWSD Altavista Well. Good luck all of you who question authority when it makes no sense!!!"

Now who was that, speaking from the shadows!

A Coastside Patriot, obviously.

Someone who had only the integrity of this seaside paradise at heart.

But someone who, for some reason, had to lurk in the shadows.

Someone who couldn't just barge into mysteries without being invited.

Someone like...

A Real Sea Otter!

(Not be confused with Talkabout posters identified as Sea Otter or C. Otter or various other permutations of same.)

Nope, the was the real, genuine, bona fide aquatic member of the weasel family, who came happily flopping in from the shadows. Now, The Real Sea Otter felt he had a right to speak about water, as he spent all day, every day, going about his life in it.

He preferred clean salt water (which could be a little tricky due to certain leaky septic tanks) but from his vantage point out on the midcoast rocks, he'd heard some interesting things about the Alta Visa Well. Not wishing to inflict too many specifics on mystery readers, he whispered the really juicy stuff in the tall bald guy's ear, then flopped away to go vote in the Super Tuesday primaries.

Meanwhile, a little ways up the coast, Secret Squirrel had made yet another discovery...

...in Seabilly's pressed-wood office desk, perched on the cliff!

Unfortunately, since Secret Squirrel was still shackled to the coastal chain-gang, he couldn't quite reach it. However, he'd noticed that one of the drawers was slightly askew...

But wait, what was this? Throngs of excited Romney supporters waving political banners and signs were making a dash down the highway. As he looked in the direction of Moss Beach, a woman was waving an Obama sign there, too.

As the squirrelly one stretched to see if he could make out the bumper sticker on that SUV that was rushing past him, his felt his foot slipping, slipping on the rocky cliffs...and he was going...going...gone!

MB Mom sat at her cereal-infested kitchen table, staring at the smudgy laptop screen reading all the articulate postings from her coastal neighbors and trying desperately to remember whom she'd voted for in the primary.

She'd let Lucky 7 help her fill out the absentee ballot (maybe one of these years she'd actually make it to the polls), and given her sorry state of mind she very well might have set Buzz Lightyear on the path to being the next ruler of the free world.

MB Mom wished for the gazillionth time that there was something she could do that would imbue her sticky life with a layer of meaning that had nothing to do Buzz or carpools or play dates or --- wow, this sounded like such a pathetic mommy repeat and Groundhog Day had already passed.

Hey, wait a minute!

A message on her screen was telling her that Secret Squirrel was in dire distress -- and having used the local beaches as tantrum stoppers on many occasions, she thought she knew exactly where he might have fallen.

MB Mom grabbed Terrible Two, who was in the process of scalping her stuffed animals with an old sweater shaver, and headed for Montara beach...

On the way she had to sidestep the Romney supporters who were still dodging dangerously and trying to ignore the woman waving the Obama sign on the corner. She was so busy looking at the home made Ron Paul signs (had Lucky 7 been moonlighting as a sign painter?) that she almost missed the beach.

But as she finally strode across the sand she saw...

Horse Poop! Horse Poop!

A Goat!

Norwegian Nudists!

Indignant Snowy Plovers!

No, what she saw was the secret entrance to a long-forgotten grotto...

MB Mom squinted into the briny darkness of the grotto, which seemed even darker after chasing Terrible Two and Gambler (their beleaguered golden retriever who had been sleeping in the back of the beat-up Subaru wagon in hopes of avoiding being scalped by a ferocious two-year-old warrioress) all over the beach.

The grotto was way at the north end where there were rock formations that Lucky 7 and Fab Five called sea castles and that they were inordinately fond of climbing on and falling off of. Thank God those two were in school right now.

So all MB Mom had to deal with (besides trying to find out what dire distress Secret Squirrel had fallen into) was conscientiously clean up golden retriever poop and --

Oh yikes. Terrible Two (who was in the organic au naturel phase of potty training) had taken off her sweats and diaper and was squatting in the sand right next to a well-dressed, SF-looking couple who were sitting on a Burberry blanket and enjoying a wine and cheese picnic.

MB Mom sighed (for the 999th time that day), pulled out one of Gambler's poop bags and went to scoop up after Terrible Two.

As it turned out, turning her back on the dark entrance to the secret, long-forgotten grotto turned out to be a very bad idea...

Look out, MB Mom -- sounds like something (or someone) is comin' at ya!

Is that the seepage from my septic? Exactly where is the grotto located?

If it is near my home, then an alterrnative explanation is that it is due to a drawdown from the altavista well. that pesky well, that no one will ever know what is happening with..

A long time ago, I recall a romantic sojourn along the coast. do you have picures of the grotto? a picture could help me re-live my past. It would mean more to me than you could ever know.

Life is a blur, but those special memories are beyond the normal realm.

Paul, if you have information, please share.

perhaps I could provide a weblink...weblink... to my septic tank on the montara coast.

the grotto is just below the uppermost cypress in the picture.

Meanwhile BACK TO THE STORY...

As it turned out, turning her back on the dark entrance to the secret, long-forgotten grotto turned out to be a very bad idea...

...because MB caught the scent of something...something familiar. (And it wasn't septic tank reek either.)

Otherwise she would never ever have thought of entering the long-forgotten grotto, at least while Terrible Two was under her protection.

That odor was so familiar. What could it be? Terrible Two banged MB Mom's shoulder with one of the Little People (™Fischer Price)shekept stashed in her car seat. "Cookie!" she said.

"Cookie! Cookie! COOKIE!" she hollered, the word growing in volume with each utterence. "C O O K I E !!!!!"

That's when MB Mom recognized the scent of carbonized cookie dough coming from the grotto. Of course, that's the only kind of home baked cookie smell Terrible Two was familiar with.

What mysterious entity would be cooking in there?

And why?

MB Mom clutched her cookie squalling young one to her breast and entered the dark damp grotto. The sand squeek under her feet made her wonder if the high tide made it into the grotto.

Of course it did. Silly.

She hoped the tide was on the way out so she would have time for exploration. Why hadn't she bought one of those lights that Professor guy kept going on about? Why hadn't Terrible Two grabbed a light instead of that insipid blocky play figure? (Deep down MB Mom knew that the tiny LED flashlight she missed was one of those things you kept away from the under three set on penalty of having your child taken away by Child Protective Services...).

But around a bend in the grotto, still in sight of the dim exterior opening she saw a dim glow.

One they had entered the dimness of the grotto, Terrible Two's eyes had widened, she'd gripped her mom's shoulder hard and shut up.

MB Mom rounded the corner and saw an apron clad gray haired woman in circle of light. The grotto appeared to be fitted out with a modern stainless steel kitchen and the woman stood at a counter and appeared to be decorating heart shaped cookies with messages!

She looked up and said...

Unbeknownst to MB Mom, this secret, long-forgotten grotto led directly into the shadowy lagoon of the elusive and fabled Coastal Merman...

A scaly denizen of the deep who was over 200 years old, Coastal Merman had been the stuff of legend in his younger years. But now he lived a quiet life, preferring the comforts of his hidden cave and an extensive collection of vintage AquaMan comics.

Fortunately, the Merman had spotted Secret Squirrel after his fall onto the beach, and had dragged him, unconscious, into his watery lair.

"Wow!" exclaimed Secret Squirrel, when he woke up, and surveyed the cavern. He was surrounded by dripping stalactites, the sound of rushing water, and something else...the hiss of steam. The entire space was filled with elaborate brass fitted machinery, pumps, pipes, and Victorian-style gadgets.

"Are you a Steampunk?" said Secret Squirrel, to which the Merman nodded assent. "Hmmm, thought Secret Squirrel, " No wonder the water level's been going awry in the seaside wells..."

Meanwhile, in another location just off the coast...

Ah, but first...before going to the other location just off the coast we must join MB Mom and the burnt cookie baker, who said, "Hi! I'm Giulia Bambino and I'm decorating message cookies for Valentine's Day!"

She shoved a drippy red and pink (and burnt on the bottom) confection at Terrible Two who screwed up her face and wailed.

"Tut tut, dear child!" She eyed MB Mom with scorn, "You aren't one of the health conscious moms with broccoli sprout cookies and no sugar for the kids are you?"

MB Mom gulped. "Uh, no. I think she'd rather have a plain burn...um, unfrosted one."

Ms Bambino held out a brown-black heart and Terrible Two grabbed it and started munching.

"So, Ms Bambino continued, "If you are looking for Merman and Secret Squirrel, their in a post before this. Or you can continue into the cave and find them there. Or you can go to another location just off the coast."

"Oh, thanks,"said MB Mom before heading off...

There wasn't any yummy halibut in that grotto... Just cookies, and lots of messages on the cookies. Not those cute messages like LUV U and PEEK-A-BOO, but messages like PERK-A-BOO and CALFIRE.


Let's see.

In Grotto number one, we have Secret Squirrel and the Merman!

In Grotto number two, we have Rosemary Potatoes!

In Grotto number three, we have...?

I came home for a surprise lunch with the love of my life, and found everything in great disarray. Terrible Two and Ms Bambino surprised me with various foods and assemblages all akimbo.

They yelled and ran leaving poop bags and cookies all aglie. As I assessed the situation, I discovered a secret life on the coast that I had never imagined. Lurking outside our home was our own Lucky 7, Sea Otter, a Coastal Merman, kissbliss, and assorted "gadgets"..

what the hell...

...so The Potted Plant (aka MB Dad) then plunked himself on the couch and grabbed the remote.

It was good to be home. Nothing was going to spoil that.


Nothing except that strange scratching sound in the attic...

Meanwhile, back in the sea grotto thing:

MB Mom woke slowly, savoring the feeling of warm flesh snuggled next to her and an even warmer tongue licking her nose. Oh, Potted Plant, thank god you're home in our own bed for once, she thought sleepily: I just had the craziest dream about you and Giulia Bambino and poop bags and...

Oh. Gross. What was that smell? MB Mom sat bolt upright in the damp sand, knocking over Gambler who'd been perched precariously on top of her and rudely awakening Terrible Two (who MB Mom had to admit was not Terrible at all when she was sleeping).

And where the heck were they? Then it all came flooding back: reality was a spooky network of sea caves and as far as the Potted Plant snuggling and licking -- well, dream on!

Okay. Whatever.

So there MB Mom was with kid and dog and no trace of cookies anywhere. Just a really strange smell that for once was not emanating from either dog or kid.

Telling Terrible Two they were gonna go find Barney's secret hideout (note: it's perfectly okay for parents to lie to small children when they are totally lost in spooky sea caves), MB Mom continued on her quest to find Secret Squirrel...

Meanwhile, behind closed doors a few topics away, a heated discussion that may have something to do with this mystery was taking place:

Person 1: Why are you continually removing my posts?

Person 2: I don't know what you mean by "continually" removing posts.

Person 1: I will give you the benefit of the doubt. You should recall that we had a couple of exchanges regarding why I referred to these two men as Space Aliens. My original post above was also deleted and I had to repost. So in total, 3 of my posts here were removed.

Person 3: I can confirm all that you have stated to be true.I have your removed post backed up in hard copy in my garage. Im just hopping the Secret Squirrel is a good enough sport to leave your post up.

So the plot thickens! Are posts continually being removed? Perhaps the posts that are being removed elsewhere are showing up HERE. What do the Space Aliens have to do with this if anything? Will Secret Squirrel be able to prevent...something? Will MB Mom find --wink nod-- Barney's Secret hideout?

These and other suppositions will be discussed soon. Or maybe not. Can't ever tell around here.

So, who now will solve the mystery of the missing... posts?

Not Secret Squirrel. Blissfully unaware of the whereabouts of any of the errant posts since his fall from the cliffs and subsequent amnesia, Secret Squirrel had decided to retire from the cares of the world and take up residence in one of the coastal caves, where he was currently enjoying a confab with the Merman...

Meanwhile, things were heating up in another coastal location...

Meanwhile, above ground:

Certain folks around town were getting strange notes, similar to those received by Mack Montara and MB Mom. The content of the notes varied, but the lettering was always the same: cut from the pages of a long-ago coastal "newspaper."

The tone was sometimes pious, sometimes threatening -- but always meddling.

With MB Mom investigating underground/undersea caverns and Mack still reeling from his Prozac-spiked Happy Meals, someone else decided to do a little snooping around...

I was aslumber on my couch, heard a thump, went to the door, and found the long ago coastal "newspaper". Must have been delivered by the MB Post Office (no, really) belatedly late, like my mail.(at least it was not shredded in a plastic baggy, with a note that they do their "best")

Two articles appeared in the "newspaper" and might be from SA. The rest were blather and froth.

I saw nothing on "missing posts"

Since I just awoke, were those signposts, fence posts, or simply--burma shave posts?

I think Ginny was in ?Grotto #3, but can't be certain as the sunset caused considerable glare.

I think, if I can find my remote, I am ready for some sports, and maybe a sundowner. This is far more than my usual stress, which is barely manageable.

Sipping a pina colada gazing at the last rays for the day, I spotted a body in the incoming tide, in a brown furry coat, could it be what I last saw 8 years ago, a Sea Otter !

Life is good, nature is back on the coast...

MB Dad

aka The Potted Plant

MB Dad had been lulled into a comfy complacant corner of the couch by one pińa colada too many. That and the volume of the game on the HD TV masked the strange scratching sound that continued in the attic.

Vito? A certain Ms or cousin of same? A sea otter or secret squirrel? One of several initialnyms (KK or PP or KSC) who are suddenly absent or may have never posted here?

Or something completely new and unexpected?

In his pina-colada fueled haze, MB Dad could not know that the faint sounds from behind the attic trap-door were coming from a bad and beautiful fugitive French au pair...

...beautiful French au pair, Mignon Duball.

In a waking state, MB Dad would have made a crude pun using the word "pair", but fortunately he was still dozing.

Then again, he would have been correct in his pun and he may well use it when he awakens.

I love poker, and my favorite phrase is...

"Now that is a pair to draw to"

Would that be Ms Giulia Bambino and Secret Squirrel OR Merman and King Ken.. What a vision....Will I (after visualizing this), sleep through the night?

Don't know about " au pair", just exactly what is that?

Billy Bones and So-Cal Girl would fit that BILL, nicely, very nicely.

Ginny, do you have some political announcements at this time?

Speaking of Prozac, and discombombulated states, ...my attic stinks and has LOUD scratching sounds, mostly at 3-5AM...

Where is my pina colada?...and who is causing all this stench and sound...

A person in a sweat suit with a hood, left the north door of Three-Zero Cafe last Monday at 430Pm with two gallon jugs full of a brown liquid.

I believe that that person may be behind some of the issues about stench and sounds on the coast. The timing of her departure seemed to correlate with Key events on the coast and were curious. What were in the jugs? Why did she rush awaY?

It appeared to be a woman, with a slitthery snake like walk, eyes down, and rapidly approached a modern SUV, possibly a Lexus or Cadillac. Two bumper stickers might offer insights to her political bent--saving snowy plovers, and Go Obama.

Maybe, if we pass this information around on the internet, it will help others reveal what they may have seen...

The woman in question was also sighted carrying such jugs into MWSD headquarters, in the company of: Web Link

The plot (and the brown liquid inside the jugs) thickens...

Meanwhile, the beautiful Continental damsel in distress, Mignon Duball, continued to search around in MB Dad's attic, hoping to find a disguise suitable for her escape.

As an au pair who had overstayed her visa, Mignon had had no choice but to join the growing group of illegal foreign nannies downtown. This gang of nannies gathered every morning in front of local coffee shops, looking for tired young moms desperate for someone to help them out with childcare. Mignon herself had become a nanny-on-the-lam the very night a tipster turned her in...with nowhere to run, she'd climbed up the trellis into the first house she saw, which just by happenstance was the residence of MB Mom, MB Dad, Terrible Two, Lucky 7, and their cousin...

Unfortunately, her attempts to pry open an old, moldy flower-power suitcase from the 70's was proving next to impossible. As she cast about for other, more useful objects in the attic, she stumbled across...

Breeeeeee. Breeeeeee. Breeeeee.

We interrupt this story to say... Eyewitness, you and your Web Link are sooooo bad.

...she stumbled across a Bozo the Clown doll that had been languising in the attic for decades.

There was something charming and heartwarming about his big red nose and the orange tufts of hair sticking out around his shiney bald head.

Seeing Bozo gave her a great idea...

Public Notice Alert.

Yesterday I just took a beautiful European hitchhiker from HWY 1 in El Granada to my job near Stanford, and she was acting somewhat erratic, said her name was Marie, and that she was meeting someone at the Stanford Mall. Her hair was dyed a bright red, and she did not talk much. "Marie" carried a small backpack and was dressed in a bright yellow outfit.

When I got home from work, I read this blog, and "Marie" may have been Mignon Duball? It dawned on me that she is probably trying to blend in to the McDonald Ronald's ambience next to the mall.

What do I do now? Will she harm any children? Is there a warrant for her arrest? What to do, what to do...

While the winsome (but strangely attired) hitchhiker "Marie," had already made her escape from the coast,and was even now meeting a burly Stanford rugby player at the mall, the fugitive Mignon Duball continued her search through MB Dad's attic...


At no time has Mignon Duball used the alias, "Marie." However, she has on occasion admitted to using the name "Cheri." In addition, Mignon is also not to be held responsible for the whereabouts or contents of anyone's little brown jugs. Please do not disparage the state of other people jugs in this story. Thank You.

Observing a tape from a long forgotten hidden cam, that he had placed in MB Mom's attic for whatever reason long ago, the indubitable PI, Mack Montara, watched as Ms Duball retrieved a very dusty and gray document.

As she flipped through the blue bound document with stamped pages Mack realized it must be an old passport.

Mignon Duball did not appear certain of what to do with this find, but in her illegal status, she must have thought that someone must be able to transform this document into a solution to her problems. Mignon Duball immediately got up, left the attic, and went to search for...

Why would they arrest Ronald McDonald?

I cannot believe that, in America, of all places, that the McD hero is now in the can ! !

I never knew that Ronald was a girl? When did that happen? was I at the mall? But I personally saw the Palo Alto police take her down. (and it was not pretty, and the language seemed unusually spicy)

Mignon Duball immediately got up, left the attic, and headed in the direction of Mac Dutra park where she had once been told "certain people" could fix up documents for "other people" who might not be here "legally".

She needed advice on how to become the person whose passport she held in her hand. Or perhaps the passport could be "doctored" so that it looked like it belonged to her. It actually belonged to someone named Ronald McDonald.

Have you Ever seen a red headed stranger at Mac Dutra Park? Well, I did today and did "she" ever stand out. What a beautiful girl with a dress and demeanor that seemed to be from Europe.

I stopped, motioned her over, and offered her a job. She did not respond so I tried a few spanish phrases, again she looked at me blankly, and said...

Change, that's what it is. Never have I seen so many strange goings on at Mac Dutra Park. It used to be just day laborers, now it is anything goes.

Every man (woman) is for themselves. What rules apply to people that go by the park, and just want to cross the street....

Is there a lexicon or map for this story?

I want to participate but am overwhelmed by the nuances, invectives, and innuendoes that link to names of people and characters I do not know.

Could someone give me a cast of characters or something so I can interact?

This is the Longest story on Talkabout. Can someone help me understand this town?

Shall I just wing it?

Rosemary Potatoes sat down on the bench next to the mysterious stranger. They were enjoying a bit of February sun outside Cunhas looking across the street at the people enjoying the park and the laundromat.

"Pssst," she said to get the stranger's attention, which was certainly not needed because the stranger was staring at Rosemary's rumpled, seaweed embellished clothing. "I know your name is newbie. I know you are looking for guidance!"

The newbie nodded in surprise and said "I'm must overwhelmed by the nuances, invectives, and innuendoes that link to names of people and characters I do not know."

Rosemary smiled. "Yes! That's the whole point! Make it up as you go along! Add your own twists. Unlike real life, we are in control here."

Newbie gulped and stuttered, "Sss-so should I just wing it?"

Rosemary nodded and patted newbie's hand in a motherly manner. "Yup. Or, if you want a homework assignment, you can go back and read every single post. But I'm afraid it you do you will find some discrepancies. In fact, I believe that's where Mack Montara has been, looking for discrepancies, dangling participants and warps in our timeline."

Newbie smiled brightly. "Well then, I'll just..."

Rosemary stood up and went into Cunha's to buy some fresh halibut. She stopped to look at the bulletin board outside Cunha's. "Hey, Newbie, come here. You'll probably find a good story line here..."

"Look at this! You have already become a character in the story. So you now you know both me and yourself."

Rosemary continued to scan the board. "Let's see. Here is a flyer for a fire board meeting. On the agenda is an item from Ginny McCookie telling Chief Cole to have more face time. Maybe he will start baby sitting the child neglecter's kids soon. And another item: repairs on Engine 44 and slow response times from the Montara station."

"Ah," thought Newbie, "that must be all CalFire innuendo. I think I am getting the hang of this. You can learn more about what is really going on in this community from the longest running story on Talkabout than you can by actually attending any board meetings."

Newbie turned to thank that beautiful seaweed covered chef, but she was no longer standing there at the bulletin board. Newbie decided to drive over to RadioShack to order Direct TV (she reads Coastsider, too, and in fact, knows and likes Coastsider Fan.) But she stopped at the huge empty room between her favorite brand of coffee and RadioShack to peer in the dusty windows. Inside, she thought she saw a commotion. It looked like someone was being dragged into the back room. At the last second, a fan came fluttering out, and, yep, it was a Coastsider fan. Coastsider Fan must be trapped in there!

Newbie, thought, "How am I going to help get my new friend?"

Mack Montara. Mack Montara would be able to get Coastsider Fan out of that dusty, old back room...

I think I know how Mack could help Coastsider Fan. More than anything in the world Coastsider Fan wants one thing. Everyone dies on Talkabout.

The End.

No, really, truly, (I get it!) if Mack enlists the assistance of Tawdry Glamour, who knows a thing or two, and reviews all the secret vid cams, then the back room shenanigans on Cal Fire will be revealed. Ginny McCookie and Chief Cole need to get their stories straight.

But this does not answer the original question about Mignon Duball.. and what was going on with MB Mom and Dad, and where is "Marie"?...

Help me out here, Coastsider Fan.. Is it ...The.. End?

The scratching sounds in our attic are back, AND Terrible Two is having trouble sleeping. She plays with the LED flashlight, and makes shadows on the walls.

I think MB Mom is at her mother's trying to teach Lucky 7 an alternative value system, but I can not reach her on her cell.

I feel I am being overwhelmed with normal life, and all around me the local melieu is churning, chafing, and moving on.

Something Big is imminent, threatening, and foreboding...

The theme from Jaws drifts in from an unknown direction.

Web Link

It had begun.

First came a deep and ominous rumbling sound...

Babies in strollers stopped in mid-squall, and looked up. The kids at the library dropped their cell-phones in astonishment...

Space Alien antennae simultaneously pointed toward the source. Then the Professor picked it up on his latest state-of-the-art measuring device.

Secret Squirrel and the Merman noticed the pressure gauges on the steam pumps were rising to dangerous levels...

Coffee in cups, water in toilets, all liquids began to swirl backwards in a reverse coriolois effect as...

Ahem. Excuse me. You did mean to say, "Coriolis effect," didn't you?

Whoops. Yes. Yes. "Coriolis effect."

Now, back to Armageddon!

The rumbling sound continued to grow louder and louder as...

MB Mom sat on the floor of the dark, damp sea cave drawing hearts in the sand with a grubby finger and trying not to be depressed. Terrible Two was trying to cheer her up by belting out the Barney song -- over and over and over.

Speaking of over, Valentine's Day probably was. MB Mom's watch had stopped and her crummy old cell phone got no reception in spooky sea caverns (big surprise, right?), so she had even less of an idea what day it was than usual.

You know, she'd thought her life was pretty pathetic before, but when you compared it to being trapped in a cold smelly cave with a manic melodic two-year-old and ear-splitting acoustics -- um, it actually seemed pretty not bad.

Or did it...?

At that very moment, MB Mom's heart began to fill -- the one she was drawing in the sand, that is. It glowed with a strange luminescent liquid whose strange quivering colors rivaled any of the weird Harry Potteresque potions Lucky 7 and Fab 5 had ever whipped up (even the ones they'd peed in).

The little heart-shaped pool began to form an image -- kind of like the ones MB Mom had seen in that Santa's magic snowball thingy last Christmas.

As she gazed into it, MB Mom found herself staring at her own musty fusty attic (which, to be honest, wasn't much dirtier or more cluttered than the rest of her house), where a hot babe in a French maid's outfit appeared to be getting ready to...

Get a job at New Leaf. Well, she was filling out an application, anyway.

The notorious Mignon Duball had just learned (via a red-hot-off-the-presses scoop from Talkabout Ace Investigative Reporter Kiss Bliss) that Cunha's had been sold and now charged too much for meat.

Mignon loved good American red meat (just ask the Potted Plant about that one) and figured that New Leaf would have lots of it -- and it would be organic, too!

Mignon sneaked down from the attic and past the sleeping Potted Plant (who was every bit as much fun on a Friday night as MB Mom always said he was) and headed out the door to find some action.

As it turned out, she found it...

Action, that's what it was.

A studly male on his way down to the local bar, Cameron's I think. I think he is looking for the Cameron DE Luxe. Think I will join him.

Meanwhile, up on the Midcoast, Mack Montara was feeling philosophical (probably the very last vestiges of the Prozac-spiked Happy Meals he'd knocked back a couple of weeks ago).

Anyway, what was it that French guy had said (in hinky dinky parlay voo French, of course): The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That summed up the Coastside perfectly. All over town, folks were complaining about illegal aliens and traffic and grocery stores and mood enhancers. At least the evil Coastsider Fan had cut it out with the threatening notes for now (although there was talk on Talkabout that ever since that individual had been outed by a fellow poster, that individual was now posting using other personas).

Another thing that was the same was the sorry state of Mack's finances: flat broke again. He glanced hopefully at his blinking answering machine and pressed the button.

"Mack? Hey, buddy, it's the Potted Plant here. Look, I've got a tee time in about two minutes so I'll get right to it: Could you please find my wife? Oh, and my daughter too? I've just realized they disappeared and I don't have any clean shirts and my son Lucky 7 and his cousin Fab Five are getting bored watching videos and eating Doritos all day and I don't know what to do with them. So take on the case, will you, Mack? Okay, there's the rest of my foursome. Gotta go!"

Mack shook his balding head. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

He hopped into his rusted-out Dodge Dart and headed to MB Mom's house in search of clues.


A dog was seen chasing a cat up a tree.

In fact, this was the lead story on Talkabout.

Evidence, obviously, that the Coastside had...

Nothing better to worry about. kissbliss has second lead story with traffic on 92.....

Sure am glad we don't have rain for a few days, and that the Council is taking a break because business is so slow.

Chill out, dude.

A squat jean-clad figure peered up a tree near 144 Kelly Ave. He adjusted the blue bandana around his neck and hunched his shoulders in the (genuine) sheepskin jacket. It sure was cold! His felt stockman's crease Stetson™ was not out of place in Half Moon Bay, but was certainly a much rarer site than in days of old.

He peered around. Had someone just said something to him?

Yes. Someone had.

"Wait, wait -- don't tell me!" said Carl from Montara.

Wait, wait! Carl didn't realize he was supposed to continue the story with a (...).

This was not surprising, as there were some things he knew very well and others of which he was totally unaware.

For example, he was shocked beyond belief when the figure in a Stetson hat at 144 Kelly looked at him and shouted...

"Pardon me, I think you are blocking my viewshed !"

A studly male, striding to the beach, stopped, and looked back ashen. He mumbled "I meant no offense,...really."

A woman and daughter packing vegetables from the Andreotti farm wondered about all the shouting, and after depositing their tote in their SUV, starting walking to the beach.

When Carl noticed the pair, he waved, and once more stated "Wait, wait--don't tell me!" At that point the woman and daughter exclaimed...

The woman and her daughter exchanged a look that meant "Yikes, that guy must've forgotten to take his medication", then exclaimed: "Okay, okay, we won't tell you!!!"

What they weren't telling him was that right there on HMB State Beach, a cliff had followed the lead of many local residents and become just a bit cracked.

The crack was wide enough to squeeze through, if one had the inclination and ambition to do so. Neither Carl or the produce-toting woman and daughter knew it, but that crack was the entrance to a network of sea caves and tunnels that spread out beneath the entire coastside.

This particular one led to a drippy cavern underneath 144 Kelly, where...

..indisputable proof and clear evidence of residue of hot tub byproducts were leaching into the aquifer, and then into the Pacific Ocean.

A team of Resource Conservation specialists armed with subpoenas were going door to door to find who was responsible for this abuse of the environment.

The Coastal Conservancy was also alerted by a multitude of anonymous sources willing to testify in a court of law.

The Coastal Commission called a Special Session.

All the data were being assembled, experts were paid to testify, lawsuits were filed, and just when the arrest was imminent....

Coastal officials were invited to a hoppin' hot tub party, to be held this weekend at the address in question. And all thoughts of arrest came to a screeching halt.

Of course, word of the party was already leaking out (no pun particularly intended).

Uninvited guests plotting and planning to crash this bubbling bash included...

...Brandy Alexander, who was adjusting her Britney wig (not the bald one) and furtively placing important items in her purse before stepping out the door and flaggin down a passing motorist...

Also planning to crash this bubbling bash was/were...

Yeah, I know this will be very difficult to swallow, but Carl was inviting newbie to slip into the party with him, and all the time I thought Carl was just a regular guy. What is he planning now?

I something bubbling with the Coastal bureaucracy? Did Carl know something about fed plans for our little shell on the seaside?

What did Carl know and why bring newbie? What the...

Doreen came down south on HMY 1 over Devil's Slide, wondering how she could find the hot tub party. As she was searching for street names, she noticed Mr Perkovic on the highway, and Doreen thought, if anyone is going to the Coastal bureaucracy it will be Paul, so she followed him.

He pulled into Terrace and she followed at a distance and parked two blocks away, and saw that he was picking up a man. Once they were on HWY 1 again, she followed along.

Once they were all off HWY 1 and turned on to Kelly she felt better, knowing she would have a bubbling good time with the coastal haunchos.

The only really weird thing that Doreen noticed as she approached the door was the red headed stranger dressed in yellow, could it be...

...could it be him?

Web Link

Turns out, the party was already getting rowdy and the police were hauling some away. Word got out to waaayy too many people and waaayy too many mistakes were made. Accountability was in order. It was not going to be pretty.

Uh, Oh...

Police arrived and were asking for Party Permits. Dudes were slinking away through neighbor yards, ladies with white wine acted as though they lived there.

Where was the "owner" of Hot Tub Party? Now this is where the issue of permits gets very interesting, You see in HMB different people have different rights and privileges than "other" people. Now is the time the police had to sort our those people.

The "owner" had a very particular explanation...

Well, for one thing, he was a public persona -- which was a good excuse for a private party that seemed to have gotten very public.

For another, the hot tub in question had mind-boggling ocean views, so all that loud ooh-ing and ah-ing could be construed as reverence for nature and wildlife and all things environmental. You couldn't arrest folks for that, right?

Best of all, the hot tub's views had been secured through a very special midnight (well, call it 12:01) deal made by a very elite group of lame ducks. And again, lame ducks were protected by the community in the same fanatical fashion as red-legged frogs.

Given all this, it wasn't in the least surprising when the host of the hoppin' hot tub party...

Well, anyway, it wasn't surprising that the hoppin' hot tub host could not care less about MB Mom (who had not been in a hot tub since her hoppin' honeymoon which was a long, long, long ten years ago).

MB Mom was still stuck in the underground network of spooky sea caves (not that anyone cared) with Terrible Two and Gambler, who were turning out to be awesomely intrepid explorer companions. The great thing about trekking through spooky sea caves with a manic two-year-old and slobbery golden retriever is that it totally does not matter what they touch, kick, slobber, jump or poop on. Plus, you can always count on them to sniff out food or anything resembling it.

As a matter of fact, Gambler and Terrible Two had their junk food radar up right now. They were dashing happily through a long kelpy cavern in hot pursuit of something that smelled suspiciously like certain fast food establishments famous for giving folks supersized heart attacks.

Not counting the one (pre-parenthood) time she had smoked happy herbs with the Potted Plant (who hopped right out of his pot), MB Mom had the most surreal experience of her lame life when she rounded a corner and saw...

Tall Paul snuggling with the Botox Babes while ravishly devouring Happy Meals and smearing condiments all over themselves.

What an orgy to behold, a searing memory for all time. Ketchup in their hair, mustard on their clothes (what was left of them), and pickles & onions strategically placed on their bodies.

Why they looked like emigres from McD, like deer in headlights, like...

My God,

Here we are go again ---the ubiquitous Ronald McDonald--red hair, yellow outfit, with pickles and onions..but this time it was a ThreeSome (there ought to be a law?)

MB Mom shook her golden locks, made sure that Terrible Two and Gambler were OK, and grabbed her cell to call...

Picture this-- I am asleep on the couch at 2 AM--

with a half eaten sandwich on my chest and the TV buzzing with ads.

My wife calls me and is hysterical talking about a Menage a Trois in Yellow and Red (whatever that is) in a cave on the beach.

Can you believe that? What would you do?

I asked MB Mom where the kids and Gambler were, then I told her I would call this into the HMB Police and SMC Sheriff--

When I checked with the authorities, they mentioned that many people were at a private party on Kelly, and that they were trying to sort out all the participants and ..... then it got confusing...

Just what is going on...

An interesting looking man crouched in front of the computer monitor. The words Editor, HMB Review were emblazoned on his pocket protector.

His hand gripped the mouse, knuckles white. The pointer on the screen hovered over the "Delete Post" button on the administrative interface of Talkabout.

Would he dare?

Would they care?

Would they notice?

FWIW...(For What It's Worth)

"Delete Post" ?

You are kidding...Right?

Is this America or Kosovo or Chad or Qatar?

Can I send a story of concern about my wife and family?

How does that offend you? or the community?

I was hoping to get some information about my family. (You are not going to state "THE END" again, are You?)

And, you do realize that this is fiction, right?

And MB Mom grabbed her cell phone and dialed...

The Editor peered at the message in the Mystery story on Talkabout and sighed.

"No pleasing the masses," he muttered and for a minute thought the media actually was controlled by The Illuminati as someone elsewhere on Talkabout had suggested.

He had been hovering close to the topic with his mouse pointer poised on the delete button because of the goings-on in the steaming hot tub on Kelly Ave. This was, after all, a family oriented blog belonging to a community newspaper in the wholesome town of Half Moon Bay. He was here to make certain that lewd and lascivious activites did not place in the tiny virutal world of which he had some meager control.

Now some disgruntled family man from Moss Beach (who had happened to post in the story at the same time The Editor had) thought The Editor was trying to censor HIM.

Editor Clay Lambleat was only trying to uphold the family values of the community. And for this he would probably be scalded by Letters to the Editor and Open Line comments for eternity.

What happened to my post?

perhaps I failed to hit "submit"... Oh well.

Who will dare to continue the censored story...?

...tumbleweed drifting down the empty streets...

(strains of harmonica music in the distance)

and now...?

Deep within the bowels of the earth, under the streets wherein the tunbleweeds drifted, MB Mom frantically punched the keypad on her cell phone. She knew better. No bars showed on the screen. No reception down here! Terrible Two howled and Gambler was ambling around in the the dark making snuffing noises.

Little did she know that the ominously wet "drip" "drip" "drip" "drip" "drip" "drip" "drip" that was driving her bonkers came from a certain hot tub located in a certain house on the very same empty street where the tumbleweed tumbled. The moisture seeped through cracks in the earth making the damp grotto damper.

When Terrible Two stopped to draw a breath, MB Mom thought she heard something approaching...

The footsteps (or at any rate: something moving in fits and starts) had a strange rhythm, one that echoed something MB Mom could swear she had heard somewhere before.

It was heard to tell, between the golden retriever's snuffing and Terrible Two's howling, just what was coming around the bend. If it was offensive, it would, of course be censored.

But would anyone with a sense of patriotism and good will really do that to...

Judge Walker!

Not surprisingly, with all the Beachwood hoo-ha, he'd been forced to go underground.

The honorable judge (slightly bedraggled from wandering around spooky sea caves) looked straight at MB Mom and said (without a trace of irony)...

"I calls 'em as I sees 'em. And look where it got me..."

Meanwhile, above ground...

People trooped up the stairs into the second floor room of the Farm Bureau building on Main Street. The room filled. It overflowed. More people lined up out the door and down the stairs, out onto the sidewalk.

The crowd grew restive. The government folks who were supposedly hosting the meeting looked worried.

And this was only ONE meeting held in Half Moon Bay on Wednesday, February 27.

MB Mom was beginning to groove on her new subterranean lifestyle. After she got over her initial shock and despair that no one was actually listening to her cries of help (big surprise there, right?), she decided to chuck the "poor me/rescue me" schtick and make the best of it.

Terrible Two and Gambler were turning out to be great partners in caverndom. While at home both of them tended to be whiney and needy and demanding (in their own endearing toddler/canine ways), once they got into spooky sea caves they got in touch with their primal roots and became totally intrepid hunter-gatherers.

Anyone who went about their life on the coastside probably thought that everything was all ordinary and small-townish and cheerful. But MB Mom was finding out that was those innocent people did not know was that a whole lot of folks had gone underground (well, at least for strategic interludes).

Which brings MB Mom back to the hunter-gatherer thing. Lately, Terrible Two had taken to roaming the caverns with Gambler and her Hello Kitty backpack on a sort of subnautical trick-or-treating odyssey. So far she'd gotten cookies from Giulia Bambino, Altoids from Judge Walker, French fries and a couple of Big Macs from that weird censored ketchupy menage a trois (who were kid-friendly enough to stop their menaging when they heard a toddler coming) and some really great food they could not just eat but actually experience from the nice guy who used to run Montara Bistro. One day, they'd even gotten some great canapes (leftover from a hot tub party gone awry) from a prosperous/political-looking guy who was trekking through underground networks by taking Giant Steps Backward.

So, all-in-all, surviving in a briny netherworld was turning out to be just MB Mom's cup of tea (note to anyone planning on visiting spooky sea caves in the near future: MB Mom needs more than a cup of tea and is hoping someone will bring her a triple latte which has proved to be amazingly difficult to find underground despite all the random folks lurking around).

However, MB Mom was actually pretty shocked when one day Gambler and Terrible Two returned from their daily foraging expedition with...

Brandy Alexander, who was looking disheveled and dressed more for a night on the town than a hike through an intricate maze of coastside sea caves. The fact that Gambler was gnawing on her sequinned chiffon boa did not help matters.

MB Mom, who had been doing the best she could to organize the ragtag collection of offerings that Gambler and Terrible Two had brought back over the past few days, looked up in surprise.

"Brandy! You have absolutely NO idea how happy I am to see you," she shrieked, hugging her friend. "Um," she added hopefully. "You didn't happen to bring me a latte, did ya?"

Brandy shook her head a bit dazedly, as though she had not yet adjusted to the change in altitude. "No -- sorry about that, MB. But look, we've got bigger problems on our hands than lack of caffeine.

MB Mom (who at this point couldn't begin to imagine anything more horrific than that) stared at Brandy in disbelief.

"Seriously, MB, we got trouble here in the coastside cities. That's trouble with a T and that rhymes with G and that stands for..."

"No way!"

Brandy looked a little sheepish (although it might just have been her sexy lambskin vest). "Well, I can't prove anything. I mean, it could be F. Or K. Or a lot of other letters in the alphabet. All I know is that Mack Montara has disappeared. The Potted Plant hired him to find you --"

"NO WAY!" screamed MB Mom. (If you thought you had seen disbelief before, you hadn't seen nothin' yet.)

"Yes way," Brandy went on. "And I know he went to your house to find clues ---"

"Good luck finding anything in that house..." muttered MB Mom.

"And last I heard, he was going to some party in Half Moon Bay to track down another lead. Which is why I'm dressed the way I am -- I mean, my Carol Doda days are long in the past. Anyway, Mack wasn't in the hot tub or in the house (really nice house, by the way!) so I went outside. Next thing I knew someone had pushed me down a crevice -- and here I am."

"Wow!" exclaimed MB Mom. "You don't suppose that could be the same creep who abducted Secret Squirrel -- or could it be..."

Meanwhile, deep inside the twisty passages of caverndom, where Secret Squirrel had just slipped away from the clutches of the Coastal Merman,a mysterious trench-coated figure dropped a handheld device, and scurried away.

"What's this?" mused the Squirrely One, poking at its buttons one by one. The small black-and-yellow box was intriguing. Suddenly, he heard the unmistakable sound of...

A motor vehicle, of some kind or other. Or so it seemed.

Despite his acutely trained senses, it was difficult for Secret Squirrel to discern exactly what he was hearing. The echoing crashing of waves somewhere far above, along with the rumbling of Highway One traffic overhead and the mysterious noises of Devil's Slide tunnel construction to the north made it tough tell what the supposedly unmistakable sound was.

Could some pave-the-whole-dang-coastside CCFer have actually managed to build an underground road? A sort of UnderFoothill?

Or had a disgruntled LCPer (gone underground, like so many others) found a way to lead an army of frogs in a rumbling march that just SOUNDED like a motor vehicle?

Feeling uneasy both about the strange sound and the possibility of the Coastal Merman lurking in the shadows waiting to recapture him, Secret Squirrel stowed the intriguing handheld device into his pocket and headed through the dank sea tunnels towards a secret underground place he was pretty sure would be safe...

Meanwhile, on the edge of the cliff far above the Merman's lair, a familiar rusted-out Dodge Dart sat waiting, its engine still running.

After a prolonged wheeze and three backfires, Mack Montara's rumbling rattletrap finally shut off.

Trying to pinpoint the last-known whereabouts of MB Mom, Mack had stopped momentarily to indulge in his nicotine habit--and now, the hapless P.I. was searching for something else. The antique Zippo lighter that had been his reward for his very first job had just slipped out of his pocket and bounced down the cliff. Looking for the shiny object, he leaned over as far as he dared...

Mack Montara groaned. His balding head throbbed with a vengeance he hadn't had the displeasure to experience since waking up in a Space Alien mobster's trunk some months back.

So what was his sorry excuse this time? Not an overabundance of Rebel Yell, anyway. The host of the recent Kelly Street hot tub soiree was far too classy for that. Nope, at that little shindig, the only libations available to a poor parched P.I. were top-shelf margaritas that were as smooth as the host himself.

Okay: so no hangover excuse. Could it have been, perhaps, the tumble down the rocky cliffs (geological feature, not Talkabout character) and into the briny abyss?

Mack's beat-up brain pounded an affirmative war drum ditty. Yep, that must've been it.

He rubbed his bloodshot eyes and took a good look around. Despite the apparent depth of his current location, the air was blissfully warm and perfumed with a peaceful patchouli vibe that could only mean...

The answer was obvious that no writer wanted to touch it. And yet, like so many other subjects no one wants to touch, it was true: Mack Montara had landed in the beatifically beaded boudoir of the legendary Kissbliss.

Wounded by the taunts and slights of angry Talkabout posters, the harmony-craving Kissbliss had taken her admirable operation underground. She'd decked out her sea cave with glowing mandalas and peace signs, covering the dark, mossy walls with colorful swaths of tie-dyed fabric. Pretty much what Mack would've expected, had he ever bothered to contemplate the subject before falling into it.

Except for two intriguing things:

1. Kissbliss had a high-tech computer rigged up on a makeshift stone desk, the electricity for which was apparently being generated by a complex network of crystals and pyramids.

2. Although Kissbliss was nowhere to be seen, it was obvious that she was not spending all time down here in meditative solitude. Draped over the pile of pastel cushions she'd fashioned into a makeshift bed was a grubby pair of overalls, topped with a jaunty Stetson hat. A large pair of muddy cowboy boots lay on the floor just alongside.

As Mack Montara searched for clues (readers will recall that the Potted Plant had hired him to find MB Mom), someone else was also doing a little stealthy snooping...


I need to hear from Mack, his last two invoices do not add up. Is he working thru Myers and Nave Now? or John Knox?

While Mack was snooping around Kissbliss' cavern and MB Mom & Brandy Alexander were brainstorming in another cavern, the Potted Plant (aka MB Dad) was enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon on the HMB golf course.

Having just returned from a (mostly) business trip to Scotland and already yearning for the windswept links, he was happily driving and putting his way along the ocean course.

Other than the fact that he was confused by Mack Montara's latest invoices and befuddled over what dinner take-out to order later on for Lucky 7 and Fab 5 (who were currently happily ramming the golf cart into a sand trap unbeknownst to their oblivious father/uncle), he was feeling happy as a proverbial clam.

Not at all as if something bizarre was about to happen.

So you can imagine the Potted Plant's surprise when he reached into the hole to retrieve his ball and pulled out...

The arm of an indignant guy named Jimmy B, the grasping hand of which was clutching the Potted Plant's almost-par ball.

"Excuse me," said the ever-polite Potted Plant. "But I think you've got my ball."

(Now some folks in town felt it was Jimmy B's goal in life to have the whole community by their collective (sports) balls -- especially any that might be kicked around a future Boys' & Girls' Club. But the Potted Plant was not political and did not even think of this -- he just wanted his ball back.)

"I'm sorry," said the pious voice attached to the ball. "But your ball landed too close to my backyard. I'm afraid regulations require me to evolve the definition of what might or might not constitute Revised Zoning Code Chapters 18-02 Definitions & 18-06 Residential Land Use regarding Golf Balls Falling Down Holes Anywhere Within 10 Miles of My Backyard."

And with that, the voice, the hand and the ball all disappeared underground, leaving the Potted Plant alone with his putter.

Meanwhile, in another underground location...

In a nearby cavern, a ghostly printing operation was in full swing. The participants, clad in green hooded cloaks, moved as stealthily and efficiently as they had when they were above ground, only a bit more slowly now that a little (non-endangered) moss had grown on them. And really, it just added a dash of much-needed character.

But who were these characters, anyway? One thing was sure: folks hadn't seen much of them above ground lately – except for the Master and his Mini, who often shared a sustainable meal at Mini's house.

Ignoring the childish sandbox play going on overhead, they continued their work.

However, they might have been just a little more careful had they known that...

...years and years of HMB High Homecoming celebrations had resulted in the accumulation of a subterranean strata of HMB Pumpkin Gush, which, like so many top-side politicians, was now exuding perilous levels of explosive gas...

Meanwhile, in another underground location...

Giulia Bambino was looking forward to the grand opening of her brand-new cavern cafe, the Kelpie Bar and Grill. Since most of the coast had been driven underground of late, she'd decided to take advantage of the romantic ambience of nature's grottos to start her latest business venture.

And, she'd booked some real talent for tonight...Lorelei, beautiful coastal siren and the latest hit of Pacific Rim avant-garde opera, was about to make her debut. Giulia had only seen pictures of Lorelei, a strikingly lean, tall, svelte girl with a reputation for a powerful voice, but she was convinced right away that the siren would make an unforgettable impression on the coastside. Yes, tonight was going to be a big night...


"Pacific Rim avant-garde opera" on the coastside.. Give me a break.

Somehow the confluence of Pumpkin Gush, opera, and grottos has hit my credibility GAP. I LOVE TGM, but this is too much.

The Mystery of the Missing.. should be a believable story, we need a Time Out. It is time for a new Chapter

What happened to Mack Montara, Brandy Alexander, McD, HotDamn, Secret Squirrel, Baldy, Dirk, and Rosemary? Lorelei---I don't know if I can handle a Lorelei?

I am sorry it has been a stressful day.

Judge Walker has ruled... and he ruled that...

HMB will do the "right thing", and return to "normal" and stop all their litigation... and are thinking of firing their lawyers.

Happy Days are here again, and school is out with kids rippin' on skateboard city and grabbing a drink at Cunha's.

Farmer John and pumpkins will return to their rightful place.

Home prices will arise, local teams will win all their games,

All is right in the world, if only...

...if only I could turn back the clock, thought Secret Squirrel, tapping on his wristwatch, which had broken in the fall.

Someone had just whispered a very strong hint to him, revealing the best way out of this strange and twisty maze he'd gotten himself into.

He plunged ahead in the darkness, rounded a corner, and suddenly, he stepped out...into the sunlight.

And walked away.

Yes, tonight WAS going to be a big night. But not for the reasons that Giulia Bambino or the lovely Lorelei (or any number of others) might have thought.

For in the shadows lurked another who planned to make the night her own. Yes, the luscious coastal siren Lorelei was about to be usurped by an Asian arch enemy. All the signs were pointing to that fact! Routes had been mapped out!

Would the coastside ever be ready for the Tsunami siren?

Mack Montara was at a crossroads, in more ways than one. His finely honed private investigator's sensibilities had been shredded by the sheer overwhelming incredulity of his recent adventures. He longed to be back in his messy Montara bungalow, waiting for his phone to ring and hoping Brandy Alexander would knock on his door in pursuit of a cup of sugar or -- well, anything.

And yet, here he was: underground and on a case. The Potted Plant had hired Mack to find MB Mom and her toddler/canine entourage. It was as simple (and as convoluted) as that. If Mack wanted to pay his bills and preserve his already tattered reputation, he had make good on his promise.

Focus. That was it. For now, he had to clear his mind of the intriguing possibilities evoked by his observations in Kissbliss' patchouli-scented hideout. He had to ignore the green-hooded Voice of the Ghost printers and the faraway siren song of a mysterious woman named Lorelei and her exotic Asian nemesis (and boy, that was a tough one for a red-blooded and sadly celibate middle-aged PI).

Mack even had to ignore the fact that he had just seen Secret Squirrel (whose long-ago fall into underground sea caves had led the kind-hearted MB Mom to try to rescue him) walk off into the sunlight, perhaps never to be heard from again.

Whatever else, MB Mom and her entourage (which, unbeknownst to Mack, now included the intrepid Brandy Alexander, who (as ironic plot twists would have it) was on a quest to find Mack) must be found. And whether he had help from fellow underground roamers or not, Mack Montara never gave up on a case.

With renewed resolve, he turned away from the beckoning sunlight and headed deep into the caverns...

Meanwhile, deeper in the dankness and dampness of the dark caverns a new character in our story stumbled toward a pinpoint of light. This individual had been conscripted, so to speak, by an unknown force. (Freedom of the Press perhaps?)

She had been sitting in her ocean view home quietly clicking through topics on Talkabout and posting inane and innocuous comments when she'd come upon a link like this: Web Link in the topic at this Web Link.

She'd clicked it and then...found herself transported through a sort of cyber-portal to this...this... dreary dripping place! The portal had glimmered behind her for a few moments and she had been able to make a snap decision to turn back and attempt a return through it...only to find herself in some sort of virtual revolving door that kept spitting her out into this dismal dispiriting demense!

Ahead of her she could hear what seemed to be a soothing adult female voice placating a shrieking (or maybe laughing?) small fry. Having absolutely no experience with anything bratty, she could not have estimated the age of the small voice even if she had wanted or been enticed to with threats of inundation by Pumpkin Gush (which she had learned about on her Talkabout forays).

A dog barked.

Someone was calling her name!

"Toldya!" they chanted. "Toldya! Toldya! Toldya! Toldya! Toldya!"

"Coming!" she called. It must be a friend who knew her name!

(Editor's Note: Did I warn you not to click on that Web Link ? Well, don't. You might find yourself thrust into a very sticky situation over which you have little control...)

"Duck, duck, GOOSE! Duck, duck, GOOSET! I win! I win! Toldya! Toldya so!" Terrible Two's happy shrieks rebounded off the walls of the cavern, adding to MB Mom's major caffeine withdrawal headache.

Her eyes were starting to roll back in her head as she watched her wild little offspring run in circles around the huddled figures of MB Mom, Brandy Alexander and poor old beleaguered Gambler. Still it was a lot simpler to just let Terrible Two spin herself out than try to mellow her out. The kid was after all in major Barney withdrawal herself.

Despite the sad caffeine situation (note: why was it that no one from above ground -- from Judge Walker to the usually java-toting Brandy -- ever thought to bring MB Mom a simple latte?), MB Mom was feeling kind of a honeymoon high that she hadn't felt since the awhile-ago aforementioned honeymoon hot tub memory. Who woulda thunk that the Potted Plant could shake his roots enough to not only notice that his wife and daughter and dog were gone, but actually tear himself away from his golf clubs long enough to hire a real private eye to find her?

"...and he called Mack from the golf course and begged him to find you," Brandy was saying.

Oh. Okay. Golf course. Oh well, at least he'd made the call. MB Mom decided to be charitable and give the Potted Plant credit for as much knight-in-shining-armor romance as he was capable of at this point in their mutual parenthood-o-rama. And maybe this whole PI rescue thing would breathe new life into ---

"HEY! Earth to MB! Are you listening to anything I'm saying?" Brandy's words interrupted MB Mom's romantic reverie.

But before MB Mom could respond...

She was treated to a festive St. Patrick's Day surprise: a disgruntled leprechaun, who was struggling to escape from the grubby clutches of a breathless Lucky 7 (who was closely trailed by his admiring cousin, Fab Five).

"Hey, Mom, look what Fab Five and I found in a golf hole! Isn't he cool? Can we keep him?" yelled Lucky 7. "Oh, by the way, did you know Dad's been looking all over for you?"

MB Mom, who thought she had seen it all (and really, she pretty much had) was flabbergasted. And Brandy Alexander, who had witnessed a lot of crazy get-ups back in her Carol Doda days, could do no more than gape at the three muddy little creatures. Terrible Two and Gambler, however, were totally unfazed and bounded up to greet their long-lost comrades.

"Cool! Cool! Cool!" shrieked Terrible Two. "I wanna hold him! Lemme hold him!"

The leprechaun was doing his best to must what little dignity he could, brushing the kid-grime from his otherwise impeccable emerald-green suit. If it were up to him, he would have wished himself back to the Emerald Isle and everyone else up and out of the cavern. Unfortunately, however, his powers had been recently stolen by a mysterious green-cloaked stranger who claimed to be acting in the greater good.

Nevertheless, the leprechaun was not without bright ideas (blended with a predictable bit of blarney, not unlike many other folks on the coastside). He cleared his throat and spoke...

"I am the lord of green. Everything that comes out of my mouth may sound to you like blarney, but at least it's real." He proceeded to outline how the coast could become a sustainable environment. Promoting social equity for former strippers, under 10 year olds, OC bimbos, and old gumshoes, he outlined his 10 step plan for ensuring that people from all walks of life would feel valued, have value and produce value.

Then he designed a new plan for draining the wetlands, re-training green legged frogs, and promoting local dragsters (I mean farmers).

While the leprechaun spoke, with the townspeople looking on, the mysterious green-cloaked stranger was moving about erratically in the distance. Suddenly, the podium from which the leprechaun spoke began to shake, green smoke began to come from underneath, and a tremendous noise shook Mel Mello Tavern. The podium began to lift, like a rocket, fire streaming from the bottom.

The leprechaum hung on for his life, while the podium began to fly about the room. In the distance, the mysterious green-cloaked stranger could be seen operating what looked like a remote control device.

The doors to Mel Mello Tavern opened, and the rocket zoomed out toward San Benito House. The leprechaun could be heard saying . . .


Breathlessly he contintued, "Beannachtam na Feile Padraig! Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo aris!"

As he disappeared from sight he was heard to say (this time in English), "What is Irish diplomacy? It’s the ability to tell a man to go to hell,

so that he will look forward to making the trip."

And those residents of the coastside who heard him knew exactly who he was talking about. Funny thing though, that person was not thought to be Irish!

Okay, well, meanwhile: MB Mom (who always thought lucky leprechauns were supposed to give you gold or grant wild and crazy wishes) was now stuck in a slimy sea cavern with two of her own spawn, her rich globe-trotting sister's kid, one slobbering golden retriever and one exhausted ex-stripper. The leprechaun was nowhere in sight.

And where was the Potted Plant, do ya suppose? Uh huh. Yeah. On the green, probably making a perfect putt. After which he would go home to his kid-free, canine-free house and eat some It's Italia pizza that he'd picked up on his way home, watch the Warriors or whoever on TV and blissfully go to sleep in a Cheerio-free, Lego-free bed.

Well, it looked like that leprechaun had made SOMEBODY'S wishes come true anyway. (Hmmm, now that MB Mom thought about it, the Potted Plant was 100% Irish and had the Notre Dame sweatshirts and pedigree to prove it).

But hey, wait a minute: maybe the luck of the Irish had not totally eluded her after all! In the middle of all the St. Paddy's Day commotion, no one had noticed that...

A furry long-eared cute-as-a-button buck-toothed bunny was peering from the mouth of an adjoining cavern.

"Er, what's up?" he asked rhetorically. "I can't work with all this noise, willya tone it down please?"

He'd been feeling a little rushed and edgey since the migrant squirrel who'd been helping him suddenly disappered. And then there was that time change with the clock, too. It threw everything off! And that busybody leprechaun who wouldn't stop talking but had now disappeared (probably off hot tubbing someplace!). He turned and hopped off in the opposite direction muttering, "I'm late I'm late for a very important date..."

Just back from a weeklong ProAm, and JUST realized my community is not doing particularly well... Crapola is blowing outta the pores...and then I also notice..

Now that the NCAA tournament is about to start, I will be Totally occupied for awhile...

St Paddy's day was yesterday, and all the OLe Blarneys had parties all over the place.. Many Friends needed bail and their kids were crying.

Stress is really building up, and my family has many critical needs that I need to satisfy.

I hear that HMB is going bankrupt, MB Mom noticed that the water from my tap is brown and smelly out of the tap, and the tax and bond rates are going up, my retirement is in free fall,... so I wonder when OR if I can ever retire, and...

Now what to do?

Should I fake my death?......

Fly to Denver and Watch Notre Dame play basketball?....

Or run for office and fix all our water problems in Moss Beach?

I need your help, here...

I wish to advise you that in no possible way was the BOARD or President of MWSD ever responsible for anything that may have been harmful to the community, au contraire, the BOARD of MWSD has done everything humanly possible to protect the very environment that we all live in.

The MWSD Board appeals every possible infraction to any perceived, real, or imagined infraction against septic tanks, aquifers, storm drains, rustic brown prairie grass rats, measley melliflourus moles, willful destruction or any mayhem against willows, or (insert your favorite issue HERE)...

The MWSD stands proud.

Go to our Website, and judge for yourself. Web Link

While MB Mom and Brandy and company were puzzling over what do underground, there was a very interesting underground discussion taking place above ground.

In a historic building near the Montara lighthouse, an elite group of waterwizards were trying to figure out how they could avoid being consolidated.

After book-length dialogue punctuated by French fries and ketchup (courtesy of a fat franchise not affiliated with any districts), it was decided that the best way to keep anyone from getting at the minute amount of rusty brown water that had managed to make it above ground was to shove it all back underground. What could be simpler and more eco-friendly? They'd give it all back to the Earth!

It was all so Chinatown -- and yet so very Coastside (with a capital C and that rhymes with P and that stands for...). Well, you know.

So it was decided that all midcoast water would be sacrificed for the Greater Good and sanctimoniously flushed back into the ground (which is all those no-good noisy rug rats who frequented Moss Beach Park would do with anyway).

Water would be diverted from all wells and pipes into a series of underground sea caverns, where at that very moment...

An ancient cabal, named Pluto, meeting near the Montara lighthouse chanted their mantra of "ooohhhmmm", invoked a prehistoric claim for reversion to the year 777AD.

Extensive research by this cabal had convinced them that the year 777 was mystical and that all creatures should return to nature as it existed in the year 777. THEN and only then would life on the coast be "acceptable " to them.

All the efforts of their chief Klansperson was to define "exactly" what the conditions were in the year 777. Which plants were living, what animals roamed the landscape, and what fish were in the sea.

Their purpose in life, was clearly to purge "invasive species" from our current ambiance and replace them with "native species" (exactly matching those they defined as being representative of the year 777). Furthermore, if one were smart and adept, one could make a very profitable living through this process, and providing the appropriate species.

Just look at all the time and money to move wetlands from the northern tunnel to just east of the old Charthouse created "wetland". A windfall for certain entrepreneurs.

The Pluto Cabal had devised an answer to any proposed consolidation of water and/or sewer or of any future community plans whatever-- simply continue to play the atavistic card, revert to an earlier, more perfect state, crank up the public relations, get more involved into "legislative advocacy", play the fear and smear card, and ...Always..revert to an earlier, more primitive state.

Back to the Past, Reversion to 777. As they disbanded with plans for our future (to re-create a more wonderful time 1230 years before), the cabal looked at the MWSD offices, sighed, and ...

...and, as they turned to go their separate ways, dispersing along the coast, the chief Klansman (known as the Grand Researcher) proclaimed with a backward and upside down sign of the X:

"And smile, of course. Whackos out of touch with reality as they pursue their fantasies can be greatly amusing and super foils for exposing knee-jerk errors and childish machinations. Keep trying to get ignorant, self-serving fools to repopulate the coastside, will ya? I'm speaking to you, the small minority in the Pluto cabal and the big gaggle of meddlers from outside the district who would like to help us take it over. I can think of no better way to ensure that the we get back to our baseline of 777".

Meanwhile, MB Mom and their kid & canine entourage were making their way through a long, twisted tunnel -- and it looked as though there were light at the end of it.

They breathed a collective sigh of relief as they emerged into a happy, convivial town bathed in golden sunlight. They were almost home at last!

Or so they thought.

MB Mom and Brandy Alexander didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they caught sight of the tasteful, handcrafted wooden sign:

"Welcome to Mayberry!"

What was this place...?

MB Mom noticed the graveyard and the dilapidated fence yet was buoyed up by the lovely sign. Upon coming into brightness from the long dank tunnel, the air was fresh and salty, butterflies afloat, with evidence of past goats in a field across the way.

Life was grand. Time to wander and take it all in on a lovely spring day. Get to meet the people, have a cuppa, and find out more about this place...

For Mack Montara to even find room 777, disguised and hidden among an industrial complex was difficult, but he knew it would be well worth his effort. Too many strange inexplicable things had been going on for too long, and he needed to find some answers.

Upon peering inside the closed off, dark, and shuttered room Mack saw papers strewn on the desks and tables, scribblings covered all the blackboards, and dust was everywhere. Outside, stray cats and broken down autos littered the yards and streets.

Nefarious notions by naysayers and negative nabobs were evident by cryptic ciphers, nuanced noodlings, and crazy cult-like symbols.

From what he could see of the maps, slogans, financial projections and summaries, surveys, and other paraphernalia Mack decided that this occult group, CabalRoom777, or Cabal Pluto was controlling something. Was it a club, a religious society, politicians, or what?

What did this group see in the year 777 AD that was so magical and mystical?

Why would they want to return to 777AD? Or was that simply a ruse so that the cabal could use that reason to control the locals? Only the cabal could then tell the locals what life in 777 was and what it was not, and what they must do. They would be in control.

Who created CabalRoom777, and for what secret purpose? Who can find the path to the year 2008, and lead us from this Dark Age?

Where is Everybody?

Whether I try landline or I try cell, I get no response. MB Mom, is missing--Where is she--what was the last errand? dogs..kids..school. hair..

I have seen nothing from Judge Walker or Kirk Bohan for weeks, and Now I wonder did Rosemary Potatoes die or is she on vacation?

R McD and KSC are missing in action, and Researcher is now on-line. God forbid. That is what we all want. More analysis. in great detail...

I got a msg on my phone from "NIMBY's revenge", but it was indecipherable--Go figure. NIMBY is a known commodity. No need to be decipherable, everyone knows what that is about.

What is happening? I saw a tall bald guy with glasses very aloof and becoming to me, but what was he saying...to come to a MCC meeting???

Now I hear about a meeting to join Cabal 777, a "cabal", WTH is that?

Can someone, anyone, tell me what is going on...

MB Mom sat in a really tasteful handcrafted rocking chair on the front porch of a pristine white clapboard house, sipping iced tea with fresh mint and marveling at the sudden changes in her heretofore, um, challenging offspring.

(Well, Fab Five was acting as fab as ever but since he belonged to her everpolite and rich-but-so-dang-nice-you-couldn't-hate-her-even-if-you-really-tried sister, he did not technically count).

No, the totally surreal (which was getting to be an everyday adjective for MB Mom) thing was the way that Lucky 7 and Terrible Two had smilingly eaten their healthy well-balanced dinner, lovingly prepared for them by noneother than the wonderful, warm-hearted Aunt Bea (whose cool Mayberry house this was, BTW). No screaming for chicken dinosaurs or blue yogurt with sparkles. No throwing green vegetables with accompanying war cries of "Disgusting! Disgusting!". Not even the de rigueur squabbles over Barney vs. Magic Schoolbus.

Now, the kids were happily playing catch with Opie and the other Mayberry kids. Brandy was off shopping on Mayberry-perfect Main Street for some clothing more suitable than the sexy outfit she had worn to the longago Kelly Street hot tub party (and was now pretty ragged and slimy from all that sea cavern spelunking).

There was nothing to do but sit back, relax and enjoy the unnatural peace and harmony.

MB Mom was just thinking she could really get used to this when suddenly...

...suddenly, from the old fishin' hole came a shout.

"Help! Help! The Department of Fish and Game has posted a sign saying 'NO FISHING!' Help! Help!"

Well, where the heck was Sheriff Andy when you needed him? Gone fishin', maybe?

MB Mom wondered if maybe he was like the Potted Plant: cute and cuddly and a great husband/dad (when he was home) -- and very fond of hitting the green (or some secret fishing hole) when he needed a break.

That was the difference between dads and moms. Moms could wish for a trip to the spa or a glamorous restaurant or even just the bathroom with no small fists pounding on the door, but good luck actually getting it. Of course, Sheriff Andy had the saintly Aunt Bea to take up the slack with Opie. But still...

Okay, MB Mom heard someone screaming "help, help" and (stupid her, right?), she couldn't help but follow the cries of distress. As she had figured, down at the No Fishing Fishin' Hole, there was no Sheriff Andy in sight.

However, right there at the scene of the action was...

However, right there at the scene of the action was a god-like figure with an imposing (though probably cosmetically altered) physic. Swooping back his long locks he stated in a magisterial voice, "I am Mark Adonis Arassam! I am here to save the fish!"

MB Mom had been so rattled by the shrill cries for help that she had not recognized the screaming figure hanging by Mark Adonis Arassam's iron grip on his uniform shirt collar. The figure with the flailing arms and thrashing legs was Barney Fife! "Help!" he cried again.

Mark Adonis Arassam plunked him down and shook a massive finger at Barney. "Shame on you! Help is for the fish, not you!

"The reason for the sudden collapse of Mayberry fish stock is not readily apparent. The Statewide Small Pond Fisheries Service has suggested spring water temperature changes, and a resulting lack of upwelling, as a possible cause of the sudden decline. Many biologists believe a combination of human-caused and natural factors are to blame, including freshwater in-stream water withdrawals, habitat alterations, dam operations, construction, pollution, changes in hatchery operations and Mayberry citizens casting their lines into the pond. The Council has requested a multi-agency task force led by the Statewide Small Pond Fisheries Service's West Coast Science Centers to research about 50 potential caustive areas and report back to the Council at the September meeting."

Arassam glared at Barney and glowered at MB Mom who was shielding the young 'uns (who had run up behind her) from the imposing figure (and the embarassing [but not surprising] figure cut by trembling Mr Fife).

Arassam continued. "Until that report, I am here to uphold the law and I say NO FISHING!'

Behind her MB Mom heard Aunt Bea gasp, "Well, I never! I thought these kinds of things only happened in..."


My home, a heavenly place of My making and Control.

God Bless the Coastal Act.

Treasures of the world are protected for all time in my domain, rest assured, and know that all attempts to control me or my dominions are for naught.

Life is good.

Only one thing...Where is tonight's meeting of Cabal 777 anyway?

Mack Montara's ex-wife had been fond of reminding him that he had never had a talent for reading the writing on the wall. This had proved to be especially true when she ran off with the UPS driver, leaving only a lipstick-scrawled "I hit the road, Mack. And I won't come back no more" on the kitchen wall.

That was a long time ago, but her mocking voice still haunted the paunchy, middle-aged PI as he squinted to read the writing scribbled on the mossy wall of the sea cavern. There were as many messages as you'd expect to find on the bulletin board outside Cunha's, all related to the events and opportunities presented by life underground.

You get pizza delivered, have a computer system rigged in your cavern -- even have your dog walked through the twisting tunnels. This was a good thing, because many coastside folks (who you'd think would have nothing to hide) actually spent quite a lot of their lives underground.

For now, Mack was focused on one thing: finding MB Mom. The Potted Plant had hired him to do a job, and he was dang well gonna do it. After all, he still had a little pride left. Not much. But some.

He pulled a pair of battered reading glasses from his pocket and inched closer to the wall. Cabal 777 meeting tonight in Cavern 77 at 7:07 pm. Could that have anything to do with his case?

For want of a better lead, Mack trudged off in search of sevens.

Meanwhile, back in Mayberry...

Meanwhile, back in Mayberry, Chief Cole had such a good thing goin', he was definitely one of the Coastsiders who did spend quite a bit of time underground. Well, dang, come to think of it, he wasn't actually a Coastsider, he didn't live here like the other chiefs, but he did spend a lot of time underground.

He knew by heart every underground passageway out of town.

That way he could miss that durn eye sore called Hwy 1 and 92 and nobody would see him leaving early. There was a super good passage out from behind the fire station, connected right to Cavern 77 where he could sneak under the hill to his oft meetings. Just like today, he left to go to Cavern 77 at 10:30 a.m.

Smiling, he knew that his puppet master had turned all the good Coastsiders against them awful whiney firemen, and that he could do whatever he felt like and still justify that nice fat pay check. It didn't seem quite right to all the whiney firemen and anybody else who knew him, but the Talkabouters didn't seem to care anymore.

OK, well, a few Talkabouters still seemed to care. They wondered what kind of personal price one has to pay to live underground. Mack Montara sure seemed to pay a price. And what about that MB Mom. She really had to pay a price.

Meanwhile, in Cavern 77...

Meanwhile back in Mayberry, MB Mom was focused on trying to pull the bumbling Barney Fife out of the muddy ol' fishing hole.

Mr. Assaram had gloriously ascended into the clouds, alleviating global warming on the way up and leaving the fish-snitching Barney blustering and blundering and coughing up tadpoles. It was not a pretty sight, but MB Mom (who was used to being coughed up upon (and much worse)) good-naturedly yanked him out of the murky brown water, which looked suspiciously as though it had emerged from the MWSD water system.

However, assisting Mr. Fife meant turning her back on her offspring and canine. Never a good idea (even in blissful Mayberry), and in this case turned out to be a particularly bad one because at that moment...

No matter how beautiful the spring day with its promise of rebirth and on going life, no matter the optimistic chattering from the (aboveground) council chambers, no matter the happy babble of Mayberry matrons, the black negativity eminating from CabalRoom777 could be sensed by anyone paying attention. Unfortunately, few were.

Some tried to distract themselves from this vague and unacknowledged feeling of unease by going fishing. Others, by stopping those who were going fishing. Some chose to distract themselves (subliminally, of course) by hiring flunkies to search for supposedly missing people. Others disguised themselves as flunkies in search of missing people. Some chose to sit home and read the works of Umberto Eco or G. K. Chesterton or that infamous collaboration by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.(Others contented themselves sitting like potted plants and watching The Da Vinci Code on high def DVD.)

This was to come to naught for the underground grottos vibrated with the oncoming unstoppable onslaught. Floor and wall vibrated just under the range of palpability. If only they knew!

From beneath the filled parklands once known as Ox Mountain it gathered into a trickle and then a stream. Instead of gathering in the holding area it found a crevice and trickled into a larger tunnel leading to a grotto and then a cavern. Onward the deadly liquid poured, heading ever coastward, looking for an outlet to the vast Pacific Ocean to the west.

Beware those of you within the cavern! Were you to be destroyed or were you bringing this upon the beautiful coastside area? Were you to be destroyed or were you seeking to destroy?

Web Link

Meanwhile, back in Mayberry...

Meanwhile, back at the Mayberry fishin' hole:

MB Mom turned around just in time to see Lucky 7 gleefully let Gambler off his leash so that the lovesick golden retriever could chase after some hapless girl hound dog. She watched helplessly as her Casanova of a canine disappeared while Lucky 7 and Fab Five cheered him on.

MB Mom probably shouldn't admit this but she was actually kinda proud of Gambler for showing a little macho initiative (similar to the way she felt when Brandy had told her that the Potted Plant had actually put down his golf club long enough to hire Mack Montara to find her -- not that she'd want the Potted Plant to start chasing girl hound dogs, of course).

She stood there with a dopey smile on her face which was ignominiously wiped off when she heard Barney Fife (who was obviously struggling to reinstate a sense of his own dignity and purpose after being trounced by the hunky Mr. Assaram) say, "Sorry ma'am, but there's a leash law in this town. I'm afraid we'll have to put you in jail until that criminal canine is safely back on his leash."

MB Mom probably shouldn't admit this either, but the thought of a kidless afternoon spent reading magazines in the Mayberry jail until Aunt Bea or Brandy bailed her out was actually pretty appealing.

Of course, Barney had to spoil her fantasy by intoning somberly "And your kids too."

"Hurray, we're going to jail!" shrieked Lucky 7 and Fab Five. Terrible Two, who wasn't really sure what jail meant, jumped up and down in happy solidarity. (Note to any parent who thinks things would actually be all that different for them if HMB and surrounding areas were really Mayberry: They wouldn't.)


Meanwhile, back in unMayberry (the real HMB, that is), things were getting interesting.

Word had it that some folks were clamoring for a private investigator (where was Mack Montara when you needed him?) to find out the terms of the proposed Beachwood settlement.

Even though they didn't know thoe terms yet (well not unless a certain green insider had leaked them), those same folks were certain they weren't gonna like it.

No sirree bob (or mike or jim or...)!

The infuriating fact that the city announced that they decided to authorize a settlement on a bulletin board like a little post-it was inspiring them to change the chant "Appeal! Raw Deal!" to "Recall! Them All! (except the aforementioned green guy).

But if the “greed” thread continued, who knew?

Who indeed.

At that very moment, in an undisclosed location, a very interesting meeting was going on...

The meeting was taking place at MWSD Headquarters -- not that the meeting, whose agenda items included Beachwood rebellion, building another local McD's franchise in the shape of an unpermitted log cabin and resurrecting a certain ghostly newspaper, had anything to do with MWSD.

As a local legend named Coastsider Fan would probably tell you (if his/her comments didn't keep getting deleted), that organization not only offered the finest example of incisive local water management on the planet but was so altruistic that it would of course donate meeting space to anyone in need.

Well, the folks in this meeting certainly fitted that description. It looked like their arch-enemy Chop might indeed be granted his property rights and allowed to commit the sin of expressing his true developer nature by actually building some houses that he'd gotten approved once a upon a time.

Not only that: it looked like this settlement was gonna make the treaty of Versailles look generous.

Counterplots were bubbling and brewing. But (to quote from an online "news" forum operated by a bona fide journalist (a fact confirmed both by his official press pass and past record of impeccable -- and impartial -- reportage): "There are no other details."

Meanwhile, back in Mayberry...

Investigator Mack Montara glanced around the idyllic neighborhood until his eyes froze (figuratively, not literally) on a very pretty and well done sign that read: Welcome to Mayberry. Obviously a professional job, it was not hastily splashed on particle board with the residue from a can of paint that had originally been grabbed from the Oceanshore Hardware markdown table and used to paint a chicken coop. No, this one had been produced by a veritable artist, possibly by Aunt Bea's cousin who owned the gallary on Main Street.

"Jeeze, what is this place?" thought Mack. Certainly not Half Moon Bay's evil twin. More likely the opposite.

Perhaps this community had tasteful developements nestled between parklands within easy walking access to shopping and transportation. Maybe no one had to commute. Kids walked to school and could play whatever ball cames that were allowed these days in the street. If he was a betting man (which he actually was but not in this case) Mack figured those developements would be called something like Doowhceab and Egdif Cificap and they would be extraordinary.

But he wasn't here to bet or suppose or critique. He was here looking for someone. Now who...? Mack scratched his head and lit up an organic adjusted-for-inflation-ten-cent-cigar and wandered off in search of...

Master of All, and Incinerator of Doowhceab and EgdifCificap, I speak on behalf of the Coastal Zone and the Coastal Act.

Do Not believe what you hear on Talkabout... or about TGM...

I AM the Grandmaster and Duke of Humanity and Protector of All that is Important to Life as I describe IT-- Cabal 777--

People may state that the Coastal Act (Public Resources Code 30000) indicates a balance for social equity, economic vitality, and the environment, but you and I know... It is all Environment.

Please come to the next meeting of Cabal 777, the usual place, the usual time.

We have a lot of work to do. League for Coastside Protection.

Please provide money to Club Sierra, we need to protect you from yourself. (only Directors of Club Sierra and our designees can protect you)

Trust us,

Mr Arassem

As he strolled along a sunny Mayberry Main Street populated by smiling, non-racist folks and happy, thriving businesses (that actually catered to locals), Mack Montara whistled the venerable theme song to "Mayberry RFD."

He was powerfully grateful to be out of the dank, sandy sea caverns and walking along a pristine paved sidewalk with the early spring breeze ruffling his thinning hair -- and a genuine lead brightening his often-downcast disposition.

Mack also felt that he had incurred some small but victorious revenge against the haunting memory of his emasculating ex-wife by for once being able to read the writing on the wall. For it was, quite literally, a simple, lipstick-scrawled message on a mossy wall that had led him to Mayberry: "This way, Mack! (renderings of an arrow and a heart) Brandy"

This heartening clue, along with bits of Brandy's fuchsia feather boa dropped strategically on the cavern floors by a Hansel-and-Gretel-loving Terrible Two, had guided him out of the underground darkness and into an almost unnervingly cheerful sunlit town.

Now, where to find the missing MB Mom? Let's see, she had the kids and dog with her, so she must be somewhere child-friendly like a playground (with bathrooms!), dog park, Boys & Girls Club, movie theater, bowling alley -- in a town like Mayberry, the possibilities were endless.

But wait just a dang minute!

Wasn't that MB Mom's golden retriever happily canoodling with a local hound dog just outside the Mayberry jail? And, even stranger, what were two real, authentic, bona fide HMB city council members doing lurking in the shadows just outside Mayberry City Hall? Were they here to consult about Beachwood -- or something even more sinister?


Meanwhile (unbeknownst to the residents (and visitors) of bucolic Mayberry) back in Half Moon Bay: UFOs were being sighted and citizens were running through the Talkabout topics as if possessed and Beachwood was being settled. Or maybe unsettled. At any rate, the wagons had circled and Ward Bond was cautioning folks about their cook fires (and the dangerous PMs contained in the smoke from smouldering buffalo chips.

Ah, but we have more important things to accomplish in this topic. Will Mack find Brandy and MB Mom and the kids. And just what IS canoodling anyway?

canoodling is an ancient term for which I will NOT go to wikipedia.

as far as I know it has nothing to do with AB1991, but will not positively verify that assertion, pending lawyerly advice.

Life is far more complicated than I might intimate, life is grand til one confronts lawyers, and the legislature, and AB1991.

canoodlin may be akin to the legislative process in that....

MB Mom, who was blissfully stretched out on a patchwork-quilt-covered cot in the Mayberry jail as she perused Good Housekeeping and other magazines whose cheerful, Cheerio-free interiors were as foreign to her as the dark side of the moon, had definitely heard of canoodling. And she wasn't going to get into the details in a nice family-friendly place like Mayberry. Let's just say that it was literally a family-friendly term and that courtesy of Gambler's friendliness, that Mayberry hound was probably gonna have a nice family of her own someday very soon.

Speaking of families, her own tattered tribe was currently playing with the official police radio while Sheriff Andy (who had kindly taken pity on her when she begged to be sentenced to childless magazinehood for her unleashed dog crime) looked indulgently on. Since MB Mom was the biggest criminal in Mayberry, nobody needed the radio right now.

Over the insistent squawking of Terrible Two into the radio as she tried to get deputies to follow Lucky 7's instructions to 10-16 (Code 3) the Little Mermaid, MB Mom heard a tired, raspy voice that sounded suspiciously like that of her favorite coastside private investigator. Wow, maybe Brandy hadn't made up the whole Potted Plant-as-kinda-sorta-rescuer story just to make her feel better after all!

She stood up to get a better look at the indomitable Mack Montara, who was just walking into the Mayberry jail not with Brandy Alexander but -- no, could it be????

Yes, it could: Mack was arm-in-arm with the notorious....

Leland Yee!

Mr. Yee, a respected politician, had decided it might be prudent to come to Mayberry to consult with...

...team Stumblebutt and their trusty Gecko...

(See HMB Review Magazine)

...who would surely show him the way.

My advice is To Not Inhale, To Never Sign Something (or say you support something)in Draft Form, To Never trust Mr Arassem, To Canoodle at every opportunity, but most of all---Before Doing or Saying Anything, Talk to Clay First !

Gecko wishes to add advice for any out of work Fishermen, Stay out of HMB til it is safe. (but at least you can drink their water, which is much safer than Midcoast), but what is Happening Here...

Mayberry mavens maliciously morphing... Could it be that Alliterative Analogs Augur Angst...

"Could it be that Alliterative Analogs Augur Angst..."

That reminds me...

Following my recent examination consisting of all matters of –oscopies, exams, and the inevitable syndromes –See weblink Web Link(medicine), I can proudly state that I am ready for another day on Talkabout. Where is Senator Yee today? Is he still in conference with team Stumblebutt?

Life is good, and we need to help our City Council through this troubled time. How would you like to have a name like Sigmoid Polyps? How bad can a Beachwood Settlement be? Really…

Citizens, we can do this....

MB Mom shook her head. It had been so nice to relax in the semi-privacy of the Mayberry Jail! And then she had observed Mack Montara arm and arm with Leland Yee entering the jail! Holy Smoley!

But that was when she started hearing the little voices. Not two, five and seven year-old voices, but strange echoey voices coming from the walls and iron bars. Perhaps the iron was picking up radio waves and broadcasting strange programs from the UFO frequency?

At any rate, after she took a deep breath, rubbed her eyes and batted her head with the Cosmopolitan she had been perusing (now THAT might account for her strange auditory and visual hallucinations!) she saw Mack Montara but apparenty the figure of Leland Yee had changed its mind and was no longer a part of the plan.

For in his place, alongside Mack, entering the jail was none other than...

Clay Lambert!

Huh. How anyone could've ever mixed up the famous HMB Review editor with the legendary California state senator (or a gecko) was beyond MB Mom.

This was actually saying quite a lot, as her mind was so garbled lately that it was beginning to resemble the chaotic interior of her giant mommy totepurse/diaper bag, out of which she and the kids had pretty much been living since the trip to Mayberry via spooky sea caverns had inadvertently started many weeks ago.

Anyway, as far as MB Mom could tell (it was kind of hard to hear over the kids' radio squawking and Barney Fife's persistent whining), Clay had come to Mayberry to get advice on how to happily, tactfully, politically-correctly handle the Beachwood reporting in a wholesome, small-townlike way. Sheriff Andy gave him directions to the Mayberry newspaper offices and Clay gratefully exited the chaotic jail scene.

Mack Montara just stood there, waiting for someone to acknowledge him. He didn't have to wait long, since Barney wrestled the radio away from Terrible Two, claiming he needed it for important Mayberry business. As soon as the radio distraction was gone, the three kids pounced on their favorite detective, shouting over each other to be the first to recount the story of their latest adventure.

MB Mom (okay, this is embarrassing, but maybe really tired moms will understand) was grateful to have a couple more minutes of kidfree time and just sat there guiltily reading Cosmo (what the heck was that skanky magazine doing in a Mayberry jail anyway?) in the hopes of figuring out how she could put some sizzle and spark back into the Potted Plant.

As soon as Mack was able to extricate himself from the tangle of little zoo animals, he strode over to the cell and whispered urgently through the bars.

"MB, I'm sorry I don't have time to greet you with the fanfare a long-lost client deserves, but something truly horrific has happened."

"You mean other than the fact that neither you nor Clay bothered to bring me the triple latte I've been craving for the past zillion weeks?" asked MB Mom, noting the absence of her long-craved steaming caffeine blast in his hand.

"It's worse than that, MB. Much worse."

Now that MB Mom took a close look at him, she could see that Mack really did look as though he'd been through something worse than weeks trapped in sea caverns with small children and amorous dogs.

"Okay, Mack, tell me quick, before the kids unhandcuff Barney."

"You're not going to believe this, MB, but..."

Mack Montara took a deep breath, trying to stay calm despite the dire subject matter and MB Mom's obvious caffeine-withdrawal jitters.

"I hate to tell you this, but Brandy's been kidnapped -- or worse."

MB Mom moved as close as she could to the jail cell bars without making it look as though she were putting the moves on Mack Montara (or at least, that's what Mack's ever-wishful masculine investigative mind deduced -- actually she just didn't want to be assaulted by his breath, which hadn't seen a toothbrush since he'd tumbled into the sea caverns).

"WORSE?" she hissed in an attempted whisper. "Mack, this is a family-friendly story -- please don't tell me there's some homicidal maniac on the loose in Mayberry."

The phrase "homicidal maniac" caused both Sheriff Andy and his bumbling deputy to prick up their ears, although -- being polite Mayberry folks -- they pricked them up discreetly.

"Actually, MB, the clues point to a distinct possibility that Brandy may have been deleted. Word is, there have been a lot of deletions on Talkabout lately and Brandy may have been the latest victim. No one in Mayberry has seen her since she went shopping to buy something more family-friendly than that hot-tub-party get-up folks said she was pretty desperate to get out of."

Mack was blushing as he spoke that last line, remembering how kind Brandy had been in Tahiti when she unsuccessfully tried to help him out of that dang half-zipped wetsuit.

What a failure he was, Mack thought miserably. Here he was, successfully solving a case for the first time in ages by finding MB Mom at the behest of the bewildered Potted Plant. And instead of returning to the Coastside in triumph, his one and only ally -- who had, after all, ventured into the sea caverns to rescue HIM -- had disappeared.

"Mack! MACK!" MB Mom's whispered shriek (if there is such a thing) interrupted his mournful thoughts. "How could Brandy have been deleted from Mayberry? I mean, this isn't Half Moon Bay!"

"Well, no," said Mack. "But Clay was just here a minute ago. Did you really believe that stuff about him wanting to consult with the Mayberry newspaper? When I asked him, all he'd say was that he was here on top secret business. But if he didn't delete Brandy, what happened to her?"

Just then, a strange voice came squawking from the police radio on Sheriff Andy's desk...

"I was out here on a 10-15 but now we have 11-99 at the General Store!" the police radio squawked (or the voice over the radio did).

Another voice added to the commotion and static:"11-99 Aunt Bea's!"

Sheriff Andy made a dash for the radio and picked up the mike, just as the first voice re-squawked, "We have an FTA at the General Store! Seems one of the customers was badmouthing the service and now the store has been deleted!"

Thank you TGM and Dirk.

Your comments help me focus and realize that I have been very inattentive to my surroundings. Now, I am wondering if some of the restaurants I have frequented on the coast just went "out of business" or were "deleted".

But even more serious than mere habitats, what truly happened to very important people in my life?

Did they die, runaway, or....were they simply...deleted?

Now with a keen focus, it is time to make a list of key people in my life and check on their welfare, and it begins with ....

MB Mom sat in the now-silent Mayberry jail wistfully wondering if the Potted Plant ever thought of her in the sizzling, sexy way that the husbands of all the confident, sleek-bodied women who wrote letters to Cosmo apparently thought about their glamourpuss wives.

Okay, so those women probably did not have Cheerios sticking to their stretched-out sweaters and most likely did not give themselves haircuts with nail scissors because all local hairdressers had banned their children from coming within 50 feet of the premises. But still.

Anyway, here she was stranded in the jail cell after Sheriff Andy and good old Barney had taken off to deal with mysterious disappearances/deletions (that's what FTA means, right?) at Aunt Bea's and the general store. And of course, Mack Montara, Lucky 7 and Fab 5 had all been in hot pursuit. Not that MB Mom was saying this was a total guy thing: Terrible Two was screeching louder than the sirens as she brought up the rear.

So now in all this newfound quiet, MB Mom could hear amazingly well. And being a totally pro-style eavesdropper who couldn't help listening to other people's conversations, she found herself tuning in on a very strange whispered conversation just outside her cell window.

Those voices were not Mayberry ones. Nope, the furtive speakers were definitely bona fide coastsiders. Pretty well-known ones, too -- especially if you were a Talkabout junkie (like MB Mom used to be before she took the Potted Plant's breezy advice to "get a life" and brazenly wrote herself into the mystery story).

Clay might be tempted to delete this as frivolous gossip, but quite a juicy conversation was going on between...

The conversation was going on between two familiar voices. Trouble was, MB Mom could not put faces to those voices and she couldn't see the faces through the barred window, what with its overgrowth of fragrant honeysuckle.

1st Voice: It is based on word-for-word and letter-by letter analysis of a vault of ancient, rare and valuable LCPs. Ten thousand hours of collation rescued echoes from these documents amost dissoved by time and coastal tsunamis!

2nd Voice: Yes, I saw for myself the unbroken preservation of the pure Local Coastal Plan from the day Douglas first headed up the coastal commission to today's beloved version of the LCP (Local Coastal Plan) as supported by one or another faction of the LCP (League for Coastal Protection). I watched the English language and bureaucratize unfold before my very eyes!

1st Voice: We must uncover time-buried eyewitness reports, views and LCP study secrets of history's great environmentalists and martyrs.

2nd Voice: Again, I saw word-for-word collations, aided by the Voice of the Coast's newly discovered notes, revealing exactly how the developers were polishing the sword of the 'dozer blade!

1st Voice: Watch in orror as the destoyer, through Beachwood, Pacific Ridge, the bypass and widening 92 team up with developers, terrorists, fishermen, The HMB Review and mothers and fathers to silence the Voice of the Coast! But history's LCPs and their champions defeat their challengers, as they meet in Judge Walker's chambers!

MB Mom sat numbed to the bone. She wasn't certain if she understood what was being said exactly the but undertones were ominous. Oh how she wished she could see out the window! Oh how she wished she could think of whose voices those were!


Voices... Voices... I have an idea, I listen & I them too.

First Voice---Ka..Ching, Ka..Ching, Ka..Ching, $$$$$

Second Voice-- Life is good, I am affluent. I am Powerful

Trust for Public Lands... Committee for Green Foothills, Club Sierra,

Power, Money, Litigation,

My way...or High way..

Coastal Commission is King.

"Local" Coastal Programs are nothing...

Meanwhile, in a honky-tonk roadhouse on the outskirts of Mayberry, an intriguing interaction was taking place.

A well-known coastside government official was seated at the bar, deep in conversation with a local redneck (or maybe it was just someone disguised as a local redneck -- it was hard to tell in the dim light). And, beknowst to both of them, another Coastsider was listening in.

Brandy Alexander, now clad in jaunty cowgirl attire from the Mayberry Feed & Fuel (hey, it was the best she could do with the few small bills she had with her) had been on her way back to Aunt Bea's when she caught sight of a very familiar face.

After getting over her initial shock at seeing a fellow Coastsider (who wasn't MB Mom or an unruly child) in Mayberry, Brandy felt her innate curiosity and natural detective instincts kick in (she had, after all, spent plenty of time with Mack Montara). She had tailed the person at a discreet distance, raising an eyebrow when the destination appeared to be the rundown roadhouse where Brandy now sat in a scarred wooden booth, pretending to be reading the Mayberry newspaper while the two folks at the bar argued about...

They were arguing about meeting that was supposed to be going on later today at a comedy club -- or at least that's what it sounded like to Brandy.

From behind her newspaper, she heard phrase "and then those clowns at LAFCO are going to..."

"Use the consolidated fire department as a model for sewer, water, and police."

" Whoa! Mayberry, you are headed for trouble," Brandy thought behind the Mayberry Review.

She decided to go get a triple latte for MB Mom at Starbucks where she stood in line behind that hunky, rich fire chief Paul Cole. She was wondering what the chief was still doing in town, it was after 2 pm. Well, just maybe Chief Ferreira was going to make Chief Cole do a little work for his hunky paycheck.

Brandy was quite sure that Taxpayer had gotten his medical retirement all set now that the coast had no fire department and could now just fund the pensions of all the retired FF. She thought maybe Taxpayer was going to toss his puppet to the wolves now that he was through with him. After all, that's Taxpayers MO--he tossed two entire fire departments to the wolves. But, luckily for them, but not for the coast, twenty of the good FF/PM now have jobs OTH.

Yes, Brandy was a sharp one. She needed to get that triple latte back to MB Mom.

As MB Mom grabbed the triple latte through the bars of Mayberry jail Brandy Alexander gave her a quizzical look. Brandy had tried to hand it to her through the open door, but no, MB Mom had thrust her shaking hand through the bars instead.

"Th-thanks," she said unsteadily.

"You okay?" asked the sturdy ex-stripper (this would be Brandy if you aren't up to speed in the story).

"I think so," gulped MB Mom who suddenly realized that she should be asking about small children that were somehow part of her life (but she couldn't remember how).

"Someone passed me a newspaper from home. At least I think it is. Though it doesn't appear to be printed on newsprint." MB Mom waved a pulsating digital hologram in the vaguely rectangular shape of what was once the daily (weekly? weakly?) news, held in the hand that wasn't grasping the life-giving latte.

"What with school funding and attacks by altruistic environmental organizaations on kid's camps and teleconference calls that won't let Important People ask questions and Universal Health Care and lobbying and cancelled Coastal Commission meetings I am too stressed out to think."

At once, with that confession, she remembered Terrible Two and Lucky 7 and and, wasn't there another one? Seems she had once had charge of three...but anyway, she recalled them with fondness and asked Brandy, who was looking on with concern, "Where are...where are...where are the kids?"

Brandy looked even more concerned. "You might not believe this," she said, "but they are..."

The kids are being detained, DNA has been taken, to determine their legitimacy and right to exist within our society. Currently the father, presumably MB Dad, is being sought for DNA as well.

Other rural enclaves are also being investigated for compliance with the rules of the Cabal. In addition, Anonymous sources indicate that some parties may be responsible for despoiling watersheds, habitat, wetlands, and those parties will be pursued to the fullest extent of the Cabal.

The immediate next step is to assure that all...

The immediate next step is to assure that all news reporters have the official Cabel Press Pass.

(Hey fellas and gals, I have one!)

The next step is to assure that...

... all Press Passes are cleaned up immediately. Someone grab the windex and a rag. People need to see them, ya know, and what with those protective goggles the council has to wear they missed one.

Or did they?

Only one way to find out. Make the call to Cabal to insure that the next step be ...

The next step shall be Cabal approved designs powering a practical, pragmatic approach to coastside development that enhances Cabal enviro-business performance.

This implies a harmonious blending of the objectives of the property owner with the recommendations of the Cabal arm of the Coastal Accessibility Initiative and of the Coastal Commission Section 999 Standards for development adopted by the Architectural and Transportation Review and Compliance Board of the California Coastal Commisssion.


In the 1980s the promise and potential of formal specification was drastically undermined, in part from those claiming that it would solve all problems in the development of Cabal based information systems. Formal, tuxedo-based notations, had been used with some effect at the level of prom night in the form of family values, usually in the form of constructing statements of pre- and post-chilhood and adolescence, followed by proofs that sections of the family group were totally constrained by these aspects. Program proving was applied successfully to several notable high-profile and safety-critical projects, mostly in the vacation and recreation areas.

Let me repeat, we do not want the kids harmed. This is not about press passes, but about bogus assertions that nature is being harmed by humans. HMB is the stellar example of nature not harmed by any human, and the Cabal insists that always be the case from this day forward.

Nature trumps humans. everyone on our coast knows that.

Where is the " one man armed with a dull Skil saw" to bring peace to our coast...

"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Skilsawman!"

The Cabal Commissioner winced. "You idiots! I said one ARMED man not a ONE armed man...!"

The next step is way beyond kids, DNA, press passes, or other insane inanities. The next step is a much grander plan to ensure that sewage Flows throughout all our coastland, OR we will all be up to our neck in smelly brown, stinky bile...

Marina Fraser said it best. The situation with SAM stinks, and not because of the staff but because the Board cannot break a 4-4 vote for months on any matter at all, including Skil Saws.

Scotman pronounces all is fine, "we talk with one another, life is at a standstill, all is right with the world. Bile everywhere."

So, SAM asks "when you "flush" what do you expect to happen?"...

Hey, whatever happened to Mack Montara, Brandy Alexander, good old MB Mom and her entourage of kids?

Are gas prices so high they couldn't get back from Mayberry?

Did the Coastal Commission crack down on them for trespassing in protected sea caves?

Are they out stumping for their favorite presidential candidate?

Or are they all back on the coastside doing mysterious things and just don't have time to write about it? If not, why aren't Benton Knight or Rosemary Potatoes or MB Dad or TGM chronicling the story?

Why has the Mystery of the Missing gone missing...?

Mack Montara, Coastside PI, sat on the rickety front porch of his bedraggled Montara bungalow, savoring the pale seaside sun sinking into his weary middle-aged bones. The sweet fragrance of the elderly pink jasmine and yellow roses that stubbornly curled along the porch railings gave him a faint feeling of hope, despite the appalling economy, pathetic political climate and horrific embarrassments he'd suffered back in Mayberry.

Well, maybe "horrific" was a little hyperbolic. Perhaps he should just bite the bullet and deem them "typical."

After his long, arduous quest to find MB Mom, there had been no valiant rescue and triumphant return to the Coastside. Nope, Mack's private dick dreams had been shattered again -- as usual.

Those nice Mayberry folks -- after having a good laugh at the Coastside literati who'd been trying to conjure up scandal in Sheriff Andy's friendly, squeaky-clean town -- had regaled MB Mom (much refreshed after her relaxing jail time), Brandy Alexander and the kids with a down-home Mayberry picnic, complete with a brass band. Afterward, they'd all piled into Sheriff Andy's car and that goodhearted good-ole-boy had spirited them safely back to the Coastside, then (worried he'd be cited for frightening wildlife or encouraging development by coming from a place that had stores and houses and schools) hightailed it back to Mayberry.

Mack had been left in the dust, one of Aunt Bea's famous fried chicken legs dangling from fingers still scarred and salty from the treacherous sea caves. Tucking a couple of homebaked chocolate chip cookies (and a pint of bad bourbon from the roadhouse outside of town) into his pocket, Mack had trudged back home through the network of sea caves (where, incidentally, underground activity carried on as usual).

And now here he was: back to business as usual. Or more correctly: no business as usual.

However, at that moment, someone to the south needed to take care of some business. And Mack Montara was just the guy for the job -- and not for the reasons you'd think.

Mack was startled from his half-doze by the persistent jangling of his vintage 1950s phone...

It was a voice from the netherworld saying" Please, please can you stop this incessant yammering about who knows what! It has been going on far too long, taking up too much space, and threatens to suck the life blood from the rest of us!"

Mack slammed down the receiver (if he'd been in the UK he would have rung off and he always wondered about that...).

Dang crank calls! he thought.

And then decided to check his email. The vintage Kaypro 2000 occasionally had him baffled but he usually managed to muddle through. At least he didn't have to deal with Windows™! The luscious Brandy Alexander usually left the room ostentatiously hiding a grin behind her hand when he fired up the 4.77MHz machine. Perhaps she thought the monochrome LCD was a bit old fashioned and the lack of a hard drive was lame, but with the RAM jacked up to a whopping 768K and the portability of the 12 pound laptop (SHE called it a lapfull...) Mack felt he could easily search for the good stuff on the web. Who needed You Tube?

So he fired up the Net-Tamer browser/email client and went in search of his email...

MB Mom stood in the doorway of Mack's beat-up bungalow, noticing that her favorite private detective was looking pretty beat-up himself.

This shouldn't have surprised her as he really had gone through hell to rescue her and the kids and Brandy from deadly danger, then gotten totally (but to be fair: inadvertently) shafted by Sheriff Andy's coming to the rescue with his shiny and apparently kinda magical Mayberry cruiser.

She was happy that everything worked out and that she had managed to get home in time to have at least a few kid-free days before school was out and it was back to the smallfry salt mines. But she still felt guilty watching him hunt and peck away as he frantically typed an email on his dinosaur of a computer.

So there MB Mom was, standing there with a peacemaking (she hoped) triple latte from Cafe Lucca, wondering how the heck she was going to apologize to Mack for ditching him in Mayberry. It turned out she didn't have to worry about that, as she could immediately tell when he turned around (following his ace detective olfactory instincts to the scent of gourmet java), to reveal a truly crazed look on his face.

Okay, this was obviously no time for small talk.

"Mack, what's wrong?" she asked, coming over to hand him the latte and at the same time sneak a peek at his cool retro black computer screen.

"It's my...ex-wife." Mack took a gulp of the latte and grimaced at its lack of battery acid flavor.

"The Emasculator? What about her? Is everything okay?" MB Mom had heard all about Mack's ex-wife from Brandy during their sea-cave adventure.

"Well, it depends how you look at it. I've just gotten this weird email telling me she's gone missing. And you'll never guess who wants to hire me to find her..."

Hillary Clinton.

Or that's what the email said, anyway. Was it a joke?

Could Mack find the IP address and confirm what was up? Because if this was real, it sure was shaping up to be one heckuva case.

No wonder that poor broke emasculated P.I. had that strange look on his face.

So now we probably know who did it. Or whodunnit, to use mystery lingo. But why...?

But why would a gal like Hill want to hire a guy like Mack? And to find his ex-wife, The Emasuculator -- what's up with that?

There must be a backstory here. There must be a: meanwhile....

Oh yes, the famous "meanwhile..."

In a lab, behind the scenes at Web Link scientists had been sequencing DNA from the saliva of two women. (As an aside, this lab is rumored to be the same one that tested certain materials from a now-famous blue dress, but that ties in only marginally to this story and is totally off the subject and will not be dealt with here).

This was not your everyday yDNA or mtDNA test! No siree! This was a test to see if two women were genetically related.

The white coated lab tech approached his boss. "I think we have a match, Ma'm."

Dr. Anthea Gen-Steekproef bit her tongue (lightly, they had to be careful of blood in the lab) and didn't tell Ferdy that she absolutely hated when he called her Ma'm. "Oh really?" she sighed inwardly chanting her calming mantra.

"The two females, they are sisters!"

Why oh why did that man remind her or Peter Lorre? She signed again and inwardly chanted her tolerance mantra. It was probably her fault for watching those old black and white movies on Klassic Kable. "Which two are those?"

Little did Anthea Gen-Steekproef know it but Ferdy was wondering to himself how affimitive action had gotten this broad far enough to be his supervisor, but that is for the most part off topic.

"The two women are Hillary Clinton and Mary Magdelene Montara nee Wielkopolski."

At the name "Wielkopolski" Dr. Gen-Steekproef's ears (figuratively) perked up. "I think I know her!"

"Yes, Hillary Clinton nee Rodham is the twin sister of Mary Magdelene Montara nee Wielkopolski!" chortled Ferdy. "Of course you know Ms Clinton! She is always in the news!"

Once again Dr. Gen-Steekproef inwardly chanted her tolerance mantra, thinking they didn't put the man in MANtra for no reason--she was always using it around men. "I was thinking of Mary Magdelene Wielkopolski. I think I remember her from elementary school."

"Ma'm..." Ferdy said hesitantly. "I think we should alert the media. The Enquirer or perhaps the Half Moon Bay Review..."

"In a minute Ferdy. Let me think..."

For a Memorial Day, this really wasn't bad. MB Mom sat in the toy-strewn backyard of her heavily mortgaged Moss Beach abode, listening to the sounds of Gambler panting and kids (that were not her own!) playing in the yard next door.

The Potted Plant had done the unthinkable and actually taken Lucky 7, Fab Five and Terrible Two on a camping trip with his old college buddies. Of course, said camping trip was taking place at the MGM Grand in Vegas -- but whatever. Maybe Lucky 7 would sneak out of bed for a little wilderness adventure in the casino and win enough cash to help pay the jacked-up house payments and crazy premium gas prices on the Potted Plant's unpolitically correct BMW SUV.

Speaking of politics, MB Mom still had not figured out what was up with Hillary Clinton hiring old Mack Montara to find his ex-wife. When MB Mom had grilled Mack on how the heck old Hill even got his email address, Mack had sheepishly admitted that he had -- get this -- donated MONEY to her campaign. Who'da thunk that chauvinist PI would've pulled a move like that?

When MB Mom asked him this very question, he'd replied it was cause she kinda reminded him (in a good way) of his ex-wife, The Emasculator.

Now sometimes MB Mom looked at her beloved Potted Plant and thought: I do not think I will ever understand men. But when she heard Mack's latest admission, she absolutely knew it. And when he told her he was actually taking the case -- well, let's just say she took her ubercaffeinated self back to Moss Beach before she said something she'd regret (more than usual).

Meanwhile, someone else was saying something they'd soon regret...

Mack Montara was certinly regretting taking on this case!

Tapping his cigar ash into the dregs of his coffee mug he perused the communications he had received.

Snorky, a resident of Half Moon Bay, scribbled on what appeared to be aged fishwrap from Princeton:

But why would anyone want to steal a 30-ft tall hollow metal cannister in 1925?

(Tapping finger on forehead, thinking...)

1925. Prohibition. Dry Laws. Al Capone. That's it! The lighthouse was a giant container for bootleg whiskey!

Then, from Yory Geller, a resident of a community outside of the area, submitted on scratch paper with glued on magazine cut out type:

I fess up i did it

And finally, more to the point of this story, from Lighthouse Mystery Fan, a resident of Half Moon Bay, this gem double-spaced and laser printed on 20 lb bond:

Like Howl's Moving Castle, the Wellfleet Lighthouse slowly made its way across the country on its own.

It always moved by night, hopping awkwardly from state to state, crashing through forests and cornfields, rolling on its side over the plains, lumbering down dark and deserted highways and byways.

It appeared Hoople, North Dakota, for just one day. Everyone assumed it was Farmer Bob's new grain elevator. But by the next morning, it was gone...

Mack considered the three items, sighed and reached for his coffee mug.

Meanwhile, the ancient washing machine in Mack's garage was doing a crazy dance across the cement floor. Screeching and banging, all its moving parts ground together with one final hideous shriek, as it spewed out a flood of dingy grey water and stopped.

Mack sloshed across the pool of wash-water and gingerly lifted the machine lid. Sighing heavily, he pulled out the last of his favorite V-neck T-shirts.

Limp. Damp. Cold. And smelling like something out of a Petri dish. What on earth had gotten into this infernal contraption, anyway?

Mack reached down for the agitator and pulled. Suddenly, out came...

A huge clump of Nassella tenuissima!

Mack looked around. Small bunches of the feathery green invader were now starting up behind the washing machine. Sprouts were springing up in the cracks of the floor. In the garage walls. In the gutter outside. Under the shakes of the roof. Along the path. Through the yard, over the lawn, and past his car...wait a minute, where was his car?

A huge mass of weedy material waved cheerily at him from the driveway...

"Hi!" said the waving grass cheerily. "Aren't you glad I'm not a hydrophitic sprecies?"

Why was Mack Montara, Coastside PI, sitting at Cafe Lucca so early on this foggy morning noodling a mug of coffee? What was he reading and what was he doodling about--What are those unusual symbols? ...something about three magic items, and as he was looking out to sea, and scratching his head, looking forlorn and pensive. Was he wondering about what was about to happen with Hillary and Barack in the coming months? Could he be foreseeing the dangers for our environment, water supply, conflagrations, and terrorists?

The Oil Cabal is in ascendancy, Life as we knew it is Gone, Look Inward for answers to The Great Mystery.

After whacking a few buckets of balls out on the Kelly range, and grabbing a tostada at our local hang-out, I sauntered downtown and noticed a commotion at the gas station. People were yelling, waving, and stomping around in indignation.

Something is happening here. Mr Arassem seemed to be at the center of it, with MB Mom, Mack, and Rocky Cliffs churning about the periphery. "Well, I declare, if that is not the dumbest thing I have ever seen"

Apparently two cars and a truck had been siphoned, and it was not clear by whom, but what was very clear was that flames were licking along the curb, running toward...

The flames were running merrily along Main Street, staying tidily in the gutter as they headed toward CCWD headquarters. Apparently, they were thinking of merging with other wildfires, but didn't want to do it without consulting Jim Larimer.

Behind the little stream of flames, like a surreal precursor to the Fourth of July parade, marched a perky little professor-like guy, who was shouting out the chant...

No Water, No Storage,

Fire Danger, Do Rage.

Do nothin', Applaud it!

Perk's the best you can Get!

No Water, No Storage,

Fire Danger, Do Rage.

Do nothin', Applaud it!

Perk's the best you can Get!

As people gathered around the Perk perplexed,

with sparklers at the ready, they witnessed an amazing apoplectic moment. The great Perk was silent, dazed, and without comment.

What happened? His eyes were striking, with a hint of a tear, as he uttered a phrase, that all leaned to hear...

"Where is Wall*E?" he wailed. "If he can help Ann dry the tears of Mother Earth, why can't he get me out my watery troubles?"

This was a good question, even if it did come from a guy known for avalanching TalkAbout with rhetorical questions and their interminable answers.

Lately, folks had been catching glimpses of a new Coastside resident who went by the name of Wall*E. Word around town was that he'd moved over the hill from Silicon Valley, where he'd made a fortune doing some tech-y thing or other. No one was quite sure what he was all about -- which made him a perfect character for a mystery story.

Kind of like Mack Montara's mysterious emasculating ex-wife, who was at that moment...

trying to cheer on the or-wellians....the people on wells who want water connections. The county poo bahs said it would be all right to build without a water connection so it must be so! Yes, that's the ticket. More and more people to tap into the water supply!

Paul, Paul, Paul...

the cry went out on an old recording by one without a clue. Wall*E barely noticed as he(?) went robotically about his(?) business, blessedly free to clean up the messes made in Half Moon Bay before the people left. There were drains to unclog and leaky sewer pipes to patch and judgements to pay and cemeteries to weed, but one thing that did not need fixing was....

our perpetual state of bliss, far removed from all the hubris of ennui, and beyond the omni-present thought police. Peace is a state, far removed from Mother Earth, but also completely enveloped by the good Mother.

Cries for help are always welcome on those occasions that Mother Earth beckons, and She needs our help more than ever. Emerging ofttimes from psychedelic wonder, I ruminate on the glories about us. We are Blessed. Whenever our Good Mother Earth cries...

...or our Good Mother Earth whimpers or sighs, anywhere within the county of San Mateo, our County officials are doing whatever is possible to protect the earth. They are extending the limitations used within the coastal zone to the bay and throughout the county for matters of Resource Management and Watershed Protection. Be not afraid, good citizens, the government is in control, and no matter what happens they will...

...hire outside consultants to say what they want them to say, then quote the consultants to justify what they wanted to do all along. Using three and four-word buzzword justifications concocted for the occasions by their obedient staffers, the holders of the power reduced the environ-meddlers to two-minute pleas on matters already decided, making the trip from paradise to Redwood City not only costly, but futile.

All this and irritations more plagued the minds of Nitty and Gritty Dirtband as they grunted back and forth in the little outbuilding on the strawflower farm in the back of Montara. It had been their "home" since flight from the Hashbury. Last winter, during their annual hangout in Slab City, they had both fallen into an addictive counter-authority dream act after reading a crumply-covered copy of "The Monkey Wrench Gang" they found at the used book trailer. They had even tried out the new names of "Doc" and "Bonnie," for a few weeks before going back to their personal homage to the band.

There was ferment in the air in Montara this early summer, unlike any they had been aware of before. It had been a dry spring, the driest on record. Dissatisfaction and speculation in the community bounced off one another, the mental Brownian movement being accelerated by the third heat wave of the year (so far). Strong rumors circulated in Montara's small, degenerate subset of nature-bent anarchists regarding stores of explosives at the tunnels job site, and heavy equipment also there for the hotwiring. Revolutionaries in waiting, they imagined, might be found among moratorium-idled construction workers and shorebound fishermen. Nitty and Gritty's chimp-sound conversations became enlivened with possibilities one might have assumed had long been lost to their drug-burnt, sun-burnt, midcoast-mold-decayed minds. Nothing so much as a goal or a plan or even a strong urge; but Nitty and Gritty found themselves in a slightly narrower channel with an almost imperceptibly faster current. It is difficult to say whether or not they would have been better off if they had known of the chaotic gorge and cascades into which their lives were about to be swept. Or of the role Mack Montara would play when...

...or of the role Mack Montara, Coastside PI would play when he recovered from his latest bender, which he could in all honesty deem the Mother of All Benders. Which, if he were hellbent on using female terminology, had shown him up to be the sorry sonuvafemaledog he truly was. Or more correctly: ex-husband of a ...

Oh, never mind.

Mack groaned. Here he was on a foggy Sunday afternoon, listening to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band jamming in a garage down the street and nursing a hangover that could have only come from the innumerable bottles of Rebel Yell he'd gulped after the shocking sight of his supposedly missing emasculating wife doing a number on...

The Internet! Well, YouTube, to be exact.

A while back, Mack had gotten a mysterious email (ostensibly from Hillary Clinton) proposing to hire him to find his long-missing ex-wife. Well, that was one "Mystery of the Missing" he would just as soon have kept a mystery, even if the fee would have paid his skyrocketing mortgage for the next 30 years (which it definitely would not, as Hillary had long ago used up her war chest futilely battling the beatified Barack).

Still, for some reason unknown to everyone except Mack (and perhaps that she-weasel of an ex-wife), the soft-hearted (or maybe just soft-headed) chump actually took the case. Sort of. Their personal history made it such that he couldn't bring himself to actually go out and track her down in the cold, cruel Real World, so he started off the way any procrastinating professional detective would: by surfing the Net.

After expertly performing a Google search using the names of Hillary and his emasculating ex-wife, he found himself on YouTube, which had long been one of his favorite spots for catching up on various sporting events. Only this time, what he found himself watching was no sporting event.

There on the dusty screen of his wheezy old computer, was the flickering image of The Emasculator -- and she was...

...trained as a veternarian's assistant. youtube.com/?v=QDcSxBb2jAE

Poor Mack, he couldn't sleep all night. He kept telling himself that in the morning he was going to get the locks changed.

"Yikes, Mack -- WHAT are you watching?"

MB Mom stood on the sagging front porch of Mack's ramshackle bungalow, peering into the musty, fusty, dirty-sock & Rebel Yell-scented living room where the horror-stricken PI stared helplessly as the veterinary scene unfolding on his dusty computer screen.

Even from where she stood, MB Mom could see the general horse castration procedure was something that could drive a person to drink. Even her. And she usually never augmented her caffeine with anything stronger than an occasional beer. Well, and maybe an occasional margarita. Okay, and maybe a Stoli cosmo if she happened to be out on the town, which she never was.

Anyway, she could totally see why Mack had been so freaked out for the past weeks, if this is the kind of stuff he'd been holed up watching. Even though she was thoroughly grossed out by the video, she felt that for the sake of friendship she had to do something. So she gulped the last bitter sip of her perpetual latte, then walked over and gave Mack an awkward kiss on his grizzled cheek.

She tried not to look at the screen, but couldn't help sneaking a glance to see if she was really seeing what she thought she was seeing. And it wasn't what you might think. Or what Mack might think.

In fact: the smiling, horse-emasculating vet with the shiny ponytail was NOT Mack's ex-wife (who, if you believed the photos Mack still kept around, really was a dead ringer for Hillary C.), but a well-known local who hadn't been seen around these parts in a long time.

It probably couldn't be, but it looked an awful like...

Paul Cole's wife?

Ex So Cal girl?

Deborah Ruddock?

Rosemary Potatoes?

Ms. Betty Duball?

We interrupt this mystery to offer some cases that may be of interest to Mr. Mack Montara, Coastside PI, who seems to have nothing better to do than masochistically agonize over the dubious whereabouts of his emasculating ex-wife.

There are way more important mysteries that are, frankly, of far more urgency to frustrated Talkabout readers who are growing bored with the intrinsic boringness of the Coastside.

Suggested queries include:

1. Is it possible to track down the mystery of the MCC's missing self-respect?

2. Who bought Martin's Beach?

3. What are they REALLY building at the airport?

4. Whatever happened to Ms. Betty Duball, Rocky Cliffs, lucindastreets/klosovo, Oh Spank Me, Benton Knight, Paul Perkovic and Darin Boville? Also, is Moss Beach Mom, who is currently a regular here on TA, the same person as MB Mom?

5. How come no one bothers to make fun of the HMB city council anymore?

6. Why is Talkabout, in general, so lame of late?

Was the weel-known local who hadn't been seen for a long time noted for standing unsteadily on the top of the gas pump of the old Montara Inn and trying to reach the roof with a stream of pee?

Meanwhile, back at Surfer's Beach, Brian (who told everyone he was from El Granada to throw them off the scent of who he really was, and even that was in doubt) carefully arranged the driftwood he'd gathered from the scalloped sand of the high tide mark. He stood back to admire his work. Even his former boy scout leader would have been proud--just the right amount of thin shavings, surrounded by tiny bits of kindling and that surrounded by a careful "log cabin" arrangement of larger pieces of wood.

"Bet I can get it going with one match, too!" he exclaimed gleefully.

His therapist had suggested reenactments of some of his most embarassing childhood failures but with the insurance of a different (and successful) outcome.

Brian had failed to notice the figure approaching from the line of cars parked along the highway.

Will Brian successfully ignite his fire with just one match?

Who is that person and is he/she approaching Brian or just picking up litter and detritus left by Drunken Bonfire Gangs? Is it Mack's ex wife? (It was certainly not a well-known local who hadn't been seen around these parts in a long time because that person had been jailed after last night's drunken performance in Montara.)

Brian, meanwhile was not asking himself these questions as he struck his one and only match.

From where Mack stood on foggy Montara state beach, it looked as though there were smoke rising from the south. Brian's bonfire -- or some greater conflagration?

Always on the hunt for clues yet once again at a loss for inspiration, Mack Montara stared down at his knobby middle-aged bare feet.

He felt kind of silly wearing a pair of white flannel trousers (rolled to the knee) and walking upon the beach a la J. Alfred Prufrock (The romantic Brandy Alexander had lately given him the fancy pants and a volume of T.S. Eliot to take Mack's mind off the specter of his rabid ex-wife).

Never one to look a gift-horse (or, in this case, gift stripper) in the mouth, Mack had dutifully donned the English duds and taken his sorry self out for a stroll.

The only sounds were the mournful cries of sea gulls and monotonous crashing of waves. No mermaids singing to old Mack today.

However, someone appeared to be writing to him.

Poetically written in the smooth sand (by some unknown hand) were these words:

"Neither I, nor any member of my family, nor any business or other entity that I have an interest in has received or will receive money or anything else of financial value from..."

"...or anything else of financial value from The Rum Tum Tugger"

Now, of course, Mack's questioning mind led him to ask himself, does the note-in-the-sand writer mean they have not taken anything from The Rum Tum Tugger or is the note-in-the-sand written and signed by The Rum Tum Tugger?

He sighed. Perhaps his thinking was getting a little rusty from all the fog. He used to be so sharp! He could grasp all the angles immediately and not have misty of "what ifs" clouding up his mind.

Mack gazed out at the ocean swells and for a moment thought he could see something riding seaward on the waves, combing the white hair of of the waves blown back...Oh brother! What was his mind coming to?

But then, when he looked down in disgust at at the note-in-the-sand a stark shadow loomed across it. It was...

...an optical elusion! Web Link

Oh, if only it were. Mack, who had seen plenty of optical elusions and illusions after a pint or so of Rebel Yell, was not going to be so lucky this time.

The ominous shadow (which was actually pretty faint given it was so goldurn foggy) was cast by noneother than the illustrious coastside cameraman, Darin Boville.

"Hey, Mack," Darin began earnestly. "I didn't have your email address and I wanted to get an interview with you for Montara Fog, so I followed you down to the beach."

Mack Montara had spent his entire life trying to stay out of the spotlight, so it was not surprising that the sight of Darin's looming camera caused him to shrink back in horror. Or maybe it was the mysterious figure slinking up behind the amiable cameraman and avid local journalist.

Unaware that there was anyone on the beach but himself and the white-flannel-clad Mack, Darin continued his query.

"Look, I hope I'm not intruding on your beachcombing or anything, but this is really important. Word is you have some inside information about..."

Before the eager cameraman could finish his sentence, he was rudely shoved aside by a militant-looking blonde female whose familiar face caused Mack Montara to blanch -- then faint dead away.

She stepped over Mack's paunchy prone body and stared deep into Darin's eyes.

"You weren't, I hope, trying to get information about me, were you, Mr. Boville? Or perhaps get me to take a pledge?"

Darin, for once, was at a total loss for words.

However, someone else was not...

Someone else sure was NOT at a loss for words.

In fact, a lot of "someone elses" were not. And we are not talking about your typical blowhard Talkabout reader here, but a group far more cunning -- and more dangerous.

At that moment, a storm of Hockey Moms for Palin (accompanied by a some robust Roller Hockey Moms from the Coastside) descended upon Montara Beach, snatching up the Emasculating Blonde (who was either Mrs. Mack Montara or Mrs. Bill Clinton) while the MCTV cameraman watched dumbfounded. Mack Montara was still passed out from his previous shock.

Just then...

Just then, the Ocean Colony Botox Babes appeared. These french maincured, tightly coiffed (and Spanx®ed) females had spotted the flock Roller Hocky Moms zipping past on Highway 1 and followd in hot pursuit. Surely something exciting was happening on the coast!

Was someone filming on the coast again? Would they find themselves in the presence of a famous actor? Could they get an autograph or a bit part?

They quickly converged on the men who were the center of all the female attention, overlooking, in their excitement, the two beefy Roller Hocky Moms who were tugging, with pit bull intensity, at a tough looking blonde, trying to get her into a camo colored golf cart.

And then...

And then, before you say "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits," the two burly Roller Hockey Moms stuffed Mrs. Montara/Clinton into the golf cart and roared off down Highway One, followed by a puck-passing passel of Palin's pals.

Not surprisingly, the Botox Babes remained oblivious to anything but the two testosterone-emanating entities on the beach: an open-mouthed cameraman and a comatose detective.

Just as the feistiest of the Babes was making a grab for the video camera...

Camera? Did I hear camera? here I am, and my left side is my best side. Take all the pictures you wish and be sure to send them to the press and all your friends. All the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits," will be lavishing accolades on me for the next 56 days, but at the end of the campaign...

"Wait!" cried Mrs. _______, the defacto head of the Botox Babes (simply because no one else "had the time" and she was "retired"), "Did you hear a voice?"

The other Babes either took their various hands off the anonymous (certainly NOT Darin) cameraman or stopped shaking comatose Mack and gazed at Mrs. _______ raptly.

"I thought I heard someone talking about a campaign," Mrs. _______ added.

Ms ___ shook her head in disagreement. "I thought I heard someone mention champaigne..."

Others chimed in with what they thought they heard. "Pressing pantsuits!" "Lavish desserts!" "Wishing pitchers!" "Stupid, it was washing pitchers! Like the ones I collect!" "No no! A hearing camers for the deaf and blind!"

The Hocky Moms for Palin and the remaining Roller Hocky Moms, who had been watching the Ocean Colony Botox Babes in shock and awe looked at each other quizzically.

What on earth was HE doing here?

Barack Obama flashed his signature smile at the bedazzled Botox Babes.

"Ladies," he said smoothly. "I realize that this isn't Atherton, but I still feel you all could be instrumental to my campaign. The Coastside, being a rural community, may certainly have its share of pigs, but at least they have the good sense not to wear lipstick."

The Botox Babes, all of whom were Lancomed and Chaneled and MACed and generally Sephoraed to the max, nodded in agreement. If there was one thing they knew intimately, it was lipstick.

"I'm also impressed that, unlike the crocodile tears shed by my opponents, the outrage in this pastoral backwater is quite genuine ---"

The Palin Pals and assorted Hockey Moms roared -- whether in agreement or disagreement, no one could be certain.


Meanwhile, in a ramshackle shack in an undisclosed location near Ocean Colony golf course, a brutal-looking blonde in a power pantsuit struggled against the ropes that bound her wrists and ankles. She could hear the chortles of Hockey Moms outside the door, who were wondering whether it would be possible to shoot no-growthers from the air and just bring back their Prius tracks as evidence.

"Fools," she muttered under her breath.

"Pardon me, did you say something?"

The voice appeared to come from an amorphous pile of construction debris in the corner of the shed. The pile was punctuated by odds and ends that would've looked vaguely familiar to a native Coastsider: a pristine toilet that might have been destined for Moss Beach Park, gleaming pipes with the words CCWD/MWSD written on them, fragments of smoothly paved roads, bits of what looked like a Boys & Girls Club.

"Who the heck are you?" the blonde demanded irritably.

"I'm the Coastside's infrastructure," the pile confided breathlessly. "I've been held hostage in this shed for so long, I don't have the will to escape. Unless -- well, unless you'd like to help?"

"Why would I want to help you? And why would Hockey Moms hold you hostage?

"Oh, them. They're just using the shed to stash you -- they don't even know I'm here."

"Then who...?"

But before the captive infrastructure could speak...

"Can you believe it, sewage is everywhere, even in the Fitzgerald Reserve. How can that be? These pipes are only 60 years old."

"I swear, that Moss Beach water storage tank is older than MWSD (50 years, just had their anniversary of celebration)."

"I have no storm drains, so when water comes it just goes wherever it wants"

"Parks, yes we have parks on the midcoast, all passive, and I do mean passive meaning, no water or potties."

"Fires?, I hope not, we are not prepared"

"I am so glad we have no speed bumps on the midcoast, but then again, we don't need them with all the potholes"

Yes, if only infrastructure could speak. But enough about infrastructure speaking, what would people say that have to actually live here...

After the ghosts of captive infrastructures past had finished speaking, the current captive infrastructure sighed and said: "See: I can never get a word in edgewise."

At that moment, it noticed that the door to the shed was open a crack. Not wasting a moment, the infrastructure clanked and thumped and bumped its way out of the shed. It was last seen heading toward the Peninsula.

Meanwhile back at the shed, the Hockey Moms (who had bigger wolves to shoot than coastside infrastructure) were furtively whispering to each other.

"Ha! Now that we've caught her, we've got to keep her here. Word on the internet is that she might try to run against our Goddess of the Goals, Queen Sarah Barracuda."

Hearing this, the militant blonde inside the shed snorted with laughter. If that was what those Hockey Hags thought, they had another think coming.

Meanwhile, back at Montara beach...

Meanwhile back at the beach, a now wide-awake Mack Montara and a bemused Darin Boville were staring at a very unbeachcomberlike find: a bloody moose washed up on the sand.

What in the world was it doing there?

The fact is: it was NOT a bloody moose.

Rather, it was a cunningly made moose SUIT.

Sure, it looked Alaskan. But, actually, it was totally local.

If you thought folks were surprised at a moose (as opposed to a seal, snowy plover or other washed-up coastside creature), imagine the reaction when the moose suit was unzipped to reveal...

Nancy Pelosi!

Given her latest economic adventures in our nation's capital, it seemed a good idea to get out of the House. And what better disguise than a bloody moose suit?

Wiping the dripping blood off her traveling pantsuit, she strode past the astonished Darin and Mack, heading up Highway One towards her secret weapon: The Magic Bus.

Meanwhile, inside the bus...

...lurked great green gobs of...

... a wonderfully uplifting, aromatic smoke, which emanated from the glowing green glass hookah which was being passed from from one bus "passenger" to another.

Seated on the colorful tie-dyed seats inside the controversial bus were a distinguished group of local (and not-so-local) female politicos, all united by their heartfelt philosophies and fondness for a particular style of power pantsuit.

A well-known member of the MWSD board passed the pipe (the only non-rusty one she would ever allow on the coastside) to an equally prominent member of the HMB City Council.

Normally, the views and values of these two high-minded women couldn't be more at odds. But thanks to the harmonizing effects of the smoke, all was relatively calm inside the Magic Bus.

That is, until...

All is well, and I am in control, and I have a bus that I would like to sell you, for a price that is less than you can ever believe. Now, that you, and everyone (Nissan sales were down 37%) are somewhat crushed, I have a Special Deal for you.

Meet me at SkyLonda at Alice's during the motorcycle rally with a purple pipe, and for a price of ____ I will give you...

"The boot, baby! Get the heck out of our bus!"

There was a deafening roar as the formerly tranquil group of powwowing politicos heaved the unsuspecting Barney up and out of the green door.

The moment was somewhat inopportune (or not, depending on your allegiances), as he landed squarely on top of...

...a 14 term congressman from Boston that was having serious problems with his own constituency over a certain financial disaster. He'd headed to the coast for well deserved R&R at the Ritz Carleton and was now out for a constitutional.

The congressman rolled the gaudy dinosaur off of himself and scowled. The animated saurian bounced to his feet and rocked back on his tail.

"Hi Barney!" the purple reptile shouted gleefully. "Gee, I've always wanted to meet you!" He turned to the wide eyed female faces peering from the smokey bus windows. "Now boys and girls, I want to sing you a little song in honor of my friend Mr. Frank!"

The rotund purple character danced up and down, bee bopping and stamping his large feet and clapping his dainty dino hands. He sang in a nasal twang:

Humidity is rising - Barometer's getting low

According to all sources, the street's the place to go

Cause tonight for the first time

Just about half-past ten

For the first time in history

It's gonna start raining men.

It's Raining Men! Hallelujah! - It's Raining Men! Amen!

I'm gonna go out to run and let myself get

Absolutely soaking wet!

It's Raining Men! Hallelujah!

It's Raining Men! Every Specimen!

Tall, blonde, dark and lean

Rough and tough and strong and mean

He twirled into a pirouette and gasped, "I just LOVE that song!"

Dark & Mean, Sartorial Lean,

Disaster among us, Gracious no more,

Brace your loins, agape your bodacious,

A chasm before us, Humungous Engulf.

Suddenly the Green Bus and all its occupants fizzed into a vile green cloud, leaving in its wake nothing but the acrid odor of brimstone.

Web Link

No anguished cries from speakers of houses or washed up moose or purple dinosaurs. Mack and the Darin lookalike could only stare, Mack dropping his overwhelmed-by-brimstone cigar and Darin his expensive video equipment in surprise.

Disembodies voices floated over the stinking and green fogged beach.

"We are the Gods of Wikipedia and we have removed your bus!"

Web Link

The bus God said "Hah!" That's what you people get for taking the buses away from your school children. I reincarnated one of the yellow ones and sent you this green eyesore to haunt you every time you pass by. Hah!

Much time had passed on the the Coastside since the Green Bus Event, as it has come to be known as before everyone forgot about it.

Ah, the beloved Coastside--comprised of several small communities, strung along the coast like glittering if somewhat tarnished jewels in a pirate's treasure chest. And still, after all this time, each of the communities continued to be a treasure chest brimming with secrets, controversies and passions.

The tsunami of an election was over, though someone was thinking of performing an autopsy. Web Link (Caution if you visit that link--could be gorey...or wait, that one was years ago...)

Election signs had come down. Er, some signs had come down, others had not. Web Link

The Four Alternate Horsemen Going Forward galloped through Talkabout on a rampage, threatening all with post-Halloween licorice whips and mini Snickers bars! Web Link

Now Pitching tried to pitch a detailed solution on how we can come up with $18 million quickly to solve the Beechwood dilema Web Link but instead availed him/her/itself of this Web Link to generate Talkabout posts. (Link rated PG-13)

And, no surprise to those who know him well, Jim Larimer outed himself as a Democrat. The topic is there somewhere. It's up to you to find it. Or maybe we could solicit (can I say that here?) the help of Mack Montara? Brandy Alexander? Ms Betty Duball? The Professor?

What an excellent summary of our beloved coastside--most nostalgic, and most especially the link to our very own dysfunctional family letter. Where is MB Mom, Judge Judy, TGN, SoS, Twin Peaks, Secret Squirrel, Mac Dutra, Sea Otter, and Oh Spank Me (whatever happened to him/her? nah, it is a him)

Somehow, I do not think we have heard the last of Prop 8, whatever happened to ole Prop 8? ... and lipstick on a pig?--what was that all about....

This is the answering service of Mack Montara. Mr. Montara is out of the office and working on Montara Beach yet again, this time on the mystery of the sea turtle that washed up. Cause of death unknown, and the ravens aren't leaving much to go on. But I digress. Your call will be returned as soon as Mr. Montara is back in the office and sober.

Brandy Alexander was opening up a bar in Montara, appropriately situated in the illegal addition that leaned drunkenly against the back porch of her bungalow. Lately, folks around town had been complaining that there was no convivial local place to gather and enjoy pleasant conversation washed down with a healthy dose of hooch.

As a big-hearted, big-brained, big-busted ex-stripper (formerly of and formally trained at the legendary Carol Doda's in San Francisco's North Beach), Brandy knew plenty about convivial conversation and healthy hooch. Lots of other things too.

Right now, the most important thing Brandy knew was that Mack Montara, Coastside P.I., had missing for months. And if there was one way to bring him back, it was a bar.

Meanwhile, down in Pescadero...

A few well connected Pescadero locals (who, for the purposes of this account, will remain nameless) were testing the waters, so to speak, with realtors as far distant as HMB. Rumor had it that the county equipment yard on Pescadero Rd was going to be put on the market due to the county's financial straits. As this was a decomissioned sanitary landfill (i.e. old dump site) close to the ocean yet sheltered from onshore breezes, it would make an ideal location for a bar.

Yes, folks around town had been complaining that there was no competition to the only local place to gather and enjoy pleasant conversation washed down with a healthy dose of hooch.

These so-called Pescadero "nameless" locals were keeping a keen eye on the efforts of Brandy Alexander to the north.

Meanwhile, in Half Moon Bay on a totally unrelated (or so we are meant to believe) subject...


Web Link


Yes, as is obvious from the web link above, some bizarre and scurrilous things were going on in HMB. From across the fields came a shout:

"Attention! Attention!! All Environmentalists, Attention!! OMG!!!! Alert! Alert! Someone is FARMING!!..."

Oh yes, there was a tractor all right. But its driver was no farmer. And the pastoral machine was dredging up a lot more than just fertile coastside earth.

An exclamation of shock and horror rang out as the roto-tiller uncovered a bona fide...

"Concerned Troglodyte" or "a concerned Coprophage" --- the driver couldn't be sure of anything other than that the concerned creature had been grown without a permit. Perhaps it hadn't grown at all. There was a good chance that it had simply been dropped in the field by an errant schoolbus driver on his way to Moonridge.

Meanwhile, in more civilized parts of Half Moon Bay

It was two in the morning, the time that Mack Montara often woke up from falling asleep in front of Jay Leno. Usually, he would double check the front door to make sure that his emasculating wife couldn't get in and, ummm, he couldn't think of it. But tonight, he woke up with a foggy idea that he just couldn't get out of his head.

He had been on this case for over a year now and needed some fresh clues. The moon was out pretty bright, the sky clear, though his brain was foggy. He decided to take a drive down south and look at the ocean in the moonlight, listen to the fog horn, and check out the underground passages at the big fire station.

He got in Ole Brown (sorry, Forrest, I just love your car) that he had borrowed from another midcoaster and fired her up. He drove down past the Three Zero cafe, Mavericks, Surfers Beach. Heck, he could find the Three Zero easy. He wondered why Lane Lee's boys from CalFire had to call in and ask where that place was. He continued past Safeway. "Now what the heck was that stupid triangle doing on the top of Safeway", he wondered.

He turned down Kelly and passed Cunha. He glanced over at the skate park, and saw two very young figures horizontal on the black top. Normally, he would have stopped and investigated, but he knew that they had recently installed their own camera to catch these kids jumping the fence. Around by the library and out past the school bus that ran out of gas waiting for the Latino kids' parents to pick them up.

He was cruising past the Mel Mello center when he heard the siren. Not the siren from the fire station next door, but the siren of music from inside the doors of the theater. He didn't think there was an AA meeting going on at 2:15 a.m., but there were a lot of cars in the parking lot. He pulled in, turned the key off, climbed out. The music drew him in. He could pick out the lyrics now...

It's just a jump to the left

And then a step to the right

With your hands on your hips

You bring your knees in tight

But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,

Let's do the Time Warp again!

Mack checked the doors which were unlocked so he went in. He quietly slipped into the theater and took a seat with the others in the dark. It took him a few minutes to catch on, but he soon figured out that although a whole year had passed, very few things had changed. There on the stage to the music of the Time Warp was Michael Lederman doing a one man show.

There was Chief Cole on the stage, bullying the firemen, kissing up to the the board and Chief Ferreira, taking off two weeks from work, and leaving to go home to Manteca at 10:45 a.m. sharp. Man, that guy gets away with everything. Mack wondered how he does it.

Suddenly, Mr. Lederman switched characters...

Luckily Mack had lugged along his trusty Betacam™ And captured the performance of the new character: Web Link

Meanwhile, a thirsty guy in Moss Beach was craving a little holiday cheer and wondering: what's up with that illegal bar that Brandy Alexander was supposedly building in Montara?

Is it up and running yet?

A splash of brandy freshened me up to the extent that I was presentable, and augured well to my next stop at the local eatery. Once I arrived at a well known local place of ingestion, diners emoted revulsion upon inhaling. Ahh, the life of a coprolite. To "know" a coprolite is to...

"To know a coprolite.."

Yep, that sounded just like something MB Mom's third-grade son Lucky 7 would say, only now he was older than the last time MB Mom wrote and so was known as Imperious 8. It really fit him.

Sadly, it was among the few things that did fit him (or his little sister: the former Terrible 2 now turned Tyrannical 3). Their clothes were getting way too small but MB Mom couldn't think of a way to afford new ones for them since her husband (a.k.a. The Potted Plant) had gotten laid off from his job on the Peninsula and now spent his days forlornly gazing at his once-faithful BlackBerry.

Their once-amazing mortgage had ballooned to the point where MB Mom actually laughed out loud when the monthly statement showed up. Ditto for the credit card bills.

Still, today MB Mom was happy: her rich sister (whose son -- the former Fab 5 now turned Slick 6 -- was still staying with them) had learned from MB Mom's pathetic Christmas card that the household had been computerless since MB Mom's cheerio-encrusted laptop had died many months ago.

This inspired Rich Sis to charitably take a break from her dolce vita in Italy and send a sleek new MacBook Pro to MB Mom's messy Moss Beach abode (which shoulda been a villa, given the goldang mortgage payments).

So now MB Mom could communicate with humans who did not necessarily think Sponge Bob ruled the world -- and was blogging into the abyss (no one read the threads she liked to post on these days) to save her few remaining shreds of sanity.

Really, she needed a job --- but who on the coastside would ever want to hire her...?

How about working for the MCC?

Looks like there'll be some vacancies soon...

Of course, she dismissed that idea. No one would vote for her in an election.

But then, watching a certain midwestern governor on the National News at 9:45, she realized that she might stand the chance of an appointment to a seat on the MCC!


She did a quick run through in her mind. Who on the BOS did she know?

Uh oh. She could not think who among them had not already been alienated by an Imperious or Tyranical or Slick youngster raising a fuss in the Supervisor's Chambers in Redwood City?

She had learned from that incident to destroy all non-erasable markers in the house. It was just too easy to grab one (or more) by mistake. No one at the meeting appreciated the wonderful green landscape the then Lucky, Terrible and Fab trio had sketched on the walls. Not even Lenny.

Why had she ever taken them to that never-to-be-forgotten meeting?


MB Mom had not been aware that any of her coastside neighbors had heard about the non-erasable, mostly green landscape that her kids had drawn on the Board of Supes' formerly pristine white walls.

She still shuddered when she recalled the graphic sketch that Lucky 7 (now Imperious 8, remember) had drawn with a brown marker, recreating one of Terrible Two's Moss Beach Park incidents. She had to hand it to him, though: it was so realistic you could almost smell it. Or it least that's what the look on the Supes' faces had seemed to indicate.

Anyway, here it was, a year later. Terrible Two was now a pretty-much-potty-trained Tyrannical 3 -- and MB Mom was forced to carry poop bags to Moss Beach Park to scoop up the evidence that her little daughter couldn't always make it home from the park in time to get to a bathroom.

Maybe trying to get on the MCC wasn't such a bad idea: even if she'd still be broke, MB Mom could at least become a heroine among her fellow park goers by getting the place a real toilet (such a perfect metaphor for her life at the moment).

However, someone was cooking up a plan to make sure that didn't happen...

Deleriously yawning and dawning, awake, and wondering,

Where is MB MOm, and the Imperious 8, and Tyrannical 3, and the poop bags. Life is complicated and yet I want to do the right thing, should I run for the MCC, or the TWC (Third World Council), or the MWSD. I want my kids to be able to crap and then, simply, wash their hands. How hard could that BE? ? ? As it turns out, PRETTY HARD IN A THIRD WORLD DISTRICT...

And to think...in a few more generations my life and passage would be a simple coprolite. Someday (if anyone lives or cares) future counties will pay archaeologists to sift earth for evidence of my very own coprolite.. My God, what an epitaph.. It would read as follows...

Been There, Done That.

As I read your coastal diatribe, I marvel. You coastsiders do capture what life is, or was, about. Detritus, coprolites, and crap. I salute you.

"To know a coprolite is to..."

Life is the four F's, check out your own brains limbic area--- All core human actions revolve around--food, fight, fornicate, and flight. Our legacy is basically our leavings, and that would be crap and off-spring. A brief analysis yields leavings as coprolites and our kids who must fend for themselves. Our coastal government defends coprolites and does very little for our kids. Go figure how that is going to work out after a coupla generations, but I digress.

This story started with a tale of...

"several small communities, strung along the coast like glittering jewels in a pirate's treasure chest. And indeed, each of the communities was a treasure chest brimming with secrets, controversies and passions."

and here we coastal jewels are today, talking about coprolites and kids. Tomorrow is another day...

MB Mom sighed. She had just flipped open her new, cheerio-free laptop to begin happily blogging into the abyss, only to find out that her favorite cyber-refuge seemed to have become a toilet.

Geez. All she'd done was mention maybe wanting to be on the MCC so she could help the preschool bathroom brigade at Moss Beach Park.

She felt like she was back in high school, when every time she tried to do something people ended up making fun of her. Or grade school, when all her male classmates wanted to talk about was poop.

So now here she was all grown up (well, supposedly), mortgaged to the eyeballs, married to a depressed out-of-work guy who was married to his now-silent BlackBerry, with kids that...

Hey: wait a minute. MB Mom's eyes scanned the coprophilic posts.

Were those coming from Imperious 8? Slick 6? Nope, couldn't be. The kids didn't know the password to her laptop. Or could The Potted Plant have become mentally unpotted? Maybe. But as far she knew, he didn't have an internet connection at the moment, as his ex-company had stopped paying his BlackBerry bill.

There was something rotten on the coastside and for once it wasn't even in her own moldy-smelling house (hurray!). Okay, well, great. That was a relief.

But judging from what her fellow community members thought of her, maybe the MCC wasn't the way to go.

Besides, MB Mom needed money (this foreclosure thing was not a joke and her bank accounts were totally deflated), and someone at the post office had told her that the only thing that got inflated from being on the MCC was your ego.

MB Mom didn't have time for this. She had to find a job. And soon.

There was only one person who could help her...

Meanwhile, in a dark cavern just close enough to the sea to hear the tide whispering at the cave's opening, balck clad figures circled a fire over which a large black pot was perched.


Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.

Toad, that under cold stone

Days and nights hast thirty one

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,

Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf

Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,

Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,

Liver of blaspheming Jew,

Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,

Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,

Finger of birth-strangled babe

Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,

Make the gruel thick and slab:

Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,

For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


A casual listener might think this was a closed session of the MCC, but that was not the case.

Were these figures:

cooking up a plan to make sure MB Mom didn't get on the MCC?

simply trying to help her find a job?

casting out obnoxious posters to this story who thought it was a news discussion not the longest most read continuous textual soap opera in the history of the coastside?


As I was sifting through coprolites in my perennial and well paid archeological consultant job for Sonoma State, I pondered, "What would I do for a job, without my budyy, and without all of the hyper-sensitive people caring so intensely about our environment?" In sum, will any of this sensitivity make a hoot in the next 100 years? The life of the buddy study is grand with its self congratulatory mission, (and the "need for further research"), but ...

...but, I couldn't take my mind off of the fireworks. Will we be able to see them this year swirling around in the fog...

...secrets, controversies, and passions swirling around in the fog...Visitors arriving at our glittering jewel of a coast are blown away with the natural beauty that is now all too encumbered by cabals and their not so hidden agenda. Perhaps a head toll upon entry for tourists to enter the great mysterious could educate visitors to the true costs of living in a wonderland that...

...is having parties and fireworks everywhere. But, tomorrow, and there is always a tomorrow...

What was all the ruckus about last night, it made me run from my culvert into the path of 3 kids on bikes. But I survived, again. Sulfur is not my favorite smell, and when you scavenge on the coast as long as I have, smell is a major tool in survival. OK, I just had to express that concern about last night, and now back to planning my life to be in phase with the moon and seasons...

Mack Montara, Coastside PI, had been on a long vacation.

To be specific, he'd gone on a wild New Orleans bender down in the French Quarter, where he'd spent his nights happily boozing it up in Bourbon Street bars and his days sleeping off the bourbon in a flophouse a little ways down the river.

He came back to coastside for just the reason you'd expect: he ran out of money.

Now, he was on the trail of a hot new case: finding out just what the heck was going on over at MCTV. After scanning a TalkAbout thread proclaiming scurrilous doings down at the local TV station, he picked up the phone and called the one person who could fill him in...

Darin Cepeda, political observer par excellance...

Or was it Carl Boville, concerned citizen par excellance...

No wait, it was GraceAnn Lansing...

Mack's head pounded, his mind was frazzled. But the knock at the door was to save him, for it was...

The lovely man and lovely woman had met at the Moss Beach dispensary and were on there way to Longs, beagle dog in tow, to hang out there and watch for sailors to ask for an airplane ride so they could.....

So they could find a way for the coastside to make sense as a community.

They figured that maybe the birds-eye view from a plane with the commentary of a great detective like Mack Montara who obviously had things pretty well figured out would be enough to explain things.

The lovely man was, for lack of a better word, stoned. And the woman was so busy being lovely that it was sometimes hard to get a grip on reality. Even the beagle was kind of lost. But still...

Anyway, so they asked Mack to take a plane ride and help them with their burning question.

And Mack said...

This thread is so dead. Get a life.

"Dang this party line," grumbled Mack. "It's always getting invaded by grumpy coastsiders with no lives who have to go commenting on everyone else's."

In the background, voices could be heard shouting: Get a life! Get a life! Get a life!

Mack knew he needed one, but he couldn't figure how to make it all happen. One thing was sure, though: the airplane ride was a dead end.

He kinda liked the MCTV case though.

He climbed into his rusted-out beater and headed over to see the one helpful yet pathetic person he KNEW had even less of a life than he did...

No life? Pathetic?

Well, that would be the editor of a well-known local blog, who insists on printing headlines like:

"25-year-old banker who talks like 65-year-old banker running for city council"

Now, there's a mystery for you! Who is the guy? Why does the word "banker" appear twice in the same headline?

Can he use bail-out expertise to help poor, misguided HMB?

Mack Montara sat in the home "office" of the local blogger, who couldn't think of anything to say other than...

..."Number Please?"

I was calling for Bo Boville who wants me to do a job for him... No, he did not say what kind of job, but this is the number I was provided.

..."Do you have any more information?"

Preliminary work will be done by mid August, and the job must be completed in early November.

..."Do you have any references?"

Only if you give me the password.

..."That number has been disconnected. Please use another phone service whenever"...

Mack was desperately trying every number he had for MB Mom . He was so worried about her Besides that he needed help figuringwho was tuning for fire board. He was getting stressed and his speling wasgoing south

Mack should have thought to ask Rosemary Potatoes.

It was a well-known fact around the Coastside that Rosemary had everyone's number. In more ways than one.

But maybe there was a reason that Rosemary wasn't talking much these days...

This desperate and muffled sound emanating from the bound and gagged figure struggling to free herself in the dark confines of the (yet-to-be-featured-on snopes.com) cave at San Gregorio (praise be, not yet Sea Kitten) Beach:

"Mrrrf! Nnnrrmmmm! Mmmlp! Mmmlp!"

As Rosemary Potatoes struggled within her burlap sack, she could hear the mellifluous sounds of Lady D'Arbanville and her ladies in waiting (also known as the "Sea Kittens) belting out a rap song whose lyrics revolved around the themes of "locals only" making the rounds on roundabouts.

The whole thing sounded pretty Misanthropic, but it was hard to be sure of motive when one is struggling within a burlap sack. One of the Sea Kittens piped out a line about "pole dancing," which made Rosemary think of her friend Brandy Alexander, the big-breasted, big-hearted, big-brained ex-stripper who was the love of Mack Montara's life. If only Brandy were here to help her now, she thought desperately.

But Rosemary hadn't seen Brandy or Mack for quite a while now, as she had been held captive for speaking out against the Voice of the Ghost. And everyone on the coastside knew what a dangerous thing that could prove to be -- even for folks in Pescadero.

Meanwhile, in HMB, someone else was being taken hostage...

Yes, sad to say it was the one with the burlap sack who had been collecting you know what at the beach. She was on her way making rounds of the local nurseries to sell the stuff but alas they said....

"With the cost of water going up 10% every year, we can't afford to keep growing things here in Half Moon Bay, even if you give us for free the odorless, nutrient-rich recycled horse food to plant them in."

But maybe the nurseries could grow their new crop in those bare holes in the sidewalk where there used to be trees on Main Street, and Rosemary Potatoes wouldn't have so far to walk from Pooplar Beach to downtown. Plus the twinkly little lights would attract all those tourists the Chamber of Commerce keeps promising shopowners.

Unfortunately, one of those shopowners had just closed his business and posted a long explanation of his reasons, which were...

...the long explanation of the shopowner's reasons were an out and out lie!

He was supplying it at the behest ofkidnappers who were holding his civil union partner in the back office at knife point!

The ulgy one of the kidnappers had shoved the paper at the hapless shopowner and snarled, "You tape this to da door, Loser, or your friend here is toast! I don't want no cops called by nosey neighbors showin' up here thinking someone is up to no good!"

The hunchback kidnapper had jabbed the knife into Civil Union Partner's gullet for emphasis and Shopowner jumped to do their bidding, all the while wishing he had closed the business two weeks ago and taken a six pack of Blue Moon to the beach and chilled out.

I am so chilled out from black and white seances, I am ready to watch COPS, so I can remember the rules of the game. Hey, Cops is on in 37 minutes. Nuances and hyperbole do nothing to assauge differences, even over a bud lite...

Everything is so mysterious!

So was that really Rosemary Potatoes in the sack and, if so, did Lady D really kidnap her? Did it have something to do with "Voice of the Ghost"? And what exactly is that?

Also, what happened to MB Mom? (I really identify with her!)

Mack Montara (or someone) please help!

At that very moment, a familiar Coastside deity descended from the unseasonably clear blue August sky.

Holding his state-of-the-art surf board as an eco/ego-centric king would a scepter, the god-like figure proclaimed (with great bluster and fully expecting to be taken seriously):

"I am Mark Adonis Arassam, Esquire! I am here to save the wetlands -- which now include Rosemary Potatoes, as I have seen fit to declare that both Rosemary and Potatoes are officially wetland plants!"

With a flourish, he untied the burlap sack and watched benevolently as a bedraggled and begrudgingly grateful Rosemary emerged from her long captivity. Lady D & The Sea Kittens bowed down in reverence (as many Coastside women were wont to do when faced with the hunky blond environmentalism of Mr. Arassam).

To remind the women of his enduring political influence and activism, the godlike surfer dude went on, "I am an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. My cult belongs to women: the cult of dying Adonis is fully-developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos!" (Citation: Web Link )

This proclamation caused Rosemary Potatoes to snort, the Sea Kittens to swoon and the ever-articulate Lady D to exclaim...

Well, I do declare. It has come to my Attention that, Mark Adonis Arassam, Esquire, will be holding a Royal Court on August 12, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero from 8AM til Noon for the purposes of honouring and exulting in his fame and beneficence. Citation, please Web Link

Mr Arassam will provide a lecture to the city of Half Moon Bay on their moral dilemma in applied ethics. Those unable to attend can provide their comments to:

If you wish to submit written comments or materials for review by the Workshop participants, please submit your materials to the Commission staff by mail or email no later than Friday August 7, 2009. Staff will distribute your materials to the Commission and Local Officials. Send comments to

California Coastal Commission ATTN: Elizabeth Fuchs

45 Fremont Street Suite 2000

San Francisco, CA 94105

Or email to efuchs@coastal.ca.gov

Well, thought Rosemary, trust Lady D to speak her mind! Of course, Lady D wasn't the only one speaking her mind these days.

As Rosemary Potatoes began her long trek back to Pescadero, she was startled nearly out of her legendary wits when an earnest-looking man jumped earnestly out of the bushes.

"Yikes!" exclaimed Rosemary, who was already feeling pretty jumpy after being held hostage in a burlap sack by Lady D for the past -- God only knew how long.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," said the man. "In full disclosure I work for April Vargas' campaign and am responsible for the administration and construction of the 101 Ways to Change the World Along 101 site."

"Well, this Highway 1, not 101," Rosemary replied helpfully, albeit a bit grumpily. "Why are you jumping out and telling me? You gave me such a fright, I almost had a coronary -- I'm probably going to need a bypass, just to correct the damage!"

"Actually," said the man, "That's what I wanted to talk to you about: the bypass. April herself expressed concern over the idea of building a bypass northeast of Half Moon Bay because it would cross through an important wetland. I just wanted to let you know that you should not worry about getting one, since Rosemary (now classified a wetland herb) and Potatoes (now classified a wetland tuber) are now protected wetland vegetation. You're protected, Rosemary!"

The man beamed at her and continued happily, "If you disagree with the idea, or would like to tweak one, your voice is welcomed. Please leave a comment on the post to share your opinion or submit your own idea on the blog. This is a forum for conversation."

That was enough of an opening for Rosemary Potatoes, who looked into his earnest eyes and replied...

Rosemary Potatoes replied by humming "April in Paris"Web Link (and by the way, wishing it was true...) while twiddling her thumbs and gazing at the encroaching wetland flora.

She was fearful that, if she spoke out loud, the omnipresent giant clay finger hovering over Talkabout would come crashing down on the delete button.

And so...

Stifling succotash, may I remind you this is election time on the coast and that the clay finger is a mere witness of random things running amuck.

Of all the harbingers of disasters aglie, none smokes more than a lineup of contenders for the prize of representing our community under the mantra of LOCAL CONTROL. Fuggedabout April in Paris or Pumpkin Time or PAFF, this is election time. This is when locals show baysiders who is the Real boss on the coast. heh, heh...

Deadline is tomorrow, and the county usually posts at 549pm, so go to Web Link and once you see your choices you can....

Holy Thyme, Rosemary! Hats were being tossed into the CFPD Directors' ring faster that CalFire could find an address in El Granada. anon wasn't on line to accept his TalkAbout award for CFPD dysfunction because he was at a special (secret) meeting making sure that his sock puppets didn't have to pay for their own candidacy statements. Now, that was a good use of the money the district was supposed to be saving with CalFire.

Rosemary was there at the meeting, too. She snuck in a receipt for computer from Radio Shack for Moss Beach Mom about whom all the authors were truly getting worried.

Peyton Place was quieter than usual, but Turnberry Lane was aglow. All the children were quieter than tinker bells, all in a row.

Extracts of kava and laurel and basil and roots,

Flutter like an apothecary lit up on hoots.

Let's meet at the weed store and settle this issue,

Tomorrow's the deadline for whoever will sue you.

Meanwhile, folks in HMB were wondering about the city council candidate slate.

Some thought Talkabout regulars like George Muteff and Brian Ginna might be better off expressing their opinions in an official context. Others, of course, didn't.

They claimed that anonymous posters like Now Pitching might be better. After all, if you were going to run a town like HMB, you might be better off NOT using your real name, which could come back to bite you on the backside.

The deadline had been extended to Wednesday, though so it was all still a mystery. Adding to the muddle was the rumor that a dark horse was considering running, namely...

Michael Lederman?

...Namely? I think NOT. Absolutely NOT. Consider No names, rather than a Namely.

OK, this may sound weird, but remember when the New Orleans Saints were losing what? 15 games in a row, and then their fans showed up with bags over their heads. the AINTS?

MB Mom suggested to me that HMB needs to come up with some provision by August 12th to allow anonymous people, you know like selected VIP or photographers, like we see on coastsider.com, to selectively be anonymous. Clay could be the Decider.

We need to immediately Request Elections to list Selected Candidates as the "AINTS" and if elected, they could sit on our council, WITH A BAG OVER THEIR HEADS, never to be identified to the public.

No one would ever be able to blame them for anything. What an egalitarian concept. NO Personal Responsibility? Hoo- Ray. Our New America. HMB could be in the vanguard of this new National movement. We would have Sixty Minutes, the NYT, Couric, and even Olbermyer requesting interviews.

Think of the huge impact on our visitor serving mantra.

There is no downside.

Monday, tomorrow, is the day to...

Monday--yes, Monday was the day when the commuters would again begin their long morning trek over the hill.

The painted horse watched patiently as the cars streamed past. "Dark horse," he thought,"dark horse candidate." A little thrill of pride and excitement ran through his chest, as he contemplated the race ahead. Maybe, just maybe, he could find a way to help save the day for this city. It was true, he moved very, very slowly. He pondered the question of how to declare his candidacy.

If only someone could put his name on the slate...

Slate. Yes, that would be perfect, thought the anonymous Aint, the one with the bag over hi...it's head.

H...It would run right down to the hardware store (won't mention company names here...) and buy a couple of gallons of Slate #92 and voile...er, voilĂ !!!

A dark horse!

Dark horse. Huh.

The only image that came to mind when MB Mom considered that expression was one of her industrious little preschool daughter, Tyrannical Three, diligently painting her battered My Little Pony figures with the black nail polish she'd scored at the thrift store.

That was during a back-to-school clothing expedition for Imperious Eight, who would be entering third grade soon and hated his mom's guts for making him try on "disgusting used clothes that no sane person would ever wear." What the heck was she supposed to do, though?

The Potted Plant had not worked at anything MB Mom could (even really charitably) call a job since he got laid off from his job last January. His leased BMW was long gone (MB Mom still had her cheerio-and-juice-box-trashed old Subaru wagon though -- hurray for that, at least). Their moldy Moss Beach abode was about one mortgage payment away from foreclosure -- but why think that far in advance, right?

Yeah, things were dark. (Some nice Talkabout person sent MB Mom a computer from Radio Shack, though, which was really nice as she'd had to sell the Macbook Pro her rich sister had sent her on eBay -- how ironic is that?).

So here was MB Mom, feeling like a battered old war horse, once again typing away on a thread where people usually just told you to shut up and get a life. Which was perfect for her.

Anyway, there was ONE dark horse mystery thing going on, which had to do with the HMB election and MB Mom only knew about it because she'd recently been to a birthday party at Lemos Party farm.

She was standing over by the creek (where Tyrannical Three swore she'd seen a mermaid -- don't ask), when she heard these two familiar-sounding political voices talking about...

How they had scored a retirement package for Chief Cole. Chief Cole was grumbling that it wasn't as good as the one Moraga-Orinda Fire District arranged for Chief Peter Nowicki. But the familar-sounding voices sung, "dang, getting the chief from $135 K to $190 K for life from CalFire at the Coastside taxpayers expense was dang smart of us to pull over on those stupid voters." The voices were quite giddy.

Rosemary just shook her head. She wanted to make sure that MB Mom had enough money for food on her table.

Meanwhile, in a restaurant kitchen in HMB, someone else was thinking about food -- or condiments, anyway. Specifically: ranch dressing.

The waitress held the little plastic cup in her hand, wondering whether she could get fired for selling the restaurant's "secret sauce" to a wild-eyed customer who was threatening all sorts of atrocities if she could not buy the sauce for her personal culinary use.

Tossing her long white braid over her shoulder, the waitress strode purposefully across the kitchen. She stepped into a walk-in cooler and pulled down a jar marked "for SPECIAL customers only."

A bizarre aroma filled the room as she gleefully filled the plastic take-out cup with...

A bizarre aroma filled the room as she gleefully filled the plastic take-out cup with the secret substance. She quickly capped the cup and double bagged it before stepping out to hand it to the customer.

As a freebie, of course.

The wild-eyed customer snatched the parcel with an abrupt thank-you and stomped out.

Wild eyed customer stopped by her house to pick up the fish and other taco makings she had there, put it all in the cooler and continued to the end-of-summer picnic in the Sunset district of San Francisco.

So in case you were wondering: Web Link

Stink is what I smelt. But some smells are bottled for decades and then linger for a long long time. Generations of people recall the stench, but some deny it til the end of their days.

Bad deeds lay dormant, memories recede, but truth eventually comes out. Check the news, Web Link

Sometimes it takes 60 or 70 years for the truth to come out...

The disembodied voice paused.

The clouds parted. Fog receded. Stink dissapated. (Well, as much as it was likely to.)

The ground trembled.

And thus spake the voice once again in trembling tones: May the Web Link

Yet another voice, in another tone, (Part of the old guard? Of the property wrongs or rights crowd? Of the civil or uncivil liberties activist cadre? A knuckle dragger? Nipper? Drooler?) intoned a chant: Web Link Web Link Web Link

(Editor's note: Aren't you glad I didn't cut 'n' paste?)

As a local, I am usually the last to know what is going on. Is it over? If so, What will I read to stay current? I never said the term "Hitler", and I wonder if a mere website link from AINTs is adequate to invoke the Godwin criterion.

Godwin is absolutely not applicable in the Coastal Zone or in strata of rosemary potatoes.

MB Mom and Julienne and S Claus and Mack have advised me that...

I am confused and bewildered, how did we get to this place, without values or direction? Where are we going? Our mystical, magical place is sliding into an abyss, that will...

...arise from the ashes of our next election, like a golden shimmering Phoenix. Our heroes will unite to clean our beaches, save our mystical magical coastal places, with a bevy of platitudes, zesty aphorisms, as they place smiley faces on our past sepulchres. Following a long absence, our village cast will assemble and save us once again.

The roll call begins: Giulia Bambino, Ms. Betty Duball, Voice of the Ghost, MB Mom, Mac Dutra, Secret Squirrel, Benton Knight, Twin Peaks, Lone Star, Dirk Bohan, Rocky Cliffs, Tawdry Glamour, Mack Montara, and the effervescent TGM. Emergence from our city's term of hellish turmoil is ...

Emergence from our city's term of hellish turmoil is ...

...going to have to take a back burner for me for a while. What with the Pescadero Watershed issue conspiracy... I am going to be too busy on the south coast to be raising cane her at Talkabout.

Was our well respected newspaper's headline "Experts converge for marsh workshop" Web Link deliberately meant to mislead people in the Pescadero watershed into thinking that the massive environmental power-grab was going to involve the marsh only? Was it to lull the upper creek dwellers into complacancy, to discourage them from attending this "RSPV please" meeting?

This meeting involves the whole of the Pescadero Creek watershed and the watershed extends all the way to Skyline Blvd!

Something's cookin' and it ain't Rosemary Potatoes...

Ms Potatoes, you are ever vigilant to the Over The Hill Gang (OTHG) trying to overtake our mystical coastside, with their plan to get rid of local HUMAN inhabitants. Surely, this meeting will have a faciliTator and a moderAtor to achieve the desired conclusion. The State Water Resources Control Board is on the march and looking for villains, and it is us. San Mateo has 38 watersheds, and one of the most pristine is Pescadero, so clearly Pescadero Creek (and all its tributaries) has a target on it its back.

If Rocky Raccoon and Rocky Cliffs, and Secret Squirrel will please meet at Duartes at noon on Sept 29th, we can devise a plan. Otherwise, one more coastal community will be ...

...annexed by the Rich and Powerful. Blessings once again anoint us, our riches are immeasurable. Election season bestows upon us once more great opportunities, and we have our town paper to advise us on how best to vote. Is this a great place, or what...

Or what?

What is going on with this mystery?

If you read other threads, one is led to believe that a possible creator of this ongoing soap opera is too busy running for city council to keep up with other coastside cases.

Could Mack Montara and Rosemary Potatoes and Lemony Snicket be one and the same?

Rosemary swept up the street in a huff. She tapped the pavement with the broom she had borrowed from Charles and cried, "I am not and never have been of the masculine persuasion!"

"But," she added, after considering her statement, "I have been persuaded by more than one of them and done my fair bit of persuading in return, too."

Rosemary moved on down the street hoping to run into Charles so she could ask to keep the broom until the end of the month. It would go really well with her...

...with her new wardrobe of Pumpkin and Halloween paraphernalia. Charles will sweep the slates clean, his new broom makes a great sweeping progress Web Link

As Charles purveys all the long vacant lots in our village, Charles asks "Why?" and offers to help us find our way to ...

Well, Sir Charles finished last. But so did the LCP3 with bags of money from donors. Upon viewing the scarred coastal electoral landscape, a vibrant new awakening is already apparent. The new team will awaken our economy and stimulate our economy. Rest assured, good times are coming...

As we read this convoluted story it is difficult to see how our perspectives are relevant. We think we see a pattern of what has been happening and the innuendoes, but we are confused with all the random anonymous characters. We hope you read our hopes and concerns about our coastside on Talkabout and respond. When we graduate we will...

Farming on the coast is a lucrative business, especially at pumpkin time, the pumpkin parade is fun with many fiends, but the most fun of all is...

...the most fun of all is writing this wacky story. It may seem convoluted and fictional but in reality it is not.

This is because, at the moment...

...money is tight, lenders are stingy, farmers are outstanding in their fields, homes are underwater, downtown is mostly empty, but bars are doing well. During this normally festive season reality is staring us in the face, and we can all clearly visualize the psychotically deranged...

We can all clearly visualize the psychotically deranged holiday shoppers, who in their frenzied quest to buy gifts are actually shopping on Main Street.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon in Half Moon Bay, and wild-eyed shoppers were converging on the tourist-themed boutiques, desperate to purchase anything that might satisfy the seasonal cravings of their loved ones.

Given the frenzy, it wasn't the least bit odd that no one noticed the stranger lurking in the Harbor Seal shop, idly playing with a sea otter puppet.

Unbeknownst to his/her fellow shoppers, this trench-coated figure had a diabolical plan to...

..surreptiously implant a miniscule Blue Tooth tracker & webcam chip into rural children shoppers. Trench-coated figure sought detailed information documenting degradation of our environment. Trench-coated figure was obsessed that data streaming from rural locations would validate damage from feral humans on our environment. Trench-coated figure's plan was to become a famous environmental hero when media coverage of astounding rural web vids hit the internet.

Shoppers were blissfully unaware of the trenchant chip danger as a misty dusk descended upon them on Main Street. Next week when the web videos erupt on youtube and Talkabout the ...

The bodies of the shoppers lay strewn on the sidewalks of main street, dropped in place as if a killer fog had suddenly descended, deprived them of oxygen, then evaporated without a trace. Most cars were stopped in their lanes, but a few had wandered into other cars in parking spaces or had encountered a plant put there as part of the beautification effort.

It seemed an eternity before the coroner arrived with his crew. He shouldn't have bothered at all. There was no explaining this one. Perhaps the oldsters had died from the exertion of going past all the closed shops from one of the remaining businesses to the next. But that did not explain the younger corpses, staring blankly in no particular direction, mouths hanging open after their last breaths. Could they have been killed by dullness, by the soul-deadening boredom of a town without a movie house?

Word began to circulate that a call had been put out to Roswell, New Mexico, seeking participation by, perhaps, experts who were familiar with this sort of unexplained event. A temporary morgue was set up at Cunha School, and there the bodies were bagged and piled, waiting for the town's surviving leaders to emerge and...

The new team will awaken our economy and stimulate our economy. Rest assured, good times are coming...

The recent success of the Saints in the Super Bowl allays any concerns that one may have for the success of Main Street HMB. When is it always the darkest? the hour before dawn!

Toxic fogs notwithstanding, a bright, fresh new day awaits HMB... just as soon as we get past these pesky layoffs of city staff, and increased remuneration for deserving managers, and ...

you'd think we'd have learned from that mini tsunami at Maverick's of weekends past. It be a warning of asking too much from those with not enough for themselves in these tight fisted times...lest mother nature come to speak with us again in the form of....

The giant ORCA, strangely resembling more a bottom-living cephalopod than a cetacean mammal, lurked in the in-coming tide at Surfer's Beach.

He (or she?) spouted off: Me 'n my pals have a handy dandy handbook to share with you! Get your very own copy right here: Web Link

He (she) winked knowingly and (it seems)grinned before continuing: One of the key issues facing the California coast is the inordinate influence of lobbyists and agents on Coastal Commission decisions! To combat that, our organization provides this handy dandy handbook to show you the way to...surprize!..inordinately influence Coastal Commission decisions!"

The last of the dripping Maverick's audience perked up at this announcement and...

...now they are armed with a handbook to stop the vaunted Coastal Commission. KRAssh-Nuunda, Un leash the low life feral humans against the gentile intellectual Coastal Commissars, forthwith.

Proletariats mingled in their fields mumbling with their newfound tools. All the Communities along the 1100 miles of California coast under the thumb of the Commissars are reeling, but now what will they do with this new TOOL...

Tools to make banners and signs that say "Go, Coastal Commission GO! Save Our State! Save Our Coastline! Keep up the good work!"

Us baysiders will save you coastsiders from yourselves. We all know that we need more authority, not less, to save us all. People need the Commissioners to provide access to all of our coast, especially for us baysiders. Millions and millions of people live within an hours drive of our San Mateo coast. Access to the coast is our right. You coastsiders need to do a better job of providing roads, tunnels, water, porta potties,and fire and police for us visitors.

Forget about local control, this is for the common good, provide us visitors the services that we need and then...

...shut her down. We have all seen what happens to parks and beaches when we do not have enough money to take care of what we bought. We all hope we are doing good for our environment, but then we forget about humanity in this equation. We repeatedly fail to realize the unintended consequences of our actions to buy and grasp everything we want to preserve, until...we are reminded of the black swan, chaos theory, and the effect of limits, and you know, when you hit your limit...

When the "Mystery" gets political, the writing goes south.

...the writing goes south. I resent that remark. I would rather hear someone say the writing goes left, or west, or down, or...

Okay, West then...

oo O OoO

o ooo

o Oo

o ooooo

o o oo

o o oo



o ooo OO oo

o oo O ooo






Suddenly. A life preserver...

...lands with a squoosh...

I just got here. It will be alright after I learn about all the local customs. Once that happens, then...

OK, let us try this again.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom by the sea known to its inhabitants as "The Coastside." It was comprised of several small communities, strung along the coast like glittering jewels in a pirate's treasure chest. And indeed, each of the communities was a treasure chest brimming with secrets, controversies and passions.

Something's cookin' and it ain't Rosemary Potatoes...

...a woman was cooking a big cake because her family was waiting for guests - other members of community. But knowing already one secret she cooked the cake according the recipe that make laugh to the death if person who has eaten it dont tell his secret to others...

The secret ingredient must be a truth ser