I’m hopping on a choo-choo

And chugging to the moon

I’ll hold my breath until my lungs

Get properly attuned

The train will zoom through Outer Space

Past Mercury and Mars

You can say hi to constellations

From observation cars

I cannot wait to see a comet

And to touch its tail

Which I have heard is made of blubber

Not unlike a whale

The train runs on a special steam

That’s made from burning feathers

Of duck-shaped clouds that are corralled

In any inclement weather

And when the engine finally stops

At destination moon

We’ll all look down upon the Earth

And feel picayune

But not for long upon the moon

Will you feel that mood deflator

As you dance among the rocks and cheese

And bellow in the craters!



Way out past the sun, and the moon and the Earth,

Several blocks down from the Milky Way

Was a planet with very unique occupants

Who decided to visit one day.

Now these weren’t your little green men from Mars,

Or twelve-tentacled Saturn dwellers.

They had a much more familiar physique

Especially to frankfurter sellers.

Yes these beings were shaped like hot dogs

Long tubes of meat surrounded in buns.

But they had one beady eye and a mouth filled with teeth

And four arms armed with ray guns.

They traveled to Earth to dumb down the planet

Their rays caused our brains some regressin’

But nobody noticed or batted an eye

When they invaded Saul’s Delicatessen.

“Put up your hands, Earthling, or taste of my wrath,”

Said the leader to one deli patron.

“I ordered you with mustard relish and onion,”

Said Charlie, thus sealing his fatron.

The flash of the laser was tiny and subtle,

But it pierced right through Charlie’s brain.

And it dropped his IQ to sub-mental levels

Which for Charlie was about the same.

“Citizens of Earth!” the lead hot dog announced,

“We’re here to take over your world!”

And he ordered his men to raise up their flag

Which two space wieners then unfurled.

Their flag was a picture of the planet Earth

With a humanoid hot dog atop it.

It certainly seemed these frank’s plan was fool-proof.

There was only one man who could stop it.

They called him Fat Hank, due to excessive girth,

Not your average villain defeater.

But for this task Fat Hank was especially right,

As he was a World Champion Eater.

Yes, he’d devoured pizzas in mere milliseconds,

Scarfed down pulled pork pulled straight from the hog.

But his real claim to fame and his legendary skill

Was his rapid consumption of hot dogs.

“You messed with the wrong guy,” Fat Hank growled

As he hoist himself up from the back stool.

“I’ve fried bigger fish than the likes of you folk.

You ain’t gonna win this duel.”

“You dare challenge your new leader, earthling of mass,”

The lead hot dog said, aiming his gun for.

“One more word from your overly active maw,

And believe me, sir, you will be done for.”

Fat Hank snorted, which the lead hot dog took as a threat

Approaching him as the others followed.

“You dare question my pow-wha?!” he started

His threat undercut by the fact he was swallowed.

The others, alarmed that their fearless leader

Had been so easily beaten

Were no match for Fat Hank and try as they might

Within seconds all of them were eaten.

The enemy thwarted, the delicatessen erupted

As everyone cheered.

Which Fat Hank waved off. “I don’t need your praise,

But I could go for a cold root beer.”


Without doubt, the single highest honor bestoweled upon me in my long, large, loquacious lifetime was my knighthood, presidioed over by Queen Elizabeth, as reward for the slaying of the Big Green Dragon that sat on her doorstep. A close second to my knighthoodlumry would be the time I held office as the President of the Moon.
I had been living on the newly colonized moon a mere matter of milliseconds when I was made aware a new government would need to be establified, and elections would be held to determine the leader of this new world. Immediately, I knew I was the only hippopotamus for this most prestigulous role. I approached the head of the Moon Colonization Committee and announced my intentions to campaign. He scoffed! Scoffed directly across my snout! “What, good sir, is the meaning of your scoff?” I demanded.
“You think you have the guts, the glory, the chutzpah to challenge me as President of the Moon? Hippo, you got a screw loose.” The head of the Moon Colonization Committee was a pool cue-thin, Christmas tree-bearded pot-bellied pig-headed fellow named Ulysses F. Snurb. His breath perpetually stank of some strong beverage that could surely be used to strip paint from a silo or fuel a forty-ton tanker. He didn’t much care for me. The feeling was mutual. There was no way I was going to let this scruffy little pupstart preside over the Moon Colony. The race was on!
I was encouraged, to put it politely, to withdraw from the race. I found unpleasant and misspelled words painted across my Moon Hut. Muscle-bounders in darkened spectacles and black leather coats ensnatched me from the Tacqueria and tossled me into a nearby crater. And, I found the head of my beloved boyhood rocking horse Rosebud in my bed one morning. But I refused to back down! I would not be intimothated by brute force. I had a vision, a dream, and a driving force behind my Presidential purpose.
My dream was that everyone would be welcome on the Moon, regardless of race, creed or species. Everyone should have the right to a fair trial, be you a petty thief or sketchy hypnotist. I wanted freedom for all, and a sandwich named after me, preferably involving Muenster cheese and pastrami. Also, I wanted a library. But mostly, I wanted peace and happiness all over the moon.
My opponents tried to tarnishake my reputation, claiming I set fire to Siamese kittens in my leisure time, ate infants raw with no vegetable side, stole thousands of simoleons from the destitute simians, and misused and made up words constantly. The unmitripated scawl! Ulysses F. Snurb, meanwhile, promised a kettle in every pot, a hand in every glove and two gulls for every buoy. I knew in my heart of heart of spade of diamonds that he had no intention soeverwhat of keeping these crocodile confidences, but I kept my ivory canine teeth tensed. I knew the people of the Moon Colony would trust me and understand Snurb was crooked.
I was wrong. Snurb won in a landslide, and swiftly took over the moon, ruling with an ironic fist. He forced all the men to wear paper bags over their heads and all the women, even the grandmothers, to give him kisses all day, every day. Every colonist was put to work day and night building a mansion for him and his cronies. After a week of this hard labor, I had had all I could stand, I could stand no more! “Ulysses!” I called out. “I’m calling you out!” Snurb, wielding a musket and wearing a pair of boxer shorts and suspenders, ran out from his half-completed mansion, screaming and waving his fist at me.
“You ingrateful river horse! I’ll blast you back to Earth!” He took aim, expecting me to run, to flinch, blufflepate. I stood my ground. He hesitated. I did not. He fired. I fell to the lunar surface, moon dust swirling above my supine frame. He gasped, then, slowly, giggled. As he turned to reenter his halfway home, I rose, bullet trapped betwixt my chompers. Mustering the mastery of my breath control, I expectorated the bullet, firing diaphragmatically directly at Snurb’s rumpus. He jumped so high, a cloud of exhaust followed him as he flew toward Earth, landing eventually in an active volcano.
And that, my fellow historians, is how I became President of the Moon. Until I was unfairly ousted by Martian Moderates. But that’s another story.


Augimus was no ordinary grey tiger-striped cat. She was a space explorer, a traveler of the stars. Her owner, the astronaut Bucky Raygun, had designed for her a special cat-sized flying saucer, retrofitted with paw-sensitive buttons, allowing her to travel forwards, backwards, even sideways around the galaxy. Being a cat flying saucer, it ran on milk.

When Bucky Raygun first gave it to her, he said, “Now, be careful, Augimus. Space travel can be fun and exciting, but it can be very dangerous, too. Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you.” Augimus was only half-listening to her owner; mainly she couldn’t wait to get in the spacecraft and whiz around the stars. But she purred and nuzzled Bucky’s ankles to show her gratitude and ensure she would play it safe.

The next day after a breakfast of tuna treats, she hopped in her saucer and took off immediately. The saucer turned out to be very simple, the buttons were the perfect size and it turned out Augimus was a natural pilot. She flew around aimlessly for a brief while, and then decided to go exploring.

The first planet she landed on was Textilia, whose entire ecosystem consisted of fabric surfaces, such as corduroy trees and wool forests. Augimus drank in her surroundings, claws itching to tear into the whole landscape. There were few pleasures in the world as satisfying as scratching fabrics, and Augimus could hardly wait to get started.

The Tweed mountain range looked especially enticing, and Augimus couldn’t help but scratch the sides of the geologic wonders. It was perfect, not too yielding, but not harsh enough that her claws would get caught. Augimus purred contentedly, she could stay here all day.

Twilly, the gruff retired prospector who lived in the mountains was not pleased by Augimus’ presence. He awoke from his mid-morning nap when his lean-to began vibrating up and down. When he saw Augimus out the window, he knew she was responsible for his rude awakening. She wasn’t the first feline visitor to Textilia. He ran out of his lean-to, determined to shoo this unwanted guest. “This is private property!” he yelled, brandishing a large stick of what looked like Berber carpet. “Go scratch someone else’s home!”

Augimus high-tailed it out of there, hissing at Twilly for his rudeness. She then touched down on a planet called Cuto, a small pink planet orbiting a green polka-dotted moon with a lavender bow wrapped around it. Augimus exited the saucer and glanced around, noticing that everything on this planet was teeny-tiny and cutesie-poo. There were pug puppies in porkpie hats and vests handing out ice cream cones from their truck to little duckies. There were baby penguins driving taxi cabs and itty bitty kitten newsies selling papers with headlines like, “Widdle Mice Sooooo Cute!” and the op-ed piece, “Who’s a Good Boy? You Are! Yes, You Are!” The streets had names like Awww Avenue and Uhwushwushawushawhoo Boulevard.

Suddenly a crazed cry erupted from the sky. A deep, booming voice shouted, “Kitty! Kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty!” A little girl, who was actually fifty feet tall, reached down from the heavens to grab Augimus from the corner of Aren’t You the Cutest Road and Fuzzy Wuzzy Street. Augimus darted around the corner just in time. “Come back, kitty kitty! I think I’ll call you Twinkie. My widdle widdle Twinkums kitty kitty!”

Madly, Augimus dashed to her flying saucer, while onlooking bunnies in berets and mice in ascots pleaded with their eyes, “Take us with you!” She didn’t dare look back, though and once safely inside the spacecraft, she hit the Light Speed button and blasted home.

Back home on Earth, Augimus snacked on some salmon and parmesan cheese, sat in Bucky’s lap and allowed him to pet her and dreamed of traveling to other, more exotic (but safer) worlds.


Inspired by this Lego set

Screamy, screechy sirens blasted from the First Outer Space National Bank, like a bajillion trumpets fistfighting a bajillion whiny elephants. The racket could be heard a hundred planets away, on Forbishot, where it was 2 AM and the entire population would wake up cranky the next morning. Something terrible must have happened at the First Outer Space National Bank. Something worse than the President of the Galaxy stubbing his toe. Worse than mass interstellar ice cream headaches. Even worse than having to wear a tie.
The doors burst open as if the bank were releasing a ginormous belch, and out flew the most dastardly villain in the galaxy, K. Thulu Squidman IV, aka Squid Man. Part man, part squid, all badditude and greediness and liar-liar pants afire. He had been responsible for the Venusian Dog Kidnapping. He was the mastermind behind the Counterfeit Constellation Crisis. And now, clutched in his slimy squid tentacle was the last one hundred dollar bill the First Outer Space National Bank had in its vault. Poor Mrs. McMartian needed that money to fix the anti-gravity brake shoes in her Ford Galaxy Cruiser starship, or she would miss her grandson’s first Space-Tee-Ball game. “Help!” she cried, “Help me, please! Space Police!”
As quick as a greased lightning bolt shot from a greased cannon, Ponsonby Britt of the Space Police arrived on his Raptor. “Police, ma’am, what is the emergency?” he grandly stated, thrusting his heroic chin toward adventure.
“Took you long enough, sonny,” Mrs. McMartian said. “He’s getting away! Look!” And she pointed at Squid Man, whose escape was already in progress. “Ha, ha! You’ll never get me now, Space-Flatfoot!” he shouted, his voice crackling like evil Velcro on a devious pair of shoes. But, curses! His hovercycle was gone. Squid Man had parked in a red zone and Space Law 419-A stated any vehicles parked in red zones were towed immediately. “Blast!” he cursed. “I’ll just have to make my escape by tentacled foot.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it!” said Ponsonby Britt. “Surrender or I shall be forced to write you up, scathingly.”
“Don’t just float there; go get him, Space Cop!” Mrs. McMartian yelled, beating his Raptor with her space clutch. Squid Man was several blocks away, and with those words of encouragement, Ponsonby gave chase. Squid Man was fast, however and soon lost the space policeman. He skidded to a tentacled stop and looked left and right. Then he ducked around the corner into an empty alley. He paused, catching his villainous breath.
“I’ll just hide in this conspicuous box labeled ‘Outer Space Swiss Cheese,’ he’ll never look for me here,” the bank robber said, rubbing his tentacles together with much glee and minimal friction.
When Ponsonby Britt arrived at the alley, his first thought was that Squid Man had somehow escaped through a hole, or by climbing the wall into the courtyard of the Ye Olde Space Tenements of the Future next door. The only other possibility was so ludicrous he dismissed it outright. “He wouldn’t hide in that conspicuous box labeled ‘Outer Space Swiss Cheese,’ not Squid Man. He’s too smart for that old trick.”
Inside the box, Squid Man, despite his best efforts, couldn’t help but guffaw loudly. “I knew I could outsmart that Space Cop!” But he had fallen for Ponsonby’s clever ruse. Knowing that Squid Man’s biggest weakness was his pride, followed by his loud guffaw, he revealed the mad genius once and for all.
“Come out of there, fiend! K. Thulu Squidman IV, you are under arrest for violating Space Law 57-C, no robbing banks.” He pointed his laser roscoe at the box.
“Curses! You win this round, Space Cop, but this is far from over.” And he was right, but for now, it was over. Squid Man was sent to Outer Space State Penitentiary and Mrs. McMartian was given her one hundred dollars and fixed her anti-gravity brake shoes just in time to see her grandson’s first Space-Tee-Ball game. And though he lost, she was pleased to be in attendance, and even more pleased to chastise and insult him for losing so poorly. Which is why Ponsonby Britt arrested her, too.
Space Law 83-F states no insults are allowed at a Space-Tee-Ball game.


Maxwell Orb’s father was a tinkerer, an inventor. When gift-giving holidays rolled around, Sidney Orb would shut himself in the rickety wooden shed in the backyard (his laboratory) and get to work creating the latest exciting innovation in presents. Fiona, Maxwell’s mother, worried occasionally that Maxwell would be disappointed in not receiving video games or sporting goods once in a while, but Maxwell loved the unique gifts that cluttered his bedroom. There was his pair of black Trampoline Shoes, which allowed the wearer to bounce up to five feet in the air (though the descent could be treacherous); there was the Pineapple Radio, which looked like an ordinary pineapple but received transmissions from places like Tasmania, Siberia and British Columbia; and there was Smellephant, a stuffed elephant whose trunk could identify over 18,000 individual smells. This year, being Maxwell’s tenth birthday, Sidney had been working extra-hard and had disappeared into his laboratory for weeks. When he finally came out, he could hardly contain his smile of anticipation. Neither could Maxwell. Fiona was excited as well, but nervous, given the safety track record of the previous toys.

Finally, the big day arrived and after a delicious meal of hamburgers and roasted broccoli (Maxwell’s favorite) he tore into his gift with the abandon, flinging wrapping paper around the room like a wild animal. What he opened was, at first, a bit disappointing. “It’s a high-powered telescope,” his father said. This seemed to Maxwell to be a rather ordinary gift, practically something he could pick up for himself at a toy store. Besides, it didn’t appear to be working. Whenever Maxwell looked through the eyepiece all he could see was blackness. “There’s not enough room in here,” Sidney explained, “let’s go outside.”

Outside, Maxwell pointed the telescope to the sky and was able to see what his father meant. It was a high-powered telescope. So high-powered, in fact, Maxwell could make out each and every individual star, in greater detail than he had ever seen them before. Not surprisingly, the stars did not consist of five triangular points, as depicted in the stickers on his homework assignments. They looked more like the white, round lights atop street lamps that you’d see in pictures from the 1920’s. Except instead of glass, they seemed to be made of a softer material, like a pillow or a sponge. Strangely, there were also perfect rings of smoke billowing out from behind each star. Maxwell handed the telescope to his father and said, “Look at those smoke rings! What do you suppose causes that?”

Sidney looked through the telescope, then at his wife and smiled. “Let’s find out,” he said.

Fiona had been a bit of a hard sell on the homemade rocket, especially when Sidney had explained it was fueled by tomato juice, fish bones, banana peels, coffee grounds and old gym socks, but after several assurances that it was safe as safe can be, she agreed to let them go, as long as she could chaperone. Maxwell and Sidney replied that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Sidney wheeled the rocket out from the shed and removed the tarp. It was your basic rocket shape, with a base big enough to fit all three members of the Orb family and little else, an engine in back and a pointed tip like a sharpened pencil. The rocket had been built from remnants of Maxwell’s exploded tree house (long story) bicycle parts, antique scuba gear and sections of an icebox that had been at the house when the family moved in. The engine was an old vacuum cleaner set on reverse in the rear. Once Sidney had sufficiently fueled the rocket, he had Maxwell count down from ten, and he and Fiona began pedaling furiously. When Maxwell reached one and shouted, “Blast off!” Sidney pulled a cord near his left arm and the rocket lifted up off the ground. “Pull up!” he shouted at Fiona, who was seated in front, behind Maxwell (Sidney insisted on sitting in the back where all the equipment was, and Fiona insisted Maxwell sit in the middle to avoid any danger.) Fiona did as she was told and the rocket shot up into space. Each member of the Orb family had on old-fashioned diving helmets, which were all attached to an oxygen tank located at the base of the rocket, just below their feet. As they exited the Earth’s atmosphere, Sidney had Maxwell reach down and open the tank by turning the dial on the tank until it could no longer be turned. This way, the family could breathe in space.

As they shot closer and closer to the stars, they began to see the smoke rings again, and Sidney pulled on the cord slightly, to slow down the rocket’s trajectory. When they got close enough to the stars to see behind them, they were shocked. Behind each and every star was a small platform with a brown leather easy chair. Upon the easy chair sat a man, reading a newspaper and smoking a cigar. While each star had the same platform and the same chair, the men were all different. Some were black, some were white, some were bald, some had long hair, some were bearded, some were mustachioed, some had no facial hair, some had blonde hair, some had gray hair, and some had curly hair. Each wore a rumpled brown suit with a forest green tie (Windsor knot) and light-brown loafers. One of them, a short, dark-haired man with a handlebar mustache, looked up and acknowledged the family with a short head nod, then went back to reading his paper, which was called The Celestial Times, and had headlines like, “Mars Talks Tense As Leaders Debate War Merits.”

Sidney couldn’t understand how, if there was no oxygen in space, the men could smoke. Fiona couldn’t understand how, if there were talks of war on Mars, Earth had yet to hear about it. Maxwell couldn’t understand how the men were able to blow smoke rings at all, and why they would choose to smoke, which always seemed like a disgusting habit. Before their questions could be answered, the rocket began to emit a high-pitched buzzing, and Sidney began turning his handlebars and pulling the cord more tightly. Fiona and Maxwell turned their handlebars as well, and the rocket made its descent back to Earth.

When they returned home, they each had a slice of chocolate mint cake (Maxwell’s favorite) and agreed that next year, if not sooner, they would figure out a way to keep the rocket up for a longer period of time, so they can determine why it is that behind every star is a man with a cigar.

And maybe someday we’ll find out if they did.