Thumb

Alistair, 

A moral dilemma for you, Alistair. A spaceship filled with genocidal aliens has visited my home. They were fairly friendly, but explained that it is their destiny to kill every human being in existence. They then demonstrated their ability to do so by using one of their ship’s impressive array of weapons to liquefy a cow. This particular shipload of aliens is merely the scouting party so they’ve gone off to establish communication with the mothership and let their leaders know that they found some humans to kill. Two important pieces of  information: 1. These aliens are tiny – they are less than an inch tall and their spaceship is the size of a big chicken. 2. They just parked their spaceship in my oven, mistaking it for a docking bay. Question: How morally reprehensible would it be for me to shut the oven door  and turn on the self-clean function? 

Thumb in the Dike in Barcelona 


Thumb,

 Incredibly morally dubious, and also profoundly wasteful. Cook small aliens on 350 degrees Fahrenheit with basil and mint for two hours until crispy. 

Alistair

Third Wheel

Alistair, 

My girlfriend has been bitten, and now she’s hanging around with the Alpha vampire a lot. I don’t want to be clingy, but I really, really like her! What’s the line where I go from normal jealous to creepy and annoying jealous? 

Third Wheel in the Keys 


Third Wheel, 

Trick question: normal for vampires IS creepy and annoying. So just go with your least healthy instincts. 

Alistair

Filthy Rich

Alistair, 

I want to fly. Not like “fly-in-an-airplane” fly. Not like “glide-in-a-wingsuit” fly. Not like “jump-off-the-Hendersons’-roof-again” fly. More like Superman flying. Just me in my t-shirt and jeans at fifteen hundred feet, soaring comfortably. Tell me how I can make this happen – price is no object. 

Filthy Rich in Monte Carlo 


Filthy Rich, 

The deal you’ll have to cut isn’t going to cost money, per se. There are plenty of entities powerful enough to grant you such an ability, and they have very reasonable prices these days. Back when, it took you and your firstborn’s firstborn for three generations. Now it’s just you. Pro tip: Try and get the package deal that offers flight, superstrength, and a random ability selected from a grab bag. The bonus ability is usually miserable, granted, but hey! Who else do you know who can talk to worms? 

Alistair

Curious

Alistair, 

What are the fourth, seventh and sixteenth items on your bucket list? 

Curious in Lynchburg 


Curious, 

Four: Do numbers two and three again, but with a wetsuit. 

Seven: Assassinate a foreign head of state. Without getting caught. . 

Sixteen: Numbers seven, eleven, and twelve, but this time, make all subjects chickens. (Margin note: Possibly combine with number nineteen?) 

Alistair

Inspired

Alistair, 

I have experienced a stroke of genius! I am going to make the world’s first Car-With A-Basement. Don’t think double-decker bus; think minivan with a flight of stairs in the back  leading to an underground multipurpose room. Any ideas on how to actually make this work physically? 

Inspired in Fort Erie 


Inspired, 

Too late, it’s already a thing. Granted, there are some loopholes to work out – putting the lower level into another dimension means it tends to get infested with unspeakable horrors, which requires constant cleaning. If you can work around that, you’ll revolutionize the car basement. My money is on a solution involving kale. 

Alistair

Fostering

Alistair, 

Recently my baby sister watched a classic children’s film in which a significant character repeatedly uttered the phrase “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!”. Being a baby – which is  code for “human parrot” – she immediately started repeating that phrase incessantly. At  first, it was cute. Then she said “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!” while waving at an armchair and it  became a throne. Now, whenever she yells those words and gestures at an object, it immediately becomes far more beautiful, useful and valuable. She turned a puddle in the  lawn into an ornate fountain, a plate of bologna into an exquisite feast and our chihuahua  into a block of rough-hewn wood. Now, correct me if I’m wrong in my thinking, but I believe that my sister has a gift – nay, a calling – that will make her somebody very important one  day. How, as an influential figure in her life during the early phases of her development, can I guide her towards making the most of her abilities?

Fostering Mankind’s Future in Lisbon 


Fostering,

There are two kinds of people:

Those who, when presented with the ability to improve whatever they want, immediately go overboard with greed. They glamorize everything in their lives until they realize that sometimes the things you try to improve had greater sentimental value as they were. Then they end up in a beautiful but lonely existence wishing that they could experience a bit of the gritty imperfection that clung to their former poverty. Think King Midas.

Then there are those who, when presented with the ability to improve whatever they want, immediately become whimsically philanthropic. That’s probably more what you’d like to see for your baby sister. 

The short answer is that you can do nothing particularly effective. Be a model of excellent behavior and there will remain the unalterable experience gap that you are an ordinary, blasé, humdrum human whereas she stacks up as a potential element in future development of small countries. Trying to convince her that she owes something to the world, further, is a habit that tends to create people with a sort of crazed positivity that can easily go awry. It’s a conclusion they have to reach more or less on their own.

So, live your own life, do your best, and try and remember that you owe it to her.

Alistair

Listening

Alistair, 

I believe that the stars are trying to speak to me. If I stand very still, close my eyes and listen very hard, I can hear their soft, plaintive voices reaching out to me across the vastness of space. Last night I climbed onto the highest roof in our neighborhood and stood, eyes closed, face upward, straining to hear and this is what I heard: “Heigh-oo-hey!  Geddoun frummth air! Yooar on mrooph! Aryatri-ingta killyersulf. Cahm angeddoun!” What are the stars trying to tell me? 

Listening in ‘Frisco 


Listening, 

The language of the stars is strange, and few can hope to understand it. As one to whom the stars speak, you have been granted an incredible gift. Learn all you can, try to decipher the language. One day, when humanity reaches the stars, you shall speak for mankind, and you shall say “Stand down, you sons of wusses. We’ve got nukes.” 

Alistair

Forgetful

Alistair, 

What have I got in my pocket? 

Forgetful in MM 


Forgetful, 

It took a while to figure this out, as it’s a complicated bit of sympathetic cohesion. While ordinarily a routine process, you need to understand that it kept getting all screwy this time. I had to perform a sort of linked-step quantum entanglement to trace back to your pocket. On top of that, the salt circle kept getting scuffed up, and I had to have Bruce redraw the thing four times, then it turned out he had the schematics upside-down, so I was checking a parallel universe. Having traced it back, it turns out that your pockets are empty, aside from some lint. I can only assume that you’re a smart-aleck, or that we checked the wrong pair of pants. 

Alistair

Keeper

Alistair, 

I have a small collection of invisible sprites. Problem is, I can’t find a place to put  them. They just slip out through any holes, but they still need to breathe. Suggestions? 

Keeper in New Brunswick 


Keeper, 

The respiratory metabolism of sprites – unlike our own – survives at an optimal level for extremely long periods of time if their air supply is rich in high-grade helium. As such, all you need to do to care for your sprites is place them in helium balloons. The tiny creatures will be just fine and you will have a fetching bunch of balloons – especially if these sprites possess the faerie gift of bioluminescence. 

Alistair