The Vulcan Ass Pinch

For possibly the first time in fifty years, for some reason, I thought of Lieutenant Fleury. The Engineer and I have been binge watching the later Star Trek series — which I never saw at all, at all, so no spoilers please — and I suppose that revived my memory of the Lieutenant, who was a character in fan fiction written long before anyone had ever used the term “fan fiction.” My onetime best friend and I used to work on these pieces during twelve-year-old sleepovers, mine tending towards the mysterious mythical aliens that Roddenberry peppered all over the Galaxy, hers running to time paradoxes. Lieutenant Fleury was a member of the bridge crew, a spirited French woman about five feet tall with a tendency to merry outbursts of battle-joy (the kinds of hits to the shields that tossed the crew around, she found exhilarating) and a flummoxing, flirtatious attitude when she was not spelling Mister Sulu at the helm. It had not escaped me that the only woman on the canonical bridge was Uhura and despite the huge departure that we now realize that was — in Whoopi Goldberg’s words, “Mommy, there’s a black lady on TV and she’s not a maid!” — it chapped my butt that she was still, basically, a glorified secretary (“Ms. Uhura, open a comm channel”). Something had to be done. Well, I have lost all those old things and the literary style would probably mortify me anyway.

She may have come back to me, now when we have already gotten through the whole Patrick Stewart series and embarked on the two following, because of an episode involving the use of the equally-almost-forgotten Vulcan nerve pinch.

“Isn’t it curious,” I said over late-evening brandies, “that the nerve pinch seems to work on every humanoid species in the Galaxy, but only Vulcans are able to perform it? Maybe it’s supposed to be some combination of the physical contact and Vulcan mind control. Like you have to be touching for the mind meld. The only thing that’s there anyway is the median nerve, right where it runs through the muscle belly of the upper trapezius. It hurts like hell to pinch it when the muscle’s tight, with the nerve right underneath, maybe that’s why they picked that spot, but I’ve never had a client pass out on the table.”

Actually in this shot he seems to be going for he anterior scalenes; hm

Actually in this shot he seems to be going for he anterior scalenes; hm

The Engineer mulled that over, and we kicked around the idea that somehow some telepathic mojo was supposed to travel back up the major nerve trunk to the spinal cord or medulla and drop the victim in his tracks. There could, just possibly, be a way of affecting the vertebral basilar artery, which conducts enough blood to the brain that occluding it can knock someone out, but it’s truly on the back of the neck. I pumped for the nerve.

“It’s probably the optimum place to contact a multiplex spinal nerve root, at least in a hurry,” I said. “I mean the sciatic also originates from four separate vertebral junctions, if you really want the biggest nerve in the body, and you can definitely make someone yell with it, but it’s deep to the middle of the butt cheek. Broadcast Standards in the 60s wouldn’t have let them go there anyway.”

sciatic nerve

“The Vulcan Ass Pinch!” cried the Engineer, and took a swallow of brandy.

Lieutenant Fleury would probably have gone for it. If Vulcans share knowledge of such things.


1. Twinvald

The Engineer goes for a walk after work, and has been collecting quite an album of local cats on his phone. One of them gave him a bit of a turn.


We know Torvald came to this house, ahem, “intact.” But he insists he knows nothing about it.


I am innocent, I tell you

2. Poetry

We replaced the teetery cat tree from Freecycle — with some regret, but alarm and concern for the way it had begun to rock from the base forced our hands. There is a marvelous online cat furniture store, run I think by people who are ethnically Eastern European or possibly Turkish — a language-gifted client of mine once took a look at their quaint prose and couldn’t decide. I have one of their productions in the dining room, which is supposed to keep cats from jumping up on the table. It’s been there ten years and looks brand new, so we ordered a five-foot three-level special in the same line. Miss Nickel needs a place to be On High.

The cliffhanger in these cases, so to speak, is always — will they like it? Will we have to rub catnip on it?

We got it halfway to its intended location, set it down in the master (sort of) bedroom (sort of). Mr Ferguson sharpened his claws on the sisal post. Miss Nickel Catmium-Ferguson leapt pretty much over him and plonked her fat little can into the top tray.

The Engineer declaimed.

“I am in my tower!
My tower of power!

Where I can sit and glower!
And look sour!”

Which is sort of what she does, when you think of it. She wouldn’t even let me take a picture. Hasn’t yet.

Another Lofty Occasion

Another Lofty Occasion

No Spoilers

The best moment of my Sunday theater outing, in a way, was the moment it became apparent that at least some of the audience hadn’t been exposed to spoilers.

Every year the Shakespeare Theater Company of Washington — which doesn’t limit itself to Shakespeare; this season they’re doing Wilde’s Salome and The Real Inspector Hound — runs a “Free For All.” People can get into a first come first serve line, or enter an online lottery, and get two free tickets to a reprise of one of the last season’s productions. Back when the Engineer and I were really scraping pennies — and trying to mentor a couple of wayward young people, for all the good it did — we scored just about every summer. Perseverance furthers.

You see a lot of students and relative theater virgins at these things. I remember, in the old outdoor venue they used to use, seeing handbills that gently outlined the basic etiquette of attending a live performance.

Sunday night, we were lost in the woods outside Athens — the fairies from Titania’s train were all played by lively acrobats, accompanied by a nice selection of music — and Robin Goodfellow had just been sent off by Oberon to get the magic flower-juice that makes people fall in love. (Shakespeare would have probably seen beer goggles at work often enough in the Mermaid Tavern, I mused.) Titania was asleep in a grand piano suspended from the flies — don’t worry, it worked — and as the Puck led in Bottom, caparisoned in the specially groteque and cartoonish ass’s head that had frightened away his companions in the previous scene, I heard a scatter of four or five little gasps and squeals from around the house. There was one muffled, giggling “Oh NO!” as someone who actually didn’t know the story realized what was about to happen.

I hope they all remained as delighted at finding out what happened after that, and after that.

Asshole Of The Week

It is the Story Of Modern Life.

The parking lot for my gym (and an annoying couple of other businesses, like a Laser Tag facility and a little-girlie-girls’ ballet studio) has two broad double aprons, each big enough for a couple of large SUVs to cross paths. Which often happens. Yesterday, though, a medium-sized white station wagon was situated athwart most of the curb cut just at the time I needed to leave — angled sharply left, so that no one could pass in either direction, and blinking.

Well, waiting for someone to make a left turn isn’t a fate worse than death, even if you’re running a bit behind the clock. I sat there patiently. Traffic from the left followed traffic from the right. There were a couple of brief openings, but I hate people who honk — I don’t have quick reflexes myself and I never take chances on the road. Time ticked by. The street emptied out. The car didn’t move.

By now there was another vehicle behind me. Severally, we backed up enough to regroup at the other apron and bugger off down the road. The white car was still there as we passed — the driver abstractedly texting away.

There is never a water balloon handy when you need one.


When I was in the local German chorus and social club – like most honkie Americans, I have Kraut in me, but mainly I liked singing Brahms and Wagner — I sat in the alto section beside a woman from Koln of whom I grew quite fond, who remembered, in the days after the end of the Second World War, walking across leagues of Germany with her mother and her two little sisters; remembered the American GI who saw a tired woman with three tired children and gave them everything in his ration pack.

MUNICH — Germans waving welcome signs in German, English and Arabic came to the train station here Saturday to greet the first group of what is expected to be about 8,000 migrants to arrive in Germany by early Sunday, after an arduous and emotional journey through Hungary and Austria.

Germans applauded and volunteers offered hot tea, food and toys as about 450 migrants arrived on a special train service from Austria, finally reaching Germany, which had held out an open hand to them. (Click to read more at the NY Times)

All of Europe has had the shit kicked out of it at one time or another — certainly more recently in history than anywhere on my big continent — and I’m not ready to explain Hungary, say, but I think I understand the Germans shouting Welcome and pouring tea.

photo credit Fox News

photo credit Fox News

I threw some money at the UN refugee agency. I wish I knew the name of that GI. I’d tell people it was from him.

Triple Ginger

Talk to the foot. Taken by the Engineer with his phone yesterday afternoon.

Triple Ginger

That’s Mr. Ferguson snuggled on my arm, and Mystery styling my hair, which is What He Does, with everyone, human or feline. They have become The Ginger Boys, so it figures they would swarm in my direction as soon as I stretched out to relax my leg on a large body pillow.

Triple Ginger Zoom

Perfect bliss.

I didn’t get up for a while.