Stream of Consciousness
A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl
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Steen for President! Let's Party!
    I have to admit that losing the universe was a trifle depressing.   It's like, that sentence doesn't even make sense... I've read hundreds of books where the universe was "saved" by the intrepid thinking and quick fists of Captain Knowitall.   They're always talking about "saving" the universe.  So we "lost" it instead.   What's the universe going to do now, put an ad in Craigslist?   Lost: One universe--puny humans failed to save it.  If found, contact Galactic Overlords 322-232-5679 ex. 327.  Well, anyway, it's not my problem anymore...
    I finally came to the conclusion that those alien overminds were exaggerating, just tweaking us a bit to try and win their bet.  I mean, how could anything that we humans do affect the whole universe?
    Having thus successfully dodged that existential bullet, I decided to brighten the corner where I was, so to speak, by running for President.  Running for president is a bit like saving the Universe--the job sounds too big for anyone to handle, so you've just got to try it and see.  The current president is reported to have used more vacation time than any previous presidents, so if things get sticky, I'll probably just go on vacation.

    Of course my decision to run was influenced by the media.  Right after the 2004 election, they started reporting on the 2008 election, since presidential elections are what reporters live and die for.  The 2006 election upped the excitement to fever pitch, and some of the less steady journalistic hands are already touting the 2012 election, so, as far as I can tell, any time is as good as any other to jump in.  This is especially true since I have no major party affiliation, just a strong new coalition for America called the Let's Party, based on the acronym made from combining the constituents
of Law Enforcement, Teachers, and Schools.
    I'm still working on my slogan.  I kind of like "I'm for America," but having figured out whether the tag should be "Who's for Phil Steen?" or  "So vote for me."   It did seem like if the bumper sticker didn't have my name on it, people might think "I'm for America, Vote for Me," was about the person driving the car, instead of me--Phil Steen.  There's a lot of thinking like that, that goes into a do-it-yourself campaign.

    Being from a small town in a backwater state makes it a little harder to be a viable presidential candidate.  I was in the running for a couple weeks before my wife even found out about it.  She was put off a bit, saying usually candidates consult with their wives before making these kind of decisions.  I pointed out that it wouldn't look good for my leadership abilities if I had to consult with my wife on every little detail.  So it was a bit of a rocky start on the home front.  She did make me pledge not to spend any money on "this malarkey" as she put it, which turned out to be a brilliant bit of campaign strategy for me.  I made it a point of honor that I would accept no donations, nor spend any money on this campaign, since there were plenty of free ways to get my message across.  This has immediately given me the unassailable moral high ground over my competitors.   My wife did explain to me that donations would have been okay, and are regarded by most people as the usual way to do these things, but I'm glad I set my goals high from the beginning.

    It turns out that "Let's Party!" is apparently the slogan of choice among my younger constituents.  It just shows that if you build a strong new coalition for America out of universally respected authority figures such as police and teachers, people young and old will flock to it.  In fact, thanks to the popularity of my video appeals, I was invited to attend a "Let's Party Convention" in the woods behind Lavendar Falls Community College, sponsored by the Gamma Nu Pi fraternity and the Alpha Alpha sorority.  Although some of the students had clearly overindulged, their enthusiasm was refreshing.  They had painted some signs on sheets, such as "Steam (sic) for President,"  although the effectiveness of this as advertising was diminished by the fact that the people that had worn the sheets were now streaking about nude in a quite distracting manner, drawing more attention than my campaign.    Both the students and I are on a learning curve, and the important thing in class and life is not to fail...

    At some point in this campaign, I'm probably going to be asked the tough questions about things like Iraq, and domestic policy (whatever that is), and health insurance.  No one has bothered yet. But  I've already got my position secured on the "issues."  If I am elected president, I will make the important decisions as they are presented to me.  I'm a quick learner, and if necessary, I'll find out the difference between Iraq and Iran (besides the q and the n).  But I don't want to get bogged down with issues on the campaign trail.  As it is, I won't have time to read the papers, so my first act as president will be to catch up on the  news from 2007 and 8, and then I'll be up to speed and ready to govern.  This may take a fair amount of time off of 2009, during which I'll be accumulating papers again, so by 2010 I'll be ready to lead the free world.  At some point after that I intend to learn all the Internet information age stuff as well...

    I'm continuing to work on a slogan.  I'd like to be all things to all people (and beloved pets as well).  I've decided there's a large demographic that's being ignored by most presidential candidates, that I've tapped into with my Youtube campaign.   It's actually two groups-- youth under 18, and internationals, sometimes under 18 as well.  While they don't actually get to vote, their exuberance on my behalf would be welcome if it occurred.  So in keeping with my target demographic, I'm now thinking the slogan should be the short, pithy--"Whatever!"   I will be and do WHATEVER is needed to pull our country together. What will I do about the trade gap, the housing market crisis?  WHATEVER...  But maybe it does need name recognition attached, so a longer version would be: "Steen?  I'm like, whatever..."

    One of the problems with the Let's Party is trying to get any business accomplished at our conventions.  They seem to be heavier on the balloons and champagne than the other political parties (which is saying a lot), with less talk time at the podium, and more bands.  I'm not really complaining.    I love the irrational exuberance.  It's just that we need to pick a vice presidential candidate, and no one seems to care...  So I've started to put out feelers via email to everyone on my email list.  If you get one, and are a convicted felon or don't reside in the United States, feel free to delete it...  Otherwise let me know if you're willing to run for Vice President.  

    After a few nerve wracking days, I've got my Vice Presidential candidate:  My brother-in-law, Jack, acting as his agent, wrote me the following:
I have been in contact with Irvin R. Feldbrook, Jr. Gen. USA Retired and am happy to say that he is willing to be your running mate in your quest for the presidency as long as he does not have to appear other than in the Vice-Presidential Debates.  Also I have promised him some financial support and he is willing add my contribution to his resources and back your campaign to the maximum of $16.98.

I wrote back:  
This will add a definite air of legitimacy to my campaign.  In checking my notes for vice presidential candidates, I notice I specified that the Vice Presidential candidate be shorter than me.  I haven't wanted to ask such a personal question of Gen. Feldbrook, but if he's taller, do you think he'd object to a cosmetic surgery to "fit the part," so to speak?

It seems to me  a small price to pay to become Vice President of the United States...

The letter of yesterday has thrown me into an ethical quagmire.  Unbeknownst to Gen. Feldbrook, I had pledged to accept no donations for the campaign.  However, I guess there's a loophole in that I never said my Vice Presidential candidate couldn't accept donations.  So PAC's and wealthy individuals and corporations contact Gen. Feldbrook--unmarked bills preferred.
    Also, he responded to my request: I have consulted with the General and he suggests that you get the cosmetic surgery.

    This shows an astuteness on part of Gen. Feldbrook, which gives me a reason to explain why I chose him as my running mate.  It's true that no one else was willing, but besides that,  Gen. Feldbrook holds opposite opinions on all the issues I hold near and dear.  I chose him to help balance the ticket.  No matter what the issue, voters can feel free to support us, since one of us shares their opinions, and there's always the chance I may die and the General would then get his chance to implement his misguided policies...

    I hate to discuss those pesky issues, but I will say that America could do without income taxes.  The joy experienced in a mid April without the tax deadline would probably make up in irrational exuberance for any minor lack of funds for the treasury.   We could all pass the hat daily at work to keep the government solvent.  This hand-to-mouth existence might help keep government officials more humble.  Any days where there is smog, an extra hat would be passed for environmental quality.  Southern California alone could pay for a lot of environment patching.  And any day where it's over 80 outside, the air conditioning could be shut off by law until some serious global warming cash is produced.  The toll ways have already figured out this hat-passing approach.  It might work, in a more proactive fashion, with sewers.  If the toilet won't flush till you put a quarter in it, someone's going to put in a quarter sooner rather than later...

    Eventually someone is bound to ask me, "Steen, are you a compassionate conservative or a fiscally responsible liberal?"  What do those terms even mean?  Rather than waste my time researching someone else's political labels, I'm going with my own--Polkian Fundamentalist.  Yes, I adhere to the ideals of President James K. Polk, a man distant enough to be obscure to many, a dark horse in his own time.  Like me, any issues he supported are probably not relevant in today's world, so we can easily dismiss the whole issues foofaraw.  It's character that counts.  Polk had character, and I am a character in my own right (not to demean the left).  "What about the "Fundamentalist" label?" you might ask, although no one has even noticed I'm running for president, let alone asked me anything...  I added the Fundamental part to show I know 4 syllable words, and I stick to fundamentals because advanced concepts are frankly confusing, thus to be avoided at all costs.

    "Yes, but what are you FOR?" I hear you telepathetically screaming at me.  I'm for the Cabinet.  I'm for Health and Human Services.  The  Treasury sounds good.  Agriculture: It's what's for dinner...  Transportation is good, teleportation better...  Housing is a good idea, but I don't know that a Cabinet post for Interior Decoration is really necessary.  I don't see a cabinet position for Mom and Apple Pie, so there may be additions if I'm elected.  In the meantime I've decided to wear a special helmet made of aluminum foil to help block out your telepathic questions that are beginning to bug me.

    Help!  What began as reminiscences of my life as an alien abducted banjo salesman has turned into a campaign blog stuck in the present tense.  Everything I think I write down, and it's getting to me!  The aluminum foil is thinner than it used to be, so I'm not sure all the zeton rays are being stopped by it.  It's a good thing it's early in the election cycle, or I might have trouble with the town meetings by the end...  I've developed several additional personalities to help me get through the boring times on the bus when there's no one to talk to.  So everything is okay, and I really hope you'll vote for Phil Steen whenever the mood strikes you.

    I can't believe it.  An attack ad has been aired against me.  I thought everyone loved me.  How could I be so blind?  Well, they're probably mistaken.  I'll have to respond to this, or the campaign is in danger of foundering.  I guess it's par for the course.  There's hardly a presidential candidate out there there who isn't busy shooting himself or some other candidate in the foot about something...  But I want everyone to love me...

    Okay, I've made my rebuttal to that terrorist group that viciously attacked me.  When elected President, I'll respond more forcefully, probably with the Army or Navy or something.  For now, this will have to do.

  This is Naztor speaking, who Phil thinks is an additional personality, but I am actually the reincarnation of a Babylonian warrior prince, and it took this election to get Phil in touch with his mystic side--part of the vision thing.  Anyway I'm excited about his candidacy, and have signed on to help Phil out with the election as his campaign manager.  The first question you might be asking is, do I want to support a candidate who is wearing an aluminum foil hat and clearly insane?  And the answer is, how can you not?  Do I need to point out how insensitive it would be of you to discriminate in this way against the mentally ill?  Already the criminally insane have had a tough enough go of it in the movies and other popular culture.  There's hardly a spy movie where there isn't some nut trying to take over the world.  At least we're up front about it.  I've talked to Phil about it, and he's agreed that, if elected, he'll let the V.P. carry the phone with the "button" since Gen. Feldbrook's the sanest person Phil's ever met, and it will help Phil control his compulsions in that area.

    "Hey dude bad boy here. Naztor something Phil made up.  Me real stuff killer beast inside Phil head.  Vote Phil president or bad boy mad.  bad boy stomp, bad boy chew.  
    WHAT?  Oh, the press conference!  Yes,  good afternoon and thank you all for coming.  I was just warming up the mic there...  Since no one showed up in person, we'll limit comments to the virtual press conference on the web.  No, be quiet, Naztor, I said web only!  Uh, 33Slinkster, you have a question?  
    No, I don't know where to get free legal downloads of first run movies.  It sounds like a good idea, though.  Uh, COLONEL_AGAT?
    That's an amazing story of the wealth you wish to get out of Nigeria, but I'll have to leave foreign affairs to General Feldbrook.  I'll give you his email address later.
    I'm surprised no one is asking about the tinfoil hat I'm wearing.  I want to encourage everyone to wear them, partially to show your support for me, but more importantly to block the zeton rays that cloud your minds.  By conservative estimates, I'm thinking 30 % better when wearing this hat.  So if  you'll send me a photo of yourself wearing an aluminum foil hat, I'll put it on the Steen4President web page.  Thank you, and watch out for aliens--they're out to get you 
more than you think!"

    Hello there, fellow Americans.  This is Naztor speaking, Phil Steen's campaign manager.  While it's true that Phil has been outed as the source of the video which scurrilously attacks his campaign, there's a very good reason for it to have happened.  I admit that mistakes have been made, because it sounds better than if I said I had made them.  Phil and I sensed there was a lack of controversy in Phil's campaign, mostly because we've been below the radar screen of the major networks.  So please see Phil's donning a tinfoil hat and vicious self attacks as a plea for help, and send your good thoughts to us both as we enter rehab.  Rest assured the Steen/Feldbrook candidacy remains right on track.  And remember to send your contributions and legislative requests to Gen. Feldbrook, who has never once complained about floridated water or vital bodily fluids.


Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47  entries) or the stories (starting with  1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)
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Week 46
Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death