27 posts categorized "Life Sentences"


Waiting to inhale

 Betty260Today's to-do list:

1.  Do some research to see why the dog is pooping in the house all of a sudden.

2.  Check to see if the swimming pool has sprung a slow leak.

3.  Save Betty's life.

Let's begin with No. 3, shall we?  The pool and dog poop can wait (but not for long!)

Of course I can't save Betty Coleman's life alone.  I need your help, and so does Betty, the wife of my good friend Charles Coleman.

It's a beautiful day in San Antonio and, hopefully, where you are.  The sun is out, the sky is bright blue and birds are soaring in the sky.

Makes you just want to take a deep breath and take it all in, doesn't it.

Betty can't do that.  She barely has 15 percent lung capacity and requires oxygen 24/7 just to make it through to another day.

The good news is that after months of exhaustive medical procedures, appointments and a brush with near-death, Betty is on the list for a lung transplant.

Now the bad news, as if what you just read above is not enough.  It appears that in today's tangled mess of medical care and, seemingly, care not, lung transplants and I'm sure plenty of other life-saving medical procedures, you better be wealthy or very well situated financially if you happen to get really sick.

Betty and others in her situation are informed along the arduous path to having a second chance at taking a deep breath with transplanted lungs that funds must be in place to cover anti-rejection medications and other expenses.  We're talking multiples of tens of thousands of dollars.

I've known Betty's husband Charlie, who's struggling with medical issues of his own, for 40 years and change and Betty for many years.  I have never heard either one of these proud, hard-working people ask for anything.  Now there is no choice but to reach out to family, friends and, yes, even strangers.

They are not the only ones with this kind of need, of course.  Others desperately need help as well.

But today, let's help Betty.  I saw her curled up in a fetal-position ball in a hospital bed six months or so ago.  Hospice care followed and the family gathered.  But Betty proved she has some more living to do.  She's up and around, in rehab and ready to get on with her life once she's not on a plastic leash attached to an oxygen tank. 

Here's an idea:  If we all passed on the outrageously priced coffee drinks ("A grande Toasted Marshmallow Latte, please.") for just a little while and sent that $20, $30, $50 or $100 to Betty's GoFundMe account, we could all breathe a little easier knowing that we helped save Betty's life.

Here's the link again:





I'm pretty sure Terrence Malick mows our yard


Our lawn guy, who I think is Terrence Malick, must have stepped away for a minute.   (Courtesy:  blingcheese.com)

Malpic250Oh he's a crafty one, that seriously reclusive Texas-based filmmaker Terrence Malick.

Malick's "The Tree of Life" took the Palme d'Or, a fancy way to say Best Picture, at the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France on Sunday (May 22).

The anti-prolific filmmaker didn't show himself along the sun-baked Croisette in Cannes to bask in the glory of a controversial press screening (a mixture of boos and praise), the gala screening or even Sunday night's awards ceremony.

I think I know the reason for that.  It wasn't near-terminal shyness at all.

I'm pretty sure that's because Malick was cutting and edging our lawn in Plano, TX early Saturday afternoon.  Did a fine job, too, and walked away with 30 bucks (including tip) for his hard work.

Malick hides his true identity well, that sly dog.

Terrence -- an overly formal name for a guy trailing along after a power mower -- calls himself Manuel in his landscaping persona.  I suppose that's an effort by the former Rhodes scholar to, you know, blend in.

He calls me Mr. Larry, and even blurs his true identity by wearing a floppy hat, which is eerily similar, plus or minus a sweat stain or two, to the one seen in Malick's rare photo shown here. 

Manuel -- or is it Terry? -- tries to further conceal his ID by speaking in broken-English via a thick Spanish accent.  I tell you, Malick could act in one of his movies.  His Spanish accent is that "bueno."

That means "good," for those of you who are single-lingual.

It took me a while, but I'm onto Terrence/Manuel now.

I mean, the guy has only cranked out five feature films in almost 40 years.  That gives the Harvard grad plenty of time to grow his landscaping business between gigs.

If you ask me, when Malick turned down the opportunity to direct "The Elephant Man" in 1980 it was because he had some serious mowing and edging to do.

Then there are the blatent landscaping hints in some of his movie titles:  Come one, "The Tree of Life"?

And isn't "The Thin Red Line" (1998), a World War II flick set in the jungles of Guadalcanal, just a metaphor for that thin ditch the edger channels between the sidewalk and the lawn?

I'm on to you, Mr. Terry.  Just know that your secret is safe with me.  In fact, I feel a little like a movie mogul, since we invest $30 in your cinematic projects every couple of weeks. 

I hate to bring this up, Terry, but we have yet to see any return on our investment, cinematically speaking.

Also, if you're not too busy hiding from the paparazzi after your big win at Cannes this week, the magnolia tree of life over by our squirrel feeder in the back yard could use a little trimming.

(Terrence Malick, or Manuel photo from some time in the past courtesy:  Hollywood.com.)


A word to wise 'dummies' everywhere

Colon252r Unless you own or maintain a Web site and have hopes of helping to pay the rent via on-line ads, you may not be aware of this:

It's uncool, forbidden even, for a Web site owner to click on his or her own ads.

In fact, once you commit to placing ads on a site, an oath, of sorts, must be agreed to guaranteeing that the urge to click will be snuffed.

Just to show my dedication to the agreement, I signed mine in blood, which I don't recommend.  Pretty messy, that.

I won't lie to you.  It's a mental battle to refrain from checking out ads on your site.  The pittance one receives from Web site ads depend on the clicks.

So while I can't spend my day click-trotting from ad to ad across my Web pages, nothing forbids you from clicking in to take advantage of what I'm assured are fine, fine offers.

That doesn't mean I can't notice which ads are gracing my site, though.  At any given moment you're likely to see ads for Netflix, the latest movie, on-line universities and the like.

Lately, though, I've noticed an ad for the book "Colonoscopy for Dummies" and become, well, rather startled.

I endured my first colonoscopy last June.  In fact, feel free to click here to read, "A fine how do you doo," my account of the ordeal.

It went well and everything turned out fine.  But "Colonoscopy for Dummies"?

Actually, I'm a fan of the "Dummies" how-to books, which bear the slogan "Making Everything Easier!"  I have "Quicken 2010 for Dummies," "Publisher 2007 for Dummies" and "Excel 2000 for Windows for Dummies."

According to what's lurking on my bookshelves, I haven't felt the need to excel in over a decade.  Maybe I need to purchase "Let's Get Fired Up Again for Dummies."

Still, when it comes to a colonoscopy, I prefer to leave that to the highly trained professionals, thank you.

Now the good news:  As it turns out, "Colonoscopy for Dummies" does not detail how you can perform the delicate procedure yourself.  That would involve a tricky balance of mirrors and medical instruments that I don't even want to think about.

The book in the familiar yellow paperback format merely covers all the questions, fears and even prep for the actual colonoscopy, which, by the way, might just save your life.  So feel free to click on the ad if you see it pop up on one of my pages or anyone else's, for that matter.

And speaking of a colonoscopy, if your doctor suggests you get one, I encourage you to heed the advice.

When you go in for the consult, your physician will explain the procedure step-by-step.  Unless he pulls out his own copy of "Colonoscopy for Dummies" during the chat, I think you'll be fine.

("Colonoscopy for Dummies" photo courtesy:  Colonoscopyfordummies.com.)


Cold facts, warm feet & the agony of deceit

I've been sneaking around, and I'm terrified my wife is going to find out.

Yet how can I resist her charms?

Surely, someone out there will understand, even if it's only the men; some perhaps suffering the same agony.

She's there to warm me and protect me from the cold abyss of the outside world.  She's always there when I need her, and she never utters even a hint of objection or complaint.

Thermuse251 She is ... my thermostat.

I'm cold natured.  I can't help it.  I can't deny it.  I can't defend it.  So I sneak around to deal with it, but the deceit gnaws away at my soul.  Not enough, though, to shiver all day when I'm home alone during cold winter months.

My wife Suellen, through no fault of her own, has an inner body temperature that appears to reside in the desert of El Azizia, Libya, which is generally regarded as the hottest place on Earth.  How does 136 degrees sound?

So, especially during the winter months, if Suellen is anywhere near comfortable, I feel like I'm trudging naked through a raging blizzard in Antarctica.

I've tried to fight the good fight; wrap myself in blankets, wear socks in house shoes, etc.  But occasionally I have to poke my nose out of my blanket pile to move around.  And there it is.  I'm right back in the frozen tundra.

"This is why humans moved into caves, then built huts and eventually took out second mortgages on houses in the suburbs," I plead, "to get out of harsh elements like this."

That argument never flies, of course.

"If you're cold, just put some more clothes on," she says.

To which I've been known to reply:

"If you're hot, you could just take some clothes off."

Gentlemen, I don't recommend that retort.

If you just blurt it out anyway, as I have, just say something like ...

"What?  I didn't say anything.  I was shivering so much you just heard my teeth clicking together."

And so it goes, season after season.  That's why I've resorted to my savior of warmth, Ms. Thermostat.

We heat it up toasty style during winter days.  I just have to remember to restore the chill before Suellen comes home.

The deceit is killing me, though.

I can't go on living this lie.  So I'm fessing up and embracing the mantra of that great philosopher Vanilla Ice.

If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice ice baby, indeed.

(Thermostat photo courtesy:  HunterFan.com)


Loot, loot, loot for the home team?

Riot300 So how do we, the perennially beleaguered Texas Rangers fans, handle long-elusive success?

What's the protocol for celebration at a moment like this?

Sitting in my recliner tilted into full warrior mode as rookie Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, a fireballer, froze Yankee slugger and former Ranger Alex Rodriguez with an 83-mph slider Friday night, it suddenly occurred to me.  We, us formerly lowly Rangers fans, have never had to deal with the possibility of winning the really big one before. 

In case you haven't been counting, the fourth time -- not the proverbial third -- turned out to be the playoff charm for the Texas Rangers.  The franchise has endured much this year:  Player injuries, a manager admitting a noseful of cocaine, a management team willing to forgive if not forget, more injuries, pitchers that didn't deliver, another who arrived and did (Cliff Lee), bankruptcy, new owners and finally this, an American League Championship over none other than our old tradition heavy nemesis, those Yankees of New York.

But even before former Angels outcast DH Vladimir Guerrero took a flying leap onto the Rangers infield victory pile Friday night, my brother Lannie was already texting celebration plans:

"We're going to go outside and shoot our guns into the air, then we're going to turn some cars over," he slowly texted one thumb at a time.

Lannie was kidding.  There are no weapons in the house, except for sharp tongues which can be lethal and have been known to misfire.

And of course there were no real plans to roll cars or, as New Yorkers might expect of jubilation-drunk Texans, to tip over sleeping cows.

Championship celebrations have gotten ugly in the past, as the enclosed photo shows.  When the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, violence erupted outside Tiger Stadium, according to an article posted on the BleacherReport.com Web site.

That's an overturned burning Detroit Police car behind the giddy Tigers fan holding up the World Series pennant flag.

So here's what most of us are likely to do to celebrate the Rangers' American League pennant win as we prepare to brace for the next and deciding step; a seven game winner-take-all World Series against the impressive San Francisco Giants.

We'll head down to local department stores selling official Rangers Championship t-shirts and caps.  Or we might, due to tight economic times, see how the knockoff shirts and caps look at the discount stores.

That's about as wild as we plan to get.  With one possible exception.

If Tammy Nelson (click here for photo), the "Beach Blanket Babylon" singer who warbled "God Bless America" with the outrageous San Francisco skyline hat on during the game in S.F. last week, strolled through our neighborhood, I'd be awfully tempted to tip that monstrosity over, Golden Gate Bridge and all.

(Detroit World Series riot photo courtesy:  bleacherreport.com)


What I did on my fall(ing) vacation

AMbu275 As long as I can remember, I've fought hard against the odds -- uphill, wind in my face, lacking necessary God-given talent tools and/or budget -- to be The Guy.

I longed to be the center of attention, the guy all eyes gravitated to first as a radio DJ, then as a TV news reporter/anchor, a stand-up comedian (let's not go there) and film critic, which actually worked out pretty well.

I finally reached that coveted center-stage point over the weekend in a tiny Texas coastal town.

But I never wanted to be this guy.

It's 4:30 in the morning.  I'm coming out of a blackout fog on a cold condo bathroom floor with loved ones and a complete stranger staring down at me.

Holy crap!  Is that a defibrillator?

But wait, let's flash back a little like they do in the movies.

My wife Suellen and I look forward with great anticipation to our rare chances to get away to the beach.  We don't own a condo.  We will, though, just as soon as our lottery numbers cooperate.

So we rent.  And we love it.  Last weekend's trip began like many of the others.  Relatives and friends would join us at the beach.  We would gather for coffee and chats in the morning, dig our toes into the sun-kissed sand during the day as the seagulls circled low overhead and toast the good life once the sun went down.

But we -- and when I say we I really mean I -- ventured, as they say in the movies, "off-script" this time.  I've been dieting, as some of you and this region's perplexed Blue Bell ice cream distributor know.

My calorie count has been low (too low you are about to discover).  And I've been pushing myself physically playing tennis (which I recently rediscovered that I really enjoy) in the hot sun without adequate hydration. Played a rousing game of "rediscover tennis" with the family that very morning, in fact.

Distill all that with a libation or two to celebrate good times, the moon shining brilliantly on the Gulf water and the fact that the Texas Rangers had clinched the American League West division championship earlier in the day and around 4:30 a.m. we get these buzzwords:

Cramp.  LEG CRAMP!  Now in both legs!  "Ow, ow, ow, OW!"

"Got to get to the bathroom."


(That's the sound of yours truly blacking out and collapsing in a clump on the living room floor; un-carpeted of course.)

Panic.  (That would be Suellen as she comes to my rescue.)

In the bathroom now.

Splat again.

(My best description of collapse No. 2 brought back thoughts of the late Howard Cosell's call when George Foreman belted Joe Frazier to the mat in the first round of the 1973 world heavyweight boxing championship in Kingston, Jamaica:  "Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!")

Serious panic now.

(Suellen makes frantic call to daughter Lisa and son-in-law Johnny, who are two floors down.)

I'm up.  Johnny, a medical research scientist working on a cure for cancer, slums a little and checks me out.  He says my pulse is low.

"I think I'm fine now."

Splat -- the trifecta.

Now we're back to real time.  The paramedics have arrived. 

Actually it's just one paramedic, a nice young lady with slurred speech.  I'm told later she must have recently gotten her tongue pierced.  Presumably, it was on purpose.

"My partner's downthairs throwing up," she casually announces.

Still, she does a very capable job of hooking up my EKG, checking my pulse (Yep, low) and pricking my finger for blood to check the glucose level (low there as well).  The good news:  I do not require the defibrillator.

Suddenly, two more paramedics appear.  One of the new arrivals, whose partner is not downstairs tossing his cookies or jumbo fried shrimp or whatever, appears extremely professional and caring.  Still that makes three paramedics.  I think the odd number is somehow throwing the universe off-kilter.  At least it is mine.

"Sorry, guys," I tell them, "You're not meeting me on my best day."

"We rarely meet people on their best days," the professional appearing one responds with rather exceptional comic timing. 

Full disclosure:  I'm kidding around with them to keep from being scared out of my wits.  When it's generally decided that I don't appear to be in immediate serious danger and can avoid taking a ride in their ambulance (with the puking guy driving), I relax a little.

"Your color ish coming back," the emergency responder with the trendy spike in her tongue says.

"That's good," I respond.

But I can't resist:

"What color am I?"

(Ambulance drawing courtesy:  fundraw.com)


Desperate horsewives

Horse201 If anything, Monmouth Park (Oceanport, N.J.) track announcer Larry Collmus seemed a little bored Sunday (Aug. 22) as the horses filed into the starting gate for the seventh race.

The names of at least three of the entries perked him up some, though.  Especially when he mused that Little Miss Macho appeared a little slow out of the gate.  Two other steeds, however, made this call one for the party reel of all time.

You may have seen snippets of the finish of this showdown between ... sorry, I can't spoil it.  It works much better if you hang with the call all the way to the finish line.

There's only one thing that could have possibly made this afternoon at the track better:  If the race was called the Tiger Woods Sweepstakes.  After all, there's lots of high-dollar mudslinging.  And, just for the record, the Tiger/Elin divorce was finalized the next day.

Now, "And down the stretch they come!!!"


(Horse cartoon courtesy:  classichorse.com)


Why you didn't hear from me today


Sales.  Not my favorite word.

Selling myself to complete strangers over the telephone; cold calling, the smooth talkers call it.

I cringe at the thought. 

Yet I have a very good product to sell.  (There's that "sell" word again.)  If you're the lifestyle director or activity director for a facility that caters to those 55 and over -- whether it be a retirement home, senior housing community, club or group, or if your organization of any age has an interest in movies  -- I will bring a little levity into the lives of those in your group with my Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff presentation series.

We've had fun and very good success so far with the "Casablanca -- Hollywood's Classic Happy Accident" presentation.  It's a lively hour and a half where I show selected "Casablanca" movie clips and provide behind-the-scenes info that's enjoyable and informative.

I'd love to chat with you about how it will liven up your facility and leave your residents asking for a return engagement.  So call me at 972-599-2150 or shoot me an e-mail ([email protected]) and we'll set up a meeting to discuss a presentation date.  I say that because I should have already contacted you.

Here's why you didn't get that sales call from me today:

  1. I'd almost rather eat a rusty nail (not the drink) than dial up a perfect stranger and ask them to hire me, even though I've enjoyed a 30-year career as a film critic, have traveled much of the world interviewing Hollywood's A-list celebrities and show up at your place ready to go with projector, movie screen, sound system and some darn good quips at a reasonable price.
  2. My coffee cup's near empty.  I better refill it now.
  3. What if I don't make a good impression over the telephone?
  4. Now I have coffee, but we're babysitting the grand-dogs (Jaxson and Scooter) for a couple of weeks and I think they need to go out.
  5. Now I can call you.  Wait, I almost forgot.  We're keeping the dogs because my step-daughter Lisa is off to Europe -- Prague, can you believe it? -- to play in the world final ultimate Frisbee tournament. (Impressive, if I do say so myself.  Her team is seeded 7th in the world.  The world.  Way to go, Lisa!)
  6. Oops, coffee's low again.  Be right back.
  7. I'm dialing your number right n... Who's that, the FedEX guy?  'Scuse me just a minute.
  8. I wonder how many hits my Web site (LarryRatliff.com) is getting today?  This won't take long.
  9. "Hello.  Yeah, how 'bout them Rangers.  What's that?  Sorry, can't do lunch today.  Busy making sales calls."
  10. Where was I?  Oh yes ... Oops, must have more coffee.
  11. "Yes, Jaxson, it's time for a treat.  Are you wearing a watch, fella?  Come on, Scootie, you too."
  12. 972-36... (Hang up quick)  Oh, oh, bathroom break!
  13. Hmmm, wondering if I set the DVR to tape tonight's Rangers game?  Big game tonight.
  14. Wait a second, it's time for my snack.  When you're dieting (Don't get me started) snack time is very important.
  15. "Yes, you're a good boy, Scooter.  Do you need to go outside?  OK, get Jaxson, we'll play ball."
  16. Playing tennis for the first time in, oh, about 30 years this weekend.  Better look up where I can find a practice wall.  Don't want to look like a complete idiot out on the court.
  17. Coffee?  Why, I'd love another cup.  Thank you, me.
  18. "Good afternoon, my name is Larry Ratliff with the Movie Memories presentation series.  May I please speak to Ms. Gilbert, the activity director?  She's already gone for the day?  But it's only ... oh, 6:13."

Man, I just can't catch a break.

I hate sales.

Maybe you better just call me.


A fine how do you doo

Colcar352 Don't ask me why, but I wanted my colonoscopy to be, if not funny, at least a little humorous.

You know, like Ricky Gervais' in the movie "Ghost Town" a couple years back.  Without the dying unexpectedly part, of course.  Nothing funny about that in real life/death, is there?

It didn't begin that way.  My prep nurse -- a very nice lady, really -- made it clear to me that I waited too long for my first colon spelunker adventure. 

"Why did you wait so long? 

"Don't know, really?"  (I did know.  I was scared s%*^#+&%.)

"Colon cancer is the silent killer, you know." 

"Yes, I know," I replied demurely (and you're killing me a little right now with your lecture; Wanna trade places?)

When the male nurse arrived to insert the IV in my arm and wheel me down to the surgery center procedure room, I thought things were going to brighten up substantially.

"Why are you here?"

"Colonoscopy," I said.

Then he (early 30s maybe, 20 years away from undergoing the embarrassing but essential procedure himself) launched into some spirited surgical center comic patter.

"Just for the fun of it?"


"I always ask patients if they're having a colonoscopy for the fun of it.  It catches them off guard and eases the tension," he said.

Later, when the nurse was tapping my wrist to locate the vein for the IV, the dinner show began:

"There's no reason to do this, really.  I just like to beat the patients."  (Good one, buddy.)

Then, after inserting a deadening needle and then the larger IV needle (painlessly, I might add):

"Remember, the state of Texas allows me to do this."

Being an old comedian, and feeling older by the second, I must admit the guy's timing was good and his material, as they say in the biz, was topically on the money.

Trouble was, after not eating anything solid for a day and a-half and losing three pounds in the non-advisable toilet diet the day before, I was in no mood for banter of any kind.

Which brings me to:

Security breaches at the G2 Summit

I won't lie to you.  Colonoscopy prep is not pleasant.  When I think back about the three-hour process of clearing my lower body regions of, let's say, clutter, the image that pops into my head is of landscape-altering tsunamis roaring in opposite directions.

The instructions were simple enough.  Pick up a box of laxative tablets, a 238g bottle of MiraLAX (explosives disguised as laxative powder; Do Not Let Terror Cellists In Your Neighborhood Know About MiraLAX) and a 64 ounce bottle of Gatorade.

You take four laxatives with eight ounces of Gatorade.  Then a couple of hours later, you pour the entire box of MiraLax into the Gatorade.  You shake it up, drink it up (eight ounces every 10 or 15 minutes) and -- before long -- become a human geyser at maximum pressure. 

By the way, have you tried to buy Gatorade lately?  Apparently, it has faded away like the 8-track tape, the DeLorean automobile and, unless something happens fast, Paris Hilton.

Gatorade has morphed into something called G2, the middle part of Gatorade's G Series in the science of thirst quenching.

Oddly enough, G2, the second stage of a three-part process, is titled DURING.

If ever there was truth in advertising, G2 qualifies, especially when mixed with volatile amounts of the MiraLAX explosive.  'Scuse me, laxative.  Give me a couple 64-ounce bottles of this mixture and I could bring down Hoover Dam.

Let's just say it's a good thing we installed a new industrial strength toilet a month or so ago.

Whew, glad it's over.  The colonoscopy process may not be pleasant, but it's much preferred to the alternative (the silent killer).

So if you're 50 or older, I urge you to schedule yours today.  It'll free your mind, your soul and your lower body like you won't believe.

And I get to go through the cleansing process again in three years.

Just for the fun of it.

(Colonoscopy cartoon courtesy:  funnytimes.com)


Gawd, save the queen!

Hi, my name is Samuel Clodhopper Ant MMMMMMMMMMMMMDCLXIII.

You can just call me Scant, though.  Uncle Sting came up with that one 'cause I'm smaller than most of the guys (you call us Carpenter Ants) in the nest.

By the way, that's not me you're looking at above.  That's Mom, the Queen.  Boy did she give me lots of sisters; so many I've lost count.

Maybe that's why my own mother doesn't act like she even knows I'm alive.

But she will today.  I'm heading back through the wall to the colony as fast as I can with a very special treat for her.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

If you've been to Larry and Suellen's house the last couple of days, you may have seen me scurrying along the trail from just to the left of the cook-top, past the coffee pot (Boy, that guy can really drink some Joe) and along the sink. 

I probably would have never gotten out of the nest, but good ol' Uncle Sting put in a word to Mom.  So two human days ago, which is, like, forever for me, I joined the trail to bring back food.

My position:  17 ants behind Sting.  That's me just in front of Louie.  "Come on, Louie, move your antennae!"  Too bad there's not an ant fast-food joint along the way;  "587,000 lettuce bits to go, please, and a droplet of water.  Let's go crazy!" 

Wait, maybe there is.  What's that shiny black thing behind the wooden chicken by the sink?  That wasn't there last trip.  It looks like a modern ant sanctuary.  You humans would call it a roadside park, except this whatever it is looks way too clean.

And it smells -- how can I describe it -- sweet!  That's it, sweet.  "See you later, fellas, I'm taking a super-sized helping of this golden nectar back to Mom!"

Just back inside the wall now.  My legs are so tired from hurrying with this heavy load that I can barely go on.  And I'm nervous.  I feel like I have two left feet.  Wait, I do have two left feet.  Three, in fact.

Almost there now.  "Out of my way, girls.  My name is Sam Clodhopper Ant the 8,000 and, oh, whatever, and I've got lunch for the queen!

"Mom, uh Your Majesty, I've only been on the trail for two days.  But I found this sweet-smelling nectar in a shiny black cathedral with surprisingly easy access on every side.  I lugged this special treat all the way back here just for you, Mom.  I didn't even take a bite." 

Queen Ant, eating:  "Oh, Scant.  You don't have to tell me who you are.  I knew you'd take (cough) your rightful (gag) place in (gasping for breath ... more gasping) the nest (huge wheeze) some da........"

(The queen expires; six legs and a huge larvae bag up.  Suddenly it's mayhem in a panicked nest of millions.)

Scant:  What? ... WHAT?

(Photo courtesy:  alexanderwild.com)