Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: Once upon a phone call

“Why don’t ya cut out the jester routine and get down to some serious investigative reporting?”

Just when I thought that I was getting attuned to the snotty onset of winter and establishing a schedule a little less harried, something occurred that profoundly disrupted my chill time.

I was kicked back in a wicked-soft recliner totally zoned into a reread of Dan Brown’s novel “The Lost Symbol,” fantasizing about slipping into his world to succor Robert Landon into outwitting the e-vile doer Mal’akh.

Bob and I were about to have an epiphany about the significance of the whispered chant “Verbum sigificatium Verbum omnificum Verbum perdo” and other cool stuff, when my phone nearly launched itself into a sub orbit status.

The subsequent interface went something like this:


“Is this Nick?”

“I believe so. Would you like to me double check?”

“Look smart a$&, Why don’t ya cut out the jester routine and get down to some serious investigative reporting? Gasoline prices are starting to set themselves on gouge again and good weed prices are obscene. Not only that, I haven’t seen this much pure political muck generated in ages. Things have gotten so downright nasty that certain representatives should be pronounced so devoid of intellect that they qualify for reassignment as Library of Congress flower pots.

“Why aren’t you mass media dweebs doing something about it?”

I stared at the phone for a moment after deeming that part of what I just listened to was profoundly insulting to pottery, then hung up.

The phone rang again and I let my maniac messages monitoring device handle the palpably testy and obviously ethanol infused caller.

“Hey you +@u^*&^$#!, why’d ya hang up on me? What kinda editor are ya anyway? I know yur there. Answer the #%^*&!#g phone!”

I picked up the receiver and gently replied, “Excuse me madam, but I’m not the editor of anything. Editors get paid the real bucks to keep freelancers, such as myself, from getting into so much trouble that they end up writing for gold foil- wrapped, chocolate covered, peanut butter bitcoins. Besides, they know super-secret grammaratic rules and how to use seismic colons, apostles, eclipses, and other important punctuation thingumajigs.

“I normally write about diversified subjects such as the possible blowback if an animal rights group should start protesting the use of seals as strike teams in the Middle East or the neighborhood ramifications of the persistent critter-gang rumbles in our driveway: Ya know, deep stuff.”

She sputtered for a few moments and then let loose with an additional litany of colorful expletives usually associated with accidentally smacking one’s thumb with a claw hammer.

The outburst was followed by intense silence, then a quaffing noise accompanied by a dainty burp that morphed into an unseemly scream culminating with an uncultured slam of her receiver. I took the telephonic drama be a potential signal of her displeasure with my response.

I sat for a moment contemplating what would make a grandam flatline her vocabulary like that? Why yowl at me? It wasn’t my fault people had to choose between filling up their rigs or buying a new Lexus. Nor was I culpable in the fact that some of our leaders seem to be as ineffective as potted-plants when it comes to passing bipartisan legislation.

In fact, I called a couple of influential politicians last year catechizing them as to why they can’t find firm common ground to stand on rather than to stubbornly sink into the mire of discordance where everyone loses. Their response was the same as a gentleman would get popping two Tic-Tacs rather than a Viagra.

Needless to say, the caller got my attention and I started to ponder if I should take my freelancing more seriously and leap into the hard-journalism fray real reporters confront each day.

Should I set out on a course to encourage the discovery of the key to worldwide enlightenment as set forth in Dan Brown’s tome?

Nah, I’m still trying to figure out “The Da Vinci Code” and the strange symbols I noticed in our shower curtain after I finished the book.

I sure as heck don’t want to seriously bounce around in the political arena. Even old Diogenes might run out of lantern fuel searching for a wise public figure in D.C.

So, I think I’ll stick with pondering the potential of stories from people whom, on occasion, contact me after quaffing the better part of a pony keg to query if I’d like the skinny on the trials and tribulations of raising pet naked mole rats or the latest sightings of Sasquatch on the Kenai Peninsula.

It’s the sort of stuff that makes writing fun and keeps the trolls mumbling under their bridges.

Nick can be reached at if he’s not too engrossed in mulling over the swirls in his shower curtain again.

More in Life

Miles Morales, played by Shameik Moore, finds himself opposed by a legion of Spider-People in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” (Promotional image courtesy Sony Pictures)
On the Screen: ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ is somehow again groundbreaking

It’s unlike anything else in theaters. It shouldn’t be missed.

Minister’s Message: Christ brings divine change

Change was a huge factor in the ministry of Jesus Christ

Quinoa Chickpea Kale Salad is packed with filling protein and great nutrition without being too heavy on the stomach. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Fresh and hearty salad to fuel springtime’s busy days

Quinoa Chickpea Kale Salad can be simply poured into a bowl and eaten without breaking stride

When Takotna resident Alec MacDonald registered in February 1942 for the military draft, he falsely claimed to have been born in 1900 in Chautauqua County, Kansas.
The Separate Lives of the Man Who Fell — Part 1

Even now, with much more of the truth laid bare, mysteries remain

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of H Warren’s “Binded” is held in the Peninsula Clarion building on Thursday.
Off the Shelf: Political resistance bound to the personal

“Binded,” a new poetry anthology by Alaska author, confronts nonbinary, rural existence

“A Thousand Cabbages and other poems” by Mary Mullen. Published by Hardscratch Press, 2023. (Promotional photo)
Taking a wider view

‘A Thousand Cabbages and other poems’ sweeps across time and distance in Mullen’s second outing

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: The spring emergence of Willie

He grudgingly skulks out of hibernation only when the sun has decisively conquered the last drifts of winter

Minister’s Message: Don’t give up on life

No doubt, life has its difficulties

People gather in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, August 5, 2022 for Salmonfest, an annual event that raises awareness about salmon-related causes. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Blues, brass, Cajun and local acts to perform at ‘eclectic’ Ninilchik festival

Salmonfest headliners include Old Crow Medicine Show, Sierra Ferrell, Leftover Salmon, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Jackie Venson, The Burroughs and the High Hawks

Most Read