Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AM Shift Manager Paul Ryan Speaks at the Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome Morning Meeting

Gather ‘round. Gather ‘round…

“Nice To See You’re Still Alive, Losers.” Why are you guys looking at me like I’m wearing a dead squid like a hat? That’s the official Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome customer greeting. That’s right, troops. I got big news. You no longer work for Happy Humphrey’s Burger Palace. As you know we’re under new management. That said…yes, the five-foot pockmarked vomiting cartoon heart-monitor on the marquee is our new mascot, Barfy McFlatline. A truckload of plush Barfy squeeze dolls for Fuck You Big Smile Kiddy Meals are en route as I speak.

Now, everyone, can we practice the new Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome greeting? With gusto…3,2,1…hell yeah! That’s the spirit. Nice to see most of you are aboard so quickly, and without pause or inquiry. What the heck is wrong with a little less than half of you? You better pep up post haste. You don’t want last Tuesday’s uneaten Fuck You Gone Repealin’ Fish Sandwiches stuffed in your breakroom locker, do you? I’ll do it. I swear I’ll do it.

Listen, when I unlock the entrance and the herd rushes in for their Fuck You Bucket O’ Scrapple with side Turd Tots, smile like you stumbled upon a duffle bag full of white privilege down by the trains tracks, and say “Hey, Nice To See You’re Still Alive, Loser.” Everybody. Loud and proud. Okay? It’s not a choice, people. In case you forget the motto, it’ll be under your name on the shiny new Fuck You pins I’m handing out now. Take a gander at mine: “Hi. My name is Shift Manager Paul. Fuck You.”
Okay, moving on. I need to inform you all of a few more decisions from regional management that need implemented yesterday, no exceptions. First and foremost, the 99 Cent Pocket Change menu has been discontinued. Poof. If a customer can’t afford anything off the regular Fuck You menu, said customer will just have to go hungry. It’s that simple.

Next, we are damn proud to announce that the prices of all items on the Glowering Don Fuck You Combo Menu have decreased.  However, the menu has been scaled back just a wee tad. The advertised price of any of the selections off the Glowering Don Fuck You Combo Menu now only cover a yet-to-be-determined portion of the meat patty, your choice of the top or bottom half of the bun, 13 fries, 7.3 sesame seeds, a “smidgeon” of lettuce, and the bubbly top part of the soda. Everything else—onions, tomatoes, pickles, the other 9 fries or 27.7 sesame seeds, etc.—are priced a la carte. 

Furthermore, we won’t advertise the price of these non-essential items. Customers will receive an invoice from Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome in 1-3 months. Cashiers, you will be required to casually leaf through the written protocol detailing the new billing process. If a customer says “huh?” or “wait, what–?” or issues similar expressions of confusion or incomprehension, read the text to them. But fast, okay? We’re not feeding these people for their health.

Oh, here’s an exciting new feature. Customers may now choose to have one of those colored tooth picks stuck into their sandwich. These adornments are offered at the small fee of full price, as they are for cosmetic purposes only. Customers’ entry into the premises constitute their binding acceptance of a waiver of our liability if they, or their minor child, eats one. FYI.

We will also be following an age-based pricing policy. For instance, take the Fuck You Wake ‘n Bacon Croissant. Let’s say you’re 23 years-old and spry, and just stopping by for a quick bite. You’re still young enough to decide not to be poor for the rest of your life. But the older you get, the more of an investment breakfast becomes. For those older folk who’ve made poor life choices, who depend on the Fuck You Wake ‘n Bacon Croissant for survival morning-after-morning—perhaps because they’re too needy to shop at Whole Foods, or too enfeebled to push a grocery cart, or hell, maybe their nursing home trolley only stops here—there’s a soup kitchen up in Canada, Grandpa. On the other hand, parents of all ages are still allowed to share their leftovers with their children, provided said children are 26 years of age or younger.

Listen up, this is an important one—customers seeking the Great Again All-You-Can-Eat Salad Buffet will not be allowed to partake in dining if they enter the premises with pre-existing hunger. A fellow who skips breakfast then pays seven dollars for the buffet, but eats seven dollars and thirty seven cents worth of iceberg lettuce and fixins’…well, you don’t gotta’ be Copernicus to know that that equals an unsustainable lunch model. Hunger must be acquired on Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome property, formal geographical co-ordinates of which are of course available at the Country Registrar’s Office.

Finally, and we won’t advertise this for obvious reasons, but one out of every 150 Fuck You Big Coup-huna Burgers may or may not be saturated with potassium cyanide. Hey, such is the unavoidable collateral cost of providing such hearty meals to a hungry populace at the cut-rate costs available only from your local China. Besides, Big Ol’ Fuck You Burger Dome mercifully gives customers the god-damn freedom to opt out of any participation in dining. Which is to say,  nobody here is being strong-armed to pay a grossly unfair fee for possibly dying. It’s called “freedom” for a reason. We all want freedom-from-death, and sometimes you can actually have it.

I know what you guys are thinking. “Shift Manager Ryan, as both an employee and a loyal customer of Big Ol’Fuck You Burger Dome, will I also be eligible and/or forced to take advantage of all these awesome changes?” The answers is no. All employees are exempt. Sorry.

Ok, so let’s all hustle our butts today, and be sure to implement and enforce all policy changes as hurriedly as possible. Yes, some customers may give you guff concerning the new and improved Fuck You policies. Tell them to call their congressman. Oh, one last thing. Fuck You Super-Patriot Freedom Fries are off the menu today. Bernie, the mouthy line cook, called in sick.

Hey, who knew the deep fryer was so complicated.

Hey Ellis

I have pledged to myself time and again to ignore the headlines and go back to writing Monongahela River Fish Power Rankings, or Gary Busey's Commencement Speech at Southwest Paducah Institute of Driveway Drainage, or whatnot. But I can't. My buddies say "less politics, and more Bumper Balls reviews." But I just can't.

The chorus of gobbledygook sung from the DC Shitshow All Star Band is an earworm that's munched into my brain and nests in the frontal cortex. (I mean, for Christ's sake, whenever Trump sullies the airwaves you can practically see the shiny zipper on the human body suit that disguises the babbling gollum underneath). Short of pouring potassium cyanide into my ear, I'll just have to deal. 

I don't blame Trump for the mess. He is who he is; I don't blame my four-year-old son when he dumps his bowl of noodles. I don't even blame the GOP in Congress, really. Sure, they're greedy cutthroat mercenaries who disembowel common feeders to feast like royalty themselves, but god love 'em for being true to themselves. Who I want to curb stomp with nuclear-tipped duct boots is the sea-to-sea league of nincompoops who rolled out the plush red carpets for the child king and his merry gaggle of dickheads. These people are the real disease, and they've developed pseudoscientific, dogmatic, patriotic antibodies to facts and critical thinking.

Regarding genetically engineering embryos to achieve certain traits—I recall my college Biology 301 professor saying that humans have evolved to the point where DNA can be altered so that a baby is born with blue-eyes and a cleft-chin, if that's the parents' desire. Therefore, the thinking goes, genetic engineering is as biologically natural as two penguins humping or a sprout of ragwort growing in a cruddy gutter. That concept blew my mind. That humans have developed the technology capable of destroying the planet via greenhouse gases or H-bombs, or mastered the mass manipulation skills to convince a zombie population to vote against their own interests, etc, etc, etc...I can't help but think that the self-inflicted oxidation of mankind is simply nature taking its course, albeit in a macabre yet poetic way, like when a bee stings an enemy to survive, but dies when it rips its fucking guts out attempting to flee. 

As George Carlin once said, we in America have front row seats to the freak show that is humanity. Maybe it's time to stop throwing tomatoes at the stage, and start eating popcorn instead. White cheddar, please.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm Thinking About Adopting a Terminally Sick Hamster For My Son

Throughout much of April and May, our backyard was home to a garter snake. My son Uri considered him an outdoor pet. "Let's go see the snake," he'd say, excitedly. Docile the snake slithered among the grass nearly every time we visited the backyard. (The name Docile is earned). Eventually, my son emboldened himself to touch Docile. When our family returned home after an Easter weekend away Uri was eager to greet his friend. Instead, he discovered Docile upside down and ripped in half. "The snake's tail is all broken," he said.

The following is inspired partly by that moment.


I'm thinking about adopting a terminally sick hamster and giving it to my four-year-old son as a pet. Ideally, he'll will fall in love with the hamster shortly before the damn thing dies. I want this because I love my son.

Stay with me…

Here's what I imagine: I visit a Pet Smart on a sunny low-humidity Sunday afternoon, and stroll by all the dopey "pwease take me home…pweeease" looks on the faces of the puppies and kittens. I stop at the hamster cage and scan the critters for the one most likely to croak within a week or two. "Hey, look at the pathetic balled-up one, half-buried in the cedar bedding—the shaky 'lil bastard with all the shit coming out of his bloodshot eyes. Please plop that one in a box for me, my good man. My son will be so excited."

Surely enough, my son is swamped with glee when he unfolds the take-out box with air holes. I tell my son his new pet's name is Squiggly. Though my son seems bemused by the sludge bubbling out of Squiggly's nostrils, I assure him that his new pet is healthy. At least Squiggly isn't smothered in vomit crust. Hours later, when Squiggly barfs all over his fur, I say "Don't you worry, boy. Squiggly is fine. Hold him. Love him. The muffled banshee squeals are hamster-speak for 'You’re my best friend.' Hear that? Squiggly is telling you he'll be here forever and ever. "

Okay, listen, I know this seems morbid—it is morbid—but hang in there.  My son is endlessly affectionate. The aforementioned stunt, albeit fantasy and confined to a blog post, is cruel. But stay with me, please. I'm not as think as you sick I am, officer.

Anyway, my son falls in love with Squiggly, despite the critter's waning existence as a cuddly petri dish for the Bubonic Plague. My son carries him everywhere in his tiny palm, and pets his new bestie with his tiny inger. Everything Is Awesome (the theme from the Lego Movie, duh) thumps from the stereo while my son claps and skips in hopes of enlivening the wheezing fur ball in the five gallon aquarium. Amid her weekly phone call, Grammie is regaled with tales about how Squiggly crawled along the plastic Duplo train tracks, and collapsed near Thomas the Tank Engine. My son's daycare playmates are tired of hearing the excitable boy yammer on about the toddler love triangle between himself, Squiggly, and their sparkling future as owner and pet. In an infinite universe in which there are an infinite amount of things to fall asleep staring at, Squiggly is who gradually fades from my son's loving gaze in the pale nightlight -- another unwilling surrender in the nightly war to stay awake forever. Goodnight you two buggers. 

My son loves Squiggly.

But Squiggly dies overnight.

“Fix Squiggly,” my son says.

“I can’t,” I reply. “He’s broken, buddy. He’s broken forever.”

“FIX HIM,” he repeats, holding Squiggly against his chest.

“BROKEN FOREVER,” I say. I pry my son’s fingers from stiff chilly Squiggly one-by-one as tears drip onto the corpse that had been a dear companion hours ago. I dig a small hole in the back yard, hold Squiggly out like a dirty sock and drop him by the tail into the hole. I replace the dirt then tamp it down. Snot is smeared about my son's contorted red face.

I'm sorry, kiddo. Truly.


I would be right to gift a four-year-old a terminally ill hamster. Sure, the mere thought of my son's reaction to Squiggly's death is heart-wrenching. But it's for the best. Squiggly’s death would constitute a life lesson. Yes, I could try to explain to a four-year-old the concept of loss, but I might as well be having a heart-to-heart with a gardening trowel. Loss, if it is to be understood appropriately, needs context. Only the emotional impact of a palpable loss—Squiggly in this case—would prepare the boy for further adventures in life. Yes, my teaching method is perhaps unsavory, and god knows I'm no child physiologist, or even an experienced parent, but surely the benefits to my son are understood.

I'd say "long-term emotional scarring be damned," but that's the point. A scar is a reminder of pain, but is not painful.

Moreover, Squiggly would spend the last few days of his miserable life in the presence of my son's love. So Squiggly wins too.

I have to prepare my son for a future of life on Earth…THIS BEAUTIFUL, INSANE, TOO OFTEN GROTESQUE EARTH. I don't consider myself a tough love parent. I'm not going to tell my son to touch the stovetop burner so he learns it's hot. I'll just tell him it's hot. Besides, physical pain is easily forgotten. Wait until he's a teenager at a river lot party and he drops his cigarette too close to the fire pit. Wait until he does it again the next weekend. He can blame drunken instinct and a momentary lack of self-awareness when he curses the blisters on his fingers.

Specifically, I want him to learn, before puberty, that shit is fucked up. Real shit, I mean. Not stovetops and camp fires—they always have been, are, and always will be, HOT. Don't touch them, idiot. I'm talkin' real shit, like neurotoxins in the drinking water, or North Korea aiming a long-range nuclear missile at Sunshine Garden Daycare. I'm talkin' real shit, like a loved one getting splayed about Route 22 after being t-boned by a half-asleep overworked Big Ron's Transport driver, or mankind's murder-suicide of Earth; it's easier to ignore Bill Nye than do the one simple thing he suggests will save the planet from becoming a dystopian greenhouse—"everything, all at once."

You know what I mean. You read the news. Not to suggest that "things are worse nowadays" as the cliché goes. Hostility has actually decreased since the advent of the printing press, or thereabouts. (Thanks Steven Pinker) "Nowadays" worldwide coverage is 24/7, be it CNN or social media, and the rockets and bombs are deadlier. People, on the other hand, like stovetop burners and campfires, have always been, are, and will always be, HOT.

As a father, I sometimes feel like a con man. Part of my paternal assignment is to shield my son from shit reality, or, at least, distract him from it. (What?! Some jackass martyr rammed a dump truck into the maypole festival! Look kiddo…a butterfly!) 

I morph into the blanket monster and tickle him into oblivion. I sacrifice my back to give him laundry hamper roller coaster rides. I read him Frog and Toad Are Friends at bedtime; those two amphibious amigos continually find themselves in a heap of trivial burden but always wind up cozy and carefree, and together. Although I never tell my son that everything will always be fun, or be cheery like the ending of a Frog and Toad adventure, I certainly give him that impression.

Believe me, I want his life to be endless tickle traps and breakneck hamper rides. But I'm selling him snake oil, in a way. I turn out the bedroom light and rub his head while he drifts to sleep, and I tell him I'll see him in the morning when the whoopee and hoopla will begin anew. Literally two minutes later I'm watching babies choke from the effects of sarin gas, or Kim Jong-Un leak pre-cum at the notion of an intercontinental ballistic missile lambasting Seattle. Or Donald Fucking Trump. So when I whisper bedtime pleasantries into my son's ear, I kinda' feel like a goddamn fraud. I do. 

But not the night Squiggly dies.

"Sorry about Squiggly, son. He was a good friend; you loved him and he loved you. But he's broken forever. Sometimes good things just go away. Poof. And sometimes bad things take their place. For now, rejoice. The water isn't poisoned, your daycare isn't leveled, Dad's guts aren't strewn about the interstate, and global warming hasn't yet…well, forget that one. Well, don't forget it-forget it. Take heed of it. Lots of heed. But don't worry about those other things. They don't affect you, yet. Hopefully never will. Probably never will, actually. But maybe. Regardless, all I can promise is that the blanket monster will tickle you and you'll swirl though the air in a laundry hamper as long as Dad has his faculties. But Dad's faculties are tenuous. Someday he may not be strong enough to lift you, and his brain might go wonky and he won't recognize your face. Who knows? Hopefully you will have grown too big to fit in the hamper by time Dad is diagnosed...if he ever is, but he probably won't be. Listen, I'm not trying to scare you. But everything you have in life...everything is like Squiggly. Squiggly, be he a dead hamster, is also a metaphor. It's really just a matter of time before...poof. But some "Squigglys" last a long, long time. Sometimes you vamoose first. Oh Jesus, let's not go there. I'm not trying to spook you into not falling in love with something, or someone. 

Love stuff, boy. Love stuff fucking hard. Love stuff the way Dad loves you, if you feel so compelled. You're like my Squiggly, less the hemorrhaging. 

Bottom line here -- just don't forget how much you loved Squiggly, and planned on growing old together. And don't forget that, now, he smells as putrid as a...well...what I mean to say is that...ah...maggots are feasting on his...ah...he's rejoining the circle of life. Anyway...TICKLE TRAP!"


Besides kiddo, Squiggly's death rattle and pus trails should've been red flags concerning your impractical-reptilian-brain commitment to inevitable disappointment and ruin. Where's your critical thinking skills, boy? You don't want to be one of them*, do you? Ah, but that's a lesson/blog post for another day.


*Trump voters/GOP Congresspeople/concussed second graders

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

An American Patriot’s Apology to Those Not Pre-Selected to Board the "Fuck You Alex Baldwin" Deep Space Colonizer

Stop whining. You can't be in too dire straits if you're reading this. I mean, you're alive, right? Right? I bet your latest monthly heating bills chart like an upside down hockey stick. Huzzah! Atlanta is now within a carefree Sunday jaunt of the creeping Georgian coastline. Surf's up, brah! Hell, you can fry lizard meat on a rock in Missouri. You know, in case you're in a "Most Dangerous Game" type situation and you desperately need food.

You're welcome, by the way…Ugh!

All joking aside, how were we supposed to know that shit on Earth would get so catawampus? It's not like internationally respected scientists Neil degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye "The Sorry-But-The-Planet-Is-Royally-Screwed-You-Idiots Guy" weren't exploding our Twitter and Facebook feeds daily with grim warnings that our Earth would careen toward desolation if we didn't curb our fossil fuel dependency. How could any sane person take either seriously? For Christ’s sake, Tyson wore those god-awful flamboyant science-y suit vests, and Nye taught seven-year-olds how to make whirlpools inside 2-liter bottles of Coke.

Sure, there was also the other 97% of worldwide nameless climatologists who were proclaiming the same ominous predictions. But they weren't personally bothering us on YouTube, so….

Of course, what if all those guys were flat-out wrong? The remaining 3% of climatologists are climatologists too, right?

Besides, throughout history, science has changed its mind sooo many times. Remember when we were told acid rain would ruin everything? Nowadays, I'd swear "acid rain" was a nickname for a newfangled street drug. Remember that so-called hole in the so-called ozone layer? I sacrificed years of dousing my pompadour in Aqua Net, and for what? That shit musta’ closed up overnight. Hell, not too long ago scientists were worried about “global cooling”. Hah! That Doomsday prophesy was forgotten real damn quick when those beady eyed nerds with their dorky numbers realized with nearly 100% certainly that industrial carbon dioxide was rising to the atmosphere and trapping heat, thus threatening humanity. "Global cooling?”…FAIL.

"What if these climate alarmists are hoaxers?" we wondered. Surely one can understand that stance? Intellectual luminaries such as ex-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sure as hell thought the jig was up. And what right-minded patriot wouldn't paint her likeness into the Last Science Supper alongside fellow geniuses Carol Sagan, Steven Hawking, Dr. Emmet Brown, Bruce Banner, and...ah…other super-duper smart experts. Hell, Ted friggin' Nugent thought global warming was balderdash too. You know, 70's rock icon Ted Nugent—the dude who penned the classic ballad "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," and once adopted a 17 year-old so he could legally fuck her. I'm sorry, but when Ted Nugent screeches incoherently between bouts of snarling at himself in the mirror, I listen.

Okay. Okay. Palin and Nugent aside, what honest-to-goodness blue-blooded star-spangled American wouldn’t take as gospel the worldview of the freely elected leader of the industrialized world, the 45th-47th President of the United States, Our 1st Big League Vanquisher of Intergalactic Binary Star Systems, Donald J. Trump? He warned us from practically day one of campaigning that global warming was a big fat joke perpetrated by China. When you connected the dots, it seemed to make perfect sense: The worldwide scientific community was actually a clandestine horde of Chinese foreign actors—students of the Inspector Clouseau School of Foolery—hiding in plain sight behind lab coats and novelty periodic table ties, and planted in these United States to punk the American people into ditching their gas-guzzling Hummers for much, much, much more economical two-door Ford Focuses, recycling trash bags full of empty Schlitz cans, and preventing millions of children from suffering the lifelong effects of asthma.

Personally, I figured the whole charade seemed nothing more than a highly coordinated Chinese scam to sell Americans Bonsai trees on Arbor Day.

Donald Trump was a godsend. Finally, here's a fearless non-politician politician who actually spoke his mind, man. Bully for him. Not only that, the guy assured us he was very highly educated. He knew words. In fact, he had the best words. Who were we simple-minded peons to fucking question a juggernaut like him?

Alright, so maybe we goofed. I'll admit that some among us became a little concerned when, within exactly 37 seconds after taking the oath of office, President Trump pledged to gut climate change research, and signed an executive order to halt carbon dioxide emissions regulations. But Uncle Biff didn't despair, boy. He tossed his coal miner helmet in the crisp, clean air like it was friggin’ graduation day. "Fuck yeah! Coal won the war on coal," he screamed in delight. The family took him to Chuck E. Cheese's and bought him a pack of multi-colored glow sticks and five spider rings to celebrate. He was so giddy that he almost forgot his iron lung between the out-of-order Dance Dance Revolution game and the animatronics stage.

Uncle Biff is dead now. He never got to use that coal miner helmet again. Actually, that ain't altogether true. He was buried in it. So, yeah, I guess you could say he got to wear it underground again. RIP Uncle Biff.

Anywho, apologizes to those who weren't pre-selected by The Divine Overseer of The Ministry of Perfect Human Specimens Steve Bannon ("his DNA be praised forever and ever") to board the "Fuck You Alex Baldwin" Deep Space Colonizer with Trump and the boys. I wasn't one of them either, if that makes you feel any better.

Seems Bill Nye was right—Earth is royally screwed. Moreover, that blasted Hillary Clinton never was fitted for that orange jumpsuit after all, so this whole knowingly destroying the planet thing was all for naught, but whatever. For me, I'm just going to wash my hands of this whole dang mishap and die guiltless, knowing I had my reasons.

Hey, look on the bright side. No one is worried about their internet service providers selling their browser history to "evil " corporations anymore. Hah! Now excuse me while I put a lil' "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" on the ol' stereo and let The Nuge power chord my worries away…"Wang dang, what a sweet poontang. A shakin' my thang, as a rang-a-dang-dang in the bell. Ohh baby…"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What I've Noticed Since I Quit the Daily News Cold Turkey

1. The night terrors are in gradual remission.

2. The sun.

3. I'm getting boners again.

4. Laughter is still a thing, somehow.

5. I can have a conversation just about baseball.

6. The lesions on the back of my neck are healing after week-upon-week of subconsciously clawing at my skin.

7. I have new neighbors (hi, Pam and Emmet—I’ll shovel the sidewalk soon, I promise).

8. I haven't overstepped the data limit on my cell phone plan this month.

9. Hot damn! Did I mention the awesome boner resurgence?

10. There's a knee-high pile of junk mail (mostly Comcast Triple Play deals) on the porch.

11. The tail of a dead squirrel is sticking out of my gutter.

12. Jesus, how long has the downstairs closet smelled like a tire fire?

13. Wait, what the hell are these Facebook posts referring to?

14. Why does everyone I respect intellectually look so glum?

15. I'm sorry, but did I overhear you correctly? Please tell me I didn’t just hear that Trump’s fucking budget proposal eliminates funding to…

16. AAAHHH!!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Old Stall Game

The crack of the bat, the smell of the grass…the taste of pine tar.

Baseball is back.

For those who revel in the history, strategy, and romance of America’s greatest game, springtime reigns…as does all of summer, and a hefty chunk of fall. Yes, one of baseball’s most beloved virtues is that it serves as a soundtrack to, literally, more than half a calendar year. Simply having play-by-play on the radio in the background—every single freaking night, for 182 straight nights—is a pleasure.

What’s more, the games themselves are long. Too long. Intercontinental wars have been declared and concluded before the first pitch and the final out of a twilight double header. Ideas abound about ways to shorten the length of a game, so fans can stay abreast of the unfolding on-field spectacle without sacrificing a hearty slice of their waking hours. (Ask the otherwise devoted father who lamented neglecting too much of his only son’s preteen childhood to catch a meaningless late September Mariners-Twins extra-innings affair.)

Recently, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that intentional walks will be granted without a pitcher tossing four wide ones. Some old-schoolers have derided the decision as baseball treason. Moreover, math suggests the average length of a game would thus be lessened by a grand total of 13 blessed seconds. Surely, one might think, there must be better suggestions to truly abbreviate nine (plus) innings in a way that would enliven the drama without sacrificing baseball’s purportedly precious legacy.

There are! Behold.

-Limit batter walk-up music to the first three notes of the player’s chosen song. As is, a batter’s stroll from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box is akin to the spectacle of a WWE wrestler walking down the ramp during Wrestlemania. Do fans really need to suffer the latest Drake or Keith Urban chart topper, just because the seven-hole batter in a blowout game needs to get pumped-up enough to flail at three consecutive breaking pitches? If the batter doesn’t reach the batter’s box before the conclusion of the third note of his walk-up song, the batter is out. Furthermore, the batter’s contract is voided, and he will be deported to an undisclosed island where Godsmack’s entire music catalog will be played loudly, on repeat, 24/7, forever and ever.

The only music that should be a part of the game is chin music. 

-Brave’s pitcher Bartolo Colon—46 years old/290 pounds—must use a bullpen cart in lieu of walking a single step farther in a Major League baseball park. This includes all trips on and off the field, trips from one base to another (i.e. station-to-station), trips to the clubhouse urinal, etc. As a general rule, any major leaguer whose baseball card is both too old and too heavy to put in the spokes of a bicycle, will only be allowed mobility via bullpen cart.

-Mandatory amphetamines…for fans. Details to come.

-The pitching coach will “visit” the pitcher to discuss strategy, not in person, but via Facetime. This will eliminate the need for a pudgy, decrepit man in stirrups to shamelessly waddle from the dugout to the hill as thousands, if not millions, die of boredom. Instead, said coach will communicate with the pitcher via the most recent version of the iWatch (National League) or iPhone (American League). Caveat: Although abolishing the slow crawl of mound visits should reduce playing time by about, oh, an hour and thirty seven minutes per game, admittedly half of that time will be added back by the endless stream of plugs for Apple: official sponsor of the “Visit to the Mound.” 

-Any foul ball that reaches the second deck is an automatic out.

-Any regular season game involving the Chicago Cubs will be forfeited to whichever club that is not the Chicago Cubs. Not only will this altogether eliminate 162 games off the schedule and thwart a Cubs’ dynasty, baseball fans worldwide will be spared the vomit-inducing brutality of weathering night-after-night-after-night of Joe “faux hipster glasses” Maddon’s pretentious and insufferable postgame press conferences.

Fuck the Cubs and fuck Joe Maddon, too.

-A sharpshooter stationed in the cabin of the overhead Met Life blimp will maim the right knee cap of any fielder who commits an error. The omnipresent possibility of being forever rendered wheelchair-bound via the dreaded “MLB sky sniper” after booting a routine double play ball should limit inning-extending errors. Plus, consider the added tension…“Routine fly to left. Holt barely has to move. Can of cor…uh-oh, the balls clanks off his glove. There’s the little red light below the thigh. Holt looks up in horror as Jackson rounds second. Jesus! Holt crumples to the ground in unimaginable anguish as the Cardinals take a 3-2 lead in the fifth.”

-Clone the 2015 post All-Star break version of Jake Arrieta so that only the 2015 post All-Star break version of Jake Arrieta can pitch every inning of every game. At the conclusion of each season, all MLB position players will undergo full frontal lobotomies to avoid making future adjustments to the 2015 post All-Star Break Jake Arrieta.
-All 25 players on each MLB roster must play the field during the opposing teams’ at-bat. This will cut back on bloop hits and seeing-eye singles, while increasing the chances of rollicking/embarrassing Keystone Kops-type collisions among fielders.

-The typically longwinded National Anthem will instead consist of the singer/singers simply walking up to the mic and shouting “Make America Great Again,” punctuated by an enthusiastic fist pump. (The accompanying fighter jet flyover will be executed by a squadron of heavily-armed military aircraft en route to a classified bombing raid on a foreign state.) Furthermore, the tedious singing of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” will be replaced with “something terrific.”

-A left-handed and a right-handed batter must bat at the same time. This will allow two batters to strike out at once, and should lead to less solid contact—or, in the event of a hit, suspenseful hesitation among fielders trying to determine who hit it and where.

-Whenever a batter is hit by an errant pitch and charges the mound to confront the pitcher, a steel dome will be lowered via helicopter onto the combatants. Several weapons will be attached to the bars of the dome: oversized iron mallets, rusty chainsaws, a Berretta DT-11 shotgun, 2×4’s with a nail sticking out, Bartolo Colon’s “lucky” unwashed undies, a slingshot with a single rock blessed by God himself, a novelty boxing glove on one of those accordion springy hickeys, and a Godsmack CD in a boom box—just hit play. Ok, so, basically this is the Thunderdome. But to avoid copyright litigation, the steel cage will be called the Murder Crate, and fans, in unison, will chant “Two men enter. One man gets literally killed by the other man, and the dead man’s team forfeits the game.”

-First team to show up at the ballpark wins. Live coverage of teams roaring up to the clubhouse and charging in to register arrival will thrill millions.

Now PLAY BALL, and hurry the fuck up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fiddle My Piddle Pump! That Cog Noggin Boy O’ Mine Left the Door Open Again, and a Steve Bannon Slipped In Like a Lubed Cheese Wheel On a Greased Dancefloor.

Over the past few years, first-person accounts of the Great Horribleness have become a publishing staple, particularly since the re-legalization of writing and the de-criminalization of reading. But few texts can provide the visceral power, the historical authenticity, and the linguistic richness of Fiddle My Piddle Pump: That Cog Noggin Boy O’ Mine Left the Door Open Again, and a Steve Bannon Slipped In Like a Lubed Cheese Wheel On a Greased Dancefloor, by Luanne McDunkle, who writes and shoplifts under the name “The Wisecrackin’ Widow of Klutterbuck County.” The excerpt below provides a vivid example of the sensibility of the woman known to many who don’t know her as “Patient Zero of the Great Bannon Pestilence of 2017-2021.”

Dear Damn Diary:

I’m thinking on torching my homestead flat to the dirt floor. This unnerved widow, her puny son, and a feral Steve Bannon are trapped inside the house together like Tri-amese twins in a wrought iron waffle puffer. Know what I mean?

I knew sure as a bejeweled Wookie’s midriff something like this would happen eventually. “For the love of a stewed wombat, Jeffrey, close the door all the way when you come into the house after twilight weed teasin’.” I got tired of hearing my own voice repeatin’ myself. Kid would just whoosh inside like he was runnin’ from a Chattanooga pistol whip. Well, Jeffrey left the door ajar one too many times. Guess what weaselin' twat sprocket snuck into the living room? A Steve Bannon. I squealed like a hog-tied orphan! ‘Dem damn things are filthy as a naughty clergyman’s spittoon, you know.

I should’ve pummeled that lil' gnard gardner with a Deutschland donker barrage post haste. No, not Jeffery! He's only eight. I'm talkin' 'bout the Steve Bannon! I’m not one to kill pests just because they’re uninvited guests. I’ve trapped enough spiders to fill Bunyan’s trousers usin’ plastic cups and scooted ‘em to Mother Nature’s druthers, and wafted as many moths out a window, too. But I’m kickin’ myself now. This pesky Steve Bannon still scurryin’ about the place has me feelin' like I wanna’ boom-biff a Nazis square in his dangle deuce.

When a Steve Bannon first scampered inside, it stopped in the mud room beside the galoshes heap. I’d once seen a picture of a Steve Bannon in an alt-right field guide so I knew exactly what that danged shit widget was. But the thing looked as scared as a runt puppy starin' down the barrel of a well-oiled meat grinder. I think back and curse 'dem pitiful eyes behind that soused 9 o' clock chin shrub. I kinda’ felt bad for the bugger at first, but how was I supposed to know ‘dem things as wily as a friendly necromaniac?  I tried to shoo it back out the door with the McDunkle family corn broom. Five minus six plus one dice. Damn thing began inchin’ toward me. I always keep a spray bottle handy in case I need to go fisticuffs with a stuttering gout farmer. So I sprayed the foul lil’ scrotum pole but good. Barely even ruffled his teats. Then it really started to move on me like a bitch, all the while snarlin’ like a virgin albino after snortin’ a codpiece full of Baby Beluga's  fever dream at an Appalachian rave party. Got me? I began backpeddlin’ real slow. I felt helpless as a ticklish amputee. The blasted Steven Bannon inched closer, and closer, and closer. “This is it,” I thought, “it’s gonna’ gnaw my grizzle nob to the bone.” But I thought quick and grabbed the New York Times off the Poang. What? You don’t believe I read the New York Times, or shop at Ikea? Then I rolled up the newspaper and boom-biffed that fudd-muckin’ Steve Bannon straight upside his crimson pockmarked coconut. It yelped as if it’d been unceremoniously introduced to the business end of Grammie Gertrude's happy hammer. Then it went scamperin' into a load bearin’ hole in the wall.

I haven't actually seen the Steve Bannon since. Doesn't mean I still ain't hot like a skinned mongoose lathered in ghost pepper brine. I know it's still in the house…somewhere. I hear its filthy little claws tappin' against the floorboards in the middle of the night. Can't sleep sometimes. I hear him rummagin' up in the attic when I'm trying to reverse-kerplunk my badoozled jigger nozzle. Hey! How else is a homemaker like me supposed to earn a livin'? Sometimes, the Steve Bannon causes so much hullabaloo behind a closet door, or at the end of a hallway, that it makes my hounds, Sparkplug and Remus J. Smudlaugh VII (named 'em after my daddy and my daddy's daddy), go batshit crazy. Hmm. Batshit crazy? Is that something folk say or did I coin a new phrase? Sorry if I lost you. Anyway, I'm sure you know what an upper-decker pecker-checker that can be when you don't have swamp fog insurance!

Listen good as ya' should. I'm tired of cleanin' up piles of Steve Bannon mud nuggets scattered about the place. I'm tired of vacuumin' molted Steve Bannon fuzz clumps outta' the drapes. Although I can’t pinpoint the rascal, this whole house fucking smells like Steve Bannon. Olly olly oxen fee you little shit. 

I gotta' get that hideous thing outta' here. It's plottin' doom. I sense it. I don’t know how, but it’s plottin’ doom. I sense it straight to the core of a chimneysweep's crotch.

I'm a mother. I gotta' save my little boy Jeffrey, and all his unborn grandchildren, from the ravages of an unchecked Steve Bannon run amok. I don't care if I gotta' stack blast candles to Gulliver's taint and 'splode this place straight to Micky Dolenz's locker. That Steve Bannon gotta' go.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Whelp, Satire Is Dead. Might As Well Take Up F*cking Noolding

I'm a clever guy. I am. But I literally cannot invent any satirical headline, either on the spot or amid an orgy of creative epiphanies, that I cannot imagine having absolutely zero chance of appearing in tomorrow’s news headlines—or on my stupid goddamn Facebook feed—regardless of whether or not the headline is true, or truthiness.

The torrent of recent national headlines on news sites—from CNN to Breitbart to Hacksaw Biff’s Truth-Be-Told Corkboard—all serve as a death knell for satire. Satire writers, in particular, have become hamstrung by contemporary reality. The introduction of "alternative facts" into the modern lexicon not only puts the proverbial final nail in satire's proverbial coffin, it also adds profuse gobs of Liquid Nails about the seams, and a 2-ton ACME anvil on the lid. For good measure, a yuge glob of shit rests on the anvil.

If I were to be confronted with any of the following headlines, I'd simply shrug my shoulders and be all like "Huh! Well, whad'ya' know!": "Rodeo Clowns Converge On Washington To Protest Department Of Novelty Suspenders Defunding", or "Trump Secretly Breeding Chainsaw-Wielding Velociraptor Overseers To 'Carefully Yet Humanely' Monitor Middle School Journalism Club", or "Study Shows Nation's Salt Trucks Woefully Unprepared For Inevitable Nuclear Winter".  Or "Steve Bannon Actually Smiles For Once In His Life".

I'm a satire writer. Well, I was a satire writer. I have come here to do two things: announce my retirement from the craft, and present empirical evidence that contradicts the edicts of the leaders of the free world …and I'm all out of empirical evidence.

So, I quit.

There's no longer any sense in staring like a dope at the hundreds of thousands of tiny black specks in the drop ceiling above my computer desk while contorting my brain to finally (finally!) summon a seedling of a satirical premise, then to write and rework and write and rework and write and rework, and maybe—if I think the finished product is worth half-a-bag-of-moldy-turnips—submit the fruits of my labor to McSweeney's, or Sherman Oaks Review of Books, or that bastion of shrewd literary farce Fox News.

Now, though? What’s the goddamn use? My life had purpose when I’d yank my mind’s ripcord and rev the ol’ idea engine until the spewing fumes made me gradually so woozy from creative output that I’d eventually become high as a gun junkie dry-humping a never-fired Winchester 30-06 on Appalachian prom night. Good times. In today’s political climate, I’d pass out indefinitely from lack of oxygen.

Rather than piss away my life doing what the elders call THINKING, I figure I might as well take up fucking noodling instead. Yeah, that's right…noodling: fishing for catfish with bare fucking hands by sticking them in a fucking catfish hole. I briefly considered such rousing hobbies as train surfing or handcuff collecting, but I ultimately settled on noodling. Fucking noodling.

You heard it here first, from me—I am officially no longer a satirist. I'm a noodler.

Why bother employing the literary skills I paid $50k+ to learn in a society-mandated post-high school education structure, and then gradually develop said skills via the arduous slog of trial-and-error in the 16 years since graduation when I can simply plunge my fucking arm under a rock and wait for a 39 pound flathead catfish to begin to digest my fucking forearm? Why use my natural and matured academic gift to glaze a shrewd warning to mankind with a syrupy layer of wit that the lawmakers (read: white Christian men) in the high castles aim to wring you out like a dirty rag and drink whatever soiled profits drip when I can focus my efforts into bonding with a dependable lifelong noodling partner who can spot the fuck outta’ me when I attempt to surface from twenty foot depths with a fucking mammoth thrashing catfish latched on to the very fucking hand I once used to type the aforementioned syrupy layers of wit. Why mock with wry humor the authoritative establishments which seek to mercilessly shred the fabric that binds all of humanity when I can register for the fucking Annual Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, fucking Oklahoma, and test my chops against noodling luminaries in an activity that is, essentially, slow-punching a fucking catfish in the fucking mouth and then lugging it to an alien surface for a photo-op on a stupid fucking dock. Imagine the huge dumbass smile on my fucking face. I'll be so fucking ecstatic there’s a fucking catfish dangling from my wrist. Fuck! 

Okay. Okay.


Perhaps you too should reconsider your profession. Are you a historian? Why waste your time scrutinizing eye witness accounts of past scholars and contemplating echoing themes of civilization to identify subtle pre-WWIII red flags when you can relive the exploits of the “face of noodling” Jerry Rider on VH fucking Sespecially such ground-breaking network TV moments as when Rider fucking manhandled a whopping bullhead on Late Night with David fucking Letterman, circa 198 fucking 9. Are you a climate scientist? Why waste your time meticulously reconstructing past climates by examining ice cores and tree rings in hopes of rescuing the vast majority of the inhabitants of Earth from an agonizing sixth extinction when you can fucking noodle the living shit out of the very aquatic habitats you have dedicated your whole fucking live to saving from the same stupid species who invented such a dumb fucking sport as NOODLING? Can you read? Why squander your pathetic useless life reading books like a fucking idiot when you can deep throat catfish up to your fucking elbow instead?

Fuck words and fuck sentences and fuck story arcs about the human condition that transcend culture and time. Fuck "Moby Dick" (unless your knuckles are blowhole deep). You're living in a noodler’s world now.

If you need me, don’t bother looking in my beloved writing den, where I once basked in inspiration opposite my Dell laptop and a half-empty Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA nearby. Nope. You can find me on the muddy banks of the Muskingum River, wearin’ my newfangled cutoff jean shorts and sportin’ a tight bushy noodler ‘stache—not like ‘dem pansy hipster ‘staches all up in that new Crazy Mocha downtown.

That’s right, I fucking noodle now. And I got four-to-eight years to perfect my craft.