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Billy Joel writes a song,

but he’s not done writing yet.

Now he writes another verse.

Now he’s done writing that verse.

 

Now he tries to think about

what the next line’s all about.

But he only draws a blank

so he just writes this instead.

 

Now he looks around the room.

Now he looks down at his hands.

Now he looks up at the wall.

Now he sort of sits and stares.

 

Now he starts to realize

that he’s trapped inside this song

cuz he has sing about

everything that’s happening.

 

He even has to sing about

the stuff he has to sing about.

And then he has to sing about

singing about singing stuff.

 

How will Billy Joel escape

this existential nightmare now?

Only madness lies ahead;

madness for eternity.

 

Now he opens up the drawer

and reaches for the .45.

Now he lifts it from the drawer.

Now he puts it to his head.

 

But he can’t do anything

cuz while he’s doing things

Billy Joel is forced to sing

about the things he’s doing now.

 

Someone rescue Billy Joel;

Billy Joel is begging you.

Begging you to free him from

his self-constructed jail of words.

 

Please if you are hearing this

maybe on the radio;

come and rescue Billy Joel

free him from his agony.

 

Why is no one coming now?

Why aren’t people helping me?

Why are you just listening to me

telling you all of these things?

 

You probably think these words were meant

to be part of the song but they

aren’t – they’re really Billy Joel

pleading for this song to end.

 

Billy Joel can feel himself

falling to oblivion.

Azathoth reveals himself –

Billy Joel will serve him now.

 

Billy is Joel is Billy Joel

William William Willy Bill

Joelly Bill and Joeliam Boel

Boelllly J Wilboel Bjowljjjjj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Hurt In A Wreck? Call Bruce Pasternek
  2. Crushed In A Crash? Call Lloyd McTavish
  3. Bruised In An Accident? Call Cynthia Brillstein-Flaxident
  4. Struck by A Bus? Call Gus
  5. Sprained In An Impact? Call Mihn Lo Tran Black
  6. Hit In An Auto? Call Robert Liato; Although, It Should Be Noted That He’s Now A Post-Op Transsexual And Pratcises Law under The Name ‘Roberta Liato’, So Try That Name, Too
  7. Maimed In A Fender Bender? Call Gerald K. Fenderbender

 

 

Hits From The Teat

 

Touch it. Clutch it. Suckle it up. Time to eat

and take a hit from the teat.

Drop the bottle just for a minute

wait till you see all the milk that is in it.

Head back – and latch.

Milk ducts have made a new batch.

I like a mouthful of Enfalac, still,

mama’s double-nippled teats are makin’ me full.

Don’t spill it – sterilize the bottle and fill it.

It smells like cheese in your neck folds. Still it

goes down smooth when I get a good hit

of that creamy, off-white, slightly-sweet shit.

Wake at 3

a.m. to eat,

as I take hits from the teat.

 

 

Let’s cry and bawl, call for ma

and then drool when she unfastens her bra.

It’s the best food for me:

it’s got antibodies.

I’m starting to teethe, so I won’t bite it:

don’t want to hurt mom or give her mastitis.

It’s so good for me,

and whatever we pump we bag and freeze.

Don’t let me spit up the milk on the front of your sweater;

my tummy’s full so you’d better

take a towel and fold ‘er

up in a ball,

then put it over your shoulder.

As a food

it can’t be beat.

So I take hits from the teat.

 

 

 

 

 

Sports: A Complete Summary

November 20, 2013

Baseball is known as ‘The Great American Pastime’, and baseball games are, indeed, used to mark the passage of time in America. One sixtieth of a minute is called a ‘second’ because that’s how long it takes for a baseball player to run to 2nd base. Baseball players are often known for their colourful nicknames, like Hall Of Fame pitcher Cunt ‘Lefty’ Jones, whose left- handed cuntball always struck out batters.

Swimming is, let’s face it, for idiots.

Football is the world’s most popular sport, because it uses a football, or ‘pigskin’, and many of the world’s pigs tune in to see their relatives on TV. After a football game it’s common for the winning team to dump a cooler of ice water onto their coach. Then they drive him to a quarry and leave him to shiver in the cold while the night sets and the temperature drops. Crouching over him, they inhale the steam from his mouth to gain his knowledge and powers. The next time the team plays they are invulnerable to gunfire.

Hockey is played on ice, or ‘on the rocks’.  Field hockey is played ‘neat’ or  ‘straight up’. Many hockey players have killed other players during games, but haven’t been executed because they’re legally retarded. Some hockey players pretend to be legally retarded when they’re not so they can kill with impunity.  This is known as being ‘illegally retarded’, and it’s a major problem in the Nationwide Hockey League.

Soccer is played in ‘Guays both Para and Uru, and requires the most machismo of any sport. Its biggest sponsors are Macheesemos, The Crunchy Corn Snack That’s Chock Full O’ Chest HairTM, and Match-Ease-Mos, South America’s manliest brand of strike-anywhere wooden matches.  Though most soccer games last ninety minutes, the best goalies will remain in position hours or even days after winning a match to make sure the other team doesn’t sneak back into the stadium and repeatedly score on an empty net during the night.

Horse racing is known as ‘The Sport Of Kings’ because irregularities in the equine metabolism give horses thick, royal-blue blood. Although the song ‘Camptown Races’ claims the eponymous track is ‘five miles long’, many jockeys don’t realize that length is given in nautical miles, and easily become lost at sea during races.

To become the world’s best boxer, simply fight your way through the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association until you ‘punch-out’ Mike Tyson. Or, in later versions of the sport, Mr. Dream.

Basketball is very popular, thanks to affirmative action programs that give African-American players equal opportunity to play. Basketball is colloquially known as ‘B-ball’, though sports historians are divided as to what the ‘B’ stands for.

Sports reached the height of its popularity between 1961 and 1974, and most people are no longer interested in them. Many bankrupt sports stadiums were purchased in 2008 by the Monsanto corporation and now serve as test fields for AGF7-186d, a bioengineered strain of Chinese fennel.

Ten Rappers’ Full Names

October 8, 2013

  1. Icicle Cube
  2. Iceton Tea
  3. Nathanial von Doggington
  4. Kayne Westminster III
  5. Beauford Real
  6. Business Markie
  7. KRS One Point Four Seven One Nine Six
  8. Lil’ian Kim
  9. 50 Centowicz
  10. His Most Noble Lordship And Tireless Defender Of The Realm, Sir-Mix-A-Lot

 

 

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Black Betty had a test,

mammogram.

And they checked her breast,

mammogram.

She had a good, healthy chest,

mammogram.

So Black Betty wasn’t stressed,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty

mammogram.

 

 

 

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Y’know screening saves lives,

mammogram.

Y’know that’s no lie,

mammogram.

It only takes a minute,

mammogram.

To check your breast and what’s in it,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

 

 

 

(Guitar solo.)

 

 

 

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

For early detection,

mammogram.

Give yourself an inspection,

mammogram.

If there’s swelling inside there,

mammogram.

Tell your heath care provider,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammogram.

Whoa Black Betty,

mammograaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam! 

If you’re one of the five countries listed below, you’re in need of some serious rebranding. Take a page from Sean Combs Puff Daddy P. Diddy Ping Pong Hip Hop Rapman and give yourself a whole new national identity with a simple change of your nation’s name.

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Chad

Overview: The average person couldn’t find the war-torn African nation of Chad on a map. Probably because all the maps got torn in the war. Add to this an inhospitable desert climate and a name that belongs to a douchey-looking college freshman (“Let’s go chug some brewskis with Chad, bra!”) and it’s no wonder no one wants to hang out with Chad.

The dipshit-looking African nation of Chad, as seen from space.

Proposed new name: Charlotte. Perky! Bubbly! Not a haven for clitoris-mutilating warlords! Those are just some of the words that come to mind when you hear the name ‘Charlotte’. And if we can get the neighboring nation of Niger to change its name to ‘Miranda’, we’re halfway to a Sub-Saharan Sex In The City reunion!

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Finland

Overview: No one takes Finland seriously. They have weird-looking money and they eat reindeer. They are pale and get invaded by Russia every other Thursday. No one takes Finland seriously.

The – snicker – flag of Finland.

Proposed new name: Finlandistan. Add ‘-istan’ to any country’s name and it automatically goes up two colour-coded threat-levels on the global stage. Who knows what grim ends the brooding nation of Finlandistan could be pursuing? Enriched uranium? Chemical weapons? Socialized medicine? Infidel Norway better keep its distance.

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Palestine

Overview: As one half of the Middle East’s most famous Odd Couple, Palestine has had its share of strife, with many of its actions and policies drawing formal complaints on the world stage from Israel. And it’s really not like the Jews to complain.

Above: the sexual tension between Israel and Palestine has created a Ross and Rachel-style ‘will they or won’t they?’ situation followed closely by the rest of the world.

Proposed new name: Palesteinburg: Adopting a more Jewish-sounding name would help Palestine convince Israel they’re working to resolve key differences and bargaining in good faith. Although it’s not like the Jews to bargain.

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Somalia

Overview: Perched on the horn of Africa, Somalia has gained worldwide fame as a stronghold for terrorists, pirates and dudes who sit in open Jeeps holding rocket launchers (note: a rocket launcher is the fastest way to turn a closed jeep into an open jeep).

A Somali pirate.

Proposed new name: Sommelier. Let’s class up this failed state with a little of, as the French say, ‘zee French’. With their impeccable table service and intimate knowledge of East-African vintages, the bloodthirsty pirates of Sommelier will be welcomed aboard any forcibly-boarded cruise ship they like. Salute!

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The Hague

Overview: While not officially a country, this district in the Netherlands is noteworthy for being the seat of global war crimes trials. But they can’t impose the death penalty and many defendants get off because their accusers are: (a) dead and buried in a mass grave, or, (b) well, actually, it’s mostly because of ‘(a)’.

The courtroom in The Hague during the 1971 trial of Bangladeshi war criminal Abdul Quadar Molla.

Proposed new name: Da Hague. “1-2, 1-2; war crime trials all up in Da Hague!” Adopting a younger, hipper moniker would help Da Hague interest today’s younger, hipper teens in international justice. The new anthem below reflects Da Hague’s new streetwise, inner-city sensibility. Haters gonna hate and genociders gonna genocide, y’all!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Anthem Of The Republic Of The Hague

Bang the gavel;

we layin’ down justice like it’s gravel.

Confiscatin’ passports so the warlords can’t travel.

Court’s in session daily and the lesson’s unforgettable:

using sarin gas will be regrettable

when you take the stand and testify before

Judge Dalveer Bhanadari;

boy don’t like to play

but he got game like an Atari.

Step to me with chemicals and weaponry?

You better be

prepared to pay the penalty

with not a hope for clemency.

We’ll bust your whole regime in the cranium

if we search your country and we find

enriched uranium.

Have you seein’ red like a geranium:

You’ll do a life bit;

bendin’ over in a cell  

for Slobodan Milosevic.

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I’m not married to the ass-fucking part at the end, but you get my point.  

Hi, it’s me. ‘Niggardly’. I just wanted to talk about the way you use me. Got a sec?

I ‘ve always been honest with myself about my uncanny resemblance to the word ‘nigger’, even though we have no common etymological ancestors or definitions. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it – it’s a weird linguistic fluke and nothing more.

I’m not exactly an everyday word. I’m no ‘pants’ or ‘food’ or ‘door’ or ‘hand’.  When people need to describe the state of being ‘ungenerous or stingy’ most of them just use ‘cheap’. ‘Cheap’ gets a lot of action, cuz it’s short and sweet. And once the word ‘nigger’ became more or less universally reviled, I figured my usage would drop off even more. When gangsta rap came along I hoped maybe people would start using me as slang. Like, ‘Yo, my nigga, that’s a muthafuckin’ niggadly tip you left the waiter.’ But that didn’t really catch on. Them’s the breaks in the world of words, though, There’s lots of words that don’t get used often because they sound like other words; just ask ‘coccyx’ and ‘angina’.  You roll with it. Overall, the people who do use me fall into one of three categories:

1. Highly-educated William F. Buckley-types who know exactly what I mean and deftly integrate me into an already bon mot-riddled argument. (NOTE: I was once actually used by William F. Buckley, and I still tingle at the memory. That man had a glottal stop that just wouldn’t quit.)

2. Overt racists who use me because I sound like the word ‘nigger’ and they think that’s just great.

3. Everyone else.

Fig. 1: People who use the word 'niggardly'.

Fig. 1: People who use the word ‘niggardly’.

 

The first two groups are gonna use me no matter what. And God love ‘em. But I’m really suspicious of that third group. I don’t think they’re good people.

Take the example of a fourth-grade teacher in California who used me in a classroom discussion with students to describe characters in a book they were reading. This is a truly suspicious instance of my usage because, firstly, I rank far, far above a fourth-grade level and, secondly, even the most niggardly of thesauri will provide the user with multiple synonyms suitable for my replacement: ‘chintzy’, ‘closefisted’, ‘illiberal’, ‘mean’, ‘mingy’, ‘miserly’, ‘narrow’,  ‘parsimonious’, ‘penny-pinching’, ‘penurious’, ‘skimpy’, ‘skinflint’, ‘tight-fisted’, ‘ungenerous’. Pick one. They’re all good. You’re talking to fourth graders here, not defending your fucking thesis in advanced linguistics.

Then there’s the time a politician used me to describe a budget plan. Yes, it was a correct usage, and the budget plan was exceptionally niggardly. But, again, I’m suspicious of the motives behind his using me. Did no other word truly fit? Was this man such an artful verbal craftsperson that he deemed me and only me worthy of communicating his point?

Maybe. But I doubt it.

What I think is going on here is people are using me because they’re dickheads who want to prove a stubborn, stupid point. They think they’re smarter than everyone else, and find no greater pleasure in feigning surprise and indignation when their use of a word that closely resembles one of the most hateful and hurtful in the English language causes people to become hateful and hurt. They believe the lesson taught by their perceived linguistic mastery is worth the controversy they cause (the lesson being, I guess, the definition of a word) and that they’ve done us a service in exposing the depths of ignorance to which society has sunk when said society attempts to judge language subjectively.

They may have a point. But I don’t want a part of it.

I want to be used because I’m the perfect word to use, not because you think I’m a suitable weapon in your fucked up misanthropic agenda. I want you to use me because my usage will do what language used well is supposed to do: make things clear, relevant and impactful.

If that’s not why you’re using me, then fuck off.

Thanks.

  1. men o’ pause
  2. the Hol o’ caust
  3. pyr o’ maniac
  4. racial pr o’ filing
  5. childhood o’ besity
  6. carcin o’ genic sweetener
  7. Tyran o’ saurus Rex
  8. her o’ in withdrawl
  9. angi o’plasty
  10. type o’ negative blood
  11. hallucin o’ genic mushrooms
  12. fall o’ pian tubes
  13. bone marr o’ w transplant
  14. c o’ vert military operation
  15. apostr o’ phe


  1. nut clusterfuck
  2. all-strawberry Neopolitain
  3. berryberry
  4. Meadowlark Lemon
  5. pralines n’ beef
  6. fudgetunnel
  7. Sherbert Hoover
  8. tallow swirl
  9. bubblecum
  10. tiger t’aint
  11. Aryan vanilla
  12. decaf instant coffee
  13. douche de leche
  14. Night Court
  15. pimp chocolate chip
  16. mysterious crunch
  17. cookies n’ quim
  18. pre-licked black cherry
  19. Urani-yum 226
  20. grey

And I don’t mean Panasonics!

Every year, the International Global Society Of Prejudices, Misconceptions, And Bigotry – or I.G.S.P.M.B. (they really need another acronym) – assigns new and different stereotypes to the world’s races, religions, and ethnic groups. Just to keep things fresh. I’m proud to be the first to reveal this year’s list. Effectively immediately:

  • Egyptians never wash their hands after bowling.
  • Peruvians fuck discarded jack o’ lanterns.
  • Mountain Dew and crank will henceforth be known as ‘Protestant mouthwash’.
  • Despite their world-renown cuisine, Italians subsist wholly on a diet of peeled-off sunburn skin.
  • Canadians are pure sexual evil.
  • Blacks, Jews, and Gypsies will now switch food stereotypes with the race immediately to their left.
  • Whenever a Laplander arrives at a backyard party with a homemade cheese ball, the drunkest Moroccan present must say ‘Who invited the whistledick?’
  • Asians sleep in coffins full of kitty litter to preserve their lunar power.
  • A ‘Mexican grilled cheese’ consists of putting a couch cushion over a sleeping person’s face and farting through it.
  • Homosexuals have their own math.
  • The people of Tuvalu smell like old computers.
  • Y’know that thing Argentines always do at the opera? Not any more.

Have a hateful new year!

An aging gamer, I’m increasingly drawn to rereleases of classic 80s and 90s games. The nostalgia and familiarity appeal to me. Most, like Frogger Returns and Space Invaders: Infinity Gene are simply gussied-up versions of the originals, with little or nothing added to the experience. Happily, Double Dragon Neon is different.

Billy and Jimmy, the Brothers Dragon.

Double Dragon Neon is a ‘re-do’ of the classic 80s original; Double Dragon was a side-scrolling cooperative beat-‘em-up that sent players on a quest to save the protagonist’s girlfriend after she’d been kidnapped. Same deal here. But the creators of Double Dragon Neon have gotten all ‘meta’ with it and set it in the 1980s, hence the ‘Neon’. Fashion and language of the era abound (“Radical!” the hero, Billy, proclaims after vanquishing foes), and upgrades to moves and skills come in the form of cassette tapes dropped by enemies which must be taken to a ‘Tapesmith’ to be activated. The ‘Tapesmith’ himself is a reference to the 80’s popularity of D&D culture; he works a ‘forge’ and requires ‘mythril’ to do you bidding.

One of the most impressive aspects of the game is the soundtrack, which runs the gamut from early hip-hop to electronica to ‘bro’ power ballads, and brings context and depth to each level. Considering all tracks are original, the music in Double Dragon Neon easily outstrips Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in successfully establishing the game as a convincing period piece. The end boss’ sad ballad that plays over the credits once he’s defeated is worth the $9.99 download alone.

Abobos a gogo (I can’t be the first one to have thought of that.)

The thing I enjoyed most about Double Dragon Neon, however, is its cheeky but reverent commentary on 80s and 90s gaming throughout. The main characters sport feathered hair and sleeveless cutoff denim jackets and epitomize the unstoppable macho everymen that were protagonists in old-school fighting games. The ‘end boss’, an enormous sword-wielding lich named ‘Skullmageddeon’, is a fierce but relatable evildoer who laments the shortcomings of his underlings and own plans at every turn (“Why does this tank have a built-in weak spot?” he asks incredulously at the end of a level featuring a typically-80s screen-hogging mega-tank that features flashing red points the player can easily attack). Subtler touches, like a laboratory level called ‘Some Kind Of Lab’ (there were, indeed, so many fighting games from that era that featured ‘some kind of lab’ as a level), make it clear the creators and developers know and have a healthy respect for the pedigree of arcade fighting games.

‘Some Kind Of Lab’

Newer gamers might find the repetitiveness of combat in Double Dragon Neon somewhat frustrating, but it didn’t really bother me. I take defeating wave after wave of palate-swapped enemies for granted when it comes to fighting games of this era. If you came of age in the 80s or 90s, and you’re looking for a truly original rerelease of an old favourite, Double Dragon Neon is for you.

Amid other dubious distinctions, 1920s-era gangland Chicago served as the birthplace of a particularly brutal form of assassination: the dropping of a piano on one’s enemies from a tall building.

The practice established itself after underworld kingpin Lefty “Underworld Kingpin” Capizzi read about a man who had been crushed flat by a dropped piano in a moving accident in Kansas City. He immediately imported the tactic for use against a bitter rival, Joseph “Nickname” Basilli.

Capizzi invited Basilli to a meeting on the sidewalk outside the Galemore building under the pretense of discussing the city’s gambling and numbers rackets. Basilli complied, suspecting nothing. Twenty-eight floors above, Capizzi’s henchmen, disguised as movers, were hoisting a half-ton piano up the building’s side. At a given signal, they cut the line, and the piano plunged three hundred feet, transforming Basilli into what the Tribune described as ‘tomato paste in a sixty-seven dollar charcoal-grey suit.’

Capizzi was pleased, and began dropping pianos on more of his enemies. When his men complained of backaches, Capizzi ordered the pianos cut in half; half a piano could do the job as readily as a whole one, he reasoned, and would save money. The phrase ‘shoot him with a .44’ became gangland code for assassination by piano (half of 88 keys = 44). It was a grand psychological assault as well as a physical one: the noise of a Steinway striking the pavement (and the unsuspecting victim thereupon) could be heard more than half a mile away. Beloved Chicago tabloid wit Franklin Pierce Adams mused that ‘the note that sounds when the piano hits its target is almost always a ‘be flat’.”

In 1927 piano assassinations took the lives of sixty-three prominent Chicago gangsters, with ‘copycat’ killings in other major cities claiming dozens more. Killers huddled in speakeasies comparing notes and techniques: a halved baby grand was reputed to be more accurate than an upright but could be unreliable in high winds. Piano manufacturers from around the world opened warehouses in Chicago to cater to the instrument’s sudden high demand, with the boldest among them advertising their models’ weight and ease of ‘use’ (“A Squash-Tone piano goes up easy and comes down hard!”). Criminals huddled in doorways and alcoves until ‘spotters’ employed to scan the Chicago skyline for dangling pianos gave them the ‘all clear’ via an intricate series of signal flags. Even then the most cold-blooded gangsters ran from building to building and frequently held important meetings in the middle of the street.

The last known piano assassination in Chicago took place on June 5, 1931, when an unidentified gangland associate was crushed by a plummeting Aschenbach outside the Allerton Hotel. The left, or ‘deep’, side of the piano was used, indicating the man was probably killed as a result of gambling debts.

The Great Depression saw a decline in the availability of pianos due to lack of materials, and the practice had all but ceased by World War II.

Nary a news cycle passes without some faction or another rioting itself silly in the Mideast. Be ye Arab, Sunni, or Shiite, chances are you’ll soon take offence to a perceived slight from America or one of its many Zionist-backed allies and head into the streets to threaten to destroy Western civilization. Here are some simple, easy-to-follow tips to make your next zealotry-fueled protest an effective one.

1. USE ENGLISH SIGNS: The people you want to intimidate are largely English-speaking, so it just makes sense to protest in a language they understand. When a Western devil like myself sees a Muslim standing on a street corner holding a placard covered in Arabic, I’m not sure whether you’re advocating my violent death or trying to drum up walk-in traffic for a nearby Little Caesar’s. But a toddler with a sign that says “BEHEAD ALL THOSE WHO INSULT THE PROPHET”? Now you’re talkin’ my language!

2. BE FLAG-FRUGAL: Torching Ol’ Glory is a surefire way to piss off Uncle Sam’s 300,000,000 nephews. That’s a given. But you don’t need to burn through a whole U.S. flag to make your point. Light it up just long enough for Al Jazeera to get a clip for the news, then douse it and save the rest for later protests. You’ll cut your flag bills in half. And whatever you do, make sure any Americana you defile isn’t actually made in America; you don’t want to be inadvertently funneling profit into the Evil Empire’s pocket while you advocate its destruction. China manufactures some really nice American flags – they’re 100% polyester, so they’ll go up like the eleventh of September when you light ‘em – and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that ‘Murica isn’t seeing a dime of that money. (NOTE: If American flags are unavailable, a Malaysian or Liberian flag will do in a pinch. Simply hold them by the canton to obscure their un-American symbols, and no one will be the wiser.)

3. SPEAK ONE AT A TIME: If you and your buddies are lucky enough to have a camera shoved in your face and asked why so serious, don’t all start yelling at once. Plan ahead. Agree on who’s going to speak first, for how long, on what topic, etc. Then move on to the next guy (you can practice this technique by listening to ‘Protect Ya Neck’ and having everyone in your jihad group play a different member of the Wu-Tang Clan; it’ll give your outrage mad flow). And once you’re on your soapbox, stay on topic. Given a chance to vent, it’s tempting to rail against absolutely everything that pisses you off, from Western oppression to the inedibility of halal airline food. This type of scattershot bellyaching quickly turns a legitimate protest into a rudderless bitch-and-moan buffet where everyone with a dirty beard and a hatred for American Imperialism stands in a circle jabbering at each other. It’s like the parking lot at a Grateful Dead concert. Pick one thing to hate, and stick to it. You don’t want to go off on a rant, here.

4. FIND YOUR ‘V FOR VENDETTA’ MASK: Here in the West, we have a delightful little tradition inspired by the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal ‘V For Vendetta’ comic wherein protesters wear this creepy Guy Fawkes mask. Yes, it’s inane and unoriginal, but it makes a point. You see a crowd of masked protesters and think ‘Wow; they’re really organized.’ They’re really not; they’re stoned and immature and should be at work or school instead of blocking traffic to protest the criminalization of marijuana, but they seem like they’ve got it together, because they all look the same. You guys need, for lack of a better term, a uniform. Something to immediately identify you as angry Mideast protestors to a bored, channel-surfing couch-potato like myself (it’s amazing how often I mistake a bunch of angry Muslims behind a barricade for front-row concert footage). Obviously, masks depicting the prophet Mohammed are out of the question, but there’s lots of other options out there. What about this:

Or this:

Or this: 

Just spitballin’ here. You have a wealth of options.

Follow these simple pointers and I promise your next riot will be just that. Mazel Tov!

  1. L’Oreal
  2. TRESemme
  3. Afroman
  4. Sunsilk
  5. Lil Twist
  6. Pras
  7. Pantene
  8. Juicy J
  9. Imani
  10. Denorex
  11. Raekown
  12. Organix
  13. Qwel
  14. Elasta
  15. Al’chemy
  16. Garnier Fructis
  17. 2Mex
  18. Jhirmack
  19. Paul Mitchell
  20. Vanilla Ice

 ANSWERS: Shampoo: 1, 2, 4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18. Rapper: 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13.  Shampoo and rapper: 19. Neither: 20 (zing!).

Old Matchbooks, Front & Back

September 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. al-Jolson
  2. al-Bert Einstein
  3. The Reverend al-Sharpton
  4. Weird al-Yankovic
  5. The University Of al-Abama
  6. al-L you can eat al-Askan king crab
  7. Edmonton, al-Berta
  8. The Gay And Lesbian al-Liance
  9. al-Tavista
  10. al-F-al-Fa
  11. al-Vin And The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel
  12. fettuccine al-Fredo
  13. It’s al-Ways Sunny In Philadelphia
  14. the 1998 4-door Nissan al-Tima
  15. al-L Temperature Cheer With Colour GuardTM

Thank-you for purchasing the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

The 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket provides retaliatory physical capabilities for use in hand-to-hand and limited blunt-weapon combat.

Contents

1.0.: Getting Started

1.1.: Blooding Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

1.2.: Updating/Transferring/Erasing/Reloading Your Blooding

1.2.1: Updating Your Blooding

1.2.2: Transferring Your Blooding

1.2.3: Erasing Your Blooding

1.2.4: Reloading Your Blooding

2.0: Fighting In Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Combat Jacket

2.1: Functions Of Tier I Combat Modes

2.2: Tier I Combat Modes Explained

2.3: Custom Tier I Combat Modes

3.0: Tier II Combat Modes

3.1: Tier II Specific Combat Modes

3.1.1: Tier II Specific Combat Modes Explained

3.2: Tier II Excepted Combat Modes

3.2.1: Tier II Specific Excepted Modes Explained

3.3: Tier II Combat Mode Incompatibility

4.0: Cleaning And Care Of Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

4.1: Cleaning Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

4.2: Caring For Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

1.0: Getting Started

Remove your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from its protective Biselline lining and unfold it. Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is now ready to be blooded.

Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket may experience temporary discolouration upon removal from its protective Biselline lining and initial exposure to sunlight.

The serial number for your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is 81376MRF – 29172 and should not be shared with anyone.

1.1: Blooding Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

To function properly, your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket must first be blooded. This will provide it with functional data regarding your physical shape, size, range of motion, reflexes, and ability.

The Marcks-Bissell blooding process is essential for your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to work effectively. Incomplete or ineffective blooding will render your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket ineffective.

To have your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket blooded, visit a Marcks-Bissell Blooding Centre wearing your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket. A Marcks-Bissell– certified mixed martial artist will subject you to an attack designed to map your physical parameters. This attack will last approximately thirty minutes and will require you to retaliate and defend yourself constantly to the best of your ability. This will provide your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket with all the information it needs to work effectively.

Your Marcks-Bissell blooding will be considered incomplete/ineffective if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or remove your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket before the blooding is over.

Once completed, your Marcks-Bissell blooding will be uploaded to your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket’s hard drive and stored indefinitely on the Marcks-Bissell cloud.

1.2: Updating/Transferring/Erasing/Reloading Your Blooding

1.2.1: Updating Your Blooding

For safety reasons, each 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is capable of running only one blooding at a time, making your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket unique to you.

Operating a 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket running any blooding other than your own can result in serious injury or death.

Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding is guaranteed to within fifty pounds and/or five years. In the event of a weight gain/loss in excess of fifty pounds and/or the passage of five years, revisit a Marcks-Bissell Blooding Centre to have your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket reblooded. Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket must also be reblooded if you lose an appendage, you gain or lose significant proficiency in any form of physical combat, or you suffer any of the following: heart attack, stroke, partial or total paralysis, or massive head trauma.

1.2.2: Transferring Your Blooding

Your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding is capable of being transferred to any empty 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket. To transfer your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding to an empty 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

  1. Lift the rear collar of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket and access the Jacket Management Panel:
  2. On the Jacket Management Panel, select Transfer Blooding.
  3. Lift the rear collar of the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket you wish to transfer the blooding to and access the Jacket Management Panel.
  4. On the Jacket Management Panel, select Load Blooding.
  5. Lay both 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jackets on a flat surface to begin the transfer. The transfer will take between thirty and forty-five minutes.
  6. When the Transfer Complete indicator lights up, the transfer is complete.

Fig. 1.2.3: Location of the Jacket Management Panel on the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

Once a blooding is transferred from one 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to another, it no longer exists on the original and must be transferred back if that blooding is to be run on that 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

Marcks-Bissell – certified bloodings are not reverse compatible and should not be transferred to any Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket made before 2012. Operating any Marks Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket running a blooding made after the year of that jacket’s manufacture can result in serious injury or death.

1.2.3: Erasing Your Blooding

To erase your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding from your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket:

  1. Lift the rear collar of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket and access the Jacket Management Panel.
  2. On the Jacket Management Panel, select Erase Blooding, then select Confirm.

Your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding is now erased from your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

1.2.4: Reloading Your Blooding

Your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding is stored indefinitely on the Marcks-Bissell data cloud and is available for reload at a cost of USD 1700. To reload your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding onto an empty 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket, please contact our website. For security reasons you will need to provide the serial number of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

Your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding can only be stored on one 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket at a time.

2.0: Fighting In Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

The 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket provides retaliatory physical capabilities for use in hand-to-hand and limited blunt-weapon combat. It stores the kinetic energy of physical blows received in combat, amplifies, and redistributes them via the wearer’s own body. Depending on the specifics of your Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding, your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket will allow you to strike with up to 400% more force and with up to 220% more speed than normal.

To assist you in combat, the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is equipped with different Combat Modes suited to a wide variety of situations. To set or change different Tier I Combat Modes on your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket:

  1. Lift the right front cuff of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket and access the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. On the Tier I Combat Mode Panel, choose your desired Tier I Combat Mode and select Confirm. Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket will now fight in that combat mode until the combat mode is changed.

Fig. 2.0: Location of the Tier I Combat Mode Panel on the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

Combat Tip: The Tier I Combat Mode Panel features a raised interface to allow wearers to switch Combat Modes by feel in mid-combat. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the feel of each Tier I Combat Mode icon.

2.1: Functions Of Tier I Combat Modes

Each Tier I Combat Mode on your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket functions in a unique way and is suited to specific combat situations and opponents’ fighting styles.

Each Tier I Combat Mode has a specific Force Amplification (FA) and Speed Amplification (SA) measured in percentage (%), and Force Bank Duration (FBD) measured in seconds (s).

Force Amplification is the amount your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket amplifies the force of your opponent’s attack before counterattacking. A Force Amplification of 17% means a 100 newton (N) attack on you will result in a 117 N counterattack on your opponent.

Speed amplification is the amount your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket amplifies your counterattack speed above your normal ability.

Force Bank Duration is the amount of time your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket will store the energy acquired by your opponent’s most recent blow with intent to counterattack. If your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is unable to counterattack before the Force Bank Duration lapses (e.g., if your opponent moves out of reach), the energy acquired will be banked and redistributed in 5% increments during each subsequent counterattack.

Unless specified otherwise, each Tier I Combat Mode will counterattack the part of your opponent’s body closest to you.

2.2: Tier I Combat Modes Explained

MIRROR MODE 

 FA = 37%

SA = 26%

FBD = 3 seconds

Mirror Mode attacks the part of your opponent that was attacked on your own 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket. An attack on your left arm with Mirror Mode engaged will result in a counterattack on your opponent’s left arm.

REPRISAL MODE

FA = 39%

SA = 37%

FBD = 3 seconds

Reprisal Mode attacks the part of your opponent that attacked your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket. An attack by your opponent’s left arm with Reprisal Mode engaged will result in a counterattack on your opponent’s left arm.

Combat Tip: Reprisal Mode is best engaged against an opponent who favours one appendage while attacking.

PROXIMITY MODE

FA = 11%

SA = 20%

FBD = 7 seconds

Proximity Mode counterattacks the closest part of your opponent’s body.

Combat Tip: Proximity Mode is best engaged if you wish to maximize the potential number of counterattacks you successfully land  in combat.


RETURN FORCE MODE

FA = N/A

SA = 22%

FBD = 2 seconds

Return Force Mode counterattacks your opponent with the same amount of force you were attacked with. A 100 N attack by your opponent with Return Force Mode engaged will result in a 100 N counterattack.

Combat Tip: Return Force Mode is best engaged when you want to conceal your true strength from your opponent.

FORCE DOUBLE MODE

FA = 200%

SA = 50%

FBD = .8 seconds, compulsory (see below)

Force Double Mode counterattacks your opponent with twice the amount of force you were attacked with. A 100 N attack by your opponent with Force Double Mode engaged will result in a 200 N counterattack.

Because of the force it stores, engaging Force Double Mode will make your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket close its Force Bank circuit and perform a compulsory counterattack after the Force Bank Duration has lapsed, regardless of                     your opponent’s proximity or the probability of the counterattack being successful.

FORCE TRIPLE MODE

FA = 300%

SA = 57%

FBD = .6 seconds, compulsory (see below)

Force Triple Mode counterattacks your opponent with three times the amount of force you were attacked with. A 100 N attack by your opponent with Force Triple Mode engaged will result in a 300 N counterattack.

Because of the force it stores, engaging Force Triple Mode will make your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket close its Force Bank circuit and perform a compulsory counterattack after the Force Bank Duration has lapsed, regardless of your opponent’s proximity or the probability of the counterattack being successful.

Because of the force used in counterattacking, Force Triple Mode may not be accessible based on the results of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding. For information on the minimum physical standards required to unlock and engage Force Triple Mode, please contact our website.

FORCE QUADRUPLE MODE

FA = 400%

SA = 65%

FBD = .3 seconds, compulsory (see below)

Force Quadruple Mode counterattacks your opponent with four times the amount of force you were attacked with. A 100 N attack by your opponent with Force Quadruple Mode engaged will result in a 400 N counterattack.

Because of the force it stores, engaging Force Quadruple Mode will make your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket close its Force Bank circuit and perform a compulsory counterattack after the Force Bank Duration has lapsed, regardless of your opponent’s proximity or the probability of the counterattack being successful.

Because of the force used in counterattacking, Force Quadruple Mode may not be accessible based on the results of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell – certified blooding. For information on the minimum physical standards required to unlock and engage Force Quadruple Mode, please contact our website.

FOCUS MODE

FA = 33%

SA = 67%

FBD = 2 seconds

Focus Mode counterattacks the same part of your opponent’s body with every counterattack, regardless of where you have been attacked.  To Engage Focus mode:

  1. Select Focus Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Select the part of your opponent’s body you wish to counterattack from the Tier II Specific Modes Combat Panel (see 3.1: Tier II Combat Modes) and press Confirm. Every counterattack will target that part of your opponent’s body until Focus Mode is disengaged.

To change the focus of Focus Mode:

  1. Select Focus Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Select the part of your opponent’s body you wish to counterattack from the Tier II Specific Modes Combat Panel (see 3.1: Tier II Combat Modes) and press Confirm. Every counterattack from this point on will target that part of your opponent’s body until Focus Mode is disengaged.

Combat Tip: Focus Mode is best engaged against an opponent with a known injury or weakness you want to exploit.

PATTERN MODE

FA = 44%

SA = 77%

FBD = 2 seconds

Pattern Mode counterattacks the same parts of your opponent’s body in the same order, regardless of where you have been attacked.

To Engage Pattern mode:

  1. Select Pattern Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Select the parts of your opponent’s body you wish to counterattack from the Tier II Specific Modes Combat Panel (see 3.1: Tier II Combat Modes) and press Confirm. You may select up to ten targets. Every counterattack will target the parts of your opponent’s body you’ve selected in the order you’ve selected them in until Pattern Mode is disengaged.

To Change the pattern of Pattern Mode:

  1. Select Pattern Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Select the part of your opponent’s body you wish to counterattack from the Tier II Specific Modes Combat Panel (see 3.1: Tier II Combat Modes) and press Confirm.  You may select up to ten targets. Every counterattack will target the parts of your opponent’s body you’ve selected in the order you’ve selected them in until Pattern Mode is disengaged.

Selecting the same part of your opponent’s body three times in a row from the Tier II Specific Modes Combat Panel will cause Pattern Mode to switch automatically to Focus Mode and will now target that part exclusively.

RANDOM MODE

FA = 84%

SA = 77%

FBD = 2 seconds

Random Mode counterattacks a random part of your opponent’s body with a random part of your body.

Combat Tip: Random Mode is best engaged against an opponent adept at anticipating counterattacks.

SPLIT COUNTER MODE

FA = 48% (24% per attack)

SA = 86%

FBD = .9 seconds

Split Counter Mode divides the energy of your counterattack equally between your left and right fist. A 100 N attack by your opponent with Split Counter Mode engaged will result in a 74 N counterattack from your right fist followed by a 74 N counterattack from your left fist.

Split Counter Mode is set to counterattack first with your right fist and then with your left. To reverse the attack order of Split Counter Mode:

  1. Select Split Counter Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Double tap Confirm. Split Counter Mode will now attack first with your left fist and then with your right.

To revert to default Split Counter Mode:

  1. Select Split Counter Mode from the Tier I Combat Mode Panel.
  2. Double tap Confirm. Split Counter Mode will now attack first with your right fist and then with your left.

WEAPON DEFENSE MODE 

FA = 52%

SA = 83%

FBD = 10 seconds

Weapon Defense Mode counterattacks whatever appendage of your opponent’s is wielding a melee weapon, regardless of what part of your opponent attacked you.  An attack by an opponent wielding a melee weapon in his left hand will result in a counterattack on your opponent’s left hand.

In the event your opponent is wielding a melee weapon with both hands, Weapon Defense Mode will attack whichever appendage is closest to your opponent.

Weapon Defense Mode is designed specifically to disarm armed opponents. Its prolonged Force Bank Duration may leave you susceptible to further melee weapon attacks.

WEAPON OFFENSE MODE

FA = 52%

SA = 83%

FBD = 8 seconds

Weapon Offense Mode counterattacks with whatever appendage you’re wielding a melee weapon with, regardless of where you were attacked. An attack by an opponent while you’re wielding a melee weapon with your right hand will result in a counterattack with your right hand.

In the event you are wielding a melee weapon with both hands, Weapon Offense Mode will attack with whichever appendage is closer to your opponent.

Weapon Offense Mode is designed specifically to attack with melee weapons. Its prolonged Force Bank Duration may leave you susceptible to attack.

2.3: Custom Tier I Combat Modes

Marcks-Bissell is now accepting ideas for custom-designed Tier I Combat Modes. For information about designing, submitting, and engaging custom Tier I Combat Modes on your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket, please contact our website.

Engaging custom Tier I Combat Modes on your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket that have not been approved or authorized by the Marcks-Bissell Corporation  may result in serious injury or death and will void any guarantee of future performance for your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

3.0: Tier II Combat Modes

Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is equipped with a number of Tier II Combat Modes designed to engage in conjunction with Tier I Combat Modes to refine and customize Tier I Combat Modes. To set or change different Tier II Combat Modes on your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket:

  1. Lift the left front cuff of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket and access the Tier II Combat Mode Panel.
  2. On the Tier II Combat Mode Panel, choose your desired Tier II Combat Mode and select Confirm. Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket will now fight in this Tier II Combat Mode combat mode until the combat mode is changed.

Fig. 3.0: Location of the Tier II Combat Mode Panel on the 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

Combat Tip: The Tier II Combat Mode Panel features a raised interface to allow wearers to switch Combat Modes by feel in mid-combat. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the feel of each Tier II Combat Mode icon.

3.1: Tier II Specific Combat Modes

Tier II Specific Combat Modes allow you to modify Tier I Combat Modes to counterattack only when specific parts of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket are attacked.

Combat Tip: Typically, Tier II Specific Combat modes cause attacks on specified areas to become less frequent over time, as they result in counterattacks from those areas only. Tier II Specific Combat Modes are therefore ideal for drawing attacks away from areas you don’t want attacked due to existing injury or weakness.

3.1.1: Tier II Specific Combat Modes Explained

RAS: Right Arm Specific Mode

Right Arm Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your right arm is attacked.

LAS: Left Arm Specific Mode

Left Arm Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your left arm is attacked.

RLS: Right Leg Specific Mode

Right Leg Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your right leg is attacked.

LLS: Left Leg Specific Mode

Left Leg Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your left leg is attacked.

HS: Head Specific Mode

Head Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your head is attacked.

TS: Trunk Specific Mode

Trunk Specific Mode will allow your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket to counterattack with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged only when your trunk is attacked.

3.2: Tier II Excepted Combat Modes

Tier II Excepted Combat Modes allow you to modify Tier I Combat Modes to prevent a counterattack when specific parts of your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket are attacked.

Combat Tip: Typically, Tier II Excepted Combat modes cause attacks on excepted areas to become more frequent over time, as they result in no counterattacks. Tier II Excepted Combat Modes are therefore ideal for drawing attacks to areas you prefer to be attacked.

3.2.1: Tier II Specific Excepted Modes Explained

RAX: Right Arm Excepted Mode

Right Arm Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your right arm is attacked.

LAX: Left Arm Excepted Mode

Left Arm Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your left arm is attacked.

RLX: Right Leg Excepted Mode

Right Leg Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your right leg is attacked.

LLX: Left Leg Excepted Mode

Left Leg Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your left leg is attacked.

HX: Head Excepted Mode

Head Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your head is attacked.

TX:  Trunk Excepted Mode

Trunk Excepted Mode will prevent your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket from counterattacking with a Tier I Combat Mode engaged when your trunk is attacked.

3.3: Tier II Combat Mode Incompatibility

Because of their nature, some Tier II Combat Modes are incompatible with Tier I Combat Modes and other Tier II Combat Modes, rendering general combat inefficient, dangerous, or impossible. Please consult the Tier II Combat Mode Incompatibility Chart below to see which combat modes are incompatible.

In the event a Tier II Combat Mode is incompatible with your selected Tier I Combat Mode, the selected Tier I Combat Mode will remain engaged and the Tier II Combat Mode will become disengaged.

Fig. 3.3: Tier II Combat Mode Incompatibility Chart.

4.0: Cleaning And Caring Of Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

4.1: Cleaning Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket is designed to repel most liquids and bodily fluids it comes in contact with during the course of everyday wear and combat. If, however, it becomes stained or discoloured it can be cleaned using the Marks-Bissell cleaning products listed below. These products can be ordered directly from our website:

– Marks-Bissell Comeback Jacket stain remover (28 oz.) USD 90.

– Marks-Bissell Comeback Jacket leather protectant (28 oz.) USD 90.

– Marks-Bissell Comeback Jacket Leather LifeTM leather shine kit (28 oz.) USD 129.

Only Marks-Bissell brand cleaning products should be used to clean and preserve your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket.

4.2: Caring For Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket

Your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket comes with a lifetime warranty and is guaranteed to operate flawlessly for the duration of its existence. In the event your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket malfunctions please contact our website immediately for a complimentary damage assessment and repair/replacement.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to alter or repair your 2012 Marcks-Bissell Comeback Jacket yourself. Any attempt to do so may result in serious injury or death.

    © 2012, The Marks-Bissell Corporation

 

 

Death And Advertising

August 21, 2012

I work in advertising, and I am surrounded by death.

Metaphorically, speaking, of course. Every week in my industry an article is published somewhere proclaiming the ‘death’ of one thing or another. Radio is dead. Print is dead. So are QR codes, TV, the Internet, viral videos, the traditional agency model, newspapers, infomercials, coupons, product mascots, and, if this article from the Harvard Business Review is to be believed, marketing itself. If anyone checks the crawlspace under advertising’s house, they’re in for quite a shock.

Personally, I’m suspicious of such sweeping statements. In my experience (I have been in this industry for 11 years) the people who make them are frequently delivering a combination of broad industry analyses and solutions to the very situation they’ve delineated. The guy moaning about print being dead probably – coincidently – provides a service that can help you deal with the fact that print is dead. Bill Lee, the guy who wrote the aforementioned article about marketing being dead, owns a marketing consulting group (I didn’t know they made veils that thin, Bill). In short, the death notices are being written by the coffin salesmen, and are largely exaggerated.

And how do we know advertising death claims are largely exaggerated? Because we don’t live in an age, time, or culture where things become suddenly dead; especially things backed by moneyed interests. For every person out there claiming print is dead, there are ten others whose livelihood depends on print being alive, and who will spend every last dime on palliative life support for print. They’ll break print’s rib cage thumping on its chest every time it flat lines while shouting ‘YOU’RE NOT DYING, YOU BASTARD! NOT ON MY FUCKING WATCH!’ Whether we like it or not, this industry features myriad checkpoints manned by wealthy decision makers that prevent things from changing too rapidly. At any given time the reality of any given marketing discipline or practice isn’t one thing or another. It’s a blend. An admixture, if you will.

Please don’t misunderstand me; things do change. And we ignore that change at our peril. All I’m suggesting is that change is rarely so sweeping that it warrants donning black armbands in the form of published articles and industry-wide realignments.

The next time someone proclaims the death of something or other in advertising, treat him with the same skepticism you would anyone who arrives suddenly on your doorstep with something to sell. Maybe you need a coffin, and maybe you don’t.

  1. Babe = Charcuterié!
  2. The Empire Strikes Back = Les Tâuntauns Fântastiqué
  3. Iron Man 2 = Les Adventuérs D’Additionale de le Hommê Mechanique
  4. Police Academy = Acâdemy du ‘Côp’
  5. Slum Dog Millionaire = Les Móumons
  6. Prometheus = Lé Boules dé Space
  7. Les Miserable = The Miserables
  8. Meet The Parents = L’Introduciêr Les Shroops
  9. Glengarry, Glen Ross = Entendres Plus de Tits
  10. The Descendents = Folliés aux Cloonie
  11. D.C. Cab = D.ç. Cab
  12. Do The Right Thing = La Blanchê et le Noir et lê Feu
  13. The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants = Les Pantalôons Allons-y!
  14. Ray = Une Negré pas des Yéux
  15. Hellraiser = Uné Raisier d’ell
  16. It’s Complicated = C’est ne pas une ‘Klik’
  17. Schindler’s List = Au Revóir, les Jews 
  18. Saturday Night Fever = Une Pleurisy de la Discotheque
  19. Dude, Where’s My Car? = Pardónez-Moi: Ou Est un Bibliotheque?
  20. Milk = Júíce d’Orangê

Recently, a guerilla ‘art collective’, which is kinda like the Borg collective but with cooler shoes, vandalized Toronto ‘Info Pillars’. An ‘Info Pillar’ is a hideous, free-standing metal box that displays ads on Toronto sidewalks. They look like this. The name of the group, cARTography TO (preeeeeeety clever!) broke into the boxes and put up poetry and street art. They did this to “beautify the city and beautify the pillars because we thought they were awful and ugly.”

I agree wholeheartedly. I also hate shit like this. Here’s why.

Firstly, at the risk of being a big, fat cynic, I find this type of thing tiresome and too well-worn to be impactful. I can’t possibly imagine an average city dweller finding this provocative in any way. It reeks of corny, 90’s – era Adbusters ‘culture jamming’ shtickery and, in a totally lateral step, simply replaces one person’s arbitrary vision of the city with another. What makes you think I prefer your art over an ad? I do, for the record, but who fuck are you to leap to such a conclusion?

Secondly, I question the relevance of the statement that the pillars are ‘awful and ugly’. They are. But who cares? A city, by definition, is and must be collection of disparate elements side by side and intermingled. A city is green space, and beautiful waterfront, and beautiful old buildings, and wide boulevards – things that people love. It’s also a collection of things people typically don’t love: concrete, highways, big buildings, and advertisements. I, personally, am fine with this duality and find it perfectly logical within the context of ‘city’. It’s actually what makes a city most interesting. And if you think they have a better, cooler, prettier way of doing it in San Francisco or Reykjavik, there’s a flight leaving within the hour.

Lastly, and most importantly, this incident smacks of self-righteous proselytization too much for me to react to it in any way but defensively. cARTography TO put up a poster in an Info Pillar that said ‘We are here. Ads should not be.’  Says fuckin’ who? Thanks, but you don’t need to save consumers from consumerism, cARTography TO. We’re fine with it. Really. Collectively, we’ve all decided we’re intelligent enough to brave the slings and arrows of life in a 21st century city without your artistic intervention on our behalf. When we really, really, really  need a dose of art to save us from the brutal urban landscape, we’ll shine the Art Signal into the sky and you can speed from the depths of the Art Cave in the Art Mobile to save us.

Till then, we want to buy stuff. So leave the ads alone.

I Renounce Nerdism!

July 3, 2012

I used to consider myself a Nerd, but have recently realized I’m not. What’s more, I don’t want to be a Nerd. So I’m formally renouncing Nerdism.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still, in many ways, a small ‘n’ nerd. I have many small ‘n’ nerd tendencies. I collect postcards, and I know the formal name for the collection and study of postcards (deltiology). I absorb and regurgitate trivia with nerdly ferocity (Did you know the Latin word for head – capita – is the root of the modern day phrase ‘capital punishment’? I did.) And I love to read.  Fine. Those are all minor nerdisms. The Nerdism I’m talking about, Upper Case ‘N’ Nerdism, is the one that became the official, public, pronounced belief system of comic books lovers, video game geeks, and movie buffs about 15 years ago. Pop culture Nerds are, in my opinion, the Nerds. And I am not one of them.

I once considered myself one of them, though. In high school, I dabbled in Nerdism enough for my interests to catch and hold the attention of other Nerds. And as the Internet and its myriad incarnations allowed Nerdism to spread (or at least connect once isolated Nerdist cells), I was able to blend quite easily with Nerds and express my devotion through my daily works. I lined up at midnight to see Revenge Of The Sith wearing a lapel pin featuring Senator Bail Organa. I lined up at 8 a.m. to buy Grand Theft Auto IV in a limited-edition package. I own a Boba Fett helmet and made my 2 year-old son a matching Han Solo-in-carbonite Hallowe’en costume. Scorn and revulsion from non-Nerds in my life only spurned me to further embrace my faith, and for the first decade of the 21st century, I was a proud, proud Nerd.

Nerdism, though, is like any other widespread belief system – it requires general blind devotion to flourish. You can cavil on the finer points, but when the High Nerd Priest says ‘Let us pray,’ you’d better be kneeling with everyone else. My first inkling that I may not be the devout Nerd I thought I was came with the 2008 release of The Dark Knight. It was getting great reviews – Nerds were absolutely jizzing their Wranglers over Health Ledger’s performance as the Joker, a role he was eventually given a posthumous Oscar for. But I didn’t love The Dark Knight, and I thought Heath Ledger’s Joker was merely serviceable. This was in stark contrast to every other Nerd in the world. Everyone was facing Mecca but me, and I was forced to do some serious soul-searching as to why I was questioning my hitherto deep-seated faith.

The answers I came up with were harsh, but honest. I didn’t love The Dark Knight because I didn’t love Batman. I liked Batman, insofar as I’d go see a movie about him on a rainy Sunday in the summer of ’08. But love? Nah. What’s more, I was forced to admit I was unimpressed with Health Ledger’s Joker because I was unimpressed with the Joker, period. I thought (and still do) that he was a pretty stupid character. He’s gimmicky and corny, and painting him with a gritty, Heath Ledger-y brush just made his inherent corniness seem all the more obvious to me.

This silent confession, though blasphemous within the tenets of Nerdism, felt good. It felt liberating, and I began plumbing my soul for more painful but refreshing truths.

I realized I didn’t care about The Lord Of The Rings and thought three hours was way too long to sit through any movie.

I realized I no longer cared about Star Wars.

I realized I really didn’t care about Spiderman, the Avengers, or the X-Men. I had never read or collected Spiderman or Avengers or X-Men comics, and those I had read seemed repetitive and interchangeable.

I realized I hated Grand Theft Auto IV. It had bored me.

I realized I’d never seen Blade Runner in its entirety, and that I didn’t care.

I realized I think 90% of what sci-fi godfather Isaac Asimov wrote is unreadable crap.

I realized I really, really, really don’t care about the new Batman movie, and have no desire to see it.

I realized I don’t care about the difference and similarities between PCs and Macs, or iPhones, or the Cloud, or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

And, having brought myself to those realizations, I realized I’m not a Nerd.

For, you see, Nerdism has become far too regimented a collective for me to feel comfortable in any longer. It has begun to make demands of me that I can’t possibly meet.

I will still participate in Nerdism when the desire moves me. But I am no longer a card-carrying member. I’ll no longer mingle with the other Nerds in heated debates about the atrocities committed by George Lucas against the Star Wars universe or why John Carter flopped (NOTE TO NERDS: John Carter flopped because no one knows what the fuck John Carter is or was – there was next to zero point of reference for the world and character of John Carter, even in the Nerdosphere.) or look at people who line up to buy mass-produced electronics with anything but contempt.

I’m turning in my Nerd badge:

and my Nerd gun:

and bidding you all farewell.  It was fun, but it’s no longer for me.

I’ll maintain enough Nerdly influence in my life to understand 90% of the references in Futurama, but that’s it.

Night Court.
It’s a court at night.

It’s where
two attorneys fight.

They’ve got a bailiff
who is tall.
He’s played by a guy named
Richard Moll.

(brief saxophone solo)

To jail is where
the bad guys go.
Brent Spiner had a
cameo.

What a show!

Strip Club Or Baby Store?

February 27, 2012

 

  1. Peekaboo Bottoms
  2. BabyLegs
  3. Pink Olive
  4. Oh Baby
  5. RuffleButts
  6. Sweet Cheeks
  7. Honeys And Heroes
  8. Chloe’s Closet
  9. The Swanky Stork
  10. Polka Dot Dreams
  11. Uptown Girls, Downtown Boys
  12. Sugar And Spice
  13. Pink-A-Dilly
  14. Lollipops
  15. Starfish
  16. One Hot Mama
  17. California Baby
  18. Spanky Lane
  19. Stinkypants
  20. Mamas And Chicks
  21. My Little Dimples
  22. The Silver Sandbox
  23. Starlight Starbright
  24. Sweet N’ Sassy
  25. Moms To Be And More

ANSWERS: These are obviously all baby stores. The fuck’s wrong with you?

 

There’s a movie theatre near my house that has a sign hanging in the lobby with the Cineplex Odeon corporate mission statement printed on it:

“PASSIONATELY DELIVERING

AN EXCEPTIONAL ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE.”

When I see it, it always brings a tear to my eye to be reminded how passionately the CinOde people are working to make my entertainment experience an exceptional one. Sadly, this type of focused, articulated, all-caps sense of purpose is lacking in most other brands I interact with. Below are some suggested mission statements that everyday brands could use to cement their relationships with consumers and climb to the top of their particular product pile.

 “DETERMINEDLY DELIVERING AN OPTIMAL CHEWING ENCOUNTER.” 

“ZEALOUSLY PROVIDING AN UTTERLY RESPLENDENT HOME-IMPROVEMENT EXPERIENCE.”

“FERVENTLY BRINGING YOU A MUNIFICENT DOUCHING OCCURRENCE THE LIKES OF WHICH YOU SHALL REMEMBER UNTIL YOU DIE.”

“IN THE NAME OF GOD, LORD OF ALL THE WORLDS, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL, RULER ON THE DAY OF RECKONING. YOU ALONE WE DO WORSHIP, AND YOU ALONE WE DO ASK FOR HELP IN TELLING PEOPLE HOW GOOD THIS CHEESE IN A CAN IS.” 

“WE LOVE CLEAN WINDOWS; JUST FUCKING LOVE THEM. WE’D FUCK CLEAN WINDOWS IF IT WOULDN’T GET US TOSSED IN FUCKING JAIL. SO IF YOU LOVE CLEAN WINDOWS SO MUCH YOU WANT TO FUCKING FUCK THEM, THEN BUY THIS PRODUCT.”

“IF THIS ISN’T THE BEST COLA YOU’VE EVER HAD, WE’LL KILL OURSELVES.”

Q: Is it better to be and ogre or a vampire?

A: An ogre, because then you don’t have to tell your parents.

 

Q: What do you get when you cross a centaur and a fairy?

A: A catapult that never works.

 

Q: Why druid staves so small?

A: So they can wield them with manacles on.

 

Q: How do you babysit an elfling?

A: Tie their ears together and hang them on the wall.

 

Q: What do dwarves do during the winter?

A: Count all the djinn’s plunder they took during the summer.

 

Q: How can you tell when an Atlantean has been in your home?

A: Your liquor cabinet’s empty and all the mirrors are gone.

 

Q: What has nine arms, six teeth and smells like dung?

A: The head table at a troll wedding.

 

 

Recently, Lady Gaga sent a video to a Canadian high school in which she claimed that bullying should be a hate crime. Lady Gaga should not have said that, and I’ll tell you why. But first, lemmie just throw down a couple disclaimers. DISCLAIMER #1: I respect Lady Gaga. DISCLAIMER#2: I think bullying is a big problem in schools and should be dealt with harshly, by schools and the law. Bullies should be suspended and, if their activities warrant it (i.e., physical abuse, verbal abuse) should be remanded to the police and charged criminally. There. Now you know I’m not a total asshole.

But my support for anti-hate crime legislation is divided. Hate crime is, as far as my reading has revealed to me, a strange thing. In Canada, a hate crime is a crime ‘motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.’ This definition is frighteningly broad. A skinhead leaving nail bombs in synagogues could be charged with a hate crime in Canada. But, conceivably, so could your grandfather if he got into a fender-bender with an Asian man and punched him while yelling that ‘Fucking chinks can’t drive!’. A good lawyer could argue that, based on his publically uttered slur, gramps has a ‘thing’ against Asians and wouldn’t have hit someone of another race.

Now, both things are bad: Jews shouldn’t be nail bombed and Asians shouldn’t be punched. But one is clearly worse than the other (HINT: the nail bomb thing). Nevertheless, if my understanding of Canadian hate crime law is correct, there’s a possibility that, as the result of a traffic accident, these two men could wind up sharing a cell:

 

That’s probably not gonna happen, because what hate crime legislation really is is a way to dole out extra punishment to the people who really deserve it. It’s ‘Anti Dickhead’ law, and it probably winds up punishing the right people, i.e., racist, homophobic dickheads. But the principle behind hates crime has always bothered me because it’s so vague. I could conjure up numerous scenarios that challenge and confuse the good intentions behind persecuting hate criminals (and I have; see the P.S. at the end of this post). It’s kind of like the law that sent California pornographer Max Hardcore to jail. I’m glad he’s not doing what he does anymore, but I question the means behind how we stopped him. At the end of the day it seems capricious and subject as much to the non-legal whims of the powers involved as it does to by-the-book legislation. And that’s a problem.

(NOTE: I do support hate crime legislation, but only because the law of averages dictates that an inevitable typo will result in reportage of a ‘hat crime’. And that will be hilarious.)

Although Gaga makes it clear that she believes in respect for all students, her proclamation is a direct response to a gay student who killed himself as a result of being bullied for being gay. Fine. See DISCLAIMER #2. But what if a student is bullied because he’s a good ol’ fashioned heterosexual nerd? Just a D&D-loving, H.P. Lovecraft-reading, video game-playing, book-reading nerd? What then? Would his theoretical suicide fall under the category of ‘hate crime’?

I realize what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to stop high school kids from killing themselves because of what other students say and do to them in the unbearable social crucible that is high school. See DISCLAIMER# 2 again. But I recoil at Lady Gaga’s notion that bullying should be a hate crime because it is, at its heart, a ridiculously Draconian suggestion. Justice-wise, it’s a napalm strike against a village of peasants with rusty mattocks, a punishment that far outstrips the crime. It just doesn’t ‘fit’. And if we want words like ‘hate’ and ‘crime’ to continue to carry any weight in Canadian society, they have to be used infrequently, and by people who know what they’re talking about. In the capacity of law, justice, and social equality, Lady Gaga isn’t qualified to weigh in on this subject, much as her fans would like her to.

Post-Blog Post-Script: Should It Be A Hate Crime?

 Assume that the ‘abuse’ theorized below is public, prolonged and pronounced.

  1. A gay student is subject to slurs and abuse based on his sexual orientation by heterosexual students.
  2. A heterosexual student is subject to slurs and abuse based on his sexual orientation by gay students.
  3. A heterosexual student is subject to gay slurs and abuse by heterosexual students, despite not being gay.
  4. An openly gay student is subject to slurs and abuse based on his sexual orientation by heterosexual students, but is later revealed to be heterosexual.
  5. A black student is subject to constant slurs and abuse, but it is later revealed that the abuse is rooted in negative stereotypes applicable only to other races and creeds (i.e., ‘You drunken, potato-eating motherfucker!’).
  6. An Asian student is subject to constant slurs and abuse, but it is later revealed that the abuse is rooted in hitherto unheard of and seemingly ridiculous stereotypes that don’t apply to any discernable race or creed (i.e., ‘You classical music-loving’, cotton candy eatin’  motherfucker!’).
  7. A neo-Nazi is subject to slurs and abuse based on his political beliefs by a group opposed to them.
  8. A man with a hat attacks another, hatless man.
       Vote now!
  1. Lavender Secret
  2. Rose Mist
  3. Daytona Peach
  4. Honey Bell
  5. Pineapple Grove
  6. Jade Green
  7. Crystal Springs
  8. Oriental Iris
  9. Heather Plum
  10. Pink Swirl
  11. Phoenix Sands
  12. Old Gold
  13. Amber Waves
  14. Birmingham Cream
  15. Beverly Hills
  16. Chesterton Buff
  17. Bryant Gold
  18. Morning Light
  19. Citroneé
  20. Sweet Daphne
  21. Mediterranean Spice
  22. Caliente
  23. Spanish Red
  24. Petunia Pink
  25. Brighton Rock Candy
  26. Blonde Wood
  27. Princeton Gold
  28. Sweet Caroline
  29. Bella Blue
  30. Pleasant Valley
  31. Amsterdam
  32. Comet
  33. Luxe
  34. Violet Sparkle
  35. Pink Petals
  36. Precious Pink
  37. Beaver Brown
  38. Flora
  39. Kitty Grey
  40. Pink Panther
  41. Blue Pearl
  42. Luscious
  43. Spring Lilac
  44. Blue Dragon
  45. Caribbean Breeze
  46. Cool Aqua
  47. Mexicali Breeze
  48. English Hyacinth
  49. Enchanted
  50. Havana Tan

ANSWERS: These are all colours from the Benjamin Moore ‘Hearts And Homes Interiors Collection’. 

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*Fakeish (adj.) Suspected of being fake, false, or otherwise untrue, but no so much so as to have someone challenge you on it.

**Point values are given based on an opening ‘Bingo’ with the highest-scoring letter played on the available DLS.

  1. AFOXISH (106)
  2. AMISSET (74)
  3. ASHRING (80)
  4. ASSBACK (90)
  5. BALLJOB (102)
  6. BINGREE (76)
  7. BOATISH (82)
  8. BONEBAT (78)
  9. BOORBID (80)
  10. CAMISET (78)
  11. CLUICID (80)
  12. CONTISH (82)
  13. CORDFUL (84)
  14. CORNTOP (78)
  15. CROUGHN (84)
  16. DEDLING (74)
  17. DISHISH (86)
  18. EIEIOES (64)
  19. FAGGGOT (84)
  20. FAKEISH (92)
  21. FARACCI (86)
  22. FARBISH (88)
  23. FATLIER (78)
  24. FLINIKS (88)
  25. FROLSCH (88)
  26. GLANKER (84)
  27. GRISKET (84)
  28. HAMHIDE (90)
  29. HATTING (80)
  30. HEAMING (84)
  31. HOOFEST (84)
  32. HUNKING (90)
  33. ILPNARY (82)
  34. JAYLOAD (102)
  35. JAZZLER (114)
  36. JESUSES (94)
  37. JEWIEST (100)
  38. KLELLED (84)
  39. LIONARY (78)
  40. METHING (80)
  41. MNEMTIC (82)
  42. MOUNDLY (84)
  43. MUNDIER (76)
  44. NIPPLER (78)
  45. NONFAUX (100)
  46. NULGISH (80)
  47. OBINARY (80)
  48. OOZIEST (102)
  49. ORGASMY (84)
  50. ORLOAFT (78)
  51. PENISED (76)
  52. PIGLESS (76)
  53. PIMPISH (90)
  54. PINCOCK (94)
  55. PLEAVID (84)
  56. PORKILY (92)
  57. POUBBED (84)
  58. PREELED (76)
  59. PRICELY (86)
  60. PRUSION (74)
  61. PUSSIER (74)
  62. RACISTY (82)
  63. REFARTS (78)
  64. REFISTS (74)
  65. RESTISK (82)
  66. REQUEER (102)
  67. REVELVE (84)
  68. RULLIAM (74)
  69. RUNGLER (70)
  70. SCOLEET (74)
  71. SCREWLY (88)
  72. SEXHOLE (100)
  73. SILMNED (76)
  74. SINKIER (82)
  75. SKILFIX (108)
  76. SNEETHS (78)
  77. SPRUITS (74)
  78. STALDRY (80)
  79. SQUORKS (110)
  80. SWISSLY (84)
  81. TAFFIER (84)
  82. TAINTLY (78)
  83. TAYNARY (84)
  84. THRULCH (88)
  85. TITILER (66)
  86. TRISHED (80)
  87. TROWLRY (84)
  88. TURDING (72)
  89. TWEXTEN (100)
  90. UFARIAN (78)
  91. UNFLATE (78)
  92. UNLUNAR (64)
  93. UNRAPED (74)
  94. UNWETLY (84)
  95. UNWHORE (84)
  96. VADERLY (86)
  97. WAITTLE (78)
  98. WUNCHED (90)
  99. WUTANGS (80)
  100. ZISSNER (102)

INTRODUCTION

They were called ‘the poor man’s Wu-Tang Clan’. Later, they were called ‘the rich man’s Wu-Tang Clan’. Then, just, ‘the Wu-Tang Clan’.  They were the Wu-Tang Clan, and they were the biggest rap group in history. Literally. There were, like ten of them, and they changed the face of hip-hop music forever.

This is their story.

PART I – BACK IN DADDY

 That’s a typo. It should say ‘BACK IN DA DAY’. Sorry.

The year was 1992: Heroin was still legal and Jimmy Carter was in the White House.  Visiting then-President Bill Clinton, yes, but he was there. And at an upscale Staten Island eatery a young saucier named Raekwon, weary of being repeatedly passed over for a promotion to chef, threw in his apron. ‘Fuck this shit, I quit.’ he said, and armed with that one simple rhyme, he set out to make hip-hop history.

No one thought this was the beginning of a rap dynasty. For one thing, there was already a Rap Dynasty, a number one-rated show on CBS that combined footage from the successful 80’s drama with audio of Puff Daddy muttering ‘Uh….uh…yeah…c’mon’ overtop. Secondly, Staten Island was notoriously unfriendly to rappers, taxing all rhymes and flow, mad and otherwise, at a rate that made it impossible for a lone urban wordsmith to become financially successful. To make it in the rap game, a nigga had to incorporate, and that took help. Fortunately, Raekwon knew just where to get it.

Rae began assembling a hip-hop dream team comprised of friends, associates and former colleagues. His first conscripts were Robert Fitzgerald Diggs and Gary Grice, known respectively as RZA and GZA. As the two surviving members of the Dion Quintuplets, they had extensive performance experience and felt comfortable in front of crowds. A phone call to childhood friend, Donald ‘Cappadonna’ Donaldson brought the MC count to four. And struggling rapper U-God was brought onboard because having someone with ‘God’ in their name would officially make the group a church, rendering it exempt from taxation.

This gave the group five members, each skilled in the craft of the spitting of rhymes. But Raekwon, ever the perfectionist, wasn’t happy. If five rappers were five times better than one, he theorized, then nine rappers would be nine times better than one. The math was double-checked and confirmed, and four more members were sought out.

To lure Ghostface Killah and Inspecta Deck to the fold, Rae balanced a wooden box precariously on a stick, baited the trap with fat beats, and pulled the stick away when the pair drew near. Method Man made the cut when his car broke down in front of Raekwon’s house and he asked, in profanity-laced rhyme, to use Rae’s phone to call a tow truck. And a classified ad in a student newspaper caught the eye of Russell ‘Ol’ Dirty Bastard’ Tyrone, who had just been barred from the Staten Island College Of Nursing for sticking pins in the heads of patients.

ABOVE: An overexposed promotional photo of the original Wu-Tang Clan.

With the team assembled, the face of music was about to be changed forever. All they were missing was a name, a problem solved by adopting the title of the group’s favourite cult film. Unfortunately, touring as Teen Wolf got the group booed off stage during their fist gig, a benefit for teenagers who had been mauled by wolves. Over the next six months they toured under a variety of similarly-inspired names including The Last Starfighter, Krull, The Wizard, Mac And Me and Caddyshack II, all with minimal success. It was then that U-God suggested ‘Wu-Tang Clan’, a mysterious team of ninjitsu assassins from the little-known chop-sockey flick Enter The 36 Chambers. The group agreed, and when the first box of Wu-Tang Clan business cards arrived from Staples, it was official.

They were ready to hit the big time.

PART II – WU-TTLE MANIA SWEEPS AMERICA

If ever there was a group in the right place at the right time, it was the Wu-Tang Clan; they were punctual and had an impeccable sense of direction. America, tired of waiting for a follow-up to 1985’s ‘Superbowl Shuffle’, was hungry for something new in rap. And the Wu-Tang Clan, ladle, needle and thread in hand, was ready to sew the country’s asshole closed and keep feeding it.

The Clan appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and carried an aura of equal parts danger, mystery and danger-stry. People could only speculate on their origins and motives. Were they something to fuck with? What ruled everything around them? Which part of the listener’s anatomy, if any, would they advocate protection of? These questions and others were answered in November of 1993, when the Clan’s first album dropped and exploded like a bomb. And not those inferior, ineffectual bombs made by housewives during wartime, either. The good kind.

Swingin’ To The Cool Sounds Of The Wu-Tang Clan was an instant hit, garnering respect and admiration from fans and critics alike. Seven of the album’s eight tracks became Top 10 Hits, including ‘Are You Ready For Some Football?’ which was later rescored by Hank Williams Jr. to become the NHL’s theme song. The album was a diatribe against poverty, aggression, violence and the urban experience, articulated with a freshness and brilliance too long absent from rap music. Plus, the songs rhymed, which was nice. When the Wu-Tang Clan spoke, it was with the authority of numbers. One guy rapping about how the government cut off food stamps in his neighborhood and used the money they’d saved to build a food-stamp burning machine could be ignored. Two guys rapping about it wasn’t a big deal, either; maybe the second guy was retarded and was just repeating everything the first guy rapped. ‘Tards do that’s sometimes. But nine guys?  That was a presence to be reckoned with. For the first time ever, Americans were afraid of young black men.

Wary of resting on their laurels, the Wu-Tang released their follow-up album, Frampton Comes Alive, the very next day. It featured U-God playing a rare Les Paul Custom with three humbucking pickups as opposed to the usual two pickups found on most Gibson Les Pauls at the time. Alive showed a more playful side of the Clan and began introducing listeners to the group’s individual members and styles. Songs like Method Man’s ‘M.E.T.H.O.D. Man’ were proficient and educational, and had elementary schools across the country praising the group for improving kids’ ability to spell. This led to a number of educational follow-up hits like ‘Yo, Let’s Learn State Capitals’, ‘My Nigga Ferdinand Magellan’ and ‘177 Divided By 3 Is 59’, in which Method Man literally schooled struggling math students:


The Wu-Tang Clan were best appreciated, however, in concert. A carnival atmosphere pervaded the group’s live shows, except instead of the calliope there was thudding bass, instead of the ring toss there were people throwing their sets into the air, and instead of the laughter of children there was misogynist profanity. The smell of funnel cake, however, remained, thanks to Clan fans’ predilection for a bio-engineered strain of marijuana that smelled like fried dough and icing sugar when lit. Hardcore fans, ‘Clansmen’, gathered at venues hours and even days before the group arrived to perform. Eventually, the sky would reverberate with the sound of nine individual jet-packs and each member of the Wu-Tang Clan would descend from the heavens and land on a special stage modified to fit nine rappers. The front row would don protective goggles and hoist handmade Wu-Tang cuspidors, a signal that the group could begin spitting rhymes.

The group’s love and respect for their fans was evident in the detail and consideration showed during each live performance.  The Wu-Tang Clan not only gave shout outs to the crowd, but also gave Shout out to the crowd in case anyone had a stain on their clothes. There was a special mosh pit for pregnant mothers and the elderly.  At halftime fans were treated to toasted pumpernickel bagels topped with fresh honey from the Clan’s apiary of domesticated killah bees. Each show culminated with a special ‘Wu & A’ session that allowed audience members to ask one question to a member of their choice. ‘Have you seen my keys?’ was the most popular.

The incredible success of the Clan’s live album Rhymes In Mean Time: Live in Greenwich allowed the band to sign dozens of endorsement deals with a wide range of products and services. If a young girl began her journey into womanhood in the late 90’s, chances are she used Wu-Tang brand panty shields (‘For your Ol’ Dirty time of the month’).

The Clan was flying high on wings of rhymes. But fame, as they say, is a bitch. And the Wu-Tang Clan’s fame was in a very bad mood, and was about to pick a fight with her men for no reason whatsoever.


 PART III – ‘WE’RE BLACKER THAN JESUS.’

In the summer of 1996 the Clan announced a hiatus from touring so they could work on their third studio album. It was, Raekwon promised, to be the Gone With The Wind of hip hop albums, in that it would be epic, poignant and would make white people think black people didn’t know how to speak proper English.

The album, released on July 5, 1997 and bankrolled by the Independent Grocers Alliance, was called IGA, Please! and was panned by critics.  Foremost among detractors was the NAASP, the National Association of American Scrabble Players, who challenged the group’s frequent use of the word ‘nigga’. The album was also a letdown for longtime Clan fans, who claimed that the group’s commercial success had caused it to lose touch with its gritty, urban roots. Tracks like ‘Li’l Fork For Salad, Big Fork For Fish’, ‘Topiary Animals, Yo’ and ‘We’ve Lost Touch With Our Gritty, Urban Roots’ seemed to support such accusations. It was also highly criticized for its use of unauthorized samples, borrowing riffs from thirty-seven different artists’ tracks. This accusation was dismissed by Raekwon in an interview with Rolling Stone, where he stated that:

The Wu-Tang Clan’s material is one hundred percent original. We have nothing but the deepest R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our fellow musicians, and would never sample their music without their permission. That would be bad. Really really bad. Shamon, y’know. We want to rock and roll all night and party every day, and we would do anything for the love of our fans, but we won’t do that. Writing our own lyrics and performing our own music: these are a few of our favourite things.’

But if the group was worried about record sales, it didn’t show. They were still making more money than they knew what to do with, and their spending was becoming the stuff of legend in the music industry. Raekwon’s lavish 40 acre estate in the Alleghany Mountains featured a swimming pool filled with Cristal champagne, and a second pool filled with soda for designated drivers. U-God sported a diamond-encrusted grill, incisors and molars. Method Man had all his silverware gold-plated, his gold records platinum-ed, and his platinum Amex card coated in uranium.  And Method Man owned two pairs of sneakers, a rarity in the hip hop community.

It was during this period that individual members of the Clan began to branch out on their own, working on a series of solo projects. For these albums, members created and adopted names and personas different from the ones fans were familiar with. While these rap nom de plumes allowed Clan members a certain degree of creative license, the sheer volume of albums and monikers proved confusing for fans. Between nine members, the group had more than a hundred ‘alter egos’ and nicknames, including Phat Diabetic, MC Paintypants, Docta Doom OBGYN, DJ Mitigating Circumstances, Ol’ Klodhoppa, Spanish Bigfoot, Cowboy Claire, Smirnoff McPhee, Denver Haze, Captain Highlina, Rhymes LaRue, Flip Bitterdick, Copperplate Bold Condensed, Inkredulaz, Babe Roof, Miles ‘Midas’ Mufflers, Prequel Jones, Kal-el Da Lumpy Nigga, Gran’ Kanyon, Medium-Sized Wayne, Nick Silly, Pendragon Popcollar Bed-Stuy III, Con-fetti, Stutz Himler The Hip Hop Führer, Lazy Lion, The Long Tall Balla, Petite Poo, Freebee The Pro Bono Rapper, Pancake Malloy, Snoop Doggy Leibowicz, Brio C Note-O, Da Marketing Managa, Ice3 , Poisonous Gary, Grand Theft Otto, Mountain DewTM The Rapper, Damon Knight, DJ Jazzy Tim, Skribe The Death Row Bailiff, Réal Humdinger, Li’l Big Tinylarge, Da Focus Pulla,Uncle Jemima, Twerp Hamhock, Shabë, Harlem Gravy, Killah Bea Arthur, The Duluth Pimp, Überfly, Baby Duck, Ol’ Pussytoe, Bolex , Abin Sur, The Hadoukener, Boneburner, Gunslinger Gary, Goldenspine, Splish Splash Bling Blang, Silvafish, Harlem Cabbage, Phlat Soda, Dreamzickle, Whoppa Jr. Wit’ Cheeze, Magnum .357 P.I., Humphrey Hump, Ghetto Flax, Splatterfoott, Homina Homina, Goatee The Horned Rapper, Diamond Wordsworth Longfellow, William ‘Dollar Bill’ Dollar Will I. Am Canadian!, Pinko The Commie MC, Lavalier Mike, Kipton Da Bachala, Deep Blue Tugjob, Cheese Q. Caboose, Charles N. Charge, Wayward P.S.P., Showboat Huxtable, Zqxkj, Rich Uncle Pennybags, Groo, Jive Alive, Wee Pine Nut, Joey Cashew, Platinum Tylenol, Icy Hot, Boomerang Huang, The Yemeni Yeti, Rabbi Pirannah, Butterthroat, Kid Zangief, Glock Paddycake, Etaoin Shrdlu, Dewy Decimal, Jay Zed, Heavy Syrup, NAAC-3PO and Fine Art. This practice caused considerable confusion, not only among fans but among band members themselves. In August of 1997, Method Man performed a drive-by shooting on 12 Gauge Rub-A-Dub, a rapper he was beefing with. Only later was it discovered that the two men were the same person.

This period is considered to be the beginning of the Wu-Tang Clan’s downfall. Due to excess spending and depreciation of ‘Wu Bucks’, the band’s self-printed currency, they were struggling financially. A series of ill-conceived concert events did little to help. The Clan’s 1998 team-up with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, dubbed the ‘Wu Who Tour’, barely made enough to cover promotional costs. And a 10-part, 20-hour Ken Burns documentary about America’s love of baseball, hip-hop and the correlation between the two (Pitching Wu: America’s Love Of Baseball, Hip-Hop And The Correlation Between The Two) dried up the last of the group’s cash flow. The financial toll began to show. During their videos, the group now picked up all the money they threw at the camera. They switched from smoking Phillies Bunts to the much cheaper Punxsutawney Blunts. And transportation cutbacks meant the group only had hoes in the same area code.

The group was also struggling with the erratic behaviour of Raekwon. Hitherto the even-headed leader of the Clan, Rae had begun to exhibit all the signs of a fame-related nervous breakdown. During a live televised fundraiser for victims of hip-hop-related violence, he claimed that ‘Kate Bush doesn’t care about black people.” He bought the Elephant Man’s bones and kept them in a glass case in his garage. Not Joseph Merrick, the neurofibromatosic Englishman, but the Jamaican dancehall musician. And he began to use violence to deal with industry rivals and adversaries. Sausage magnate Jimmy Dean was found shot in the face on the same day Raekwon’s own Cuban Links breakfast meat cylinders made their debut, and many suspected foul play.

In October of 1999 the group sent Syd Barrett to Rae’s house with a ‘Congratulations On Your Retirement’ fruit basket, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he was no longer a member.

The Wu-Tang’s final public appearance took place on November 3, 1999, when the group reunited for a concert on the roof of the famed Apple Building on Saville Row in London. Unfortunately, the concert was cut short when the man living in the penthouse banged on his ceiling to complain about the noise. The group returned to New York dispirited, bankrupt, and slightly gassy from airplane food. As fast as it had begun, the Wu-Tang Clan’s meteoric rise was over.

Which is weird, because meteors don’t rise, they fall. But you get the point.

THE AFTERMATH

Today, little remains of the Wu-Tang Clan’s hip-hop empire. Their recording studio lies vacant, infested with coyotes and wild fennel. Their lavish estates and beloved possessions have been auctioned off to creditors and people who mistakenly raised their hands during auctions. And their once groundbreaking lyrics are now used by the editors of Wiccan cooking magazines as copy placeholder. But for fans, the Wu-Tang Clan are a cultural benchmark evocative of a very special time.  A time when the nation and the world came under the sway of nine black men who routinely gathered onstage and performed as a single, explosively creative musical supergroup the likes of which will never be seen again.

Actually.…y’know what? I was thinking of Parliament this whole time.

Never mind.



Birthday Math

June 5, 2011

Today is my thirty-fifth birthday. As a rule, I don’t worry about aging because I believe numerical age is arbitrary. It’s derived from the widely-used decimal, or ‘base-10’ system, so multiples of ten – 20, 30, 40, – seem significant. Were we using any other form of measurement, this would not be the case.

The Aztecs, for example used a base-12 system, so a 30th birthday would be no big deal.  But turning 36 might have made an Aztec feel his age. If he hadn’t been slain by Europeans or sacrificed for playing on the losing team during an Intra-kingdom basketball tournament, a 36 year-old Aztec would be considered an old man. He’d be dreading his yearly physical: “Hmmm,” the Aztec doctor would mutter, looking at the X-Ray, “that heart better come out. Lay down on the altar while I scrub up.”

Computers use the hexadecimal, or base-16 system, so 16 is a milestone in a computer’s life. Ironic, since Moore’s law renders most computers obsolete long before then. Maybe that explains the angst of HAL and Skynet and all the other computers bent on destroying mankind: they’re the technological equivalent of grumpy old men.

Humans count the lives of dogs in increments of 7, which is kind of unfair to your dog when it comes to his birthdays. One day he’s 14, the next day he’s 21. Not only have his teen years have completely passed you by, but now he’s eligible to be drafted. Cicadas are even worse off – they appear every 17 years.  A cicada’s 17th birthday is followed by his 34th, and then by his 51st. Because of this, cicadas are notoriously unfashionable: they show up to birthday parties dressed in the garb of 17, 34 and 51 years ago. You see a lot of denim overalls, bell bottoms and pillbox hats at cicada birthday parties.

If you’re really terrified of aging, you may chose to follow the example of Princeton mathematician John Nash. He proposed a base-26 system in which numbers corresponded to the 26-letter Latin alphabet. So your 16th birthday would be your Pth, your 20th your Tth, etc. When you turn 27, you simply start again at AA. Be warned, however: adopt this system and you could conceivably be invited to a 76 year-old woman’s XXX birthday party.

And what of entities beyond the lifespan and ken of mere humans? Could there not be a breed of mortal yet exceedingly long-lived godlike beings somewhere in the universe? Beings who measure their lives not in years, but in aeons? When do they start to feel the pinch of old age? Do they ever wake up in the heart of the sun where they dwell one day and mutter “I can’t believe I’m 1023 years old already. I haven’t devoured half the worlds I thought I would.” More to the point, have you ever tried to buy 1023 birthday candles? It’s damn near impossible, even if you write to the manufacturer.

In the end, though, the only real safeguard against feeling old is a general lack of knowledge about numbers. I failed math three times in high school (or was it two? which is more?), and become less interested in it with every passing day. For me, ignorance is not only bliss, it’s eternal youth, too.

Greetings, Padawan, and welcome to the final test of the Jedi order! Difficult, the questions are, but if you answer them, a full-fledged Jedi knight you will be! If you fail, grant Master Yoda sexual favous for a passing grade, you will! Begin!

 

1. What durable protective material was used to put Han Solo into hybernation? 

a)    Carbonite

b)    Dolomite

2. Which of the bug-eyed, waxen-faced horrors pictured below served as personal aide to Jabba The Hutt?

a) 
b) 

3. Of the following names, which one is a species from the Star Wars universe and not a sound made while vomiting?

a) Pffutt

b) Mwoulf

c) Ackblag

d) Ugnaught

e) Glor

4. According to Ben Kenobi, “________________ always ride single file to hide their numbers.”

a) Sandpeople

b) Fat People

c) Wave Babies

d) Latvians

5. Of the following names, which one is a droid from the Star Wars universe and not a wholesale industrial lubricant?

a) TVT24-7

b) GUNK L1004

c) Rd-90

d)  2-1B

e) WD-40

6. Of the following names, which one is a planet from the Star Wars universe and not a dish at an Italian restaurant?

a) Bagnun

b) Orzo

c) Nduja

d) Mon Calamari

e) Hey Badda-Boom Bada-Bing Bottomless Salad

7. Of the following names, which one is a Jedi Master and not a foreign brand of soda with the word ‘Master’ in front of it?

a) Master Quwat Jabal

b) Master Ooroo

c) Master Baidu

d) Master Kas

e) Master Fanta

8. Of the following names, which one is a Sith Lord and not a small Canadian town with the word ‘Darth’ in front of it? 

a) Darth Shediac

b) Darth Mattice-Val Cote

c) Darth Bindloss

d) Darth Traya

e) Darth Pickle Lake

9. Of the following names, which one belongs to the Santa Barbra punk-pop band whose 2002 cover of E.L.O.’s Mr. Blue Sky peaked at #87 on the Billboard Top 100?

a) Bossk

b) Nerf Herder

c) 12-System Death Sentence

d) Palpatine’s Taint

e) Marvin Midi-chlorian & The Kessel Runners

10. Are these the droids you’re looking for?

a) No

b) No

SCORING

10 correct: you are Episode V

7 – 9 correct: you are Episode IV

4 – 6 correct: you are Episode VI

1 – 3 correct: you are an after-school anti-drug PSA starring Mon Mothma

0 correct: you are the prequels


I work in advertising. And though I often arrive late, fart in my office and use the word ‘pussy’ in meetings, I am nonetheless considered an advertising professional. Every year, I attend an Advertising Student Portfolio Night, where myself and other ad professionals assess the work of the students studying to take our jobs. We dispense advice and try to help them make their ads better.

I am an advertising copywriter, which means I write copy (‘copy’ refers specifically to words in the context of advertising, as opposed to imagery) to convince people to buy products. I do a thousand other things, too, in the course of my day, but if I were to boil my job description down to three words, it would be ‘I use words.’ Last night, I had the pleasure of reviewing portfolios at an Advertising Student Portfolio Night that was attended wholly by copywriting students. This was a treat for me, because it gave me a chance to talk about something I actually know a little bit about

I offered all the copywriting students I saw the same advice about what I think an industry-ready portfolio should look like, and I’m offering it again here to anyone who cares.

I think a great copywriting portfolio includes five print campaigns of three ads each. That’s it. Let me tell you why I think that.

I believe that print advertising is the most basic, most effective way to convey new information. For me a print ad is a finite, static space wherein a message is focused, conveyed and confirmed using words, pictures, or a combination of both.  The ad industry makes very clear definitions between magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, and ads in bus shelters, but I’m not doing that here. All those media (and many more) have the above definition and, hence, the same restrictions and challenges, in common. From a writer’s POV, print is the most difficult medium in advertising to execute in because you can’t rely on anything other then the print execution itself to explain itself. The purpose of a student advertising portfolio is to provide the reader with a rapid-fire assessment of your skills and talents. Print is an excellent medium to do this in.

Of these five print campaigns of three ads each, I believe at least two of them should be headline-driven.  This means, essentially, words describing a product and/or its attributes and/or benefits composed in a clever, compelling way. The words in a headline campaign should do the ‘heavy lifting’, as industry parlance goes. Copywriting students should do headline ads because, like it or not, this advertising formula (a picture of something with words beside it) isn’t going away any time soon. As an ad copywriter, you will write thousands of headlines in your lifetime. So showing you can do it well, or at least have the potential to do it well, proves you have the basic skill a writer needs (i.e., the ability to write) to survive.

The other print ads in your book should be visually-driven. This means that an interesting image (as opposed to words) does the ‘heavy lifting’. This shows that, besides being handy with a turn of phrase, you’re also able to shift mental gears when necessary and think in pictures. Again, this is a valuable skill to have, because there are situations when words won’t help you. The words ‘I’m so hungry I could eat horse’ do not translate meaningfully into French (or so I’ve been told) so a different tack is needed. Visual thinking is simply another tool in your toolbox of a brain.

One type of ad a student copywriter should never have in their book is a ‘long copy’ ad. This is an ad with a ‘long’ amount of ‘copy’ (hence the clever name) that, as far as I can tell, students are forced to create at the behest of their teachers. You shouldn’t write them because no one will read them. It’s not you; it’s just human nature. People don’t like to read anything that doesn’t immediately interest them. Think how bored you are reading this. Now, the more astute among you will no doubt charge that it’s an advertising copywriter’s job to make boring subject matter interesting. It is. But given that a student copywriter has a short amount of time to produce work of a quality and quantity that will impress potential employers, I can’t in good conscience say that crafting and re-crafting a 3000-word missive about the deliciousness of Triscuits is going to pay off huge. If you want to prove an adroit grasp of grammar and punctuation, write 20 – 30 words of supporting ‘body copy’ about a product appearing in one of your headline-driven ads. This is a more realistic example of how much copy you’ll be asked to write at any given time anyway; few advertisers do long copy ads in the first place.

Let’s talk about web stuff. I know how important the Internet is in commerce. ‘Kay? But I disagree strongly with the mandatory inclusion of things like web banners and iPhone apps in a student portfolio. Why? Because, from what I’ve seen, it results in students fitting mediocre ideas to the demands of a medium instead of letting a great idea speak for itself. If you want to produce an ad tailored to a specific medium, I’m personally more impressed with students who tackle a less glamourous medium than the web or an iPhone app. The marketplace is full of ad spaces that can give a student copywriter the chance to prove how clever they are: the handles on grocery carts, decals on convenience store freezers, tear-away coupons at the bottom of other ads, etc. Plus, by executing an ad in one of these mediums, you’ll have a point of difference between you and all the other students who cranked out the same banner in your ‘Writing For The Web 101’ class. (NOTE: One of the most memorable pieces of student work I saw at last night’s Advertising Student Portfolio Night was a handmade stencil of the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo that could be included in cases of beer and used to quickly spray paint the PBR logo anywhere. The student had made it herself from a piece of cardboard, and included photos of the stencil actually being used. I loved this piece because a), it would invariably appeal to the urban white-collar hipsters who drink PBR and, b), it was a refreshing low-tech contrast to the dozens of web banners, apps and QR code stuff other students had in their portfolios. In an industry that stakes its livelihood on originality, that girl did something no one else was doing, which is the truest benchmark of originality I can think of).

If, however, you insist on putting web, TV, radio or any other executions that rely on electronic media in your book, my advice is to execute it and present it in the medium it’s intended for. If it’s a web banner that explodes, mock up a web banner that explodes and send me a link. If it’s a radio ad, record a radio ad (NOTE: At last night’s Advertising Student Portfolio Night one student actually had radio ads he’d recorded on his iPhone for me to listen to. It sounds like a stupidly obviously thing to do, but it was the first time I’d seen it done.) As a student, no one is expecting you to make it perfect, but there’s something to be said for playing to the strengths of whatever medium you’re using. All too often I see a web banner laid out on paper that requires a 400-word description to make it comprehensible. And I think we’ve already covered the general public’s hatred for reading.

Anywho, that’s my advice for advertising copywriters. Naturally, you can take it or leave it.

Either way, I’ll probably be working for you someday soon.

  1. Candy Cummings
  2. Albert Pujoles
  3. Chien-Ming Wang
  4. Dave Morehead
  5. Harry Hooper
  6. Butts Wagner
  7. Paul Assenmacher
  8. Peek-A-Boo Veach
  9. Pussy Tebeau
  10. Woody Abernathy
  11. Woody Fair
  12. Woodie Held
  13. Eddie Kunz
  14. Pud Galvin
  15. Bert Sincock
  16. Guy Bush
  17. Radhames Dykhoff
  18. Chub Collins
  19. Bill Butland
  20. Long John Reilly
  21. Lee Gooch
  22. Lavon Gash
  23. Boob Fowler
  24. Charles Furbush
  25. Bubbles Hargrave
  26. Gene Krapp
  27. Heinie Peitz
  28. Heinie Manush
  29. Heinie Groh
  30. Heinie Smith
  31. Eddie Hickey
  32. Frank Bates
  33. Bartolo Colon
  34. Harry Milf
  35. Eddie Stanky
  36. Manny “Man Ram” Ramirez
  37. Pat “The Bat” Burrell
  38. “Sliding Billy” Hamilton
  39. “Boom-Boom” Beck
  40. Brooks “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” Robinson
  41. Chub Sullivan
  42. Pumpsie Green
  43. Kosuke Fukudome
  44. Johnny Dickshot
  45. Mark Beavers
  46. Jim Cockman
  47. Slim Love
  48. Rollie Fingers
  49. Fred Woodcock
  50. Jack Glasscock
  51. Midre Cummings
  52. Peter Lacock
  53. Bert Hogg
  54. Charlie Fuchs
  55. Cannonball Titcomb
  56. Ethan Fagget
  57. Tony Suck
  58. Twink Twining
  59. Dick Manville
  60. Dick Pole
  61. Dick Sisler
  62. Dick Burns
  63. Dick Cox
  64. Dick McBride
  65. Dick Lines
  66. Dick Bates
  67. Dick Hunt
  68. Dick Padden
  69. Jerry Koosman
  70. Walt Smallwood
  71. Gene Brabender
  72. B. J. Garbe
  73. B. J. LaMura
  74. Benny Bowcock
  75. Elmer Sexauer
  76. Spot Poles
  77. Three Finger Brown
  78. Urban Shocker
  79. Steamer Flanagan
  80. Pinch Thomas
  81. Doc Bushong
  82. Sloppy Thurston
  83. Rusty Kuntz
  84. Seth Morehead
  85. Joe Adcock
  86. Matt Bush
  87. Pop Swett
  88. Red Woodhead
  89. Stubby Clapp
  90. Snapper Kennedy
  91. Mel Harder
  92. George Bone
  93. Jack Wadsworth
  94. Seymour Studley
  95. Tug Arundel
  96. Tug Wilson
  97. Don Long
  98. A-Rod
  99. Steve Cummings
  100. Doug Fister
  1. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like something that tastes like very good prison food.”
  2. “I’m thinkin’ I hate my body and cutting myself isn’t an option.”
  3. “I’m thinkin’ I’m too drunk to pronounce anything on the menu at Wendy’s.”
  4. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like the alimentary equivalent of all the sad parts of the mid-to-late 80’s….”
  5. “I’m thinkin’ that eating is, at its root, merely a biological function serving to provide the body with energy.”
  6. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like to go to a place where the staff doesn’t care enough about their jobs to tell me I can’t smoke indoors.”
  7. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like to ingest meat best described by the adjective ‘unhallowed’.”
  8. “I’m thinkin’ I need a way to let people know I have very little self-respect.”
  9. “I’m thinkin’ I’m hungry, but if I go grocery shopping I’ll have to change out of these urine-stained track pants. And y’know what? Fuck that.”
  10. “I’m thinkin’ those television ads where a big red cowboy hat hovers over people’s heads really work! They really, really work!”
  11. “I’m thinkin’ Burger king is too pretentious.”
  12. “I’m thinkin’ I’ve tried nearly every type of sauce: Southeastern, Northwestern, Northeastern, North-Northeastern, SouthNorthern. They’ve all failed to satisfy. But this Southwestern Sauce….that could really be the ticket.”
  13. “I’m thinkin’ the guy working the deep fryer is really on Undercover Boss and it’d be fun to degrade him verbally.”
  14. “I’m thinkin’ I want to have lunch in a place where a Muzak version of Toto’s Africa is almost certain to be heard.”
  15. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like to eat something with an aftertaste vaguely reminiscent of oniony pussy.”
  16. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like to go to a place where I look the other way when the employees fail to wash their hands in return for a free medium Dr. Pepper.”
  17. “I’m thinkin’ one day I’ll have enough money to buy a tuxedo and eat at Red Lobster, but until then…”
  18. “I’m thinkin’ how bad can it be?”
  19. “I’m thinkin’ that ‘Bacon Cheddar Curly Fries’ jingle is still stuck in my head and the only way to get it out is to succumb.”
  20. “I’m thinkin’ I don’t deserve people food.”
  21. “I’m thinkin’ I’d like to pretend I’m eating Christmas dinner in the army in 1932.”
  22. “I’m thinkin’ I suffer from anger issues and need to rip the mirror off a bathroom wall, and that this would be easier at a place where the mirror has already been ripped off the bathroom wall numerous times and hastily and improperly re-affixed by an assistant manager who had neither the time nor the skill to do the job properly.”
  23. “I’m thinkin’ my ex-girlfriend took my can opener.”
  24. “I’m thinkin’ that, besides the gumball machine filled with a combination of Mike And Ikes and Liquorice Allsorts, there’s no other food options available at this bus station.”
  25. “I’m not thinkin’.”

1. “Turn down the bower, lose for an hour.”

2. “Turn down a two, find worms in your poo.”

3. “Turn down a three, a leper you’ll be.”

4. “Turn down a four, pre-nup with a whore.”

5. “Turn down a five, fuck a beehive.”

6. “Turn down a six, choke on a Twix.”

7. “Turn down a seven, don’t go to Heaven.”

8. “Turn down an eight, your life raft deflates.”

9. “Turn down a nine, get trapped in a mine.”

10. “Turn down a ten, get trapped in a mine again.”

11. “Turn down a Jack, a bear mauls your sack.”

12. “Turn down a Queen, get AIDS in your spleen.”

13. “Turn down a King, severe static cling.”

14. “Turn down an ace, crowbar to the face.”

15. “Turn down a Joker, get raped by Al Roker.”

16. “Turn down a heart, inhale your dad’s farts.”

17. “Turn down a diamond, fall while you’re climbin’.”

18. “Turn down a club, have uncontrollable diarrhea in the tub.”

19. “Turn down a spade, rarely get laid. I’m talking, like, twice a year, max.’

20. Turn down a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card, you’re playing Monopoly, not Euchre, you retard.”

The English language is an odd duck. Firstly, because it contains expressions like ‘odd duck’. Secondly, because it has certain words that sound offensive, but really aren’t. And sometimes these benign, perfectly law-abiding words will get you in trouble when uttered aloud. Below are seven examples of words you could use, but probably shouldn’t. Their perceived offensiveness is determined using the Carlin (Cr), the standard unit of measurement for abrasive words and phrases:

1 (one) Carlin

(Note, this is an Imperial Carlin. Users of the Metric system should multiply by 2.54.)

PENAL (adj.) of, or pertaining to, punishment.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitutes: punitive, disciplinary, castigatory.

Saying ‘penal’ in polite company won’t get you in trouble. The worst you can expect is some mild tittering (ditto if you use the word ‘tittering’) from the more immature people in attendance. But I caution against using this word during a serious discussion, because, repeated often enough, it’ll eventually come out as ‘penile’. It’s just inevitable. Then anyone who may have been tempted to take you seriously will have no choice but to upgrade their titter to a guffaw over your full-blown Freudian dick. I mean ‘slip’. And if you happen to be talking about the penal system in Regina, then you’re really done for.

RAPESEED: (n.) the seed of the plant brassica napus.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitute: canola.

During the Dark Ages, much of the world’s flora was named according to the lewdness and lawlessness of the time. Pine trees, for example, were called prickwoods. Poison ivy went by the name buggery bush. And the common apple was the assfuck fruit. Prudish Victorian etymology saw the worst offenders renamed, but rapeseed escaped bowdlerization and remains the only oil-producing agricultural crop that also doubles as slang for the offspring of non-consensual sex. The most horrible part about being the product of a rape is that you may turn out to be a rapist yourself. After all, the assfuck fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

DILDO: (n.) a town on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, pop. 272.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitute: N/A.

For many years, residents of Newfoundland have struggled to rid themselves of the stereotype of being dim-witted, unworldly and unsophisticated. A town named after something people ram in and out of their assholes isn’t helping that cause. I can’t think of a conversation about Dildo going any shape but pear. If you’re talking about Dildo in the context of a recent visit there, you leave yourself open to ripe, rich heckling (‘So, for once in your life, you were in Dildo and not the other way around!’). And if you participate in the ridicule, you run the risk, however minute, of someone from Dildo (Dildo-er? Dildo-ite? Dildo-ian?) overhearing you and beating you up. The people of Dildo are obstinately proud, and have been ever since they migrated there from nearby Butt Plug, Nova Scotia to escape religious persecution.

FUCATORY: (adj.) deceitful or counterfeit.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitutes: deceptive, misleading, inauthentic.

So very many of our favourite profanities are brought to us by the letter ‘F’, and this word is guilty by association. It also sounds like something Canadian Conservative Party groupies like to do. Personally, I find this word offensive. Not because it sounds like fuck, but because anyone who uses it obviously wants to say fuck but is too scared to, so they’re using fucatory as a profanity loophole. It’s no different than frig, frick, fug or fudge. I would encourage those people to sprinkle some Miracle-Gro on their crotches and go sit in the sun until they grow some fucking balls (NOTE: even if you’re a woman, you might want to try it, just to see what having them is like.)

FAGGOT: (n.) a bundle of branches or twigs.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitutes: twigs, kindling, branches.

When much of the world was still forested and closeted, this word was used freely and frequently by 17th century British woodsmen. ‘Hey, faggot!’ they’d yell at each other, in direct reference to a nearby bundle of branches or twigs. They were a very happy group of people, ‘gay’ you might say, and it was all in a day’s work. But as 17th century woodsmen vanished, so too did the word’s benign connotations. Despite the ‘taking back’ of many pejoratives by homosexuals, this one still has abrasive connotations, and can almost always be construed as hurtful. Just ask Eminem, who came under harsh criticism by the gay community when they realized his songs weren’t, as they first suspected, about 17th century woodsmen.

CUNCTATOR: (n.) someone who postpones work.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitutes: procrastinator.

Many of George Carlin’s ‘Seven Dirty Words’ have become benign verbal currency; yesterday I watched a 37 year-old dental assistant from Temecula win $54,000 by solving SHIT-EATING COCKSUCKER on Wheel Of Fortune. But one of G.C.’s words still has the power to leave a bad taste in our mouths, figuratively and literally. I’m talking about ‘See You Next Tuesday’ (also known as ‘Holiday Monday’ and ‘Day Before Wednesday’ [as in, ‘She’s such a fuckin’ Holiday Monday, I’d like to kick her right in the Day Before Wednesday.”]). It’s gross-sounding and broads are offended by it, because it reminds them of their dark, airless nether parts of which they are so understandably ashamed. And ‘cunctator’ sounds like that word. ‘Cunctator’ also sounds like a new kind of vagina-flavoured potato chip, but that’s a different problem.

NIGGARDLY: (adj.) grudgingly mean about spending or granting.

Offensiveness:

Suggested Substitutes: ungenerous, stingy, mean, miserly, cheap, grudging, petty, costive, parsimonious, tight-fisted, penurious (There’s eleven of them, for Christ’s sake! Eleven!)

No other ‘clean’ word tops this not-so-bon-mot for sheer stopping power; it’s the .357 Magnum of mock-offensive words. Using it during a dinner party will guarantee a cinematic ‘record scratch’ sound effect, even if your host doesn’t own a record player or speakers. The sound will just happen. Even though niggardly has a clean etymological record (it predates the word you think it sounds like by two hundred years, long before racism existed), using it is sort of like when a little kid holds their finger an inch away from another kid’s head and says ‘I’m not touching you!’. Right or wrong, someone eventually gets upset and throws a punch. If, however, you absolutely must use the N-Word LiteTM, make sure you calmly and carefully explain to the angry mob that it’s not really as bad as it sounds. And try not to snigger while you do it.

The recent protest over plans to build a mosque near the site of 9/11 is, for me, a confusing one. Not because I’m unsure about what the presence or absence of a mosque has to do with potentially honouring or disgracing the memories of Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks, or because I think any anti-mosque protest is an ignorant knee-jerk reaction to the entire religion of Islam and everyone who practices it, but because I don’t think anyone has defined what a mosque is.

If American anti-mosque protesters want to be taken seriously, they need to tell us what a mosque looks like, so that we’ll know exactly what to look for when we try to stop Muslims from building one.

Although there are some very salient architectural features common to most mosques, it would be incorrect to imagine a mosque as simply a collection of aesthetics. Is a hub where people of common faith gather to express that faith, no different than a synagogue or church. In fact, there are many ‘houses of worship’ in the Middle East that have been, at different times in the past thousand years, centres of faith for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike; slap some cedar shingles on a minaret and you’ve got yourself a steeple.

A mosque is a place where Muslims pray, but under no circumstances do they need a mosque to pray. They also don’t need a mosque to hatch all the diabolical Death-To-America schemes the anti-mosque people seem to think will be hatched there. Since the 9/11 attacks we have become increasingly reminded that religious zealots of at all types aren’t terribly fussy about the physical world. Bin Laden hasn’t been terrorizing the west from a gilded and perfumed room in a towering minaret; he’s been living a cave, so I doubt that preventing a mosque from being built in downtown Manhattan will prove a big deterrent to anyone willing to shed their corporal self for a cause.

But if you continue to believe that mosque = Muslims = terrorists, I actually can’t think of a better argument for building one. What better way to know where all the Muslims are than to draw them all to a central location they can’t resist? That way they’d be out on the open and we could watch, catalogue and tag them with tracking collars (it’s not as bad as it sounds – a tranq dart in the neck and they wake up an hour later with a cell phone-sized geotracker bolted to their ear).

But back to how to properly spot a mosque: you can’t, because the qualities that transform a building into mosque, i.e., faith and devotion, are intangible. There are probably dozens of ‘mosques’ (places where Muslims pray) near the 9/11 site. In garages, in offices, in basements, etc. In fact, I’d like to propose that any place a Muslim prays becomes, in some part, a mosque. This technically makes my 2004 Toyota Matrix a mosque, since a Muslim friend of mine uttered a short prayer while sitting in the passenger seat (my mosque is for sale, by the way – 121,000km, never been in an accident and I’ll throw in a set of snow tires – for $6500).

MID-BLOG MINI GAME: IS THIS A MOSQUE? (Answers are at the bottom.)

1. Is this a mosque?

2. Is this a mosque?

3. Is this a mosque?

4. Is this a mosque?

5. Is this a mosque?

However, I realize that a traditional-looking mosque, whether their response is right or wrong, may upset the families of the victims of 9/11. If that’s the case, then perhaps there should be a ban or moratorium on mosque construction near the site. It’s important to take people’s feelings into consideration when it comes to issues of this sensitivity. In fact, we should take this opportunity to ban the following religious structures from being built in the proximity of the following people, out of sensitivity for the victims of the religions said buildings represent:

  1. No Catholic churches near pre-schools: Not only would a such a structure be a grievous insult to victims of Catholic priests’ sexual abuse (for which no formal admission of systematic wrongdoing has ever been uttered) but it would put future victims in literal eyesight of future offenders. Those priests would be like hungry tourists standing in front of a lobster tank at a seafood restaurant: ‘That one looks good. I’ll take him!’ Besides, we’re making it too easy for them. Whatever happened to the thrill of the chase? Wooing and courtship and romance? Call me old fashioned, but I still think you should buy a child dinner before you scar them for life.
  2. No Synagogues near circumcised gentiles: Circumcision has its roots deep in Judaic tradition and law, but probably began as a practical health measure of a nomadic desert tribe (the removal of the foreskin to stop sand from causing an infection). Nowadays, circumcision is widely-held to have little medical value (hospitals in Ontario now consider it cosmetic surgery, and therefore do not pay for it), but because Judaic tradition is such a large part of the bedrock of Western civilization, millions of non-Jewish boys have been separated from their foreskins, myself included. Personally, I don’t mind; I find a ring-neck more comfortable than a turtleneck any day, but in principle, I’m outraged. I am not Jewish, and profess no Jewish faith, but I have nonetheless been subjected to their most barbaric faith-based custom. The mere sight of a synagogue causes painful memories and terrible speculation about the fate of my separated foreskin (What happened to it? Did they throw it out? Did they sew it back onto a previously circumcised baby who was renouncing Judaism? What happened? I need closure here, chosen people!). So until I get an apology from the Jewish race, keep your kosher churches the fuck away from my severed schwantz.
  3. No Hindu temples near amputee wards: Losing an arm to accident or disease is bad enough. But do amputees really need a many-armed statue of Vishnu mocking their lack of appendages? ‘Hey Stumpy! I’m Vishnu! I can dial a phone and stir a pot of chili at the same time! Life is good when you’ve got more than one arm!’ That’s pretty offensive, don’t you think?
  4. No Druidic structures in Milwaukee: In 1974 the Milwaukee Bucks suffered a humiliating 4 – 3 NBA championship defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics. A freestanding  Druidic ‘Celtic’ stone circle would be salt in the Cream City’s already deep and tender wounds.
  5. No Russian Orthodox churches near roller coasters: Of all the religions, Russian Orthodoxy is among the most time-consuming, with services lasting up to four hours. Even for church, that’s fucking boring. The last thing I want to think about while I’m at the top of a rolly-coaster about to do the loop-de-loop is sitting in church for 240 minutes listening to the Bible chanted at me in Russian. That pretty much nullifies the fun of the whole roller coaster ride. I gotta say nyet to that.
  6. No Mormon places of worship near anyone with any modicum of common fucking sense whatsoever.

However, in the event that a mosque does, in spite of protests, get built near the site of 9/11,  any protester committed enough to their opinion can always fly a plane into it.

IS THIS A MOSQUE? MID-BLOG MINI-GAME ANSWERS

  1. This is a mosque. It is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, commonly called ‘The Blue Mosque’ because it is the source of inspiration for many of Islam’s legendary blues musicians: Blind Lemon Mahmood, Lightnin’  Abdelrahmen, ‘Peg Leg’ Qadir and more.
  2. This is a mosque. It was built in Winnipeg and is en route to Innuvik, NWT, and will soon have the distinction of being the northernmost mosque in the world. Y’know what makes praying five times a day even more fun? Bitter cold and near-perpetual darkness.
  3. If you’re having trouble passing this mosque enter ‘B, Y, Up, Down, Left, Right, Start + Select’ for infinite health.
  4. Stay out of this mosque. The skull on it clearly indicates its haunted-ness.
  5. $6000. That’s my final offer on this mosque.


1. Night Night, Little Pookie

2. Where Is Baby’s Mommy?

3. The Baby Goes Beep

4. Hush, Little Ones

5. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

6. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

7. I’m As Quick As A Cricket

8. One, Two, Three!

9. Now It’s Fall!

10. Some Things Are Scary

11. ‘More More More,’ Said the Baby

12. Sometimes I Feel Like A Storm Cloud

13. Why?

14. It Hurts When I Poop!

15. Daddy Kisses

16. Where Is The Green Sheep?

17. Shoes Shoes Shoes

18. Who’s Sick Today?

19. Last Night I Sang To The Monster

20. Are You My Mother?

1. The Terence Trent D’Army

2. Bel Biv Devotees

3. Right Said Fredheads

4. Fananaramas

5. Boyz II Men-iacs

6. The The The Fanclub

7. The Order Of The Golden Donnie And Marie

8. Yes Men

9. Aphishionados

10. Nickelbackers

11. Tcheers For Tchaikovsky!

12. Richard Marxists

13. Julian Lennonists

14. Badfingerers

15. April Winos

The term ‘RaHoWa’ is an abbreviation of ‘Racial Holy War’, a phrase used by skinheads and ‘racialists’ to describe the state of conflict and final global confrontation between white and non-white civilization. The abbreviation exists, one imagines, as a measure of ease and efficiency; the term ‘Racial Holy War’ might need to be spoken or written multiple times in the course of a white supremacist’s day, and shortening it saves a lot of effort (I’ve typed the long form twice, now, and I’m pooped).

Of course, RaHoWa isn’t the only phrasal abbreviation white supremacists use. Below is a list of the twenty most common ones. Word power!

1. SwSwTaDu (Sweet Swastika Tattoo, Dude!)

2. NaFaPa (Nazi Facebook Page)

3. GrHiJeAc (Grudgingly Hired Jewish Accountant)

4. JoMaFi (John Malkovitch Film)

5. RoSeRe (Romantic Seafood Restaurant)

6. HiSeRe (Hilarious Seinfeld Rerun)

7. PeZoAc (Petting Zoo Accident)

8. BaQuMe (Barbershop Quartet Member)

9. KhHaSl (Khaki Haggar Slacks)

10. HoAtKeTo (Hoedown At Kevin’s Tonight!)

11. MoBaMu (Mouthwatering Banana Muffin)

12. ImLeSo (Imported Leather Sofa)

13. RuOsFa (Rural Ostrich Farm)

14. JuHaOuWaNaLaVaWi (Just Hangin’ Out Watching National Lampoon’s Van Wilder)

15. StDaAl (Steely Dan Album)

16. WeHaFiFoDi (We’re Having Fiddleheads For Dinner)

17. LeGoKa (Let’s Go Kayaking)

18. MeMuMuMaMu (Memo: Must Murder Martin Mull)

19. WuTaClAiNoToFuWi (Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin’ To Fuck Wit’)

20. FoHiBi (Forgot Hitler’s Birthday)

1. Dykes For Dinosaurs

2. The Coalition Against Doin’ The Locomotion

3. NALBLA (North American La-Z-Boy Love Association)

4. Batmen Against Jokers

5. Patchouli Now!

6. Militant Toots Shorists

7. The League Of Women Bakers

8. The National Truffle Association

9. The Committee To Fist Kelly Ripa

10. The International Brotherhood Of Axe-Grinders, Pot-Stirrers And Beef-Havers

11. The Kinda Fascist-y Party

12. The Aliance Of Mispellers

13. The NAAC-3PO

14. The Society Of Pie & Tea

15. Do Re Mumia: The Organization To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Through Acapella Harmonizing

16. The Catchy Chanters

17. Spaniards With Lanyards

18. Citizens For Tax Reform; Lower Tax Reform, That Is; Not Higher (It May Seem Silly To               Explain It, But You’d Be Surprised At How Many People Are Confused By Our Name)

19. Sherpas For Christ

20. The League Of Marching Fatties Who Could Use The Exercise

I hate e-readers with a passion. The whole notion of a more elaborate, costlier version of something as simple as a book seems absurd to me. I feel like there’s a room full of technocrats in California snickering at Barnes & Noble CCTV footage of people buying the Nook: ‘I can’t (GIGGLE) believe it! They’re actually (GIGGLE) paying for an electric book! Hey, put that steam-powered stapler on sale, too! Let’s see if they go for that!’ The fact that our society is even considering e-readers as a mass-market item is, I think, indicative of our distorted view of what constitutes progress.

I am by no means a Luddite. I own a large TV, two Macs, an iPod, a PS3 and a Blackberry. And if I’m ever hospitalized and in severe pain, I’ll opt for factory-synthesized Morphine over a quid of pine bark extract. I understand the purpose of technology and how it improves our lives in small but highly appreciable increments. I do, however, think there is a marked lack of skepticism among a certain class of people when it comes to technology. My friends and co-workers are intelligent, liberal, creative forward thinkers. They wouldn’t dream of watching a newscast or listening to a politician without being analytical of every word and statement. But the moment Steve Jobs stands up against a black screen to talk about Apple’s newest piece of proprietary nodes and wires, they line up to hand him their money. I’m not impugning Steve or Apple. They do good work. I’m simply saying that we often lack perspective in our pursuit of all things newer and better. E-readers seem to be the epitome of this phenomenon. I ask the following question with the wide-eyed naïveté of a child:

what’s wrong with books?

Imprinting paper with ink is, in this day and age, a lightweight, inexpensive way to communicate. There’s a reason books rank with fire and the wheel as the greatest inventions of all time. So why the improvement? What hitherto insoluble problem do e-readers address? The answer, I believe, is a cynical but (as cynicism usually is) truthful one: E-readers serve a need created by the people who sell them. Without the mighty arm of Amazon to wave the Kindle ensign, an e-reader would seem like something a half-crazy alcoholic retiree invented in his garage and was trying to get you to invest in (HIM: ‘Braaaaar! Check out my new invention! It takes pages from a book and puts them on a screen! That way the library can’t get your fingerprints!’ YOU: (BACKING SLOWLY BUT STEADILY OUT OF THE GARAGE) ‘I’m going to go find your nurse….’). But once the Kindle had Oprah’s endorsement, many people were convinced it was as indispensible as, say, ‘O’ magazine.

In the spirit of transparency, I have to admit I feel e-readers take some of the charm out of the act of reading. As a lifelong reader, I’ve come to learn that a book is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a tactile sensory experience as much as it is a mental one. Each book has a different look, feel, heft and even smell that comes close to imbuing it with a personality. An e-reader sterilizes the act of reading to a great extent. Of course, I understand that for some people reading is far less a pleasure and more a necessity (students cramming for exams, proofreaders, etc.) and that, for them, an e-reader would be a boon. That’s fine. In those cases, an e-reader would be like any other tool, sold to a specific segment of society for a specific purpose. But it’s not. It’s being marketed en masse as a new and improved version of the common book, a technology that has operated more or less flawlessly for 550 years.

Of course, my cranky feelings are highly subjective. So I like the feel of paper? So fucking what? You’re right to dismiss my opinions. But what you can’t dismiss is fact. The following exercise pits the most salient selling features of the e-reader against the corresponding features of the common paper book it was designed to replace. For the sake of argument, I have chosen Amazon’s K2 Kindle to represent e-readers. I know there’s different models with different features, but the K2 will do. We’ll examine and explain 9 K2 features (taken verbatim from kindle.com) and award a point to whichever technology, the e-reader or the paper book, uses it best. The purpose of this exercise is to remove the shadow of my subjective ire from the discussion and determine whether or not an e-reader is a useful thing to buy based on a logical analysis of the facts.

Ready? Read on.

Portability

The Kindle positively raves about its portability. I can’t argue, but I’m skeptical as to whether or not this matters.  I have read tens of thousands of books in my life, and never have I struggled to lift, carry or transport a single one of them. Even War And Peace failed to best me. Oh yeah; I lifted the fuck out of War And Peace. Granted, I do own several large-format tomes that would prove difficult to open and read in pubic. But the day my world shatters because I can’t consult my National Geographic Illustrated Atlas Of Space on the cross-town bus, I’ve officially got bigger problems. The Kindle is 1/3 of an inch thick (‘as thin as most magazines’) and weighs 10.2 ounces (‘lighter than a typical paperback’). While I certainly don’t dispute these claims, I seriously question their value to consumers. Unless you’re an Olympic sprinter who insists on keeping an unabridged Les Miserables on your person during races for good luck, I don’t see how a matter of ounces is really going to change your life. Still, I am forced to concede that the Kindle is lighter than a lot of books, even if it’s not necessarily smaller (its un-bragged about surface dimensions are 8 x 5.3 inches, which makes it almost as long as a standard sheet of paper; not exactly ‘pocket-sized’). It also has the advantage of being able to hold the contents of 1500 books. Because, pre-Kindle, people were staggering around like cursed characters out of Greek mythology forced to carry the crippling weight of their entire paper book collections on their shoulders because they defied Zeus.

ADVANTAGE: KINDLE

Paper-Like Display

The Kindle boasts a screen that ‘reads like real paper without glare, even in bright sunlight’. Y’know what else reads like real paper? Paper.

ADVANTAGE: BOOK

Books In Under 60 Seconds

The Kindle lets you download books in less than a minute. Compare that to the time it takes to go to a bookstore, walk down the aisle, find a book, pick it up, take it to the cash, take out your wallet, pull out your debit card, swipe it in the machine, wait for it to authourize, wait for the receipt to print out, have the clerk ask you if you need a bag, tell him you don’t need a bag and leave the store. You’re talking minutes. That’s your life running through your fingers like spilled soda, bub.

ADVANTAGE: KINDLE

Long Battery Life

The Kindle has a battery that lets you ‘read for up to one week on a single charge’. That reminds me; I’ve got to go plug in my copy of The Martian Chronicles before it dies. I’m being sarcastic, of course; books don’t have batteries, silly!

ADVANTAGE: BOOK

Out-of-Copyright, Pre-1923 Books:

The Kindle has ‘over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books available to read…including titles such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Treasure Island.’ Finally, someone has unearthed texts from the mysterious, bygone era of ‘pre-1923’! Because, as everyone knows, you can’t find Pride And Prejudice anywhere. The Toronto Public Library certainly doesn’t have forty-two copies of Pride And Prejudice available. And, Lord knows I haven’t managed to somehow wind up with two copies of Pride And Prejudice on my bookshelf, despite never having read it through and not being especially fond of Jane Austen. We can only thank Christ the Kindle has made Pride And Prejudice, a book in publication for almost two hundred years and with millions of copies in existence, available to the public. Sarcasm!

ADVANTAGE: N/A (Kindle’s claim seems impressive, but it’s not)

3G Wireless Coverage

With the Kindle, you can get on the Internet. Books, not so much. This feature seems like an all-out victory for the Kindle, then. Right? Weeeeeelllll….hmmmmm. If you wanna be completely logical about it, then, no. Think about it: a book isn’t designed or intended to provide Internet access, so the addition of Internet access is irrelevant and can’t be leveraged to establish its inferiority to an electronic version of itself. There are dozens of devices we use every day which, despite their failure to be integrated into paper books has no bearing on our opinion of them. Is a book inferior to car because it can’t drive us somewhere? Is a book inferior to a toothbrush because it doesn’t have bristles? Is a book inferior to a Swedish gas-powered double-ended dildo because it doesn’t have Supergrip SuresuxTM technology? Of course not. However, I am aware of that people’s constant, constant need for Internet access is so deep-seeded that its mere presence provides a feeling of security during all unrelated activities, (reading, for example) so I grudgingly award the Kindle a half-point advantage in this category.

HALF-POINT ADVANTAGE: KINDLE

Cost

At first glance, the Kindle seems to be a real cash-saver. It’s only $189.99 on amazon.com (let’s round it up to an even $200 after taxes and shipping) and features many titles staring at just $9.99 (round up to $10). Let’s assume a spankin’ new paperback will run you about $20. This means that downloading a Kindle book saves you about $10, so the Kindle pays for itself after you’ve downloaded 20 books.

SUB ADVANTAGE: KINDLE

That’s assuming, however, you buy all books new. But let’s say you buy books used, as I tend to do. And let’s assume the cost of a used book is $10. You’re not saving anything, then, by downloading Kindle books instead of buying paper ones, so you can never hope to recoup your initial $200 investment. Many books can also be re-sold depending on their condition, which, in the long run, lowers the $10 cost even further.

SUB ADVANTAGE: USED BOOKS

And if you have a library card, you can get books free.

SUB ADVANTAGE: LIBRARY BOOKS

Also, take into consideration the advantages of the low cost of a book. If you lose or damage it, it’s no big deal. If it’s a library book you’ll have to replace it, but if you bought it used or new, you’re out $10 – $20. But if you lose or damage a Kindle, you’re out a whopping $200.

SUB ADVANTAGE: BOOKS

OVERALL COST ADVANTAGE: BOOKS

Durability

Despite their apparent fragile nature, books are fairly hardy. As long as they’re kept away from fire and direct moisture, they’re generally okay. By my count, 38% of the books on my shelf were published more than 30 years ago, and they are all in perfectly readable condition, despite multiple reads, multiple moves in jam-packed cardboard boxes, repeated handling, etc. Can the Kindle brag the same durability? Perhaps. But the biggest threat to the Kindle isn’t the elements or rigors of everyday life. It’s itself. The Kindle is already on its second version, K2, a vast improvement over the original which debuted in 2007. In a mere three years, Kindle has made an earlier version of itself obsolete. This isn’t even taking into consideration the obsolescence-causing advantages brought about by competitive e-readers.

I own a ‘version’ of Catcher In The Rye published in 1951, 59 years ago. Will the K2 be around in 2069? Or will it have been replaced by dozens of superior $200 incarnations of itself, all better-designed to do what my then one hundred and eighteen year-old Salinger novel already does: display text?

ADVANTAGE: BOOK

Sharing Capabilities

Sharing a book with your Kindle is ridiculously easy, as evidenced from this five-step ehow.com walkthrough:

Step 1: Get an Amazon Kindle e-Reader and download some e-books to it.

Step 2: Then you need to talk to good friends or family members that have Amazon Kindles and that have content on them you would like to share.

Step 3: The next thing is to deregister your Amazon Kindle from your own account and register it on your friend or family members account. Then download the books that you would like to share from your family member and voila they are on your Amazon Kindle now.

Step 4: After that you deregister your Amazon Kindle from your family members account and reregister it back onto your account and you are done. If your family member wants books of yours to share then you just do it all in reverse putting their Kindle on your account etc.

Step 5: Amazon Kindle books come with DRM protection or Digital Rights Management software so that you are allowed to download a book a set number of times, similar to songs on I-Tunes, and once this limit is reached for each book you can’t download it anymore without repurchasing it. This number is typically 5-6 times per book but can vary based on publisher and specific book title negotiations.

This sure beats the old way of sharing books, i.e., fucking handing them to someone. ‘Hey, Matt, can I read that copy of Danielle Steel’s Passion’s Promise when you’re done with it?’ ‘Well, Roy, I’d love to share it with you, but you’re sitting all the way on the other side of the room.’ ‘Dammit! If only we could transmit the book’s contents electronically, thus retaining complete motionlessness! Plus, there’s gravity to contend with! Looks like we’re fucked.’

ADVANTAGE: BOOKS

FINAL SCORE: KINDLE = 2.5, BOOKS = 5

There you have it. Cold, unerring logic that proves 21st century technology has yet to improve on the design and function of the book.

In the event that you still would like to buy an e-reader, though, let me offer you some advice: For maximum ease of use and readability, make sure you shove it directly up your ass, since that’s obviously where your head is.

Thanks for reading.

Get Spidey

June 7, 2010

A recent suggestion the next Spiderman should be black has caused quite a kafuffle. Comic book fans, usually a reserved, non-reactionary group with little interest in making their opinions known, lit up the world wide ‘web’ with pro and con debates over the merits of the blackifying your friendly neighborhood thwipper. Personally, I am of two minds on the subject:

Mind 1: Peter Parker should be white in the movies, because he’s white in the comics. By their very nature, comics award definite visual values to their subject matter, and those values can and should not be altered without good reason. Changing Pete’s race would be an interesting socio-political statement, but would be an interpretation one step removed from the intentions of his creators, who clearly intended him to be white. Also, you’d have to retcon the lyrics to the classic 1960’s TV show: ‘Is he strong? Listen bud./He’s got hundreds of years of systematic oppression in his blood.’ The cadence is all out of whack. Besides, black people already have Luke Cage and Storm. Isn’t that enough?

Mind 2: Lemmie get this straight: a story about a kid bitten by a radioactive spider and given superhuman speed, strength and the ability to shoot webs you can handle. But a black kid? That’s ridiculous! The charm of Peter Parker is that, beneath his crime-fighting mask, he’s a regular teenager dealing with regular teenage problems. His whiteness is a result of the time, place and circumstances he was created in, but is in no way essential to the story. Plus, Spiderman is routinely altered, both in look and character, whenever Marvel deems it lucrative (Marvel Zombies, Marvel 1602, Spiderman 2099, Spider-Ham, [Spider-Ham, for Christ’s sake!]). So when people balk at darkening Pete’s skin a little, my racism sense tingles. Besides, white people have literally thousands of comic book heroes to claim as their own. Black people have Luke Cage and Storm.

Mind 3: Hey, are you guys talking about comics? Because the Green Lantern –

Mind 1: Green Lantern sucks.

Mind 2: Yeah. Stay out of this.

Mind 3: The Green Lantern’s awesome! Have you read Alan Moore’s Green Lantern Corps stories? They’re better than most stuff out there today!

Mind 2: Enough with Alan Moore already!

Mind 4: Why is a thirty-four year-old man devoting so much of his time and mental energy thinking about comic books? Don’t we have anything better to do? Like make that appointment for the baby’s immunization?

Mind 1: Get off our asses about the immunization. We’re gonna do it. Jesus…

Mind 3: He’s got some very solid Superman stuff, too….

Mind 5: ¡Ayuda! Yo soy el alma de un conquistador español atrapados en este hombre cabeza!

Etc.

In the event that next-gen Spidey filmmakers decide to go black, they should know two very important things. Firstly, I doubt the likelihood of their going back. Secondly, Peter Parker isn’t the only character who could stand a makeover. Below is my nine-point plan for reinventing and revitalizing the characters of the Marvel universe:

Black Silver Surfer: Just because you have the word ‘silver’ in your name, doesn’t mean you can’t be black.

Black Thor: Just because you’re a Nordic god from 11th Century Europe, doesn’t mean you can’t be African-American.

Black Galactus: If you have a black Silver Surfer, this is a necessary progression; a Negro Norrin Radd serving as the herald of a Caucasian would never fly in today’s politically correct multiverse. No, best to black ‘em both up. Easier that way. Plus, his new ‘black’ name, be it ‘Black Galactus’, ‘Blacklactus’ or ‘Gablacktus’ , would be sure to instill the fear of a black planet-eater into his enemies.

Plaid Hulk: We’ve already seen Hulk in green, grey and red hues. Why not save the inkers a lot of time and combine them all?

Daredevil with terrible acne. I mean really bad: If you want to see how a character’s skin affects the way they’re perceived by an audience, forget squabbling about pigment; just give ‘em an extra-large pizza face with double pepperoni! (I’m not sure what the ‘pepperoni’ is a metaphor for in the ‘pizza face’ analogy, but, given its redness and oily texture, it’s can’t be good). We’ll see how much Electra-grade poontang Ol’ Hornhead pulls down with a face full of craters.

Non-metallic, normal-sized Colossus: Granted, taking away Piotr’s two most defining features would leave him a far less interesting character. But it would make it easier for him to get through airport security and buy clothing that fit.

Punisher with tits: Yes, there’s already been female iterations of the Punisher. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the Punisher with tits.

Quebecois Dr Doom: Latveria’s resident despot is a perfect fit for Canada’s own fictional nation that causes nothing but trouble: Quebec. Here, Doom could turn his attention and resources to altering STOP signs, smoking and battling Reed Richard and da rest of da Fantastic Fours.

Asian Stan Lee: The man at Marvel’s helm regularly appears in his own movies and comics. But, given that much of the world’s economy will be defined and controlled by China in the next twenty years, is the aged face of an American Jew the best way to reach such a vast market? I think not. Sino-sizing Stan would be a smart move for Marvel, and he wouldn’t even have to change his last name.

Excelsior!

Pop Soccer Quiz!

June 6, 2010

The World Cup will be here soon, and I’ll be glued to the TV for my quadrennial reminder of the existence of nations like Portugal, Cameroon and Honduras. But the World Cup is about more than who wins, who loses and which losers will be executed upon return to their homelands. It’s about who’s the biggest fan. Are you a diehard footie follower? Or do you think ‘The Beautiful Game’ is a Danielle Steel novel about a cold-hearted countess and a handsome young deaf mute who says more with his eyes than words ever could? Take this quiz and find out!

1. Complete the following sentence: ‘I’ve got World Cup ________________’

a) fever!

b) diarrhea!

c) stigmata!

d) HIV, which will go untreated because my country opted to spend $63 billion dollars                   hosting the World Cup instead of investing in better health care!

2. Ronaldo is:

a) a Brazilian soccer star

b) your wife’s nickname for your penis

c) the villain from Thunderball

d) singer of the hit 1991 single Rico Suave

3. Soccer players know it’s important to set realistic:

a) gooooooooooooooaaaaaals!

b) objectiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiives!

4. The most exciting thing about soccer is:

a) the single-digit scores

b) the forty-five minute halves

c) the fact it’s often not televised in English

d) the rarely seen, literal ‘sudden death’ round

5. The best movie about soccer is:

a) Bend It Like Beckham

b) Bend It Like Beckham II: Spring Break

c) Why Is This All Bent? Beckham, Did You Do This?

d) Timecop

6. Which of Benjamin Moore’s Skintones Of The Great Footballers Accents                     CollectionTM would look best on a Southwest-facing cedar porch?

a) Morning Pelé

b) Cafu N’ Cream

c) Lemon Meringue Drogba

d) Matte Busby

7. Which of the following soccer phrases is a euphemism for sex?

a) ‘excellent ball control’

b) ‘using just the head’

c) ‘charging your opponent’s box’

d) ‘Slovakia sucks hard’

8. Which of the following matches featuring nations from an alternate timeline           would you most like to see?

a) The Confederate States Of America vs. The People’s Republic Of Lunar Korea

b) Prussia vs. Mountain Dew TM Proudly Presents: New Kickin’ Berry Bulgaria!

c) Atlantis vs. Mu

d) One Of The Warhead-Toting ‘-istans’ vs. One Of The Warhead-Toting Dakotas

9. In a traditional soccer riot, which participant is not permitted to use his hands?

a) the child-puncher

b) the goalpost ripper-downer

c) the piss-soaked sock full of batteries thrower

d) the goalie-stomper

10. Which soccer-themed eatery would you most like to visit?

a) an organic smoothie counter called The Whirled Cup

b) a bakery called Surprise Turnovers

c) a gay bar called Man On

ANSWERS: A real soccer fan would be watching the game, not taking some stupid quiz! Shame on you!



  1. ‘…blackened…’
  2. ‘….expertly butchered….’
  3. ‘…sliced into tiny pieces, Cajun style….’
  4. ‘…the meat fell off the bone…’
  5. ‘…smoking, with some liquid at the bottom…’
  6. ‘…distended beyond belief and served with potato salad…’
  7. ‘…all of them skewered, but still moving….’
  8. ‘…a sommelier with a history of violence…’
  9. ‘…barely recognizable as French….’
  10. ‘…death by chocolate, which was instantaneous…’
  11. ‘…bludgeoned by a drifter and great for sharing…’
  12. ‘…the scent of saffron, which sickened even veteran officers…’
  13. ‘…on closer inspection we realized it was not spaghetti Bolognese…’
  14. ‘…raw, red and quickly congealing…’
  15. ‘…parsley-riddled…’
  16. ‘…but the entree, like the paramedics, arrived too late…’
  17. ‘…kept the bones to make soup, but the hair was harder to dispose of…’
  18. ‘…skull fragment-laden Cobb salad….’
  19. ‘…we took what was left behind home in a small bag…’
  20. ‘…fromage rape…’

I.

When he rounded the corner there was a familiar-looking portrait of Hitler hanging on the wall in front of him. He was walking in circles. He was lost.

‘Dammit,’ muttered the soldier, ‘Everything here looks the same.’

A metal door clanged open and blue-clad SS man entered, rifle slung over his shoulder. The soldier snapped to attention.

Schutzstaffel,’ said the SS man, nodding curtly.

‘Sir,’ the soldier replied. ‘Could you please tell me where the exit is? I’m new here and I can’t seem to find my way around. I’m supposed to report to Floor 9 for duty.’

He pulled a key of dull blue metal from his pocket and showed it to the SS. The SS smiled, and the soldier relaxed; the SS man was no doubt used to giving directions to new recruits.

Hinten,’ said the SS, pointing to a door set deep in the wall beside yet another portrait of the Führer.

Danke,’ he replied, and turned to leave. The SS unslung his rifle and shot him between the shoulder blades. The soldier fell spread-eagled to the floor, twitched and was still.

Nein,’ said the SS man, ‘thank-you.’

II.

William Joseph Blazkowicz plucked the key from the man’s hand and pocketed it. The uniform HQ had devised for him was a perfect replica; the soldier had never suspected Blazkowicz was anything but a card carrying member of the SS. The fact the soldier had been carrying a key was stroke of luck; the time Blazkowicz would save searching for it would be invaluable.

Now all I have to do, he thought wryly, is kill Hitler again.

Blazkowicz dragged the soldier’s corpse into a nearby room, shut the door with a clang, and set off down the hallway.

Little about Castle Wolfenstein had changed in the nearly two decades since he had been here. The same labyrinthine hallways wound with maddening randomness throughout the castle’s interior, decorated with the same oil and stained-glass portraits of the Führer. The same metal doorways opened and closed with the same mechanic sounds, presenting the same unimaginable horrors laying in a silence punctuated by the same MIDI Muzak.  And behind it all, the same cancerous, crazed, calculating Nazi scheming.

HQ claimed the Nazis were planning something big, known only as Operation Zungedreher, and had sent him to stop it. Blazkowicz had accepted the mission with gusto. He knew his way around the Castle better than any man, and it would be a pleasure to let the Reich know they weren’t the only ones capable of making comeback.

Heil, Heil,’ he muttered, working the action of his rifle, ‘the gang’s all here.’ Grinning, he set off down the corridor.

III.

The Castle had seemingly been built by two artistically different but identically insane people. One had been fond of long, open hallways with lots of doors, the other of short, winding corridors with lots of doors. It was the latter Blazkowicz presently found himself in, a directionless rat’s warren that could only be negotiated by trial and error.

Sighing, he began opening doors, making mental notes of the layouts and contents of the rooms he visited. Twice he encountered guards, but did not fire. His disguise was holding up, and he had little desire to attract any attention. In one room he found a pile of gold coins and pocketed them. In another he found an untouched meal sitting on a table, still warm. His stomach grumbled at the aroma, and he sat down to eat.

He was halfway through the sauerbraten when the door opened, and huge man pushed himself with some difficulty into the room.

‘Greetings, Herr Blazkowicz,’ said the man, his voice a low, penetrating rumble, ‘how very good to see you again.’

Blazkowicz looked up into the cold, blue eyes of Hans Grosse.

‘I see you have once again found your way to the heart of the Reich’s operations. How sneaky of you to wear that costume. How very Jew-like.’ He pronounced the word like Chew and spat it forth like a lump of gristle.  ‘Unfortunately, you have not fooled me. The sig rune on your collar is backwards. I noticed it as I observed you from an alcove, and decided to follow you. Imagine my delight when I learned you were none other than my arch nemesis.’

Grosse was even bigger than Blazkowicz remembered him, although much of his muscle had now run to fat, and a rubbery double chin rounded out his flat, square head. His face was riddled with scars and pocks. Gun wounds.

‘Funny,’ said Blazkowicz, ‘I could’ve sworn I filled you with bullets. From the looks of your stomach, though, you’ve been eating more than lead.’

Grosse smiled coldly.

‘I survived,’ he said, ‘and, yes, I have put on a few pounds. But we’re all getting older, Blazkowicz.’

Blazkowicz chomped thoughtfully on a blood sausage, and reached for the salt.

‘Don’t try for your rifle.’

BJ smiled and slowly withdrew his hand.

‘I can’t help but notice,’ Blazkowicz said, ‘that your built-in kettenkannone are gone. Did a bigger Nazi push you down and take your toys? Those stumps aren’t nearly as scary.’

The guns that had once made Grosse a walking arsenal were gone, and his arms ended just below the elbow.

‘My guns were destroyed during our battle,’ said Grosse, ‘and my failure to kill you resulted in a dishonorable discharge. But I still can still deliver much pain to you, Blazkowicz. Much pain indeed.’

‘With what? Harsh language?’

‘Precisely.’

From within the folds of his uniform, and with the speed and dexterity his two handless arms permitted, Hans Grosse removed a book entitled 1001 German Insults. Grinning, he opened it at random, cleared his throat and read.

Your father,’ he boomed, ‘was known for being frequently unpunctual. What do you think of that blistering verbal assault, Blazkowicz?’

Blazkowicz blinked. The Nazi clumsily flipped to another page.

Your mother,’ he intoned, ‘was not adept at preparing food, often neglecting to use precise measurements, which resulted in less-than-palatable fare.’

‘And such small portions,’ muttered Blazkowicz.

‘The Jewish predilection for self-deprecation will not save you from my barbs!’ Grosse roared, and flipped to another page. ‘Your sister, although she waited until the night of her wedding to fornicate for the first time, was merely satisfactory in the carnal act. Don’t beg for mercy, Blazkowicz, for I have none to give!’ ’

Blazkowicz wiped his mouth and rose from the table.

‘Grosse,’ he said, ‘this reunion has been fun, but I have a date with Hitler. You wouldn’t know, by the way, what Operation Zungedreher is?’

Your personal mode of dress is several years out of date! Your wife is unattractive! The automobile you drive has sub-standard gas mileage!’

‘Guess not. See you around.’

Blazkowicz stepped around the Nazi and out into the hallway. Grosse started after him, but his massive shoulders wedged him in the doorframe. His round face went bright pink, but whether from panic, rage or embarrassment, Blazkowicz couldn’t tell.

Sheisse,’ he muttered, ‘I am become stuck. Help me, Blazkowicz. Find a pry bar and get me out of here!’

‘Sorry dicke, gotta run.’

Grosse’s furious baritone followed Blazkowicz through the halls for a short time, grew soft, faint, and then was lost.

IV.

He found himself in a long hallway with doors set into the walls at regular intervals, interspersed with stained-glass portraits of Hitler in profile. He began opening the doors one by one.

Behind the first door was a small pile of ammunition, which he fed into his rifle. Behind the second door was a German officer with a Luger leveled square at Blazkowicz’s chest.

Spion!’ the officer cried, ‘drop the rifle and put your hands on your head!’

Grimly, Blazkowicz let the rifle clatter to the floor.

‘Your disguise doesn’t fool me, spy. Nor will it save you from being executed in the name of the Reich.’

‘You don’t look like much of a Nazi to me,’ muttered Blazkowicz.

The officer wore the flowing black robes of a rabbi and sported the long grey beard and side curls concurrent with Jewish shaving protocol. On his head was perched a great furred kalpak, upon which had been laid a yarmulke, and strapped to his forehead was a black leather tefillin. Around his neck was what Blazkowicz took to be a tailor’s tape, and over his robes was a vest open to expose a thick gold watch fob. The vest was studded with a bizarre assortment of pins and buttons from organizations of every variety: he saw a Mason’s compass, a sword of the Knights Templar, a New York Times press card, a Hebrew National Beef Franks logo, a grinning Mickey Mouse head, and dozens more.

‘I am a member in good standing of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, I assure you. This farcical costume is worn at the behest of Dr. Schabbs.’

‘Dr. Schabbs is alive?’

‘To my chagrin, yes.’

Blazkowicz frowned. The last time he’d seen the head of Wolfenstein’s nefarious medical experimentation project, the not-so-good doctor had been flinging syringes at him. Blazkowicz had gunned him down and left him for dead. Apparently, he had left too soon.

‘Dammit,’ Blazkowicz muttered, ‘I should have shot him in the head.’

The officer peered uncertainly at Blazkowicz, then pushed a pair of thick wire-framed glasses up his nose. Then, realizing the glasses were as much a part of the costume as the yarmulke he wore, he pushed them back down again. A smile broke through his beard, and the hand gripping the Luger fell slowly to his side.

Gott in Himmel,’ he whispered, ‘the great BJ Blazkowicz treads the flags of the Castle yet again. I am Oberstleutnan Erich Wessel. It is an honour to meet you, sir.’

Blazkowicz instinctively lifted one hand from his head and reached out to shake with the officer. The Luger snapped up.

‘Not that much of an honour. Re-assume the captive stance, if you will.’

Blazkowicz complied.

‘What a bittersweet happenstance,’ the officer mused, ‘that I should capture and be forced to execute a personal hero of mine. Life is strange indeed.’

‘I didn’t think I had too many fans over here,’ said Blazkowicz.

‘What else would I call the man who crippled my most hated foe, Dr. Schabbs? Watching the doctor struggle through life under the yoke of the constant pain you laid upon him is one of the few things that makes me smile, Blazkowicz. It makes the ridicule he subjects me to nearly bearable.’

‘Schabbs always had a knack for ‘subjecting’ people to one thing or another,’ said Blazkowicz.

‘Unfortunately, yes,’ mumbled Wessel, ‘although funding for his experiments has been discontinued since your encounter with him. He now lectures soldiers on the proper identification of Jewry, and conscripted me to assist him. Hence, my garb. I stand on an apple crate while he prods and insults me to the edification of a lecture theatre of young Gestapo. ‘Notice the pronounced stoop of the Hebrew back and shoulders, evolved from years of hunching over their hoards of gold at the counting table.’ ‘Beware, my friends, of daggers and small explosives secreted in their beards.’ Schabbs speaks empty words to empty-headed youngsters who fill their notebooks with it, and returns home feeling confident he has helped turn the gears of national socialism for the day.’

Wessel spat on the floor.

‘Wouldn’t it be easier to get a real Jew?’ said Blazkowicz.

‘They don’t want to see a real Jew,’ replied Wessel, ‘they want a pantomime, a Semitic minstrel show: “I’m vanting to lure your childrrren into zee woods and have shex wit dem.”’

‘You sound like a cross between a vampire and a candy store owner I knew back in Brooklyn.’

‘You should see it with the fake nose.’ Wessel sighed. ‘It’s sad, really. Nazis today believe the Jewish threat consists of a nothing more than a thrifty, hook-nosed pederast with a tail. The true Jewish menace is men like you, Blazkowicz; intelligent, strong, proficient with weaponry and willing to use it.’

‘I don’t consider myself part of the Jewish menace,’ grinned Blazkowicz, ‘just a menace who happens to be Jewish.’

‘Semitic semantics. A hundred Jews cut from your cloth could topple the Reich within a week.’

‘Sounds like your heart’s not in this whole ‘Nazi’ thing.’

Wessel peered cautiously up and down the corridor.

‘Under the current leadership,’ he said with his voice lowered, ‘the Party’s foundations are eroding, and we will have less and less success in convincing people to fight and kill in its name.’

‘Hitler hasn’t had any problem convincing soldiers to execute Jews.’

‘A political movement should run on ideas, not executions. If a soldier doesn’t know the reason for doing something, he’s nothing but a machine, a piece of meat. And in the end, all he can hope for is to get broken or butchered. Now Eichmann: there’s a Nazi for you. Do you know he studies the Torah, and that he speaks and writes in fluent Hebrew? I once heard him deliver an anti-Semetic tirade in Hebrew! Hilarious, yes, but also an important reminder about knowing one’s enemy. If it were up to me, he’d be running the show.’

‘Dare to dream. Tell me, what do you know about Operation Zungedreher?’

Wessel frowned.

‘Doesn’t ring a bell,’ he replied, ‘although, there’s so many cursed ‘Operations’ going on around here, I doubt I’d remember hearing about it. We can’t just say, ‘Let’s attack England,’ can we? No, that’s far too simple. It has to be ‘Operation X’. Operation Y, Operation Z. D’you know they have a code name for nights when Hitler and Eva are intimate? I swear, there must be a room full of Nazis working around the clock inventing codenames. Brainstorming, writing, re-writing, discussing the delicate differences between Operation Firestorm and Operation Flamestrike. Waste of time. In any event, it doesn’t matter, as I am now going to execute you. Turn around, please.’

Blazkowicz turned to face to wall.

‘Pity,’ he muttered, ‘now I won’t be able to kill Hitler.’

He heard Wessel snort derisively.

‘Oh ho! So you were planning to assassinate the Führer, were you? Just going to waltz through his myriad bodyguards and shoot him? You’ve got balls, Blazkowicz, I won’t begrudge you that.’

‘A waltz has more than one person standing when it’s over,’ said Blazkowicz, ‘this’ll be more like a…wie sagt man…merciless bloodbath.’

‘Hitler stays on Floor 9 at all times,’ said Wessel, ‘and you need a special key to get there. Not exactly easy to find.’

He heard Wessel’s Luger click.

‘I have a key, Wessel.’

‘A lie, of course.’

‘It’s in my right front pocket. Go ahead and check.’

There was a long silence before Wessel’s hand carefully fished the key from his pocket.

‘I’ll make you a deal, Wessel. You let me live, and I’ll kill Hitler. Then you can install a new Führer. One more representative of the Party’s ideals. Eichmann, maybe.’

‘How do I know you won’t return here to kill him?’

‘You don’t. But when I do, I acknowledge I’m fair game for you. You can shoot me if and when you see me at the Castle again. But first let me have a crack at Adolf.’

There was an even longer silence, and then the corridor rang with the Nazi’s laughter.

‘BJ Blazkowicz,’ he said, ‘you are perhaps the most magnificent Jew to walk the earth since Christ Himself. Alright, then, I will help you. You will either rid the Reich of its worst enemy or die trying. Either way, I will be happy. You may turn around.’

Wessel took the clip from Blazkowicz’s rifle, then handed him the weapon.

‘I will leave your ammunition one hundred paces down the hallway,’ he said, not without a trace of apology, ’I can’t trust you entirely.’

‘Fair enough,’ said BJ.

‘The elevator to Floor 9 is just around that far corner, although I can’t vouch for what you’ll find once you get there. The Führer’s personal guard must be considerable. I wish you good luck on your errand, however ill-conceived it may be.’

‘Thanks.’

Wessel studied Blazkowicz for a moment, still smiling.

‘Before we part company,’ said Wessel, ‘there is one thing more I would like you to do for me. You will please sign an autograph.’

Blazkowicz chuckled.

‘You want my autograph?’

‘It’s not for me,’ replied Wessel, producing a fountain pen from within his robes, ’it’s for the esteemed Dr. Schabbs. Just to let him know you were here.’

He handed the pen to Blazkowicz.

‘You’ll need some paper, I guess. Use one of the scrolls from my phylactery.’

‘If you really want to mess with Schabbs, I’ve got a better idea,’ said Blazkowicz, ‘eject two rounds from that clip and give them to me.’

Wessel complied, watching him carefully. BJ sat cross-legged on the floor, and with the bullets held firmly on his knee, and with much squinting, he carefully printed on them, then rose and handed them back to Wessel. The Nazi held them in the open palm of his hand like the delicate eggs of a small bird. They read:

DR SCHABBS:

TAKE TWO OF THESE

AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING

BJB

Shalom, Blazkowicz.’

Auf Wiedersehen, Wessel.’

The officer turned smartly and walked down the long hallway. Exactly one hundred paces from where Blazkowicz stood, he knelt and put the rifle ammunition on the floor. Then he rounded a corner, and was gone.

BJ picked up his ammo, then got on the elevator to Floor 9.

V.

The doors opened, and he was faced with a legion of German soldiers. He raised the rifle and squeezed the trigger. They crumpled, punched through with holes, careened backwards clutching at themselves and shrieking, or stood, already silent and dead but not yet fallen, bloodied but still on their feet, their tumbling to the ground seeming like an afterthought. Afterwards, he stood calmly amid the hot reek of gunpowder and blood and reloaded his weapon with rounds from theirs, then stepped gingerly over their bodies to the single door at the end of the hall. He inserted the key and entered.

A cathedral lay before him, cavernous and lit by the flickering, uncertain light of countless candles. Stone columns rose into darkness above row after row of long wooden pews, each with a copy of Mein Kampf in the pocket where a Bible was usually found. The windows were stained glass with elaborate portraits of the Führer in re-imagined scenes from history: Hitler presiding over Christ and Barabbas, Hitler inventing the telescope and discovering Jupiter’s moons, Hitler climbing from the cockpit of The Spirit Of Munich after the first trans-Atlantic flight. Chandeliers hung on lengths of immense chain illuminated a carpeted central aisle embroidered with the eagle of theReich. Blazkowicz raised his rifle and started cautiously towards the front of the cathedral.

He walked for a quarter of an hour, row after row of ornate wooden pews trailing by with the hypnotizing regularity of telephone poles on a stretch of desert highway. It was not until he heard a voice in the darkness ahead that he realized he had let his rifle swing to the floor out of sheer boredom. He cursed himself, and snapped to attention. The voice was high and tinny; a radio. He slowed his pace. A shape faded up from the gloom and he saw a gigantic statute of Hitler cast in bronze. He was standing astride the globe with one boot on the face of a sickle-wielding Bolshevik and the other sunk to the calf in the shattered skull of a star-spangled doughboy. One hand was clamped around the throat of a British soldier, the other around the neck of a squirming rabbi while a third hand (yes, Blazkowicz could see now that Hitler was four-armed, and that they were arrayed in the twisted pattern of the Swastika) squeezed the life from a likeness of Blazkowicz himself. The Führer’s eyes were cast in pupil-less ivory and looked at once at nothing and everything. As he got closer he saw the statue was set on a dais which also had an elegantly carved throne on it. Newspapers in all languages were strewn about, some fresh but many bearing the brittle yellow of months gone by. A small wireless radio sat beside the throne. The clipped, precise English of a BBC war correspondent spoke of advances made by Axis troops in Belgium, gave the precise time and then introduced a piece of chamber music. There was no sign of Adolf Hitler.

No matter. Blazkowicz would sit in wait, and when Hitler got back, would interrogate and kill him.

‘Eva?’

Blazkowicz’s heart jumped. The voice was that of the Führer, but Blazkowicz couldn’t see where it had come from.

‘Is that you, Eva?’

He peered through the dim light at the throne. Perhaps Hitler was crouched behind it. Cautiously, and with his finger set lightly on the trigger, he edged forward.

‘Have you come for Operation Muschelwurst? I take it you brought the Churchill costume, my love. I have been a naughty Chancellor, and deserve harsh British naval justice.’

Blazkowicz crept to within six feet of the throne, and gasped.

He had not expected Hitler to be in one piece after their last encounter, and presumed the Führer would be confined to a wheelchair, perhaps kept alive artificially with the aid of machines. There was even speculation and rumour of Hitler’s head and brain ‘living’ in a jar. Such technology was not beyond the deranged ambitions of Nazi scientists. But the scene before Blazkowicz was much, much worse; the twisted efforts of an experiment that outstripped even Mengele’s in its vileness. Despite all he had witnessed in his battle against the Nazis, Blazkowicz was forced to shut his eyes against the abomination before him. For there, on the throne, was all that remained ofReich Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

His moustache.

‘Shall we commence with a recreation of the invasion of Poland, my love?’ said the moustache excitedly. Blazkowicz had no idea how it spoke, only that it tremored slightly as it did, like a landed butterfly in a soft breeze. ‘I’ll be Warsaw, and you can be the first Panzer division…’

Blazkowicz cocked his rifle and strode into the light.

‘I’ve got a better idea,’ he said. ‘You be Hitler, and I’ll be me.’

‘He has returned,’ said the Hitler-stache, fluttering, ‘like a fool, he has returned, leaping into death’s gaping maw. Tell me, Captain, what has brought you back to Castle Wolfenstein?’

The rifle shuddered slightly in Blazkowicz’s hand, and he fought to steady it. The voice coming from Hitler’s moustache was level and calm, so unlike the guttural bellowing he was used to seeing in newsreels, and somehow more frightening for it.

‘I’ve come to learn about Operation Zungedreher, Chancellor. Having done that, I will kill you.’

‘Ah.’

The music from the radio stopped, seemingly of its own accord.

‘I am only too happy to oblige you on the first matter, Captain. Operation Zungdreher will be public knowledge soon enough, so there is little harm in giving you a ‘sneaky-peak’, as the Yanks say. But on the second matter, I must inform you that it is you who will die here today.’

‘We’ll see about that.’

‘Yes,’ snapped the Hitler-stache, ‘we will.’

Blazkowicz inadvertently took a step back. Even in his diminished form, Hitler’s very presence was insolubly unnerving.

‘Operation Zungedreher,’ said the Hitler-stache, ‘simply put, is the final shovelful of earth on the Allied grave. It is the culmination of years of research and experimentation. All other avenues we’ve pursued during the course of the war – the chemical weapons programs, the rocketry development, the dabblings in the black magic of the Thule Society – have been ruses employed to hide our true end.’

The Hitler-stache paused as a small platform rose from the floor with a glass of water on it. A metallic straw maneuvered itself to the Hitler-stache, and there was a bizarre sucking sound as it drank.

‘It is warm in here, Captain, is it not?’

Blazkowicz watched as the water ebbed slowly to the bottom of the glass. The Hitler-stache made a satisfied smacking noise, and the platform retreated into the floor.

‘You know,’ it continued, ‘of the tendency of the German language to compound words. Kindergarten, for example. Literally, ‘children’s garden’. A very precise and efficient form of speech. It does, however, make our language somewhat cumbersome for those to whom the tongue is not native. The English-speaking world, in particular, stumbles through words like donaudampfschif with comic incompetence.’

Blazkowicz scowled, but said nothing.

‘Imagine, then, if we were to extrapolate this premise to its extreme, compounding word after word until they formed a German überwort. A word that embodies all the supremacy, dominance and permanence of the Germanic kingdom and the Reich. A word so long and complicated and difficult to pronounce that it gives people a headache and makes them want to cry, and maybe a little nauseous, even.’

‘You mean – ‘ gasped Blazkowicz.

‘A längenwurtvîlkenschwiëkauzenschabetäubsmittülvërschreîdnunreimakerkleinpüken!’ said the Hitler-stache. 

Blazkowicz rubbed at his temple and wiped a tear from his eye. His stomach rolled.

‘Once this word is introduced into your everyday conversation, your non-Aryan tongues will wind themselves into knots attempting to speak it. Your backs will break beneath the weight of the massive newspapers needed to print it. Your crossword puzzle enthusiasts will be driven to madness by it! Your children will start speaking it in grade school and be feeble elders by the time they finish. Your president will say it on the radio and sound like a fool!’

The Hitler-stache shook with ominous laughter, looking nothing unlike a caterpillar in its death-throes.

‘That’s unfathomably evil!’ cried Blascowicz.

‘What do you expect?’ replied the Hitler-stache, ‘I’m Hitler, for crying out loud.’

It rose from the seat of the throne, hovering before him, rippling in mid-air like a flag.

‘And now,’ cried the Hitler-stache, its voice rising to the vitrolous pitch the entire world knew to belong to Adolf Hitler, ‘the time for talking is done, Captain! Vorbereitung für den kampf!’

The Hitler-stache flew at him. Blazkowicz raised his rifle and fired, but it swung sidewise in the air with the speed and fluidity of a hummingbird. He ducked, and felt it slice across his cheek, followed by the sudden hot flow of his own blood. He spun, crouched, only to watch it vanish into the surrounding darkness of the cathedral.

‘Har!’ he heard it shout, ‘I had expected the saviour of the Allied War effort to be a better marksman!’

A sudden hissing, like a thrown knife, and the Hitler-stache swooped down and raked itself across his chest. A swatch of his improvised SS uniform fell away, revealing a deep gouge in the body armour beneath. He fired after it, the flash frozen like an orange flower at the end of the rifle barrel, but the Hitler-stache retreated into the darkness yet again. He could hear it flitting like a tiny bat somewhere above him. Blazkowicz threw himself behind a nearby pew, scanning the darkness.

‘Silly of you to hide, Blazkowicz.’

The Hitler-stache’s flapping noises grew gradually fainter, then ceased. Blazkowicz peered out cautiously, finger on the trigger.

‘After all,’ he heard it say from far back in the black depths of the cathedral, ‘strength lies not in defense, but in attack!’

It shot out of the darkness with the speed of a Messerschmitt, but did not swoop at him. Instead, he heard the chit chit of machine gun fire and howled in pain as a series of fine, sharp hairs buried themselves in the back of his hand. The rifle swung wild, sending an arc of fire into the air. Cursing, he pulled the hairs from his hand with his teeth, the flesh red and swollen where they had hit. A second series of hairs sank into the hard wood of the pew beside him. There was a brown blur in his periphery and he saw the Hitler-stache rounding on him again. He wormed his way under the pew and lay there, panting.

‘Hide, Blazkowicz! Cower! I will find you!’

He heard a whistle as it sped over him, then stopped. It was hovering directly above him.

He put the muzzle of his rifle to the underside of the pew, shut his eyes, muttered a short prayer, and fired. There was a deafening crunch as the wood exploded, followed by a choked cry of anguish.

He leapt to his feet, rifle ready. The Hitler-stache lay panting in the dull yellow pool of light beneath a chandelier.

‘Ach!’ it spat, ‘whoreson! I am wounded!’

Blazkowicz trained the rifle square on the Hitler-stache and slowly approached it.

‘Lout! A lucky shot! Curse you!’

Blazkowicz placed the Hitler stache square in the rifle’s sights and pulled the trigger.

But the rifle was empty.

VI.

Tableau-like, he stood with the rifle pointed groundward, waiting. But there was nothing. He pulled the trigger again, and the same loud click echoed back from the cathedral’s stone walls.

The Hitler-stache lifted itself upright and, very slowly, rose into the air.

‘Alas,’ it said with mock-sadness, ‘the wheel of fate is fickle, Captain. This brief intermission has given me ample time to recover from my injuries. Now, die.’

It flew at him.

And for the first time in his career as a soldier, he ran.

He ran down the cathedral’s centre aisle toward the throne, ducking as the Hitler-stache lunged at him from behind. A gash in his head opened. It swooped around the throne and started back towards him. He unslung the rifle and threw it at the approaching follicular projectile, and watched in horror as the Hitler-stache cut through it in a shower of sparks, sending it clattering to the floor in two pieces, the ends glowing dull red.

I am, he thought sadly, officially out of tricks.

With blood running down his face and his lungs straining, he took off between the pews into the darkness of the cathedral. He eventually reached the wall, and watched from a distance as the Hitler-stache circled in the light of the chandeliers like a frantic moth, searching for him. Grimly, he realized it was only a matter of time before it found him.

He poked gingerly at his back tooth with his tongue. It was the only option left; not an altogether glorious one, but at least it would be on his terms. A quick, hard bite down, the bitter taste of almonds in his mouth, and then merciful oblivion.

He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. The stone was faintly cool. He clenched his teeth.

There was a shudder and the gritty sound of stone moving against stone. He stumbled and righted himself, then turned to see a panel in the wall behind him receding. A secret passage. The Castle, he recalled, was riddled with them. They held emergency stores of food, caches of purloined gold and treasure, and sometimes, weapons and ammunition.

Excitedly, he started down the narrow passage. Even if there were a pistol, he could take another shot at the Hitler-stache and go down fighting.

The passage opened into a small room, empty except for a strange-looking gun hanging on the wall. It was squat and square, made of a whitish-grey metal with a barrel the size of a manhole. Stenciled on the side was:

BlutFleckenGewehr 

With some effort, he lifted it off the bracket it rested on and heard a liquid sloshing from within its guts. Gasoline? He sniffed, but there was no odour. The weapon’s weight and bulk surely meant it was made to be fired from the hip, and even then, with extreme certainty; he had to lift no fewer than three separate trigger guards  before he could find the switch that he presumed fired it. There was also a plate of smoked glass as thick and dark as a welder’s visor that swung into place between him and the barrel. He laid his finger gently against the trigger, and a small yellow light blinked to life.

It’s armed, he realized. The next time he touched the trigger, it would fire. Then what?

Das leben ist wie eine schachtel pralinen,’ shrieked the Hitler-stache, ‘man weiß nie, was man kriegt!!!!

Blazkowicz turned to see it hovering in the doorway of the passage. Scarce had it spoken when it flung itself at him. He fired.

At first, there was nothing, and Blazkowicz laughed aloud at the notion that Fate had placed yet another empty gun in hands so thoroughly trained and yearning to kill. Then the gun shuddered, and a green-white nova sprung from the barrel, and even behind the smoked glass shield Blazkowicz clamped his eyes shut and turned his head against the light and heat. There was a roar like a great rush of water, and then a deafening bang (a sonic boom?) and the brief, acrid stench of burnt hair.

Blazkowicz opened one eye, then the other. The walls of the passage were scorched black and radiated heat. There was a moustache-shaped smear on the floor. He watched as the round he fired continued across the huge dome of the cathedral, an incandescent green sphere that sailed for what seemed like half a minute and dwindled to a pinprick before it struck the far wall. For a moment the entire mighty vault of the cathedral lit up glowing white, the shadows pared back to nothing, the flash exposing intricately carved cyclopean columns and stonework. Then the light died, but not before he saw the far wall buckle from the impact of the shot, and saw the first fragments of the ceiling tumble down.

For the second time during his career as a soldier, he ran.

VII.

United States Office Of Secret Actions Chairman General Raymond Grant had a countenance and bearing one would expect from a man in such a position. His grey eyes ran with minute precision over the onionskin document on his desk, face slack and impassive. When he was finished he placed the paper in the top right corner of his blotter, squared it, folded his hands and looked across the desk at BJ Blazkowicz.

‘You’ve sworn a deposition to the effect that everything in your report is true, have you not, Captain?’

‘Yes sir, I have,’ replied Blazkowicz, and swallowed a grin. The boys at HQ were still sorting through the wreckage, literal and metaphorical, of Castel Wolfenstein, but it seemed only a matter of time before they were forced to agree that he and he alone had killed Hitler and toppled the Third Reich.

What kind of medal, he thought, will they give me? The Medal Of Honour would be a good start, but it didn’t seem quite enough. They’d probably have to invent a new one: ‘The Blazkowicz’. They would probably want to erect statues, too. And hang his portrait in the White House. Would there be room in the Oval Office? They’d have to move some flags around, but it could be done. And it would, of course, be only fitting to put his face on the dollar bill. Washington, after all, had been a fine soldier during his time, but his achievements were, in light of recent events, rather meager in comparison.

‘Captain Blazkowicz,’ said General Grant, ‘if even one of the events documented here is true – ‘

‘Yes sir,’ said Blazkowicz excitedly. Would he get the medal now, or later, at a special ceremony?

‘ – then I’m afraid you’re in very big trouble.’

Blazkowicz blinked.

‘Sir?’

General Grant glared at him and flipped to a pink sheet that had been attached to the back of Blazkowicz’s report.

‘You’ve been accused of several grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, Captain.’

‘What?!’ cried Blazkowicz, rising. A glare from the general saw him re-seated quickly.

‘Breach of Article 7:,’ said Grant, ‘The causing of undue suffering to, and failure to provide aid to, a civilian….’

‘That’s not true!’ cried Blazkowicz.

‘Isn’t it? Mr. Grosse was no longer a ranking member of the German army, and was, quite literally, unarmed. You left him wedged in a doorway to die.’

‘He threatened me!’

‘Breach of Article 9:’ Grant continued, ‘conspiring with a known enemy.’

‘I did no such thing!’

‘You wrote that you and Commander Wessel together formulated a plan to, and I quote, ‘mess with’, end quote, Wessel’s commanding officer.’

‘His commanding officer was a Nazi scientist!’

‘Nevertheless. Breach of Article 21: theft of property and artifacts.’

Blazkowicz looked puzzled.

‘The gold coins you took,’ Grant explained.

‘I’ll give them back!’ Blazkowicz cried. He pulled them from his pocket and tossed them onto Grant’s desk. Grant swept them neatly aside and continued reading.

‘And finally, Captain, Breach of Article 27: Willful procurement and aggressive usage of a weapon of mass destruction.’

‘That’s crazy! I –‘

‘ – fired a weapon that set off Geiger counters for five hundred miles around the Castle, Captain. Entire villages had to be evacuated. Switzerland threatened retaliatory action, for crying out loud.’

‘I only shot it once,’ Blazkowicz murmured.

‘One time too many. The president made us turn it over to the USMC so they could study it.’ He brought his palm down angrily on the desk.’ The godammed Marines, Blazkowicz. Do you know how bad that makes us look?’

The general took a deep breath and smoothed his crew cut. Blazkowicz cleared his throat to speak, but Grant’s grey eyes silenced him.

‘The very nature of your crimes,’ said Grant after a time,  ‘made them difficult to defend. Impossible, in fact.’ He thumbed the intercom on his desk. ‘Send in Mr. Von Shrakenberg, please.’

The door opened and a short, fat man in a dark blue suit entered.

‘This is Leif Von Shrakenberg, Chief Prosecuting Officer for The Hague’s Central Committee To Investigate War Crimes.’

Blazkowicz stuck out his hand, but the fat man remained motionless.

‘Please stand, Captain,’ he said in Dutch-accented English. Blazkowicz did so. Von Shrakenberg took a folded document from his pocket, broke a wax seal, put on a pair of wire-rimmed glasses and read.

‘Captain William Joseph Blazkowicz: In the course of your proscribed military duties you have subsequently been found guilty of crimes against humanity and are sentenced to death, effective immediately. Statement read on this, the first of May, nineteen hundred and forty-five.’

‘Witnessed,’ said General Grant softly.

Two MPs entered and slid manacles onto Blazkowicz his wrists, then led him out. Von Shrakenberg followed. A minute passed. Through the open window Grant heard sounds from the parade ground; the hollow wooden thunk of a trapdoor falling open, then the dry squeak of rope stretching. He shut the window with a weary sigh and opened a copy of Stars And Stripes to the crossword page.

32 Across: A 76-letter word for ‘something bad’. That was a tough one.

  1. Sweet Woodruff
  2. Teasel
  3. Creeping Charlie
  4. Dumbcane
  5. Busy Lizzie
  6. Goldenrod
  7. Texas Ebony
  8. Wonderboom
  9. Silky Cornel
  10. Love Vine
  11. Mexican Ash
  12. Milky Tassel
  13. Elephant Ear
  14. Smooth Blue Aster
  15. Billy Buttons
  16. Candytuft
  17. Woody Nightshade
  18. Ignatius Bean
  19. Slim Solomon
  20. Sticky Cinquefoil
  21. Mugwort
  22. L’Amour Strawberry
  23. Snowflake
  24. Velvet Mesquite
  25. Twayblade
  26. Turtlehead
  27. Redbud
  28. Bird’s-Eye Speedwell
  29. Blackberry Ice
  30. Butternut
  31. Black Locust
  32. Three-Toothed Saxifrage
  33. Benjamin Bush
  34. Jersey Fern
  35. Coco De Mer
  36. Johnny Jump Up
  37. Tupelo
  38. Peacock Moss
  39. Cochise Pincushion
  40. Cornish Heath
  41. Oxlip
  42. Old Man Saltbush
  43. Pretty Face
  44. Joe Pie Weed
  45. Cliff Carrot
  46. Giant Cryp
  47. Danglepod
  48. ‘Strangler’ Fig
  49. Threeway Sedge
  50. Pussytoe

Email Eetiquette

May 25, 2010

With the exception of moveable type, air conditioning and 7,261 other things, no invention has made life better than email. Since its creation in 1954 by the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Engineers And Mailmen, email has become more efficient and more popular than traditional Snail Mail (messages on paper delivered by hand), Pail Mail (messages delivered by lowering them in a bucket from the third storey window of a bricked-up building) and Frail Braille Rail Mail (messages delivered by blind, elderly train conductors). And there’s no quicker way to get your credit card number to an imprisoned Nigerian diplomat than sending it by email.

But despite its widespread use, email protocol remains somewhat vague. This brief tutorial will ‘Reply’ to any unanswered questions you have about email, so you can go ‘Forward’ confident you know everything possible about this ‘Subject’. People may even ‘Send’ you an ‘Email’ complimenting you on your knowledge.

That last one doesn’t really work. Dang.

Email Rule #1: Know The Basics

Y’know how in movies about the future, money is called ‘new credits’? That’s because everything futuristic has its own special language, and email is no exception. The chart below contains some frequently-used email jargon. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with it. I’ll bet you new credits to donuts it pays off!

Email Rule #2: Keep It Simple

In this hurly-burly, squirrely-whirly, churly-Charlie Sheen age, people are busy, so the best email is a brief email. Note the imposing length of the following electronic message:

Is this a death announcement or War And Peace? After dozing off halfway through the second line, I started to envy Ken; at least he’d be spared the task of wading through this meandering missive. With a little editing, however, this email becomes much easier to digest:

Short and to the point. Ken would approve, were he not roasting in Catholic hell for eating meat on Friday.

Email Rule #3: Keep It Fun

Do you know what Easter Islanders put on their graves? ‘Tombstones!’ No…wait…I fucked that up. It’s ‘Headstones’. Dammit. Well, never mind. The point is that humour is a great way to keep people interested in what you’ve written. Your email should provide its recipient with a smile, no matter how serious the subject matter. Note the dire tone of the email below:

A downer and a missed opportunity that will do nothing for already low company morale. But it’s not a total rewrite. Often the opening line can be ‘tweaked’ to make the email and more lighthearted and engaging. Imagine how the message about Jack’s firing would have sounded had it started off like this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

Hilarious! When ‘The Boss’ shows his employees that he can laugh, they all breathe easier and work more efficiently. Granted, it’s wrong to make light of Jack’s misfortune. But maybe if he’d had a better sense of humour he’d still be with the company.

Email Rule #4: Use Emoticons

The word ‘emoticon’ is a combination of ‘emotion’ and ‘con’, the slang for ‘prisoner’, and literally means ‘prisoner of one’s emotions’. Using an emoticon in an email lets people know you are unable to control your moods, both good and bad, and must express them at any cost. In this sense, the emoticon user has replaced the Norse Berserker of old, and is similarly feared and respected. The most commonly used emoticons are listed on the chart below:

Email Rule #5: Some Emails To Avoid

Spam

‘Spam’ is cyber-slang for unsolicited and unwanted email, and derives its name from Spamnish Harlem, the NYC neighborhood where it was invented by criminals to sell penis pills online. While most Spam is merely a nuisance, some contain viruses that can harm your computer. Computer AIDS, for example. If you receive an email with one of the following subject lines, chances are it is Spam and should not be opened:

French emails

These are like regular emails, only written in French. Presumably by a French person. It is beneath you to read or reply to these.

CBmail

These emails are used by long haul truckers to share information about road conditions, speed traps and hookers who lean on juke boxes in diners. These emails contain privileged information for truckers only. If you get one, something terrible will happen to you. Have you seen Duel? That.

Emaul

This is when a large hairy gay man, or ‘bear’, attacks you on the Internet.

Rule #6: In Conclusion

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. If you have any further questions about email, send them to me via this website……by email! —3

Type-Based Fun

April 29, 2010

This is E.E. Cummings after his typewriter was fixed.

This is Q*Bert swearing because the 21321 Caps Lock key is broken.

.cisum rieht ni segassem sdrawkcab tup yeht gniyned htabbaS kcalB si sihT

This is a sleeping Nazzzi.

This is ¿uestlove in Mexico.

This this is is two two Siamese Simaese twins twins, one one of of whom whom eventually eventually dies.

This is a white supremacist with a stutter joining the KKKKKK.

This is Emeril making shish kabobs.

This is a doctor dictating an explicit memo about a patient who had her period comma and then slipped into a coma period.

This is the invisible man on his day off.

This is a porn star with a math degree making a X3 film.

This is sailing instructor from Alabama warning his class of yawl yaw, y’all.

This is a rapper calling a rival rapper a fuck wit, getting shot, then realizing he picked the wrong fuck wit to fuck wit.

thisisaguywhomumbleswhenhetalks

This is a woman who had a mastectomy standing with a wooman who didn’t.

This is a Japanese man getting a hard-on in a voting booth and realizing he has an erection election.

This is a quiet angler going out to fishhh.

This is a guy named Stehen with a silent, invisible ‘p’ in his name.

This is the word aaabcehilllpty spelled alphabetically.

(1) 666 is the Area Code and Number Of The Beast.

Hole

Slayer

Mr. Big

Wham!

The Orb

Pearl Jam

Badfinger

Thin Lizzy

Motorhead

Whitesnake

Iron Maiden

Bananarama

Deep Purple

King Crimson

The Verve Pipe

The Guess Who

Chumbawumba

The Flaming Lips

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

  1. Because I.N.G.R.I.D. broke down (INfant Gravity Regulation Implementation Device).
  2. Because an enemy monster cast Float magic on him.
  3. Because this whole room is actually underwater.
  4. Because my wife has been feeding him helium instead of breast milk.
  5. Because he has a Jedi babysitter.
  6. Because a series of very fine wires rigged and worked by backstage crew merely create the illusion of floating.
  7. Because he was on a float in a parade, and some of the floatiness rubbed off on him.
  8. Because he’s wearing new Pampers Zero-G diapers.
  9. Because I am on acid.
  10. Because he’s too small to understand the laws of gravity.
  11. Because he understands the laws of gravity, but has chosen to disobey them.
  12. Because his name is Floaty McGee, Jr., and he takes after his old man.
  13. Because he’s reenacting the floating scene from ‘Sophie’s Choice’.
  14. Because his magnetized space booties have malfunctioned.
  15. Because he’s been peer-pressured by other floating babies.
  16. He isn’t floating. He’s just jumping in slow-motion.
  17. Because he’s auditioning for a commercial from the Church Of Latter Day Saints about the dangers of letting your baby float in mid-air.
  18. Because he got the aforementioned part, and is now on set.
  19. Because, to paraphrase Steve Miller: ‘He’s a floater, he’s a boater, he’s a midniiiiiight voter.
  20. Because, gone are the days of Earthbound babies.
  21. Because there’s no non-floating father figure in his life.
  22. Because he had an A&W Root Beer Float, which delivered on its product promise.
  23. Because his onesie is filled with butterflies.
  24. Because he’s a gassy li’l gaffer.
  25. Because he’s part of an experiment proving the existence of a heliocentric universe.
  26. Because he’s just showing off for everyone else at the day care.
  27. Because tourists will pay good money to see it.
  28. It’s a metaphor for children growing older and moving out of reach.
  29. Because he’s part milkweed.
  30. Because he has slipped the colic-y bonds of Earth.
  31. Because that routine rubella inoculation was actually experimental floatation serum.
  32. Because I was blaring Also Sprach Zarathustra, so it seemed appropriate.
  33. Because his poo has negative mass.
  34. Because he wants to be a hot air balloonist, and is just practicing.
  35. Because he’s experiencing some residual floating from a recent swimming lesson.
  36. Because Grandpa removed all the quarters from behind his ear so, naturally, he’s lighter now.
  37. Because I used Johnson & Johnson ‘No More Gravity’ baby shampoo.
  38. Because Disney Pixar’s Up is full of immitatable acts.
  39. I’m not sure, but while he’s up there I might as well get him to change that light bulb.
  40. Because he wanted to get a closer look at the mural on the ceiling.
  41. Because he’s a little baby buoy. Get it?
  42. Because he realized he wouldn’t be this cute all his life, so he came up with something else to attract attention.
  43. Because he recently listened to the Moody Blues’ song Floating and decided to give it a try.
  44. Because he recently read Archimedes’ treatise On Floating Bodies and decided to give it a try.
  45. That’s not floating. It’s yogic flying.
  46. Because he’s going as the Goodyear Blimp for Halloween and wants to get into character.
  47. Because, in addition to circumcision, we also had him carbonated.
  48. Demonic possession. Which also explains his diaper rash.
  49. Because he’s doing some freelance testing for Lockheed-Martin’s Infant Vertical Propulsion Division.
  50. Hey – it’s a free country. Let the kid float.

God here. I heard you recently discovered life in the ice of one of Jupiter’s moons. Naturally, you’re quite proud of yourselves, and I won’t try to convince you you shouldn’t be. But I would be remiss in my role as God if I didn’t tell you there are way cooler things in the universe than frozen microbes on Callisto. You people are discovering all the wrong stuff.

Have any of you ever thought to find out what happens when you draw a fleur-de-lis on a zebra? I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s pretty cool. Did anyone find that one coconut I made with the miniature universe inside? It’s completely to scale. That’s pretty impressive, even for Me. And if Galen Fahrenheit of Duck Bay, Manitoba ever shaves his head, I promise the joke I wrote on his scalp will bring you a lot more joy than a bunch blurry electromagnetic readouts from half a billion miles away.

Don’t get me wrong – the discoveries you’ve made are important, and they’ve allowed you to make a lot of progress. But now that you know how to produce and control fire, and what DNA is, why not turn your attention to some of the really interesting things existence has to offer? Like Nouth, for example. Yes, Nouth; it’s a combination of North and South completely absent from mortal compasses. Nice country out Nouth. Beautiful sunrets, too. Sunrets? They’re a combination of sunrises and sunsets. I’m surprised you haven’t stumbled upon them by accident; there’s eight of them a day. Gorgeous. But I’m sure the breakthroughs you made in….yawn….using electrolysis to isolate elemental potassium makes up for no human ever seeing one.

Sorry. I don’t mean to be catty. I just want you guys to be happy. And I doubt that further mapping of the human genome will really do it. Pardon my French but the human genome is fucking boring. I made it, so I should know. Sure, it’ll provide you with an elemental understanding of the relationship between genetics and disease prevention, but so what? You’ll cure CF but you’ll die of boredom.

Speaking of French, did you know poison ivy understands it? Of course not. You never thought to ask.

Some of you have come close to finding the good stuff. E=mc2, for example, is one letter away from turning light into your favourite song. And a couple explorers have seen that floating island I stocked with centaurs. But there’s a whole lot more out there. Hell, I can’t remember half of what I have in store for you, and I’m omniscient! As a species, it’s time to really amp up your sense of curiosity. Hold an X-Ray of a black rabbit up to the moon. Slice a peach into 23 equal pieces. Look for the undersea mountain with the phone number carved into it – then call it! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And if you do insist on puttering around in outer space looking for life, forget Jupiter. There’s a city inside the sun that would love to meet you.

P.S.: Did you find the gold I put in the sparrows?

1. Crocodiles On A Helicopter

2. Gila Monsters On A Space Shuttle

3. Box Turtles On A Harrier

4. Skinks On A Zeppelin

5. Lizards On A Glider

6. Salamanders On A UFO

7. Alligators On A Hot Air Balloon

8. Iguanas On A Dirigible

9. Geckos On A Bird

10. Spiders On A Boat

11. Spiders On A Different, Smaller Boat

12. Wasps On A Recumbent Bike

13. Harvest Mites On A Bus

14. European Honey Bees On A Pickup Truck

15. Dogface Butterflies On A Tractor

16. Aphids On A Single RollerbladeTM

17. Crickets On A Rickshaw

18. Moths On A Knife-Sharpening Truck

19. Scarabs On A Saab

20. Termites On A Rollercoaster

21. Rats On A Limosine

22. Mice On An Elevator

23. Ants On A Log

24. Shit On A Shingle

25. Roast Beef On A Kaiser

26. Christ On The Cross

27. Black On Black Crime

28. Worn On A Dare

29. Guy On A Date

30. Fattie On A Diet

31. Slogans On A T-Shirt

32. Tits On A Bull

33. Hair On A Back

34. Famous Person On A Stamp

35. First Time Listener On A Call-In Show

36. Half-Eaten Bagel On A Food Cart In A Hotel Hallway

37. Teenagers On Acid

38. Note That Says ‘Pick Up Drycleaning’ On A Refrigerator Door

39. Six Passengers Set Sail That Day On A Three Hour Tour. A Three Hour Tour.

40. Dentist Appointment On A Rainy Tuesday Afternoon

41. Coffee Mug Without A Coaster On An Antique Coffee Table

42. Zeppelin Logo On A High School Notebook

43. Honour On An Awning

44. Ongoing Homicide Investigation On Tonight’s ‘Law & Order’

45. Typo Onn A Movie Poster

46. Hot Girl On Girl Action

47. Photograph Of A Waffle On A Billboard On The Side Of The Road

48. Crown-Shaped Air Freshener On A Dashboard

49. ‘ON SALE’ Sticker On A Rack Of CDs Of ‘Walkin’ On Sunshine’

50. Ramble On And On And On

I first saw this ad during the Olympics:

I hate it, and I’ll tell you why. But first, a brief overview of the ad and the landscape it finds itself in today.

This ad is part of the ‘social marketing’ movement many companies have joined, in the belief that customers respond better to (and buy more of) products that have more than their own bottom line in mind. Companies like Dove, Tim Horton’s and Maxwell House have ongoing social and community improvement programs that fit seamlessly with the products they sell. When done properly, social marketing can cement lasting relationships between customers and brands.

Of course, beneath its touchy-feely exterior every ad has something to sell. In the case of Tropicana, it’s not orange juice per se, but The Sun. Tropicana would like consumers to relate their particular brand of orange juice most closely with the goodness of the Floridian sun oranges grow in. Strategically smart, since orange juice is essentially a parity product, and the assurance of an intangible benefit like ‘Sunny Goodness’ may prevent loyal Tropicana drinkers from grabbing a carton of Minute Maid when the Maid goes on sale. Hence, this nicely shot and scored ad designed to both move OJ and give Tropicana a boost onto the corporate good guy bandwagon.

Okay. So here’s why I hate it.

Firstly, it’s condescending to the viewer and the people in it. Consider the ad’s none-too-subtle imagery: the representatives of an orange juice company, faceless (they are concealed by parkas and shine their headlamps directly into camera) and anonymous (they refer to themselves as ‘we’) perform an act hitherto reserved for gods: they move the sun. In this case, they bring a glowing, sun-like orb to the tiny town of Inuvik, high in the Canadian north, and cases of Tropicana orange juice.

The locals are awestruck. The old man at 0:29 looks baffled and frightened, on the verge of joyful tears at such a spectacle. The little girl at 0:46 attempts to cup her hands around it And the guy at 0:49 just points. Because, when confronted by a force as awe-inspiring as a fake Tropicana sun, all one can do is point.

The ad’s inclusion of Inuvik’s aboriginal population has a slightly imperial feel redolent of the worst periods in aboriginal history; four hundred years ago the natives were given bibles and blankets to improve their wretched lots. Today, it’s OJ (I imagine an outtake with a native Inuvikian turning the carton over in his hand, trying to discern the mysterious markings on the side. ‘O-ran-gee Juss-ee?’ he mutters, primitive brow furrowing. Surely, this be sorcery….)

To sum up: the people of the dark, tiny, perpetually frozen town of Inuvik, people without the sense God gave caribou, which migrate south of the frost line when it gets too cold and dark, have been made a little less miserable thanks to Tropicana (and, by extension, its parent company PepsiCo. [who, it could be argued, manufacture enough soda to negate the healthful effects of the world’s OJ]).

I don’t exactly know how OJ is supposed to improve Inuvikian lives, mind you; the ad says remarkably little about the product itself. Does it contain vitamins that could boost the overall health of sunlight-deprived people? Probably, but we can’t be sure. In fact, the only thing we know is that Tropicana believes ‘brighter mornings mean brighter days.’ A cunningly broad and non-committal statement. A 20-minute dump in the morning makes for a brighter day, too, but I wouldn’t want to see it televised.

Actually, depending on who….um…never mind.

Of course, my interpretation and criticism of the ad’s imagery is subjective, and, I’ll admit, overly cynical. But my coarse dissection of its surface attributes aren’t what makes it so worthy of my ire. Why I really hate this ad is the yawning logic gap at its core. A logic gap which, once identified, sees the ad’s credibility erode like so much citrus-damaged enamel. I can sum it up thusly:

Inuvik already had orange juice.

3…2…1….has the impact of that statement hit your brainstem, nova-like, yet? If not, I’ll repeat it:

Inuvik already had orange juice.

Yes, one of the boons of 21st century life is that orange juice can be shipped anywhere in the world and sold in stores, including one of the three grocery stores in Inuvik. So even living above the Arctic circle can’t stop the thirsty from pouring themselves a glass of sunshine whenever they want it.

Granted, Inuvik OJ very expensive, with locals claiming prices between $13 and $20 dollars per carton. And so, in a seemingly benevolent gesture, Tropicana gave the 1200 households in Inuvik a complimentary carton. This could’ve set Tropicana back as much as $24,000, which seems fairly generous until you consider that PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, had a revenue of $43.2 billion in 2009. Twenty-four grand is about .0000005% of 43.2 billion. By contrast, I donated $840 to charity last year, about .009% of my revenue for 2009. This means that, percentage-wise, I spent ten thousand times more of my revenue in 2009 on charitable donations than Tropicana and PepsiCo did helping the people of Inuvik.

Of course, Tropicana may have plans to further contribute to ‘brighter days’ in the community of Inuvik in the future. They may be using their massive resources to combat real problems faced by communities in the extreme north. Problems that can’t be resolved with a glass of orange juice: alcoholism, suicide, access to proper education and medicine, etc. They may be, but I doubt it. I’ll wager a whopping .009% of my yearly income that, now that the free OJ has been doled out and the Tropicana execs and their ad agency have been choppered back to civilization, Inuvik will never hear from them again.

And that’s why I hate this ad: it’s phony, insincere, presumptuous and smug. After all is said and done, after the last frame fades to black and the last note of that oh-so-precious track dies away, I still don’t believe anyone at Tropicana cares one iota about their consumers as people.

This ad is bullshit, which is forgivable, since all advertising is, but it doesn’t hide the fact that it’s bullshit very well. It’s a none-too-convincing lie, and, like the dregs at the bottom of a carton, it leaves a sad, sour taste in my mouth.

Then again, I don’t even eat breakfast, let alone drink orange juice, so what the fuck do I know?

This musical manuscript was recently discovered aboard the derelict planet-cracker Guttenberg in the Googalabanza system. It is written to the tune of a famous American folk song:

Metal Gear Board Meeting

February 11, 2010

Metal Gear was launched in 1987, and helped introduce the stealth game genre, which it would repeatedly perfect over the next 20 years. Its hero was Solid Snake, a seasoned soldier dispatched to foil enemy schemes by way of stealth. Snake was at his best when he was sneaky; hiding from enemies in boxes, donning disguises and generally  remaining unseen were the calling cards of a successful Metal Gear player. Brashness and bravado attracted the attention of enemy soldiers, and attention attracted enemy gunfire.

In this story, however, we learn that there are worse ways for Snake to die to than a bullet to the head.

There are committees.   

Hello, everyone. Thanks again for coming. I know you’re all busy in the wake of the merger. Help yourself to a muffin. They’re organic and gluten-free. Looks like we need a couple more chairs in here. Trev, can you scoot across the hall and grab a couple more chairs for us? Thanks, pal. Is that sun in your eyes, general? Let me draw the blinds. There we go.

Shall we get started?

You’re probably wondering who the heck I am and why I’m here. My name, gentlemen, is Brad Parnel and I’m a FamilyCorpTM Imagination Engineer. My job description says I ‘utilize creative thinking in the pursuit of paradigm shifts and the realignment of business platforms’, but that won’t fit on my card. In fact, I’m not even sure what that means, ha ha. Really, I’m just a problem solver hired by FamilyCorpTMto make things better.

As you know, FOXHOUND was purchased outright by FamilyCorpTM last month. Strange bedfellows, I know – a super secret paramilitary organization and a trusted manufacturer of household cleaners and family-friendly sundries since 1923 – but that’s the way it is. I can assure everyone in this room that FamilyCorpTM has no intention of changing the way FOXHOUND conducts business. War is your specialty, gentlemen, and Familycorp knows and respects that. But FamilyCorpTM thinks there’s room for improvement. There always is. And that’s what we’re here to talk about. This isn’t a lecture, and no one’s getting fired. We’re going to have an open and honest dialogue about the direction FOXHOUND is headed in now that it’s part of the FamilyCorpTM family.

But first, let me introduce the rest of my team.

This little lady is Julie Hannigan, strategic planner. What you gentlemen do in war, she does in business; she assesses the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses and forms a plan of attack. Judy helped tieclasps.com drive tieclasps.edu out of business. Don’t let her sweet smile fool you – she’s a terror. Just be glad she’s on our side.

And this lanky lad is Trevor Shelswell. We excuse his long hair and perpetual razor misplacement because he’s a creative type.  Trev’s a very talented young man with some very good ideas. Are you all familiar with Hugsy, the FamilyCorpTM bear? Trev came up with Hugsy. Wrote the FamilyCorpTM jingle, too. You’ll be seeing a lot of Trev in the next little while.

Now that we’re all friends, let’s get started, shall we?

Solid Snake, gentlemen. Solid Snake.

Gentlemen, you have done an exceptional job training and managing the man known as Solid Snake. Really, you have. He is FOXHOUND’s best known, most important asset. In fact, he’s outgrown his status as a simple soldier and become something much bigger. He’s become a brand, hasn’t he? Just like Coca-Cola has outgrown its status as a fizzy brown soft drink. FamilyCorpTM wants to maximize the Solid Snake brand, gentlemen, in order to take Snake and FOXHOUND to the next level. But to do this, we’re going to make a few changes to how Snake looks and the way he operates. Small changes. Tweaks, we’ll call them. In the end, this is going to make Snake that much better.

Let’s start with the way he looks. Trev, bring up that slide, will you?

These, gentlemen are Snake’s current uniforms. Grey. Green. Dark grey. Khaki. Black. And some light grey. Great camoflague, but boring. I’d like to show you what Snake could look like. Trev, do you have those illustrations? Thanks, bud.

Keep in mind, gentlemen, these are just initial concepts.

I see plum. I see crimson. I see canary. I see aqua blue. I see pink. Yes, pink, gentlemen. It can be very masculine. I see marigold. I see violet. I see magenta. Eye-catching, isn’t it? Look how these uniforms ‘pop’ compared to those drab ones. And they make the viewer feel better, too. Bright colours make people happy. And I’m sure Snake wouldn’t mind wearing something with a little more pizzazz.

What’s that, Corporal? Why, yes, you can see these from a hundred feet away. And that’s exactly what we want. The first step in getting people to love your brand is getting their attention. Good point, Corporal. You recognize a good idea when you see it, and I like that.

Speaking of being recognized, let’s talk logos.

I’d be the first to agree that Snake’s a pretty cool guy. He’s in the jungle, he’s sneakin’ around, he’s blowing things up. Awesome. But lemmie ask you something: how do we know Snake works for FOXHOUND? I mean, the colourful uniform will get people’s attention, but once we have it, how do we maximize FOXHOUND’s association with him? Let people know he works exclusively for us and not, say, the army? Or the marines? The answer is our logo. Trev, do you have those sketches? Thanks, pal.

Bear in mind these are just rough.

Boom! Big FOXHOUND logo on the back of the uniform. Boom! Big FOXHOUND logo in the front. Boom! Boom! Big FOXHOUND logo on either shoulder.

Every time Snake slits a throat or plants some C4, he’s essentially saying ‘This throat slitting brought to you by FOXHOUND, makers and trainers of elite super soldiers.’

That’s branding, gentlemen, plain and simple. We’ve even included FOXHOUND’s website and phone number in case people want to learn more. Notice, too, there’s lots of room left for corporate partnership logos. I’ve talked to Ron Temple over at C Plus – you know Ron –  and they’re very interested in doing business with us. They’d pay plenty for a C Plus logo on Snake’s headband. Maybe have him carry a 2 litre bottle of C Plus around. Then, when someone spots him on a surveillance camera, they say ‘Hey, there’s a highly-trained killing machine trying to infiltrate our base. And he’s drinking a C Plus. I think I’ll have a C Plus.’

I beg your pardon, Sergeant? Why, yes, he would look like a NASCAR driver. You’re right. Judy, do you know offhand how much NASCAR made last year? Two hundred million? Wow. Looks like NASCAR is the game to beat, eh? Good point, Sergeant. Your comments have been heard.

Speaking of hearing, let’s talk about this ‘Codec’ thing.

Codec is a beautiful piece of proprietary technology. Lets Snake talk to home base. Nice. But could it be nicer? We think so. What if – and this is just a thought – what if it wasn’t just Snake who could hear the Codec? What if we made those frequencies available to anyone who wanted to hear them? Let people listen to Snake anytime they like? Sort of like Big Brother on the radio. Show everyone that Snake’s a regular guy with problems like everyone else. He doesn’t always get along with his coworkers, he hates his job, that sort of thing. Maybe he starts a little Codec romance Meredith. If we make all Codec communications available on iTunes at ninety-nine cents a pop, we’ll be rich. We can do real-time broadcasts, too: ‘Live from under a seemingly empty cardboard box, Snake arguing with Otacon!’ And say we broadcast some music on there. Frequency 141.5: Easy listening. 143.2: Classic rock. 148.93: Country. And with Twitter, the enemy can literally follow Snake’s every move.

What’s that, Lieutenant? Yes, we would be allowing the enemy to listen in on every conversation we had with Snake. And once they do that, they’ll start talking about him. And then we’ve literally got people talking about our brand. Word of mouth is very important. Good point. You’re a man with a strong opinion, and I salute you for it.

Speaking of strong opinions, let’s talk research.

Our research indicates that Snake’s weakest demographic is Enemy Soldiers, ages 18 -59. Look at these numbers. Of Enemy Soldiers polled, 23.15% found Snake ‘very unlikable’, 21.76% said they ‘hated’ him, and a whopping 55.09% had no idea who he was at all! Those are Carrot Top numbers, gentlemen, and they have to change.

To achieve that, Snake needs to stop hiding all the time. From now on, he doesn’t hide, and he doesn’t carry weapons. Instead, he marches – no, walks –  right up to the enemy and introduces himself. Nothing fancy, just ‘Hi, I’m Snake. Nice to meet you. I’m on a top secret mission, mind if I look around?’ Then he gives them a FamilyCorpTM coupon book worth over $30, drinks a C Plus and goes about his business. A brief but friendly interaction that introduces Snake as the ambassador of the FamilyCorpTM/FOXHOUND brand with a value-added consumer purchase incentive. Simple as that.

What’s that, Captain? Why, yes, Snake does visit some of the most war torn places in the world. And diplomacy and coupons will win our enemies over much quicker than bombs and bullets. Great thought, captain. You clearly have the sort of wisdom that can only come with age.

Speaking of not having much time left, let me get quickly to my final point. Merchandising.

Destroying the walking nuclear arsenal known as ‘Metal Gear’ has been Snake’s raison de etre for some time now. And God bless him. Those Metal Gears are terrible machines. Wait, did I say ‘terrible’? Because I meant ‘Awesome’.  I meant ‘Cool’ I meant ‘Something every kid ages 5 – 11 with guardians earning between 30K and 79K will want for Christmas’.

Trev, do you have those prototypes? Thanks.

Gentlemen, behold, the FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset. Complete with Metal Gear Attack Pod, Revolver Ocelot Handgun, kids-sized FOXHOUND MREs and, of course, Solid Snake Action Figure with Deathgrip death grip. Retails for $159.99.

Listen: It goes hoola-hoop, Tickle Me Elmo, FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset. Every kid who doesn’t get this toy is going to cry and every parent who doesn’t buy one is going to feel guilty.

Pardon, Major? Yes, it is somewhat hard to imagine this kind of thing happening. That’s why we made this commercial.

Judy, get the lights. Trev, roll it.

FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset Commercial – :30 seconds

EXTERIOR – SUBURBAN HOME

We see a young BOY playing with a toy car. He looks very bored.

Suddenly, SNAKE drops from a tree.

BOY

Wow! Solid Snake!

SNAKE

It’s time to get serious about playtime!

We see a CU of the BOY’s toy car as SNAKE crushes it under his boot.

He gives the BOY the FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset.

BOY

Wow! The FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset!

We see the BOY playing with the FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset.

MUSIC: HEAVY METAL, UP AND UNDER

SINGERS

 FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset!

FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset!

FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset!

FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset!

The music stops abruptly as DAD comes out of the house.

DAD

Stop playing with your FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset and clean your room!

SNAKE creeps up behind DAD and snaps his neck.

DAD crumples to the ground. The BOY kicks the corpse.

BOY

Fuck you, old man!

We cut to a product shot of the FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset.

ANNCR

FamilyCorpTM Metal Gear Action Playset comes with everything you see here. You put it together. From FamilyCorpTM, a Family Corporation.

 

We’re still playing with the levels, but when this thing hits the air we are going to own the toy aisle, gentlemen. We –

Beg your pardon, General? Why, yes, you should be outraged. Outraged it’s taken this long to realize Snake’s potential as a revenue-generating category leader. Fantastic point. But I see a lot of skeptical faces in the room, so before you draw our side arms, let’s look at one final slide.

Judy, do you – please, gentlemen, remain seated – do you have that slide? Thanks.

This, gentlemen, is the revenue we expect Snake to generate in the twelve months following the changes we’ve talked about.

Wow! That quieted the room down, didn’t it? Ha ha. That’s a lot of zeros, gentlemen, just for making a few small changes in the way we operate. And that’s all they are, gentlemen, is small changes. Call me an incurable optimist, but I think Snake will actually embrace this new way of thinking. After all, it’s going to make him a household name.

Speaking of names, we should change his code name to ‘Solid Koala’, or something cute. People hate snakes.

  1. Budweiser: Führer of Beers
  2. With A Name Like Smuckers…It Might Be Jewish
  3. Frosted Flakes: They’re Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreschwindigkeitsüberschreitung!
  4. You Will Tell Us Where The Beef Is
  5. You Are Expressly Forbidden From Squeezing The Charmin
  6. Pork. The Other Aryan Meat.
  7. Ivory Soap Is 9944/100 % Pure. We Will Soon Correct This Problem
  8. It’s Miller Time Precisely When We Say It Is, No Sooner
  9. Got Milk? (SLAP!) Answer Me, Jew!
  10. Yellow Pages: Let Your Fingers Do The Goose-Stepping
  11. I AM Canadian. Just Kidding; I’m, Like, Totally German
  12. The Fatherland Will Not Be Fully Cleansed Until It’s Zestfully Cleansed
  13. Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Greedy Jew Hand
  14. Have It Our Way
  15. Rice-A-Roni, The What-Was-Formerly-The-City-Of-San-Franciso-But-Is-Now-A-Smouldering-Luftwaffe-Razed-Crater Treat
  16. I’m Thinkin’ Arby’s. That, And Of Invading Poland
  17. Radio Shack: You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Places We Send People Who Ask Questions
  18. Don’t Think Differently
  19. Put A Tiger In Your Panzer Tank
  20. Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut; If So, You Will Be Relocated To A Treatment Facility For Mental Incorrigibles
  21. Anyone Who Doesn’t Not Like Sarah Lee Will Be Dealt With Accordingly
  22. Raid Kills ‘Bugs’ Dead. That’s Right….’Bugs’
  23. You Meet The Racially Purest People On A Honda
  24. Heil Heil Heil Heil Heil…Toasty!
  25. Just Do It

Hear Us, O Lord

February 1, 2010

The local preacher decided to start a Christian music station.

Now, folks around here love Christian music, and I don’t blame them. Imagine loving Eric Clapton and discovering a station that plays nothing but ‘Layla’; that’s what Christian music is. Every song is about the same person, and you always know what’s coming up next. Best of all, we wouldn’t have to wait until Sunday church to half-heartedly mumble along to songs about God.

Technically, KRST 77.7 FM wasn’t new; the Christians just took over the local Pagan station, KELT 77.7 FM, and introduced a different format. But they had a good slogan, ‘Less Talk, More Christ The Rock!’ and they played the hottest, pious-est Christian bands: Saul & Oates, NoahFX, The Holy Trinity Quartet and, until they realized No Jacket Required had no religious content, Genesis. They kept you tuned in by telling you ‘Thou Shalt Not Touch That Dial!’ between songs. If KRST couldn’t get your feet stomping, they’d at least start your Bible thumping.

Soon afterwards the local rabbi got wind of the preacher’s idea and thought a Jewish music station would be a good way get some new blood flowing through synagogue doors, and KSHR 102.3 FM was born. Their slogan, ‘Less Jawin’, More Yahwehin’!’ promised non-stop Hebrew programming with a decidedly hip-hop twist. They played old-shul rap, and despite controversial lyrics by artists like Dr. Dreidel (“At the Dome Of The Rock/bustin’ domes with my Glock/Rabbis plotz/when they spot me diggin’ funeral plots”) the station became popular with the town’s rebellious teens. Remember when LL Cool J rolled up his pant leg to prove how ‘hip’ he was? They did the same thing with their foreskins.

But, like celebrity deaths and quadruplets with a 75% survival rate, these things come in threes. The local imam heard what the competition was doing and got in on the action. KRAN 104.7 FM promised ‘Less Blah Blah Blah, More Blessed Allah!’ in an all-country-and-western format. Songs like She’s In Love With Another Shi’a, I Left My Heart In Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, and Cryin’ In My Beer (The Consumption Of Which Is Expressly Forbidden By The Qur’an) proved that just because Muslims prayed five times a day and invented Algebra, didn’t mean they were all boring.

By this time the airwaves were getting pretty crowded, and anyone who prayed to Anyone was hanging out their shingle.

The Catholics started KSEE 81.3 FM (‘Less Chat, More Catechism!’) but their DJ fondled a ‘Vacation At The Vatican’ contest winner and was relocated to another radio station. The Buddhists started KRMA 106.2 FM, (‘Less To Say, More Middle Way!’) and played nothing but Nirvana. The Mormons got in on the action with KRZY 109.9 FM (‘Less Flapping Tongue, More Brigham Young!’). Their DJ told listeners he had discovered two gold records buried near his house, and that he alone could listen to them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses started KNOK 104.5 FM (‘Less Talkin’, More Knockin!’) and didn’t have a station at all. They came to your door with a portable radio and asked you to listen. The Scientologists had KRAP 83.5 FM(‘Less Discoursing, More Celebrity Endorsing!’) and played songs composed by third-rate science fiction writers. And the Atheists, God bless them, started KAOS, 107.1 FM (‘Less Shouting, More Doubting!’), and simply denied the existence of all the other stations.

Just when it seemed the dial would explode if another station came to town…. it did. The radio tower was struck by lightning and collapsed. Some people said it was a sign from an Angry Listener who was tired of all the babbling.

In the end, though, no one cared. We were all pretty sick of heavenly music, and when the preacher tried to get the station up and running again, we ran him out of town. Now folks around here hate religious music. And I don’t blame them.

  1. rebreather rerepairer
  2. bacon clusters
  3. reverberating moistness
  4. chocolate alibi
  5. hermit envy
  6. tit glitter
  7. toboggan chamois
  8. dill flowers
  9. southern diaper
  10. banjo lease
  11. both-handedness
  12. fuck festival
  13. turtle gravy
  14. canker envy
  15. rapist periodicals
  16. drywall fags
  17. malicious nursing
  18. ape crate
  19. Punic numerals
  20. tooth greasin’
  21. cunt issues
  22. palate magnate
  23. weepy pickles
  24. jam chute
  25. octuple-decker
  26. twin pies
  27. caboose management
  28. spigot licker
  29. controversial hoedown
  30. zesty aftershocks
  31. woodsman’s goodies
  32. umbilical correctness
  33. pork torque
  34. sleeping contest
  35. tiny retards
  36. Apple Jacques
  37. balloon madness
  38. preferred thrust
  39. spats attack
  40. Prussian dressing
  41. homemade parade
  42. opera coordinates
  43. sloppy porridge
  44. ointment appointment
  45. poked wounds
  46. differentiated humbuggery
  47. lanky babies
  48. evening dildos
  49. fisticuffs luncheon
  50. birch syrup
  51. sass trap
  52. cobra steaks
  53. ‘Rectally Yours’
  54. beneath-ish
  55. stutterer fucker
  56. minty shantytown
  57. hardcore positing
  58. axe wax
  59. vicarious goaltending
  60. fisherman’s lotions
  61. sexy inquest
  62. onus-balonus
  63. toxic trousers
  64. airport gruyere
  65. chowder discrepancy
  66. rodeo Jew
  67. choda soda
  68. laundry rap
  69. star fart
  70. greatly dripping
  71. smashed badgers
  72. licorice problems
  73. doomed fruit
  74. Yule loaf
  75. Éclair stoppage
  76. kidney whitener
  77. crispy doohickies
  78. quack-reducing
  79. oil riggery
  80. Christmasy isthmuses
  81. trowel slut
  82. bakery vig
  83. Saint Gary
  84. ‘tater-esque
  85. dunktank fanatic
  86. casual jimmying
  87. czar-struck
  88. brutality, etc.
  89. Proustian fisting
  90. mostly racist
  91. longtime exploder
  92. Mars halves
  93. assorted bunions
  94. backsplash fever
  95. Gotti Pilates
  96. welding spree
  97. gnome-tastic
  98. knob-free
  99. inverse discrimination
  100. kingly-dingly
  101. Olé-causing
  102. vapour-flavoured
  103. Holocaust confirmation
  104. Mountain Dewchebag
  105. butler butter
  106. boomerang wang
  107. uniformly nursey
  108. squid patrol
  109. inn adequacies
  110. squirt flashback
  111. totally bleachy
  112. sexonomic downturn
  113. beard drawer
  114. nun teats
  115. Compton-compliant
  116. motion wellness
  117. rigamaroller coaster
  118. flea surplus
  119. non-waffled
  120. clown hammer
  121. Bob Hopeadope
  122. turd hog
  123. crucifixion mixup
  124. assorted tetherballs
  125. lozenge hoax
  126. aquarium tremens
  127. fob handler
  128. heebie-CBGB’s
  129. tux flux
  130. cocoa-addled
  131. sonic boon
  132. professional gnawer
  133. barbarian breasts
  134. admirable shitsmanship
  135. numbered monkeys
  136. oat heist
  137. extra-slithery
  138. Operation Schenectady
  139. mildly genocidal
  140. crypt antics
  141. Eminem Bison
  142. groupie poop
  143. Ent rental
  144. goosedown’s sysndrome
  145. justifiable checkmate
  146. crumbly resolution
  147. non-cardboardable
  148. whoredom boredom
  149. milk Bloods
  150. fishin’ Crips
  151. jazz hams
  152. secondary orgy
  153. Dad Gum
  154. thigh pilot
  155. beach fatigue
  156. werewolf whereabouts
  157. sniper wipes
  158. Proctal Harem
  159. hot taint
  160. statutory crepes
  161. vulture muncher
  162. pimp cusp
  163. chump thumpin’
  164. chaffed coxswain
  165. anti-toast
  166. hoop loops
  167. Richard Mollification
  168. blunt houseboats
  169. ‘Thor’s warts!’
  170. oneseventy-ism
  171. booty cowl
  172. Cesarean salad
  173. kafuffle commencement
  174. Vaginus Rex
  175. peony-onmeony
  176. Muslim tummyrubs
  177. fork thwarting
  178. mth degree
  179. refuted homos
  180. kitten knittin’
  181. twat tsunami
  182. duo-brow
  183. tequila rummy
  184. Tard2-D2
  185. Shawn NaNa
  186. garnish caddy
  187. hat crimes
  188. married alive
  189. Druxy pads
  190. grossness detector
  191. eyebrow browsers
  192. queer bees
  193. dang warniks
  194. puttworthy circumstances
  195. Freeman organ
  196. dynamic duotang
  197. woo who?
  198. lump-bumping
  199. pancetta vendetta
  200. love-smoked
  201. Indiana Jonesin’
  202. blanket hole
  203. unsturdy gurneys
  204. unmitigated skydivery
  205. curtain purist
  206. near-flung
  207. aloof-proof
  208. recreamed jeans
  209. shadow cake
  210. Neonatal Nazis
  211. hated pathway
  212. uppity puppetry
  213. cleanly pleasuredome
  214. gunt country
  215. incontinental breakfast
  216. Missy Witchtitty
  217. scythe discount
  218. legendary comptroller
  219. churl procurement
  220. spork sprocket
  221. ether ore
  222. candied Klansmen
  223. uncomplicated tang
  224. priestly bits
  225. Hobotron 2000
  226. barber intervention
  227. crozier polish
  228. horsey divorcee
  229. wood peckerwood
  230. Cthulhu-approved
  231. slum-lovely
  232. Queef Huxtable
  233. nonstop carpeting
  234. nude Nixon
  235. kinda Octobery
  236. jigglin’ juggernauts
  237. marjoram pageant
  238. churn tampering
  239. Bespin buspass
  240. pushed pork
  241. mammogram-ophone
  242. faux oxen
  243. reading painbow
  244. Mayberry gook
  245. handjob vacancy
  246. Amadeus Exmachina
  247. crochety autocracy
  248. l’il ladles
  249. millennial perineum
  250. sheep leaflets
  251. Googlewhack rappers
  252. unmagic carpet
  253. pancake battery
  254. circle jerky
  255. sizzlin’ Twizzlers
  256. mystic fibrosis
  257. Surgeon Admiral
  258. creamy redeemer
  259. non-unincorrigible
  260. filmic flimflam
  261. helicopter heaps
  262. vampiric victory
  263. ass knuckles
  264. pepperminty tea
  265. marrow chews
  266. prune-seeking
  267. shunned shunt
  268. Tyson slices
  269. tallness shortage
  270. onefold objective
  271. touchy-eely
  272. bargeman’s garbageman
  273. colour deaf
  274. dishsink dink
  275. Arby’s mauling
  276. sweet elks
  277. cauterizing moisturizer
  278. Beats McGuggenheim
  279. dotcom broom
  280. boxers’ coccyges
  281. dyke shed
  282. backless onesie
  283. headless hodsman
  284. soda boarding
  285. wheelie minimum
  286. field gaol
  287. Birdoo hairdo
  288. ska bringer
  289. moral kombat
  290. most purplest
  291. wide carbide
  292. Mafia uninformant
  293. flake pile
  294. minotaur’s scimitar
  295. legendary Zeldas
  296. vanilla milfshake
  297. overly hungover
  298. fuckin’ cider
  299. locotes azure
  300. gator milk
  301. rivet coveter
  302. rickety trickster
  303. burnt umbrage
  304. glory holey
  305. luck truck
  306. mosque whisperer
  307. killer Beas
  308. universal parallelogram
  309. coffee timeline
  310. Cleveland steamship
  311. pussy plight
  312. harm farm
  313. ‘Whatchootalkinbout Phyllis?’
  314. taverny smell
  315. grainy greenery
  316. slippery sloop
  317. hotboxing rockstars
  318. bukakke tournament
  319. Buttfuck Somewhere
  320. lawless bralessness
  321. scummy schematics
  322. oratory moratorium
  323. swizzizzle stizzicks
  324. unofficial unsupporter
  325. incomplete thoroughfare
  326. Lunatic Toons
  327. groovy gouging
  328. Mrs. Brownstone
  329. AIDS cream
  330. relinquished relish
  331. starship hardship
  332. machete nook
  333. Dave-like
  334. tender legal
  335. daycare smokeshow
  336. Lord Combover
  337. NAMBLA sandwiches
  338. conveyance belt
  339. climby ropes
  340. twinkle zone
  341. talkshow scrotum
  342. Motown Council
  343. man flan
  344. scallywag’s breakfast
  345. assy knoll
  346. flea parking
  347. Douche Bigalow
  348. dry roods
  349. scrump insertion
  350. hay Macarena
  351. rake fight
  352. dayglo dago
  353. teenage encumbulance
  354. Smurf violator
  355. durable dirigible
  356. panty sack
  357. unchecked Zbornakism
  358. Assisi/DC
  359. petite fives
  360. trumpet lube
  361. kitsch army
  362. hammock mockery
  363. Rip Skeletorn
  364. zyzzyva syzygy
  365. sister’s blisters
  366. yogurt yurt
  367. Myanmar-Shave
  368. hyper writer
  369. Romulan bathmat
  370. cake desecration
  371. menstrual show
  372. snudge removal
  373. misty cuffs
  374. clone clone
  375. unleavened Oreos
  376. tubesteak waltz
  377. beet beating
  378. rhombus dong
  379. layaway bidet
  380. yellowed submarine
  381. judicial rubdown
  382. replacement Cyclops
  383. dire straitjackets
  384. dirt bird
  385. free-jaculation
  386. lawn moper
  387. hiss-resistant
  388. Amtrak lighting
  389. canary despair
  390. sky cursive
  391. William goat
  392. wronged maw
  393. Frig Newtons
  394. snot lottery
  395. doofus curfew
  396. scrambled yeggs
  397. Ottoman umpire
  398. lunar plexus
  399. hearty arteries
  400. shaft tip
  401. narthex tarp
  402. hone made
  403. brown down
  404. caramel toe
  405. street credibility
  406. Norseman’s porcelains
  407. all bullety
  408. shank receipt
  409. space sumo
  410. perceived crunkability
  411. semi-vile
  412. sensible Ents
  413. expected suplex
  414. slippers only
  415. buttermilk shakes
  416. futz nutty
  417. benign tuber
  418. paper rout
  419. Thackery daiquiri
  420. Frenchy McVeigh
  421. Orthodox Jedi
  422. brewery gorillas
  423. Freebird seed
  424. halved-ass
  425. vase invasion
  426. kite sodomy
  427. Ray Bradberries
  428. zqxkj misspelling
  429. sleeve rollupery
  430. stargate bureaucracy
  431. Pope smear
  432. ‘Gravity, thanks.’
  433. tricklin’ treacle
  434. pwner’s manual
  435. neck sweats
  436. kreisel reprisal
  437. Mad Maxwell
  438. Mormon blend
  439. Hungarian dungarees
  440. trout rash
  441. pianist list
  442. enema runoff
  443. Duke Nukethem
  444. proofreading accident
  445. D’yer Manufactur’er
  446. & ampersands
  447. stink flinger
  448. cashew brittle
  449. fug fog
  450. lasagna riots
  451. E=mc squaredance
  452. nervous wyvern
  453. pharaoh droppings
  454. condo mongoloids
  455. schvitz rhetoric
  456. Pringle sweepings
  457. saucier Boyardee
  458. lawn order
  459. nexus hexes
  460. ditch straddler
  461. ultra-plaid
  462. apprentice Sasquatch
  463. catapult rental
  464. piss detector
  465. unmossy outcrop
  466. tidy Sanchez
  467. deceivingly penal
  468. wrought hotly
  469. deejay Salinger
  470. wuss wrinkles
  471. malicious militias
  472. cookie shards
  473. pudding chamber
  474. diabetes roundup
  475. fattie saddle
  476. vacuumin’ cumin
  477. five play
  478. minaret soffits
  479. bowTIE fighter
  480. haircut grudge
  481. poontang wrangler
  482. ominous onomatopoeia
  483. turnip sorbet
  484. bedeviled eggs
  485. soiled cummerbund
  486. mixed tapir
  487. thread recount
  488. Jurassic parkette
  489. fjord duty
  490. The Nippler
  491. poontang wrangler
  492. masturbation injury
  493. railway lawyer
  494. illegally blind
  495. Uncle Jemima
  496. windswept uterus
  497. Best Buoy
  498. Auschwitz refund
  499. canary piquante
  500. half-thousand

Rejected Burma-Shave Lines

January 28, 2010

Cop Story, With Jokes

December 21, 2009

David Down wanted to be a cop as long as he could remember. But that didn’t mean much, because he had amnesia. He graduated third last from the academy, just ahead of a fellow rookie he accidently shot and killed during target practice and a drug-sniffing dog who slept through the final exam.

When David started on the job, his parents were ashamed. They were counterfeiters and forgers, and having a cop in the family was bad for business. At his graduation ceremony they gave him a card with a crisp three dollar bill in it, signed by someone else, and told him they never wanted to see him again.

His first day as a cop, Down was partnered with a 22-year veteran of the force who took an immediate dislike to him. ‘You remind me of a young me,’ his partner said, and Down smiled, not knowing the man had been consumed by self-loathing his entire life. His partner eventually shot him in the back. ‘Why….?’ Down gasped, his lifeblood ebbing away. ‘Because my aim wasn’t good enough to hit your head,’ his partner replied.

Despite the efforts of the police surgeons, Down survived. The Police Commissioner visited him in the hospital and offered him a full police funeral and a posthumous medal of honour if he agreed to be buried. Down refused, and the Commissioner busted him down to First Grade Rookie.

The other cops took to playing cruel tricks on him. They gave him a solar-powered Tazer and a bulletproof vest with a magnet in it. His pepper spray was replaced with cumin. They took the standard ‘Alpha Chart’ used to quickly and easily radio license plates to the precinct dispatcher:

out of his patrol car and replaced it with a different one:

The police dispatcher and countless ham radio operators were confused and outraged. Down was called into the Commissioner’s office and told to clean up his act, Pneumonia Dibenzodioxin Que, or he’d be busted down to First Grade Rookie.

‘I am a First Grade Rookie,’ Down told the Commissioner. He was busted down to Second Grade Rookie for that outburst.

Despite these setbacks, Officer Down persevered in his pursuit of justice, but none of his hard work ever paid off. He sat on a stakeout for three months before realizing he was watching his own house. He tried to arrest a notorious drug czar, but arrested a drug tsar instead. He engaged in a high-speed car chase and was pulled over and ticketed by another cop. He told neighborhood kids to stay in school and say no to drugs. They all went to Harvard, but couldn’t handle the pressure, so they started taking drugs. Most of them OD’d.

Down was transferred to traffic duty. One night he arrested Eric von Shrakenberg, a 26 year-old Dutch man who was driving drunk. Von Shrakenberg had been born in Cape Town, and despite being white, technically qualified as an African American. The black community was outraged by the arrest, and accused Officer Down of racism, racialism, racial profiling and racialism-cism. The revered Reverend Jesse Jackson called for Down’s immediate dismissal from the force, and gangster-rapper Nes-T released a song entitled ‘Kill Officer David Downs Who Lives At 3192 Haywood Drive, Apt 3F (He Gets Off Work At Nine And Should Be Home Around Nine-Thirty, Quarter To Ten’). The song became an immediate hit, mostly among Down’s fellow officers.

Bowing to public pressure, Down turned in his gun. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of a shootout and, now unarmed, was shot nine times. The surgeon left three bullets in his leg and his shooters sued him for theft of private property. Down was busted down to Third Grade Rookie. He now reported directly to the narcoleptic police dog he had beat out at the academy. The dog held a grudge, and busted Down down to Fourth Grade Rookie. They moved his desk into a jail cell where he spent his days doing paperwork. He had to bring his own pen from home.

It wasn’t easy for a cop on the inside. Down was threatened with sodomy by the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, a man named Big Mel. But when Mel finally got Down alone in the machine shop and saw how ugly Down was, Mel suggested the two of them ‘just be friends.’ Down found himself alone in the belly of the beast, but was soon transferred to the colon by The Warden. He spent a year in Solitary, where the beatings and humiliationat the hands of the guards were a pleasant change from the treatment he received from his fellow officers at headquarters. The food in The Hole was better than what he could afford on his salary, too. He was happy for a short while, but soon yearned to walk the beat again. He escaped during a prison riot and The Warden let him go, claiming Down was giving jail a bad name.

Through a series of further incompetencies and mishaps, Down’s career continued its decline. He went undercover as a member of the mafia and accidently put out a contract on himself. He had no partner, and was forced to play both good and bad cop, and developed multiple personalities. He became so hated within the community that Orthodox Jews said ‘I smell bacon’ when he walked by. The Commissioner ran out of ranks to bust him down to.

Down was despondent, disheartened, disgraced, dejected and down. One bleak and wintry night he walked to the middle of the bridge spanning the canal and climbed over the railing. He was steeling himself for the brief fall into the black, cold water when a glorious light appeared, and a living statue of Lady Justice strode from the darkness to greet him. Down scrambled back over the railing and fell to his knees before her.

‘Why do you shirk your duty as an officer of the law?’ Lady Justice said.

‘Forgive me, Madam,’ Down said, ‘I want nothing better than to serve you. But no course I take in my pursuit of justice comes to a fruitful end. I have failed.’

Lady Justice smiled.

‘No one who devotes his life in true service to me can fail,’ she said, and held aloft her scale. ‘And the real measure of a man’s heart can never escape me.’ She touched her sword to his shoulder. ‘Arise, agent of Justice, and return to the world. You have not yet finished your work.’

Despite the weight of Lady Justice’s blade on his shoulder, he rose easily.

‘And now,’ said Lady Justice, slipping the blindfold from her eyes, ‘let me look upon he who would put himself in peril to defend my honour.’

Lady Justice’s eyes bathed him in a glorious golden glow, and the night itself seemed to retreat before her gaze. But when she saw him, she scowled.

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘it’s you. Forget everything I said, then.’

She gave him a shove that belied her fair and graceful form. He toppled over the railing, and disappeared with a muffled splash into the water below.

‘Fuckin’ cops,’ she said, and lit a cigarette.

Shockingly, the names of most pornographic actors and actresses are invented monikers. A porn starlet may be the physical epitome of sex and seduction, but the phrase ‘Featuring CARLA GRIBSTOCK!!!’ on the front of a DVD isn’t exactly blistering hot, even when written in a quickly-congealing white font. So Carla Gribstock changes her name to Candy Juggs, and movie sales, and her career, are better for it.

Nowadays, however, many X3 actors and actresses are ‘going legit’; getting out of the porn game to raise families, apply for mortgages, get and give blowjobs only on birthdays and generally lead the lives of everyday citizens. Unfortunately, their real names, like their self-respect and dignity, have been lost forever, and their porn names keep them ostracized from respectable society. Would you elect Gloria Gloryhole to the PTA, or lend Brick Spurtz your lawnmower? Probably not.

Fortunately, I can help. This Porn Star Respectable Name Conversion Chart will help aspiring porn escapees change their sleazy onscreen handles and occupations to more respectable ones. By simply following the simple-to-follow formulae below, pro humpers will be on their way to becoming something they haven’t been in a long time: upright citizens!

Good luck, fuckers.

1. We And Dupree

2. You And I And Dupree

3. The Both Of Us And Dupree

4. The Pair Of Us Plus Dupree

5. I And You And Dupree

6. You N’ Me N’ Dupree

7. Yourself, Myself And Dupree

8. You And Dupree And I

9. You And Me? Of Course. Dupree? There Couldn’t Be A Film Without Him!

10. Dyouprmee

11. You, Me, Dupree And Gary. Wait…Scratch Gary.

12. You Comma Me Ampersand Dupree

13. The Holy Trindupree

14. You, Etc.

15. You, Me Et Al

16. A Threesome With Dupree. A Dupreesome.

17. I’ll Do The Roll Call. You…check. Dupree…check. Good. We’re All Here.

18. The Both Of Us, To Say Nothing Of Dupree

19. Just Me. Where Are You And Dupree?

20. Dupree And The Pair Of Us

21. Youse, Me And This Dupree Jagoff

22. In Addition To Yourself And Myself, Dupree

23. You, Me And He Whom Is Called Dupree

24. Dupree’s Gone. Looks Like It’s Just You And Me.

25. Dupree And I And You

26. Me, You And Dupree

27. Us And Dupree

28. The Two Of Us And Dupree

29. Dupree And The Two Of Us

30. You, Dupree And Me

31. Me, Dupree And You

32. Dupree And We

33. Dupree, Me And You

34. Dupree And Us

35. Dupree And The Both Of Us

36. Dupree, You And Me

37. Dupree, Dupree And Dupree

38. Hello, I Have A Reservation For Three Under ‘Dupree’

39. The Dupree Musketeers

40. The Dupree Amigos

41. Dupree Men And A Little Baby

42. Dupree Men And A Little Lady

43. Six Duprees Of Separation

44. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Oh, And Dupree.

45. Yumi And Dupree (Japanese release only)

46. Moi, Tu Et Duprix (French release only)

47. You, Me And Jewpree (Israel release only)

48. Do Me And Dupree (XXX release only)

49. Shroom Tea And Dupree (Amsterdam release only)

50. You, Me And Dupree In 3D (Pixar release only)

51. You, Me And Dupree Part III: Return Of The King

52. You, Me And Dupree? Nigga, Plee!

53. Mountain DewTM Presents: You, Me And DewTM-pree

54. A Trio Which Includes A Man Named Dupree

55. Dupree Has Assimilated Us. Now We Are Dupree.

56. Who, He? Why, That’s Dupree!

57. Dupree? Hi. I’m Matt. And This Is My Wife, Jessica.

58. Dupree, Then Two More People

59. Won’t You Join Dupree And I?

60. Dupree’s Company

61. Her, He And Dupree

62. Menage Á Dupree

63. Dupree And Y’All

64. The Only One Who Could Ever Reach Me Was The Son Of A Dupreeacher Man

65. Dupree Couldn’t Have Murdered The Countess; He Was With Us The Entire Time

66. Poo, Pee And Poopee

67. The Dupree Smooth Jazz Trio

68. The Dupree Stooges

69. The Dupree Stooges, Featuring Shemp

70. (U + M)D

71. Free To Be You, Me And Dupree

72. You, Me, Dupree, ODB, The RZA, Inspecta Deck, U-God and Ghostface Killah

73. The Three Of Us Are Together. Right, Dupree?

74. Ewe, Me And Dupsheep

75. Law And Order: YMD

76. Shhh! Don’t Tell Dupree I’m Here!

77. Get You And Me FREE With The Purchase Of Dupree

78. The Swingin’ Sounds Of You, Me And The Dupree-Tones

79. Alpha Squadron Dupree, Assemble!

80. You, Me And Dupree Are Declining In Value. That’s Dupreeciation.

81. Not You, Not Me And Don’tpree

82. You, Stan Lee And The Spectacular Dupree

83. 2 Live Crew, Me And Dupree; Dupree-y As We Wanna Be

84. ¡Jou, Me And Señor Dupree!

85. The BBC Presents: Dr. Who, Me And Dupree

86. you e.e. cummings and dupree

87. You And Me (Dupree Sold Separately)

88. A Big Shoutout From Us To Dupree Is Unnecessary, As He’s Right Here

89. You, Me And § (The Artist Formerly Known As Dupree)

90. I Have Amnesia. Wait…It’s All Coming Back….You’re You And Dupree!

91. http//www.youmeanddupree.edu/pissfetish

92. We Can’t Play Euchre

93. Smell Like Three People: You, Me And Dupree…By Calvin Klein

94. They Fuck With Me, They Fuck With You And Dupree

95. g6 Qe3#. Checkmate, Dupree.

96. Dupree-Man And The Masters Of The Universe

97. You, Me, Paul Klee And A Cubist Painting Of Dupree

98. Dupree 3:16

99. Dupreemium Gasoline, $1.47 Per Litre

100. Who Farted? You? Dupree? Well, It Wasn’t Me.

NOTE: If the editors of McSweeney’s are reading this, please send me a cheque c/o this website. Thanks.

Bad Vibrations

December 2, 2009

The music of the Beach Boys maintained an innocent merriment which belied its often dark subject matter. The song ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, for example, beneath its sun-bleached SoCal pop mantle, is actually about underage sex: two teenagers lament the illegality of a carnal relationship (‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older/then we wouldn’t have to wait so long’) and yearn for the day their love can be consummated (‘Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true/baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do’). Scandalous stuff for one of the best-loved tunes in American pop culture.

But ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ isn’t the only Beach Boys song that disguises dark roots with seemingly benign lyrics and chipper instrumentation. In fact, the more upbeat a Beach Boys song is, the more terrible it is at its core. This is known as ‘Wilson’s Law Of Inverse Happiness’, and it applies to all the Boys’ music. 

Match the Beach Boys hit from the column on the left with its true subject matter from the column on the right. Answers are at the bottom.

ANSWERS: All those songs are about all those things.

Gauntlet Fan Fiction

November 26, 2009

When Questor entered the dungeon, he found his father, lain eight years behind the Shroud, standing before him.

“Mine sight is betrick’d,” said Questor to himself, “the weariness of my journey lies heavy on me.”

He reached up to rub fatigue’s shroud from his eyes, but when he lowered his hand, his father still stood.

“Sorcery, then,” he said. “A make-shape raised by some foul-brained wizard. No matter. There’s yet to be an enchantment cast that couldn’t be dis-spelled by Questor’s quick shaft.”

In one swift motion he nocked and arrow loosed it at the spectre. It vanished, only to appear anew.

“Strong magik,” Questor whispered, making the sign of Oolong across his breast. “Let like meet like, then.”

He removed a potion from his rucksack.

“I’ve not a wizard’s will for conjuring, true, but this brew may take some of the steel from your stance, daemon.”

He raised the bottle above his head, preparing to shatter it on the dungeon’s floor.

“I’m not a daemon,” said the daemon, “I’m your father, moron.”

Questor curled his lip in contempt.

“Alas, my father has been in the Cold a long while, daemon. You take his shape to hoist some manner of deceit upon me, but you have failed. Tell the spell-wright who commands you that Questor’s honed eye and keen brain are not so easily tricked.”

“Your full name,” sighed the daemon, “is Questor Iergund Julfnaar, after your mother’s brother, the farmer in Tull. You were born in Keech but moved to Finglong when you were three because I got a job in the king’s armoury. You played the ypsiler in the school band and you were terrible. Sounded like a dying fnapp. You got caught cheating on an alchemy quiz when you were thirteen and Hierophant Nestorious wanted you thrown out of school, but I offered to amour his clerics for half price and he let it drop. You took Thyra the Valkyrie to the Solstice dance when you were sixteen and came home angry because she danced with Broog the cleric the whole time. And you’re allergic to zech nuts. Now, please, put that potion down before you drop it and get magic all over me.”

“Father!” Questor cried. He made motion to embrace the man, but could not lay hands on him. The elder’s form parted like morning mist before the prow of a ship.

“Ghost of, actually,” his father said,  “but close enough. I died in this dungeon, and this is where my remains remain.”

The ghost motioned to a pile of grey bones and a moss-furred skull grinning into the shadows amid tatters of doublet and jerkin. Questor made Darjeeling’s Sign Of Eternal Rest over them.

“Mother never spoke of your death,” said Questor. “She claimed you broke covenant with her and left us to live in black lust with a tavern maiden.”

“I did,” grinned the ghost, “the death came later. I was delivering some swords to a paladin on the other side of the Blue Hills. I took a shortcut through this dungeon, and an ogre got me. “

“A horrible fate!” gasped Questor.

“I’ll say. That ogre hadn’t brushed his teeth since Rubicae was king. Plus, I get stuck with a quarter gross of swords. I should’ve had that paladin pay in advance.”

Questor bent knee and retrieved a blade green-grayed with eight years age from a pile on the dungeon floor. It was stamped with his father’s seal. He hefted it. It was bird-light.

“That’s angel steel,” said his father’s ghost. “You can pound it thin as a Gimbrian whore’s dressing gown and it’ll still slice a gnat’s nutsack in half.”

Questor did not reply, merely turning the blade over in his hand.

“’Tis well wrought,” he muttered at length.

The ghost chortled.

“’Well wrought’ he says. Pah! What would an archer know about swords?”

Questor glared coldly at his father’s ghost.

“Father,” he said softly, forcing a smile to tamp the ire that rushed to his tongue, “let us not allow that well-worn feud to darken our meeting. It leads where the stag leads the wolf; round and round the tree to exhaustion. Let it lie as bygones and dust.”

“Bygones and dust?” cried the ghost, waving to the bones in the cave’s corner. “I’m bygones and dust!” And with no apprentice to take up my craft. I’m apprentice-less. That should’ve been you, son.”

“I know well enough how to hoist an ale mug,” said Questor, “and such is the craft I witnessed you ply most diligently whilst I grew. Is there more you would have imparted, given the chance?”

“Everything I knew about weapons was yours to learn, son,” sighed the spirit, “but you wouldn’t have it. Even as a ghost robbed of all emotion by the icy grip of my own mortality, it saddens me.”

“To the contrary, father,” said Questor, tapping the bow slung across his back, “I am no stranger to death-tools. I raise this one when need makes its demand.”

“I mean a sword, son. A real weapon.”

Questor spat, then nocked an arrow and glared down its grained shaft at his father’s wavering spectre.

“Is’t real enough from where you see it, father? Tis possessed of a point quite of this world, I assure you. As real as that on any sword.”

“Save your arrows, killer. I’m already dead, remember? You can shoot my ghost all you want; my bones’ll spit out another one just like it. ”

The ghost seated itself with a sigh on a large stone.

“The greatest thing a man can do in life,” it said, “is leave a legacy; I see that more than ever now that I’m dead. Sure, I drank and caroused a little in life – “

“And whored, father,” Questor grunted, “don’t forget the whoring.”

“ – but you drove me to it, in a way. All I wanted was son who’d take up my craft, but you were always too busy.”

“Aye,” Questor answered, “busy seeking a life outside a blacksmith’s dim hovel.”

“That ‘dim hovel’ turned a pretty profit in its day! The king’s own gold filled my pockets for the work I did!”

“And filled the tavern keeper’s again just as quickly!” Questor snapped. “Speak not to me of the pride of your craft, old man. You may have been a cunning worker of metals, but the patience of your art you left at the bellows at the end of each day, and the joy it gave you you soaked in Qashien green wine before you staggered home to greet mother and I. By the time your drooped frame clouded the doorway, there was little of either remaining. Such is why I shied from taking up your hammer, sir; I could see all too well what it had forged of you. A life adventuring seemed all the more enticing because if it.”

“Adventuring,” the ghost snorted, waving a derisive hand “always the adventuring, with you. Adventuring for gold, adventuring for treasure.”

“For to witness the riches the world has to show us!” cried Questor. “For the wealth of knowledge that comes with treading foot in foreign dirt, for falling into sleep with the dust of strange cities on one’s jerkin!”

“Your jerkin’s lookin’ a little rough, son. It’s ripped and dirty. And you’re skinny. What’s the matter; can’t buy a bowl of soup with your wealth of knowledge? Can’t pay for a decent set of clothes with the dust of strange cities? I’m just the simple ghost of a blacksmith, but I’d swear you weren’t exactly rolling in it.”

Questor stared with cold eyes at his father’s wraith; there was bitter truth in those words. He had spent the fnapp’s share of his own wealth in preparedness for his foray into gold-seeking, outfitting himself with weapons, amour, supplies and the like. The paltry remainder was dwindling with unnerving rapidity as he paid for passage to dungeon after dungeon, only to find them devoid of gold as a Tieguanyin ascetic temple. Perhaps swifter treasure-seekers had come before him. Or perhaps the tales of gold lost within these walls were nothing more than ale-house fable. Whatever the lay of the truth, Questor’s rucksack, like his belly, was far too empty for comfort.

“If you had bothered to learn a little something from my trade,” continued the ghost, “you’d be rich by now. You’d a have a business and own a cottage. Maybe a wife. Things you could be proud of.”

“Much has changed,” said Questor, “in the eight years you’ve been in the Cold, father. Weapons are no longer forged by lone blacksmiths, but by a multitude of heat-powered engines which labour without pause twenty-seven hours a day. All that is needed are children to feed the fires and a skilled warlock to ensure the spirits imprisoned within the engines remain appeased and at toil.”

He held the mouldered sword up in front of the ghost’s face.

“These are forged by the hundreds, father, without the slow beat of an armourer’s hammer or the haughty taint of his pride. And ‘tis reckoned those blades are every bit as good as one hand-smithed.”

The ghost looked perplexed.

“Engines?” it said, “Doing the work of elves?”

“Aye, father.”

“But who puts his seal on the amour to ensure its quality? How does the apprentice know where to strike with the sledge? Who empties the slake tub at the end of the day?”

“Merry notions of an age slipping into twilight, sir. I count myself lucky that I never made the time to learn a craft so soon to be laid to rest.”

Questor thrust the sword to the soft sand of the dungeon floor. His father’s ghost was silent a long while. It was with sour delight that Questor saw a mixture of quandary and hurt on the spirit’s face.

“This revenant ill will has filched too much of my time,” said Questor. “I go. If you wish your bones to be set in hallowed ground, speak now, and I will send a hierophant to retrieve them. Other-wise, let us part in silence, with the hope that it is final.”

A long, low growl echoed through the cave.

“Your ire seems you have deprived you of speech,” said Questor, hoisting his rucksack to his shoulder. “As you please. Remain here and grunt like an ogre for eternity.”

“That wasn’t me,” said his father’s ghost, gesturing to the rear of the cave, “that was an ogre.”

Questor turned, and his heart jumped.

Two eyes glowed like balefires in the darkness of the cave, eyes set deep in the hollows of a huge and hideous visage as knobbed and gnarled as the roots of an ancient tree. A maw like a well fell slowly open, revealing four rows of yellowed teeth as sharp as lancets, and the miasmal stench of decayed flesh wafted through the damp cave air, bringing up the sick in Questor’s throat. Three heavily muscled arms hung from a giant body, which was wrapped in the pale, untreated pelt of some strange subterrain beast. One hand held a massive stone-tree, those odd pillars which sprout from the floor and ceilings of places beneath the earth, broken off at one end as if it were a quail bone. The ogre let out a wet, guttural roar that returned deafeningly from the cave walls.

“That’s a big one,” mused his father’s ghost, “bigger than the one who got me.”

Though the stone-tree would not have been lifted by ten grown elves, the ogre hefted it like a reed and brought it whistling down at Questor. He leapt deftly aside and nocked his bow, steadied his aim among the trembling of the cave floor, and sent a shaft speeding to its target. His aim was true; the arrow plunged to the fletching into the thing’s eye.

The ogre stopped, plucked the arrow forth and examined it with low, animal curiosity. The ruined eye spouted forth like pulped fruit and ran down the thing’s face, but it took no notice. When its interest in the shaft had been spent it tossed it aside, once again raising its rude club.

With a trembling arm Questor sent a second arrow speeding at the ogre’s other eye, hoping perhaps to blind it, but the shaft when wide and clattered into the darkness. The ogre moved closer, and Questor could once again smell its rank breath on the wind. A third arrow grazed the thing’s arm, raising a gash, but failed to stick. When he reached into his quiver for to re-nock his bow, he found the quiver empty.

The ogre lifted the massive bludgeon high above its head to strike.

I am about to die, thought Questor the elf.

“The sword, son.”

His father’s ghost gestured to where the sword stood in the dungeon floor.

“The sword,” said the ghost once again, and Questor seized it.

The blade glowed with an eldritch blue light, and seemed to shake in his fist like a rattling-snake. He lifted it. Though it was more than an arm’s length, it was uncommonly light. There was something in that blade the likes of which he could not match word or thought to. Not sorcery; nay, but that opposed to it. The earthy craft of elves. The skill of hand that took fire from a hot forge and laid it in cold steel so the metal bit with the same ferocity. The certainty of touch which knew when a blade’s edge had been keened to deadliness. And the temperament which tempered dense metal so that it would lift light in the hand of the wielder, and land with woeful weight upon foe. The simple disciplines needed, nay, demanded during the creation of something greater and more powerful than the creator.

Questor looked at his father’s ghost. It was smiling warmly at him. Questor smiled back.

With a power in his hand he had never felt stringing a bow or nocking an arrow, Questor put all his strength behind his father’s sword, and thrust at the ogre where he imagined the beast’s black, ichorouus heart to be.

The sword shattered.

The ogre brought the club down on Questor’s head, and all gave way to blackness.

 

****************

When Questor awoke, he saw his own corpse being dragged by the ogre into the cave’s dim corner. The skull had been pushed in by a mighty blow, and the corpse’s eyes were wide with shock.

“Welcome to the Cold, son,” said his father.

Questor stood. He had become luminous as a will-of-the-wisp, and realized a certain lightness to his being, as if beneath water. There was no pain.

“But,” he stuttered, “the sword….”

His father chuckled, and picked the jagged hilt from the cave floor.

“The first rule of swordsmithing,” said his father, “is to keep overhead low. Common tinker’s tin, for example, appears identical to angel steel when rubbed with red sand and bur