Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Warning: This Post May Be Lame

I was looking at a pack of cigarettes the other day and noticed the warning label on the side: “This product causes cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.” This got me thinking about how our society is saturated with labels of this nature. Warning labels are everywhere. I opened a box from the store the other day and found the product inside wrapped in a plastic bag. On the bag was printed, “Not to be used as a crib liner.” On hairdryers there are labels that say, “Do not use in the bathtub.” It’s a wonder anyone born prior to 1960 survived childhood.

I admit I am torn on this issue. On the one hand I am annoyed by the constant chiding. I don’t like being told what to do. Also I’m not a big fan of handwringing, panty-waisted naysayers who shit their pants whenever they see someone having fun. “Don’t eat junk food,” they say, “don’t drink booze, don’t smoke, don’t take LSD, don’t drive 100 mph through a playground full of deaf kids!” Blah fucking blah.

On the other hand I completely recognize that the world is populated by idiots who would likely benefit from these warnings if they could read. We have to be able to say we tried, I suppose. We don’t want to get to the Judgment and have God (who wrote an entire book of warning labels) give the rest of us the omnipotent stink eye and condemn us to an eternity of constant confusion as payback.

With that in mind I think we should step up our efforts to protect the stupid and affix labels to everything. Even food generally considered healthy should come with helpful instructions for safe consumption. Carrot sticks should have a tiny message printed on them: “Sticking this object into your nasal cavity may cause discomfort and inhibit breathing.” Basic tools should be covered with warning stickers. For example, every nail should have a little tag that reads, “Pounding nails into your skull may cause severe pain, bewilderment, or even death.” Tall buildings should have signs posted in their lobbies that say, “Leaping from the top of this structure, while providing a brief euphoric sensation, may conclude in a sudden termination of existence. In other words, you will die, you stupid asshole.”

I know I sound like an arrogant bastard, but that simply means I’m expressing myself properly. I mean, it’s just that I feel like we’re only going halfway with all this. If we are going to have these little reminders of nanny statehood around, let’s make it entertaining. Otherwise, get rid of them all and let me take my chances.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Groan 2

Despite his energetic personality and powerful barrel-chested build, Al Kaline was an ultimately disposable character.

Oh, God. I'm sorry. I'll stop here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Trouble with Heated Water

Those of you who live in modern times probably have a big tank in your basement full of hot water. Those of you who live in non-modern times probably have to heat your water with burning witches or something.

I think we can all agree that this is a pretty good system. The tank sits down there in the dark with the spiders, out of sight, and you get all the delicious hot water you want, delivered right to your faucets. Toilets too, if you're weird.

Until the tank decides that you're too wasteful and limits its production. "He'll pay whatever I charge," the tank mutters to itself. "What's he gonna do? Get an electric tank? Buy a diesel? Loser."

Actually, all of my appliances call me a loser. It's something I have lived with for a long time.

When one has to go shopping for something one has to replace every day, such as beer or underwear, it's easy. "Gimme another one of them," you say, pointing at the boxer shorts. "Hey, you're that guy we were all warned about. Can I have your autograph before they kick you out?" the sales clerk says. Easy.

But a water heater is different. The one lurking in my basement has been lurking there for fourteen years. The last time it was replaced, I was just a stupid little kid that would have whined and shit my pants until my dad fixed it or bought a new one.

Now that I'm an adult with responsibilities and armpit hair, I have to take care of my own problems. I have to learn how to shop for things I've never shopped for before.

"But daaaaaAAAAaaaad!" I whined into the phone, shitting my pants. "There's not enough hot water! The dishwasher and the washing machine and I all make funny noises when there's not enough not water!"

"Jesus. Okay, clean yourself up and we'll go to Sears."

Now, as far as I knew, hot water heaters came in two kinds: the big cylindrical tanky ones like mine, and the witch-burning ones I mentioned earlier. Since the latter went out of style decades ago, I figured it would be a matter of going to Sears, standing next to a tank and smiling until a salesman came over and asked me if I wanted to buy it.

"Yes, please," I would say suavely. "Box this one up and have someone bring it 'round back and throw it in the trunk." I would then show the man a picture of myself holding a monkey wrench and flex one of my biceps.

"You're a man who knows what he wants, how he will transport it, and what to do with it when he gets it home," the salesman would say. "I admire that so much that I will give you twenty percent off, and my daughter's phone number."

Then I would take a shower.

As I'm sure you've predicted by now, it didn't work out that well. The salesman had questions. Cryptic ones.

"What size is yours at home?"

Having been ordered by the courts to stop cataloging the contents of my friends' basements years ago, my limited data mentioned nothing about different sizes.

"Um. It's, uh, you know. About like those, only maybe not quite so much like those," I said, pointing at their selection of water heaters.

"Well, if you get one that's too tall, it won't be able to vent properly and your house will fill up with carbon monixide," the salesman said with a serious frowny look on his face.

"That's a risk I'm willing to take," I said. "I'll take that one."

"I can't sell you one that won't fit, even if I wanted to. The plumber would refuse to install it."

"Ah, no problem there. I was going to install it myself. I have a monkey wrench and some electrical tape. Fully prepared."

"Heh. I'm sure you are, but these are a package deal. They come with the installation and the hauling away of the old unit."

"Well! I! Um. Okay bye!" I said, making a strategic dive into a washing machine. My father was a couple departments away, browsing Sears' selection of fine flashlights. I got him on the walkie-talkie. "He wants to know what size I need! Nobody told me they came in different sizes!"

"There, there boy. Don't shit your pants. You hiding in one of the washing machines again? I'll come get you, we'll measure the old one and come back."

"Never mind. I'll just use cold water from now on," I whimpered.

"Don't be a quitter. Remember what I told you what would happen if you was a quitter?"

"You'd sell me to the Mormons. I know."

Well, I'm kind of out of ideas now, so I'm going to end this here. I'm hoping the new water heater will be here in a few days and I can stop whining about things. You know. Because without the washing machine, I'm running out of underwear.


Despite having a tough exterior, Al Dente was actually a very tender man.

Geez. That was dumb. I don't think I can continue.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Encounter at the Park

It was a beautiful day at the park. The sky was a deep shade of blue, punctuated by a few wispy clouds that wandered lethargically across the broad expanse. The meditative quiet was interrupted only by the occasional splash as a duck made a practiced landing on the pond. A few geese floated serenely along and overhead a bird sang merrily.

Suddenly the sky darkened and I felt a drop of rain hit my cheek. I reached up and brushed it away. It was rain, all right, but it seemed different somehow. Not only wet, but sticky. It also smelled bad, like a raging case of ineptitude. I glanced over my shoulder (only slightly throwing my neck out of joint) and realized the source of the bad turn of events. A red Mazda RX-8 had pulled into the parking lot. I groaned and clutched my stomach, which had just started to feel sick.

The Mazda turned into a parking space, the bumper scraping onto the curb. The front tires followed suit and the car teetered there for a moment, rocking back and forth as its driver tried to figure out the manual transmission. Apparently giving up, the driver killed the engine and pulled the keys from the ignition. I watched as he fumbled with the door handle and a mere five minutes later managed to open the door and step out. He saw me and waved. It was Paul.

"God, I hate him so," I whispered.

"Me, too," said God. "You want I should smite him?"

"Maybe later. Like when I'm not around. I don't want to get any on me."

Paul saw me and waved. He started walking forward, not noticing that he had shut one of his pants legs in the car door. He didn't slow down, even when the pants leg ripped completely off and dangled from the door, all sad and tattered.

"God, he's so stupid."

"Hey, I did the best I could," God said. "What, you think I can work miracles?"

Paul loped toward me. He tried to wave again, but forgot how and slapped himself in the face. He looked confused and staggered sideways, punted three ducks in quick succession, and then fell down in a crumpled heap. After a few experiments, he managed to stand up.

"I am here to see the ducks!" he announced in a lilting, unnecessarily loud voice.

I pointed. "They're over there. Help yourself."

"Don't mind if I do!" He grabbed up a duck and began stuffing it into his pocket. It quacked loudly and clacked its bill. Paul performed a horrible little dance of pain. "Ow, my dinkie!" He thrust the duck away and punted it into the middle of the pond to join its friends. "Take that,"


"Yeah! Take that, you duck!" He grinned and it was then I noticed he'd been eating Oreos. "Guess I told him, didn't I not?"

I winced and looked aside. "You did, indeed. And now if you'll excuse me, I have some hating to do." I turned and began walking to my car. As I drove off and Paul disappeared from sight, the storm clouds rolled away and the sky returned to its former splendor. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little Red Riding Craig

It was 5:43 AM, and Craig's alarm clock went off, just like it did every morning. He had a unique alarm clock that sounded like five fat guys stomping in bowls of pudding. The other tenants in his apartment building hated it.

"Same time tomorrow, guys?" Craig said in that voice of his. The five fat guys shuffled out of his bedroom, each of them muttering under their breath about how much they hated Craig.

"Yawn!" Craig screeched. "It's a beeeeyooootiful day! Time to take a slice of room-temperature pizza to my brother-in-law."

He thrashed his way out of bed. This took twenty minutes because he could not figure out which end of the bed was the foot and which the head. He spent a good amount of time covered with blankets and yelling. The other tenants in his apartment building hated this too.

Finally extricating himself from his distressingly crinkly sheets, Craig pranced to his closet and opened the doors.

"I need something light and stylish, but good for travel by foot," he said aloud to himself because he was the only one who could bear to listen to him. "Aha!" he said unnecessarily, selecting his favorite traveling apparel: a big dopey red sweater with donkeys on it. "The same one I always select!" he tittered, invalidating all the time he spent picking it out.

Garbed in his riding sweater and carrying the pizza in a picnic basket, Craig set out. All the yelling and honking of horns and the subsequent return to his apartment to put on pants only slightly dampened his spirits.

"I shall go through the woods, because it is much harder to travel through them because of the sticks and creatures," Craig explained, entering the woods.

As soon as the trees closed in around him, the dense forest canopy darkening his path, he was accosted by the Big Bad Wombat.

"Hi, Craig," said the Big Bad Wombat.

"Oh no!" squealed Craig. "A wolf!"


"My, what big haunches you have!" said Craig, poking the Big Bad Wombat with one of his terrible fingers.

"All the better to...hold on. What?"

"My, what big molars you have!" said Craig, poking the Big Bad Wombat in the eye.


"My, what, like, four feet you have!" said Craig, poking the Big Bad Wombat in each foot.

"Aw, that does it!" shouted the Big Bad Wombat, running back into the forest fastness from whence he'd come.

"Hey! Aren't you supposed to threaten to eat me or steal my porridge or something?" Craig called after him.

"Eat yourself!" came the Big Bad Wombat's muffled reply from the underbrush.

"Ow!" Craig said.

After three hours of relatively unimpeded travel, Craig arrived at the front door of his brother-in-law's house. "Ding dong!" he squealed, poking the door knocker.

"Why, hello Craig," said the brother-in-law, suppressing his gag reflex.

"I brung you some pizza!" Craig said, holding up his picnic basket.

"Why are your arms all chewed up?" asked the brother-in-law.

"Oh, that? The Big Bad Wombat told me to do that," Craig said matter-of-factly, shrugging his chewed-up shoulders.

The brother-in-law sighed. "That's your excuse for everything. Well, you'd better come in so we can put some ointment on those bite marks."

"Oh boy! Oiiiiinnnntment!" Craig screeched.

The brother-in-law put the pizza down the garbage disposal and consoled his wife while Craig drank all the ointment he wanted. They all lived happily ever after!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Granola Prose XVIII

The Writer examined the television remote he held in his had. He hefted it. He balanced it on two fingers. He watched as it see-sawed lazily, twitching slightly when it toppled out of his hand and into his glass of cola.

"You know," he said to The Wife, "I don't recall there being a 'Make Television Programming Suck' button on that remote, but I think I accidentally pressed it."

The Wife calmly fished the remote out of the cola and wrapped it in a towel she kept handy for such occurrences.

"I mean, look at this dreck!" The Writer whined, fluttering his hands at the screen as if he were shooing away a cloud of particularly stinky moths.

"Welcome to Who Would Enjoy Being a Billionaire! Today, we ask Kevin Bumfetcher of West Michigan if he would enjoy being a billionaire!"

Host rings Kevin's doorbell

"Hello? Hey! You're--!"

Host silences Kevin with a polite poke in the eye

"I am! And I'm here to ask you, Kevin Bumfetcher, if you would Enjoy Being a Billionaire!"

"Oh my God! Yes! Yes I would!"

Kevin prances around his foyer, booting curious children and pets left and right

"Ha ha! That's what I thought, Kevin!"

Host slams door and turns to the camera

"Join us next week for another exciting episode of Who Would Enjoy Being a Billionaire!"

"Absolute bilge," the Writer harrumphed.

"You know," said the Wife, "you could be working on your cereal epic instead of watching TV shows you claim you hate." She unwrapped the remote, went to place it on the arm of the couch, reconsidered, then tucked it into her tool belt. "In fact, you should be working on it. And in order to encourage you, I am going to build a small but extremely capable robot out of the remote."

"I know, I know. I'm just taking a break. Geez." The Writer made a grab for the remote. The Wife dodged nimbly.

"Honey pie? This 'break' of yours started four hours ago."

The Writer tried for a breast. "Different people take different lengths of time to recharge, based on brain size," he said huffily.

"Ideally," the Wife said, dodging again, "your breaks would be inspiring or restful. Yesterday you spent two hours refreshing your blog page to increase your hit counter."

"Marketing. That was for marketing."

"Your blog is free."

"Okay, fine. Fetch my Underwood."

"It's on your lap."


It was a crack in the rock, and it was just big enough for Stubs to squeeze through. With a grunt and a poot, he did just that. He tumbled to the cave floor on the other side of the fissure, his back bending uncomfortably as he sprawled atop a moderately-sized boulder that looked like it had been purposely chiseled to the right size and shape to plug the hole.

Quickly, pausing only to swear mightily, Stubs used the boulder to plug the hole, hamming it home with his hammer. He willed his pounding heart to slow. Naturally, it didn't listen to him, as it was an autonomous process that cannot be controlled by conscious effort. He put his ear to the rock and listened, his breath coming in short panicked bursts, his poots coming in soft panicked succession.

"Shit! The light's gone!" screeched Tony.

"Wonk!" agreed Edward.

"Well, he can't hide back there forever. There's only one entrance to this cave, and it's back the way we came. He'll either come out eventually, or the cave ducks will eat him. He's dead either way!"

There followed a spate of antagonistic chucklery.

"In the meantime, let us settle here in the darkness and have some mead."


Stubs almost had the boulder pried out of its hole before he realized what his traitorous hands and palate were up to.

"No!!" he said through gritted teeth.

"Yessss. It must be strong," said a raspy little voice. It bounced around the cave, splashing into puddles of water and slithering along ledges of rock covered with scree.

Stubs froze. He turned around slowly. He backed up until he met the cool rock behind him.

"H-hello?" he said. It came out in a choked little gulp.

"Edward!" Tony howled. "Did you just say 'hello'?"

"Good, heavens, no," said Edward. "Wonk! I said 'wonk'."

Stubs quickly stuffed his beard into his mouth and edged away from the wall. The room he found himself in, for it was a room, was lit from one end by the same bright blue light that had drawn him to the crack in the wall. The ceiling was much higher here--so high in fact that Stubs couldn't see it. He squinted into the gloom.

"Hello?" he said again, taking a few tentative steps toward the light.

"Hello indeed," said the voice. "It plugs our door, it poots up our air and it squints into our gloom. It's not a very polite dwarf, is it Samuel?" the voice oozed.

"I'm sorry," Stubs said, his voice muffled by beard. "I was being chased, you see, and this was the only place I could find to hide. I, uh, can't...are there someone in here?" As he crept closer to the blue light, it grew corners and straight edges.

"And why wouldn't we be in our own house?" the voice said. "Stupid dwarf."

Some pebbles clattered to the floor somewhere in the darkness.

"Again, I'm sorry. I meant no trouble. My poots and I will be on our way, right out this window. It'll be like I was never--oh!"

It wasn't a window. It was a big, glowing pane of glass! Not just glowing, but, Stubs' eyes widened in amazement, full of people!

There was a wet slapping sound to Stubs' left. He ripped his gaze from the magic glass and probed the darkness. Two huge eyes stared back out of it at him, shimmering like those of a cat.

"Then it probes our darkness. Very rude, isn't he, Samuel?" the voice said. A pale face filled in the shadows behind the eyes, followed by a pale body clothed in a sharp suit. The creature wore no shoes on its large, wide feet, the latter making wet slapping noises as it walked into the pool of light.

Stubs glanced back at the glowing, otherworldly glass, then at the impeccably dressed creature, then at the glass. His curiosity got the better of him. He spit out his beard.

"How many ounces are in a pound?" he asked the creature.

"Sixteen," it said.

"I see. And what is this?" Stubs asked, gesturing to the glass.

"It's a television."

"Of course. And what is a 'television'?"

"An anachronism. The dwarf should pay it no attention, shouldn't it, Samuel?" the creature said in its gurgly voice. It seated itself in the armchair facing the anachronism. It regarded Stubs with its huge luminous eyes. "So. When will it be leaving? Soon, we hopes. Now would be even better."

Stubs relaxed the death-grip he had on his hammer. He took a couple of cautious steps toward the creature. "Is your name Samuel?" he asked.

"Why does the dwarf ask us stupid questions?" it asked. It directed this query into the breast pocket of its suit. "Obviously our name is not Samuel. We are called Gulliver. We wish the farty dwarf would go away so that we could finish our wallowing, yes, wallowing in the numbing glow of our anachronism. Becoming ever more creepy and fondleous, yes."

"Then who is Samuel?"

Gulliver reached into his breast pocket with his long, spindly fingers and withdrew a linty old gingerbread cookie.

"Cookie," he said, and put it back.

"I see," Stubs said, scratching the back of his head nervously. "My name is Stubs, and, well Gulliver, you wouldn't know if there's another way out of this cave, would you? I have to get out of here, and the way back there is guarded by an incompetent antagonist and Satan's own duck. My friends must be halfway to Whimsidor by now, and I owe it to them to rescue them." He looked down at the ground and dug a toe into the loose gravel. "After all the horrible odors I released into their tents every night, boy do I owe it to them." He was unsuccessful in stifling a giggle at this point.

A strange thing happened to Gulliver's face when Stubs uttered the word Whimisidor. His eyes lost their tapetum-glow and his brow hardened. Where before there was no jaw line, there suddenly was one, and it was set.

"We hates the fairies. Hates them! Hates them like the goats hate the trouts!" he spat, his fists clenched, his toes also clenched.

"Well, um, so do I," said Stubs. "The crappy ones at least. Stopping them has kind of been the whole point of my quest here, and I would dearly like to continue it. Will you join me? Will you be my guide through these caves that I dearly hope constitute a secret tunnel system that leads directly to, among other places, the prison tower in Whimsidor?"

Gulliver stood, his back to Stubs. He lifted his suit coat, revealing the stunted remains of fairy wings. Lowering it again, he turned.

"We will guides the stupid dwarf, yes, and help him kicks the fairies. We will do this right after we finishes our show."

"'Gulliver'? Really?" the Wife muttered, frowning at the page curling out of the Underwood's carriage. "Surely you're aware that that character is a blatant rip-off of Gollum, aren't you?"

The Writer twisted his body away, shielding his epic from his wife's unappreciative eyeballs. "Pfft. I have no idea what you're talking about, woman. That's crazy talk. You're talking crazy talk!" The Underwood slipped off his lap and crashed to the floor. The Writer picked it back up. He stroked its keys and tickled it under the carriage return lever. "She didn't mean it. She says mean things when her cold fusion reactor doesn't achieve at least 90% efficiency," he cooed.

The Wife sighed. "Alright. You're on your own on this one. You and I both know how fiercely protective Tolkien fans are of their rambly, clunky books. Don't come crying to me when they all gang up and throw their 20-sided dice and Elven dictionaries at you."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Great Romance

You know, people love themselves. I mean, they really love themselves. I know this is so, because I am a people and I think I am awesome. I am also insightful and honest, not to mention humble.

The fact that people are madly in love with themselves is clearly seen every day. I work with the public on a regular basis and these egomaniacal, hedonistic bipeds are always in plentiful supply. For example, they will come up to the desk and ask a question in the most nebulous manner possible and then become irate when I misunderstand their intent.

Winter is one of the worst times, because minor illness is rampant and people love to talk about how sick they are. Last year we had a patron come into the library where I work who was apparently at Death’s door. She dragged into the building, coughing and sniffling, and struggled up to the desk.

“I am sooo sick,” she wheezed, placing grubby, germ-infested hands on the counter top. “Bronchitis, the flu, and a double dose of the common cold all wrapped into one. I’ve never been so ill.”

I just looked at her and thought, Then what are you doing here? If you feel that bad, you should either be at the hospital or home in bed, not infecting the rest of the population. But that is just the point. She loved herself so much she was sure no one else in the world had ever been so sick. It wasn’t enough to be sick. Oh no. She had to let everyone know she was sick so she could get sympathy and have people fawn over her. She did not get her wish at my branch, let me tell you.

Similar examples show up all throughout daily life. George Carlin points out that people who drive slower than we do are “idiots” and those who drive faster are “maniacs.” “There’s certainly nobody going my speed!” he adds. Carlin makes an excellent point, which is less about driving and more about the fact that we all think everyone else is doing something wrong, particularly when it causes even the slightest bit of inconvenience.

I, of course, am the exception. I always assume I am the problem and take steps to remedy the situation. For example, if I am on the road and some fucking moron gets in my way, I always assume he has somewhere more important to go and I pull off onto the shoulder of the highway to let him pass. Then I beat myself with a tire iron so I will not forget this valuable lesson.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy sense of self-worth. That is, in fact, essential. I have such great self-esteem that I will routinely write songs to myself or long dissertations extolling my virtues. There must, however, be a balance. To get too wrapped up in oneself introduces the dangers I have already mentioned, i.e. becoming an asshole. I recommend you all stay vigilant. And keep a tire iron handy just in case.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Granola Prose XVII

Author's Note: For those of you new to the Blog, I should explain that Granola Prose is a cereal, uh, serial of sorts. It is a fantasy tale told in the form of blog post installments. Having been gone from the Blog for some time, it has finally returned and this post is the latest chapter. If you care to catch up on what you have missed, check out the handy Granola Prose links on the sidebar.

Some Years Later...

The Writer stood in his bathroom, feet tingling on the cold linoleum, and stared into the mirror. His reflection stared back, haggard and shocking. Sadness filled the Writer, causing a tear to escape from the corner of his eye. It ran down his cheek and rolled into the sink. He caught it just before it disappeared down the drain.

He washed off the eye and put it back into its socket, rolling it around and trying to make it stick. His friends had warned him about purchasing from that glass eye retailer on the Internet, but the prices had been too good to pass up. After all, it’s tough to beat $4.99. And a payment plan.

He thought back to the old days, when his writing was going famously and he had been the proud owner of two original eyeballs. And then the accident had happened, the terrible accident that had robbed him of the eyeball to the left of his right one. It had plunged him into a miserable wretchedness of unhappy sadness and taken away his will to live, his will to write, his will to do anything except eat granola and watch reruns of U.S. Senate proceedings on C-SPAN.

The Writer stood in his bathroom, feet tingling on the damn cold linoleum, and stared into the mirror. His reflection stared back, haggard and shocking. Determination filled the Writer, causing a tear to escape from the corner of his eye. He closed both eyes (just in case) and came to a decision. It was time to start writing again. After all these years, the Granola Prose epic would rise from the ashes like a really shitty phoenix, taking on fate, life, and the American way!

The Writer performed an unsightly pirouette. His white bathrobe swirled open, giving his unsuspecting cat a nasty peek “indoors.” The traumatized animal yowled and ran for the cellar, discovered one did not exist, and then decided to dig one before realizing it would simply be easier to hang itself from a nearby oak tree.*

“Yes, goddammit!” the Writer said aloud. “I am going to WRITE!” He ran to his typewriter and looked around for a piece of paper. “Paper, paper…where’s the fucking paper!” He searched high and low, inside desk drawers and behind the wallpaper…no foolscap to be found. In desperation, he ran to the bathroom and returned with a couple rolls of single-ply toilet tissue. “It’ll have to do!”

He spooled it into the carriage with a flourish and began to type…

Stubs ran blindly into the dark recesses of the cave. Behind him he heard Tony’s screeching and the malevolent quacking of Edward the Duck.

“We’ll find you, dwarf! We’ll search you out! We’ll track you down!”


Stubs ran faster, bumping his head on low-hanging rocks and once falling to all fours, the rough surface of the ground scuffing his hands and knees. Soon, however, all the recent excitement and exertion took its toll and he collapsed, exhausted. He rolled onto his back and listened to the pounding of his heart. The air was heavy this far back in the cave and he struggled to breathe.

“Come out, dwarf,” Tony yelled in a typically antagonistic manner. “We promise not to harm you.” There was a moment of silence and then both Tony and Edward burst into hysterical giggling. “Har har har!”

“Quackle, quackle!” laughed Edward.

“Nah, but seriously, dwarf,” Tony said, his voice echoing throughout the cave chambers. “Make a noise, throw a rock, something…”

Stubs felt a familiar urge growing inside him and he tensed, trying to forestall disaster. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to concentrate on calm, pleasant things, like rainbows and beer.

The footsteps of his pursuers came suddenly closer and the battle was lost.


“Ah ha!” Tony sounded triumphant. “We’ve got you now! Follow the smell, Edward!”


Stubs pushed to a sitting position and looked around frantically. His eyes probed the darkness, trying to see something, anything that would give him an avenue of escape. Then he saw it: a little point of light down the passage. He heaved to his feet and stumbled forward, hands outstretched to protect from any nasty bumps to the head. As he ran, the point of light became larger and soon he could make out a crack in the rock. It was a window, of sorts! Maybe just large enough to squeeze through! Behind him, Tony and Edward were closing in.

“There he is!” Tony shouted. “We have to stop him!”

“Indeed, sir,” Edward replied. “Uh, I mean, wonk!”

Stubs was almost there. He could feel the cool draft of mountain air on his face. His hands reached outward, fingers grasping for freedom…and then the ground disappeared and he was falling…falling…falling.

The Wife poked her head around the corner. “I thought I heard some typing in here. Finally back at work on your granola story?”

“Epic! And, yes.” Although he didn’t need to, the Writer hit the space bar with extra force just to make his point. He looked back at the Wife imperiously and assumed the stuffy British accent he always used during these occasions. “I have battled through my personal demons at last and decided that the accident, dreadful as it was, should not keep me from my destiny.”

“Whatever.” Obviously fascinated by this account of the Writer’s personal journey, the Wife yawned and stretched. “Anyway, I just stopped by to tell you not to panic if you hear a loud roar and the house starts shaking.”

Accent forgotten, the Writer’s eyes widened and he shuddered. “Your mother is coming!? She was just here!”

“No, no, no! This morning I’m testing the new jet engine I designed out of old house appliance parts.”

“So that’s where my toaster went.”

“And your electric razor, yes. Don’t cry, we’ll get you new ones for Christmas.”

And with that the Wife disappeared around the corner to pursue her destiny. The Writer bent over his typewriter, knowing he should attempt to wrap up this particular plot point before all the racket began.

*In the end, it sought treatment instead and went on to live a happy and fulfilled life of ease.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Letters to Craig

December 9, 2010, 8:02 AM

Dear Swine,

Season's greetings to you, my good man, and I hope this letter finds you in good health! I would like to congratulate you on your recent work on bringing this Blog up to code, although I am a bit dismayed at your dismissal of my suggestion that you cease and desist. I will honor this request, and leave your login credentials unmolested.

In the meantime, I have an idea for a new Crispy the Lion story that I would like to run by you. Introducing Stabby the Mongoose: he is a troubled creature with murder on his mind. He is angry and he wants revenge--until Crispy the Lion comes along and reminds him that the best things in life aren't stabby.

Stabby sees Crispy's irrefutable logic in this, and agrees to become wholesome and huggable because of Crispy's Special Message.

It would be a good one to run for the holidays, as it has a Special Message.

Looking forward to your reply and your input,

December 9, 2010, 9:13 AM

Dear Honky,

Your letter did indeed find me in good health, but I regret to inform you that it did not leave me in the same. The hot wax you used to seal the envelope scorched both of my pinky fingers most obscenely. This will prove to be a detriment, I fear, to the way in which I drink my tea, as I am currently unable to extend them without intense pain. As a man of iron will and vast fortitude, I attempted to ignore the agony but my piercing squeals drew the ire of the restauranteur, and I'm afraid I am no longer welcome at that particular Bob Evans.

I digress.

To answer your question, I'm terribly sorry, but you are going to have to repeat it as I was unable to concentrate due to the deleterious effect my recent injuries had on my attention.

Distressingly yours,

P.S.: Would it be too much of an inconvenience to ask you to use a non-serif font next time? I would like to avoid further damage to my digits, and those serifs are mighty pointy.

December 9, 2010, 2:02 PM

Dear Swine,

Regarding the injury you allegedly suffered at the hands, as it were, of my last missive...I fail to understand how that could have happened. It was an email, you see, and no wax at all was involved. Nonetheless, I have read that the topical application of extract of the aloe vera plant has a soothing effect on minor burns.

Also difficult to understand is how you were able to miss the description of my post idea, written down as it was, in a non-volatile medium. But since I'm not here to solve mysteries but to provide high-quality entertainment to the undiscerning masses, I shall sum it up:

Crispy the Lion befriends Stabby the Mongoose and teaches him, through a Special Message, that the good things in life are not stabby, but wholesome and huggable.


P.S.: A little, yes.

December 10, 2010, 5:23 AM

Dear Honky,

I must apologize for the lengthy delay between this letter and my last, but I have been in the hospital since ingesting the aloe vera extract you suggested. I will give you the benefit of the doubt here, but I would hope you do some perfunctory research on your remedies the next time you suggest one. As it turns out, aloe vera extract does very little to soothe burns, but it makes an excellent laxative.

As a result, I scarcely need to mention, I am no longer welcome at another Bob Evans restaurant. You staggering ass.

Your ideas regarding stabbing geese are thoroughly reprehensible. I can envision a small and sweaty subset of our audience finding such things amusing, but I would prefer we do not go that route.

I can only assume you were offering the idea in jest in an attempt to be droll. I look forward to your next serious idea.

Reprehensibly yours,

December 10, 2010, 12:32 PM

Dear Swine,

Once again, you appear to have allowed your illiteracy to cloud your understanding of my recent communique. Less of it.

Furthermore...what? I never mentioned a goose. Not goose one did I mention! Nor did I tell you to eat the aloe vera! I said distinctly that it was a "topical application." In this case, it is you, sir, who are a stumbling bottom.

Yes, I said it. A stumbling bottom.

I will forge ahead with my post idea, with or without a green light from you. I trust that your better judgement will find it amusing, once it gets back from vacation.

Fewer regards than last time,

December 10, 2010, 1:02 PM

Dear Honky,

Gasp! First you try to poison me with your sticky death plants and your horrible ideas, and now you're describing me in terms that could only be described as "monumentally unfriendly"? Outrageous! The only thing more alarming than your behavior is your prudish avoidance of adult language. "Bottom" indeed.

Uncomfortably lingeringly yours,

December 10, 2010, 1:04 PM

Dear Swine,

Fuck fuckitty fuck fuck damn. Poo tits ass.

Rapidly diminishing regards,

December 10, 2010, 1:07 PM


Real mature. Also, note the lack of "dear" in my greeting. May you never find enough blankets to keep you warm in the howling void left by that omission.

Leeringly yours,

December 10, 2010, 1:10 PM


Two can play at this ludicrous game! You, sir, are an inflatable polymer donkey filled with unpleasant thoughts and the bottom burps of crazy men.

Only a single regard,

December 10, 2010, 1:10 PM


No, YOU are.

December 10, 2010, 1:11 PM


No, YOU are.

December 10, 2010, 1:12 PM


Noooo, YOU are.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Surprise Visit

“So watcha doin’?”

The look on FooDaddy’s face as he opened the door and saw me standing on his doorstep was priceless. His eyes opened wide and his lip curled. He clutched his stomach and hiccupped. Obviously, he had eaten something that disagreed with him and I was happy I had made the decision to surprise him by coming over unannounced. He needed some cheering up if feeling poorly.

“Feeling sickly, huh?” I said, thinking a little conversation would make him feel better. “Whatsa matter?”

“It just suddenly came over me,” he said. “I think I may be allergic to annoying things.”

I stepped inside the house and looked around for our buddy Kevin, but he was nowhere in sight. I didn’t know what FooDaddy was babbling about and decided to ignore it, although I was a bit concerned that perhaps he was becoming delusional.

I glanced back and saw a trail of snow and ice melting into the carpet. I frowned. “You really need to shovel your driveway,” I said reprovingly. “I might have slipped and fallen, did I not possess the agility of an emu.”

FooDaddy walked to a cabinet and retrieved an economy-sized bottle of antacid tablets. He poured out a handful and began munching them like Skittles®. “I wasn’t aware emus were particularly agile.”

“Shows what you know!” I said, laughing and punching him good-naturedly in the trachea. The good thing about FooDaddy is that he can play along with a joke, although I felt that clutching his throat and collapsing to the floor was going a little too far. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I chuckled appreciatively and then walked into the living room. I noticed a video game screenshot on the TV and sat down on the couch.

Playin’ games, huh?” I said. “Can I play?” I waited a moment for FooDaddy to respond, but he seemed too interested in pretending to choke and struggle for breath. It was okay as performances go, but all the gagging was actually pretty disgusting and quite overdone.

Not wanting to encourage this behavior, I ignored him and picked up a game controller. I unpaused the game and began using the joystick to navigate the map. Within a few seconds, the screen went dark.

“The game stopped working,” I said. I was trying to remain calm, but was rather annoyed that FooDaddy had let me play a broken game. Very thoughtless, although typical.

“It’s a shooter,” he said, his voice strained and raspy. “You have to kill the enemies before they kill you, otherwise you die and the screen goes dark and takes you back to the menu.”

I dropped the controller in disgust. “You can die in this game? LAME SAUCE!” I bounded from the couch and heard something crunch. I looked down to see the controller under my foot.

FooDaddy dropped to his knees and grabbed the broken pieces from the floor. “Do you know how much this cost?!”

“Lord, no! Why do you think I come over here to play games?”

Feeling a bit bored, I began fiddling with random objects sitting on counters and shelves. My fingers were still a bit numb from the cold outside and a little ceramic mug slipped from my hand and smashed on the floor. “Whoopsies!”

“Why must you break things?” Still cradling the shattered remains of the controller, FooDaddy made a show of weeping uncontrollably.

I was beginning to wish I’d stayed home. I had come over here to relax and wasn’t in the mood for drama. FooDaddy was still burping, gasping, weeping, and crawling around the floor. “Well, I don’t mean to rush,” I said, “but it seems kinda dangerous here. I think I’ll go home before I get hurt.” I walked to the front door and grasped the knob, which somehow managed to come off in my hand.

“I think that’s a good idea,” FooDaddy said. “And maybe next time you could call ahead before you arrive. So I can be gone.”

I laughed. That FooDaddy was such a jokester. I could tell he was disappointed I was leaving so quickly and I decided to drop by tomorrow to see if he was feeling any better. I had the day off and so could spend the entire afternoon being a good friend. It would, of course, be a surprise.

Friday, December 10, 2010

But Wait! There's More!

Oh, my colleague! Isn't he a card? A hunched, odoriferous card with bean dip on it? Ha and ha!

But the joke's on him, of course, because I don't have any peers.

Let the Party Begin, Er, Renew!

Like a moth drawn to a flame, the Blog of Stupid has worked its magic and drawn me back into its moldy embrace. And it only took two years. Twenty-one months, to be exact, but who’s counting? Oh, that’s right--you are! There are no doubt legions of faithful fans who have not moved from their increasingly uncomfortable chairs for two longish years, staring at their computer screens and manically clicking the browser refresh button, the desk and surrounding floor piled high with pizza boxes and empty take-out bins. Their t-shirt fronts, stretched to the point of no return by their massive, quivering bellies, are covered with the dust of a thousand Pringles®. Although nauseated by this mental image, my heart is warmed as I imagine the croaks of joy that escape their parched throats and picture them attempting to stand and cheer. They are, of course, unable to do so, their asses having fused to the fake leather of their office chairs sometime last August.

I must interrupt the joy for just a moment, however, to make a confession. I have been unfaithful. Yes, it’s true. I have written for other blogs. One of which was for an excellent cause, however, namely turning the life of a co-author into a living hell. I started a blog devoted to mocking and belittling him. After several posts in this vein, however, I thought, “Why not bring this mockery to a larger audience, while at the same time reviving The Blog, possibly even returning it to its former glory?”

But then I thought, why waste the grand re-opening Blog post on such an unworthy subject? Would that not merely encourage the little wanker to further incompetent mischief? So I reached a compromise. I will, indeed, write a Blog post employing the lowest blows possible in hopes of crushing the spirits of *ick* him, but it will not be this one. It will be a small, insignificant post uploaded in the middle of the night so that only people of ill-repute will be likely to see it. In this way I will be sure to ruin his reputation among his peers. Haw.