Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Strange Mailbag

To Cassidy in Austin, Texas:

To answer your “quick questions”:

1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Not so far as we know.
4) Only because Mark is lactose intolerant.

To answer your other question: Yes, Mark and Michael were in a band together, though it’s taken a backseat since they started The Strange.

The name of the band is Black Pipe. Mark plays bass, Michael plays drums, and they take turns on the kazoo and, of course, theremin. As of right now, they only have an EP—Black Pipe/White Afro—but are hoping, once things settle down with The Strange, to go back into the studio to record a full-length album. Shouldn’t be long now.


To Neil in Moab, Utah:

That is a sick, ghoulish question for you to ask. Do the Church Elders know about your habits? Maybe they should.


To Evan in Warwick, Rhode Island:

Sir, you wouldn’t know Funny if it threw you down to the ground in the bread aisle of a supermarket and kicked you several times in the throat.

You wouldn’t know Funny if it flung a weighted bag of flaming cowshit through your kitchen window when you were sitting down for Easter dinner.

In fact, you wouldn’t even know Funny if, tonight, it sent half-a-dozen vampiric clowns to your house to transform your family into blood-sucking denizens of the nighttime circus world.

No, sir, Funny is no more familiar to you than the Connecticut and Massachusetts National Guards massing at the borders of your shitty non-state, ready to invade at a moment’s notice.

But here’s what Funny is: a mix of low-and-high-pitched frequencies, just barely audible to human ears, that make you disoriented, confused, and nauseated. You don’t know where these frequencies are coming from, but you can’t make them stop. And they won’t stop until you apologize, you choad.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Your Horror-Themed Tex-Mex Eatery is a Little Stupid

I know it probably started like a good idea. And some theme restaurants really work when they’re grounded on an interesting premise.

But your horror-themed Tex-Mex eatery is a little stupid.

Don’t get me wrong: Taco de los Muertos is not a bad name for a restaurant in and of itself. The gist is gotten. But after perusing the menu, I am fully convinced that this is the stupidest restaurant that I have ever entered.

I mean, come on! The Chupacabra Tostada? It was obviously shredded grilled beef topped with guacamole, tomatoes and onions. Not that I was left with much of an appetite anyway, after you evoked the image of a cattle-mutilating creature that has, by varying accounts, been described alternately as a vampirish bat-like beast which hops like a kangaroo, as a red-eyed panther with a snake’s tongue, or as a monkey-like creature with an alien’s face.

And while the gazpacho did have a pleasantly tart, smoky flavor, I would hardly describe what I experienced as “haunting.” More like “pretty all right” or “gloriously tolerable.”

At times, your offerings departed from simple stupidity and entered the realm of the offensive and insensitive.

Take the Enchilada à la Llorona, for example, which is described in your menu as being “drenched in the bloody tears of the wandering spirit herself.” Not only is that inaccurate—the “bloody tears” you speak of are simply a bland, watery condiment of tomatoes and vinegar—but it is extremely distressing to me, a third-generation Mexican-American. When I was child in Juarez, we used to hear stories of La Llorona, a tragic maternal figure who was mistakenly responsible for the death of her beloved children, and who was doomed to wander the earth forever, wailing and beseeching humanity to return her departed loved ones unto her outstretched and frail embrace.

Sounds delicious, you heartless prick.

As interim food editor for the Eagleton Greyhound, I have no choice but to mercilessly slag you in my weekly column. When you can move past sub-par entrees like Burrito de la Lechuza and immature desserts like Dulce de Leche Fantasmas, perhaps then I will give you a second chance.

By the way, have you considered converting to a Spaceballs-themed tapas bar? You might be able to pull that off.

Friday, May 27, 2005

I Can’t Believe You Stole My Copy of The Anarchist Cookbook

Here we are, two members of a so-called “civilized society,” joined not only as friends but as neighbors, with mutual respect for one another’s natural and civil rights. We live under the standard of this great country’s laws—which at their very heart are anarchic—and I, at least, expect others to do the same.

I guess this was naïve of me because, obviously, you don’t feel the same way.

I can’t believe you stole my copy of The Anarchist Cookbook.

Was it a desperate curiosity toward making mailbox-bombs that spurred you to violate our trust? Or perhaps you simply wanted to learn how to make an Infinity Transmitter, so you could monitor my late night calls to my girlfriend?

You make me sick.

I expressly had the book shipped to my home in order to avoid a mishap of this kind. Do you think those beady-eyed booksellers at Barnes & Noble would be able to resist reporting me to the Department of Homeland Security? They make $7.50 an hour, Joel. They would love the chance to send a venture capitalist like myself to Gitmo.

What you’ve committed was not only a sin against your neighbor, but is also mail fraud, a Class-A felony. But I can’t go to the police as I don’t recognize their authority over me. So just give it back, OK?

You leave me with quite a quandry: How will I perfect my phreaking skills, or make an auto-exhaust flamethrower—things that only a true anarchist like myself would understand—when my copy of the Cookbook is hidden somewhere in your home, protected by fiery booby-traps? Don’t you have any respect for private property, Joel?

I agree with H.L. Mencken when he said, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” But you’ve taken it a step too far. I bought that book. It was mine. Mine, mine, mine.

Did you steal it to make me look like a fool in front of Tina? Or just to toy with my emotions? Or was it to get back at me for shitting in the top part of your toilet at your sister’s high school graduation party?

Whatever the reasons, what you’ve done is really mean.

And, seriously, give me back my book. Even with my Member Card, it still cost me about $35.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

How You Might Be Annoying Me: Selected Examples

Sitting on the same side of the booth as me.

Reminding me, yet again, that freedom isn’t free.

Carrying around your miniature schnauzer in a front-loading papoose meant for a human baby.

Insisting that William Shakespeare wrote The Death of a Salesman, and then accepting that he, in fact, did not, but really did an excellent job on Crime and Punishment.

Setting your cell phone to play “Men in Black” when it rings and then not answering it during the movie Men in Black.

Refusing to believe that Alexander Hamilton was never a president.

Mouth-breathing while you chew your beef tips.

You wear a kilt. All the time. You’re from Texarkana.

Insisting on not wearing a watch because you don’t want to be “held a prisoner by the shackles of time” yet constantly asking me what time it is.

Not fucking me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

As Mayor of This Town, I Declare This Meal Delicious!

Ladies and gentlemen: I have before me the grand result of everything the good people of this town—and indeed this country—have fought and struggled to achieve for over two and a quarter centuries. It represents the culmination of the best elements of science, technology, nature, and art. I am proud to be here at this moment in our history and I hope you’ll join in my appraisal.

As mayor of this town, I declare this meal delicious!

I’ve had uncountable pints of pork lo mein in my lifetime, but this empty bowl before me should stand as testament to the utter deliciousness served daily at the Jade Garden. Furthermore, the odd scrap of onion on this otherwise unoccupied plate is emblematic of the untouchable quality of this restaurant’s pepper steak. And if the human digestive system had the ability to absorb bone, surely the remnants of those barbecue spareribs would not be cooling there for the busboy to clear away.

My opponent has accused me—on more than one occasion—of being too free with my declarations of deliciousness. How can one acclaim the foot-long chili cheese dog at Doug’s Dog Depot as well as laud the spicy southwestern vegetarian soup at Ruth’s Kitchen Table? Isn’t a nitrate-laden, artery-clogging hot dog in direct opposition to that healthy vegan bowl of goodness?

My response is simple. The concentration of skilled restauranteurs in our fair town is so dense that the chances of having a delicious reuben at Aberman’s Deli, then crossing the street to Banana Slim’s to pamper oneself with a frosty milkshake—and maybe later in the evening indulging in an Irish coffee at the Oak Tree Tavern—are not only incredibly high, but are an almost daily experience for the likes of you and I.

It is this diversity of deliciousness that makes me proud to be your mayor and citizen of these United States. Maybe my opponent doesn’t feel the same way about this town and its eateries, but I do.

Now, some claim I was too quick to declare Mangeforte’s veal parmigiana delicious in light of recent health code violations. But I say: although the letter of the law required that the long-entrenched establishment be shut down and the rats crated and burned, it in no way lessens the deliciousness of that baby calf’s delicate flesh drenched in sweet red sauce and piquant mozzarella cheese.

If a meal is delicious, the plain truth of such evidence presented compels me to declare it so.

And so, Mr. Ping, I congratulate you on another exquisite repast delivered and consumed. That an immigrant such as yourself—trained as a particle physicist in your own land—can come to these shores and create such delicious concoctions at affordable prices is a testament to this great democracy of ours.

Now who wants to join me at Phineas T. McFudge’s for some black pipe licorice?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Plausible Rock ‘N’ Roll Conversations

1973. New York City. Led Zeppelin is about to go on stage to perform at Madison Square Garden. The footage shot will be included in their legendary concert film The Song Remains the Same.

ROBERT PLANT [knocking on dressing room door, sticking his head inside]: Hey, John, are you ready yet?

JOHN BONHAM: Almost. I’m just waiting for the wardrobe girls to finish my outfit.

ROBERT: What’s taking so long?

JOHN: They’re just putting the final touches on my vest of Mithril, so that I’m protected from the Nazgûl when we perform.

ROBERT: Oh, OK. [turns to leave, then suddenly sticks his head back in the dressing room] What did you say?

JOHN: I just want to be protected in case the Nazgûl attack during our performance. So I’m having wardrobe make me a vest of Mithril to repel their icy blades.

ROBERT: John . . . You know that I only sometimes use Lord of the Rings imagery in my lyrics, and that we’re probably not in any real danger of being attacked by the Nazgûl, right?

JOHN: That’s as may be, Robert, but I just don’t want to take any chances.

ROBERT: Fair enough. We’re on in five.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Several Words Whose Repeated Utterance May One Day Bring About the End of Existence

Cthulhu

Olestra

Shub Ishniggarab

Kundalini

Azag-Thoth

Armadale

Gooch

Nutbutter

Baby-Daddy

Bezrutho-Al

Gunt

Friday, May 20, 2005

Do You Really Think That’s What Jesus Would Do?

You say you’re a religious person, that you’re only following the path of the Lord, but I have to ask you: do you really think that’s what Jesus would do?

Do you think Jesus would adorn his shitty pick-up truck with a Dale Earnhart “3” bumper sticker? Or festoon the antenna with an oversized American flag? I’m not arguing whether or not He’s a Nascar fan or whether He loves the United States—He loves everything and everyone.

I just don’t think His taste is quite as tacky as yours.

He certainly wouldn’t have a fully-loaded gun rack or half a case of empty Budweiser cans on the passenger side floor, that’s for sure.

Sure, Jesus had his doubts, but He didn’t really have anything to prove. At least He didn’t overcompensate for His lack of a solidly-held opinion like you seem to be doing with your bald eagle belt buckle and “These Colors Don’t Run” knitted beer cozy.

No, sir, I do not “take it up the ass” as you put it, but since you brought it up, do you really think that Jesus would get loaded on a Friday night with the apostles and go out searching for homosexuals to violently assault? My guess is “no.”

Again, my good fellow, I must correct you. I am also not a “panty-waisted bleeding heart” as you so eloquently put it. Though Jesus kinda was, insomuch as that I don’t think anywhere in the New Testament does the Prince of Peace indicate that our military—or any country’s—should invade every “towel-headed, ass-backwards shitwater” to teach those “sand monkeys” a lesson merely because we can.

What? So you really think He would berate the Burger King cashier because she couldn’t understand Aramaic?

I doubt it.

Look, sir, just calm down. Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This doesn’t mean acting childish—like telling me to shut my fucking mouth before I get the shit-kicking of a lifetime— but to accept people for who they are.

It also doesn’t mean that you and your beer-swilling cronies should toss me into a busy thoroughfare while simultaneously giving me an atomic wedgie.

Ow. Ow!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Sith Method: How the Dark Side of the Force Can Improve Your Life

Now that the world as been shown the glory of the Dark Side of the Force, I’ve been getting several questions from would-be Sith on how the Dark Side can improve their lives. I’d like to take this opportunity to address just a few of those questions.

First of all, you wear all black, all the time. It’s not only slimming but chic as well. Black is always in style and always will be. And if somebody cracks a joke about the Cure or vampires, you can slice them in two with your lightsaber. Which you get to have because you’re a Sith.

Instead of being just “Michael,” I’m now Darth Schiavo. And Mark is now known as Darth Rinaldi. Admittedly, it does make him sound like a dastardly magician, but let’s be honest: it’s a huge step up from “Mark.”

What else? You have free reign over as many stormtroopers as you want. And you can basically tell them to do anything. Like: “TK-421, I’m really horny. I need you to go to Kashyyk and bring me back some Wookiee trim.” And they’ll do it. Why? Because you’re a Sith Lord.

Any AT-AT is—pardon the pun—at your disposal. Need a TIE Fighter? Here you go, Darth Schiavo! Darth Rinaldi, I’m sorry your Star Destroyer isn’t as big as Darth Schiavo’s. That’s just the way things are. It’s nature; live with it.

Now, sometimes your stormtroopers get uppity, and since they’re clones and not really people, it’s O.K. to kill them. That’s right: they’re perfect for you to master your foul and malevolent powers upon by choking them telepathically or shooting their body full of Force lightning until they’re nothing but cinders.

Man, there are so many other reasons that being in touch with the Dark Side of the Force can improve your life, but I can’t think of them right now because I’m wholly consumed with an unnatural omnipotence that has literally changed the color of my eyes to a freakishly sick yellow.

I think I need to go lie down.


Darth Schiavo is currently the acting doorman of the American Sith Liberties Union (ASLU). He has presented a number of motivational Sith workshops, among them The Purpose Driven Sith: How to Do What the Dark Side Wants You To and How Much Telepathic Choking is Too Much Telepathic Choking?: A Telepathic Choking Primer. He is available for Sith parties and social functions. (Please note: there is a 20% surcharge for Sith bat/bar mitzvahs as Darth Schiavo is a raging anti-Semite).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Let Us Incinerate Your Loved Ones

Here at Davenport-Vendler Funeral & Cremation Services, we understand the sadness and frustration that accompanies the death of a loved one. Making arrangements to handle someone’s earthly remains can be terrifying, and that is why we offer a simple solution to what may be the hardest decision of your life.

Let us incinerate them.

Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped with the latest and most advanced crematory implements available. Our staff of extensively trained “Firestormers” will ensure that every inch of your loved one is consumed by heartless tongues of purifying flame.

The process used at Davenport-Vendler is simple and effective. Without delving into too many of the morbid details, it starts with the corpse being placed into a drip-proof, unfinished wooden coffin, which is, in turn, positioned in a gas-fired cremation oven.

The chamber is then heated to a merciless one-thousand six-hundred degrees, which soon causes the flimsy wooden container to split open, thereby exposing your dearly departed’s rapidly darkening body to an unholy hellstorm of punishing fire. Again, a specially trained professional is on hand during this entire process, grimacing stoically as he or she watches skin and hair char, while the abdomen simultaneously swells with combustible gases and eventually bursts.

After forty-five to sixty minutes of unbearably merciless immolation, the unrecognizable remnants of what was once a crucial part of your life are pulverized into a fine white powder by an inhumanly powerful machine. After being poured into an urn, the remains are ready to be retrieved by a funeral director and delivered to you post-haste.

We at Davenport-Vendler specialize in sympathy, so you can rest assured that your funerary plans will be executed with sensitivity and compassion. And a tantalizing repast. While we annihilate your loved one’s body, you can enjoy a complimentary meal of flame-roasted rotisserie chicken and Vienna smoked sausage in our plush “Mourning Lounge,” and watch the entire cremation process from its viewing deck.

When your loved one passes, we hope that you will look to Davenport-Vendler for all of your cremation needs.

Let us enkindle someone you love today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Wisdom of Captain Beefheart, With Commentary

Nowadays a woman has to haul off and hit a man to make him know she’s there. But not in the crotch, O.K.?

When I see mommy, I feel like a mummy. When I see daddy, I feel like a vampire. Mainly because my dad’s Dracula. But I think I’d probably feel that way even if he wasn’t.

The clouds are full of wine, not whiskey or rye. Unlike my liver.

The dust blows forward and the dust blows back. Can someone please shut the kitchen door?

A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous. Riiiiiight.

You should know, by the kindness of a dog, the way a human should be. I am therefore going to begin shitting on carpets and eating my own vomit at some point during the week.

The man with the woman head. What the hell is that all about, anyway? That’s a little weird.

Later she came back, with a rumpled paper sack, which she told me would contain a surprise. Michael tried this trick on me once, and I still have not fully recovered.

Check these out, big eyed beans from Venus. Seriously, I bought them from that guy who lives in the park and makes his own “State of the Union” addresses to the squirrels.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Big Business Must Be Stopped

Although we’ve done our best in this tiny hamlet, as well as the neighboring towns, to keep corporations and franchises like Wal-Mart and Starbucks from establishing themselves, we are now at a critical point.

Big business must be stopped from ruining this scenic area and spoiling the true spirit of community. What am I talking about? I’ll tell you.

The Corbeil Farm Ice Cream Stand is planning on opening a second location over in Northbury.

I was fine with the fact that Greg and Donna wanted to serve delicious farm-fresh ice cream from their small, almost makeshift stand when they started 8 years ago. They said they just wanted people to enjoy the delicious treats they produced and sold. But now it seems that greed has taken over.

Not content with only one ice cream stand, the bloodsucking Corbeils now want to ruin a 100-square-yard plot of nature in Northbury for their economic benefit. Sure, people will be sated during the blazingly hot summer days with frosty delicious flavors of treats like Mint Mocha Chip and Heath Bar Delight, but what about their souls?

Does this community have a conscience anymore? Do you want the Corbeil monopoly running roughshod over everything you hold dear, like chilled dairy products?

Open up your eyes, people! Are you so ignorant that you don’t see the insidious plot being perpetrated by the Corbeils? When I confronted Donna about their scheme in the cereal aisle of Grossman’s Market, she claimed that all they want to do is “make money” to “live” and “put their children through college” so that maybe Greg, Jr. and Sarah won’t have to “struggle” with the farm like they did.

Do you really buy that bullshit? Read between the lines: what they really want is to corner the market on family-owned ice cream stands in this remote and economically-depressed New England valley.

We need to put a stop to this!

I’m asking everybody to boycott the Corbeil Farm Ice Cream Stand this summer and drive those bastards into the ground. We’ll show those fat cats like Greg and Donna—who undoubtedly sleep on stacks of money in their ramshackle farmhouse, ignorant of the suffering of the working-class—that no independent business will be able to open up more than one location without being smeared with the epithet of “franchise.”

Oh, Greg claims they’re just a “mom and pop” operation, but from what I’ve seen, they’re just like that J.P. Morgan.

Except instead of steel and railroads, with Fudge Ripple and Pistachio.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Outrageous Claims I Have Made While Drunk (Excerpt)

Coupling is so much better than The Office.

Hells yeah, I can get you some high-grade plutonium by next Wednesday.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that March, which is Women’s History Month, is also Mental Retardation Awareness Month.

That finger in the Wendy’s chili? That was all me, buddy.

I would have no problem getting Natalie Portman to date me once I met her.

All right, Dr. Doolittle. You think you’re man enough to teabag my girlfriend’s bull mastiff? Be my guest.

William Vollman is a poor writer and a coward. Correction: a fucking coward.

That’s right. I urinated in your sink. Why? Because I’m the mayor and I can do anything I want.

I’m not saying that all Liechtensteinians are dyslexic, but, you know.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Several Things That Soylent Green Is Not

Vegetable

Mineral

Soylent Red

Woodpulp

Non-human-derived foodstuff

Bowler hat

Peanut brittle

The jewel case from Iceburn’s 1993 release Hephaestus

All that bad

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It’s High Time We Rename the Niggersaurus

I’m not politically correct by any stretch of the imagination. Political correctness has done more to damage our language than any amount of government-imposed censorship could ever hope to achieve.

Still, there are some vestiges of out-and-out racism and misguided hatred that still exist in our country, and the time has come to right these wrongs.

It’s high time we rename the Niggersaurus.

It’s a well-documented fact that Dr. Francis Wright, the scientist who gave the beast its name, was a virulent racist. When he christened the dinosaur that he discovered in 1909 the Niggersaurus, he did so out of racial bigotry as well as to mock his chief nemesis, the esteemed Dr. Donald Holloway, the first black paleontologist to travel to Guatemala and a man who long fought against racism in this country and across the globe.

Wright was, by all accounts, a lunatic. He believed that if he could associate Africans with dinosaurs and Darwin’s theory of evolution, that he could start a race war, and thereby, as he put it in a letter to his fianceé Yolanda Swarms, “keep all that delicious watermelon for myself.”

The simple fact that the dinosaur was named as part of a jibe is enough, but that Wright thought the Niggersaurus would gain him the country’s watermelon supply shows what a madman he was. Although watermelon is delicious, and I certainly wouldn’t mind having it all to myself, I wouldn’t go so far as to slap a newly discovered species with a racial epithet like Dr. Wright did.

Also disgraceful is the fact that the name “Niggersaurus” was met with much laughter and applause when Wright presented his paper on it to the National Geographic Society in 1911. One might well say, “Such was the age,” but that is little comfort.

Dr. Holloway, for his part, did what he could to get the dinosaur renamed as soon as it was discovered. But he was tragically killed in a bobsled accident in 1914. The fact that he lived in San Luis Obispo was of little concern to the authorities.

That the Niggersaurus is the second-most popular dinosaur among schoolchildren (behind the Tyrannosaurus Rex) signals a dangerous trend. We must rename the Niggersaurus immediately, and I call on all of you to write to your local museum and/or paleontological society and express your outrage.

For the record, I feel the same way about the Chinkodactyl and the Heebodon.

But one step at a time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Oh, I’m Sorry—Did You Mistakenly Walk Into Our Well of Souls?

Excuse me, ma’am? Yes, I’m the maitre d’. Yes, the bathrooms are just over here to the left.

I’m sorry? Oh, yes, that’s our Well of Souls over there. Did you accidentally go inside thinking that it was a restroom? I’m terribly sorry for the mix-up, ma’am, but you’re not the first. I’m just glad that you made it out alive.

Now if you’ll just follow me over to the left . . . Are you alright ma’am? Did gazing into a parallel dimension filled with billions of screaming, anguished spirits shake you up a little? I know, it is a bit disturbing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s not a thing we can do about it.

You see, when the owner and operator, Archibald Coxswain, purchased this building, he intended to make it into a four-star gourmet restaurant, a place where the city’s elite could come to enjoy painstakingly prepared Burmese-Cajun fusion cuisine, drink only the finest and rarest of liquors, and have the opportunity to rub elbows with other “beautiful people” in a safe and comfortable environment. As I’m sure you can see, ma’am, his dream has largely come to fruition.

However, there was one catch.

The asking price for the building was astoundingly low considering its prime location and all of the various accoutrements that accompany a converted neo-gothic prison. When Mr. Coxswain inquired about the almost unthinkably affordable cost, the seller—a shadowy man in a long black cloak—simply stated that the price would stand so long as Mr. Coxswain pledged to never tamper with the Well of Souls.

Well, naturally he agreed, and since that day we have had the inconvenience of occasionally losing customers when they unwittingly wander into the cavernous maw of the stentorian and frenzied ether.

As I said earlier, ma’am, I’m glad that you made it out alive. Just last week, a gentlemen looking to wash a red wine stain from his shirt unknowingly meandered into the Well of Souls, only to be dismembered and voraciously devoured by starving ghouls, his spirit’s voiceless moans joining the ever-growing chorus of the damned. I lost a really good tip!

Anyway: no worries, ma’am! Everything will be fine as long as you don’t enter that door encrusted with sinister runes that, admittedly, look a lot like restroom signs.

While we can’t do anything to reverse the terrible psychological and spiritual trauma that you will have until your dying day—and well into afterlife—we can offer you a free dessert.

Of your choice.

And we have Bananas Foster.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Relax: There’s No International Conspiracy

Lately there’s been a lot of “buzz” in both the fringe and mainstream medias—that we in no way control—about diabolical goings-on. Certain words and phrases keep cropping up: Rosicrucians. Freemasons. Bilderberg. Bohemian Grove. And the like. Of course it’s troubling, but I’m here to let you all know that you should just relax.

There’s no international conspiracy.

There is no attempt by a shadowy organization—whose name is so ancient and cryptic, it can’t even be pronounced by human tongues—to control every aspect of human existence on this planet, from the words you read to the food you eat to the thoughts you think.

It would also be foolish to believe that world leaders gather tri-annually at secluded resorts in Northern California, Switzerland, and an unnamed South Pacific Island to determine what countries should be invaded, their natural resources plundered, their peoples oppressed. They also do not consult each other about the world economy and how to obtain even more money and power from the lower classes by poisoning the world’s drinking water.

Hey, some people actually believe this is true! They’re a little weird if you ask me.

A lot of these same people also believe that Meditation Room at the United Nations is where the New World Order telepathically spies on people with their so-called “Black Helicopters” which are, in reality, the transmogrified souls of necromantic U.N. Agents who are without shape until they assume the form decreed by their theosophic masters.

There is also no truth to the rumor, purported in popular novel The Da Vinci Code, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were husband and wife and that the Catholic Church is out to suppress this information by any means necessary, included employing assassins trained in the mystical ninja arts to “remove” any writer that gets too close to the truth of the story and publishes a bestselling novel about this theory.

And if you were wondering if the Skull & Bones fraternity at Yale University is a breeding ground for future presidents, senators, and businessmen who will continue this well-entrenched conspiracy, why, that’s just crazy talk.

Just to reiterate: no cabal of red-robed Illuminati controlling the world governments, no ultra-thin microchips imbedded into every $1 bill that monitors your purchases and gathers information about your personal habits that are then fed into a global database to make it easier to manipulate the economy as well as your belief structure.

And there’s definitely not a giant owl statue representing an unnameable ancient god in the very depths of the United States Capitol that requires, as tribute, a virgin sacrifice every four years.

So we can all just continue celebrating Caitlin’s fifth birthday by having some of this delicious ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery.

Mmm . . . that’s pretty tasty.

Friday, May 06, 2005

An Important Announcement From The Strange

During the next several months, The Strange will be undergoing some major changes. All for the better, we assure you. But because of these changes, we will only be posting our hilarious writings (“comedy bordering on poetry” as The Nation called us) on week days. That’s Monday through Friday. We might take Wednesdays off too; we’re not sure yet.

We just wanted to let you, our legions of devoted fans know this, so you’re not worried when you don’t see a new and side-splittingly ingenious piece up on Saturday or Sunday.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What exactly are these changes?” Well, we’re not at liberty to divulge the specifics at this point. However, we can say, without hyperbole, that they will change the course of human history as we know it. If you ever stopped to wonder what it was like to be around when fire was discovered, or the wheel invented, or when there was a viable third political party, or when Led Zeppelin ruled the music charts—that’s what the changes are going to be like. Roughly.

They’re going to change our lives as well as yours. And for the better this time. Not like that damn Ab-Roller. Piece of crap that was.

So to all our fans in the United States and across the world, we’re still going to be here, just not on the weekends. And very soon we’ll be able to show all of you what wonders await you in this century and beyond.

But why don’t you take that extra time we’ve given you and spend it with the family, or take up a hobby, or make love to your significant other? Sometimes you can combine all those activities into one.

Although we don’t recommend that as you’ll probably be arrested. Fucking pervert.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Do You Want to Know What Frightens Me?

There are a lot of frightening things in this world.

My friend Julia is frightened of multi-national corporations, how they seem to be taking over every aspect of our lives, and how the government seems unable or unwilling to control them.

My cousin Elizabeth is frightened of global warming, the loss of our ozone layer, and the overall destruction of our environment.

Her 8-year-old son Eric is frightened of another terrorist attack on our country.

Now, these are just a few examples of some people I know personally. There are so many other people and so many other things to be frightened of.

Do you want to know what frightens me? I’ll tell you.

Wolves.

You ask me, “How can you be frightened of wolves when you don’t even live in an area with a large wolf population?”

Well, it’s easy: wolves are scary.

Wolves are wild animals with sharp teeth. They run very fast. They eat meat. I know they won’t attack humans unless provoked, but that doesn’t lessen my fear of them.

Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that you’re attacked by a wolf. Even if you survive the vicious assault from a predator that travels in packs that cumulatively would outweigh most people—their dagger-like teeth sinking deeply into your supple flesh while their unearthly howls fill the ebon night—you would still have to contend with the fact that you might have rabies and would then have to endure a series of painful injections into your abdomen. And this is on top of healing from your wolf-attack wounds.

How does that not frighten you?

Now, whether or not this pack of wolves was feral or was raised specifically to hunt you down because of some wrong that you had done their crazed, multi-billionaire master is inconsequential. The issue at hand is this: there are such animals as wolves, they might attack me, and I am frightened of them.

Go ahead. Call my fear of wolves irrational. But when they’ve surrounded your house and are waiting for you to run out of food and fall into a weakened state so they can rush in and tear you apart, then you can tell me who’s irrational.

I’m not advocating the destruction of all wolves everywhere or even setting up wolf traps around my house to make sure they can’t hurt me. I’m not even saying we should create a serum that can be injected into wolves that makes them glow a bright green so we can see them coming from far away.

I’m just saying that wolves frighten me.

Oh, and, also genetically-engineered spiders the size of hatchbacks that are super-intelligent and have acidic webbing that can melt steel.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I’m Not Getting the Respect a Level 12 Half-Elf Paladin Deserves

Ahhh . . . to think, less than a year ago, I was Llyr the Emancipator, courageous defender of Morgwain and heir to the throne of my small but prosperous nation. I can even now remember my last free moments, smiting Orcs and valiantly utilizing my unique Elven ingenuity to deceive a friend-cum-enemy into destroying itself by way of my magical devices.

But, alas, for the next 25½ years I will be known as Prisoner #655321, and my domicile will no longer be the rolling, unspoiled hills of Morgwain, but rather the chain-link-and-concrete complex of the Northern Utah Correctional Facility in Weber County. What, pray tell, was my crime? Nothing short of upholding the sacred and divinely-ordained charge of the Paladin—protecting the world from the forces of evil, whatever face they may take on.

It all started near the abandoned train tracks in Cedar City, where a group of us LARPers (Live Action Role Players, for the uninitiated knuckledraggers out there) were deeply engaged in combat against the swarming minions of Mor-Thûl’ok. Magella Swordhammer, Davnan Shieldheart, and Oolahana Serpentshelm had been surrounded by the burly Orc Blackguards, and with heavy wound damage and a rapidly shrinking supply of mana, their meager Mage Shield was in grave danger of expiring.

I had used my Cloak of Invisibility to hide close by and was planning my next heroic move when, much to my dismay, I saw a strange glint in Davnan’s coal-black eyes. I wanted so badly to ignore it, but as a Paladin I am obliged to combat evil, even when that same evil has been responsible for saving my skin on several occasions.

I immediately cast a Discern Lies spell, which resulted in a mythic black fog—visible only to me—that surrounded Davnan’s head and broadsword. I instantly knew him to be a traitor to our cause (he was half-Orc, after all), and brandished my longbow, overcome by sadness but strengthened by my faith in the Supreme Being, Heironeous.

With my remaining mana, I cast a spell of Divine Favor, increasing the HP Damage of my attack, and let a single, glistening silver-tipped arrow fly directly into the sternum of my erstwhile comrade, Davnan Shieldheart.

Well, long story short, Magella and Oolahana freaked out and called the cops, Davnan (or Craig, as you Normals called him) died, and within the year I was convicted of first-degree murder.

And now, here I am: stripped of my armaments, my precious Cloak of Invisibility confiscated (a one-of-a-kind heirloom from my Uncle Razgooth, no less), and no longer feasting on roast Quillbeast and mead. Rather, I am forced to subsist on a humble pap made primarily of potato, string beans and what appears to have been, at some point, an earth-fowl.

Despite the injustice the law of this land has done me, I do what I can to stay sharp behind these walls. I use the Bless Water spell to make the holy elixir so I might still pour libations to Heironeous, and until One-Eyed Pete attacked me in the shower, I was doing pretty well with conjuring a Death Ward to protect me from assaults of his ilk. He must have cast Dispel Magic (or paid off the hacks), which would make him at least a Level 10. If only I had my grimoire, I could memorize Levitating Soap, Shank of Destiny, or even Anal Shockshield.

Anyway, I’ll need to level-up in order to try the Freedom of Movement spell—turns out Starwalk only works on hooved animals. It’s too bad they don’t have the Players Handbook in here, it would really help me out.

Plus my ass really, really hurts.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Welcome to Our Fraternal Organization

After these many weeks of psychological mind games and humiliating initiation rituals, it’s my great pleasure, as pledge-master of Alpha Omega, to welcome you to our glorious fraternal organization.

I know this is a dream come true for every single one of you. And even though this pledge class is the smallest we’ve had in many years, I believe it’s also one of the best. We culled the weak from the strong and were left with only the most noble and trustworthy. We are, all of us—new members and current Alpha Omegas—now bonded as brothers until our deaths, and we vow to venerate and help one another in anywhere, any time, and at any cost.

So, without further ado, here are your degrading nicknames.

Pete, your Alpha Omega nickname is Balls, due to your outstanding performance in the “Fill-A-Bagger.” I’ve seen a lot of pledges in my time go out in the first round. That sock full of quarters to the groin really hurts! But you made it all the way to the end, surviving not only the quarters, but the marbles, the chunks of concrete, and the cat-o’-nine-tails. Not bad, Brother Balls.

Tim, from now on your name is Short Bus because of your success in the “Top This” initiation. Convincing that girl with Down’s Syndrome that you were an astronaut? Man, that was fucking classic. Best I’ve seen in all my years in this fraternity. Did you ever find out how long she waited behind the field house for your “spaceship” to land? I know you probably won’t be able to go back to Wal-Mart for a while, but you’ll always have a home at Alpha Omega.

Greg, your new name is Nuts, for two reasons. One: because you came in second in the “Fill-A-Bagger.” And two: because you’ve literally got a huge pair of testicles. Those things are massive. Like a camel.

Scotty! You are now Brown Eye. ’Nuff said, eh?

Steve, because of your amazing ability to drink three bottles of grain alcohol without vomiting, your nickname is Heave. And now that you’re one of us, you’ll never have to worry about those pictures of you with Greg’s—sorry, Nuts’—heavy-hangers on your forehead being seen by anyone but your fellow Alpha Omegas, here and across the country.

And, last but not least, Johnny. You’re now known as Poo-Stick, for your daring bravery during the “Flagpole” ritual. Never in the history of Alpha Omega has anyone had a broom handle shoved that far up his ass without experiencing severe internal hemorrhaging. That you not only didn’t divulge to the authorities or hospital staff what caused the broom handle to find its way into your rectum, but also required astonishingly little medical attention is a testament to not only your devotion to your frat brothers, but also your—pardon the pun—“intestinal fortitude.”

Well, gentlemen, enjoy your new degrading nicknames! Welcome to Alpha Omega, and long may we be linked by brotherhood, honor, and sadomasochistic homoeroticism.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Things Upon Which You Might Not Want to Put Tabasco Sauce

Saltwater taffy

Infant son

The fender of a Trans-Am

Winning lottery tickets

Other hotter pepper-based condiments

An oversized platter of delicious DoubleStuf Oreos

Toilet seat

The underside of your right eyelid

Heretofore undiscovered original copy of the lost second book of Aristotle’s Poetics

Horse shit

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Intermittent Reviews of The Strange From Young Literary Notables


“I’ve never known roadside love like this before.”

Merrill Feitell, author of Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes, winner of the 2004 Iowa Short Fiction Award. She cavorts at http://www.merrillfeitell.com/.