Howdy, folks! I write to you from my secret bunker on the second floor of an apartment in Wilmington, on the coast of North Carolina, where a bunch of rain is falling. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Idalia approaches.
It’s kind of 50-50 at the moment whether one should evacuate or hunker down. Either way, I’m stocking up on nonperishable food that requires neither refrigeration nor heat should the power go out or if I need to toss it in the car and bolt for my life. I got PBJ, Cheez-its, and Pop-Tarts.
To save space in case of evacuation, I am taking these things out of their boxes but keeping them in their protective/identifying bags/envelopes.
PBJ and bread, remain in their efficient containers. All good. Also, I packed some utensils just in case.
Cheez-Its… sorry, Cheez-It crackers… Good to go. The bags are not labeled, but they are translucent enough for an expert such as myself to tell the Hot-n-Spicy ones from the Cheddar Cheese Grooves variants.
Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts… oh, Pop-Tarts. What the actual shit, Kellogg’s?
Different types of Pop-Tarts are clearly marked on the box at the grocery store. There are like 37 different “flavors” available at any given time, and I put “flavors” in quotes because some of these are NOT flavors. At least not ones that are canon in my realm of toaster pastries.
Banana Bread? Watermelon? Chocolate Sundae? Bubble Gum? Look at this clown show! What the hell is this shit?
Now here’s the problem… In my haste to prepare for this impending weather event, I dumped all my boxes of Pop-Tarts out on the counter to put the foil-wrapped twin packs in the bag, and…
Again, WHAT THE ACTUAL SHIT, KELLOGG’S? There is no way to distinguish one foil pack of Pop-Tarts from another by flavor. They all have the SAME EXACT GRAPHICS! And there is no expiration date on those foil packs.
“But Ron,” you might ask reasonably, “Do those things reallly need an expiration date?
No. They’re like Twinkies. They last forever.
IF YOU PUT A DAMN DATE ON THEM, I HAVE A FIGHTING CHANCE OF FIGURING OUT WHICH ONES FROM MY CUPBOARD ARE WATERMELON FLAVORED. THE ONES I BOUGHT AT THE BEHEST OF MY NIECE AND NEPHEW WHEN THEY VISITED A COUPLE YEARS AGO!!!
So why didn’t I think to mark them? I dunno… WHY THE HELL DIDN’T KELLOGG’S THINK TO MARK THEM?
I am not a multi-billion dollar food and merchandising conglomerate. I am just some guy who wants to survive a weather event. Stop trying to kill me.
Oh, and Twinkies. Easy to identify, and they last forever.
Also, please stop staring. I can feel your eyes burn through me even when you’re behind me.
Y’know, I have been wearing this protective cone around my neck long enough that I don’t notice it when I look in the mirror. It’s only when you ask, “hey, what’s up with the doggie cone?” or shout, “look at that guy with the cone on his neck!” that I once again become aware that it’s there.
I deserve some privacy and respect. When I posted on social media “Tragic news! I have to wear this cone for the next few months,” the response was mixed. Some folks offered thoughts and/or prayers, some asked what had happened. Excuse me, but this is a private matter. How dare you respond to my public post with questions about the reason? And while your thoughts and/or prayers are lovely, I could really use some money. How come no one responds, “With respect for your pain and need for privacy, if you need cash, please DM me.”
But, seriously, why do I wear it, you might ask? Maybe I had surgery. Maybe I bite my fingernails too much. Or other nails. Maybe I just taste delicious, like minty, and can’t help myself. It’s none of your business. I don’t know why I feel compelled to reach 600 words explaining/not explaining this.
And who said it’s a burden, despite my initial post announcing the cone-wearing as a tragic and sad thing? Do you know how much popcorn I can dump into this thing and just munch away during a movie on Netflix? I’m working on a system to seal the bottom so I can fill it with margaritas or martinis. It could potentially hold a pitcher’s worth. (So far, dismembering a pool noodle and applying a lot of duct tape shows the most promise for a tight seal.)
Also, I’m starting to think I look kind of cool like this. Maybe I’m a trendsetter. Why am I wearing a protective cone? Why are you NOT wearing one?
My cat looks at me funny because she is conflicted. She is sympathetic, having worn one for a while years ago, but also snickering at how ridiculous I look. Cats are sweet and evil at the same time. Thanks, Schroedinger.
So please respect my privacy. Also, click and like and subscribe to this post and share it online. But respect my privacy and give me my space. Another also, I’m thinking about selling advertising on the cone, so if you know any interested parties, hit me up in the DMs!
Sleeping on a sack of gunpowder to keep it warm for the big shoot.
Having your friends pick you up while you spit out rocks to see what it feels like to be a gun.
Your gun being a calming presence in the delivery room for the birth of your first child.
Watching the New York Yankees retire number 2 in honor of the Second Amendment.
Customer (AKA me, AAKA the Handsome Man), approaching counter with a partially wrapped burger minus a single bite removed from it: Excuse me…
Minimally Compensated Employee Behind Counter: Hello… Is there a problem with your order?
CAMAHM: Why yes, there is. For you see, my Junior Bacon Cheeseburger is missing a key ingredient.
MCEBC: I am truly sorry to hear that. Is it missing the cheese?
CAMAHM: No, there’s plenty of cheese, thank you. Nope, you can see the cheese.
MCEBC: Perhaps the letuce? Or the tomatoes?
CAMAHM: No, no, something more integral to the concept of “Junior Bacon Cheeseburger.”
MCEBC: The very burger itself! You’re missing the patty! Oh, dear!
CAMAHM: No, the patty appears to be there, minus a single bite of discovery.
MCEBC: Whew! You wouldn’t believe how often that happens here. Glad to hear the patty is there.
CAMAHM: Guess again?
MCEBC: Well, I can clearly see the bun.
CAMAHM: There is in fact, a bun. No dispute there. It’s something else. Something important. Think hard.
MCEBC: Is it the cheese?
CAMAHM: NO, IT’S NOT THE CHEESE!
MCEBC: We determined it’s not the burger patty, right?
CAMAHM: OH. MY. GOD. IT’S THE BACON!!!
MCEBC: What bacon?
CAMAHM: THE BACON THAT SHOULD BE ON THE BURGER! THE VERY BACON THAT DEFINES THE CONCEPT OF “BACON BURGER!!!”
MCEBC: Oh, I see where the confusion lies. You were expecting bacon.
CAMAHM: UMMM… YES!!!!! IT’S THE ESSENCE OF A BACON BURGER ITSELF!!
MCEBC: Yes, but this is a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. The removal of the bacon is what makes it “Junior Bacon Cheeseburger.” Otherwise, it’s kind of “big” and not at all “junior.”
CAMAHM: What am I missing here?
MCEBC: Well, not the bacon. I think I made it clear that due to its intentional removal, there isn’t supposed to be bacon, therefore, it’s not “missing.”
CAMAHM: That’s absurd.
MCEBC: I agree. Rather than removing the bacon, I think they shouldn’t put it on there in the first place. Put the bacon on, then remove it… Ugh. Way more efficient if you just skip that step. Plus, if you put it on and then forget to remove it, folks end up with bacon on their burgers, and that would be weird.
CAMAHM: Umm… look, okay… sorry for the misinterpretation… Can you just please give just me a couple slices of roasted pig flesh and I’ll be on my way? I’ll even pay for it.
MCEBC: We can’t sell bacon a la carte. There’s no button on the register for that. Besides, you already have pig-based meat on your sandwich.
CAMAHM: I see only beef.
MCEBC: Right. Beef. As in “Hamburger.” As in “made from pigs.”
CAMAHM: It’s beef.
MCEBC: Right. What part of “hamburger” don’t you understand?
CAMAHM: The part where they call it “ham” despite being beef?
MCEBC: Well, same thing. Only in this case, the “not including bacon” burger is called the “Junior Bacon” burger.
CAMAHM: That’s a dumb name.
MCEBC: So is “hamburger.” Oh wait, no, it’s ham in burger form. It’s a perfect name. Look, if you wanted not-pig, you should have ordered a Junior Bacon Beefburger.
CAMAHM: Would that have included bacon?
MCEBC: Yes, but not cheese. No cheese in the name. See, no confusion at all.
CAMAHM: Fine, can I please get a Junior Bacon Beefburger?
MCEBC: No. There’s no such thing on the menu. Where did you even get that idea?
CAMAHM: So how do I get a beef patty, bacon, and cheese all on one burger?
MCEBC: Order the Spicy Ranch Chicken Wrap.
CAMAHM: Why would they call it that?
MCEBC: Dunno. Because it sure doesn’t have spicy ranch sauce on it. Or chicken, obviously. And it’s really more of a flatbread.
CAMAHM: I don’t care what it doesn’t have!
MCEBC: And yet you’re complaining about your burger not having bacon.
CAMAHM: FINE! Just give me a bun. With Bacon. And Cheese. And some sort of patty. Chicken, beef, horsemeat, I don’t care!
MCEBC: I’m afraid I can’t do that.
CAMAHM: Why not?
MCEBC (mumbling): We’re out of horsemeat.
CAMAHM: THERE’S NO HORSEMEAT IN BEEF!
MCEBC (mumbling): Shhhhh…. Please, keep your voice down.
MCEBC (mumbling): We don’t want people to know we’re out of horsemeat. That’s what makes the ham in the burger really sing.
CAMAHM: People… actually… want horsemeat… in their burgers?
MCEBC: You mean people don’t not want to not have horsemeat in their burgers?
CAMAHM: OH. MY. GOD. JUST GIVE ME A BUN WITH SOME COMBINATION OF BACON, BEEF, AND CHEESE!
MCEBC: That would be cruel to cows.
CAMAHM: I thought you said hamburger was made from pigs!
MCEBC: And horses. Cheese is made from cows. But whatever. One Senior Bacon Cheeseburger coming up.
RIP “The Captain” from “The Captain & Tennille,” a TV show I watched as a kid with completely NO sense of what irony even was. (I also did not watch the show at the time in a haze of booze and/or legal weed and/or fake news, so everything seemed so real at the time.) Therefore, I have little reason to doubt anything from that era. As it turns out, “The Captain” was not his real name, of course.
So, you ready for this? His real name was “Lew Alcindor.”
I found that online, so it has to be true. Yep. And I discovered more about fake/repurposed/altered/née names there, too.
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s original name was “Robert Paulson.”
And the singer/actor Meat Loaf’s birth name was, get this…“Elijah’s Manna.”
Post Toasties cereal? Almost known as “Goodbye Burger City.” Yikes!
The hit movie “American Graffiti” was almost called “Utopian TurtleTop.”
The Edsel automobile was originally called the “Dodge Corvette,” spurring mulitiple lawsuits.
The Dodge Corvette automobile was once to be known as “Slim Shady.”
Eminem’s birthname was “Archibald Leach.”
And Hollywood legend Cary Grant? If you’re of a certain age, you knew him as… “Daryl Dragon.” But no one is that old anymore. Certainly not the Captain.
So, thanks Captain! Thanks, Wikipeida! And thanks to the legislators in Colorado who brought us the world’s first Legal Weed! And thanks to my friend Jack Daniel.
You might know him by his original name, “Earl Times.”
I’d like everyone I know to watch this clip. (Spoiler Alert… it contains some salty language…) In this video, John Oliver from HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” explains the latest developments in the United Kingdom, a “snap election,” most importantly in regards to Brexit.
Yes, folks, this is a video about something that largely does not affect most Americans on a daily basis. Most of us could not honestly state what we have at stake regarding Brexit, including me. And that’s precisely why I want you to watch it. I wasn’t sure what to think going in. Chances are, you weren’t, either. But it’s an opportunity to look at how some of us get our news and analysis, and it’s illuminating.
The right wing in the US talks about “fake news” and complains that the left gets its information from fake, silly sources. Condemning major news sources like CNN, MSNBC and others is ridiculous, especially given the blatant, obvious, blatantly obvious, obviously blatant conservative slant of Fox News. But I can sort of see, a tiny bit, how you can toss off our love for Keith Olbermann, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, or Tom Tomorrow, and (finally what took him so long???) Stephen Colbert. They’re just making a bunch of jokes, right?
So, here is John Oliver explaining something you know or care very little about. It’s funny, it’s ridiculous, and it is… very informative. Deeply informative. You will actually learn a lot from this clip while being entertained. But in the end, it is a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of a news story, one that can’t be summed up in a Tweet. And you might even end up caring about this issue one way or another.
We get the same thing from Olbermann, Bee, Noah, Meyers, Tomorrow, and Colbert. I’d rather sit through a 12-to-20 minute segment of news analysis with jokes than to claim to get my news from 140 characters of incomplete sentences and dubious sources. The takeaway is that an entertaining news source with some jokes and entertainment added can still be a valid, smart, informative place to get your news. And by the way, Olbermann isn’t even trying to be funny anymore. It’s that serious.
I’ve mentioned this before… I do check in with Fox News on a daily basis to see how they spin any major story (spoiler alert… it’s usually the opposite of just about any other source). It hurts my head to do it, but I do it. I really want to understand how some of you came to believe the reality that you sincerely think is real. I’d like you to do the same for me.
Dig deeper. Look at the other side. Spend time thinking instead of being told what to think.
No. I’m not falling for that. I do not have the mechanisms nor the facilities to make hay regardless of whether the sun is shining or not. I don’t live on a farm, pal. So get lost with that inspirational quote.
What you’re really trying to do is sucker me into the haymaking business, which is a total pyramid scheme, and a scam. A pyramid scam. A pyramid made of hay. Do you know what happens when you build a pyramid out of hay? The big bad wolf blows the whole thing down with one puff, that’s what happens!
“Oh, well, make small amounts of hay for your own use then.”
“Horsehockey,” I say! I don’t even need hay, except maybe one or two bales a year for my chickens. What am I going to do with all that extra hay? Oh, right I can sell it?
I don’t need artisanal boutique hay, and you’re not going to buy it from me at the farmers market, either. It’s the same reason I don’t make my own soap. You know what happens when you make your own soap? You end up in a Fight Club, that’s what! Do you have any idea what goes on in a Fight Club?
Do you have any idea how much capital investment you need to get into the haymaking business? Let’s take a look…
• Big plot of land • Thresher/Combine/Harvester contraption. Is that one machine, or several? • Hay seeds. • A committed work force of respected, fairly-compensated workers. • Pesticides. Horrible, horrible pesticides. Those aren’t free unless they blow over from your neighbor’s farm.
See, it’s a business scam.
I mean, the storage alone, if I wanted to get into the haymaking business (which I don’t by the way), would be expensive and take way too much space. And how much time does it take? Normally, I would feel inspired to draw comics while I have the opportunity, but now I’m stuck in the haymaking business all day? This is the worst business advice ever. It probably came from some stupid money making system video on VHS that you have to pay for… which is the real way the dude in the video makes money, by selling you these stupid tapes. Do you even have a VCR? You just got played.
With all that’s involved, you might as well say “Refine your own oil products for fun and profit while the sun shines.” Or “Get rich quick by building your own interstellar spaceship.” Bah!
I can just hear the lobbyists from the Haymaking Industrial Complex in Washington, D.C.:
Mr. Big Hayseed: We need to find a way to increase sales of our seeds! Mr. Big Farm Equipment: And our farm machinery. Sure, our machines look cool and every six year old wants to drive them, but that doesn’t pay the bills! Mr. Big Farm Real Estate (Yes, these folks are all white, male, cigar-chompers… did you expect otherwise from the people who are trying to sell you out?): And I need to sell more land, especially the kind with hay storage facilities! Mr. Bigly “President”: I just invented this expression, this hugely big expression, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Have you heard it before? I just made it up. I used the best words. Mr. Big Hayseed: Perfect! We’ll use that as our slogan! Here’s our checks! Mr. Big Pesticide: Can I pay slightly less than you guys? I’ve already spent a lot on contributions, and I’m kinda tapped out at the moment.
And there it is. You have been bought and sold and processed and consumed by Big Hay. Well, I’m not falling for it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to kick back and binge watch Netflix all day. Those shows aren’t going to watch themselves.
Oh, you didn’t write a book? Well, then, shut yer yap.
To say I “wrote” a book is a bit of a stretch… I wrote and drew a book. Does that diminish or enhance your views of my accomplishment? Well, let’s frame it this way… Did you write/and/or/draw a book in that time? Okay, then.
So it’s an activity book with one big illustration and a caption on most pages… you, the reader, are supposed to fill in the rest. Wow, so one big doodle and a few words, and suddenly I’m William J. D. Shakespallinger? Of course not. Let’s be honest, this book is rotten and naughty and lowbrow and kind of stupid. I admit, I aimed pretty low here. Does that mean I’m embarrassed by it? Hell no. It was still a lot of work, and I’m supremely proud of this thing. Despite the low ambitions, I think it’s pretty dang funny. And it should bring a lot of snarky happiness to folks worldwide. In fact, I expect it to by my best seller to date. Is that something to hide from? No. It is not.
Here’s how it came to be… In December, I was thinking about attending an upcoming comics show in Denver, DINK, the Denver Independent Comics Expo (Most of the letters in “DINK” appear in that title, just roll with it…). So I psyched and prepped myself to finish a graphic novel that had been in hiatus in time for the show. I was… INSPIRED!
And then… I didn’t get accepted to the event. Crud. But do you think I threw a pity party? Hell, yes, I did! It was a multi kegger of a party with taquitos and many pizzas!!! But eventually I got over it. Then a few weeks later, they announced the next round of folks who could get into the show, and I was in! Woohoo! Except I had lost all momentum as well as a few weeks of drawing on the book, and had to weigh the costs of buying a table. And in even the most optimistic scenarios, I was unlikely to finish the book I had been trying to finish with the quality of art and storytelling that I had hoped for. So, screw it.
Dang. Enter Charles Brubaker, one of my cartoon pals who I have known for a long time despite not actually ever meeting in person. He’s from Tennessee, y’all, and needed a place to stay for the show, and long story long, I agreed to share his table in exchange for room and board and transportation (bonus… on the way to Denver, we get to use the HOV lanes for free with an extra rider in the car!).
So yay, I was still excited about the show, but had lost several weeks of drawing time for the book. Now what? Well, when they aim low, I aim even lower… I had been toying with the idea of an adult coloring book for awhile, and thought I could make that happen in short notice. The idea evolved into more of an activity book, which requires fewer crayons so that’s a good thing.
Important note… quickly cranking out a piece of work does not fully equate to shoddy production values, half-assed creativity or cynical exploitation. Sure, my new book has all of that, but I actually cared deeply about giving the reader the best lowbrow entertainment I could manufacture in a month. And I’m damn proud of it.
So let me ask you again… what fantastical piece of art or pop culture did you create in the last couple of months? I believe everyone… EVERYONE… has one at least good book inside them. One novel, one comic book, one cookbook, one manifesto, one collector’s guide to the world of Stretch Armstrong toys (I would sooooooo buy that book!). Or maybe one album or one painting or one poem. It can be something heartbreakingly beautiful that will bring the world to tears, or something that makes us all slam on the brakes and confront the lie that is our reality face to face, or something lowbrow and stupid that sells a lot of copies and makes people happy for a few minutes. Whatever.
“Awful Activities” is my latest offering from my canon of excellently crafted and/or hurriedly scribbled comics. What’s yours?
And now for something truly inspiring… I dedicated this book to some friends who are writers, but who haven’t quite gotten around to publishing that first book. Hopefully this will provide a motivational boost to get over that hump. Here are links to their blogs and/or other online creative outlets.
Tina Foster Caldwell writes from a vintage camping trailer parked on the back nine of her fabulous estate. Sometimes the trailer ventures out into the world. Do not cut her off in traffic.
Sally Holland is a journalist who lends her sense of truth to assorted fables, fairy tales, and fantastical stories.
Joe Wolfe-Mazeres is a music writer, radio host, and novelist who prefers writing acoustically on an old IBM Selectric because it makes his words sound warmer and more authentic.
Renee Gordon writes mostly about her two sons: smart, creative little firecrackers who tend to find the loopholes in any instruction or logical argument provided to them.
Every one of these folks now owes me a signed first edition of their books.