Monday, August 27, 2007


You really don't remember our mission? Let me fill you in:

Picture it. Paris. 1941. The North had just invaded Atlanta, burning all crops within sight. General Washington was building a new American Empire by driving Attila the Hun to commit even more brutal actions than he would otherwise have taken. And there we were, atop the Himalayas. "Edmonde," says you, "when will the war end? When can we return to peacetime?" And I looked at you, and at the other children, and I said "the world we knew is gone. We must make Earth into whatever world we hope to live in." That's when the Abstractors initiated a memory pulse; I was the only one to survive with my brain patterns intact.

Why you called me "Edmonde" I'll never know. That wasn't even close to what my nickname actually was (the other children called me Scoots), but what really disturbed, what really perturbed, what really frosts my cake, is that you had the gall, the temerity, the outright fortitude to call me by the name of that venomous villain, that villainous venom-spewer, Edmonde. You think interstellar war is a game? That a slip of the tongue will -- what? -- break my silver concentration?!

I've never been broken -- not by King Kong nor Kublai Kahn, not by the C-SPAN personalities. Arlen Specter knows that I'm impervious to several strains of the truth serum firsthand, he was there the day the Abstractors invaded. He was among the cowardly "Save My Baby!" club that virtually ceded our homeworld to them bug-faced hugger-muggers in gray jump-suits, with their filthy reptilian predilictions. Sir! Senator Specter, I call upon you to renounce your ties to the vile invaders and their mothership! It is of national urgency! America can no longer withstand the continual exaltation to the aliens and their "special friend," George Bush. There's been a lot of talk about "sugary stars" and "intercontinental superluminary travel," but it's a crock pot of cuckoo clock theories. No hard evidence to back up their fireball tactics. They want our internal heat glands; that's all there is to it.

Senator, renounce the sugarship!


Monday, July 16, 2007


Like many of you, I enjoy the maritime sports. Water polo, water football, water bathing, I cannot get enough H2O in my diet. So when I was offered the opportunity by the New York education department to run a camp for water-challenged children from desert families, I balked. "How can they learn to swim," I asked my would-be employers, "if they've never even had a glass of water?" I hung up and never wanted to see their extracurricular faces again.

But Gloria Chowski -- that's the name of the department representative -- was very insistent that I run the upstate Special@Water Project (or SWAP as the legend goes. The commercial at sign was too over the top for me). She called me back the day after I turned them down, during one of my ten major mealtimes. "I cannot be part of your sham 'education!'" I yelled, slamming my phone so hard I broke the mold. Relief! I was in the clear! Then... she called an hour later. Then a half hour after that. It continued in that regressive geometric pattern until the interval between calls was less than the time it takes to dial my number; I assume that by that point, someone was assisting her on a separate line.

"Sea witch!" I bellowed, "I will not sell out for a pair of water wings and a badge! Those children are your responsibility, not mine. I have no desire to- yes, I'm aware of your department's history, but I don't- no. Really?" Her kind words were melting my heart, by golly! We spoke for the next two hours about her grandkids and what I could do to improve my community, which apparently does not include having my neighbors' dog stuffed and mounted. "Gloria," I told her, "how was I s'posed to know that they would form an emotional bond with a dog of all creatures? I've only seen them feed and water it." She was pretty insistent on that point. But by the time I faked going through a tunnel to get her off the line, we'd really gotten some of the core issues sorted. I think I'm supposed to run a camp somewhere, but I don't know where... it is...


Friday, April 06, 2007

My Friend The Mailman

Hanging out with the mailman was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Greater than sliced bread, but greater than fresh Italian bread? Forget about it. It changed my outlook on life, and ever since the first time I saw that guy wandering around my property, I've always felt a kind of kinship with said mailman. When I first saw el mailmano (henceforth referred to as "Doug") I thought he was a wild bear. My neck of the woods is home to bears, leopards, bridge monsters, and Ron Howard, so it wasn't that much of a stretch. Plus, Doug was seven feet tall and covered with a thick layer of fur (or maybe it was a just an overcoat. You be the judge). So at first I just walked right up to him with a handful of berries and spent about ten minutes talking in gibberish to see if he would respond to my gentle voice and eat the berries (which were poisoned, by the way. I hate bears) right out of my palms.

His refusal of my tainted offer, and the fact that he reported me to the police for tapping his phone, made me reevaluate my hatred of the bear race and the way I lead my life, in general. I came to realize that over the years, I've lost more than I've gained. And I'm not talking about weight. I'm talking about the little things: picking your teeth with a toothpick instead of a rusty nail, holding a hand to your head to get better reception on your iPod, going to Seaworld and punching a whale. I mean, I've punched a whale, but it wasn't in Seaworld. And it was in self-defense, for those of you "concerned" (wink, wink) at the thought of some colorful rogue running this way and that, punching random whales.

They've given me a lot of flak for my pro-whale-punching agenda in the presses. Steve Jobs sent me a letter of marque about it, though, but I turned him down. I fight whales because I hate them, not because some Apple bigwig offers me ten thousand dollars a blowhole. My standing rate is forty thousand, and if I don't have my principles, then what am I? Some kind of spineless Remora, beholden to the dorsal fin of the whale of industry? I'll never redact, I won't submit, not until the whale apologists recognize what those monsters did to Pinocchio's family. Only on that day will I, the Taker of Gist, accept such a paltry fee.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Santa Claus

When I was a child, there was only one thing I wanted for Christmas: to be Jewish. Also, I wanted to be continent. When Christmas Day rolled around and I was still wearing rubber pants, I figured Santa probably didn't deliver on the second part of my wish either. He didn't take it too kindly when I accused him of fraud and threatened to sue him. Not having the money to follow up on my claim, I turned to the occult; if Santa wouldn't grant me a real spiritual conversion, I'd find a shaman or genie who would. Year after year I scoured the world, but I was forced to return to my homeland, Enewetak Atoll, after I found out the U.S. government bombed it in 1936. By the time I got there, nothing remained; the whole island was gone. Wiped off the face of the map in a nuclear test. That's when I realized Santa Claus must die.

Hear me out, now. It's not that I held a grudge against the late Mr. Claus. Indeed, I admired his organizational skills and work ethic. I had a part time job in his sweatshop cleaning looms as a young child, which is how I would have known where the breaks in his security grid were, if I did it. Ah, to be a child in Santa's sweatshop! The sights, the sounds, the occasional purges of elf unionists, the merriment! How I loved the reindeer; I would glue magnets to the stable floor and watch them try to walk over them. That's how I learned that reindeer don't wear horseshoes. Who'd've thunk it? Of course, I was very upset when the reindeer didn't stick to the ground, so I may have set off a few bottle rockets to rattle their cages. Raise your hand if you've never set off bottle rockets at a pack of reindeer. Anyone? I thought not.

Memories... how I long for those days, back before 24 hour news channels. I suppose they're a byproduct of the temporal distortion, though. See, after the government destroyed my homeland, I had one choice only: use Santa's time machine to go back and prevent Herbert Hoover from becoming the United States' only five term president. Naturally, Santa responded poorly to my requests: "Ho ho, no no! The integrity of the timeline is paramount. We can't risk a paradox." His sarcastic undertones haunted my dreams. So I may have made the case to Congress that Santa was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, and after the ensuing war with the North Pole, I may have looted his time machine from the wreckage of the old candy silo. But that's okay; I went back to 1929 and caused the Great Depression by walking into a single bank and yelling "they're out of money!"

This stroke of brilliance on my part threw millions into instant poverty and prolonged the Second World War for another ten years. But the thermonuclear destruction of Enewetak Atoll was likewise pushed back almost ten years, allowing the total population of six people a nice cushion of escape time. When I returned to the future, the world was completely different! My father went from being a mild-mannered office dreg to an accredited author, and there was a new car in my driveway. Cha-ching! And since nobody from my atoll died, I never goaded Congress into war with Santa, and the fat man never even realized I'd changed history.

I now had a time machine. Santa was completely out of the picture. Unfortunately, the device was stolen from me while I was karaokeing in Baghdad in 2002. Boy, breaking that egg to the C.I.A was the hardest thing I'd ever done in my real life. I mean, how do you tell the most secretive agency in the free world that Saddam Hussein himself may have the ability to change history? Bush himself got involved, and less than a year later Iraq was toppled, and the good people of Halliburton were spending millions of dollars sifting through the rubble to find even a hint of the time machine.

Success was elusive, but I was vindicated when the basic circuitry of the machine was recovered from an insurgent stronghold in March 2005. Alas, the Ptolemeic Stabilizer was damaged during the refurbishment process. Our first test run was an attempt to travel one day into the future. Instead of showing up in the test room a day later, the time machine materialized in the middle of some nebula a million light years away; exactly where the Earth had been one day ago. It was quite unfortunate, as the Iraq War could not be canceled out as the North Polar Conflict had been.

So I turned to the one man who could set everything right: Santa Claus, who still had the original time machine. I argued with him, saying that since time travel was the cause of the Iraq War, it should be used to prevent it. He argued that since neither Saddam nor the insurgents implemented temporal warfare, and since I lost the machine in the first place, he was not obligated to interfere in the affairs of the living. Bush waited patiently outside the factory complex in Air Force One for about three hours while we fought. When I walked out the front doors triumphantly, his heart skipped a beat. He looked me straight in the eyes and was all, "can we go back in time and cancel the war out? I've got a letter for my past self, if you need it." Then I told him the whole story, how Santa and I had reached an agreement. The Iraq War would not be altered through time travel, no.

But I wasn't wearing rubber pants anymore.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Historical Analysis

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! Boy, you know what I really love?! Tea. Ha. I bet you thought I was going to say "coffee," weren't you? Well, you're wrong. I've never touched the stuff. Makes you short. Minuscule. Not as minuscule as the Persian empire after the Byzantines got done with them. You know what I'm talking about. I've had a vendetta against the Persians ever since Thermopylae, when my beloved pet rock was trampled. I have not recovered from the shock of losing Rocky, but I suppose I can take solace in the fact that the Persians never got the majority of the Islamic world to accept their choice for Caliph following the death of Uthman. I mean, come on, Ali was totally not the right guy for the job. He was a lover, not a leader. I don't want to sound sacrilegious here, but I knew him personally. I was at his birthday party! Quite a guy. But I think (and the Catholic church will back me up here) Martin Luther was much better at partying.

That man could breakdance at the drop of a hat, and speaking of hats, he wore one constantly. I asked him about that once. I was all, "Hey Marty, why are you wearing that hat all the time? Is it part of your justification by faith alone?" And he looked me right in the eye and pulled it from his scalp. There was... nothing there. He was bald. Ever since Charles the Bald defeated my Viking brthers, I've had the unfortunate distinction of being a goði without an Althing. It was at that moment I knew Lutheranism had no chance outside Germany and parts of Scandinavia, so I bid him farewell and hobbled off to help my good friend Jon Stewart integrate himself into Daily Show culture.

Sheesh! I have never met anyone since then (with the exception of Cicero) who held a greater disdain of formal wear. "Wear a tie," I said. "You'll be more impressive," I said. But he stuck to his guns and that... that turtleneck of his. How I loathe turtlenecks... but that's not important right now. You don't have to understand the turtleneck-based sectarian divisions that tore my homeland apart. The point is, Jon Stewart ended up taking my advice and wearing a suit and tie; immediately after he did, the show was renamed to include his name. It was then that my cordial friendship with Jon took a nosedive. I told him flat out that if he didn't add an "H" to his first name the show would die within the year. He refused. We've never spoken since.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tarnation! I have never been so thirsty in my life. When I signed up for this "Genuine Desert Adventure" I assumed there would be amenities, man. Little umbrellas in my drinks, an ocean view, that kind of thing. Instead I find myself in the middle of the middle... east. I mean, who in their right mind goes on a vacation in the middle east?! It's a war zone! The travel agency said nothing about sectarian conflict. But then again, my travel agent is a convicted felon who introduced himself as "someone who has made, and will continue to make, consistently poor choices." Most people would hear that and a warning bell would go off in their uvulas. Not me. I'm more "evolved," you might say. When I was 17, a radioactive spider bit me. Also, I ate a meteor.

By my fortieth birthday my powers progressed to the point where I was able to not only fly, but sky-waddle! It's like walking, but you're levitating. The first time I tried that was 1912. On the Titanic. It didn't end well. After my fancy-pants lawyers managed to scapegoat a family of foreign-born icebergs for the tragedy, the League of Metamen paid me a visit. This was way before the age of comic book superheroes. The benevolent beings we know today as "superheroes" were then called Metamen, and were all from the same Iowa town. Ever wonder why superheroes fight for "truth, justice, and the American way?" It's because all modern superheroes are the spiritual descendants of the Metamen, who were basically goody-goody farmhands. Anyways, the Metamen broke my front door down (they paid for it, don't worry) and demanded--demanded!--that I, the great Taker of Gist, cease using my powers for evil purposes. Well let me tell you, I capitulated completely. I gave in to every single demand they had. It was as if some kind of ethereal force awakened inside my blistering gizzard, imbuing me with a momentary spark of divine knowledge.

Turns out, my appendix exploded. You don't need to be a baby Einstein to know that while the appendix is the most useless of organs, its value as a pain inducer is immeasurable. I spent over a third of my life recovering from the trauma of losing my appendix spontaneously, but you know, you've gotta get over these things. I only wish those "Make a Wish" people just couldn't wrap their brains around that. I mean, I tried to tell them I was fine, but those arrogant fools wouldn't leave my side during the whole ordeal. They insisted on reading to me, bathing me, feeding me through a tube... enough already! I get it! You're going to heaven! Stop rubbing it in my face, all right?


Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks

The table was mighty cold this year; fuel (including glorious coal) has been going up in value ever since I was a toddler. It's getting to the point where not only am I not thankful for the high prices, but I'm actually starting to complain. Never before in the history of my life have I complained about anything, as my kindergarten teachers can attest. That's right, teachers. Plural. I had a real problem with my first kindergarten teacher (Miss Shelley), the way she would always make us recite the pledge of allegiance every morning to--not the American flag--but a bust of Ozymandias. Yes, that Ozymandias. When we asked--nay, begged--to pledge allegiance to the flag, she would cackle like some kind of storybook villain. Needless to say, her reign of obscure 19th century poetry love was brutally crushed by administrative dignitaries from the district office. And I... I was a mere child, caught in the crossfire of something I couldn't understand.

My second kindergarten teacher was a little nicer than that, but barely. Now, Ms. Washington-Lincoln-Jefferson-Roosevelt-Reagan never made us violate one of the ten commandments by praying to a graven image, but she did something far worse. She taught us to believe in ourselves. "What can be so bad about that?" you ask. Shut up. Maybe you can handle believing in yourself, but as someone with megalomania, I can tell you that it was a one-way ticket to juvenile hall. Telling psychiatrists about how you filled your uncles boots with fire ants is never a good idea, by the way. Just keep that one under your hat.

They say the third time's the charm, and as far as kindergarten teachers go, the saying rings... hollow. Yes, my third kindergarten teacher was by far the best, but he was comatose. At class parties we would dress him up in a little hat and piano tie and see if we could wake him up by shouting, but he never did. We never even found out his name, but he was good. I learned more in those last two months of kindergarten than I learned in the following thirty-four grades that followed. Remember, grades you repeat still count. So what I'm trying to say is, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that, despite the best efforts of the comatose, the poets, hippies, and "The Man," I managed to survive to reach the ripe old age of infinity. As Archduke Franz Ferdinand said at 10:00 a.m. on June 28, 1914, "I am invincible! No one can stop me now!"