Saturday, May 27, 2017

Man unable to apply a Lifetime’s Research into Self-Improvement, dies wholly Unsuccessful in Life

Dateline: NEW YORK CITY—A connoisseur of self-help books has died alone and impoverished after having spent years locked in his apartment, practicing to be a better person.

Albert Dunderhead had an impressive collection of self-help manuals, as attested by the landlord who found Albert’s body. “Albert once showed me his library,” said the landlord, “and he boasted he was learning everything there is to know about techniques for increasing your confidence, winning friends and succeeding in business and romance.

“‘One day,’ Albert told me, ‘I’ll have learned enough to put my knowledge into practice, to apply the lessons in real life. And then nothing will stop me. I’ll finally have a job and a family and a life I can be proud of. Until then, I’ve got to keep hitting the books.’”

Albert’s body was found in front of a mirror, his hand on an open book turned to a passage about mastering your fears by reciting mantras in front of a mirror.

Having no friends or family, living on a small inheritance from his grandmother, Albert ventured out of his apartment only to purchase groceries and to peruse the self-help section of bookstores.

Albert’s neighbours sometimes complained about the noise from his apartment, when Albert practiced his lessons by holding conversations with imaginary employers, coworkers, and romantic prospects.

“The conversations went on for hours on end,” said one neighbour, “but it wasn’t the volume that bothered me so much as the annoying repetition. He tried out every conceivable variation on a job interview, for example, playing both parts himself.

“Or he’d imagine he was trying to pick up a girl at a grocery store, and he’d say, ‘I see you’re interested in avocados.’ ‘Why, yes I am,’ he’d say in response. And then he’d launch into a disquisition about the merits of different recipes for guacamole.

“But that wasn’t the end of it—not by a long shot. He’d carry on the same conversation over and over again, but switching from avocados to bananas, and then to spinach and watermelons and every other fruit or vegetable in turn. It was really, really annoying having to hear that blather through the wall throughout the evening and night.”

Albert received a posthumous award for “Most Ironic Life” from the Irony Association of America.

“Ironically,” said the Association’s founder, “our awards have no cash value, nor do we publicize them. Had Mr. Dunderhead been alive, he wouldn’t have been eligible for the award, since his life would have been ongoing. But even if he would have been eligible, he wouldn’t have known he’d won, because no one would have told him. And even if he found out about us and our awards, he may not have cared, because, as I said, our awards have zero prestige. There’s nothing to them, not even a little statue or anything. 

"All we do is whisper about the winner for a while, maybe writing up a certificate and then quickly burning it so as not to spoil the irony of the self-effacing honours.” 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prophets of Woe

Woe to men, for you shall be replaced by machines and shall lose your manhood.

Woe to women, for you shall have no men to shelter and comfort you in the wasteland to come.

Woe to children, for their cuteness promotes their self-love, and they lack the reason to see that love is a puppet string.

Woe to consumers, for you’ve sucked the earth almost dry.

Woe to advertisers, for you’ve made an art of deception and manipulation, and are cursed to wander as cynics in a herd of dupes. 

Woe to movers and shakers, for you’ve moved to outer space, making aliens of yourselves, and have shaken the peasants from their slumber, endangering your material foundations to which they tend.

Woe to environmentalists, for you love wild animals that wouldn’t hesitate to eat you for breakfast.

Woe to Americans, for your time has nearly come to join the legions of peasants in other lands whom you’ve squeezed and exploited since the end of the Second World War.

And woe to anti-Americans, for your sanctimonious rage betrays the ugly American within you.

Woe to liberals, for there’s no longer faith in your worn-out myths, and you’ve become scholastics idling until the next renaissance.

Woe to conservatives, for your talk of old-fashioned utopia is a smokescreen for a return to the primitive state wherein the dominators succumb to the temptations of godhood, are swiftly corrupted by their power, and drag their slaves down with them.

Woe to you professional philosophers, for your title is an oxymoron: a lover of knowledge must cower in angst rather than adjust to the horrors of nature to make of philosophy an academic field of study for charlatans, pseudoscientists, and bored young transients in colleges that have turned into mere businesses.

Woe to the gods, for they’ve failed to grace us with their existence.

Woe to monotheists, for you have poor taste in fiction.

Woe to optimists, for you dishonour the multitudes that have fallen.

Woe to pessimists, for you waste your life in grief.

Woe to Hollywood, for your creativity is as bankrupt as that of the Chinese market you seek to plunder with remakes and superheroic trivialities, which market is a giant, ravenous copying machine.

Woe to the computer, for digitization drains the value from that which is encoded, and the internet and the smartphone erase the humanity from their addicted users.

Woe to pornography, for it proves that sex is a ridiculous spectacle.

Woe to sex, for its pleasures must be kept secret to preserve the sophisticate’s illusion of superiority.

Woe to the large, for it is comprised of myriad small things and is at their mercy.

Woe to the small, for it is confined within the behemoth and is blind to the latter’s grandeur.

Woe unto the earth, for once it has killed off the wise apes, there shall be none to cry foul at its monstrosity.

And woe to dabblers in prophecy who pilfer the language of the fictional Jesus, which has become a cliché.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Delaware Man Masters Martial Arts, using only Initial Free Lessons

Dateline: NEW JERSEY—A man from Delaware earned the equivalent of a black belt in Taekwondo, Karate, Jiu-jitsu and several other martial arts, by exploiting the free initial first lesson offered by hundreds of martial arts schools across North America.

Johnny Mayhew began his martial arts training in 1997, having been invited by his friend and martial arts enthusiast to attend a trial lesson at Tiger Kicks Taekwondo, in Wilmington.

“The first lesson’s free,” Mayhew remembers his friend telling him. “After that, once you get hooked on how wonderful taekwondo is, you’ll of course need to pay for the yearly membership.”

After that first lesson, Mayhew was indeed hooked, he said, but he conceived of an alternative to paying the membership. “The next day,” Mayhew said, “instead of returning to Tiger Kicks Taekwondo, where I would have had to pay hundreds of dollars in advance for a year’s worth of classes, I went down the street to Master Myung’s Taekwondo Academy and enjoyed their free lesson, since Master Myung also offered the first lesson for free.

What Mayhew realized is that since every martial arts school offers its first lesson for free, he could master the martial arts without having to pay the schools any money, just by travelling from one school to the next, never attending the same dojo twice.

“So I moved into a motorhome and travelled the country,” he said, “visiting each town’s assortment of martial arts schools and making the most of the free classes. At first, I was a novice, so the lessons were arduous.

“But eventually, as I became fitter and more practiced in striking and grappling, the instructors became puzzled and even suspicious of my skills. I must not have seemed like a novice who needed a free hour’s instruction from some backwoods karate school, because I was kicking the daylights out of the heavy bag and hurling my sparring partners across the mat.”

Mayhew still remembers one evening in Yonkers, at Fuck ‘em Up Karate Academy, when Master Moo confronted him. “You no fight like beginner,” Master Moo told him. “You kicking the ass of my best students. Why you here? The free lesson for beginners.”

Mayhew reminded him that he was a beginner, since he had never before been to Fuck ‘em Up Karate Academy. “But Master Moo was having none of it,” said Mayhew. “He kicked me out, and I only got half a free lesson that day. After that, I vowed I would get the full free lesson at each martial arts academy I visited, by feigning ignorance and secretly absorbing the advanced techniques.”

At Dragon Tail Karate School, Mayhew pretended not to know how to throw a punch, while he carefully observed the master and his top students, picking up ways of improving his skills. “That way I made the most of each free lesson, whether it was at Big Butt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School, in New York, Paint the Fence Karate Academy, in Dallas, or Eagle Claw Kung Fu, in Los Angeles.

Mayhew studied each of several martial arts in turn, from Karate to Aikido, only switching from one to the next when he had successfully beaten the pants off of the master during one of the free lessons. “I’d pretend to be a novice, begging the master near the end of the free hour to take pity on my ignorance and favour me with a sparring match. Then I’d unleash all I’d learned from the hundreds of free lessons, and beat him down six ways from Sunday. That’s when I knew I’d have to move on to a different fighting tradition, just to keep it fresh.”

While Mayhew is unapologetic about his approach to martial arts, some instructors are indignant. “What he’s doing may not be illegal,” said Master Li, of Muay Thai Kick Ass Academy, “but I fear something’s gone wrong somewhere. Why doesn’t he just pay his instructors, instead of paying the gas companies for all the fuel he’s used exploiting the trial lessons?”

“Martial arts training isn’t just about self-defense,” said Master Kwon, of Warrior Way Academy. “We train for honour. There’s no honour in what this Mayhew creep is doing.”  

In response to this criticism, Mayhew said, “What did honour do for the fatheaded samurai, when the ninja killed them in their sleep? I may not have honour, but I can kick ass, beeyatch!”

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Republicans and al Qaeda face Conundrum of how to Continue their Escalating Evil

Dateline: WASHINGTON, D.C.—With its escalating insanity in the choice of its presidential nominees, from Reagan to George W. Bush to Donald Trump, the Republican Party has borrowed a strategy from al Qaeda to maximize terror in the American public, according to some political experts.

After bin Ladin declared war on the United States in 1996, al Qaeda began attacking the US with its bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Then came the more deadly and spectacular attacks of 911.

According to Ron Suskind’s book, The One Percent Doctrine, “Al Qaeda wouldn't want to act [in the US after 2001] unless it could top the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with something even more devastating, creating an upward arc of rising and terrible expectation as to what, then, would follow.”

Suskind’s view is that the terrorists are trying to maximize Americans’ fear, by leaving them to wonder whether, given the pattern of attacks leading up to 911, Americans could now expect a biological or nuclear attack—and after that: Armageddon, the end of the world.

Some political pseudoscientists believe Republicans are pursuing a similar strategy. Tommy Whataninny, political pseudoscientist at the University of Chicago, said, “The strategy would have begun with Ronald Reagan’s moderate lunacy, as revealed by his interest in astrology, the Iran-Contra scandal, his declining mental health due to Alzheimer’s, and his governing more or less like a neoliberal Democrat—which would have seemed crazy, at least, to twenty-first century Republicans.”

Leaving aside George H.W. Bush, “the madness would have ramped up with his son, George W. Bush, as evidenced by Bush’s verbal incoherence, his embarrassing ignorance about world affairs, his spending more than 500 days on vacation while in office, his stealing the election from Al Gore, his religious mania, his being a tool for neocons, his fiasco of attacking the wrong Middle Eastern country after 911, his lying about Iraq’s WMD, and his elitism that resulted in the Hurricane Katrina debacle.

“Then came the psycho clown Trump whose incompetence, mendacity, and narcissism ‘trump’ even the grotesque vices of his predecessors combined, resulting in an escalation of terror much like al Qaeda’s. The questions Americans are left with are, ‘How can Republicans top themselves? Who can be worse than Trump? Are Republicans and Islamist terrorists for some reason playing similar roles in trying to end the civilized world?’”

As to how George W. Bush’s father fits into this picture, Professor Margaret Smoot, of the Machiavelli Institute, concedes that “the Republican who served as president between Reagan and Clinton was arguably more professional than Reagan, let alone the catastrophic Bush who came after Clinton.” But Smoot surmises that there are different factions within the Republican establishment and that while some favour the apocalyptic al Qaeda approach, others “prefer an even keel, the sort of social stability that benefits Wall Street.”

In response to this political hypothesis, Gallup polled ordinary Americans, asking them how they figure Republicans might try to top themselves with respect to their increasingly insane choices of leaders. Some answered Republicans would next attempt to elect Vladimir Putin directly, although legal technicalities might hamper that effort. Others apparently believe the GOP would select a wild animal of some sort, such as a monkey or an elephant, “to create chaos and humiliation and to sink the US for good,” said the Gallup summary of the poll’s results. Still others thought an inanimate object might suffice, such as a lunchbox or a handgun.

For his part, Whataninny criticized the latter two options for failing to trump Trump’s villainy, since animals are morally neutral and inanimate objects would “just sit there rather than wreaking havoc.” He added, “Sure, a chimpanzee as president would do a lot of damage. For starters, he’d physically mess up the White House. And his advisors’ recommendations would fall on deaf ears. But that could also serve the country well, assuming the advisors were corrupt, which they typically are. Likewise, if Republicans elected a lunchbox as president, the lunchbox could take neither constructive nor destructive actions.

“No, what Republicans would seem to need is a demon or some other supernaturally evil entity. Perhaps only the devil could complete this pattern and secure Republican’s evident fantasy of an apocalyptic end of the American experiment.”

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lonely Single Man seeks someone just to Laugh at his Jokes

Dateline: OMAHA—A lonely Nebraskan man is wistful about the many years he’s spent with no life partner to marvel at his witty remarks.

Douglas Cunningham, aged 53, is single and has lived alone in a small apartment in Omaha for decades. In all that time, he attests to having made countless amusing gibes while watching all manner of TV shows and movies.

“The worst part about living alone,” he said, “isn’t the lack of love or sex in my life. It’s that I’ve got no audience to appreciate my brilliance. I mean, I’m watching Wolf Blitzer and in any given ten seconds I’ll have fired off wisecracks left and right at his expense. But there’s no one else in the room to hear them.

“Sure, I can make myself laugh, but what sort of comedian laughs at his own jokes?

“Or I’ll be watching an episode of some sitcom and at the end I’ll have analyzed the whole show, I’ll have it all wrapped up in my mind, but there’s no one else there to nod in amazement at the keenness of my insights.

“It’s a travesty!” he added. “And as the saying goes, if no one hears a tree fall in the forest, does it really make a sound?”

For Cunningham, the most important duty a romantic partner can perform is to serve as a captive audience to placate the other’s sense of comedic entitlement.

“Sure, most men want sex or a family,” he said, “but I’m getting old and I don’t care about those things. The world’s overpopulated as it is, but there’s never enough masterful pop cultural commentary. Meanwhile, I’m firing off cutting-edge gems of criticism and they’re all going to waste.

“It’s not even a ‘pearls before swine’ situation, because I don’t have the swine! I’d take a sow as a partner if only she’d sit quietly and bask in the glow of my analytical deconstructions of pop cultural discourse.

“So many wasted bon mots, I can’t even count them all. They just drift into the ether and now that I’ve forgotten half of them, they’re gone forever. That’s the real tragedy here.”

Cunningham has attempted to recruit a mate by posting profiles on online dating services, but to no avail. “I can’t fathom,” he said, “why no woman seems interested in being my life partner just to help me relax after a long day’s work, sitting in amazement by the TV with me as I serve up one dazzling observation after another.”

Asked why he doesn’t try his hand at stand-up comedy or publishing a book of jokes, Cunningham said, “No, it’s got to be in front of the TV and my audience can’t be just perfect strangers. I’m not interested in making money off of my talent. That’s how selfless I am.

“I just think it would have been swell to have had a special someone who chooses to sit there with me to laugh along with my grasp of the depth of the world’s idiocy. But it seems my comedic genius will go unrequited.” 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Canadians Obsessed with American Politics, seek to Vote as Honourary Americans

Dateline: TORONTO—Thousands of Canadians are lobbying the United States government to allow them to vote as honourary Americans in US elections, despite their lacking US citizenship, because they know more about the United States than Canada.

According to their lobbyist, Hughie Sketcher, these Canadians “yearn to be politically active, but they lament the fact that Canada isn’t interesting enough to hold their attention even for a moment.”

Most of these “practically disenfranchised” Canadians live in Ontario, confirmed Sketcher, but that province “might as well be a crater on the moon, for all the rest of the world is concerned.”

One of the Ontarians seeking the right to vote in the US is John Smith. “No one outside of Canada knows where Ontario is,” said Smith. “No one else even knows that Ontario is a place. It’s richer and more populous than numerous whole countries, but because it’s objectively dull, no one cares, not even most Ontarians. So how am I supposed to summon the energy to study Ontarian politics? Do I look superhuman?”

By contrast, American politics is “infinitely amusing,” said Smith, “like a slapstick comedy or a Hollywood thriller in which there’s a sinister turn of events every two minutes.” American politics is thus irresistible to bored Canadians who just want to feel like they’re engaged citizens and who don’t want to “fall asleep at the voting booth.”

These Canadians admit to “studying American political shenanigans religiously,” said Sketcher. They follow the scandals on CNN and Fox News. “Meanwhile, nothing ever happens in Canada. It’s all in stasis there to maintain the peace in that multicultural society.”

“We talk about American politics all the time in Canada,” said Smith. “On the bus, waiting in line at the movies, at the water cooler, at a restaurant—the latest American political travesty is typically the hottest topic of conversation.” 

Asked why these Canadians don’t leave Canada and become American citizens, Smith said, “We don’t want to actually live there and get shot in the streets or take a chance of dying as homeless bums with the rest of the bottom seventy percent. We’re not lunatics.

“We just want to vote in the US for our fifteen minutes of fame, to participate in the greatest show on Earth.”