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Posts Tagged ‘Satire’


She had hardly smelled her morning coffee yet, much less tasted it. Compound that with the edginess that accompanies trying to quit smoking and her response to my “Good morning,” in retrospect, was not entirely surprising.

“Do you know what a chimera is?” she asked.

The Mythological Chimera“Know?” I replied, “Let me enlighten you of the word’s etymology. Prepare to be schooled.” Her enduring stare and seeming lack of breathing implied not so much a breathless anticipation of new knowledge as much as quiet preparation for a strike, akin to a lioness extending her claws as she lies in wait for her prey.

“The Greeks of antiquity told frightening tales of a fire breathing beast, with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and a serpent-like tail. Eventually somebody caught on and revealed the obvious flaw—a fearsome creature with the body of a goat? C’mon! Who’s gonna believe that?”

I noticed her posture hadn’t relaxed, not one atom appeared to have shifted. I was pretty sure her nails were longer, too, but I forged ahead anyway.

“The provenance of the monster came to light one night in an open-air cantina over a bota bag made, ironically, from a goat’s bladder, filled with cheap wine from Persia. After the customary bad-mouthing of King Darius and his freakish son Xerxes talk turned to more domestic matters. Speaking of which” I pointed out, “while Persian royalty was universally despised it was equally agreed that the Persians made a fine rug.”

I sensed she was coiled like a spring, but she remained stock still.

“As it would happen, a merchant a farmer, and a philosopher swapped alcohol-induced stories of early morning life with their respective wives and mistresses. Oral hygiene had yet to catch on in a big way so morning halitosis had an eyebrow-scorching effect when the women arose early to bitch at their consorts about their laziness or lack of sexual acumen.”

“Unsurprising” she said. I noticed her eyes were turning cat-like and decided it would be best not to pursue the underlying reason for her response, instead acknowledging it with a nod before pressing ahead.

“The three men shared a rousing chorus of slurred “You too’s?!” and went on gesticulating wildly as they described — in liquored Greek, of course — what we call “bed head”, but back in the day they would have thought it resembled a lion’s mane. No archeological evidence appears to provide any support for the serpent tail, although the implied venemous early morning attacks may suggest an attempt at such.”

Her look was only slightly less rigid when she asked cooly “Are you finished?”

Delighted with the opportunity to further my shinola-from-sh** skills I lustily barked “Almost, dragon princess!”, mistakenly thinking that using “princess” might curry some affectionate favor. I was impressively wrong.

“See, men of all stripes feared this mythical chimera based on its complete lack of compassion and blood lust. Many generations handed down yarns of the beast biting a man’s head off before consuming the rest of his body. This, too, the drunken trio understood to be merely a manifestation of a cranky wife or unsatisfied lover. Mother Nature, always ready to implement a good idea when she saw one, immediately applied the concept of male beheadment and comsumption when she created the first female praying mantis, cruelly giving the insect the moniker ‘praying’ to mislead potential mates into thinking she was a good Catholic girl.”

She cocked her head a bit. “So you’re saying religion, mythology, and nature come together in history in a sort of Darwinian Constantinism?”

“Yeah, but before their time.” I was thinking fast. No time for finessing her heady logic.

“The fire breathing aspect seems to have been a big part of the chimera’s reputation,” I continued. “Romans would later take up the centuries-earlier explanation of morning breath but couldn’t come up with a pithy way to properly describe it . They tried “Your breath smells like you’ve been gargling public bath water” but it proved linguistically unwieldy, especially in Latin: Vestri spiritus nidor amo vos publicus balineum unda. Eventually one of Pompey’s soldiers came up with “Your breath smells like ass” and the chimera all but faded from thought from that point forward. Tic Tacs wouldn’t arrive untile centuries later, but “Dude . . . tic tac!” lacks the punch of the mighty Roman rectal breath description.”

“All that from a scary mythological creature?” she asked indifferently.

“Amazing, huh?”

“Whatever.”

“Wanna hear about satyrs?”

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Write More Good book coverYou may wonder what a stylebook is. Put simply it is often referred to as “the journalist’s bible.” Don’t get all bent because it utilizes the word bible—journalists hold both Gutenberg and the Bible in the highest regard.

See, the very opening line of a simple book review needs to be clarified so as not to upset anyone. We can’t have that can we?

A stylebook is a way for a reporter/writer/journalist to arrive at the most balanced, judicious way to state something. For those of you who like a juicy conspiracy, let’s say a stylebook is a political correctness manual.

For those who like a hard and fast definition (this one courtesy of Wikipedia): “A style guide (or style manual) is a set of standards for design and writing of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication or organization.”

If you know what a stylebook is then I apologize for just eating up moments of your life you’ll never get back. The Bureau Chiefs, the bound-for-immortality geniuses behind @FakeAPStylebook Presents An Absolutely Phony Guide on How to Write More Good appreciate your sense of fairness and would, I’m certain, turn around and ask you to suspend the same and indulge in their much more palatable standards. The old saw “it’s not so much of a rule as a guide” applies here.

Back to style. Pfft . . . style. Blah.

When was the last time you read or heard that “style was king”? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Any five-year-old picking his nose while texting his preschool classmate will tell you content is king. Even so, that content needs to be properly handled to attract the most readers while offending the fewest, and be succinct and clear to the point of annoying: Write More Good is your ticket there.

With the Bureau Chiefs at your beck and call, one can properly set aside all the past injustices of ethics and balance and focus on getting the real story out there, the story that everyday folks are hungry for. Having trouble writing a catchy headline? The Chiefs have you covered:

Use small words, go for the cheap laugh, and don’t be afraid to utterly contradict the story.
NO: Sen. Hicks indicted in blackmail scandal
YES: HIX HOX SEX PIX

NO: Senior citizens petition Congress for expanded prescription benefits
YES: Drug gang threatens politicians

Write More Good is to readers and writers what Weird Al Yankovic is to music: laugh out loud funny as it pokes fun at old media with new media attitude.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Journalists are expected to come up with a good story based upon facts, which in the 21st century are not exclusive of political correctness, therefore a story isn’t so much good as it is boring and interest-serving. Keep it fresh and edgy. Among the ideas presented (in case you can’t decide what to write about):

• For the Olympics: “Finding that obscure sport that no one’s ever heard of because Americans suck at it: curling, team handball, the meerkat toss.”

• On Book review blogs: “Compete in fierce cage matches with other book reviewers for free books, with bonus points for being extra bitchy.”

A glossary is thoughtfully provided at the end of each section to further enhance your writing acumen. Some examples:

• Schrödinger’s cat: “Always simultaneously capitalized and not capitalized”

• Crop circles: “A phenomenon completely unexplainable to people who have heard the terms “FTL drive,” “Alpha Centauri,” and “Whitley Streiber,” but not “boards,” “strapped,” “to,” or “feet.”

• Quote: “What someone says. Or, you know, the general gist of it.”

• Parenthetical aside: “Additional and often personal information included in a sentence, which should never be used in a news story according to our (douchebag) copy editors.”

As a book reviewer I was delighted to discover, in the section regarding sports writing ethics, that I may be on the cusp of some fabulous philanthropy:

Years ago promoters and team management would pull out every unethical stop to curry favor with sports journalists: gifts, hotel rooms, hot tips on the ponies, free tickets to events, even—well, especially—prostitutes. Eventually this golden age ended and these perks largely moved over to the automotive press. With the failure of the auto industry, the torch has been passed to book reviewers.

Write More Good is decidedly not a guide to be blindly given to a child who may be struggling in English class. The peppered references to bathroom humor are low on the list of concerns; higher up is the hilarious yet not-appropriate-for-certain-eyes use of adult language and situations—but entirely appropriate, even excellent, as a bathroom reader . . . men, you know what I’m saying. *Ladies, you too, if you’re cut from similar cloth*

Not to be overlooked are the Bureau Chief logos which precede each chapter. Pay close attention to the detail and find yet another wry laugh, albeit in figure instead of word; this works well for those who prefer pictures over words, arguably a large bloc comprised of the hyper-politically correct.

Write More Good is the collegiate fraternity version of Lynne Trusse, unapologetic in its foot-on-the-neck of political correctness. As cherry cigars are to fat, Cuban-rolled stogies, or Boones Farm is to Dom Pérignon, so The Bureau Chiefs are to run-of-the-mill journalism. Get this book, then read it until it’s dog-eared.


My genuine thanks to Rhonda Sturtz at the New York Journal of Books for procuring this review copy for me (even though it had already been released last month). Also, my thanks to Denelle Catlett at Three Rivers Press for the review copy.

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Family reunion poke-n-go

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Now that's a tool!Top brass within the Army Corps or Engineers are “not amused” by the latest tool constructed for battlefield use. Colonel Bert Hodgekiss, a man known amongst his army peers as “Col. Brickhouse,” has spent twenty-five of his 27 years in the Army with the ACE. “This latest development in weaponry brings all the testosterone of this man’s army to the battlefield, something sorely needed as it becomes more and more diluted.”

The weapon in question is more of a tank accessory than anything else. Dubbed “Ciagra” by the units testing it, the Ballistic Oscillation Nano-Ectopic Resonator is, essentially, a turbo-charged potato launcher in that it uses heated and highly compressed air to launch its ordinance. “Field tests have shown it to be incredibly effective from a range standpoint, but we’re currently trying to alleviate an issue with down time,” added Col. Hodegkiss. “We can get one mighty round out of it, a big bang if you will, but then it needs time to cool down and recuperate–a luxury you don’t have on the front line.”

Not everyone associated with the project concurs with the colonel’s assessment. “It’s big and impressive alright, but what it provides in one-shot power it equally lacks in grace and maneuverability,” counters ACE auditor Sonya Eise, called into pore over the details of such expenditures. “We shouldn’t be throwing resources at projects with such limited staying power. We need weapons that go the distance, that hammer at the enemy until they either acquiesce or are in some manner disabled.” Her sentiments are shared at top levels. Declassified memos provided under the Freedom of Information Act vividly spell out what could be the death knell for Ciagra.

Complaints abound regarding the overt maleness of the project, right down to its very design. A source within the Pentagon, wishing to remain anonymous, has stated “We’re all for providing our troops with the proper offensive and defensive tools to achieve victory, but this weapon, despite its jaw-dropping presence, simply falls way short of any battlefield success. It’s huge, cumbersome, and when the party’s over, it’s over. The enemy won’t sit still and wait until it’s up and running a half-hour later.”

As a result of internal discord, all units affected by and involved in the project are undergoing a thorough, some would say invasive, audit. All indications are that the weapon will never make it to production given it’s propensity to fall short of Army specifications for combat readiness. As Major General Bob Glandis summed it up, “If you don’t have staying power, you’re useless.”

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Mysteries of the gender gapDecades have been spent researching and observing the dynamics of gender. There exist countless volumes, articles in scientific journals, and years of time spent in conferences dedicated to trying to understand what drives men and women together—or apart. There’s not much that hasn’t been scrutinized in order to bring concrete understanding to this important facet of human nature. From the early (and almost draconian) study of phrenology—the study of skull bumps—to present day neuroscience, we’ve make phenomenal progress towards improving our understanding of such a complex, often mystifying, and lively subject.

By way of example, a recent study conducted by a leading university (I don’t want to tempt the Gods of Litigation) found that a womans tendency to find a man attractive varied most during her menstrual cycle. It was determined that when a woman is ovulating she prefers a man with rugged, rnasculine features. However, when she is menstruating, she prefers a man doused In petrol and set on fire. Guys, I know that sounds harsh, but think about it, we’re being given a heads-up. It’s like God throwing up a huge yield sign that only we can see.

Enter Resol, Inc, until now a quiet little company in Etibem, Kentucky. They plan to introduce what they call an MRK, a Male Resource Kit. This package is puported to funnel years of professional study of gender behavior into an easily digestable and quick course of study, much as Rosetta Stone has done for language learning. As a matter of fact, Resol has leaned heavily upon language interpretation as the cornerstone of the MRK.

Below is a small sampling of what the kit offers:

Interpreting Feminine Linguistics via Writing (example: personal ads)
40-ish: 49-years-old
Adventurous: Easy
Athletic: No breasts
Average looking: Ugly
Beautiful: Pathological liar
Emotionally secure: On medication
Free spirit: Junkie
Friendship first: Former “very friendly” person
Fun: Annoying
New Age: Body hair (often abundant) in wrong places
Open minded: Desperate
Outgoing: Loud and embarrassing
Passionate: Sloppy drunk
Voluptuous: Obese
Large frame: Amazonian or bordering on obese . . . or both
Wants soul mate: Stalker

I understand this sounds incredibly, well, let’s just agree that it’s not what we Americans cherish as being politically correct. On a less stringent note, they also include what they’re calling the Estrogen-To-Testosterone Translator:

Yes = No
No = Yes
Maybe = No
We need = I want
I am sorry = You’ll be sorry
We need to talk = You’re in trouble
Sure, go ahead = You better not
Do what you want = You’ll pay for this later
I’m not upset = Of course I’m upset you moron!

Initially I was very skeptical about the veracity of such a product, even that any company would have the oysters to offer something like this to the public. What won me over? Look at those phrases highlighted in red above—those are ironclad! Seriously.

Ladies, the company would also like you to know that they haven’t forgotten you. They also intend to include with the kit what they term a “helpful” guide for women “to better understand the man in their life.” Near as I can tell, this is exponentially smaller than the aforementioned female dictionary:

I’m hungry means I’m hungry
I’m sleepy means I’m sleepy
I’m tired means I’m tired
I have a headache means I have a headache
Nice dress means Nice cleavage
I love you means Let’s have sex now
I’m bored means Do you want to have sex?
Can I call you sometime means I’d like to have sex with you
Do you want to go to a movie? means I’d like to have sex with you
Can I take you out to dinner? means I’d like to have sex with you
Those shoes don’t go with that outfit means I’m gay

As of this writing there have been no advance test market results released. I’ve written to the company and suggested packaging the product in a shapely container, replete with a skimpy bikini. Men are attracted to such visuals like a moth to a flame . . . or a bug zapper.

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