Check Out My Sketchbook

I can’t help noticing you noticing my sketchbook I left out in plain view. Yeah, go ahead, check out my sketchbook.

Yeah, I draw whatever I feel like, you know? I just see something that’s cool and I sketch it. I always carry my charcoal pencils with me just in case I feel like sketching.

See that car over there? I sketched one of the hubcaps. Because it’s like, who sketches hubcaps? Well, I do. I sketch all sorts of things.

Sometimes I sit outside the Sears at the Mall and I just sketch anything I see. There was an ant trying to roll a cigarette but and he was having a hard time with it. That was definitely inspiring, so I sketched a big ant leaning against a bigger cigarette butt and having a smoke and grumbling, “I’m on break!” I might turn that into a comic strip or something. But who knows. I famously start projects like that and then get bored with them within days and stop. I’d rather just sketch.

The barely-started pieces on that page are all of my girlfriend. I do incomplete sketches of her all the time, but faces are tough. Did you know the human ear is like the most difficult thing for an artist to replicate? So imagine just sketching with a pencil and trying to get the shading right. It’s funny how the same person can look different every time you sketch them, because the light totally changes everything.

Here’s where I sketched a leaf and wrote a little poem about it. Here’s part of a brick wall. Here’s another leaf. Here is where I sketched my left hand. One time I sketched my left hand onto my left hand and then I sketched that in my sketchbook. That’s not in this sketchbook though.

That’s a sketch of Scary Cindy. She’s based off a real girl named Cindy who, in every conversation, basically makes allusions to once being molested by her step-father. It sucks that happened, but then she talks about weird stuff like a mother bird over-feeding her baby birds until they explode. Here’s a sketch of Scary Cindy talking about that very thing, and instead of words, I put the birds sketch in her speech balloon. Scary Cindy is silly but the real Cindy is scary.

That’s a sketch of a Billy Joel after getting into one of his famous car accidents. He’s standing there dazed, but he still has the steering wheel in his hand. See? I sketch whatever.

If you’re thinking about getting into sketching, just go get a sketchbook and let it all just happen. Like that little stream I sketched yesterday, just let it flow. That’s what I do, just sketching all the time with whatever inspires me. You learn so much about yourself when you express things through sketching. It’s not high art, but it’s personal and noteworthy to have a sketchbook filled entirely with your own art.

Oh, flip to the back and check it out. I sketched pages and pages of sweet, monstrous tits.

You Think ‘Retard’ Jokes Are Funny, Do You?

Whoa, James. I thought I knew you better than that. And Don, I’m really surprised you even laughed. I didn’t realize how comfortable you both were with me that you think that type of behavior is appropriate. Did you really think I’d find that joke funny? And boy, some joke.

I often said there is no line a joke can’t cross, but really, James, that was below being no-class. I thought you were someone who understood where the differences are. And Don, I didn’t realize how insensitive you could be. Christ, I’m standing right here, guys!

Have you just been careful not to make these jokes when I’m not around? Did you simply slip up now and let one fly? I guess I can’t blame you; I used to laugh at insensitive things like that. I suppose one could find humor in everyone winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, or some such crudity. But, really, guys, I didn’t think you’d be that type.

It’s just very surprising to discover this part of you. I think see you both a little differently now. Finally discovering where your values really are is pretty illuminating.

You think ‘retard’ jokes are funny, do you? Geez, guys, how can you? You know my father was killed by a pack of wild retards in the 80s.

I’m out of here. Get cancer, fellas.

Let’s Continue With The Interview, Shall We?

Spending four years in Appalachia is quite a honorable achievement, Mr. Watson. And being able to personally raise $27,000 last year just with a single 20K run is very impressive. Your work history and personal life really demonstrate a unique balance of compassion, personality and business savvy, which is perfect for working in a non-profit.

I’m sorry, what noise? I didn’t hear anything, I’m sure it’s fine. Let’s continue with the interview, shall we?

Now, an important thing we’re looking for next year is aggressive business development. What kind of contacts can you bring to the table and how would you execute acquiring a new book of associations for the organization?

I don’t know what you’re talking abou — Oh, that noise. I guess I’m so used to it by now that I don’t even really hear it anymore. I was going to save that part, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag, right? Here, let me show you what it’s all about it. Stand behind my desk with me.

Now, I’m going to open this drawer and I need you to understand two things. First, this may be a unique experience for you, so I need you to be open-minded. Second, I need you to really just stay still and calm. Try not to make any sudden movements.  I’m going to open this drawer in 3… 2… 1….

That is exactly what you think it is. That is a very tiny Bronson Pinchot.

Tiny Bronson lives here in my office, in that drawer, and he works for me. I know it seems a little strange, but everything I’ve learned about you through these rounds of interviews tells me you can handle this.

That is not the real Bronson Pinchot, of course. The successful actor/comedian sold the rights to his likeness for this little guy, and he lives on a private island not far from the Brazilian coast. But this is one of the perks of working here, Mr. Watson. Every paid associate of the organization gets a tiny assistant to help them through the day.

Look, Mr. Watson, today’s meeting is not much more than a formality; we think you would fit right in here. No associate even gets told about their tiny assistant until orientation. Let’s just sit back down and finish up the interview and we can talk about your future here.

Now, our agenda for the first half of fiscal 2010 basically transitions us into a model of increasing public confidence on a global scale. How do you think —

Boy, Tiny Bronson really threw you for a loop, didn’t he? Listen, Mr. Watson. Steve. Tiny Bronson is a fantastic benefit of working here. He can understand everything you say, but he can’t talk, he doesn’t eat, and he’s here to make things easier for you. Need a fax retrieved from the copy room? He’ll get it in a jiff. Need to relieve some stress? His small but tiny hands give soothing neck and shoulder massages. Need a coffee or water refill? He gets into his cute little mini-scooter and fetches it. All he requires is some attention now and then. Play with him or scratch his head. He makes adorable high-pitched noises and laughter sounds to let you know how he feels. Otherwise, no maintenance is required.

Anyway, with our European partnerships, we hope to extend our reach to —

All right Steve, I’ll tell you, but you have to promise we can finish this interview. He’s little more than an animated puppet. Under those clothes he’s basically a Ken doll. (Oh, you have to give him a new outfit every few days or he gets a little less playful and a bit grouchy.) But the standard answer is that it’s some sort of magicks and technology. Don’t bog yourself down with the specifics, Steve. Tiny Bronson has been with me for nine years now and we’ve never had a problem. Working for non-profit sure is different, am I right?

Oh, you know what else? I completely forgot; you don’t have to have a Tiny Bronson, actually. You can have a Tiny Carroll O’Connor, a Tiny Jackée Harry, a Tiny Frank Sinatra, or a Tiny Cindy Williams. But once you pick an assistant, they stick with you. There’s no changing it.

We can get into it all later. I think you’re going to be a welcome addition to the team and we asbolutely want to extend an offer to you. Let’s just get to the end of this thing and we can talk numbers. Tiny Bronson, can you get Steve here a Dasani while we finish this up? Thanks.

See, Steve, isn’t that little scooter thing hilarious?

I Haven’t Been Crying, That’s Just My Pink Eye

I appreciate your concern, thank you. No, I don’t need a tissue right now. Please, stop, I’m okay. I haven’t been crying, it’s just my pink eye.

Yes, I have pink eye in both eyes. Yes, I know I look awful, I’m not happy about it. Yes, I know how you get pink eye. No, I really do understand how it happens. It’s not pleasant to think some sort of bacteria, probably fecal matter, got into my eye.

I’ve been trying to figure out how it happened. Yesterday, it might have been wise not to scratch my eyes after I shook everyone’s hand after Jack’s goodbye party at work. I admit that. But I’m not a dirty person. I wash my hands all the time. I always wash before eating, after using the restroom, and after touching some heavily used public items, like handrails and the poles on the train.

But I guess I shouldn’t have immediately put my contact lens back in when it fell out the other day on the bus. I was listening to U2 on my iPod, busily tapping my fingers to the rhythm on the underside of my seat when it happened, so I could have used more caution when I grabbed the contact and slipped it back in.

So I’m not perfect, I make mistakes. Maybe I went too long without washing, I don’t know. It’s just so many others go so long without washing their hands whatsoever. It’s such a dirty world, I try to do my part by staying clean.

And yes, I suppose after I helped deliver that baby on the bus station floor, I should not have wiped away my tears of joy with my hands covered in blood and embryonic fluid and all the other bodily fluids that get expelled from the body during birth.

But this is basically not my fault. If more people would take the time to keep their hands clean, we would not have so many disgusting surfaces to touch every day. And I would not have this raging pink eye.

By the way, I borrowed your toothbrush this morning. You didn’t happen to use it yet today, did you?

Wedding Thank You Notes

Well, we’ve been back from the honeymoon for a week now, so I guess it’s time to write those Thank You notes! I told Richard that I would write most of them, because I got preference over our honeymoon destination. I am alternating between his family and friends and mine. You can really tell we come from different worlds!

Dear Aunt Sharon and Uncle Marty,

Thank you so much for joining us on our special day last month. It was the happiest day of our lives and we are so glad you could share it with us. And thank you so very much for the set of crystal napkin rings, butter dish, and candle holders. They will be cherished for years to come as we use them for our most special occasions, which would include all visits from you! See you at the holidays.

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear Aunt Myrill,

Thank you so much for joining us on our special day last month. It was the happiest day of our lives and we are so glad you could share it with us. Thank you so very much for the pair of Spectacles of True Sight. They will be very useful to determine the true nature of our guests when we hold parties, especially if any are man-shaped demons or phantoms. Don’t worry, we won’t need them when you come over! We look forward to seeing you on the anniversary of the Fall of the Bulari Temple.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson,

It was wonderful to share our special day with you last month. Thank you for being there on the happiest day of our lives. Thank you also for the new KitchenAid stand mixer. The extra attachments means we will be able to create some excellent dishes. We hope we will be able to have you over for a visit once we get settled in the new condo. Talk to you soon!

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear High Priestess Onomera,

While we are sorry you could not be with us on our special day last month, we wanted to extend a very warm thank you for the Enchanted Staff of Wanderlust. It will definitely make it easier to come visit you on the Dreaded Plane of Depravity. When we have our next dinner party, you will certainly be invited. We will also be sure to hold it when the moon is outside the 3rd Arc of the House of Ohr so you can attend without having to traverse the Bridge of Erliack.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Tom,

We know our special day would not have been as special if you were not there, thank you for sharing the happiest moment of our lives with us. Thank you also for the Ansel Adams print in the exquisite oak frame. It will go perfectly in our living room, where it will stay for many years. We look forward to vacationing with you at Martha’s Vineyard next month.

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear Yul the Just,

Thank you for celebrating our wedding day with us last month. Having you there to remind us of your noble spirit and friendship made it even more special. Thank you for the Elven Bag of Holding. We are running out of space in our new home and the Bag will be a more affordable and convenient storage option. I hope we will see you at the Celebration of Trolver’s Victory over the Underbeast.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Mark and Stephanie,

Thank you for being with us on our special day last month. We are so happy that you were able to share the happiest day of our lives with us. Thank you also for the wine glass set, wine bottle display, and wine decanter. We expect to get plenty of use out of them. We expect you to help us break them in very soon!

Love, Richard and Juliana

Hail Astrihmgael,

Your presence at our joining ritual was felt not only by us, but by all of our other guests. Thank you for blessing us with your almighty aura on our special day. The Fires of Blumfig must have burned brightly with your omnipotence being felt everywhere on the Terra plane. Thank you also for the $300 gift certificate from Crate & Barrel. There are still some items we have had our eye on that we are dying to pick up! Look for our annual sacrifice in the next week.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Say No to Anthropomorphic Animals

America is in a time of crisis. The economy is on a downturn, our men and women in uniform are dying overseas, and the NFL doesn’t start its new season for about 6 weeks. As citizens of this great country (sorry, illegals), we need to band together and keep our ideals strong, our hope alive, and our Olympic team drugged up to the high heavens. But more importantly, what we don’t need is bigger than all of that. Ladies and gentlemen of this great country, we need to stop all uses of anthropomorphic animals in our print, television, film, and interactive media.

Of the Devil

Of the Devil

These creatures are abominations, affronts to the Creator, who blessed us with intelligence, free will, and vocal cords. All creatures are beneath us humans because — let’s face it — we are at the top of the food chain. All animals have their own place in the chain, but none of them could convince us otherwise, because our brains are humongous and our opposable thumbs give us every advantage. If any of them had a case against not being eaten by us, their squeaks and clicks and quacks and barks fall on deaf and uncaring ears. We are superior, we rule this earth. So fall in line, marmots!

But for all humans’ superiority, intelligence and dominance, we do make mistakes. Some can be fixed and forgiven, others are unfortunate and permanent blights on our admittedly spotty track record of history. Human trafficking, the Holocaust, Urkel’s ability to command a 20 share in the early 90s. Through some dysfunction, there are sins we continually allow our brethren to commit. One of the worst ongoing atrocities we do is give animals human characteristics in our media. There is absolutely no goddamn need to come up with anthropomorphic animals to say or do anything worthwhile! Some are more extreme than others. Remember that Spanish-speaking chihuahua? Pretty minor on the scale of the things. But as their popularity increases, so does the scale of their personalities. The Geico gecko is Oxford-educated and could run circles around me in a philosophical debate about the human condition. That damn Aflac duck can only speak one word (less than the chihuahua!), but it drives race cars and pilots hot air balloons. What’s more, it once wrote a 556-page treatise on the founding of Jamestown. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot let this continue.

Another Great Sin

Another Great Sin

There is nothing creepier than an animal speaking with a professionally trained actor’s, or Gilbert Gottfried’s, voice. These are the stuff of nightmares! This perversion of nature must end immediately. We have cartoons and illustrations to satisfy this dark desire to see animals walk and talk, don’t we? I mean, if I wanted to (and I’m not saying I ever did want to) see an animal hanging out with people and suggesting a particular cereal for breakfast, I can just find Tony the Tiger on YouTube. Beautiful, glorious YouTube. We have 2D and computer-animated films to take care of the rest. This is why we have Eddie Murphy!



I just don’t understand why that some people find it acceptable for animals to sing like the Beatles or Janis Joplin. If you are trying sell me a car, give me some hyper-reality and clever copy, not this shit. And while I understand animals mate and even form relationships, there is no way I want to think about my cat trying to seduce his feline girlfriend with a lit fireplace and soft music and talking about the place where they go the bathroom. And this just barely crosses over to the Devil’s work, as the gorilla is the best creature on earth next to us.

I think we need to look into our hearts and truly reexamine our values and priorities. Many animals, in general, are cute and lovable, but we are their masters. We cannot allow our brothers and sisters in the marketing department to keep this problem going. Boycott all products with anthropomorphic animal representation. Humans, not squirrels, need to advertise to us. Demand that a beautiful wife and a shlubby husband, and not dancing giraffes or singing pigeons, tell us about rock salt, frozen pizza and comfortable pants. We can get help for our human associates who believe this is acceptable behavior, but first we must turn away from the abhorrence they create.

Good luck, and may God help us all.

Completely Ineffective and Pointless Euphemisms

Welcome to a brand new segment here at Free Soup With Purchase. Our inaugural edition will be the first of many weekly looks at the most popular but Completely Ineffective and Pointless Euphemisms. This week:

Completely Ineffective and Pointless Euphemisms Relating to Consuming or Ordering a Pizza:

Scarfing some ‘za
Noshing on Some Tomato Blood w/ Cheese
Grabbing a Sauce Disc
Banging the Veggie Lovers’ Secretary
Eating Out a Stromboli
Digesting a Greasy Vinyl (as in record; archaic)
Stuffing Crust in the Colon
Going Ten Digits Til Heaven
Summoning a Dough Wheel
Calling the First Witness for the Prosescrumptious
Hailing a ‘Zaxi
Huttin’ it Up!

Any further suggestions to add to this list are obviously welcome, but most will largely be ignored.

You’re Looking at My Unibrow, Aren’t You?

It’s okay, everybody looks. I’m used to it by now.

I know you’re wondering a few things, because some of the more daring folks who notice my unibrow actually ask me questions about it, like I’m some sort of alien curiosity.

You’re wondering why an otherwise handsome fellow like myself would choose to let his eyebrows connect. You’re curious as to how long it takes to grow it in fully so it all looks even. You’re also wondering why if I have brown hair and eyebrows, why is the connecting brow an orange-red. I’ll field these inquiries in reverse for you.

Obviously, the orange-red brow is from the recessive genes I inherited. My mustache and beard grow in the same color, even though all the hair on my body is a deep brown. Why don’t I dye it to match, you may be thinking. Please pardon my bluntness, but don’t be an idiot.

Anyway, how long does it take to grow in so it all looks even? Three full lunar cycles generally gets me there. Of course, I do no grooming or maintenance until it is fully in, then I trim it all back to a reasonable length. I barely have to put any pomade in if I get it to just the right length. I shave off my unibrow every few years for a change of pace.

Finally, why would a good looking guy like me choose to grow out my unibrow? That question is at once offensive and a rude attempt at a back-handed compliment. What if I were to ask you why you an attractive person like yourself would choose that haircut, or choose to carry those 15 extra pounds? According to social norms, a unibrow represents lower class, unkemptness, and even mental retardation. But did you know that in some communities in South America and Eastern Asia, the unibrow symbolizes strength, vitality, and intelligence? Despite what you may think, a unibrow is not easy to grow in, it’s even harder to groom, and wearing it in this country is the hardest of all. But that does not diminish the pride I have for it.

But, really, if you must know why. When I was 8 years old, one night I woke up to the smell of smoke. Our house was on fire! My father burst through my door and I could see flames and smoke behind him. Without a word, he opened my bedroom window, which was on the second floor. He grabbed me and my hockey stick and told me to grab an end, and he lowered me safely to the ground to my mother. He went back into the house to my sister’s room and lowered her to the ground too. I remember lights and sirens and suddenly thinking that my father was trapped. I saw firefighters rush in and pull him out, but he was not breathing. He was there on the ground, covered in soot. Then I remember thinking that my hero, my father, was dead. But they were able to revive him within minutes and get him to breathe oxygen. The firefighter who risked his own life to save my father’s and who helped resuscitate him had a perfectly trimmed unibrow. I can still see it in my head today. I hugged him and thanked him for keeping my family alive and safe. As he walked away from the ambulance, he was hit by a falling airplane part and was immediately killed. It was pretty horrific, as he was latitudinally split in two right on our front lawn. His unibrow was no more.

So that is why I ‘choose’ to wear this unibrow, and that is why I choose to be a doctor. I determined right then and there to go to medical school because I wanted to help people like that brave firefighter did.

Anyway, I hope that satisfies your curiosity. Now that we got that all out of the way, are you ready for your botox injection, Mrs. Hemmings?

Review: The Dark Knight

Yesterday I put together a particularly scathing review of Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night, but I thought I was maybe a bit too harsh, so I waited to publish it. After reflecting further, I realized the film had some strengths. I thought it deserved a second chance, so I went to see it again last night. The weekend hype was over, the media has moved on to putting out countless stories about that other summer blockbuster coming up, Swing Vote, and now I could settle in and just be a regular filmgoer and maybe relax into it a little bit. And I have to admit, my view of BB2: The Dark Night has changed quite a bit. I now believe it is, in fact, one of the worst Batman movies ever made. And while the crime story was compelling, it was basically the characters and the acting that sunk this film.

Honestly, where do I even begin? First of all, the protagonist of our story, Batman, is this brooding, lonely hero(?), but director Christopher Noland did not even bother to tell the audience why. No details of his origin can be found in this film, eschewing the standards of all previous Batman movies since Tim Burton launched the franchise. Not one mention of his dead parents. No flashback of young Bruce Wayne watching his parents get shot. Not one scene with star Christian Bale looking directly into the camera and saying, “And that’s when I decided to become Batman.” I felt a little lost without these crucial scenes that I’m used to seeing.

The Dark Night"

Promotional still of Christian Bale as Batman in "Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night"

Noland decided that his lovelorn Wayne could either sit around in his fabulous penthouse apartment and be sad about his childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), dating the new District Attorney, or he could go out and be the gravelly-voiced Batman and solve crimes. As Wayne, Bale has playful interaction with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart while they wear fabulous outfits and eat expensive dinners. The scenes were barely saved only by the talent and charm of the actors, but what is this, a romantic comedy?

One thought about Gyllenhaal. Is anyone else missing Katie Holmes, here? Where does the indie star get off completely changing the character to be this tall, pasty red-head? She could have at least tried to use some of the standards set by Holmes from the last movie. I guess when you’re an indie actor, you can make choices that defy convention and buck the standards and everyone should just be happy she’s bringing her indie cred to a big blockbuster film.

Of course, no one can talk about Batman without mentioning his nemesis, the Joker, played beautifully by Aussie sensation, Heath Ledger. I think we should have seen more of the Joker, but Noland really dropped the ball here for more reasons than just that. We got three different versions of where the scars on his face come from! I know films do rewrites to scripts as the filming goes on, but holey shamoley, the continuity is way off. These glaring errors may not have been so bad if it was written like he was intentionally lying, but it’s clear that Noland went way overbudget and they couldn’t afford to do reshoots. Did they really think we wouldn’t notice? Plus, I was interested to learn more about Joker’s powers and where they came from. The Joker obviously has the power to teleport, because he shows up exactly where he needs to be absolutely out of nowhere in ten different freaking scenes. Noland notoriously used practical effects where CG effects would have been completely fine (the truck flip scene, Gyllenhaal sliding down a building, etc). I guess a glowing ball of energy teleporting around town would have taken us out of the reality of it? If you say so, Noland.

Heath Ledger as Joker

Heath Ledger as Joker

Another word about casting. Heath Ledger really brought the darkness to the Joker, making him everything Jack Nicholson showed us the Joker should be from Tim Burton’s Batman. But he really pushed the envelope to give us the scariest nihilist to ever wreak havoc on the silver screen. He also had some of the funniest lines in the movie, even once referencing other projects in Ledger’s career, like when he played the little boy in Jerry MacGuire 15 years ago. I suppose I can give him a pass for not winking to the camera and really knocking the line, “You complete me,” out of the park, but only because the rest of his performance salvages this nightmare of a film. I really look forward to see what Ledger will do with the Joker in the rumored next film of the trilogy, Batman Begins 3: Trial of the Riddler.

Speaking of characters, just what happened to the ‘character’ of Gotham City? Apparently in one year (of movie time), the city dismantled its elevated train system, tore down the Wayne building in the middle of town, sank the Narrows neighborhood into the ocean, and put street cleaners on duty twenty four hours a day. Oh, and everyone lives and works in tall glass skyscrapers. I can understand modernizing Gotham (see Joel Shumacher’s brilliantly designed neon-kaleidoscopian Gotham from Batman & Robin, for example), but Gotham has never looked so bright and clean! It’s like I was visiting Chicago. Oh that’s right, I was. I’ve lived in Chicago for awhile now, and I truly don’t know how non-Chicago residents felt about this ‘new’ Gotham, but for someone who recognized every exterior shot it was quite distracting. I was definitely taken out of the movie during every scene. What’s also interesting is that all the citizens of Gotham can fit onto one ferry boat, while all the prisoners of Gotham fit on another. They have just as many criminals locked up as they have citizens! Strike two for trying to be “realistic,” Noland.

I swore I would keep this review under 350 words, and I’ve already gone waay over that. I haven’t even mentioned Two-Face (Eckhart), Jim Gordon (played by Gary Oldman), and Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman), but I’ll be brief. They all sucked.

I hope Christopher Noland can make some improvements with this mess he’s got himself into. I barely tolerated Batman Begins, but BB2:TDN is clearly way off the mark of what a good Batman movie should be. The third installment of the series should be interesting, to say the least. But I swear if Gotham City ‘resembles’ Los Angeles next time, I don’t care if they get Malkovich to play the Riddler, I’m walking the hell out of there.

Watchmen Trailer: First Look

I saw Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night over the weekend (Don’t worry, the review is forthcoming!) and the audience was treated to an interesting trailer. It seems that fans of the comic book movie genre will have an intriguing little movie to see next year. “The Watchman” hits theaters on March 6, 2009 (or 03.06.09. Oh, CLEVER use of multiples there). I thought I would offer my first impressions on the trailer for you, my loyal readers.

What is going on here?

What is going on here? Only in a comic book movie!

First, yes, this clearly looks like a comic book movie. There are nicely designed costumes, bright colors, hand-to-hand combat, fire and explosions, and funny looking set pieces, so you immediately know what you’re getting into. And even though that point is clear, it looks completely derivative. I’m there watching this trailer thinking, “Haven’t I see this before?” And it’s not that I’ve seen it in one movie, but just about every comic book movie that came before it.

We’ve got some guy in a cape and head gear who’s either a squirrel or an owl, clearly an *ahem* homage to Batman, who also happens to be cleaning up the Hollywood box office this summer. We also meet a guy wearing a sock over his head with ink stains on it. How would he be able to see in that crazy getup? Whether he’s naturally without sight or if the mask completely blocks out his vision, we certainly have our standard “blind superhero” here, based off of the archetype Daredevil, famously portrayed by Ben Affleck in 2003’s flawless Daredevil.

The Batman "Homage"

The Batman "Homage"

And we’ve got a hero who is, get this, basically naked, completely blue-skinned, and got his powers from some sort of radioactive accident. I guess I didn’t see that before in Ang Lee’s masterpiece Hulk from four years ago or The Incredible Shrinking Hulk, that came out in June and starred Ed Norton. Sure the Hulk is GREEN, so I guess it’s not a total rip-off. And sure, the blue guy can split himself into three, but then again we do have two Hulks running around. I’m looking forward to the rumored upcoming Hulk movie where Eric Bana’s Hulk does battle with Ed Norton’s Hulk and some other as-yet-unseen Hulk! But nice try with the blue Mr. Clean, Hollywood! We almost didn’t catch that!

Let’s talk about casting for a minute. Just who are these people? Not one Hanks or Pitt or Hathaway or Fanning in the bunch. And while I’m sure this cast of complete unknowns are fine actors in their own rights and they will handle their parts with grace and nuance, one big question remains. How do you sell a derivative comic book movie to the public, in WINTER, without a superstar headlining the cast? I guess the boys in marketing will have their work cut out for them!

I will make one note about one of the characters, who looks like he’s being played by Robert Downey Jr’s stunt double. It’s like they hired an actor that would resonate with folks because he resembles the biggest summer draw this year. Just take a look at this cigar-chomping ne’er-do-well, and compare him to Downey’s look on two recent projects, Iron Man (which will top out with around $316 million in U.S. grosses) and the upcoming Tropic Thunder (which will easily make somewhere around $100 million).

Interesting Coincidence!

Interesting Coincidence!

One, two, buckle my shoe. Ten, twenty, you’ve got Downey! Is it just a coincidence that Iron Man was the hottest comic book movie in recent memory AND that it came out only two short months ago? And now this new supposedly event comic book “film” has a guy that is basically Downey’s long lost twin brother? I think audiences will see through this, but it may not stop them from going to satisfy their unending lust for psychotics running around in spandex and leather kicking the crap out of each other. I, of course, will still be there opening night!

The trailer is not without some merit, and it does manage to put together a short narrative so non-comic book fans may find a reason to go. I will try to tell the story from what I remember. There is a world where superheroes were once the big thing but now don’t have a place in society. It looks like 9/11 didn’t happen, probably thanks to the superheroes wiping out the terrorists and winning wars in the past. I think one scene is a flashback; the large blue guy is fighting in Vietnam and literally atomizing people with his blue death touch. (Okay, so maybe the Hulk he isn’t, exactly.) But the heroes seem to know something really huge is coming and they’re all bitter about it and maybe when regular people look to them for hope and salvation, the heroes will say, “Ah, too bad, so sad.” The plot, I suppose, is not very conventional. I mean, just imagine superheroes turning against the people they’ve sworn to protect! But I swear I’ve seen this, probably in something from Shakespeare, where I guess all great stories come from.



But let’s see what positives we can find. There were some great other sequences that give us a taste of the action we will be in for: A dude gets knocked out the window of a skyscraper, some alien-looking ship comes out of the ocean, a superheroine crashes through a burning building, the aforementioned Vietcong getting atomized on a battlefield. These all point to a movie that will at least live up the standards of what can sell a comic book. There seems to be a love story tied into the plot, so there’s obviously something there for all the nerds’ girlfriends (oxymoron?) who will be dragged to the theater on 03.06.09 (Now I’m falling for it!).

“The Watchman” is definitely an effects-driven movie, also. I suppose most critics will say it’s a “stylistically fascinating treat,” as we see the accident that caused the origin of the blue man, the atomized Vietnamese fellow (boy, I can’t talk enough about that!), teleporting, and an exploding storefront! Wow, so much going on!

Not a selling point.

Not a selling point.

I don’t know, I don’t really think I can get too excited about this thing. At least with Spider-Man and Batman you know what to expect. This seems to be some director trying to turn the whole genre on its head. I guess it makes sense that humans are flawed, and superheroes are all human, so therefore all heroes are flawed, but don’t I go to the movies for escapism? I don’t want my heroes to be flawed! I want them to be beacons of hope! I want to look up to them! I want them to keep me safe and not have extra-marital affairs with the neighbors and cry about their problems. Those types of things are for schmoes like me! The trade papers and the Internet will have more information for us as we approach that oh-so-memorable release date, so keep your eyes peeled. Not all first impressions are accurate, especially mine! So don’t forget, people! “The Watchman” 03.06.09.

Anyway, I’m going to put together my review of Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night, so be on the lookout for that. And here’s a not so subtle hint about my verdict: Save your money!

Ciao for now!

Cheering at the White Sox Game

So sure, Friday night, I had had a few (more than 6) beers already. We saw the Sox bat around the order and score six times in the first inning. The crowd was basically pumped, but we were hitting a lull in the action by the end of the fourth inning. I decided it was time to bring out the big cheers and get people going. The folks around me seemed to enjoy it when I started it up, but I began complicating things and by the end, it was over.

“I say ‘Chicago,’ you say ‘White Sox!’ Chicago!” (White Sox!)

“Chicago!” (White Sox!)

“I say ‘Chicago,’ you say ‘White Sox!’ Chicago!” (White Sox!)

“Chicago!” (White Sox!)

“I say ‘Nick,’ you say ‘Swisher!’ Nick!” (Swisher)

“Nick!” (Swisher!)

“I say ‘2005,’ you say ‘World Champions!’ 2005!” (World Champions)

“2005!” [crickets].

I sat down and finished my beer. In my defense, I only mentioned Swisher because Konerko had just popped out and Swisher was at the plate. And “Paul Konerko” would have been a helluva lot more fun to say for that cheer, even though he and Swisher aren’t worth a damn. Plus, while “2005 World Champions” may have been a mouthful, I’m willing to bet that it would have been wildly successful if they were going strong from the get-go.

If I attend any baseball games this season, I may lay off the cheers. Or the beers.

Probably just the cheers.

But just wait for Bears-Titans in November! I’m fully prepared to embarass myself and everyone around me!

What Does This Have to do with My Chocolate Chip Muffin?

Whoa whoa whoa, okay slow down.

I absolutely understand what you’re saying here Jeff. But tell me, what does this have to do with my chocolate chip muffin?

Jeff, you know I get to work 20 minutes early just so I can enjoy my muffin and start my day off right. I don’t even clock in, this is all on my time. Mine. I get my chocolate chip muffin every morning at Marge’s shop around the corner after I come in and set down my things. I come back, pour myself a coffee, and enjoy the New York Times Crossword until I have to start my day. Very simple stuff here.

This muffin is moist and delicious. The chocolate chips are homemade, Jeff. Goddamn homemade with her special blend of cocoa butter. This muffin is everything I’ve ever wanted. This ain’t some half-assed muffin, Jeff, this is baked fresh every morning. Whole milk, natural ingredients. I pay $3.75 for this shit.

You know the rules, Jeff. The only time I should be bothered with anything before I clock in should be to tell me a) the coffee machine is broken, b) Marge’s shop burned down, c) my wife and children are dead. Anything else can wait because if I don’t get to have my morning done right, I am a complete mess for the rest of the day. Remember June ’04, Jeff? Do you? Yeah, there were some problems that day. I’m going to let this one slide because I’m in a good mood and my muffin looks extra satisfying.

Virtually nothing is that important that you can’t handle it without me. That’s why you’re my number one guy around this place. I still have 14 minutes left before my shift. So here, let me give you the keys to the weapons locker. Get the tranq guns and hunt down those escaped mountain lions before they kill again.

And close the door behind you.

A Dark Secret

My beautiful Joan,

This has been very difficult for me. I’ve carried a dark secret for far too long, and it must come out before I burst. And I’m afraid that when this is exposed, the ramfications for you particularly may be pretty great. That is why I am letting you know now, before you get a call from the Times.

Joan, you come from a life of luxury, decadence, wealth, and privilege. You attended the best schools, always wore expensive clothes and jewelry, and cavorted with some of the brightest and most attractive people on earth. You were a debutant and a star athlete. You attended balls in such lavish gowns that it required three people to dress you. You were valedictorian in high school and college. You received top honors for your multiple Master’s Degrees and two Doctorate’s. You socialize with some of the most powerful business people in the world, clink glasses with the Hollywood elite, and trade jokes with politicians. You have been to 94 countries and a thousand cities. You have raised countless millions for philanthropic causes to stop the spread of disease, fight hunger and poverty, and give children a chance at life. Without exaggeration, you are as close as one can get to being a perfect human being. What’s more, you know this and you are modest and humble about it.

Honey, you know I’m not like you, I’m not close to being like you. But you accepted me for who I was. You did not need me, but you wanted me, and that always made me feel incredible. Now, I have to tell you my secret, that one thing that’s always been between us.

Joan, I am the scummy kid who used to eat paper and gluesticks in school. I loved tearing up construction paper and folding little bits into my mouth. I would chew on it and savor the taste and the texture for hours. My mouth would turn colors as bright and varied as a rainbow. The other children looked on in disgust and made fun of my habit. They would point, laugh, throw things. And that’s when I turned to glue. I don’t know what possessed me to do it the first time, but after I took a chunk of gluestick into my mouth, that was it. I felt right at home, chewing the glue between my teeth and spreading it on the roof of my mouth. The taste was exquisite, truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Until I combined the paper and the glue.

My lips and the inside of my mouth would be stained blue for days after eating glue chunks and blue construction paper. I was proud and I had no problem wearing my colors with a bright blue smile. But for the other kids, I was completely reviled. I was isolated, alone with my glue and paper, but I would say I was still happy enough.

You must have heard about this type of thing, if not seen it with your own eyes. No one really knows what happens to that kid from school, but I bet most of them don’t marry a woman like you. But I’ll tell you, that child becomes me, an otherwise happy individual with some particular desires.

The habit came and went as I went as I got older, until 9th grade, where I decided I would never do it in school. At home, secure in my room, under the covers was where I would satisfy my fetish. The habit waned as I grew up, but it is something you still feel inside you as you mature.

The other secret that no one else knows is that we never stop. Not completely.

Joan, two weeks ago, when you and the kids went to pick up Madison’s new saddle, I over-indulged myself in the kids’ arts and crafts room. Even though I had happily stayed clean for a long time, I just had to have it. And now I know that this is something I cannot hide any longer. It is a part of me and I must accept it. I hope you can accept it too: you’re married to the scummy kid who ate glue and paper.

A press conference is planned for 1:00 pm tomorrow, where I will announce my secret. This surely will have some fallout, much of which will fall right on you. I will stay at the summer villa at the Cape until this blows over. By staying away, I hope to soften the blow and make things easier on you. And if you can still accept me, after all of this, you know where to find me.

You know, we always joked about the sound of my name and if I could actually somehow do just that. I hope, for our sakes, that you can see it differently. Please understand that I am not trying to hurt you, I’m just trying to be honest with myself. I love you deeply, Joan. Call me.



Sir, you forget yourself! No man has been so foolish to challenge me to a duel in nearly a score, and that last fellow bled heartily, pun fully intended. You believe that you must defend your lady’s honor? Fie! She should be honored that I even lowered myself to notice her and pay comment! Like you, she is barely a dandelion seed! And like a dandelion seed, you flutter through the world, hardly conspicuous and certainly of no consequence to a man such as me. But the seed becomes a flower, you say? Imbecile! Dandelions are nothing more than weeds on my well-manicured lawn!

Were I not so amused by your brash and ignorant youth, I would have scoffed at your challenge and a dandelion seed you would remain, forgotten immediately! But, tis true, I did overtly speak in rude tones of your lady friend there. I am not surprised of your reaction. A young man does many a foolish thing for the chance to touch the milky soft chesticles of a stunning jezebel such as her. I nearly see a bit of myself in you, displaying your virility with your audacious attempt to do battle with me. The difference, young rogue, is that I knew my opponents and I knew not to pick a fight I surely could not win.

That said, let us discuss the duel. I am nearly champing at the bit to scrap with you. It shall be for me to choose the weapons. Pistols at dawn? A pistol is a man’s weapon, not a toy for a petulant children such as you. Crossbows at dusk? Perhaps, but I fear your waify arms could not handle the weight. Muskets at high tea? I suppose we can be less civilized; we may as well throw rocks at each other or combat with sledge hammers. No, we shall at duel noon, with the greatest invention of the modern era: spicy Italian hoagies.

You seem confused! You issued the challenge to duel, that means I choose our implements. Spicy Italain hoagies are they. In more ways than one, they deliver a death most delicious. Dost you refuse? Sir, I promise you, these will be the tastiest hoagies you will have ever had. Of course, the flavor explosion will come moments before you arrive at the River Styx, so bring some change for Charon. I have provided for him many passengers! You know, it is what makes death all the more cruel, knowing you will never again have a sandwich stacked of Genoa ham, salami, capicola, mortadella, and provolone on a soft Italian roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled peppers and just enough oil and vinegar to noticeably stain your pantaloons.

You hesitate. Clearly you just issue challenges to men and boys alike, never considering the consequences until you suffer them. You are impetuous, unthinking. Now, faced with your mortality, you find regret in your life’s choices; you wish to take them back. Were I not faced with dishonoring my father’s name, perhaps I could overlook this. But a child like you needs to face his fate and answer to his mistakes. That answer comes to you as a foot-long of epic taste.

You ask this streetwalker to appeal for your life? That is nearly precious, if it not so desperate and pathetic. What say you, young harlot? Spare his life? Allow the father of your child to live?

Perhaps in death, this knave can teach his boy a lesson about minding himself and knowing his place in the world. Haha, the fable of his father can sit on the shelf next to Aesop’s! Every evening he can read about his father’s demise, brought on by his youthful boldness, by an appetizing sub!

Mmm, I do not discount your point. No one, even I, can be born with the wisdom I am trying to impart. It is possible I also learned the same lesson I seek to teach this scalawag, but clearly the circumstances were not so deadly.

It is done. I will spare you both humiliation and death, young man. This loose wench delivers onto you a second life. I pray that you do not squander it as easily as the first. Surely my father, of the house of Quizno, would see honor in granting you a chance at becoming a better man, instead of cutting you down like the wimpering scamp you are. Now, perhaps we can put this behind us and enjoy a frothy brew and share stories of conquests and lost loves, of adventures across foreign lands, and the savory sandwiches we have encountered. Haha, oh dear boy, the delectable spicy Italian hoagies I have seen!

One Potential Inner Monologue Before Getting My Ass Beaten

Ho boy. This guy is huge.

Okay, crap. Okay. Okay, his shoulders and arms are pretty big, so if he hits me in the face it’s really going to hurt. Okay, if that happens DO NOT CRY. Man up and take it.

His midsection is exposed, but I think he’s ready for that. Damn it to hell.

Jesus, it looks like I’m getting what’s coming to me. Maybe not with this guy, because all I did was laugh at him when I bumped into his girlfriend and she spilled her cosmo (was it a cosmo?) on his nice shirt. Sure, a dick move, but it’s not like I meant to do it. And he looked ridiculous; it was hysterical!

Maybe his neck? I just see muscle and veins, I don’t think his throat’s even vulnerable. Christ, this guy is a damn body builder.

Well, I guess I deserve this any way you look at it. This could be for all the times I took money out of the children’s cancer donation jar at the drug store. Yeah, it netted me only $18.45 over the course of 6 months, but that was pretty damn awful just on principle. Or it could have been for that 3 month stretch when I pretended to be blind at the YMCA just so I could “accidentally” walk into the women’s locker room. All that background and careful set up just to pull it off once. Taking away my membership and fining me $1,000 was not enough for karma, it seems.

Okay, stand up straight, let this guy know you’re not some cowering simp. Back up a little, he’s moving closer to you. Is his eye twitching? Gouge the eye, maybe? But if I tried that and failed, it would only enrage him further and I’d be in an ambulance in minutes. I’d pretty much count on bleeding all over the place. Oh, I could use some levity! Hey man, you don’t want to knock me around too bad. That cosmo will come out, but try getting B negative out of silk!

Yikes, I don’t think he’d find that funny, or anything else for that matter. Look over at the girlfriend, maybe she will sympathize. Hey, look over here! Christ, make eye contact with me, lady! Your man is about to smash me and you’re looking through your cell phone contacts! What the hell, a guy bumps into you and spills your drink and five seconds later you’re already calling one of your skanky friends to complain about it? You lousy bitch, I hope he beats you next.

See, there I go again. Making assumptions about people and just getting all ragey about it. No wonder this guy is going to rearrange my face, I’m a terrible person! I definitely have this coming!

Don’t you cry now, he hasn’t even touched you. All right, what are my options? The exit’s behind him, so I can’t run. Should I use this other guy as a shield? No, he’ll just team up with Johnny Roids here and then I’m doubly screwed. There’s always the kick to the groin, but that’s such a pussy move. I couldn’t do that to another guy unless he has a knife or something. See also my other point about enraging him further.

Okay, in the next life, don’t be so quick to judge others. Don’t talk suggestively to the Hooters girls and think you’re so damn clever, because they’ve heard it all before. Don’t make fun of other people, even if they have little Jew-y haircuts. Don’t pour water all over your neighbors’ walkways in the middle of the night in the winter. Don’t make calls to 900 numbers on your mom’s neighbor’s phone; just because she’s laid up and can’t move doesn’t mean you can sneak in and run up her phone bill. Don’t call your 11 year-old brother a faggot in front of his classmates when he brings you to fill in for “Father’s Career Day.” For chrissakes, you’re 32 years old! Rethink ever pulling a strawberry shortcake on your girlfriend. And don’t take your friend’s car without asking and return it with vomit in the back seat. Boy oh boy, I’m the worst person I know!

He’s cocking his fist back, this is it! Okay, make some fists, get ready to dodge this thing. Maybe he’s not that fast! He’s a lumbering monster, I should probably stay low.

“Let’s do this, retard.”

WOW, WHY DID I SAY THAT?! It’s too late to apologize for everything now! Oh God, here it comes! Remember, don’t cry! Just know you absolutely deserve this! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!—*

You Know What Sucks? Your Face.

Yeah, I finally said what everyone else is thinking! God, it feels so good to get that off my chest. I feel like this huge weight is gone! After all this time of you going on and on about what’s gone wrong in your life, everyone having to listen to every dumb little detail and smile and play nice, you finally get what’s coming to you! “Wah, my life sucks. Wah, everyone is stupid. Wah, this is just so unfair. This just sucks!”

Your face fucking sucks, dude.

You seriously need to get over yourself. When was the last time you asked about one of us? Did you even know Rocco over there just got his GED? I bet you didn’t even notice the banner that says “CONGRATULATIONS!!” hanging over the table there. You know, the table that has a cake and punch and chips on it? You just bust in on the surprise party, which I guess you fucking forgot about because you and your stupid face fucking sucks, and like, you just made it all about you, as usual.

What about Megan? She’s lost like 20 pounds and you don’t even notice? And yeah, maybe it’s a little hard to notice 20 pounds because she’s a bit of a fatty. But you know, if you weren’t so self-centered, I think you would have caught on with the rest of us.

Did it suck when Jerry lost his job last week? Yeah, of course. Did you even say, “Hey, sorry you lost your job, buddy?” And I forget, please remind me…. Did you even offer to throw in for his share of the bill when we went out to Olive Garden to cheer him up? No, of course you didn’t. You probably wished we were all buying you dinner because poor little you wasn’t the center of the universe for five fucking seconds. I know that must have sucked. But guess what? So did your goddamn face.

Look, we all like you, otherwise you would not be part of this super cool posse. And you’ve got a lot to be thankful for, like your mad juggling skills, those Benny Hill impressions that are spot on, oh, and I really don’t think I could balance my checkbook without that whiz-bang brain of yours helping me out. But geez, man, you need to get with it. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all, alright?

What kills us is that we all have important things going on in our lives, but you and your sucky face which sucks big-time seems so easy to neglect all of those things. Everyone was so supportive when I got the dealership to knock 4% off the three year lease to my new Accord. We all encouraged Nick when he decided to go vegetarian. All the guys were there for Madelyne when she scored that blow for like super fucking cheap and we got fucking wasted and trashed her step-dad’s house. In the scheme of things these are pretty small, sure, but they’re important to us. Apparently what’s important to us just hasn’t mattered to you lately, whatsoever. Julia says you’ve just been stressed; I say it’s your face, the one that fucking sucks.

Listen, I don’t mean to blow up at you like this, not at this party with all of these people around. But this just all needed to be said, because we love you and we need you to face facts; you’ve been a total loser to us all lately. You know I tell it like it is and sometimes the truth hurts. And the truth is, right now, buddy, is that what sucks is your face.

But look, I think if we just relax and talk about it a little more, we can get past it. Tell you what, let’s have some cake and continue the party for Rocco. It will totally take your mind off the rape and murder of your sister and your Stage IV cancer.

Badgers Have Taken Over the Frosting Factory!

BREAKING NEWS – The Duncan Hines frosting factory has been completely overrun by over two dozen badgers, according to reports. All 47 employees have been driven from the building, and police have set up a 50-yard perimeter, not allowing any employees, visitors, or press into the site. Police are attempting to establish contact with the badgers to begin negotiations. The badgers’ end game is not known at this time. Officials for Duncan Hines have no comment, but many eye-witnesses believe the badgers simply want unfettered access to the sweet and delicious Duncan Hines frosting.

Employees reported seeing the wild badgers enter the factory floor through a back entrance at approximately 2:45pm. “I knew them right away,” said Lillian Vernon, 48, a floor manager with the company. “Everyone in this area has almost hit one of them with their car at some point. Anyway, the squirrelly buggers just came right in and started casing the joint.” Witnesses say the badgers then split off into “teams of two and three” and scrambled to key areas of the production line.

“There was clearly a leader, an Alpha badger, directing the whole thing,” said Mike Smithson, a 15-year veteran of Duncan Hines. “He climbed on the central switching station in the middle of the floor. They did their little varmint squeaking to each other and the others knew exactly what to do to halt the machinery.”

For their own safety, employees quickly abandoned their posts and control consoles once the badgers got close to their stations. Witnesses agree the badgers did not display any aggression and they seemed to ignore the human beings altogether. “It’s like we weren’t even there,” Smithson said. “And they were standing on each other’s shoulders to reach the controls and they were working real smoothly.” The production line was completely halted within three minutes, which actually shattered the 4 minute, 23 second record held by the staff. “In our drills we never could get the sequence close to four minutes. Sure, there is an emergency stop in case someone gets hurt, but it takes about 12 hours to bring the line back up after that. These little guys executed the sequence to shut it down properly faster than any of us could have ever done.”

Once the line was halted, the badgers “really kicked it into high gear,” Smithson said, noting that they were quickly running around the factory, all making shrill squeaking noises. “That’s when we knew to get out of there and dial 911.” Smithson put out the evacuation notice over the building’s PA system. As employees began to evacuate, the badger noises began to coalesce into a repeating melody.

“It sounded like some ancient woodland creature victory song,” guessed Sandra Hart, 36, a food chemist with the company. “And as they sang, they began to enter the large mixing vats and dispensing units.”

Smithson said he saw four badgers climb into a vat of tasty vanilla flavor and begin playing. “They were not only eating it, but they were using their feet to kick frosting at each other.” He described that he also saw one badger lying on its back underneath a sampler spigot, while another badger turned the spigot to allow scrumptious chocolate frosting to drip directly into other one’s open mouth. “It was like a surreal cartoon.”

Duncan Hines makes 18 varieties of frosting, but only 10 are produced here in this Ohio factory. “We’ve got the classic standbys, chocolate and vanilla, but we took pride in being the only site that produced the heavenly Strawberries N’ Cream flavor in the largest frosting mixer this side of the Mississippi. Now there are damned badgers ruining our big batch and our equipment,” Smithson lamented.

The badgers have had control of the Duncan Hines facility for more than two hours, and police are still no closer to establishing contact with them. They hesitate in directly engaging the badgers for multiple reasons, according to officials. The speed and ease they displayed in taking over the factory makes them unpredictable. The victory song still emanates from the building and can be heard by the gathering crowd, plus the factory building now has a slightly greenish haze enveloping it. One witness theorized that the badgers’ woodland song is actually an incantation for dark magical forces, and that something big will happen very soon.

“We’re not sure what they are up to, but I don’t know if our riot gear would stand up to whatever those little devils are cooking up,” says Chief Gary Rockford, police spokesman on the scene.

Stay tuned for further developments!

2008 Reader Survey Reviews Are In!

It’s that time of the year! The mid-2008 Reader Survey Review is here! I asked faithful readers of Free Soup With Purchase to submit to a modestly sized 94-question survey about the site so I can make it even better! The data is still being crunched by the Examio-tron 800, but survey takers were free to write in any comments (20 words or less) at the end. Here is some of the most positive feedback we received:



“Wow, he watches a lot of shitty TV.”

“Nearly the opposite of confrontational commentary.”

“Free Soup With Purchase… is… a blog.”

“I’d say most, if not all, of his teachers phoned it in.”

“Even an hour after viewing the site, the general malaise that came over you has barely dissipated.”

“[It’s] kind of sexy.”

“They give anyone a bachelor’s degree, I guess.” (Thanks, Mom!)

“…racist trash.”

“It should have a thumpy techno beat playing at all times.”

“Where da porn at?”

“You owe me $89, prick.”

I want to thank everyone for participating in the mid-2008 survey. Be sure to sign up to receive your 2008 year-in-review survey in late December!

A Stupid Thing I Said

When your job requires you to be on the phone for hours every day, you end of leaving lots of voicemail messages. After doing it enough times, leaving messages develops a second-nature, sing-songy type of rhythm. You have standard phrases that you often use, just like you have different phrases when you’re closing up a live call. Leaving a message, you tell them to call you with questions and concerns, that you look forward to hearing from them, etc. Closing up a call, you ask if they have further questions, you mention it’s been a pleasure speaking with them, etc. Sometimes a mild distraction will make your lines cross, though, and you have to be deft enough to recover. For example, in leaving a message, you accidentally start to say, “Thank you for…” but maybe you normally don’t thank them for anything when you’re leaving a message so you modify it mid-sentence. “Thank you for… considering your options further with us. Give me a call any time before 6:30.” Swish. But there are those times where you really start a sentence that can only end one way. See if you can find where I decided to forgo modifying it in mid sentence and I just plowed ahead:

[at the end of leaving a phone msg. for work] “…Please give me a call at at your earliest convenience, Mr. Schmidt. It’s been a pleasure… leaving you this message. Have a good day.”

Lord. I just did that on Wednesday. I think my favorite part is where I stopped mid-sentence, laughed quietly, and acknowledged the absurdity of the statement just by continuing on. I hope my customer got a chuckle out of it, because I sure did.

What kind of silly things have you said when it became too late to do anything about it, or what kind of verbal faux pas have you made without knowing it?

I’m So, So Deeply Sorry

I just wanted to say that I very much regret the following:

You thinking I betrayed you.
Owing you this apology but not delivering until now.
Using your good faith in me against you.
‘Friendly fire’ as an excuse for letting you get hurt.
Reminding you of your faults while ignoring my own.
Editing out all of the best parts when I angrily described our friendship.

Accepting nothing but perfection from you.

Deciding that I was somehow better than you.
Increasing the tension between us by being petty.
Childishly ending our disagreements with insults.
Knowing I did nothing to correct our misunderstandings.

Doing little to salvage our friendship.
Inviting anger and bitterness into my heart.
Ending the best friendship a person can have, which I never deserved.

Believing my own lies for so long.
Internalizing my pain until I projected it onto you.
Taking you for granted.
Characterizing you as heartless, when it was me who was unfeeling.
Having no backbone when you needed me to stand up for you.

Can you ever forgive me??
Leave me a note below to tell me how you feel.

Dear Boss, I Screwed Up

Dear Mr. Murdock,

This letter may be my last communication on this earth. By the time you read this, you will have seen the results of my absolute incompetence over the last 12 hours. You also probably will have learned two or three things that I have been keeping from you. Upon reflection, considering the bind I now find myself in, some of these I should have mentioned to you, if not in the first interview, definitely in the second. I will attempt to fill in the gaps of knowledge below.

First, you might now know about my true identity. My name, in fact, is not Karl Smiter, but Morton T. Bajimini. Yes, of the very same Lake County Bajiminis. I feared if you knew my heritage, I would not be welcomed into the company’s open arms. Second, I do not have ten years of experience managing high-volume through-put in a three-shift production line, like my job requires. Conversely, I have only mostly overseen a staff of three entry level graphic designers at a tiny design firm. I know that seems odd, given that I could probably be a vice president at Bajiminicorp, but I have always defied my family’s — and our shareholders’ — expectations. Third, as a teenager, I caddied for you at the country club for three separate rounds of golf. You thought I was the one who reported you to the club house for cheating, and you got me fired for it. The truth is I never reported your malfeasance; that honor belongs to your rat bastard son, Jerry, who also worked at the club in those days.

Anyway, let me apologize for what happened to your car. It was the only vehicle left at the warehouse and you were not due back to the site from your meeting for several hours. I needed a fast way to catch up to your secretary, Janet, to stop her from doing something she would regret. The road was slick, I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, and I crashed into the guard rail at a sharp turn right past marker 21.5 on Route 19. The car went over the embankment and I was thrown hard. My days as a stuntman for Scott Baio actually helped me manage the fall, but even I could not anticipate falling onto a bear trap. My leg is decimated between these metal jaws. I’m immobile but alive. As I write this, I would say the bleeding has not been that bad, all things considered.

I’m afraid that because I did not get to Janet in time, she attempted to seduce your sister-in-law at my request. If things played out how I think it would have, as I write at this moment, Janet is probably elbow deep in the wrong sister-in-law! She was actually supposed to seduce Michelle, and not Pamela. Sir, let me explain: Michelle is withholding important information concerning your expansion project in China. She’s always had a soft spot for Janet, and I thought if I could get her to talk….. Well, you know Janet would do anything for you, and I thought the less she knew, the better. I only told her to go to your sister-in-law’s, seduce her, and try to get her to talk about the China deal so we can help you. I noticed too late that Janet left a printout of Pamela’s address on her desk, so I knew she was heading in the wrong direction. Her cell phone was turned off; I had no way to reach her. I just hope Janet’s marriage to the lieutenant governor can take this hit.

I should probably explain why your rare prize-winning blue koi fish are dead. Well, I had to put out the fire in your office and the aquarium inside was the closest solution available to me at the time. Sure, how did the fire start, you are probably wondering. Well, as I was racing out of your office with your car keys, I accidentally kicked over a kerosene container on the warehouse floor outside your door. While I cleaned it all up according to safety regulations, one small rag had not been disposed. I admit it, I missed it. I was stressed over causing an accident like that, and in my desire to relieve the pressure from what I thought was a near-miss disaster, I gave in to the dark urges of my most challenging vice. Before I could go outside, I lit a cigarette. And with that one errant half-extinguished match, flames were swallowing your office door frame. I managed to save a solid 60% of your Italian leather couch and most of the filing cabinet marked Q-Z. The rest of your files are lost to the heavens, but the extinguisher I retrieved from a clear 50 yards across the warehouse floor managed to avert a total catastrophe.

Sir, I am genuinely sorry that all of this came to be. If I had been upfront and honest with not only you, but myself, perhaps our Q2 numbers would have been better and not have brought the ire of the board. Your office would likely be untouched by the damage of Prometheus’ gift and my selfish appetite for delicious nicotine. Those poor fish…. Your sister-in-law would not have been violated by the faithful but unclean assistant you keep in your employ. Your Bentley would not be a state of near disrepair. And I would not be here in the woods, my leg shattered between this iron bear trap, slowly losing blood and beginning to shiver on this warm summer evening.

Personally, I’m equally shocked and impressed that I have been able to recount today’s events by etching this entire correspondence onto my chest, stomach and legs with my pocket knife. God bless the Boy Scouts, always be prepared. But I don’t know a Scout who could escape this, but clearly, being two badges short of an Eagle sure doesn’t change a thing for me. Anyway, I just need to say that it has been a pleasure working for you, Mr. Murdock. Hell, Jim, it’s been an adventure. I pray for your forgiveness and understanding, but I pray slightly more for an end to this numbing pain that is creeping up my torso. I’ve been here for hours. I’m getting sleepy, Mr. Murdock.

Please accept this as my formal letter of resignation. Tell Janet I’m sorry. You can keep my pocket knife, Jim. Tell my parents I don’t hate them. It’s been a fun working for you; I learned volumes. I may need a letter of recommendation. You can throw out any items in my desk. Someone has to take care of my cats.


(Morton Bajimini)

Fantasy Football Fever!

If you’re at all familiar with me, you know that me and sports are not a good combination. I have a cousin in the football Hall of Fame and I was at Super Bowl XXXIV, but I couldn’t tell you four players on any current NFL team. Some sports nerds would argue that this lack of knowledge basically means I’m not a man or cool, but I have way better reasons to support such a statement (i.e. my fashion sense, my Fantasy Football!physique, my unquenchable desire for frappuchinos, etc). But I thought it was time to show the world that I can manage a Fantasy Football league with the grace of an old pro, so I put together my own league on Fleaflicker and came up with some scoring rules that I thought would still be fun. I then crafted a recruitment e-mail to tell my fantasy sports buddies all about it; below, you can see a variation on the e-mail that describes all the greatness involved. You’ll undoubtedly want to join up after reading the recruitment letter, so get in touch if you’d like to become a part of history. The new season starts in like 2 months, so you have precious little time left to join or start up a league of your own! Get on it!


New for the 2008 Season: the hottest Fantasy Football League since the 2004 season, brought to you by Fleaflicker.  

League Name: Kicker Confidential  
Divisions: Two  
Teams: Eight  
Action: Unlimited!  

That’s right, the insane custom league you’ve always wanted is finally here! Just how insane is it? Check out these Roster restrictions:  

Kickers: Three  
Defensive Linemen: Two  
Defensive Backs: Two  
Bench: Five  

Holy mother of Christ! The fate of your team rests on the accurate legs of the best, the worst and the mediocre kickers in the NFL! The scoring rules are highly customized, so BIG points will be given to the kickers who kick far, kick often, and meet and break records! And to round things out, you receive some decent points for your DBs and DLs who happen to get a good amount of tackles, sacks, and interceptions! And if your Kicker tackles someone? Holy crap, look out!  

Check out the scoring rules here:  

Sure, it makes little to no sense, but that’s why you want in!  

There is a limit of 8 teams to allow everyone to have 3 fairly reliable kickers starting every week. Plus there are DBs and DLs all over the league putting in a good effort. If you lose a guy due to injury, you can likely find someone to fill in the roster spot without sacrificing performance.  
Be sure to also check out the players available and you will see how many points they scored based on the customized league rules. Remember when Bironas had that record-breaking day last season? That’s why he has the most points for 2007.  
This is a private league, so if you want the password to join, let me know. We’re just about half full! If there is somehow an incredible demand, just know I’m basically sending it out on a first-come first-serve basis. So get in soon!  
There will be more tweaks made to rules and points, and suggestions will encouraged and largely ignored. BAM! No, really, this is just a league to have some goofy fun, so if you can commit to making proper roster changes every week with the rest of your leagues, you’re welcome to join.  
Let’s have some fun out there! Let’s go football!!!