Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I Would Rather See The Flying Lizards

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. I for one would rather have wisdom teeth yanked than subject myself to that. Nonetheless, I have a post about the occasion. NFL fans may feel free to call for my head on a platter at their leisure.

Millions Expected To Watch Bloated Pointless Game; One Time Player Wishes He Was There

Santa Clara (CP) For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, this is Super Bowl weekend in the city of Santa Clara, California, a short drive from San Francisco. The game, to be played at Levi’s Stadium (yet another example of the sheer tackiness that is corporate branding), pits the Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos. This game is also the fiftieth edition of the championship game; this year the NFL has suspended the tradition of using Roman numerals to identify the specific game (being one of the few organizations left on the planet to still use Roman numerals).

Fans are already pouring into the area in advance of Sunday’s game. They are a mix of Panthers and Broncos fans, but also fans from nearly every team in the NFL (with few sightings of Cleveland Browns fans being an exception). A raucous, drunken crowd, they seem nonetheless happy to be in attendance, with team jerseys and faces painted in garish ways. To this reporter, who finds football pointless and tedious, it is a mystery as to why it appeals to so many. Just as much of a mystery as to why this reporter’s editor dispatched him on this assignment (editor: one of these days, you rat, you’re going to get what’s coming to you! I still haven’t forgotten that you laughed at my mother-in-law’s funeral!)

This year the game is being broadcast by CBS, with pre-game analysis having already started three weeks ago. On Super Bowl Sunday itself, the pre-game program will start early, go hours, and eventually there’ll be a game. Along with lots of commercials, a halftime show featuring Coldplay, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars, and a national anthem sung by Lady Gaga. Well, at least they didn’t bring in Roseanne Barr for the national anthem. The game itself will seem to go on forever, prove to be boring, and apparently be the swan song of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, if you pay attention to the endless sports columnists who seem to know he’ll be retiring even before the game. Well, in fairness, Manning does look pretty long in the tooth, to use an old expression.

This reporter, doomed by a cranky editor to cover the festivities (editor: it’s because you hate football that I sent you, you ****ing jerk! It’s called punishment, because I hate you! Oh, do I hate you!) has been spending time digging up stories. Apparently the League has taken steps to prevent another blackout as happened at the game in 2013. In the opinion of this reporter, another blackout would be just the thing to liven things up. Or, since we’re in California, how about a nicely timed earthquake? (editor: keep at it and I’ll drop you into the San Andreas Fault during a quake) This reporter sighed, wishing to remind his grouch of an editor that he does not have the time to come to California during a quake anyway to drag this reporter off and dump him into some open spot during an earthquake anyway.

As is always the case with these games, spectacle is a big thing, and the stadium has been prepped and cleared by the crews who have been working here for weeks to get things ready. There’ll be fireworks, cheerleaders, massive production values on the halftime show. All of this will, of course, delay the game well past its scheduled start time, and given the creative way the League has of stretching out the game, it will last hours past its assumed end time.

Though he’s not involved in the broadcast this year, legendary player and broadcaster Terry Bradshaw is here to take in the game this year, and this reporter cornered him and had some questions to ask. “It’s all very simple,” the affable Bradshaw told this reporter in response to one question. “Everybody knows this game is as boring as all get out. I mean, if you just had the game, it would put everyone to sleep. That’s why the League’s worked with advertisers for years, and with grocers and liquor outlets and the networks, all on a program of getting people either drunk or distracted by lots of spectacle during the game, just so they don’t notice how boring it all is. Wait, you’re not going to quote me on that, are you?”

Lady Gaga seems an unlikely choice to do the national anthem before the game. “They asked me to do the halftime show,” she admitted to this reporter earlier this week, for once not looking like the garish over the top chameleon performer she seems to be in her stage persona. “I don’t really know why.... I mean, I don’t really care for football.” This reporter nodded, surprised to have something in common with Lady Gaga. “The League didn’t really seem to go for my ideas for a halftime show though. Apparently post-modern Impressionism, flying lizards, fluorescent colours, and clothing made of meat puzzled them.”

This reporter found himself dazed just trying to imagine that. (editor: dazed? What’s that mean? Have you been drinking?) Lady Gaga shrugged and carried on. “So I get to do the anthem instead. I’ll just leave it to Coldplay and Beyonce and Bruno to have themselves a wardrobe malfunction moment at just the wrong time. Preferably all of them at once, because wouldn’t that just totally upstage the last time this game had a wardrobe malfunction?”

A post script to the story: last week while this reporter was in Las Vegas covering another story, a chance came up to speak to a former football legend, minor actor, infamous suspect, and convicted felon. The Lovelock Correctional Center is a prison in rural Nevada, and it is presently home to OJ Simpson, convicted on robbery and kidnapping charges after a 2007 Las Vegas sports memorabilia debacle. The subject of the so called “trial of the century” in the murders of his ex-wife and another man (side note: shouldn’t the Nuremberg Trials be the trial of the century?) is looking worn down and old these days; prison clearly hasn’t done Simpson any favours.

Simpson sat down at a table across from this reporter in a visitor’s room. He was evasive with answers on many things- including the murder case, the kidnapping case, and his acting days, only saying “Naked Gun would have never been half the movie it was without me. I don’t get why I wasn’t given top billing in the whole movie, but hey, studios are ****ing fickle.”

The subject of the Super Bowl came up, and Simpson seemed to brighten up at the mention of the game. “Man, I’d love to go out and see that. I tried to get the warden to let me out. I mean, just one day, right? And if you can’t trust OJ Simpson, who can you trust? But the warden said no way. So I’m stuck here having to watch the game with all the other convicts in here. Damn, what I wouldn’t give.... hell, I’d commit murder to get to see the game live.” He paused, as if realizing what he’d just said, and his voice grew tense. “Hey, don’t you go quoting me on that, you hear?” Guards started closing in as Simpson’s voice rose. “Don’t you quote me on that! I’ll kill you!” Guards were restraining Simpson by now, dragging him away. “If you quote me on that, I’ll cut you, mother****er!”

Simpson was gone, pulled out of the room, still hollering at the top of his lungs. Clearly his temper hadn’t gotten any better down through the years. This reporter made a mental note to have his life insurance adjusted. Between a convicted felon and a grouchy editor... (editor: one more word out of you and I’ll help the Juice finish you off)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Devil May Be In The Details

Prince Of Darkness Refuses To Mortgage Presidential Hopeful’s Soul

Las Vegas (AP) Reporters were summoned to Sin City this weekend for a press conference by an unknown speaker, but one promised to be about the American presidential election. Reporters gathered in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, speculating among themselves as to what this might be all about. Some suggested that there might be a new candidate throwing their hat in the ring, but Las Vegas rates as an odd location to kick off an attempt at the nomination- for either party.

A Bellagio spokeswoman came up on stage in an auditorium, calling for the attention of the gathered press. “Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. The Bellagio is pleased to welcome you all for this press conference. The individual in question asked to introduce himself. And without further ado, here he is.”

The spokeswoman stepped off stage, while someone emerged from the other side of the stage. Reporters recognized him, though he appeared to be younger than his current age. The man looked like the actor Al Pacino.

He strode up to the podium, smiling in a way that seemed to make everyone uncomfortable. The man was dressed in a black suit with red tie, eyes hidden behind sunglasses. The smile persisted as he gazed out at the crowd.

Finally, a reporter spoke up. “Are you... are you Al Pacino?”

The man shook his head. “No, but he’s played me before in a movie, so taking this form seemed... appropriate.” His voice, low and gritty, solidified the impression he gave of making people uneasy. “I’ve gone by many names down through the millennia. Azazel. Sammael. The Lord Of Pride. Beelzebub. Satan. Voland. Baphomet. Old Scratch. The Dark Lord. Lucifer. The Prince Of Darkness. Old Hob. Mephistopheles. Old Nick. Diabolos. Oh, most people think of me as the Devil.”

Reporters shifted in their seats, clearly uneasy. The Devil laughed, the sound making this reporter feel the distinct impression that someone was walking over his grave. “Relax, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not here for any of you. This is, after all, a conventional press conference. I simply have some remarks in regards to a single candidate in this country’s presidential elections.”

He removed his sunglasses, and instead of conventional eyes, his eyes had red pupils surrounded by black. “I could have invited all of you down to Hell for this press conference, but it does tend to be a one way trip. So Las Vegas seemed a suitable compromise. After all, there’s a doorway to Hell beneath the city already. Oh, come on, don’t look so surprised.

The Devil sighed and smiled again. The reporters continued to feel uneasy. “Ladies and gentlemen, it was suggested recently by a columnist that one of your Republican candidates would be willing to sell his soul for the White House. I have come here to refute that claim. Not because the writer was wrong- in fact, the candidate did make that offer to me several months ago. Simply put, the candidate has already previously sold off parts of his soul to me. There’s no soul left.”

He paused for a moment. The reporters waited, wondering who it might be. Then he spoke. “He sold his soul to me several times to avoid corporate bankruptcy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m referring to Donald Trump.”

The blowhard real estate developer turned wannabe presidential Republican candidate has been all over the news in recent months, from his kick off to a Republican candidacy by insulting Mexico, to dragging the Democrats, fellow Republicans, Muslims, African-Americans, and anyone who doesn’t agree with him through the mud. All while promoting himself endlessly as the only person who’s up to the job of being President of the United States. All while having absolutely no political experience whatsoever. Trump has been managing his campaign, firing off vitriol in tweets and interviews, all from a sickbed as he recovers from the literal beatdown he got from rival candidate and former wrestler Hulk Hogan, along with Hogan’s campaign manager Ric Flair. While he might still be in a body cast, Trump refuses to let go of his ambitions to get in the White House and obliterate America’s reputation just by being himself.

“You’re telling us Donald Trump sold his soul to you?” one reporter asked, trying not to sound timid.

The Devil nodded. “Yes, well, the man’s got a serious ego problem. Thinks the world of himself, doesn’t seem to realize how many people are laughing at that hideous hairpiece, and believes he’s destined for greatness. I mean, look at the way he talks about himself. He uses phrases like tremendous, outstanding, spectacular, the best... I don’t have to be a psychologist to know a guy who talks like that is desperately trying to overcompensate for some serious shortcomings, both in terms of character and physically if you know what I mean. I’m sure any of his ex-wives could verify that. If you ask me, and you are asking me, the man’s an asshole.” This reporter found himself wondering if the editors would run with this headline for the story: THE DEVIL CALLS DONALD TRUMP AN ASSHOLE. Nonetheless, the Dark Lord carried on.

“As it turns out, the first time he found his little empire in financial difficulties, that precious little ego of his wouldn’t let himself actually fall into bankruptcy. So he reached out, made some calls, and, well, long story short, signed away a portion of his soul to me to bail him out. So I did. And then it happened again, and again, and again, and well... this latest time, as it turns out, there’s no soul left. He was all tapped out.”

The Devil smiled again. “He came to me, back before those wrestlers put him in the body cast, asking for a guarantee that he’d be President. Offered up every last trace of his soul for eight years in the White House. I double-checked my records, but sure enough... I have full possession of his soul. He begged to remortgage the whole deal. I said no. You know, I really don’t like it when people beg things of me. I mean honestly, where’s their dignity?”

This reporter doubted Donald Trump ever had any bit of dignity, and then asked, “So what happens now?”

The Devil shrugged. “Well, perhaps it’s possible that your Republican party will be dumb enough to let him have the nomination. I wouldn’t put anything past them these days. I don’t see him winning the White House though. Not enough stupid people to make that happen. So, someday he’ll kick the bucket, probably in some way that attracts lots of attention, because for a man who craves attention as much as he does, even his death will demand it. Or maybe he’ll just blow a proverbial gasket while screaming at someone. Either way, then he’ll belong to me, for eternity.”

“I mean no disrespect by saying this,” this reporter spoke up. “But aren’t you concerned that he could try something in, well, the afterlife... like staging a hostile takeover of Hell while your back is turned?”

The Devil stared at this reporter, smiled, and shook his head. “Look, you’re looking at the guy who’s got the souls of Hitler, Attila, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Mao, Nixon, Bin Laden, and that kid Spanky from The Little Rascals in his keeping. Rest assured, I have plenty of experience keeping megalomaniacs crushed beneath my feet and weeping bitter tears. Besides, I’ve already got my eternal punishment for The Donald ready and waiting.”

“And what’s that?” another reporter asked.

The Devil smirked. “Two things. First, since he’s such a glutton for attention, we’ll be stranding him in a dark room where he’s all alone, with no mirrors and no company. Second, we’ll be keeping that roadkill he calls his hair just out of reach for all eternity. Take away the two things he loves more than life itself, and he breaks. Egomaniacs always break within three days of their arrival when we make use of the Tantalus Initiative.”

The Prince of Darkness took his leave. The mood in the room gradually improved with his absence. The story has something of a post script, with the response of the candidate himself. Trump issued an angry statement by phone to his favourite personal propaganda venue, FOX News, in typical Trumpese. “This is absolute rubbish! Disgusting! This is something that Obama and Christie and Clinton and Carson and Sanders and Cruz and O’Malley and Rubio and Pacino all got together on to drag me through the mud! Disgusting! Everyone knows I’m the greatest candidate ever! I don’t need help to take over the White House! Everyone knows I’m outstanding and stupendous and the best and the most qualified. My presidency is going to be amazing! So this whole slander on my spectacular reputation is disgusting and terrible. I have not sold my soul to anyone, and if I’m lying, may lightning strike... ummm... let me get back to you on that. Vote Trump in 2016!"

In a related story, Trump Tower was, starting five minutes after the mogul’s statement, struck by lightning five hundred ninety three times over six hours.

Monday, February 1, 2016

All Hail The Mighty Groundhog

It is Groundhog Day tomorrow. And so as is always the case, I have an image blog for the occasion. Enjoy, and whether or not you want to admit it, we're still in for another six weeks of winter. Or sixteen.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Day In The Life Of A Cat

And so now it is the time for the cat to have her say. Your Imperial Grace, the floor is yours.

7:31 AM. Slowly wake up at home. Big stretch, yes, just like that, and a yawn to finish it off. I’m ready to face the day, kick some butt, and take some names. And since this is a Saturday, that means I have the staff all to myself.

7:37 AM. Well, there you are, staff. How about we get ourselves started on breakfast? And of course by we, I mean you. I can’t open cabinets and serve myself, you know. Now then, I would like my milk in a slightly chilled bowl, and a plate of tuna served post haste. I do not want to see any trace of field rations, so be a good staff and see to it.

7:41 AM. Staring at a bowl of field rations. Staring up at the staff. How many times, staff, have I told you I don’t care for field rations?

7:42 AM. Walking away from the staff and the field rations. Hopefully sooner or later she’ll take the hint.

7:55 AM. Let’s see, what’s on my to-do list today? Scratching post exercises, nap, settling on the staff’s reading material, more naps, maybe tweet some stuff to dog lovers, you know, the usual, like cats rule, dogs drool...

8:12 AM. Startled out of my reverie by the loud sound of a single woof from outside. That sounds distinctly like that annoying mutt from down the road.

8:13 AM. Have found a perch on a windowsill to look out over where I think the barking came from. I am scanning the property and the woods beyond. The stupid dog must have been there, but now he’s gone. Laugh it up, mutt, but someday I’ll be the one sneaking up on you.

8:17 AM. Staff! There you are! I assume you heard that barking from that irritating hound. How dare he turn up around my property without my express permission! I demand you do something about it! Like giving his human a stern talking to! 

Staff? Staff? Hey, get back here!

8:31 AM. Reluctantly, I eat some of the field rations.

8:54 AM. I think a nap is in order. Yes, that would suit me just fine.

11:48 AM. Waking up suddenly. Sniffing with nostrils... turning around. The staff just gave the scratching post a spraying of catnip. Out of my way! Launching full feline attack on that scratching post!

12:23 PM. Slowly coming down off that catnip high and ferocious assault on the scratching post. If there was a cop in the room right now, I’d just have to say, sorry, officer, I can’t help myself. I’m addicted to the nip.

12:36 PM. Lunch with the staff. She’s given me a couple of slices of smoked meat. That is much more to my liking than field rations, staff. You don’t suppose the butcher could make this with a bit of catnip mixed into the recipe, do you?

1:35 PM. I see the staff is reading. You know, there is no better place in the house- at least at this moment in time- for a nap than on top of her book.

1:36 PM. Have successfully settled myself on top of the staff’s book and lap. She sighs with exasperation, which I make up for with some particularly strong purring. Works every time.

3:43 PM. Waking up on the couch. Hey... how did the staff extract herself from beneath me without waking me up?

3:46 PM. Finding the staff doing some ironing. I give her a head bonk to the leg. Staff? Who gave you permission to get up? Because I certainly did not.

4:32 PM. Watching the Weather Channel. An update on the cleanup from that big blizzard down in the States a few days back. Some areas are still snowed under. You know, if that snow fell around here, it would just be another snowstorm. Down there, it’s gridlock for a month.

6:07 PM. Staff working on dinner in the kitchen. Smells like omelette. Just as long as she cooks some meat into it. Oh, and I’d prefer a bit of onion with mine. I mean, omelette without onion would just be uncivilized.

6:22 PM. Dinner with the staff. Yes, she’s given me some omelette. With onion. Though for some reason she cooked green olives into it. Well, okay, this one time I’ll put up with it. Had you cooked broccoli into the omelette, staff... that would be unacceptable.

6:41 PM.  The staff’s doing the dishes. I’m busy staring at the ceiling, pondering the answer to the great mystery in life: if you had to save one of two things, which would it be- a ball of yarn or the catnip?

7:36 PM. The staff settles in with another book on the couch. I decide to give her a break instead of launching yet another occupy her lap operation.

8:46 PM. Okay. Time to have a look and see what she's reading now.

8:48 PM. Sitting on the back of the couch, reading over the staff’s shoulder. Staff, we seriously need to get you better reading material, because these 50 Shades books were written by an awful writer. Seriously, a room full of dogs could write a better book. They’d probably title it Chasing Tail.

9:23 PM. Musing on the big questions of life. Are humans meant to be anything but our servants? What is the meaning of the red dot? And can other forms of life purr?

11:36 PM. The staff is off to bed. Well, good night, staff. I’ll be busy down here finding a place to hide that book of yours. I think the fireplace is a perfectly suitable place, don’t you? Of course, the problem with that is that my claws can’t open the screens. Oh well, it was an entertaining thought.