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1. Wisdom from the Cartoon Prison

You gotta be careful in here, kid. You may be wearin’ your stripes, but you ain’t earned your stripes. Go it alone and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll hitch yourself to the wrong post, get saddled up and sold to the highest bidder. Stick by me and you might stand half a chance, but you’re gonna hafta listen.

What’s that?

Oh, that’d be on Tuesdays. Not a bad spread. Pickles. Onions. Standard. You’ll learn the menu. More important is this here yard. How you carry yourself. Who you trust. Take that fella at the bench press for example, the one with the dark beard and forearms thick as your chest. Name’s Bluto. Doin’ a dime for kidnappin’ a woman. That’s right, a sailor man’s wife. Threw her over his shoulder and took her down to the docks. Oh, he’ll rough you up right, but keep a can of spinach in your hip pocket and he’ll think twice. I don’t understand the science, but that there is the formula. Spinach.

Agreed, kid. Coupla sizzlin’ patties will beat a can o’ the green any yesterday or tomorrow, but that’s not what we’re talkin’. We’re talkin’ today and today is about the disco and the disco is about stayin’ alive. Have a look here. Skinny character sporting the lime suit? Question mark on his chest? That don’t mean he’s the information booth. No sir. Say a word to that crafty SOB and he’ll come at you like the Sphinx, all riddles ‘n giggles. Next thing you know you’ll be chummin’ around with a psycho circus clown and runnin’ from some pointy-eared, gravelly voiced vigilante. No. Thank. You. Best to steer clear of that riddler entirely.

Beats me! I wouldn’t know if his riddles are about ground beef or ground cinnamon for that matter, because I don’t talk to the man! Aren’t you listenin’? Better be. Your eyes ain’t gonna tell you what my twenty-seven years behind this barbed wire knows to be true. Another example. You probably look over at that strung-out orange beaky guy and think, “well that’s just some ol’ cuckoo junkie.” You’d be right about that. But that ol’ cuckoo junkie goes by the name of Sonny, and Sonny knows where to score the sweet stuff, if you catch my meaning. Sonny is just cuckoo for it, smuggles it past the guards in cereal boxes. You want a taste, that’s your bird.

I guess he could get you some, but why not wait till Tuesday? Like I said, they fire up that flame-broiler on Tuesdays. Sonny’s got no time to bother with no fast-food. Wisen up, boy, or you’ll end up runnin’ with them Hanna Barberas and let me tell you, that gang’s no Laff-a-Lympics. Sure, some of them hustlas may talk a soft game, soundin’ like Casey Casem or Paul Lynde, but they will be quick to shank a new fish if they even suspect you’re conspirin’ with the ascotted and far-sighted and snack-gobblin’ brand o’ meddlin’ teenagers. Dig? Of course you don’t. I’m not spellin’ it out in ketchup. These are the type of gangstas that dress as ghosts and swamp thangs and go hauntin’ just so they can shut down orphanages! That enough to scare you? Oh and don’t get me started on the Orphans! That’s another gang. A more Dickensian band of bandits you have not seen. If it ain’t your porridge they’re after, it’s your inheritance. You work the chimney sweep detail and you’ll be pits-deep in those mangy lads, singing show-tunes while they pick your pocket. You’re better off

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2. Who Here at the Yorktown Pennysaver is up for a Little Gwar?

From: Darius Pogue
To: ”Office List”
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 8:39 AM
Subject: Who here at the Yorktown Pennysaver is up for a little Gwar?

Hey gang,

Sigh in relief. This isn’t another email about security software updates. Trust your humble one-man IT department when I assure you that the Yorktown Pennysaver is now a veritable Fortress of Solitude, and that this email blast is of a decidedly more personal nature. It’s sure to be the talk of the office until the steam whistle blows.

“Out with it!” you say? Fair enough. Guess who’s going to see Gwar this Saturday at Hogan’s Hideaway? That’s right. The very same fella who tells you, “don’t panic!” when you’ve got a kernel panic, who converts your JPEGs to PDFs and is a BMF besides. Me! And I’ve got an extra ticket.

So who wants in?

Now I realize some of you will probably have questions before committing. It’s natural. Seeing Gwar ain’t exactly like popping by the Cineplex for some Pixar. It’s an event, one that will quite possibly define your life. So I’ll try to walk any Gwar-dolescents (as I like to call the newbies) through the basics.

First question is obvious: What time? Well, doors are at 8 PM, but you should probably stop by my place around 11 AM so we can prep.

I can hear our favorite Mary Kay spokesperson/administrative assistant Deidre right now. “Prep? Like makeup and stuff?” Little different than that, D. But it’s all par for the Gwar course. We’ll be pouring latex molds for our festering neck boils. Doing a little mace polishing. The requisite codpiece fitting.

I know. I know. The boys in sales love a good codpiece joke, but I assure you, the codpieces are an absolute necessity. You gotta be prepared should you find yourself on the business end of a flail some goblined-up tweaker is swinging willy-nilly. Learned that the hard way during the Scumdogs of the Universe Tour.

Haley, I know you’re hip to all the new bands (I’m gonna get that Atari Fire album you keep raving about), but do you have “Scumdogs of the Universe” on vinyl? I’m betting you don’t. Let me tell you, “Sexecutioner” sounds so much warmer, and with all the lovely crackles and pops laying some ambiance down on “Slaughterama,” you can practically feel the Nazi decapitation.

But as great as those songs sound from the turntable, they sound infinitely better live, when your ears are soaked with blood. Judging from Mike’s fainting spell at last year’s blood drive, I’m guessing I lost him right there. But hold on, Mike. Weren’t you the one who told me The Blue Man Group was “the best show in Vegas?” Didn’t you forward that Gallagher video around? Gwar’s a lot like Gallagher, but instead of washing watermelon juice out of your hair the next morning, it’ll be blood…possibly pus.

Notice I said possibly pus. I stress the possibly. Gwar makes no guarantees in the pus department. They are very clear about this. My apologies if the inclusion of pus, or lack there-of, is a deal-breaker for some. Not much I can do about that.

Now I don’t doubt that Carmen, the consummate copy

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3. Best Practices in Internet Marketing

I don’t pay a mortgage. I rent. Always have. Some people have told me that renting is unwise financially, but it’s worked out well for me. Too many foreclosures out there, too many shrieking morons from HGTV and TLC that I might come afoul of in the real estate game.

The internet, however, is desperate to sell me a mortgage. And some life insurance. And gold. And some other big ticket purchases most people usually discuss with their families and their financial advisors. The internet used to try to rope me in with dancing silhouettes. I am immune to such clever ploys.

But now they’ve taken it to a whole new level. I’m not sure how many of you have come across the irresistible ads that feature not much more than portraits of people, just regular people like you and me and our post man and our butcher and our haberdasher and our mongers – of the fish and war and hate varieties, of course. Common folk, in other words. And while most financial indicators seem to be telling us that markets are still on a downward slide, I can’t help but be tempted to click through these ads and get in on some wild adjustable rates and overpriced premiums. The marketing is that good. I give you the following evidence.


Let’s start with this guy. When I see this guy, I think, “okay, kinda creepy, but also kinda Tolkeiny.” Any hobbit hobbyest will tell you that property values in Middle Earth are strongly affected by the migration of orcs and that gentrification is almost always wizard dependent. Not only do wizards enjoy fashionable robe shops and potion bars, but they employ and/or smite aimless orcs. Racist? Perhaps. But to me, the assurance that the gentleman above is purchasing a mortgage is an assurance that a neighborhood is on the rise, even if it is in East Mordor.


Now check out the fellow with the slanted eyebrows. He’s all, “You despicable louse. You mangy cur. I’ve not only seen the film Boiler Room, I’ve lived it. And if Giovanni Ribisi has taught me one thing, it’s that his performance in Avatar was a bit one-note. If he’s taught me two things, it’s that if you don’t buy these stocks right now then you are a loser, A triple-A rated loser. Buy it, turd! Buy it!” And I’m all, “I was already convinced by your powerful collar.”


Some people might think this woman looks a bit like Rachel Ray. I think she looks a bit like a woman who just witnessed a gruesome triple murder. In either case, we’re scared. And fear is a big motivating factor when it comes to purchases. If it wasn’t for fear, we wouldn’t buy seat-belts for our cars or cages for our polar bears. I’m not sure what the screaming woman is selling (maybe she’s consolidating our loans), but I want in on it because I’m afraid that if I don’t get in, I may be snatched up by a pterodac

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4. The Last Party

Rarely does a photograph inspire me as much as the jaw-dropper above does. I found it at the Huffington Post, which in turn snatched it from what I assume is Trent Reznor’s Polaroid collection. Actually, I don’t have a clue where it ultimately originated, nor do I want to know. Because the primary source can’t possibly live up to my imagination.

I like to think that the photo was found some years ago in a dented metal lunch box, on the backseat of an ivy-hugged T-Bird, which was parked alongside an abandoned hunting cabin in the north woods of Quebec. I like to think that there was a journal enclosed in that lunch box as well. I like to think that the journal starts out innocently enough, with tales of teenage optimism and lumberjacking aspirations. I like to think that a man named Pierre Beaumont enters the story at a certain point and he has the laugh of a magpie and he carries a jack-in-the-box that he’s always cranking, though the thing never opens, and when the young author asks him if it’s broken, Pierre simply puts a finger to his lips and says “the trees will drink our secrets.” And I like to think that on a night of sleet and whiskey, the author boards a canoe with Pierre and the two go in search “The Norwegian,” a notorious hermit who is said to possess a radio which is perpetually tuned to the sounds of woman washing their feet, but they lose their way when they flip the canoe, then decide to follow an albino fox through a dark hollow, at which point they come upon the fore-mentioned hunting cabin. Then I like to think that the journal changes, and mutates into a series of sketches and scrawls, of riddles and limericks, which appear to make no sense at first, until paired with the photograph above, and then a foggy portrait of an endless evening emerges, of a burlap sack full of masks, of a victrola, of a boy sewing his own eyelids shut and clapping on one and three, of a meal of mutton and Tang, of a game of William Tell, of a moonlit tango which makes the men blush with jealousy, of a hissing teapot, of third-degree burns, of a monkey with a shaved head and  lobotomy scar, of a old man who speaks through a hole in his throat and says, “when I was just a boy my father took me to the fish market and we bought the largest fish they had, a five hundred pound marlin, and when we returned home, my father burned my bed and all my linens, then he sliced the marlin lengthwise with a letter opener  and he told me that I was to sleep inside of its belly, and so I did, for fifteen years, just me and the marlin and the moonlight, and I was okay with this because I was boy and boys don’t know what life is supposed to give them next, and what life gave me next was a bear, a snarling, drooling, furry beast who stole the marlin and me and took us to a cave and in the cave there was a bucket and in the bucket there were marshmallows, and as the bear ate the marlin, I ate the marsmallows, until my stomach expanded and rounded me out, causing my body to roll down into the caverns and onto dark underground river, in which I floated for a while, both afraid and delighted, until I reached an opening and poured out into the Rainforest Cafe, where they were serving Rumble in the Jungle Turkey Wraps, and I ordered one of those and a nice cold sarsaparilla, and I waited to the judgement, but the judgement didn’t come, no, the judgement never comes, and I learned that the hard way, just as we’re all learning tha

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