Friday, December 28, 2012

Let's Make Amends


            Howdy! I’m currently pulling an all nighter? Why, you may ask? Well, no reason. I don’t have work or responsibilities of any kind tomorrow so I wanted to see if I could still do it. Obviously, I’m getting a little loopy, or so says the leprechaun in the corner. So as a challenge to myself, I’m going to see how well I can describe the 27 amendments to the Constitution (American Constitution, that is. Lookin’ at you, Ecuador). Obviously, it won’t be very well at all, but that’s half the fun right?
And as we all know, the fun half is the South Half!

1. The Right to Free; Speech, Press, Religion, Petition, and Gathering
            This one is pretty big. You’re likely to have heard of it. It’s what guarantees that we cannot be jailed for speaking out against the government, although Lord knows that not every President has followed this rule. It also affords the press the same right to speech in publication that citizens receive. Especially important to note when discussion the First Amendment: It only applies to governmental bodies. I can delete your comments off of my Facebook status, and that’s not infringing your First Amendment rights. You can be fired for, say, flipping off a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, or saying the N-word several times a second, and as long as your employer isn’t the United States Government, you can’t claim wrongful termination stemming from the First Amendment. Obviously there are other rules in place to protect employees, but those aren’t the First Amendment. Petition and gathering are pretty easy. They mean you get to ask the government for things officially, even if they don’t have the power to do it (like firing the Cowboys head coach), and then show up places en masse to prove that you have nothing better to do than yell about how you have nothing to do.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Cotton Anniversary

            This is my second anniversary of running this blog. This is a short collection of how I felt when I found that out.


First I didn't believe it.
Then I realized how wonderful a day it was!
            First, let me start this anniversary post the same way that most anniversaries begin: With an apology. I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing, as I always say to my grandmother and diary. But despite what my friends and family may tell you, I’m not constantly talking about nothing, and you need ideas to write down in order to… well, write things. I had several smaller ideas that didn’t seem to work as of late. Writing about the Bonus Army (which I may still do later) seemed too much like the paper I had to write for a real class, writing about going through a break up seemed whiny and malevolent, and nobody wants to read about being a waiter. That’s basically the only job people who write blogs have. That and law students. Speaking of law students, I didn’t write about the Bill of Rights because this guy already did it way better than I could have. And I haven't written about my recent internal conflict between Constitutional Constructionalism and Liberalism, because even I fell asleep halfway through that sentence. 
            So where does this leave us? I’m not sure. This blog turned two years old on the third, and I’m twelve days behind thanks to my heroin binges and compulsive fist-bumping of strangers. Last year, I shared several smaller excerpts in lieu of anything real to say, and I think it went over well, but that’s probably because I still have nothing to say, a year later. I think the fact that I had 44 posts in 2011 and 14 in 2012 shows more than I could say.
            One thing I wonder, as an aspiring writer (guh, do I sound like that all the time?), is how Cosmopolitan Magazine “journalists” came to be. The type of person I aim this blog towards does not often pick up a Cosmo except to make fun of it, so we often overlook the sheer size of these things. Sure, they are legitimately 75% advertisements, but there are over 200 pages in any given edition. That’s a lot of pages about how to do terrible sexual things, written by an actual person. Although I’m sure some programmer can come up with an easy formula to create some of these articles. [Random number] ways to [Arouse/Turn On/Heat Up] your [Boyfriend/Sex life/Bedroom/Father-daughter relationship]. That would explain why the sex tips are so out of touch from actual events. Snap! PROGRAMMER BURN! Run mauryshow_oooh.wav!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Frame This, Buddy


            So, guys. First of all, how are you? I feel like sometimes this site is too much about me and history’s other greatest monsters, and I don’t give you time to get your two cents in! There are two ways we can do that- You could follow me on Twitter and then PM me all your dirty thoughts gushing reviews of my posts, or you can just say your words at the computer screen. How’s that lady at work you don’t like?

            Totally!

            What, no way. That’s probably against some rule, right?

            Yeah, I guess. Anyway, I called you here today because I have an issue brewing inside my heart. My therapist said that writing my internal conflicts out will help me focus on self-realization, and I have no therapist but that sounds like something one would say. But the great conflict raging inside my heart and loins is this:

What do we do with the Founding Fathers?

            As a future history teacher and overall-Rufus-King-enthusiast, this is a question I need to answer soon. Countless people have already accosted me on the street to find out my opinion on the issue, and I can’t imagine what will happen when I’m a recognized and respected teacher. NOTE: I don’t really have a very firm idea of what life is like for teachers.
            My heart is divided into two camps, much like the Founding Fathers themselves. On one hand, the Founding Fathers (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and the like), fought the world’s first democratic revolution, inspired generations of Americans, and put forth one of the greatest written documents in political science, our Constitution. On the other, they were racist, slaveholding rich men whose biggest beef with England was the fact that they paid too much in taxes. Plus they capitalized words in a different fashion.
            Which Founding Fathers do we subscribe to? Should we even subscribe to any Founding Fathers at all? Is it right to eliminate the bad parts of the FF’s part of history as just “the culture of their time”? Are there any horse socks? Let’s take this on a two-party basis.

Virginia Plan: The Founding Fathers are great and we should love them
            The Founding Fathers are great. When the Declaration of Independence was written, they signed their real names to it, in direct defiance of Great Britain and risking their lives in the process. The sheer ballsiness of this act is not to be undersold, even if high schools typically frown on the word “ballsiness.”
            After they beat the strongest army in the world with little more than a cause, The Founding Fathers got right to business of drafting a system of government to replace the monarchy they had been subjected to. They promptly screwed the pooch. But it’s all part of the drama of American history that the Articles were pitched out within a few years. It takes a lot of moxie to throw away a system of government you had fought to win that quickly.
            Then they set up a system of government that, although not as original as we’d like to think, influenced and profoundly changed the entire world. The Constitutional Convention was hot, both in the meteorological and metaphorical sense. Opposing viewpoints were thrown into the mix genially and peacefully. At the end, the Framers settled with compromise because they knew it was better to get half a loaf of bread than starve waiting for the whole thing.
            The Constitution they wrote has handed power off peacefully with only one failure, and for almost 250 years that’s a pretty good success rate. No other country has survived so long with the same written Constitution. It’s because the Framers knew that they were not smart enough to see into the future. Vague language left holes and wiggle room for their offspring to make the Constitution whatever it was needed to be. Even now, issues brewing from technology the Framers couldn't have dreamed of can be solved using the Constitution.
            In essence, the Founding Fathers represent everything that is great about America and should be looked up to by every citizen.

These men made the world what it is today! Awesome!
New Jersey Plan: The Founding Fathers were kinda evil by today’s terms and not to be idolized.
            The Alien and Sedition Acts. That’s about the crux of this argument. I suppose you can argue John Adams was an ambassador to France at the writing of the First Amendment but that hardly exempts him from blame. The Alien and Sedition Acts spit straight into the First Amendment’s face by restricting speech critical of Adams’ administration and the American government at large. Two presidents in, and the generation who wrote the Amendments had begun to attack them in legislation. The Founding Fathers were two-sided at best and at worst, hypocrites.
            Thomas Jefferson, writer “that all Men are created equal,” owned several human beings as property. John Adams, as we discussed, silenced dissidents in his term as president. George Washington actually had a losing record in battles during the Revolutionary war.
            Speaking of the Revolutionary war, the colonies only pulled off a win because Britain was not making that much profit off of America anyway, and busy fighting France for whatever reason. Without the involvement of France, the colonies likely lose the Revolutionary War, although to be honest, another would have surfaced eventually.
            The Articles of Confederation were an abject failure, proving several republican and States’ Rights ideals false. Numerous rebellions cropped up during the Articles’ time on top, and were only put down when George Washington stamped down with a boot made of militiamen.
            The Constitutional Convention came close to being just as much of a failure, broken by partisan views and uncomfortable, humid, living quarters. The document, at the end of the process, included a clause requiring states to send runaway slaves back to their rightful owners, and restricted the vote to privileged white men.
            The Constitution’s failure to resolve slavery through legal means resulted in the Civil War, the deadliest war in American history. It took almost a full century for the last issue of the Constitution to be resolved, and the Union only survived through a bloody, terrible war.
            In the 1842 case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story found that slave catchers did not need any written warrants or permission from states to reclaim runaway slaves. Part of his argument was based on a thoroughly untrue idea that the Fugitive Slave Clause “constituted a fundamental article, without the adoption of which the Union could not have been formed,” when it was actually a practical afterthought. Now, Justice Story is obviously not a Founding Father, but this anecdote is another problem with the Founding Fathers: The Founders have stood for whatever the powers-that-be said they did, throughout history. The worship Americans give to the Framers along with vague language allows policy that the Founders may have abhorred to be pushed through. Our sentimental connection to the past opens the way for America’s very history to be perverted into supporting either side of whichever controversy is at hand.
            In short, the Founders were bigoted by today’s standards, and couldn’t even follow their own laws. Through their failure to adequately state their plans for the future, any view of how America should be run can be attributed to upholding the Founders’ true beliefs.

These men made the world what is is today! What dicks!
The Connecticut Compromise
            These are both well written arguments that should be a shoo-in for Best Post and Most Handsome Blogger awards this coming season. But I need to come to a conclusion not only for my personal peace of mind, but for narrative closure as well. So where do we land?
            The Founding Fathers were human. They existed, they pooped, they had sex dreams about the women that they were associated with in polite company, and had a couple of days of inexplicable awkward conversation with said women because of it. They fought for what they believed in, but they weren't exactly sure what that was. Too often we forget just how large the group of Founding Fathers was- 57 men signed the Declaration of Independence and 38 put their names to the Constitution. (How did I know this? I got out my copy of each document and counted the names, ‘cause I’m high tech like that.) You can’t get fifteen people in a comfortable, air-conditioned room to agree on what pizzas to order, much less 38 men in a hot Philadelphia courthouse, deciding how a country will be run.

"So it looks like we're all in agreement then?"
"I disagree!"
            To say they were products of their time makes me sound like an apologist for racism, but it’s true. Despite owning several slaves, Thomas Jefferson was a huge proponent of gradual emancipation. Other Founding Fathers were straight up abolitionists. We see how ingrained slavery had become by the outbreak of the Civil War that we forget it hadn't always been that way. The South actually grew less tolerant of threats against slavery as time went on, and dug itself deeper into the trench of the “Peculiar Institution”. By the end of Thomas Jefferson’s life, he was distraught at the condition of slavery in the United States.
            Yes, the laws and rules drawn up by these men are vague, but they’re done that way for a reason. They were writing a Constitution for the future, and didn't assume to know the business of coming generations. Hell, there’s an entire section of the Constitution devoted on how to amend it, which a man who thinks himself perfect would never include.
            But we must always remember that as great and as smart as these men were, they were just that- men. By elevating them to a state of Patriotic Deities, we actually undermine their legacy. Think of two American tourists abroad. One is polite and wearing nondescript clothing while the other yells that as an American (the greatest country in the world), he should be given special treatment. He’s also wearing a cowboy hat and an American flag shirt. Nothing hurts America’s image worse than its over-the-top supporters, and the Founders are the same way.
            Using these men’s names to give false historical backing is sickening. Not only for slavery, but a wealth of other issues have been linked back to the formation of America. For example: Hey, Christian activists- this country isn’t a “Christian nation.” Sure, we are a country of an overwhelming Christian majority, but it is actually written into the laws and historical documents that America rejects such a label. The First Amendment doesn’t only protect religion from some laws, but prevents the government from supporting a particular one. The Pilgrims and Puritans were small groups of settlers that nowhere near matched the secular business interests that settled the original colonies. The Founders, far from being hardcore Christians, were often more moderate secularists or even diests. And speaking of diests, the Framers weren’t hardcore atheists either. Thomas Jefferson may have chopped the religious aspects out when he was writing his own personal bible (and then distributed it as the weirdest party gift in history), but he still recognized that the Bible held a lot of cool moral lessons.
            The only way to avoid this pitfall is to study. Yes, I’m biased and promoting what is essentially job security, but knowing where you come from is a huge aspect of knowing where you’re going.
           
            In closing: The Framers were very smart men who did very smart things. But they were men, and were susceptible to the same mistakes as any other men in history. We should look up to them, and respect their accomplishments, but take a very hard line not to worship them. The best way to honor their memory is to actually know what their legacy entails; hard work, compromise, and a hot-ass courthouse in Philadelphia.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How the West was Wooed


            So it turns out that last year was the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, something that I probably should have taken notice of. But I wasn’t a member of Reddit then, so I didn’t notice until it was revealed that today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg for my Dixie readers), the bloodiest day in American history. So since we know it only takes 22.3 years for something to be funny (source: South Park), I felt I’d celebrate such a tragedy by revealing a little bit about The War of Northern Aggression’s roots.
            Basically it can all be blamed on Congress. Like, all of it. Ever since the Constitution, our government’s answer to slavery was to humph and hurrah for so long that by the time you demanded an answer, somebody new had taken their office. Compromise after compromise, carefully worded legal document avoiding the term “slave” after carefully worded legal document avoiding the term “slave,” Congress declined to comment on the most divisive issue since the bicameral legislature.
            Now don’t get me wrong, I love compromises. I know most people don’t, so I’m willing to scale it back and say that I just like them. Sound fair? I think I’m the only person who is fully pleased by someone else’s compromise. But when all you do is not do, it tends to catch up with you, as Congress found out from 1786 to 1861.
            Perhaps I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself. Ya’ll don’t even know what crude and inflexible metaphor I’m going to use to explain a hundred years of history! So here it is. It’s a doozy:
            The Civil War was a messy breakup between an unhappy couple, tempted by another woman.
Hey, I'm California. Be sure and
check out Disneyland!
            Let me unpack that for you. Remember my “Revolutions are high school dances” theory that shook academia to its core? This is very similar, unshockingly. The relationship between the North and South was always a rocky one, filled with arguments, squabbles, duels, and even a hyphenated last name (Oh Mason-Dixon jokes, you’ll never get old). The South was a colonel dandy type man, still drinking mint juleps and holding jousting tournaments. The North was kind of a cold, stiff girl, concerned with telling everyone how to act and ending alcohol drinking. They had their differences, sure, but they got along okay.
            That is until the West comes into town. Finally free from her break up with France, the West offers things to the South the North can’t match. Expansive territory, fertile soil, and down in Louisiana, those wet lowlands he’s been missing. Hey, I had a blowjob joke when I talked about France last time, that one’s getting past the censors too.
            The North notices his wandering eye, of course, but she figures she could just be friends with the West and shut the whole thing down. The couple agrees to some rules about the temptress West, resulting in the Missouri Compromise. Okay, the South can spread slavery to the new state of Missouri and hang out with the West, but the North gets some more room of their own, in Maine. She probably just needed more room for shampoo, amirite, fellas?!
            But then President James “Kickass” Polk comes to the relationship and really expands the West’s role in the North and South’s lives. He extends territories all the way to the Pacific then doesn’t run for reelection, because James “Kinda Shady Reasons for War” Polk is a boss and there was nothing awesome left to do.
"Hey, here's a quarter of Mexico and a whole
bunch of Oregon. See ya. Polk out."
            Now the couple sees way more of the West than they did before. While the North likes her haircut up in the Oregon Territory and the jewelry they can mine in Nevada, the South is checkin’ out her fine hills and ridges, nah ahm sayin’? And you best believe that the North wasn’t going to have the South expanding all the way into the West, to the Pacific. She could see the way he was looking at California’s rich soil that if she didn’t lay down the law soon, he’d be incorrigible for the future. So the North starts trying to pass “No slavery in the new territories”/”You can’t hang out with this hot West chick without me in the room,” legislation, and of course the South doesn’t like that. “What about the Missouri Compromise, bro?” The South probably didn’t ask his girlfriend, the North.
            The news was that the Missouri Compromise was old and busted. The South had gotten Texas, but the North moved quickly to secure California as a free, “No tickling cause that’s too much flirting” state. Instead of the Odd Couple-esque Missouri Compromise line, the two agreed they’d let the West decide for herself which one of them she wanted to hang out with. The North and South thought they’d try the new technique at this hot restaurant called “Kansas” that had just entered the Union. It was the breadbasket of the nation, and supposedly they had great drink specials too. God, I love history jokes.
            Okay, I could fill a whole post about how Bleeding Kansas would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. I’m going to drop the metaphor for a bit (You’re welcome) in order to tell it how it actually went down. The whole “popular sovereignty” thing was real, and on paper, looks like a great idea. It pleased state’s rights activists in the South as well as the pure-democracy supporters in the North. Let the people vote whether they were going to be free or slave when they entered the Union! Yay! But, uh, there’s no real way of telling whether these people actually live here or not. That’s important because there are many pro-slavery people living like, thirty miles away in Missouri. And anti-slavery people living just as close in Nebraska and Iowa. So everyone and their mother start flooding into Kansas to have a chance on influencing the vote their way. Now instead of two separate states glaring at each other from across the river, we’ve got people with mutually exclusive moral systems living together. So called pro-slavery “Border Ruffians” begin stirring up trouble, starting fires in Lawrence and killing one man in the process. So Pastor John Brown takes the logical approach of going to the nearest pro-slavery settlement (that wasn’t affiliated with the first group in any way) and HACKING PEOPLE TO DEATH WITH BROADSWORDS. As a way to die, that wouldn’t exactly be pleasant, but you have to admit, it’s pretty metal.
"BROOOOOAAADSWOOOOORDS!"
-John Brown
            So Kansas has its own little mini-Civil War from 1854 up until 1861, with the start of the big boy Civil War. It was like a Civil War scrimmage. All in all, sixty people died from this infighting. Eventually the state was added to the Union as a free state, and provided politicians with an important rule: don’t let people decide their own future because they’ll end up hacking each other to death with medieval weaponry. In D.C. things were getting worse at this time too. A senator named Charles Sumner had the crap beat out of him with a cane on the floor of Congress by a Southerner after giving an offensive speech declaring slavery as a "harlot" and probably "totally queah" (he was from Massachusetts).  You can say our Congress is at its most partisan now, but until John Boehner has the orange beaten off of him, you'd be hard pressed to back that point up.
            But back to the metaphor: The North and South are meeting the West at Kansas, and they’re both vying for her attention and affection. And if you’ve seen one bad romcom, you should know how this ends- with the North and South shouting at each other in front of every other patron present. “You don’t respect my traditions and notions of God-willed entitlement!” the South yelled, slamming his fists down on the table. “Yeah, well how about you get some MANUFACTURING JOBS!” the North yelled, throwing a drink on him, all while the West is sitting and shifting awkwardly in her seat.
"I'm getting the feeling you don't even WANT me to
hold blacks as property for their entire life." 
            The couple returned to their apartment in D.C., fuming at each other for the mix-up. The North decided she’d cool down by getting drinks with her friend Abraham Lincoln, who had always disapproved of the South’s life choices, and that was all he could handle. The South packed up his cotton sheets, tobacco plants, more than a few human servants, and walked right out the door to crash at his buddy Jefferson's house.
            And that’s how one of the most important events in American history unfolded. Well, of course, 1,000,000 times as detailed and 10 times as accurate, but you know, whatever. 

He should probably stop signing his name to these things,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For Our Four 4/4 Friends


            I’m in an interesting place in my life. Being on the upper half of college (woah) allows me certain viewpoints on popular culture that others (i.e. people with big boy jobs and those in the real world) have since lost. Plus I work in a bar, which is basically a pop culture smorgasbord. A culture-copia, if you will. One element most clear in both college and a bar is popular music. It blares out of every car when I’m trying to sleep, or pumps from the speakers so loudly I can’t take people’s order. But while everyone can hear that music, I have a position to really see the gap between what the “artist” –remember, this is popular music- is trying to say and how it gets misinterpreted along the way.
           
            “We Are Young,” by fun.

            This has to be the second most popular song on the radio (behind Call Me Maybe), and the first most with any sort of artistic worth. The song is a catchy anthem about being optimistic in the face of crises, and, well, young. It says, in essence, “We’re young, let’s fall in and out of love so easily because we’ve got time ahead of us to find the one that really matters later,” which isn’t exactly encouraging, but romantic in the non-lovey sense of the word.
            How people miss the point: “We are young, so we won’t get as bad of hangovers, and he says 'bar' a couple of times so let’s get wasted!”

            “Somebody That I Used to Know,” by Gotye.

            The Alphabet song, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and now this Gotye song. The chord progression is as inescapable as breathing, or as this song on the radio. But the song is a refreshing change of pace, with slow, muted verses surrounded by a soaring refrain, telling the story of how you carry breakups with you into the next relationship, and how patterns repeat themselves. Also, Kimbra is totally naked in the video.
            How people miss the point: They make a dance remix of the song.

            “YOLO,” or whatever it’s called, by Drake.

            Look, I”ll admit that I actually like the two previous songs. But I hate this and all songs by Drake so much that I don’t even know what the real title of the song is. But even though I hate stupid, lame-ass Drake, even I have to admit this song (whatever it’s called) really had to have been misinterpreted. I have to believe that, for my very sanity that “acclaimed” “artist” Drake meant more by You Only Live Once. "This is your one life to live, go do amazing things and improve the world the short time you’re here", I sincerely hope he meant.
            How people miss the point: “Drink myself blind and puke in my hair tomorrow at work! YOLO!”

            “Rolling in the Deep,” by Adele.

            1. You will never get me to admit Adele is pronounced Ah-dell. I changed from Her-me-own to Her-my-oh-nee just fine, but Adele is most certainly Ah-del-lay. Adelle, maybe I could see. What? The song? I don’t think I have to describe it, it’s basically been playing at any given time on at least one radio station in the tri-state area for the last three years. As to what it’s about, I don’t really know. A relationship gone wrong, I guess. Looking back, I really have a break-up heavy list on my hands here. But the song is chocked full of powerful notes and raw emotions, focused just as much on the space between the notes as it is on the melody.
            How people misinterpret it: They take the most emotional song by one of the most talented soul singers of the new millennium and make a dance track out of it.

            If anyone knows where I can get a job as a music critic in order to tell everyone how wrong they are, I’d really appreciate it. In fact, if anyone knows of any job where I can write things and get paid (or even not paid) for writing them, I would also appreciate that.

He didn't cover "Gangnam Style", because "Gangnam Style" is perfect in every way,
Mick Dickinson

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Five Rings to Rule Them All


            You know what the world loves? Friendly competition. It explains a lot about the prevalence of our wars, at least. For finding out which country America is better than, wars have done a pretty good job. The more fiscally responsible option is to use the Olympics. What? There’s one going on right now? Well then this article is perfectly timed! What a crazy coincidence.
            But sometimes the Olympics can be a little unfair. When you’re from a country that’s smaller than Central Park, it’s not too easy to find a lot of world-class athletes, and you can’t exactly recruit citizenship. There’s no country that is the Stanford of Olympics, I mean to say. So in the spirit of fairness, I think the decent thing to do is to weigh each country based on its population. Think Honors Olympics being worth more for your country's GPA than Remedial Sport.
            Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out a good enough way to do that. So instead, I decided to just find the medal count per capita, that is to say, which country has the most medals per citizen. Unfortunately again, I’m just one man who started before the Olympics are even over, so I only did the top 20 countries in the medal counts. All the stats and math were done by Google, so I’ll share my Nobel Prize with them. In addition to the stats, I’ll list a line or two about each country to keep this blog from turning to the spreadsheet channel.

Medal Standings on a Per-Capita Basis

1. Jamaica- 1.12x10-6 (.00000112) gold medals per person, 3.32x10-6 total medals (1st). Jamaica starts off by dominating. With only 2,709,300 people living inside the country, Usain Bolt is single-handedly carrying them to the top of the per-capita ranking.

2. Hungary- 8.62x10-7 gold medals/person, 1.56x10-6 total medals (3rd). In a surprise move, Hungary must be pretty starving for some gold medals in order for their small populace to put up this many great athletes. Note to self- look up synonyms for starving that might fit better.

3. New Zealand- 6.81x10-7 golds per, 2.27x10-6 total medals (2nd). In a country that has more sheep than people, it’s astonishing that New Zealand has managed to fleece the Olympic games like they have! I promise they won’t all include puns from now on.
Together, they are worth .000001362 gold medals.
4. Great Britain- 3.83x10-7 golds per, 8.14x10-7 total (7th). The hosting country loses a couple points for including Scotland, England, and Wales all together, increasing their population size without many more good athletes. Lookin’ at you, Wales.

5. Kazakhstan- 3.62x10-7 golds per, 5.43x10-7 total (9th). Kazakhstani citizens are as hard, individually, to beat as their country is to spell! *Borat reference*

 6. Belarus- 3.16x10-7 golds per, 1.05x10-6 total (5th). Where is Belarus, most people ask? Well in addition to being a landlocked country (whose major exports include mustaches and questionable democratic elections) bordered by Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, it’s right here, at the sixth most gold medals per person!

7. The Netherlands- 2.99x10-7 golds per, 9.58x10-7 total (6th). One of the few countries whose title reads more like a band name, the Dutch citizens have quite a large piece of each gold medal! Side rant- Why did we start calling Holland “The Netherlands”? When did we say “Okay, yeah, we’ll switch over, you crazy Dutch, what with your wooden shoes and split-up restaurant bills!”Also, WHY THE HELL ARE THEY DUTCH!? Why not Neders? Or Nerds?

8. Cuba- 2.67x10-7 golds per person, 7.11x10-7 total (8th). I guess all of those cigars didn’t harm their lungs too much, because the citizens of Cuba have the 8th largest portion of each medal in the world!

9. Australia- 2.65x10-7 golds per, 1.28x10-6 total medals (4th). I suppose the Australians are so in shape from clinging onto the bottom of the Earth all the time that they are all gifted, athletically, for the Olympics.

10. South Korea- 2.45x10-7 golds per, 5.12x10-7 total (10th). First they have the world’s fastest internet, and now they have the 10th largest piece of each medal per person! Once Starcraft becomes an Olympic sport, prepare to see this Korea rocket through the ratings.

More Countries! More probably racist things to say! I love it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NPC, NP Do!


           Too often, in video games, we forget that every character is living simultaneous lives with our protagonist. Not everyone in The Capital Wasteland can be the Lone Wanderer, and we too often overlook that each Artificial Intelligence probably gets tired with our natural stupidity and antics. I've tried to correct that here in a couple major video game franchises. 

Mass Effect
            “Wow, that Wendell Shepard is really a Paragon of humanity! Dressed in that leather vest, all those wristbands and weird bicep wraps! I was so busy thanking him for saving my family from all those vague threats that I forgot to yell at him for breaking into every one of my many wall safes and PDA’s! I do sometimes wonder why nobody arrested him for punching that reporter. Three times, in fact. The first human Spectre. Wow. But, do you ever realize that he radically changes in appearance like, once every three years? Whatever, it’s some number of years in the future. I’m sure that’s normal now.”
            “I heard he tried to have sex with both an asarii and a quarian, before he realized that neither of them have compatible genetalia. What, didn’t he take Space Health in Future Middle School?”


Skyrim
            “Hark! The Dragonborn comes! With his fierce shouts and armor that would make the steeliest heart beat faster in fear, Thiefstie Stealington rides into town on a majestic steed, but in an act of merciful glory, left it at the town gates, assumably so it doesn’t crap all over our cobblestone streets. After he visits the town smithy to relieve himself of an incredible and, frankly, very curious amount of steel shields and bandit’s armor, he buys all the metals we can mine as a town, sits right down, and forms more armor with his mighty hammer, often for hours at a time. Our fine traders in Whiterun can hardly get enough gold to satisfy Thiefstie’s smithing talent. Then he’s off to see the court magician and Jarl!”
            “Yey, I heard he buys up all the soul gems that the wicked magician owns, then enchants rings and wool shoes only to sell them back again.”
            “Truly, the Dragonborn is the premier businessman of our 4th age.”
            “And hear me, brothers, when I say that is not all! He dares to stroll into the Jarl’s quarters at all hours of the night, and ask him a single question before leaving as suddenly as he came, a very tired and muddled Jarl left in his wake.”


Half-Life 2
            “Are you sure that Gordon Freeman is the savior we’ve been waiting for? He’s been putting a popcan in the trash for half an hour and giggling. Before that he just tossed concrete blocks onto the see-saw to try and catapult himself off. Theoretical physicist, my ass.”


NCAA Football Franchise
            “And there’s the seventh touchdown of the game, a seventy five yard pass on the first possession from scrimmage. Kirk, I have to think that this is a little lacking in sportsmanship.”
            “Brett, you’re totally right. If they’re not scoring right away on punt returns, this team is heaving bombs on every play and totally burning their opponents. This coach should know better, he’s been in charge of this team for fifty years! How about we see some class, coach, and you run the ball?”
            “I agree completely, Kirk, or the least he could do would be to put in his second string. If you’re just joining us, the Sugar Bowl has totally got out of control, 48 to nothing in the third quarter, with the field goal team… wait, no, I’m sorry, this can’t be right but it looks like- yes, the winning team just lined up in a punt formation. A confusing tactic to say the le- oh. Well how about that, Kirk?”
            “Being up so many points that you punt the ball through the uprights just to prove a point is sickening. The NCAA should really shut this coach down. I don’t care if he’s got five stars of reputation and thirty straight national titles under his belt.”


GTA IV
            “That man just shot a dude with a bazooka! But it’s okay, the guy he shot was a criminal. Ohp! Now he’s stealing my car with the same bazooka. I’m going to try and fight him with my fists. I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything like he just did, again. Come here, ass-” [Explosion]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mick on Mick: The Exclusive Interview


            I was thinking earlier today, as I do almost every day, that I have not lead a very exciting life. Although my parents misspelled my name often, despite my repeated corrections, for the greater part of a decade, my life has mostly drifted past quietly, with little to recommend it. That is not to say it has been a boring life, and instead I am quite enamored with it. However, I do wish that more people could see the soul that lies just under the surface of this modest young man, so I decided I’d be interviewed. The trouble is, with a life as calm as mine, reporters do not often come knocking at my door.  I mean, I even went through high school without being interviewed for our school paper (The same school paper that featured my story on the front page, above the fold, with a full color photograph, and then credited somebody else for writing it).  I once conducted an interview of someone else, and in fact someones else, in my high school’s first dual interview (A full page interview of my two friends with a photograph, bold print, and thanks to the editor, a misspelling of my name in the byline). I think that allows me to consider myself as somewhat of an award-winning journalist. So during this thinking I mentioned previously, I happened upon the idea that I would smash these two factors together. I will interview an amazing and interesting man, while being interviewed by a reporter seeking to get his big and finally-correctly-recognized break.
            That being said, I highly, intensely, and sensually encourage actual reporters taking this interview verbatim and reprinting it in a publication of actual prestige. Who knows, this might be the interview to save publishing!

            I’m using the restroom, washing my hands, when I first get a glimpse of Mick Dickinson. His blue eyes gaze into mine, warmly, although at the heart of them lays a barely-there seed of apprehension. He’s never let anyone in this deep before, I’ve been told, and is understandably anxious of the start of the interview. I take a deep breath, and he reciprocates the motion at the exact time, both of us seeking to be relaxed on the eve of this momentous conversation. I motion to the door, indicating we get to some more familiar surroundings to conduct the interview in, and, again, he quite literally mirrors the motion. We both smile at each other, an undercurrent of sexual tension rippling through the air. I don’t know if he feels it, but I can’t deny that the moment I set eyes on Mick, I found him dreadfully handsome. We each walk out through the doors, on our way to an unfinished, yet comfortable, basement. I pull out my notepad and finally begin the interview both of us have been waiting for for so long. He leans back into the couch and puts his feet up on a coffee table, looking the epitome of comfort, until he slides his back too far down the couch, and has to push himself back up.

Mick: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Mick. I know that you don’t often entertain here, but I have to say I very much appreciate your taste in decoration.
Mick: Thank you, Mick. I’m happy you’re here, and hope we have a good time.
M: I’m sure we will. So. Energetic. Magnetic. Weird. These have all been used to describe you, or so you’ve said on this card in crayon you've just handed to me. Do you have anything you’d like say on the matter?
M: Just that I’m flattered that you’d say such nice things, and agree completely. I’d also have added “Enticing,” had I not run out of that grey crayon. It’s my favorite color, you know.
M: I do now, and that leaves us one less question to get through. What has been on the agenda for Mick this summer? I understand you’re attempting to write a second book?
M: Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of driving, working, and rationalizing reading outside shirtless as being different from laying out. And yes, it’s true, I’m writing a second book, after the widespread lack of reception to my first novella. Some people would tell me to stick to short stories at first before working up to full on novels, but I tell those people that I’m moderate at both, so why keep doing short stories like I’ve already done on my blog? This book is yet untitled, something that has plagued my conscience for some time, and I’m afraid I more often procrastinate by reading the entire internet than working on it, although as of late, a flurry of ideas has erupted from me, which is nice.
M: Like Athena from the head of Zeus, I’m sure. I’ve been reading a large majority of it, but if you’d like to tell us in your own words what it’s about?
M: Well, Mick, it’s a funny thing. I’ve foolishly already put the plot out for public distribution once, here, although mine is a more serious take than I let on. Also, who has let you read so much of it already?
M: I have my ways, I assure you. Let’s get deep for a second: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
M: I don’t need a reason to smile.
M: Coming from you, Mick, what would be insanity in a stranger is as touching as a puppy saving a kitten from a house fire.
M: I can honestly say that’s the nicest and most specific thing anyone has ever said to me.
M: Well, I’m honored.  How about we begin the lightening round of questions?
M: I can only hope that this round will be EN-lightening.
M: What is your greatest weakness?
M: My inescapable quest for perfection. Or the fact that I often mispronounce words that I read more often than I speak aloud.
M: Who is your celebrity crush?
M: If we’re talking pure talent, Jon Hamm. The man is a national treasure of acting and five o’clock shadow. But still, all in all, it has to be Paul Rudd. The man is like a human puppy… I probably should have mentioned some women, looking back, right?
M: Probably, but this is the lightening round, and I’m pressing on. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
M: Why can we have seedless watermelon, but not gross-white-stuff-less oranges?
M: What is the biggest injustice in the world?
M: The fact that brushing your teeth too often can damage them instead of cleaning them more thoroughly. If the world was fair, you should be able to sit down with toothpaste and a brush, and keep going until either your arms cramped or your teeth were clean.
M: What’s one cause that you can get behind?
M: Body-conscious dressing. Possibly turn signal awareness. Now THAT’S a 5k I would run.
M: If you could have lunch with two people, alive or dead, who would they be?
M: One would definitely be Hitler. Cause come on, it’s the second most famous man in history, after Jesus, and Jesus would probably be all dirty and smelly. No offense, but that’s just how it was in Judea in those days. The second? My mother, because lunch with my mother is always a joy. Although she probably wouldn’t appreciate Hitler’s company too much.
M: Courageous choice. Let me phrase this question a little differently: Cursive.
M: Ugh, I know, right? What’s the point? It’s like, just teach the damn third graders to fill out a check right then and there and be done with it forever.
M: What’s your favorite curse word?
M: **** or maybe ******-********.
M: My ears are bleeding from the pure strength of your words. We’ll need to censor that out, you understand. Where do you see yourself in five years?
M: On a sandy, tropical beach with you, before we retire to our shared suite to make sweet passionate- well, you’ll see then.
M: You’re too much. I can hardly concentrate on my notepad here. Just a couple more, and we can go out for drinks?
M: Definitely. Maybe even a nightcap. Or two. Or three, if I’m feeling up to the occasion.
M: Good, that should be fun. For five hundred dollars and the promise of never being caught would you kill someone?
M: Oh goodness, no. Not for that much money. I’d definitely seek out someone cheaper.
M: No, I mean, you’d receive the five hundred dollars.
M:  Oh. Well then hell yes. You had me at five, let’s put it that way.
M: A dangerously sexy man, I think.
M: And yet you’ll still feel so safe with me. Do you want to get out of here?
M: Yes, right now.
M: ******-******** yes.

            A less than professional ending to the interview, I’ll admit, and even a little deranged and disturbing, but if you ever meet the man in person, you’ll understand. Even dressed in a stained indoor soccer team jersey and even more stained athletic shorts, the man simply exudes seduction. But other than our wondrous summer night together, Mick Dickinson casts a mark on people’s memory. The confidence in which he farts and the good natured humility he adopts whenever his accomplishment(s) are brought to light solidify him in the annals of history, which, when he read the end of this interview aloud, he pronounced “anals.”
            That, ladies and gentlemen, is Mick Dickinson.

So now you know all about me, strange internet stranger on the internet.

Next appearing in artistically topless in Esquire,

Mick Dickinson

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Proactively Prodigious Posting, Perhaps?


            I think everyone gets a little intimidated at times by other people. I mean, I see it everywhere I go in life. I’m the one doing the intimidating, you see. Anyhoozer, even an awesome guy like me can start to think I’m not the greatest when a little kid can rock out this hard. He probably gets more Huggies thrown to the stage in one show than I did in all of preschool. He looks like a real-life version of a movie scene where the underdog receives what he thought was outside help, but turns out to be only water, or the device was turned off.  I mean, look at him, he’s constantly looking around for Professor Smiley Goodhelp and his remote limb-controlling Rock Band drumset.
            When there’re little kids like this that are already that good at activities they’re going to hate their parents for pushing on them later in life, there’s no arguing that some people are just born being good at things. If they’re good enough, we call these people prodigies. Mozart, Bobby Fisher, and Encyclopedia Brown are all famous prodigies in all forms of media. Only one of them didn’t die alone and insane, so here’s to you, Mozart!
"Switching hands with the devil" was only put on that
wheel as a sign of good faith.
            It’s as if there exists some force in the universe that allows certain people to be amazing at activities, mostly unpracticed, while others remain woefully and father-disappointingly inept at them, no matter how hard they work. In other words, the universe plays favorites. That’s pretty dickish. So, in the spirit of not being dickish, I’ve conceived a theory concerning prodigies. It’s not a matter of the universe picking certain people for talents, but instead inside each person is a large pegged wheel, with every conceivable action painted on the wheel’s sections. At birth, the wheel is given a spin by whatever angel was lucky enough to get down to Contestant’s Row, and the plastic arrow ends up pointing at whatever obscure and mundane activity that person will be a prodigy at. I mean, some of the sections on the wheel point to the usual, like piano or drums, or spinning plates on sticks, but most are such small activities that they can go overlooked. Maybe you’re a prodigy at some of these and just don’t know it. Why not give them a try and see if you’re not touring the late night show circuit in two years?
            Here are some activities that you could be a prodigy at and just not know it yet:

-Finding light switches in the dark.
-Putting the USB connection in the correct way the first time.
-Accidentally speaking in haiku.
-Using great Google search terms to find exactly what you need.
-Remembering where your keys are.
-Guessing channel listings in strange cities.
-Effortless alphabetization.
-Making really delicious Shirley Temples.
-Impressions of the Founding Fathers, vocal wise.
-Writing entries in your journal that would really emotionally touch and inspire strangers who read it.
-Lumberjack games (tree climb, log river roll).
This could be inside you! (But probably isn't)
-Assembling a trampoline with ease.
-Finding the ends on rolls of tape.
-Neat and tidy envelope or gift wrap opening.
-Falling asleep very quickly on uncomfortable mattresses.
-The passive voice is easily avoided by you.
-Convincingly good at over-explaining jokes.
-Inventing great fonts.
-Signing out of Skype at the end of the night.
-Leaving great voicemails.
-Giving pre-roller coaster safety instructions.
-Never breaking pencils during sharpening.
"It's in your blood, Billy! I've seen pencil sharpening like this
 only once before, and that was by your father!"
-Pointing the remote to the right spot on the TV.
-Competitive luging.
-Going down stairs quickly yet quietly.

Finally, one that I think I may be a prodigy at- knowing when a premise gets tired.

He ain’t no prodigal son,

Mick Dickinson.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Half Time in FIFA 10

Okay so I got really bored at work and wrote a halftime pump up speech to my FIFA 10 team. I think it should really get them going. If you don't play FIFA or watch soccer, this probably isn't going to make any sense to you. Just click on this instead.

     Okay, everyone gather in here. Jones, Mendez, even you, Farty Stinkerson. I know you're ready to get back to the pitch and really put it to the other team, but I've got a few words for all of you.
     Let's start with the other team. Now I know we're at the bottom of our Coca Cola League 2, but damnit, men, this game is winnable. We have every weapon in our arsenal to beat Spain's national team. I mean, Cuco, you should know the man across from you the best of anyone, it's you! Now get on your ass and shut yourself down! The announcers have counted us out of this game already. Damn that Martin Tyler! Just because we're down eight to nil doesn't mean we can't come back to win this! Everyone loves an underdog, especially one that's three and a half stars an underdog! 
     So we're going to be switching up formations. We need an offensive spark. So, all of you four defenders? Just spread yourself out in the midfield. Midfielders, you're up top. Strikers, keep at the eighteen box at all times. Trust me, boys. I've got three stars of reputation as a manager. I've worked my way up from... well actually I got placed here first thing, oddly enough. So that's all I've got about formations, but we need to talk about our technique.
     You strikers, I'm loving the way you don't crash on goal at any time, no matter how open the opportunity. Keep it up. And you've been onsides nearly too often, so can you just start runs five seconds too early? Or, better yet, make sure to always have a defender between you and the ball no matter what. 
     Midfielders, our passing is at a great spot. I'm loving how through balls travel ten yards farther than any human could reach at a full sprint. Oh yeah, strikers, just keep slammin' the balls right at the keeper. I'm sure he'll mess up soon. But back to the mids- never mark up on easy set pieces or throw ins. I'm sure that they need the six yard cushion you've been giving them. And I'm loving how you never step up on defense, even if the ball gets way out of the opponent's control. We will just take our goal kicks to get the ball back. Speaking of, don't make any useful runs. We can just belay the ball to the closest defender. I'm sure that they will never pick up on this strategy and step in front and score an easy goal, like their fourth and seventh goals.
     Speaking of easy goals, this is directed at you, goal keepers. Make sure you wait until the very last second to dive. Don't even move your feet. Full extension, and all that. It's much more exciting when a wayward pass turns to a diving save! Or not! Even a full goal!
     Defenders, when you're pressuring the ball, make sure to totally commit to a stab at all times. Our defense is all or nothing. No bending! And when you move in to stab at the ball when Xavi is in the open field, just move in a weird half circle thing around him. Or better yet, fall down. That's how this team plays. It's how we've always done it, and we're not going to stop looking like we have inner ear problems now!
     Well, the refs have come back from taking a leak and making nachos, so let's get to it. 

1-2-3-MEDIOCRITY!  

When people play Draw Something, they should both only get one point. Get it? That's some soccer-league-standings humor.

Mr. Manager
Mick Dickinson

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Triviality of Being Earnest


29.2 Million Views
            Earnestness is dying in American culture. Where passion and genuineness once resided now lies apathy and irony. The internet has provided an avenue to shoot trends and fads into the public consciousness faster than ever. My mother understands the concept of a lolcat and my father laughs at Epic Meal Time. But the internet also continues pushing this content past us at unimaginable speeds. Information disappears over the horizon before we can begin to recognize its details and message. Artists and entrepreneurs have a large market than previous generations could ever have fathomed… if they can stay relevant for any period of time.
            People have gotten used to this fact. On the internet, you blink and you miss it. It’s created an entire crowd on the internet, fighting to prove they aren’t part of the popular mob by staying one internet-culture-step ahead of it. Everyone has had run-ins with this mindset. The scoffs we offer in response to a picture we have seen before. The refusal to watch a video that you’ve seen only a week prior. I’m very definitely guilty of these crimes.
            This “beat-you-to-it” attitude has escaped its natural home of the internet. Free from the digital chains jumped our favorite cultural identity: the hipster.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy Go Lucky


            If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, three people split a total of $640,000,000 in the national MegaMillions lottery. That’s six hundred and forty MILLION (!!!) dollars. That’s over half of A BILLION DOLLARS. That’s more money than eight nations in the world’s GDP. The winners just split a pot bigger than several entire countries worth of people make in a year. What the hell? How did this happen? Did some grandmother in Brooklyn just forget to buy her ticket for several weeks and it built up? Well, I’m a little sad that the money has already been claimed, because it was a fascinating topic of discussion around the water cooler or flaming street barrel, depending on how badly you needed the money. The question that was on everyone’s lips: What would you do with the money? My answer: Nothing.
            Like Peter in Office Space, I would do nothing all day long. I would be making more money from interest, even in a tiny 1% bank account, than someone of my skill set could ever make in a year. What I do on a standard Saturday would become my life. I would wake up at 11 am, play video games for several hours, occasionally eating and going to the bathroom, and then I would go do something else. It could be going to Wal-Mart for more snacks, (although with $640 mil I’d probably finally be able to afford shopping at Whole Foods. BURN), doing something creative, like writing the next great, passive aggressive, American novel or whittling another seven hundred chess sets, or even giving charity to some people, I guess.
            But that’s, a boring answer just like the people who say “First, I’d pay off my debt.” DUH. OF COURSE YOU WOULD. YOU HAVE 640 MILLION DOLLARS. I think college has become free, for all intents and purposes. Let me guess, you’d also buy a house. Everyone does that. Get creative, Andy Rooney! RIP.
"640 million dollars worth of beans are funny, in a way!"
            In this vein of thought, let’s get creative for a bit. Here is my list of things I’d do with SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION DOLLARS THAT THREE PEOPLE ON EARTH JUST WON (I can’t stress that enough. That’s more than enough to buy Somoa.)
     

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Detective Mick and the One Ring (Pt. 4)

Thank you for sticking with me through this exercise in silly, over-the-top metaphors and turns of phrase. As a reminder, parts one, two, and three can be found herehere, and here. This is the last part of a story created from a character I created when I was nine. You can probably tell because that character's name is Detective Mick. Most mature writers don't name their characters after their profession or their own selves, and I did both. Cause I'm classy. Hope ya'll like it, hurrd?





            Life is funny. Sometimes you go out to get your paper, find nothing, then close the door only to hear the slap of the news on your stoop. Other times, you find love for only one warm spring night, only to lose her number to the laundry machine. And finally, sometimes you go on a routine case to find a ring and end up being shot at in a strange warehouse. Today was one of those last ones. Why could it never be the warm spring night?
            I pressed my head up to the concrete wall in an effort to stay away from the bullets that were continuing to fly through the doorway. Unfortunately, my hat tipped off my head and rolled at the perfect angle to land straight in the open frame. The shots had stopped, presumably for reloading. I didn’t want to go without my lucky hat, and stuck out a quick hand.
            One more bullet struck straight through my brown fedora and sent it skidding across the room, weightless against the force of the slug. I had to believe the shooter was just toying with me at this point.
            Boogerface, still behind the heavy wooden desk, occasionally screamed at each slap of bullet on wood. I had honestly forgotten he was there, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the desk wasn’t exactly bulletproof. Instead, back still to the concrete, I gazed across the room. I didn’t see any other exits, which confused me. What- did Boogerface live here or something? It wasn’t exactly cozy, and I should know something about threadbare living conditions. I thought having a couch to sleep on qualified my apartment for the walking tour.
            Finally the firing of the hand cannon stopped. I couldn’t believe we had a couple Mexican banditos out there, crossed with bandoliers of ammo, so I felt a little safe in sticking my head out of the door. I didn’t see anything. It was troubling.
            Boogerface had fallen silent behind his desk. I scuttled behind the heavy mahogany and found him in a fetal position, quietly comforting himself. I grabbed him roughly by the collar and tried to shake some sense into him.
            “Where’s the ring?” I asked in my loudest whisper. Whoever was outside, I didn’t want them knowing why I was here. His stare remained as blank as a college student’s essay three days before it’s due. I didn’t have time for this shell shock business, so I dropped his collar, and he fell roughly back onto the concrete. I began opening desk drawers at random, occasionally peeking above the desk to make sure the shooters stayed hidden.
            On the third drawer I tried was a small manila envelope with a suspicious bump in the paper. Ripping it open, I poured the ring I had been looking for into my hand. I stopped to look at the giant rock, somehow even more impressive in real life. I could practically feel the weight of it in my hand. I went to put the ring in the envelope, but noticed a piece of folded paper. Deciding that could wait for later, I put the envelope into my coat pocket, and peeked above the desk again.
            In front of me stood a man I recognized, and wasn’t too crazy about. He was an alright person and a pretty good detective, but you just don’t forgive a man for some things. Like punching you in the face. Eddy held his sliver plated pistol in his right hand, pointing at the ground. He didn’t think he had anything to worry about, and he was probably right. My revolver was in my coat pocket, right next to me, but I couldn’t use it. It was more frustrating than the full roll of toilet paper in the stall next to yours.
            I stood fully up, finally removing my hand from the inside of my coat. Eddy stood, one eyebrow raised. “I didn’t expect to see you here,” he said. I couldn’t believe that, the way he had started shooting. Plus, he had always hated my hat.
            “You gave me the name and address, Eddy,” I said, “So why didn’t you expect me to come here?”
            “You’re just a little early,” he said mysteriously, then pointed to the desk. “Everett. I know you’re there. You need to give me those papers.”
            I kept my face blank, but inside was a torrent of suspicion. Could those papers be the ones I found in the envelope? They had looked important, all embossed and stamped. But either way, Eddy didn’t know I was in possession of them and the ring. All I needed was Everett to keep his mouth shut, and I would make it out with both.
            “He has them,” Everett said, not bothering to raise above the desk, only pointing a finger in my general direction.
            “Honestly, man?” I asked him.
            Eddy trained his vision back on me. “Give me those papers, Detective Mick. This is much bigger than you.”
            He was probably right. Whatever Eddy was involved with was way deeper than I felt comfortable in, like a beanbag chair. The best thing I could do was clear the curiosity from my head and just hand over whatever was in that envelope. All I needed was the ring. I had convinced myself. I reached into my side coat pocket, on my hip.
            And promptly shot Eddy with the revolver that lay within. It was a shame. I really liked that coat.
            His face erupted into a look of magnificent surprise as he stumbled back through the door for a couple of steps, then tripped over a loose 2x4. Eddy collapsed onto his back, never having made a sound. I suppose he could have been as loud as a mourning dove at 5 am when you’re trying to sleep, but the blast from my revolver in the small space blotted out all other noise.
            “No hard feelings,” I said, fully aware there was plenty of malice.
            Boogerface, or Everett, as I suppose I should start calling him, simply looked at me once, then went back to coddling himself like a self-regulating toddler. I slid the revolver back into my coat pocket and stepped over him. I was sure he wouldn’t say anything to anyone when I had just saved his life. I walked out of the study with the envelope in my pocket like a seven of hearts in a pack of cards, and continued out into my car. I met no resistance or opposition, and it seemed that Eddy was the only one sent to kill or possibly frame me.
            Driving back to my apartment, I could feel those mysterious papers burning against my chest like a hot dog against a bun. I quickly spread the ketchup of keeping my mind on driving against the warmth of curiosity, and continued driving against the rain. I had a feeling that it would never stop, not even when the clouds parted and blue skies reigned. Although even then there would be reign, I suppose, but blue skies were a much nicer tyrant to bow before. 
            I pulled up in front of the brick building that served as my office. The windows stretched high before me like the exact opposite of my hopes, now that I had these papers in my pocket. I had made a huge mistake, but damnit, I was going to make that mistake all the way through. I parked in the same spot I always did, and had no sooner stepped out of my car than a door opened in the limousine across the street. A man in a suit held the handle of the door in one hand, and an umbrella in the other. Out of the limo stepped the long and luxurious leg of my esteemed client, Catherine Von Werner. Damn. I was going to wait three more days to contact her. Thanks to her lack of any day to day activities keeping her busy, I was out six hundred dollars. The driver was careful to keep her dryer than her attitude.
            “You’re back,” she said, as obvious as the line of her bustier under another starched shirt, although this one was a light blue. The shirt, that is. I didn’t know the color of the bustier, unfortunately. At least not yet, although I don’t think I stood a chance of ever knowing.
            “Yeah, it’s been a long day,” I sighed, which was semi-true. I had set out around three in the afternoon, and it was around seven at night, so the hours weren’t that heavy. But in those four hours I had intimidated a small, bearded mountain, been punched in the face and knocked out for who knows how long, driven to the Lowlands alone, shoved a gun up a nose full of boogers, been shot at, insulted, and gotten some revenge for that punch to the face. Even I’ll admit, that last one was pretty satisfying, but I was about ready to collapse.
            “So how’s the case coming along?” she asked. I still had a chance to gain my six hundred dollars, it seemed, but unfortunately my honest mouth went off running before my looser morals could rein it in.
            “I finished it,” it said. I was running on autopilot more heavily than a flight with drunk air captains. I was tired enough to pass out and crash, but I was at a loss cause I didn’t have the pretty stewardesses. “I have your ring right here.”
            Her eyes widened heavily, although I’m not sure if it was out of surprise, pride, or being scared of what I was going to pull out of my coat pocket. The world was at least learning from my tricks. I’m not sure I liked it. I didn’t have that many.
            I pulled out the letter-sized manila envelope I had shot Eddy over, and poured the ring into my hand. I didn’t know what the papers were yet, and that meant Catherine wasn’t going to get a look either. Catherine covered her mouth with her hands, expensive-looking gloves and all.
            “I’m surprised a lady as fine as you can carry this around, with how heavy the rock is,” I said, tiredly trying to be at my most coy. She decided not to respond, and instead took the ring out of my hand. Catherine removed one long glove and slipped the ring around the correct finger. She would have been content to stare at it from every angle all day, but I interrupted with a cough that a lifelong smoker would think intrusive.
            “I think you owe me a certain $700,” I said, privately giggling at the large sum I was about to inherit. Catherine reached into her purse, not interested in such trivialities, and pulled out a large wad of bills, handing them over roughly. She continued looking at the ring while I counted them, and agreed with her that $800 was indeed a fairer price.
            “Well, uh, thanks for your business, I suppose,” I said. I may be a better detective than your average Clue player, but I’m worse at customer service than a postal office worker with a migraine. I walked back across the street, shoes splashing small puddles that had gathered in the rain. I heard her get back into the limo, and drive away. I didn’t turn back. I couldn’t risk seeing those legs again, lest I catch flies in my slack jaw.
            I reached the door that had my name on it, and opened it. I didn’t bother turning on the light. I hung up my coat, took off my suspenders, then threw the envelope on the desk. My hat, I placed on the desk, reminding myself to get it stitched up. Sitting with a heavy sigh, I crossed my feet on the desk, opened the envelope, and removed the papers.
            I read them.
            I read them again.
            I put them back on the desk and picked up my phone. While I waited for someone to pick up on the other, I opened a desk drawer and removed a large bottle of tequila, and the biggest glass I had. I heard the click of a phone coming off the rack.
            “Hi, Teresa? Want to go out tonight? We’ll have to make it one to remember. I just learned I won’t be having many more nights on this world.”
            I was in trouble. The Von Werners weren’t going to let me last now, and I intended on going down happy.

THE END