Choose Your Own Adventure – Start

(This is another weekly serial. The choice that gets the most votes will continue the story.) 


Daryl stepped out into the muggy autumn of Albany, New York.  Carrying his briefcase, umbrella, and lucky hat, he took a look at the city and reaffirmed that he hated it.  He hated everything about Albany.  He hated the crammed housing, outdated and rotting.  Every fifth building was condemned in the Albany downtown districts, where the poor people like Daryl lived.  Plywood boards covered the windows of such houses, accompanied by a yellow notice from the state inspectors warning of asbestos, dangerous levels of lead, and rampant disinterest in a dying city.


Daryl also hated the muggy weather.  Albany was a grey wasteland after the summer months.  The rain came in the fall, with its grey mists and biting cold.  The skylines and horizons that he glimpsed from his office windows disappeared in the fall, swallowed by a bleak nothingness and water droplets on the window pane.  The occasional headlights strobed through the miasma and that was it.  The whole city stank of rain filtered through car exhaust.  The winter was even worse, and that was always one surprise snow storm away.


The day that Daryl had stepped out into was another dreary and humorless day.  He wore his usual Monday outfit, a brown checkered sports coat that matched his hat and darker brown pants.  The briefcase was also a brownish tan.  His sister had dubbed him the brown-brown monster of Monday’s, but he didn’t care.  Daryl was beyond caring about what the people of Albany thought of him.  He hated all of them and just wished to be ignored.


The morning was already busy.  The sky was misting rain down upon the city wasteland, a problem compounded by the cars kicking up more water with their tires.  It’s the kind of environment were not even an umbrella could help.  Albany was determined to saturate Daryl with its emanation.  Resigned to the fate of being coated in a watery film, Daryl locked the door to his house and started towards his bus stop.


The sidewalks were crowded, and his fellow pedestrians insisted on using umbrellas despite their futility.  Pushing through the crowds, Daryl had the misfortune of finding himself behind a gaggle of old women.  The women seemed determined to be fat and waddle in his path, taking up as much space as their corpulent selves could take.  The three of them dominated the entire sidewalk, and they kept turning towards each other to talk about the asinine and the obvious.  Yes, the weather was bad today.  Yes, they would probably have frizzy hair.  Yes, it would be nice to have taken a car instead.  Daryl knew all these things, but the fat women appeared to be as stupid as their conversation, and if he could just get past them he could be done with them.  He couldn’t get past them.  They were oblivious to their heft and how it blocked the young man.  They kept waving their umbrellas about perilously at eye level whenever their bulk careened around to say something else stupid to their friends.  It was too much, and Daryl decided to cross the street just as a bus came to a screeching halt inches away from Daryl’s face.


Daryl hadn’t seen the bus.  He cursed himself for being caught so unaware.  The bus also cursed by blaring its horn at Daryl.  It was a completely useless gesture, as Daryl was already keenly aware of the several tons of metal that had come to a screeching halt a handbreadth away from his own person.  It seemed to make the bus driver feel better, as well as several of the patrons aboard who had stumbled about due to rapid deceleration.  Daryl patted the front of the bus and continued to his office.  A gloom settled on Daryl as he trudged on.  He was upset that the bus had stopped.  So many problems could have vanished if the bus driver had just kept going.  The more Daryl thought about it, the more he became upset about the whole thing.  He could have just disappeared into the fog like everything else good in Albany.


Daryl arrived at his office.  It was a small office on the third floor of a rundown building.  Like most of Albany, this building had been beautiful and sturdy a few decades ago, but years of neglect had worn it down to this passible and creaky old thing.  Daryl shook his hat twice to remove the few droplets of water and hung it upon a hook before taking his seat.  Daryl’s office was really a cubicle, but he insisted on calling it an office to make himself feel more important.  The office was unimpressive.  A light grey countertop served as his desk, where an old boxy monitor sat on top of an old boxy tower.  The counter was also armed with a white electric pencil sharpener and old phone with a long coiled cord.  He sat on a black office chair that was supposedly good for his posture, but would recline too far if the slightest weight was pressed against the backrest.  The various parts of his office were composed entirely of a greyscale color palette, which is why the first thing he did was take out his red and blue pens and place them behind his keyboard.  They made Daryl happy even though he didn’t use them.  Something about the color breaking through the bleak and dreary gave Daryl hope that he’d get through another day.


As soon as Daryl had settled his boss approached holding a stuffed envelope.  Daryl hated his boss.  The boy was a full decade younger than Daryl and hadn’t worked nearly as long at the office as Daryl had, yet he had been promoted above Daryl.  Daryl suspected nepotism, but couldn’t prove it.  The boy’s name was Carter McCoy, and he was in the habit of greeting each of his employees and asking what tasks there were going to do that day.  It was a silly and useless ritual that Daryl didn’t have time for.


“Hey Daryl.  Quite the day we’re having.  It’ll probably rain like this for the rest of the week.  Anyway, you got something in the mail.”  Carter waved the envelope around.  “What are you working on today?  Did you get the orders through for the Capital Region precincts?”


Daryl made a mental note that Carter was still holding onto his envelope.  Was this some sort of power play?  Was Carter lording his authority over Daryl?  It was hard to tell.  Daryl just faked a smile and promised he was getting close to having the Capital Region clients taken care of.  Carter smiled.  He spoke about how important those clients were.  Then placed the envelope on Daryl’s desk and strode away.  Daryl rolled his eyes at his boss’ departure.  He knew that clients were important.  His job paid him money to take care of clients, of course they were important.


Rather than begin the task of checking spreadsheets and making innumerable phone calls, Daryl opened the envelope.  It was a large orange envelope, the kind with a metal clasp that could be bent to hold an envelope shut.  There was probably a name for it, but Daryl didn’t know it.  He cut through the tape holding it together and dumped the contents on his desk.


He knew what the contents were the moment they spilled onto his desk.  Daryl’s uncle had passed three weeks ago.  At the funeral, his mother informed him that while she was the will’s executor she didn’t want to deal with it.  She lived in Salt Lake City and her brother’s house was in the small town of Watervliet, New York.  The now vacant house was just a few miles north and easily accessible by bus, if Daryl wanted to put in the effort to clean it out.  Daryl didn’t want to put in the effort.  His uncle, the late Cameron Stewart, had been an odd man.  Throughout Daryl’s life, the few interactions he had with his uncle were unpleasant.  Cameron was harmless but he made people uncomfortable.  His personality was off and he didn’t identify social cues, leading others to wonder how far the Autism spectrum he had wandered.  He’d ask invasive and inappropriate questions in large gatherings.  He’d insist that others hear him out on his latest conspiracy theory.  He bulled over attempts to change the subject when it suited him to talk about subjects that others found devoid of interest.
When Daryl was young, Cameron would often comment on how Daryl took after his uncle, and Daryl hated it.  His sister teased him about it often, saying that Daryl would grow up to be a crazy old man.  In the early days of the internet, Cameron became the relative that passed along every chain letter, every crazy article of pseudo-science, and pledged his support for the investigation of the latest internet conspiracy theory.  Daryl had successfully blocked his uncle from his life.  Despite living only two dozen miles away, he hadn’t seen his uncle in over a decade.  The old man was finally dead and the world was better for it.  Daryl didn’t want to go to his house.  He didn’t want to help his uncle, even after his death, tidy up the last bits of his life.  Daryl just wanted his house to be bulldozed and then set ablaze, an idea he often entertained about Albany at large.

There on his desk were the things found on his uncle’s body when he had died: a set of keys, a cell phone, and a wallet.  There wasn’t any money in the wallet, Daryl was disappointed to find.  There were only a few plastic cards, a few pictures of family including one of Daryl and his sister back when they were in elementary school, and a USB drive hidden in a zipped compartment.

Daryl shoved the trinkets aside and went to work.  He prided himself on being the most useful person in the office.  Hours passed.  Daryl was finishing the tasks for the local precincts when he received a phone call on his personal cell phone.  Personal calls were not permitted during working hours, but the infuriatingly inept McCoy had stepped out for one of his innumerable short breaks he was in the habit of taking.  Daryl answered.

The voice on the other end was his sister, Karen Hesh.  Karen was seven months pregnant with her second child and had taken to calling Daryl more often than usual.  Daryl assumed this had something to do with maternal hormones, as this same behavior happened last time she was pregnant.  “Hey bro!  I was wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner tonight.  Aaron’s out tonight, and I figured it’s time we caught up.  I’ll make your favorite: spaghetti!”

Aaron Hesh was Karen’s husband.  Daryl didn’t like him much, but he was polite to him.  There wasn’t a real reason to dislike Aaron, but Daryl did for reasons he wasn’t proud of.  Aaron made lots of money, had better looks, had a wealth of friends, and had a very happy romantic relationship.  Daryl didn’t have those things.  Daryl tried to soften the refusal of his sister’s invitation.  “I’m not sure if I can.  I got this package in the mail.  Did you know that mom was going to dump Uncle Cameron’s will on me?  She wants me to clean out his junk so she can sell the house.”

“Creepy Cameron?  Spooky Stewart?  That really sucks.  Well it’s not like he’s going to mind if you put it off.  Which would you rather do?  Have a nice spaghetti dinner with your favorite sister, or go through Uncle Cameron’s creepy doll collection or whatever it is he’s got stored up in there?”

Travel to Uncle Cameron’s House to help clean it out #1
Have a nice spaghetti dinner with Karen #2

A Dying Man’s Love

[Translated from French]

Death is eminent, I suppose for us all, but for me, my death comes swiftly.  I don’t care.  A much worse fate awaits me after I die.  I’ve never disillusioned myself with the prospect of heaven or hell.  For me, it is enough that the moments I lived are steadfast and locked away forever.  I lived my life to the fullest, and each second of my existence was to lay unashamedly on the universe’s timeline.  Those moments are eternal, and even though we’ve moved past them, they still exist, and they will exist forever.  The brightest of these moments is the moment when I met her for the first time and fell in love.

I will be erased.  Every last noble deed I’ve ever done will be expunged.  The moments will be rewritten.  My life will be replaced with a lie.  This would not be such a great loss, for many great men have been defeated and their conquerors wrote terrible things about them in the histories which eventually became truths; I find myself in good company here.  What tears at my soul is that this terrible deed will be done by the only person I ever grew to love in this life.  She loved another.  He was a terrible man who used all manners of abuse, torture, manipulation, and imprisonment to take what I loved in her and change her into something else.  His victory will be complete, for when I die, she will tell the tale of how I was the monster and he was the savior.

In my final moments, I must tell my story, but I don’t know who I shall tell it to.  Like most of my life, I find myself alone.  My death is merely seconds away.  Perhaps it is fear that makes me reach out to connect to someone before I’m undone.  Perhaps I’m talking to God?  In life’s last plummet, I desperately want to tell my story before I’m erased.  Perhaps the illusion of God is enough.  I need a judge.  I need a witness.  I need closure.  I need someone else to see me for who I truly am, because the one person in life I’ve ever loved never saw me for who I am, and she never will.

I grew up in a small village, so tiny the map makers didn’t even bother to waste their ink including it.  The universe cursed me on the day of my birth, for I was a great man in an inconsequential town.  Perhaps if I were born in Paris I could have met some equals to my greatness.  Alas, I was not.  From a young age I knew that I didn’t fit in.  My best friend was the town fool, leeching off my accomplishments as if he too could become great from proximity.  As I grew up, the prospect of traveling the world in search of other great people did occur to me, but there were two things I loved about my little province.

The first was the outdoors.  I loved to hunt.  I found the structure of nature exhilarating.  That the universe could be so cold and uncaring and yet take the time to create the countryside I relished in was magnificent.  It was the only part of my life that made sense.  I was a part of it.  I saw its beauty.  I understood the minds of the beasts.  I understood the patterns of the seasons.

When I hunted the water fowl I could see everything, and in those moments I was one with existence.  I saw the birds, but not only did I see where they were, but I saw where they would be.  I saw the wind, invisible to most, and the path it would take my prey.  I felt the carelessness, for the birds had no suspicion that I was there.  I was camouflaged, inside my very surroundings, a part of the landscape.  I aimed, not with my gun, but with my eye.  The gun was a part of my arm, an appendage I found after birth, not bound to my body, but bound to my identity.  I was the trigger.  I was the hammer.  I was the buckshot spat forth by the expansion of gunpowder.  I was gravity, pulling the shot into a perfect connection with the fowl.  Bang! One.  Bang!  Two.  Bang!  Three.  I was the greatest hunter in the whole world, or at least what I knew of it.  No one I knew could take shots like me.

The second love I found was her.  Like myself, she was a bright spot in this mud puddle of a town, too great for the townspeople to see and understand.  She dreamt of far off places, meeting royalty, experiencing new cultures.  They thought she was so peculiar.  The town couldn’t understand her greatness, for she wanted more than any of them could have planned for themselves.  She excelled them all, and I in my hubris, I thought that I deserved her.

I wooed her once.  It ended poorly.  She spurned my advances and showed me the door.  It was a public humiliation, I felt, but the townspeople didn’t seem to care as much as I did.  I took solace in the tavern that I haunted with my best friend.  I told him that I had been thinking.  Perhaps I didn’t deserve her.  Perhaps the greatest curse that could befall a man is to be forever engaged with a woman he deserves.  She understood that.  She read the great philosophers.  She read the great romantics.  Despite having no romantic engagements before, her breadth of literary knowledge gave her lifetimes of experience to draw upon to understand the core of love.  I didn’t.

It was the greatest epiphany of my life.  The moment that I’ve locked away as the distilled essence of my life.  I can still taste the beer I was drinking, smell the cedar from the fireplace, feel the fabric of my tunic, and hear the tavern chatter.  I don’t remember the sights, because all I could see was her.  Before I thought I was in love.  Silly young man that I was, I didn’t understand it was only infatuation.  Now I knew her.  Now I was in love.

I never saw her again.

It is the greatest crime the universe could work against me.  I never saw her again, after the moment I fell in love, at least, not whole.

While I was thinking about how to redeem my terrible first impression, she was called away.  The magistrate who ruled over our province had taken her as some sort of security for the crimes committed by her family.  She was his prisoner, his play thing, his conquest.

I didn’t know what happened to her.  This terrible deed had been done in secret.  I searched everywhere when I’d noticed she’d gone missing.  She was not in the town; she was not in the countryside.  Months went by.  It wasn’t until I interrogated her father, a man who had recently been released from prison, that I heard the story.  I thought it was a lie.  The old man, frazzled with fanciful imagination told of his imprisonment and that his daughter was also held captive.  He had been set free because she had martyred herself, a sacrifice of a bright soul to appease the corruption of a dark one.

Why would the magistrate take an interest in some peasant girl?  Everyone knew that the magistrate was a recluse, and no one had seen him for years.  Why would the magistrate do such a thing?  Why would he hold some peasant girl hostage?  It gave reason to everyone else to doubt the old man and think him insane, but I grew suspicious.

Deep in my heart I knew the answers to these dark questions.  It was because she was the greatest woman in all the land.

Shortly after her father had escaped, she came back to the village.  She had a fantastic story.  She’d been held hostage by the magistrate, her father’s story had been true.  He’d imprisoned her all this time.  The first time she tried to escape, the magistrate had set his dogs on her.  Her clothes were loose fitting.  Her eyes were sunken in and contained a confused mania.  She wasn’t comfortable in her own skin, pale and dirty as it was.

I asked her who did this to her.  She said that no one had done anything to her.  The magistrate had treated her kindly, had given her the run of the castle.  She described impossible events, coping mechanisms of manic origin.  Each tale grew wilder than the next.  Magic, mystery, and conflicting details muddled her story.  At one moment she told of a late night romantic evening with the magistrate, where everything was so perfect that the teapot’s hiss sounded like music.  The very layout of the castle was so inviting that every appliance was inviting her to the castle, not as a prisoner, but as a guest.  She was learning to love the magistrate.

It was clear that the woman I loved was either locked inside this confused creature.  Or, perhaps, she was gone forever.

This is how I know the universe is cold, and that no loving god could ever exist.  While I was strengthening my character up to her requirements of any potential husband, this magistrate was holding her hostage to tear her down to his level.  He had tortured, abused, manipulated, and fought her.  He broke her will as someone breaks a stubborn stallion.  He violenced his way into her heart, crushing her independent spirit and rewarding any sign of love until he’d trained her to love him.  Maybe he wanted her love, or maybe he just wanted to destroy something beautiful.  Like a dog loveably loyal to an abusive owner, the only person in this world that I ever loved was brainwashed.  She did what she had to in order to survive, but when reality became too unimaginable, she imagined her own world and lost herself in it.

The signs of abuse were clear upon her body.  Bite marks that could have been made by a wolf.  Deathly thin.  Shivering from exposure.  It wasn’t until she spoke of her imprisonment that I glimpsed how deep the abuse went.  At some points she described her captor as a monster with gnashing teeth and tearing claws and satan’s horns, but other times she said he had kind eyes and was kind and gentle, but further contradictions issued for the when she spoke laughingly about his temper.  She couldn’t make eye contact with me as she spoke, just looked far off into a world only she could see.  She couldn’t speak of the servants, only their tools, as if inanimate objects were doing their chores about the castle, for there was no humanity to be found in that awful place.  She had clung to tools as a child clutches onto a doll, desperate to find someone to love her even if it was her own imagination.

I swore vengeance.  Like the waterfowl, I had also missed the predator lurking in my countryside.  My beloved outdoors had hidden a monster from me, and so had turned traitor.  My world had collapsed with her sanity.  I forged the strongest hatred, the kind inspired by love, as I tenderly touched my beloved’s cheek and swore to remove the cause of her mind’s damnation from the world.  I could not protect her, but I could initiate justice.

When I made my intentions known, she tried to stop me.  She reached into a bag and pulled out a mirror.  Her eyes were wild, trying desperately to see a world the rest of us could not, found only with the aid of her failing mind.  “No!  He didn’t hurt me!  He’s gentle and kind!”  She yelled, fumbling the mirror into my hands.  “You see?  Do you see?”

I looked at the mirror, silver and ornate, but otherwise common.

“It’s magic!  Just like the castle!  It’s a magic mirror that shows whatever my heart desires most!  ‘Mirror, show us the kind and gentle soul who loves me more than anything else in this entire world.  The person who would never ever harm me, would take care of me forever, and would see to my happiness every waking day’.”  She looked at the mirror and pointed.  “Ha ha!” she yelled.  I told you it works!

I looked at the mirror and saw exactly what she described.  The man I saw was crying.  I did not recognize the man at first, for I had never cared enough about someone to cry for them, not until that awful day.  From that moment on, my heart never stopped weeping.

The girl was sick, and needed treatment.  My heart was a sword aflame and needed to be quenched in the magistrate’s blood.  I sent her to a safe place out of harm’s way while I did what I must.  I rallied the town about me.  We could not let such an evil person lurk in the shadows, loom over us with power, and threaten us from every corner.  We would not sit by while we brought up our young in this town, sacrificing our children to the magistrate’s whims and appetites.  This magistrate must be killed, his servants scattered, and his kingdom forever overthrown.  It was time to take action.  So consumed with fervor was I that the entire village knew it was time to follow me.

With rebellion on our lips and revenge a stirring in our hearts, we laid siege.  The servants and villagers clashed.  The magistrate was a coward at heart, letting his servants fight for them.  They loved him and would sacrifice themselves for him.  The magistrate was a puppet master, for these servants suffered daily for the sins of their lord, and yet he convinced them to love him.  I stalked the grounds to find my nemesis.  I’d never hated until that day, and it fueled me.  It kept me warm.  It kept me brave.  It kept me strong.

I found him in his own chambers, and we fought.  He was larger, stronger, and more well versed in fighting than I ever was.  His royal upbringing giving him a distinct advantage over me.  I fought with passion.  He fought out of indifference.  Clearly I was outmatched.  The footing of his quarters went out to the castle ledges where our fight continued.

That is, until she showed up.  I don’t know why I hadn’t made sure she stayed behind.  Here she was amidst our combat.  She looked at me in utter horror, screaming at me to stop.  She loved the magistrate, and tried to interfere.  It hurt deeply to see this confused creature try to protect her own predator.  I couldn’t let that happen, not again.  I had to stop him.  I had to destroy him.  I couldn’t crush him the same way he crushed her, but perhaps I could kill him.  She would hate me for all her life for it, but it was for her benefit.  If I truly loved her, I had to remove the magistrate from her life forever.

I knew the magistrate was a better fighter than I and I had no hope of killing him in a dual.  Perhaps a more honorable man wouldn’t do what I did.  While he was distracted by her sudden appearance, I took my dagger and stabbed it into his back.  While he recoiled in pain I grabbed the monster and tried to throw myself out the window while dragging him behind me.  I had no fear then, because when he destroyed her, he destroyed me as well.

As we fell off the castle, I looked back to see her.  She was right beside us, lunging forward.  She was so beautiful.  I remembered the girl from months ago last summer.  Her eyes had focus.  Her body had determination.  Her movements had purpose.  Her face had courage.  She reached for us as we fell from the ledge, her hand reaching out to us both.  The magistrate and I both let go of each other as we fell, each reaching out for her.

It was her choice to make, which of us would live and which one of us would fall.

Her hand whisked away as she clutched the magistrate’s uniform.  My hands closed on air, and soon I found myself surrounded by the same.

So in these final moments I love her, I hate her, I pity her, and I miss her.  My beautiful Belle, you chose wrong.  So lost are you in your expansive imagination fueled by your excessive library reading that you cannot see who is the monster and who is the hero.  When you chose him, I knew your spirit was lost and no longer inhabited your body.  When my body breaks against the rocks below, my spirit will be released, and it will forever look for yours.  It should not be hard, for your spirit always shown so brightly in the darkness.  Perhaps my death is a blessing, for it is the only way that Gaston and Belle can ever be together.

Forbidden Episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen: Episode 1

This transcript was found on the condemned set of Cutthroat Kitchen. After a court found Cutthroat Kitchen responsible for several crimes against humanity, the series was cancelled and never aired again.  During the trial, it was rumored that Cutthroat Kitchen was still filming ‘over the top’ episodes in an attempt to avoid being cancelled.  This transcript of the episode is the only evidence of the “Forbidden Season”.  It was written by a producer trying to organize the footage that had already been shot for the film editor.


Int. Cutthroat Kitchen set

SFX:  Music of Cutthroat Kitchen

(to the audience in opening narration)

I have one hundred thousand dollars of cold hard cash in this case.  4 chefs get $25,000 each.  If they want to leave this kitchen with any of the cash they have to survive 3 culinary challenges, and each other!  In a game is not only encouraged, it’s for sale.  And since our show is on the verge of getting canceled, our producers have really upped the stakes.  It’s a game we like to call, “Cutthroat Kitchen”.

Introduction music plays as 4 contestants enter the set.


Hi!  I’m James.  I’m from Tulsa Oklahoma, and I’ve got my own Bar-B-Que franchise.  Hoping to get in the mix and make it spicy here in the kitchen!


Oi. I’m Lance.  I’m from Minnesota.  I’m here to show everyone that even ketchup can be a spice.


Hey there.  I’m Becky.  The producers told me to say something about female empowerment in the kitchen and play the girl-card.  I’m not going to, because that sounds dumb.  Can’t I – (abruptly cut off)


Yo. I’m Marcus. I’m going to act like a tough guy during this interview so that the viewers at home don’t know that I’m dead inside.

Contestants stand behind their cooking stations as the host ALTON addresses everyone.


Hello and welcome to Cutthroat kitchen. Let’s get to it, for the first round, we’re making Nachos!

MID-SHOT INTERVIEW in post production (PP interview): Lance


Alton announces that we’re doing nachos. Chances are the judge won’t be someone from the North, so I can’t just serve my usual salty chips and ketchup.

MID-SHOT INTERVIEW in post production: Marcus


Nachos? No problem. Ever since my girlfriend left I’ve resorted to bachelor pad status again. I’ve had nachos once a week for the past…um…4 years? Has it been that long?


Your time starts now!

The contestants of the show rush off to grab their ingredients.  Maybe put in some filler about them picking the extremely obvious ingredients that go into nachos?  I don’t know.  Have the sound guy pick up something, that’s his job.


5…4…3…2…1!  Time’s up!  Now the fun begins. I’ll be selling various methods of sabotage that you can inflict on your opponents! Whoever bids the highest gets to decide what happens to whom!  We’ll start with…

Dramatically lower an EpiPen (Epinepherine autoinjector) into the sabotage area.


Do you know what this is?

Contestants shake their heads because they are clueless, although by looking at Lance, he should probably look into getting an EpiPen.  Diabetes has to be just around the corner for that guy, if he doesn’t have it already.


This is an EpiPen, but it’s really just a symbol.  Whoever buys this gets to avoid our first sabotage which is…

Assistants wheel out an assortment of items.

…everyone here will have to use an ingredient in their food that they are allergic to!

MID-SHOT INTERVIEW in post production: James


I have to use an ingredient I’m allergic to unless I buy that pen.  I’m deathly allergic to Tuna…I can’t afford to lose this or I might die.  Or worse yet, I’ll really disappoint the judges because Tuna is a terrible ingredient for nachos.


I’ll start the bidding at $500!

Contestants do their best to outbid each other.


Sold to Becky for 5,000 dollars!


I’m so glad I got this EpiPen so I don’t have to use an ingredient I’m allergic to. I saw that poison ivy in that container and knew that I’d probably lose if I served the judge nachos with poison ivy on them.  Poison Ivy has a really strong bitter taste, it’s very oily, and the scent is generally off-putting if served with acidic foods.  It’s also bad if your food gives the judge a rash.


Hey, uh, Alton.  I’m noticing that you are handing me a bunch of latex gloves. I know I’m allergic to latex, but this isn’t even food.


Well then someone should have bid higher, Lance.  I’m not here to hold your hand, I’m here to announce this show. If you don’t like your latex, then maybe you can go to your doctor and get a prescription for a pair of testicles.


But…latex isn’t edible!


Spoken like a true amateur chef.  Maybe you should have considered this before you decided to be allergic to latex.  Let’s hope the judge doesn’t share your opinion about your latex nachos! (Diabolic laugh that goes on a bit too long) I hoped you learned your lesson. Our next sabotage is sports related, because our producers are trying to appeal to sports fans of any kind. If you win this auction, you get to force one of your opponents to dribble a basketball for the entirety of the round while making their nachos!

The contestants bid wildly.


Sold to Lance for 6,000 dollars!  Good job.  Who are you going to give this to?


I’m going to give it to Marcus!


Lance made me bounce a ball the entire time I was making Nachos. No problem.  I’m used to multi-tasking. Usually when I’m cooking I have a phone in my hand and I’m trying to argue some bill collectors while making my nachos.


And our final sabotage is…

Dramatically bring out a terrarium filled with spiders.  Make sure the camera guys get the reaction shots of the contestants.


When they brought out the spiders, I looked at the other contestants. I expected Becky to be scared because she’s a woman, and women are easily scared. But it was James who was shrinking back into his cooking station in fear like a little girl.  I knew what I had to do.


Whoever wins this gets to douse one of their opponents in spiders throughout the cooking phase.

The bidding starts. Get a few close-ups of the spiders during this, because spiders are scary.  Bidding ends with Lance triumphant.


Sold!  For 8,000 dollars. Lance, who are you going to douse with spiders?


Sorry buddy.

Lance grabs the terrarium filled with spiders and dumps half of them onto James.  James is severely arachnophobic.  It’s where we got the idea.  James screams and screams, but no one will help him. The spirit of competition has robbed everyone on the set of their humanity. They just laugh at James. They point and laugh at James. James is shrieking now. A better person would help him, but no one does, despite his current trauma.  Wuss. Lance keeps the rest of the spiders to surprise James with later on.


And your cooking time starts now!

Edit together those shots we got of them all starting their nachos. Get a shot of Marcus dribbling (which he did remarkably well). Show Becky cooking and we’ll play her voice over.


I didn’t get any sabotages! I’m just making my usual nachos from scratch. What’s that? No, I don’t think they ‘took it easy on me’ because I’m a woman. Why are you trying to make me say (abruptly cut off)

Show Lance while he was laughing maniacally. Get in a shot or two of James desperately trying to rinse the spiders off him with a sink sprayer.


Hey James, your spiders are crawling over onto my cooking station. Keep them over there or else I’m dumping more spiders on you!

Show Marcus making his nachos one-handed.


I was just doing my classic nachos.  Fresh tortilla chips from scratch, mild cheddar, Frank’s Hot sauce, some El Paso salsa, sour cream…

Blah blah blah, Marcus.  Play that sound clip.  I got bored writing it.


I felt really bad for James. He spent most of the 20 minutes we had for cooking trying to wash the spiders off of him, crying while rocking himself gently in the corner, and then trying to fight the security in order to get out of Cutthroat Kitchen. But he really pulled himself together in the last three minutes.

Show James dump Doritos on a plate, dump cheese on top and splash salsa on it before tossing it in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Then maybe a montage of Lance chasing James around the kitchen with a terrarium half full of spiders.


God no! Please no! I’m so scared! I never have been so scared! I’ll quit the competition. I’ll throw my nachos away!  Just leave me be! I have family! I can’t…my fear of spiders is already debilitating. I can’t sleep in my own bed because the spiders.  No Lance!  No!


Who is up for some more spiders?  Come on, Lance.  It’s no fun if you don’t play along with the spirit of the game.


And cooking time is over!  Everyone hands off your plates.  Now I’d like you to meet our guest judge. Chef Travis.  Now Travis has been in a sound proof room. He doesn’t know any of the sabotages you’ve endured, and frankly he doesn’t care.


That’s right. I only care about what the food tastes like.


Chef Becky, please present your dish!


(no sabotages)

Here’s my take on classic nachos.


Delightful. I loved that you made a “man-sized” portion of nachos for someone that doesn’t have to judge their self-worth on how their body looks. Lady nachos are so awful, because they consist only of yogurt and celery sticks. But these are real nachos with chips, salsa, cheese, vegetables, guacamole, sour cream.  Well done. It has great taste, a pleasant burn, I really enjoyed it.


Thank you chef! But these aren’t just man nachos, these can be eaten by women as (abruptly cut off)


Chef Marcus, please present your dish!


(Dribble a basketball, allergic ingredient: heavy metals)

These are my “Bachelor nachos”, made with fresh tortillas, cheese, fresh salsa, and served with utensils made out of heavy metals.


I haven’t ever tried eating nachos with utensils before, especially golden ones.  That said, your dish is very well crafted and tastes wonderful.


Thank you chef!


Chef Lance, would you please present your dish?


(allergic ingredient: latex)

Yes sir.  I made latex nachos.


Lance, you can’t just dump salsa on top of latex gloves and call it food.  I don’t…I can’t eat this.  I’m likely to choke and die on it. That said, it’s a very good presentation. I like how you have different nacho fixings on each of the different glove fingers, and it is consistent throughout.


It’s not just on top. There is filling inside as well.


Oh!  So there is.  That’s really ingenious.  Unfortunately I can’t try any of this.


Chef James, would you please present your dish?


(allergic ingredient: milk, doused in spiders)

…(muttering while never making eye contact. Slight shaking throughout his body)


Okay, well what I’m seeing is very well done nachos. The taste is remarkable. However, I’m not a fan of the spiders you have. Some of them seemed to be sizzled onto the chips, and others are alive. I don’t think you could serve a plate full of spiders at a restaurant.

Show reaction shots of the contestants.


Chef Travis, you have dined. One of these contestants did not make nachos as well as the others.  Who is that?


Two of the dishes were excellent.  Two dishes could not be served because of regulations set down by the FDA. Out of those two dishes, one of them actually did remind me of nachos.  So the chef going home is

[Commercial break.]


So the chef going home is…

Take awhile and show the contestants squirm. Try not to show the blood trickling from James’ nose. I’m pretty sure the FCC will have something to say about that.


The chef going home is Chef Lance. I’m sorry, but even when your competition is a plate full of spiders, you can’t serve rubber to someone. It is a choking hazard.


Chef Lance, I’ll need that money back from you.

Chef Lance leaves the set.  Show him in an exit interview.

Lance (4th Place)

Man, I should have bet higher on that EpiPen. Having to serve latex in my dish really threw me off, and I think it was the leading cause for me losing.  Oh well, I can learn from this and go on.

Yelp Reviews For Drug Dealers

I’ve been fascinated with Yelp Reviews, ever since I read one by a poster named Bruce B.  I thought to myself that Yelp Reviews are just unexpected short stories.  It’s a format that people aren’t utilizing enough to bring a smile to one another’s faces.  That’s when i happened to drive past a marijuana dispensary in Colorado, and I just couldn’t resist the urge to write one such short story to bring a smile to everyone’s face.  After all, drug dealers need yelp reviews too!

(PS – Don’t do drugs, stay in school, drink your milk, winners don’t do drugs, DARE to keep off drugs, listen to your parents, Take a bite out of crime)

(The original yelp review)

Let’s say that hypothetically I went to Maggie’s Farm because I was curious.  I’m from out of town and I’d heard things about Colorado and the things you could buy.  It was a harmless bit of curiosity shopping, this fictional situation that in no way happened.  Afterall, purchasing marijuana is a federal crime, even if Colorado doesn’t care.  I obviously would never go to a marijuana dispensary such as Maggie’s Farm.  (It shares a parking lot with a couple other stores.  It’s the building with all the bars in the windows.  The door sticks a bit so make sure you give it a good tug.)

I allegedly went to Maggie’s one night to see what all the fuss was about.  It’s weird.  The front lady took down some of my information (supposedly), and then sent me into the waiting room.  The place smells like weed.  I mean, the place probably smells like weed.  I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to Maggie’s Farm, and I’ve never smelt weed, because I follow all of our great country’s laws, even the misguided ones.

The waiting room was designed for stoners.  We all took a number, but folks would get up and scoot down to the next available chair, causing a wave effect.  I guess the numbers are for some other purpose?  The musical chairs routine is not doing any favors to the stereotype of weed smokers.  I thought it was dumb.  I mean, I would probably think that such a thing was dumb if I ever saw it occur.  It wasn’t until I theoretically saw the security guard with a gun who asked me to scoot down with everyone else to make room that I partook in the game of jumping chairs.  The line is fairly long, so make sure you have a good hour on your hands when you stay away from this place and don’t go inside.

The merchandise here is expensive, but it is also quality stuff.  If I were the kind of person who bought drugs illegally, I could probably compare the price of an independent black market contractor to Maggie’s Farm (Maggie’s is more pricey), but I’m not the kind of person who buy’s drugs.  Also, I could also compare quality (Maggie’s has some good stuff, and the edibles are delicious and oh so effective!).  It’s nice to know that the drugs I may or may not have bought were safe, as opposed to other things I might have bought from a hobo downtown with a sketchy eye twitch.

The staff is quite nice, and they can answer any questions you might have.  I asked a bunch because I don’t know anything about buying this kind of thing (S vs I?)

Lots of hoops to jump through (not their fault, but still there), the place allegedly smells strongly of weed, the prices are a bit high but are very reasonable, and the quality is fantastic.  It’s too bad I’ll never go there, because I stay away from drugs.

Violent Generosity, The Way It Should Be

A cloud of huffing fog emanated from the breath of shivering humanity, shining in the neon lights of the dark parking lot.  The air was cold and crisp, with the sharp scent of snow stinging the nostrils of all those that dared to deeply inhale the night chill.  The parking lot itself gave the impression of a snow globe, the bright lights washing out the stars and covering the sky in a murky haze that put a claustrophobic ceiling above the huddled masses.

The shoppers had been there for hours to buy some new things, having just eaten a meal that signified all of the things they were thankful for.  The wind was unforgiving, coming straight down the parking lot and cutting through the clothes in all of the gaps.  Rich people with money playing homeless for a night, but just half a night, because in a few hours they were going to splurge their wallets with reckless abandon.  They crowded up against the wall of the store, bundled up in their winter gear as they waited for the blackest of night, when Black Friday truly began.

The crowd, with one mind, started chanting down a countdown from 20, as various models of last year’s cell phone verified that midnight was within reach.  Excitement stirred up the masses as they prepared themselves for the American version of the Running Of The Bulls.  What had been a collective of social solidarity huddled outside for warmth was going to turn into a capitalistic nightmare at the end of this countdown.   The stampede was ready; it just needed someone to open the gate.

When the countdown reached five, some unsuspecting cashier opened the door, just barely jumping out of the way to save her own life.  The first in line were sprinting, sprinting, to get to the most coveted of deals.  The race to the riot was on, but in this store things were slightly different.

The Heifer Project International (HPI) had finally opened up its first large box store to compete with other large box stores like Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  Customers could go in and buy miniatures of animals, farm equipment, water filters, and many other boons for the developing world and those that struggle to survive in it.  These miniatures could be turned in for the real thing, which would be sent to a family in need in some third-world developing country.  This year they decided to partake in the madness that is Black Friday.  They were a new store.  They weren’t ready for the swarms of people that had arrived, wallets in hand.

The first display to be demolished was the heifer stand.  What took a minimum wage warehouse worker and two volunteers 2 hours to set up in a glorious display was torn apart in seconds.  The display was a sprawling mass, arms writhing about to grab, lift, pull, and even steal any box that had a picture of a cow on it.  These cows were 20% off, after all, and those savings were worth the shivering, sweat, tears, and blood.  The last few boxes were pulled in various directions by an unrelenting tug of war.

The shouting match had begun.
“Let go!  I need this for a noble Peruvian soul who is trying to start his own farm from nothing!”
“No way!  This heifer is going to a recently orphaned teenage boy in Chad that is raising his sisters!”
“I’ve got a girl on my list, who needs a cow to restart her farm in Ecuador.  Give it to me!”

Shoppers were now fighting each other at the heifer display, and the chaos spread throughout the store.  The water buffalo stand was hit next with a fury of ravenous commercial hysteria.  One man climbed from behind the display, falling over once he grabbed a water buffalo figure someone else had their hands on.  He fell into the current and was never seen again.

The mob was not contained to just that.  The rabbit isle was cleaned out in 4 passes by one man with a shopping cart and a mission.  He simply stuck his arm out and ran forward, fashioning a make-shift snowplow that dumped every last rabbit avatar into his cart.  He was the first to sprint to the check-out desk, but not without losses.  As he pushed through the ever-expanding cluster of humanity coming through the doors, people reached into his cart to steal a rabbit or two.  He made it to the check-out counter with half of the two thousand rabbits he had started out with.  The clerk started to scan them as quickly as she could.  “Got a thing for rabbits?”

The man just smiled at her with the radiance of unrestrained competitive generosity.  “I’ve got enough rabbits for all 100 families in need on my list.  I’ve been saving up since September to make them happy.”

The cashiers hadn’t been hit yet, but they would be.  The shoppers were still pouring into the store and fighting each other.   In the “Women’s Empowerment” section of the store (yes, HPI has a Women’s Empowerment section, your local Wal-Mart doesn’t?), a group of third wave feminists were having a shouting match with a group of first wave feminists over which was more helpful: sending girls to school or launching small businesses.  The second wave feminists had all grouped their money together for a gift of reconstructing an economic structure in Rajasthan, India, and they were on their way to check-out, forming a human wedge to protect the carrier of their purchase.

Engineers, plumbers, and other blue-collar construction workers were the best organized, distributing the various water wells, irrigation pumps, and water purifying stoves between them.  With less money to spend than some of the other shoppers, these guys and gals weren’t able to wipe out their section of the store as quickly, they just wanted to hang around and see other folks with the same priorities.  Each purchase of a water system for them was a victory for each of them, unlike the bedlam of the sustainable farming section which was overwhelmed with environmentalists, vegans, and vegetarians attempting a coup over the faculty of HPI.  A loud thud trumpeted their victory as an entire shelving unit was pushed over, sending more figurines on the higher shelves sprawling on the floor.  A carpet of people hit their knees to grab the various plastic figures of crops, fruit trees, and garden baskets.

The store was bankrupt of inventory in 45 minutes.  Shoppers late to the brawl waited near the warehouse entrance, where the stockpilers would come out with a cart full of new figurines from the back.  They never made it further than 10 feet into the store before they were ambushed.  The warehouse workers took to the new strategy of loading up a cart and just pushing it out into the store, chumming the waters for the shoppers.

The checkout tables were an uproarious ruckus.  It was 1 in the morning, and HPI had not anticipated the crowds for today.  Swiping the purchases as quickly as they could was not quick enough.  The lines grew restless.  Some took to calling out for gifts from their neighbors.

“Anyone got a beehive?  I’ve an elderly couple in Guatemala that can’t do the hard labor for the veggies or live stock.”
“I’ve got seven girls on my list, and I want an education for all of them!  Anyone got any leftover educations?”
“I got an entire village set with gardens, educations, and live stocks.  I need an irrigation system to complete the set!”

The closer the crowds got to the cashiers the more obnoxious they got, each yelling for the cashiers to hurry.

“I need to go to the HPI store in the next city over!  I didn’t get all the geese I wanted!”
“When do you restock?  I’m not leaving until hunger is solved or my bank account runs dry!”
“Do you have an online catalog?  I wanted to help five hundred families, and I only got three hundred varieties of plants before you ran out!”
“Are you sure there aren’t any more educations to hand out?  Can someone check the back?”

The cashiers went as quickly as they could.  Money was being literally thrown at them; they were not able to keep up.  Tills were being run to the office, overflowing with cash.  Credit card machines were going down as they couldn’t take the violent swipes from the throng of people.  Checks were pulled out next.  Sometimes people further back in line would throw money at the cashier just to clear out the person in front of them so they could make their own purchase.  To further facilitate the chaos, the crowd started chanting “No change! No change! No change!”   Even when the cashiers tried to shove money into the hands of their customers, the customers wouldn’t take it.  “No Change!” they yelled, and ran off into night, dumping their figurines in a recycling bin, finally ready for Christmas to begin.

20 Reasons YOU Hate Click Bait “Articles”

1.) Click bait whore’s out someone else’s hard work and passing it off as their own. The guy that wrote ’10 things you liked about the Goonies’ is getting paid from your nostalgia, taking the work of the filmmakers of Goonies and cashing out on it. He’s a parasite trying to steal someone else’s spotlight.

2.) No real content included, just Pics and 2 sentences to try to link whatever the content is to some picture of Tina Fey rolling her eyes.

3.) You are wasting your time. Right now. You could be doing anything, but you are not. You’re reading Click Bait. You’re only at #3 on the list and you’re not going to stop. It’s not that funny. It’s not that good. You don’t get a cake at the end.

4.) You could have been reading Pessimistic Ponderings instead, a blog that has creative stories, rants, and other forms of mockery directed at the main stream awfulness you encounter in your daily life. It’s refreshing to read someone that doesn’t feel obliged to like things just because other people do.

5.) You’re just being tricked into thinking that pictures of Tina Fey are the same thing as a creative article.

Seriously…enough of the Tina Fey .GIFs

6.) At the end of the article, you’ll be disappointed at how sophomoric and trite the whole experience was.

7.) You MUST read this ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL crappy post about vague opinion and popular sentiment which will ALWAYS use hyperbolic language to make you think this is NECESSARY and get you to click.

8.) The ‘points’ aren’t explained very well.

9.) The humor is fart humor, aimed at the unthinking masses. Humor made to make everyone laugh is light, overdone, and stupid. It’s Two And A Half Men humor. If you want to be really funny, you need to pick a niche audience and absolutely destroy their preconceptions. Attracting as many people as you can doesn’t allow for that…it needs the unthinking and bored masses.

10.) Have you noticed how many times I’ve said “you”, as if this web page knows anything about who you are as a complex and thinking person? How many assumptions have I made about you, thinking that just because I’ve written something down that you’ll nod and agree with what I’ve said?

11.) Each of those other stupid click bait articles has the same superior and snarky tone that assumes you agree with their brand of ‘snark’, writing as if you share a secret joke about how superior you are to whatever it is the article is posting Tina Fey gifs about.

12.) These aren’t useful. It’s just an excuse to see more Tina Fey.

13.) These things clog your facebook, making it much harder to see pictures of the kids your high school friends had, catch up on the progress of that one guy’s paleo diet, the various libertarian rants of that one relative, morally superior digs from that handful of vegan friends, and those uncomfortably sexy pictures of that one relative that’s very proud of his abs or her cleavage.

14.) Someone is being paid to do this. It’s their job. Their job is to not do any work, not think at all, and hardly put forth any effort.  There job is not complete until your job is not complete…and it’s now closing time.

15.) Many sentence fragments.

16.) People read this garbage, but not your blog that you pour your heart and soul into.

17.) You’ve lived through the 80’s and 90’s. You don’t need a recap. That’s what Netflix is for.

18.) Which _____ are you from this movie/TV series/book? The obvious one that you have been picking! Why take this quiz? Just decide which one you are, because 4 very biased questions that lean towards an obvious character in an attempt to generate add revenue is beneath you.

19.) Want to read an idiot’s thoughts on the latest celebrity ‘not-scandel’ that isn’t really news at all? Me neither.  I don’t need a list of 20 things rehashing everything Kanye West or anyone else has done that is human.

20.) Do you need some idiotic talking points for some position that thinks two sentences of snark and a joke are enough to sort out a legitimate opinion about a complex issue?
This post took me 5 minutes to write. I did it while watching “The Voice” on Hulu and eating dinner. That’s how easy this is. That’s how much of a waste of your time this is. Ditch the click bait. Find someone worth your time that challenges you and opens your horizons to read. Get yourself ready and head out into the world.

Matt Walsh Writes A Useless Blog. You Deserve Better

Today is Monday, the day where I talk about “The Issues”.  Today’s issue is “Matt Walsh writes a useless blog”.  My friends, you deserve a better blogger than Matt Walsh.  I don’t like Matt Walsh because we don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of ideas.  For instance, I’m going to start this by saying this piece is an opinion piece based on a number of texts Matt Walsh has created, and if you disagree with me you can still be a good person.  If Matt Walsh were to try and make a similar disclaimer, it would have to be something like “I’m going to give you a fact piece based solely upon my biased opinion and if you disagree with me you are a heartless satanic liberal’.  Let me take a step back to justify these claims.

Matt isn’t a humorist.  I feel that is important to mention, because a humorist can write that his blog is ‘absolute truths’ or that he is a ‘professional truth sayer’ for comedic effect; Matt Walsh does both these things purely out of egotistical delusion.  Matt leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m going to show you why, along with some help from my good friend Matt Walsh, who wrote down so many condemning items for me to share.  Now some of you might be thinking “Steve, why are you doing this?”  Because you deserve better, dear reader.  Also, I hate Matt Walsh’s blog, and I think you should too.

I have a few problems with Matt’s blog that cause me to categorize his work as uninspired and unreadable.  The first is that it infests my Facebook feed, when I’d rather see articles written by intelligent people that have something meaningful to say that isn’t just a biased rant typical of a confused old man pining for the white-washed days of yesteryear.  The second problem is that he doesn’t attack actual issues, he attacks straw men that he’s constructed in his head that look nothing like the issue he’s talking about.  The third problem is that Matt lives in a fantasy world that doesn’t look anything like the actual world that we live in.  Matt’s world is one where white patriarchal Christian conservatism is always right, the Satanic liberals are always pushing an agenda of evil, and his proposed ‘solutions’ are relevant to reality.  The fourth problem is that he doesn’t understand complexity, but will always boil a complex issue to a binary stance of either ‘you are with me or against me’.

The fifth problem is that his blog is far too predictable and useless, and that’s the deal breaker for me.  Because I like to know what my friends are reading, and I hate Matt’s blog, I started playing a game called “Can I predict what Matt is going to say?”  I could almost every time without fail.  It is a very easy game to play.  Just pick whatever an elitist conservative ‘Christian’ dripping in white privilege would say, and there you go, the blog practically writes itself.  If the topic is about unarmed black teenagers being gunned down, his post basically says ‘calm down, those cops have a tough job and maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt’ (even though the facts were in by that point, and the attitudes he opposed were in fact correct, he just wanted to ignore them because the black people were right for once). If the topic is about women’s rights, feminism, abortion, or one of those other topics that is a women’s issue, his post basically says ‘bitches need to stop being so uppity and listen up to what he is about to tell them is right’.  If the topic is about suicide, his post basically says that he’s against it, even if a person’s life contains nothing but pain, that life needs to go on suffering because he’s uncomfortable about what his kids will think” or maybe it just shows his complete ignorance about mental health issues and basically says ‘if Robin Williams was right with Jesus, he wouldn’t be so depressed all the time’.  If the post is countering claims that he has white privileged, his post shows that he has no idea what white privilege is so you should shut up because Matt Walsh gets to decide what white privilege is now (which is the ultimate demonstration of white privilege).  I could go on (posts about poor people, atheists, minorities, etc) but this blog post needs to start going somewhere, and can’t just list every condemning biased post Matt has written.  There’s already a blog called What is Matt Walsh wrong about today?; you can read it for more specifics.

The one time I got it wrong was when he wrote a piece called “Sorry, but it’s your fault if you’re offended all the time”.  Without reading the piece, I assumed it was going to be his autobiography, because Matt Walsh blog is nothing but a guy whining about how he is constantly offended by some things that do matter and a lot of things that don’t matter.  Seriously, I can’t find a cheery piece that he’s written in which he’s not trying to sell tickets and make himself money at some speaking event.

[Edit: Right after writing this piece, but before posting it, Matt Walsh wrote this cheery little number about why it is so great to get married.  That’s going to be very funny when you get two paragraphs further into this blog and read how Matt Walsh wants to prevent people from getting married.]

People of the internet, you deserve a better blogger!


I’d like to do a breakdown of a more recent article from Matt that highlights each of the 5 faults I find in his uninspired work.  This blog post of propaganda and bigotry was waiting for me in my facebook feed.  The article is called ‘There Is No Such Thing as Marriage Equality”.  This is a typical article form Matt.  Go ahead and play the game where you predict exactly what Matt is going to say.  It’s really easy.

Okay, now that you’re predictions are in, go ahead and read the article.  Or don’t.  It’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be.

Matt has two points as to why gay marriage should not be allowed:
• A relationship between two men or two women is not the same exact thing as a relationship between a man and a woman.
• Gay folks can’t have kids.

The rebuttals to these points are “so what?” and “yes they can”.  Matt’s 2000+ word argument can be countered in 5 words.  Also, both of these ‘reasons’ why gay people can’t get married are non sequiturs.

Reasoning isn’t Matt’s strong suit, but deception is.  To really understand Matt Walsh and the kind of writer he is, I feel like there are 3 things that need to happen before you can really get to the heart of his blog posts.  The first is to locate all of the straw men, then all of the non sequiturs, and finally all of the delusions.  The second thing to do is cut out all of the ‘woe is me’ and the ‘what happened to the good ol’ days of yore’ and the ‘why is everything so bad now’ which does nothing but inflate his lacking content with a whiney diatribe.  That’ll take awhile, because he has a lot of clutter in his articles. He likes to include tangential rants to reinforce that the boogeyman of liberalism is behind every problem.  The third thing you do is read what remains once all of the nonsense has been removed from his article.  In this particular post, once you cut all of the crap, you’re left with Matt Walsh saying “I don’t think gay people should get married because I don’t like it.”

Straw Man 1 – The article starts off explaining that poor little Matt is mad.  Matt is mad because marriage equality is being forced on him and he doesn’t like it.  Matt doesn’t like the fact that relationships that don’t involve him in the slightest are occurring, because Matt is a bigot who feels the need to insert his personal philosophies into peoples’ lives to rule over them as a self-entitled white conservative man.

Okay, I’m being intentionally mean, but I wanted to highlight what a straw man looks like.  I started making fun of a caricature of Matt Walsh rather than the author who wrote the article I’m talking about.  This is the kind of tactic that the actual Matt Walsh uses all the time.

Without straw manning Matt, we start off with Matt Walsh complaining that marriage equality can’t exist, therefore it shouldn’t exist, and therefore gay marriages shouldn’t be allowed.  When everyone else in the English speaking world talks about ‘Marriage Equality’, they are talking about the ability for gay people to get married to members of the same sex.  When Matt Walsh talks about ‘Marriage Equality’, he’s saying that a gay relationship isn’t the very same exact thing as a straight one, therefore it is null and void.  Good straw man, Matt!  Those things are not equal.  You get a gold star!  That’s still no reason to outlaw the real marriage equality, though.  Matt just made a bad word game, and a dangerous one at that, which I’ll explain in Straw Man 5.

Straw Men 2 & 3 –  Matt Walsh likes to insult people that don’t agree with him.  In this article, he calls those people brainless, spineless, foolish, and he doesn’t say it outright but he gets very close to calling all his detractors godless, immoral, liberal, baby-killing Satanists trying to start a religion of debauchery.  That’s not a straw man, that’s actually in his article [paragraphs 7 through 10]. You can find other similar rants against his detractors throughout his blog posts.

Specifically, in this one, he picks on people that use emoticons while communicating (which are mostly children, but I guess adults do it to) and Adam Sandler fans.  That’s interesting, because I wasn’t aware that gay tolerant people used emoticons while anti-gay marriage folks never used them at all.  Also, Adam Sandler is a conservative and that’s common knowledge.  His fans are mostly teenage and college boys.  These are folks, which in my experience, don’t really care about politics.  Odd choices to be the downfall of civilization into ‘liberalism’. Emoticons and Adam Sandlar are annoying, I’ll grant Matt that, but they are hardly indications of poor intelligence.   ;^)

Straw Man 4 – Liberalism is the constant boogeyman in Matt’s various posts.  Liberalism is a thing, but what Matt Walsh is attacking is actually just a straw man/boogeyman.  There are many folks that like to portray liberal thought in a scary way in order to inspire loyalty within their audiencesThis is well documented and it is a common tactic found amongst conservative news sources.  In this article, Matt claims that the foundation of liberal philosophy is the support of gay marriage and abortion.  I don’t think he’s trying to be funny here or exaggerate, he honestly thinks that the wellspring of liberal thought is an abortion-centric place.  Clearly this man has some issues when it comes to confirmation bias.

Straw Man 5 –  No one is arguing that a relationship between two gay people of the same sex is the same as a relationship between two straight people of different sexes.  That’s silly.  I’m sure everyone can point out the differences.  Despite this, Matt is acting as if this is the very obvious truth that everyone is blind to and that he needs to explain to his readers.

But let’s go down this rabbit hole.  Is the marriage between a white man and a white woman equal to that of a black man and a white woman?  Should one of these things be made illegal because it is not ‘equal’ to the other?  According to Matt’s logic, yes, those interracial couples have a different relationship and shouldn’t get married.

Some folks might argue ‘eh, it’s close enough’.

And that’s the million dollar answer right there: “eh, it’s close enough.”
This is the same argument used to justify gay marriage.  You’ve got two people, they are in love, they want to spend their lives together, and they want to get married.  “Eh, it’s close enough.”  Matt doesn’t want to acknowledge that there is wiggle room in where we draw the line on what is and isn’t marriage. Unfortunately for Matt, the line that used to exist is being erased and being replaced with one that does include gay couples, and the people moving the line are the Supreme Court Justices.

Straw Man 6 – Matt’s definition of marriage is weird.  Matt seems to think that there is this unchangeable and time tested definition of ‘marriage’ that every single one of us has subscribed to and it can never change or else something bad will happen.  That’s not the case, and that’s a blog post for another day, because ‘traditional marriage’ and ‘biblical marriage’ are two ideas that are horrifyingly bad in a modern context or any other historical context.

Matt thinks that there needs to be a chance for human procreation between the married individuals in order for a marriage to be legitimate.  That shouldn’t matter, but to Matt it does.  He even goes on to explain why couples that get married are selfish if they are not planning on having kids.  My overall interpretation of Matt’s thoughts is that people who can’t or aren’t planning to have kids are not in a legitimate marriage.

Hey Matt, I’m married to my wife and my marriage is fine, even though we aren’t planning on having kids.  You think my marriage is invalid or selfish?  Well screw you.  Your opinion doesn’t matter in the slightest to my wife and me.  You know whose opinion does matter?  The Supreme Court’s opinion, and they are on my side, and we are on the side of gay marriage being a reality.

Again, Matt’s narrowminded ideal of marriage would make it impossible for post-menopausal women, anyone sterile, veterans whose genitals were wounded, or couples that just don’t want kids to get married.  Matt, who also wants to restrict sexual relationships to marriage, and marital relationships to those of people having kids, also lives in the 1800’s with the Victorian Era, and he oversteps his bounds when he tries to tell you what your sexual lifestyle should be.  It isn’t surprising that Matt does this, he is a delusional man drunk on white patriarchal privilege that thinks he is in an authoritative position that can speak ‘absolute truths’ as to how you should live your life, you minority scumbag.

Non Sequitur 1 – Just because a relationship is different doesn’t mean it can’t be recognized by the state.

Non Sequitur 2 –Matt thinks that because gay people can’t have children that they shouldn’t be allowed to get married.  Children have nothing to do with marriage.  When I got my marriage certificate, no one asked me if I was planning on having children with my then fiancée.   Children aren’t an issue.  That’s just Matt pretending he’s the Emporer of the Universe.

Usually it’s a bad sign if both of your points in a debate aren’t related to the argument you are trying to progress.
Matt’s Various Delusions Expressed Throughout The Piece –
•That marriage has a definition we all agree upon, and isn’t some relationship status that fluctuates wildly from culture to culture and time period to time period, starting long before the bible was even a thought
•Liberalism, the boogeyman causing everything to fall apart
•Homosexuality is an implied evil
•Homosexuality is a sign that a civilization is becoming corrupt
•That all forms of Christianity and conservatism are against gay marriage
•That the Supreme Court doesn’t get the final say, Matt Walsh gets the final say
•There is some Liberal conclave working behind the scenes to bring down all that is right with the world in some sort of Lovecraftian horror story, who won’t stop until everyone is forced to have an abortion
•Gay people are infertile, and couldn’t possibly have children via a surrogate mother, a sperm bank, or maybe even a friend of the opposite sex just willing to help out
•There is some concentrated effort by Liberals to dumb the world down in order to achieve some kind of nefarious end that involves gay people being happy
• His own self importance

So what are we left with when we remove all the crazy from Matt’s post?  Nothing relevant.  If we erase all of the tangents about a liberal conspiracy theory, all of the straw men, all of the non sequiturs, and all the delusions, then Matt Walsh’s post is simply him stating his opinion that he doesn’t like gay people and they shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it makes him feel sad.

People of the internet, you deserve a better blogger!

The Manliest Man

(Bonus Friday Post:  Day 1 of Writing for NaNoWriMo.  Just a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the month.)

Zach was born with a full grown beard and a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine.  The doctors said that if it hadn’t been for the magazine subscription, Zach’s mom would have died from carrying around too much awesome manliness.  Zach had ordered the magazine in utero to save his mother’s life, because Zach was three fourths of the way through his doctorate in medical school and he knew of the danger he posed to his mother.  Zach was a gentlemen even then.

The day Zach was born, the hospital had driven her in an ambulance out into the forest because they didn’t want to insult Zach by implying he’d need help being born.  The assisting nurse was a lumberjack and performing the delivery was a grizzly bear.  Zach was raised by the bears until he was three years old.  When Zach left the bears he was the alpha male.

Zach’s early child hood was pretty normal.  He played the bass guitar for Led Zepplin.  He started a comic strip with Bill Watterson that ran in the local paper.  He lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory in 1994, and played half their super bowl winning season in 1995 before he was injured by a sudden case of puberty that hospitalized him for two months.  The puberty lasted an hour because Zach was tired of it and didn’t want to wait any longer.  He was caught off guard by how much more manly he would become during that hour, as were the rest of us.  According to the equations of the world’s top physicists, Zach couldn’t have possibly gotten as manly as he did during puberty.  Zach had to invent a new system of advanced physics to explain it.  Zach was not injured when he went to the hospital, he was just stuck flexing all of his biceps and abdominals.  It took the doctors two months to find out that this was just Zach’s natural state, so he better get used to it.

By this time, Zach was entering Kindergarten.  His education wasn’t the usual, as it was constantly being interrupted with award ceremonies such as Zach winning the Oscar for best actor, the Pulitzer Prize for public service, the Emmy for both outstanding lead actress and best director, and a whole host of other awards.  The one he was most proud of was the Nobel Peace Prize he won for Literature.  The piece he wrote for that one was just a picture of his face stapled to a box of Fruit Roll-Ups.

Zach was promoted to the rank of High School senior his second week of Kindergarten, where he took the entire female high school population to Homecoming as his date.  Zach picked them all up at their homes, greeted their fathers with a firm handshake, and promised that he’d be respectful of their daughters.  He was.  It was the most successful school dance ever.

When Zach turned 11, he enlisted in the Army Rangers and fought in the war in Uruguay.  Haven’t heard of it?  I’m not surprised.  It was all very hush-hush.  The war was looking to be a big mess, but Zach posted a billboard of himself doing pushups behind enemy lines.  The insurgent forces all surrendered.  Zach told the press to keep it quiet, as Uruguay needed some private time for self-reflection and healing.

I met Zach at the end of High School.  At this point in his life he didn’t shake hands because it was rude to imply that the person he was meeting didn’t know who he was.  Instead Zach looked me up and down and declared that we would be friends.  We went through the ceremonial arm-wrestling, in which I lost seven matches in a row.  I could have lost more, but Zach never did like to rub it in by requiring more matches than necessary.

The day I met Zach was the day that he’d have to face the greatest challenge of his life….

(I’m just joking.  This isn’t my NaNoWriMo piece.)

November Announcments

Today is Monday, the day I talk about the issues concerning Friday.  Today’s issue is: Blog Writing.

Hello my faithful following of fans, all 20 of you.  It’s time for a fireside chat with me, the author of Pessimistic Ponderings.  I started the blog in an attempt to force myself to write again.  I like writing, but I’ve gotten lazy due to a lack of audience.  Writing isn’t easy, as folks don’t think about it after they leave college.  I’ve tried starting a few writing groups, but it seems that I’d have to go to graduate school and become an MFA to find the people that would be interested in such a task.  I’m not about to put myself through the trauma of graduate school because to an outsider, graduate school looks like a special version of hell.

I want to be an author.  I really do.  This blog was an attempt to get out of the rut of not writing and force myself to knock the rust off my one talent.  I’ve written only one novel in my lifetime, and at the age of 31 that is sad.  I should be doing more.  The one novel I’ve written was just after I graduated from college and it’s titled: “Babe, A Guy’s Version Of A Love Story.”  It’s not edited and it desperately needs to be edited, but I wrote it.  It’s 124 pages of comedy and drama and I love it.  I felt an immense amount of pride in that accomplishment, and I want to do it again.

A few Novembers I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo, a competition to write the first draft of a novel in one month (at least 50,000 words.  I’ve attempted it 4 times so far.  Each attempt was awful and I deleted the result (or hid it on a secret file deep in the forgotten places of my computer).  This time I’m going to try again and see it through.  The first time I attempted it I wrote a vampire story that my friend Jimmy sort of dared me to write, but I didn’t get very far in it and from when I hear, he’s taking the idea back.  The second was the furthest I’ve gotten was 23,000 words in a zombie story that never actually mentioned any zombies.  The third and fourth attempts were with the same story that was going to be a “Ender’s Game” situation married to “1984”, and both attempts did not go well.  NaNoWriMo doesn’t produce the best work, but it does produce a first draft, and that’s something to work on.  I’ll be participating again this year.

So what does that mean for this blog?  I’m not shutting it down, but I am going to relax a bit.  In order to dedicate more time to NaNoWriMo, I’m going to stop writing the Friday “The Issues” posts.  Currently I spend about 3 hours writing a post (about an hour a page).  It’s not my best work, but it is good practice.  I feel like I’m rushing these stories out there, but I justify it because you are getting more than what you paid for.  The trouble is the economics of the situation.  I spend about 3 hours a post and the entirety of my audience spends about an hour and a half reading them.  It’s a bit disheartening, but I’ve soldiered on hoping my readership would expand.  It has, a bit, but I’m still spending more time writing than people are reading.  Currently, I don’t receive any kind of reimbursement for writing these blog posts.  I’m cutting back my weekly commitment to this blog from 6 hours a week to 3, because writing two blog posts a week and 12,500 words per day in a novel I haven’t really fleshed out yet is too much.

Maybe to celebrate NaNoWriMo, I can post the worst parts of the story I’m writing for everyone to laugh at.  I need to keep the same pace I maintained while writing The 2nd Grade Mafia, writing about 2,000 words a day, which comes out to around 3-4 pages.

After November I’m going to take it easy to enjoy the holidays and take a break from the insane self-imposed workload I’ve put on myself.  I’m giving myself an extra week to finish the NaNoWriMo competition, because a week of November I’ll be on vacation and I need to enjoy that vacation rather than stare at a notebook.  Maybe I can get to 30,000 words this year!