Humor in the Face of Eternal Unbeing. At the end of the day the only thing that is guaranteed in life is that the grim shadow of nothingness will eventually envelope all of us and hurl us into the void of eternal unbeing. Even if mankind manages to survive this event, there is no truly safe haven.
People say a lot of bad things about Fox News and how they report national and world events. Journalists, politicians and comedians all point out the way that they unabashedly promote a right wing agenda at the expense of factual and ethical integrity. However, while these arguments are important, I can’t help but feel that the left is turning a blind eye to one really important issue. That is, I really feel that not enough attention is being paid to their awful photo shopping skills.
While I’ve been noticing this issue for a while on their website, the problem really boiled over this morning when the following image was the banner of their top story.
Once I saw it, I felt I needed to break my silence and say something.
The image was for this story on whether the Democrats will run on a platform of presidential impeachment during the midterm elections. I read the entire article, several times actually, not because I was particularly interested in the story, but because I needed to take in the full thing before I passed judgment on the image. Maybe there was a reason behind it I could not glimpse until I took in the whole article. But, after ingesting every word, going over every potential use of symbolism or irony, I feel pretty safe in critiquing it.
So, without further ado, I ask the universe…why is Fox News photo shopping romantic comedy poses into their serious news stories?”
The back to back mismatched romantic lead pose has been used for decades. Sites like Cracked, College Humor and many others have already reported on its recycled use, so I won’t go into it (I will say that as much as I love Matthew McConaughey and most everything he’s done in his career, the “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” poster will always makes me want to immediately rip out the scruff of his neck with my teeth every time I see his face on screen). But, back to Fox News, just look at the above examples and try not to see the Fox News banner image as something that would just fit right in.
Again, this isn’t an actual picture. These two were never back to back with contrasting expressions. Someone, who is likely paid to come up with visual images that add weight to an article, spent time looking through collections of images, saw these two and thought, “My god, I could cut these two together and…Perfect!” Some form of this thought process had to have happened, but for the life of me I can’t recreate the logic behind it. The story is supposed to make me wonder if the Democrats will make impeachment a tent pole issue in 2018, but now all I can think about is, “these two are terrible for each other, they’re complete opposites. She’s happy and full of life. He’s an old grump who lends credibility to white supremacists while bringing the world to the brink of a completely avoidable nuclear confrontation. They couldn’t possibly be more incompatible. But, maybe…just maybe…that’s just what each of them have been looking for.”
I could end this by saying, “the funny thing is I would actually see this movie.” However, I wouldn’t. It would be terrible, not because Trump is terrible (in fact, I will continue to petition Criterion to admit Home Alone II: Lost in New York into their collection) but because the underlying premise that the image suggests seems tired hackneyed. Some animals have special markings to warn predators that they’re poisonous and some movies use template poses to do the same.
In retrospect though, the image did make me read the article. I don’t know how to feel about that…
Since the events of Charlottesville last weekend, a lot of different organizations have been releasing information about White Supremacist groups in America. These organizations range from the official score keeper of this subject matter, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to news organizations, bloggers, independent journalists, and activists. I’ve decided to do the same, because unlike the other people I’ve just mentioned, I have no particular hands on experience with these groups, no track record in the activist community and no credibility to my statements. I’m also a white male. As such, I really feel like mine is a voice that should be heard at this time in our country’s history.
However, what I do have, and always have had, is a strange fascination with hate groups, to such an extent that I have been doing independent research on them for the last 20 years. So, before I actually say my opinion on this matter, I thought I would at least provide people with some crib notes on some of the hate organizations associated with the the Charlottesville rally.
Also, since I don’t really feel like searching for images of a bunch of racist assholes for each category, I’m going to instead use the best public domain pictures of kittens that money can buy.
The Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan is probably the most widely known hate group in America. Founded in approximately 1865 it was founded in response to the loss of the Confederacy and the perceived destruction of southern culture by the invading northerners. Slavery mostly…other things too, but yeah, mostly they didn’t like the end of Slavery. They were not a fan of Black people. Since that time the Klan has risen and fallen a half dozen times, mostly due to the actions of the United States Government. Anti Klan laws, including prohibitions to wearing the hood were enacted in the 1870s which effectively squashed the organization. It reformed in 1915 where it soon boasted a membership of over a million, including high ranking individuals in State politics. It was brought down by political scandal in the 1920s and poor financial management.
And then in 1944 the IRS decided to act on the fact that the Klan had not been paying its taxes and shut down the organization and its many chapters. The Klan was never heard from again.
Wait, asks an imaginary voice, what are all those other times I’ve seen them on TV. I seem to remember them not liking the Civil Rights movement. Also, there was that David Duke guy, and also I fucking saw some Klan people at the rally last week. Unless those guys were real ghosts, what the fuck are you even talking about!
Well, first, I will not deny the possibility of there being actual ghosts. If building a housing development over a graveyard was enough to make spirits go crazy in Poltergeist, than I can’t imagine what a bunch of racists marching over your grave would do. However, if they weren’t ghosts, it was probably one of those Klan knock offs. When the Klan broke apart it splintered into dozens of factions. They all have new names, such as the White Knights of the Klan, the American Knights of the Klan and the Traditional Knights of the Klan. Every one of the organizations has their own independent leadership and manifestos. While some of them are ideologically aligned, others are hated even within the Klan circle. There are Klan groups that actually believe that hate and violence is not the answer and that love should guide their actions. While I can’t argue with that underlining premise, I do have to question their branding, in the same manner I would a Vegan group that held a weekly pig and penguin BBQ in support of animal rights. You also have groups that refuse to associate with Neo Nazi organizations, in the belief that there position is anti-american and against what the Klan stands for – southern rights and being sad about slavery ending. To sum it all up, for an organizations focused on dressing up like ghosts and lighting religious iconography on fire, there is a lot of drama going on.
Finally, the Klan are also a bunch of fucking fantasy nerds. I invite you to follow this link and tell me that some of these names and positions wouldn’t be better suited in a D&D manual than in the register for America’s oldest hate group. In that same regard, the Klan has never caught on among the younger crowd of american racists. I guess kids these days no longer believe that cosplaying a bunch of civil war ghosts is the best way to reach their political and societal goals. The Klan of today only has a few thousand members spread across the country, and as noted in my article here, their different factions spend a lot of time fighting over the few people who like their racism with a touch of Scooby Doo villain spookiness.
Neo Nazis and Skinheads
Neo Nazis and Skinheads are not synonymous in the sense that they have different origins, but have become intertwined in their American aspects. Neo-Nazis have existed throughout the world since the fall of the Third Reich. They have promoted Nazi antisemitic and racial principles. They have championed the Holocaust Denial movement. They are different from the Klan in the sense that their hate is more universally directed. They believe in the inferiority of non white races in a global context. However, they are still a bunch of nerdy cosplayers.
Skinheads originated as part of the Punk movement in the UK and originally had nothing to due with white supremacist ideals. However, for multiple reasons the culture began adopting Nazi iconography and dogma. However, it remained very much centered around music. The Skinhead style of racism and culture was brought over from the UK to the United States in the late 70s and early 80s where it retained its White Supremacist aspect. While some people still argue that the movement is really just a legitimate punk style that has been taken over by racists; much like the Swastika was once a Tibetan symbol for good luck…its just not anymore. If you’re upset, you can blame Hitler. I’m sure you’ve heard that this guy ruined a lot of shit for a lot of people.
Neo-Nazis and Skinheads are mostly fringe groups. Violence was associated with them, but it was more random. They were organized in the sense that they might be able to get all there members to an even or a rally or a concert. However, larger pan-racist organizations would eventually play a part in recruiting these people for other purposes.
I don’t really feel the need to go into the differences between White Supremacists and White Nationalists as these are more examples of a belief system than they are a distinct group. Honestly, individuals in all of the above categories could also fit into one of these belief systems as well. However, one subsection of these beliefs, the White Separatists, I believe has enough boundaries on it to be a cognizable group, even if they don’t have a leader or organizational structures. White separatists are mostly people who live in very small bubbles of society. They believe that not only are the other races out to get them, but those same races have seized control of not just our Government, but the world Government. Some believe that the United Nations will one day send troops into the United States and take over the country. Some believe that Jews have already taken over the world and are running things via a shadow organization. Some believe that the people in power have all been taken over by a race of lizard men, that can be identified by flashes in their eyes when people take photos (or as we non-believers call them, red eye and lens flairs). Some of these people say they don’t even wish to harm or dominate the other races and religions (unlike white nationalists and white supremacists) they just want to have them live somewhere else. Other racist groups have picked up on some of the above beliefs, particularly the Jews running everything, that one is a classic. What really separates this group from the others is a belief that the Government running the Country has been invaded and is out to get them.
Two of the most important events in regards to this movements are the Waco massacre and the Ruby Ridge siege. The 1993 Waco massacre is the most well known and involved cult leader David Koresh’s stand off with the federal Government that involved the death of several federal agents and the destruction of his compound and the deaths of dozens of his followers. While a religious Cult isn’t exactly on the same page as most of these groups (Same book though. Definitely the same book) they saw the Waco Massacre in the same light as the below.
The Ruby Ridge siege was a 1992 incident in ultra-rural Idaho. Randy Weaver and his family were subjects/witnesses in a Federal ATF investigation. When he didn’t appear for Court a warrant was issued for his arrest. Since the U.S. Marshals new he was a man who loved his guns and hated his Government meddling, they sent an armed squad to serve the warrant. A confrontation occurred that resulted in the death of a U.S. Marshall and Randy Weaver’s 14 year old son. What followed was an 11 day siege of Randy Weaver’s family home. On one side was Randy Weaver, his family and friends. On the other side were a couple hundred Federal officers with military gear, including armored vehicles. During the Siege Randy Weaver’s wife was killed by sniper fire. The siege ended and both Randy Weaver and his friend stood trial for the death of the U.S. Marshall.
White Separatists view these incidents as evidence that the Government is willing to annihilate anyone who does not want to live their lives the way that they do. This can mean living your life of the grid or with a desire to remove other races from the boundaries of this country. To be fair, non-white separatist anti-government conspiracy theorists also take the same meaning from these incidents, and I don’t want to lump them together. I would rather just have them both under the larger banner of things stupid people believe.
Organized Hate Groups
Over the last 30 years the most threatening face of organized hate in the United States have been larger pan-racist organization. The most prominent of which was the National Alliance, founded by William Pierce. I’ve already talked a lot about this organization and its downfall here. To sum it up, Pierce was originally a member of the Youth Wing of George Wallace’s 1968 Presidential campaign. Fun history fact, formation from the remnants of defunct more main stream political campaign or organization is a common trend among hate groups both within the United States and other countries. The ramifications of this for the post Trump world should go without saying.
Pierce was very charismatic in the racist community and wrote extremely popular manifestos and even novels. His most known work is the Turner Diaries, the delightful story of Jews taking over the United States, using African Americans as their thugs, taking everyone’s guns, and forcing average people to fight back and beat up delicatessen owners. I’ve actually read this book, and while I must admit that I am not its target audience, I feel it reads like generic internet fan fiction with the Mary Sue character being disenfranchised white people.
To all you internet fan fiction writers, I am not trying to insult you. Your work is profoundly better than the of racism and white nationalists, unless you write adult themed My Little Pony fan fiction, in which case, I’m sorry, but the Turner Diaries has a few legs up on you. Don’t get mad at me, just write better and not about horses fucking.
Pierce’s national alliance took in anyone who supported his beliefs. He got the young Skinheads and Neo-Nazis through publishing records in their music scene. He got older members by appearing to be a more organized and respectable hate group. Membership dues and record sales went to getting more members, which lead to more dues and so on and so on until the National Alliance became a scary powerful organization. The national alliance never committed acts of terrorism in America, they just got their material in front of people, and if they decided to act on it, that was their decision. There is a long list of acts of domestic terrorism that were committed by people with ties to the National Alliance, including the Oklahoma City bombing.
Other groups followed this basic pan-racist, financial focused, indirect terrorism and non-cosplaying structure (although, as always, cosplaying comes in eventually with hate groups, search Klanta Klaus; and then be mad that you did). David Duke’s iteration of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, the World Church of the Creator and to a lesser extent, Aryan Nation, were all less successful versions of this. However, none of them were as able to turn their group into a multi million dollar business as Pierce. Then Pierce died and absolute pants shitting wackiness ensued.
This is probably going to be my shortest section because, quite honestly, I understand this group the least.
There was an old radio program called X-1 that ran science fiction stories. I used to listen to it on the KNX drama hour, which played old radio shows ever night in Los Angeles, when I was 10 or 11. My favorite episode involved a bunch of scientists who learned that a cosmic event was going to destroy the earth in a matter of days. The scientists determined that while they could not save the human race, they could at least give it a chance to live again. They shrunk a group of people to atomic size, where time would pass significantly slower, and sat and observed as a new different human civilization created itself from the void of their atomic world (the Simpsons actually parodied this in a Tree House of Horror episode).
I believe this is very similar to the genesis of the alt-right movement. Groups of people who held certain beliefs found each other on internet forums and message boards and began talking. While there was no initial structure of beliefs, after time, there began to be cognizable rules, doctrines and ideals associated with this group. It didn’t even have a name, but a new organization had created itself from the void of the internet. And then some dick bag blogger or journalist decided to name it and all fucking hell broke loose.
The organization is not split into factions, although it is leaderless. Many different people have grabbed the reigns, but they do not fully control the group, nor does the group see themselves as controlled by anyone. Trump has obviously been the most successful at this, but he is not the face of the group. This is a little scary because almost all of these groups collapse when their public face is disgraced or knocked of their pedestal. In contrast, I think the Alt-Right would survive the downfall of any of its current public faces, including Trump.
After the Alt-Right became a cognizable organization, other people joined in and began calling themselves members of the Alt-Right (e.g. Far Right Republicans, Christian Conservatives, Alliance of Racist Uncles). However, at its core are a group of people who formed a political belief out of a patchwork of posts, blog articles and memes and who have never had, nor truly want, accountability for their actions. The new comers, even if they share similar beliefs, I feel don’t really understand the organization that they’ve joined.
I received a fun email this morning from Geek Girl Con. For you non-Seattleites, Geek Girl Con is a yearly convention that “celebrates and honors the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women world-wide and creating community to foster continued growth of women in geek culture through events.” Each year I plan to take my daughters to it, and each year I forget.
In the hopes of absorbing information that would allow me to remember a simple date, I decided to read the email. Boy howdy am I glad I did that!
In summary, the email stated that several board members and staff quit over issues of racism, sexism and financial and corporate governance ethical issues. Specifically, the following:
It is with great regret that we wish to inform our attendees, exhibitors and sponsors of the resignation of the entire Convention Operations team, loss of key Founders and Board members. The Convention Operations team, responsible for all aspects of setup of our convention, Exhibitor management, security, and pass sales have chosen to leave GeekGirlCon as a result of the actions of the Executive Director and remaining Board members.
The following is the statement from our Convention Operations Team:
This action is not a step taken lightly. Many of you are our friends. Many of you we consider family. This team has a long history with GeekGirlCon, including some of us who were there at the start, and all have worked very hard to support its mission and values. We are disappointed and saddened that it has come to this. However, actions by the ED and by the Board have made the current environment one in which it is impossible for us to continue. Over the last five months, while we worked with the ED and the Board in good faith to resolve the differences, we witnessed bullying, gender discrimination, racism, misuse of charitable funds, and many instances of unethical behavior. We can no longer support this organization’s administration as their recent conduct shows a severe lack of integrity, morality, and respect for its hard-working staff, volunteers and attendees.
Effective immediately, we are resigning our positions and will cease association with GeekGirlCon.
Below you will find a few reasons driving our decision to resign.
Acts of discrimination carried out by the Executive Director in the removal and eventual reinstatement of a Con Operation staff member.
Opportunistic and underhanded voting tactics by the Board of Directors, including:
Voting on matters before seeing the evidence collected and knowing it has been collected.
Postponing vote on the removal of the Executive Director during its proposed session; instead the vote was called in an emergency meeting without the Board member who proposed the original motion being present.
Bullying of staff members and making derogatory statements to them about their mental and/or physical condition.
Dissemination of printed documents by the Executive Director that include details of private, sexual encounters, unrelated to GeekGirlCon, in an effort to discriminate against and kink-shame a volunteer.
Questionable use of charitable funds by the Executive Director.
Deprioritization of financial oversight by the Board of Directors.
Failure of the Board of Directors to provide any recourse for reporting ethical violations made by the Executive Director.
If you are an Attendee, Exhibitor, or Sponsor for GeekGirlCon 2017 and are concerned about the status of your payment, recent drop in expected attendence, or sponsorship of this year’s convention, please contact: email@example.com
You may also direct inquires to: Michele Domingo, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org and I-Wei Feng, Acting President of the Board of Directors at email@example.com
When I read the first few sentence, I immediately rejoiced, “Hurrah! A scorched earth email! I love reading these!”
Scorched earth emails, in this context at least, are emails sent by a group within a company that has decided to leave, or in some cases, are forced out, and want to leave a swath of destruction in their footprints. I’ve read a lot of these and, in my experience, no one has ever written one where they don’t take whatever thin layer of credible cause they have for exiting a corporation, and stretch and exaggerate it to the point where it makes them look like a colossal douche bag after receiving even a moment of scrutiny.
Traditionally in the case of a an exiting disgruntled manager(s) a corporation will release a joint statement with the manager about the situation and simply allow them to leave under auspice of an amicable part. They will of course talk shit about their exit over via social media at a later date (there might be non-disclosure agreements involved in larger corporations, but usually not in smaller businesses or something like a local convention). The corporation and the exiting parties may also choose to say nothing about the departure and let each go about their separate ways. But, sometimes, people exit suddenly and decide to use a virtual megaphone to announce a giant fuck you to everyone who can hear them.
As I read more about the underlying conflict with Geek Girl Con (which became extremely heated due to reasons outlined a few paragraphs down), I began to piece together a skeleton of what I thought actually happened, and found that it was just like every single management blow up I’ve ever seen. It looks like there was a dispute within the corporation, the dispute devolved into arguing and name calling and eventually allegations of impropriety against a managing party, the dispute was brought before the board and a call was made for the managing party’s resignation (even though the majority of voting power appeared to be in favor of the accused managing party). However, instead of raising and dismissing an issue within the normal rules of governance, the majority power on the board used that power to summarily dismiss the issue; in this case by voting on the matter without the complaining parties present and without the interested party recusing themselves (whether this was a fiduciary breach or just a dick move depends on what their bylaws say). Once that occurred, even though the board member(s) bringing the allegation were likely only bringing it as a not very well thought out FUCK YOU, they now felt especially rejected, got pissed off and decided to resign. Of course, not before they attempted to burn the place down as they leave by painting an exaggerated picture of their departure in a way that most favors their position.
What do I mean by exaggerated picture? Well, here is an example from the resigning member’s statement. They alleged that they were leaving because the board insulted staff members mental and/or physical condition. What this usually means is that during an argument someone called someone something along the lines of crazy and fat. Are those nice things to say? Certainly not. But its not as bad as calling someone a “manic hair lipped cripple inbred retard”, which would also equally fit within the scope of the above allegation. It’s all about ambiguous statements that are not so much false as overly broad as to their actual meaning. This allows the people reading the statement to insert their own meaning into the statement and take the side that best fits their natural inclinations.
I can’t even stress the mundaneness of the above scenario. This exact scenario has happened thousands of time before. Regardless of who is at fault, as with most corporate governance matters, it could have been squashed if people had remained respectful and did not try to unfairly use corporate authority. In fact, the situation ended up being so mundane that I almost immediately lost interest in it. However, thankfully not before the fun twist that differentiated it from my other experiences.
What makes this case different is that the resigning parties not only failed to stick the embittered scorched earth letter dismount, they shat their pants while doing it and then complained why nobody was applauding. Basically, they attempted to burn the place down using 100% pure weaponized stupidity. The scorched earth examples I used above are tried and true because they force the other side to have to respond in some manner. Once the other side responds, even if it is a good response against a position that has no merit, they will be seen by some as being on the defensive. As the matter will likely never be investigated further, there are suddenly two permanent alternate realities next to each other, one where the resigning managers are right, and one where the company is right. This isn’t to say that all resigning managers bring up exaggerated grievances, but most of the time it’s just the corporate version of rage quitting.
Now, with the above in mind, do you know what kind of allegations you don’t use in these situations? Allegations that are so broad that they are misleading, and can be countered by, lets say, simply posting a picture of the people making it. I feel pretty safe in saying that even if you believe that racism is something that only applies to a group in power using its authority on a group that is not, is entirely systemic, or applies to any person using race against another, I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the scorched earth letter in this case and picture the Geek Girl Con resigning managers as a bunch of white people. Also, that the majority of said white people were white men. Whether or not you believe there is weight to their complaint, you can’t say that their complaint was accurately reflected in their official fuck you email. The fact that there is now a debate in the Seattle geek community about whether white people can be the victims of racism, and whether men can be the victims of sexism, completely misses the point of their stupid statement. The exiting managers didn’t raise that issue, nor did they intend to. They kept their statement ambiguous so the readers could fill in the blank and they would lash out against the convention.
Now, Geek Girl Con released a lengthy response to the scorched earth email and its various remaining managers released their own comments and statements. As I said before, responding to these things, even if it is necessary, always puts a company on the defensive. I can’t blame Geek Girl Con for responding. I can blame them for not responding by simply stating, “these were a bunch of white mostly guys. Go about your day.” They could have immediately destroyed the exiting manager’s credibility with that statement, and have no need to respond to the other allegations. However, they did respond to them, and now there is a big debate about what is really going on behind the scenes.
After Geek Girl Con had an opportunity to respond, I would expect that the resigning managers would either own up to the fact that they attempted to mislead people (unlikely), support the position they were taking regarding racism and sexism in our society (less unlikely) or go quiet rather than attach themselves further to a position on race and gender you might not have intended to fully embrace (so much less unlikely). However, the resigning managers found a fourth option, which was to go find a nice new clean pair of pants to shat and then double down on their stupidity. They decided to speak, instead of staying quiet, and they neither backed away from their position nor fully embraced it.
However, they did say that they had friends who were POC .
While I know some people in the past have said that line in response to allegations of racism, or variations thereof based on allegations of sexism or anti-Semitism, I think we as a people have come to the point where we can all agree that it has never been successfully used as a defense in any situation. Its only purpose in our society is to parody the kind of people who would say that in response to allegations of racism, which is in itself to absurd for my liking because I didn’t believe any of those people still existed. I find the existence of a flat earth movement less surprisingly than there are a group of people in our society who, regardless of their beliefs on race, still believe that the above line is a effective way to support them.
At least I know that if I had been in their shoes, and I was in some bizzaro world where I actually had friends, and some of those friends were also POC, I would at least know enough not to invoke said friendship at that time based on…well… pretty much every single comedy or stand up special I’d ever seen. Now, that isn’t to say I wouldn’t invoke said friendship at other times, like if I wanted to get a free snow cone or to bring outside food in a movie theater (Note: all of my scenarios are snack related and only result in making everyone around me feel uncomfortable with my presence). However, I would probably only get through “some of my friends…” before I saw the belief and credibility drain from the eyes of those around me.
So, what does all this mean. In internal corporate governance disputes, stay professional, never use small amounts of power unfairly against another person (especially if you are in the right) and keep your scorched earth letters to exaggerated ethical and financial issues (just like god intended). Also, pretty much never do what the above people did.
In the meantime, I must now face my rapidly approaching senility as I come to terms with the fact that despite reading about 40 different things about Geek Girl Con today, I’ve already forgotten when it is.
Let’s start this piece off with a controversial declaratory statement. White Supremacists are people too.
Yes, horrible, hate filled people, but still, technically people in the biological sense. And, like most people, once you peel back the layers of, in this case, hate…and more hate…and yet more hate, you find a person who …wait, sorry there were still a couple more layers of hate on there, here we go, last one…you find a person who just wants to reach for the stars. But, like all men with a plan and a dream, they often fly a little too close to the sun and, like some sort of Icarus/Messerschmidt hybrid, fall crashing back to the earth.
With that, the following are a few examples where White Supremacists, from the highest leader of a national organization to your average every day Nazi on the street, had their plans go horribly awry. Don’t have any tissues with you? Yeah, you aren’t going to need tissues.
THE KLU KLUX KLAN GOES TO WAR WITH THE LUMBEE TRIBE, GETS ALL THEIR STUFF STOLEN AND BURNED
The Best Laid Plan:
Our first tale opens up in 1956 in Robeson County North Carolina. The county had a very diverse population, including a large population of individuals hailing from different Native American tribes. In 1956 these groups were able to receive limited federal recognition under the label of the “Lumbee” tribe.
This fact did not sit well with James W. “Catfish” Cole. It should be easy to tell what Cole did in his free time, because with a name like “Catfish” you are either going to be a world renowned Jazz musician or a racist bag’o-dicks. I can’t speak to Cole’s musical talents, but at the time he was definitely the leader of the South Carolina based Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.
The reason for Cole’s concern was that, unlike the blind fools that surrounded him, he could see what the federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe was really all about…African Americans… disguising themselves as Native Americans…as a first step to eventually disguising themselves as Whites.
Of course! The plan’s brilliance is in its simplicity!
As such, Cole and his Klan declared war on the Lumbee tribe. In case you don’t remember, the mid 1950s was when a little thing called the Civil Rights movement was getting fired up, and, from the Klan’s perspective, there were probably other areas where they believed resources should be directed. Even local supporters of the Klan would question Cole opinion on the federal recognition. However, since there was no central leadership of the Klan at that time, he decided to maneuver his own organization’s resources to play a game of “Racist Rednecks and Indians” with the population of Robeson County in order stop the perceived pod-peopling of the white race.
Cole started his public campaign of fear and harassment in late 1957. He mostly targeted Lumbee tribe members who had engaged in interracial relationships or had settled in predominantly white areas. In Cole’s own words, “there’s about 30,000 half-breeds up in Robeson County and we are going to have some cross burnings and scare them up.” The Klan made good on its promise and using its normal harassment tactics a aforementioned cross burnings. In early 1958, Cole declared victory over the Lumbee tribe, believing he had beaten them into submission, and publically announced that he would be hosting a huge Klan rally on January 18, 1958 to celebrate and support their work in the area.
And then thing went horribly awry:
On the night of the rally, Cole, his wife and approximately 100 Klansmen arrived at the donated Haye’s Pond and farmland to begin setting up the festivities. This included setting up banners, displaying a plethora of Klan memorabilia and erecting multiple crosses ready to be lit at key points during the festivities. They also set up a single electronic light to help them while they worked into the evening.
While the Klan went about their party preparations, a key discrepancy with Cole’s statement of overwhelming victory and the reality in which we all live started to become clear. The Lumbee tribe were not so much cowering in fear of the Klan as they were royally pissed off without a means to get all of their enemies in one location at once. As such, Cole really should have fact checked his, “Lumbee tribe defeated” proclomation before making his very public statement about which exact remote location everyone could find him and his friends at that night.
As darkness fell, over 500 armed Lumbee men descended on Cole’s Hate Coachella. Their first move was to shoot out the Klan’s only source of light, which drove the group into chaos. While brief skirmishes broke out between the two groups, the Klan members were clearly outnumbered, and eventually fled the area in a panic. Cole himself fled the scene by running through a nearby swamp, heroically leaving his wife behind to deal with the invaders.
Once the Klan members had either fled or been cornered and subdued, the REAL party began. The Lumbee tore down the banners, posed for pictures holding up KKK memorabilia, and then just started a bon fire and threw everything they could find into it. Local police arrived shortly thereafter and dispersed the party with tear gas. However, the incident reached national attention and Life magazine later published the below photo showing several Lumbee WW II veterans wrapped in the Klan’s banner.
This is a picture of two great men that are clearly self ware that, without the benefit of hindsite, what they just did was pretty fucking hilarious.
Cole attempted to salvage the situation in the following days by declaring that his party had been broken up by a group of “lawless mongrels.” However, by that time, North Carolina had grown pretty sick and tired of the Klan’s nonsense and the State Governor, Luther H. Hodges, formally denounced the Klan in a press statement. In the end, Cole was prosecuted, convicted, and served a two-year sentence for inciting a riot.
And the Lumbee tribe? They still celebrate the anniversary of the battle of “Battle of Hayes Pond,” as a local holiday.
CHARLIE SARGENT ATTEMPTS TO CREATE THE LARGEST WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP IN THE UK, GOES TO JAIL OVER A RECORD LABEL DISPUTE
The Best Laid Plan:
In 1992, Charlie Sargent and a few other delightful examples of the human species, formed the United Kingdom based hate group, Combat 18. Its initial purpose was to provide security for the British National Party, a mainstream far right organization (picture our current Alt-Right movement if they were all voiced by Hugh Grant) whose campaign events and rallies were often the subject of skirmishes between supporters and protestors. However, the BNP was content to remain a mainstream (even if on the fringe of it) political organization and Sargent grew tired of their focus on elections, laws and not smashing in heads with tire irons. He eventually ended his affiliation with them and Combat 18 became it owns separate organization.
But wait, you ask, don’t move on yet, what does the 18 mean? Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so here’s a little hint. “Irish Lips 36” is the name of my Colin Farrell fan club. See if you can figure it out.
Anyway, political interlude aside, when Combat 18 separated from the BNP, they began a campaign of violence and harassment against minorities, their supporters in the press and politics and any rival Right Wing group that came on to their radar. Even the BNP was not immune to Sargent’s attacks, as he viewed them as watered down versions of what true Right Wing crusaders should be.
It soon became clear that Sargent wasn’t keen to just run a prominent alliance of hooligans, skinheads and neo Nazis, he wanted to build an organization that would eventually supplant the BNP as the most prominent group on the far right. Once he achieved this goal he would plan to use his influence to create a centers of white power, that when the time came, could be used to strike out against their enemies. While Sargent may not have had the diplomacy skills to achieve these goals, his ability to incorporate UK extreme far right groups (e.g. Neo Nazi extremists, Skinheads and Football Hooligans) and effectively use fear tactics against his enemies made it so the possibility of him achieving them were at the very least more likely than anyone would have liked to think.
And then thing went horribly awry:
Sargent was definitely all about “the hate.” However, he wasn’t just a giant slab of hate meat, he had other facets and interests: Hate stamp collecting, hate horticulture, hate crafting. Also, the hate music, he was definitely all about “the music.”
Sargent was responsible for founding ISD records, the first Neo-Nazi record label in the UK. Sure, the label wasn’t “legal” per se, but it was successful due to Sargent spending a large amount of time promoting his white-power bands at secret gigs, and selling their CDs and merchandise throughout the world. He was also able to eliminate any competition from the bands that refused to join the label through his go to diplomatic solutions of harassment and, well, beatings. Under the ISD label, Sargent helped produce and distribute 30 albums and generated almost 200,000 pounds of revenue (equal to a different amount in US Dollars I’m sure, but I’m not looking it up. This article is about White Supremacy groups, not math). This was a pretty good profit considering that being a violent racist douche bag hasn’t been one of the most marketable professions in modern times (insert your own hilarious comment about current state of this country and its leadership). But, do what you love and the rest will follow I guess.
Sargent’s control and focus on this label lead other people in his group to believe that he was no longer all about “the hate” and may now be, gasp, only “mostly about the hate.” Combat 18 members began accusing him of being a government agent. They accused him of stealing money from the label, which was supposed to fund the organization. However, Sargent refused to step down from the ISD and Combat 18 began dividing into bickering factions.
After months of in fighting the parties began to negotiate a compromise. Christopher Castle, a neutral party between the factions, acted as the “go-between” Sargent and the rest of Combat 18. First order of business: Sargent agreed to provide Castle with important Combat 18 Membership lists in exchange for 1,000 pounds (What is that? 50 cents. Half a Million? Again, math, so you can go figure it out) and the return of his plastering tools (Ah, the age old trope of lending someone your power tools, not getting them back and then having them used against you as leverage in a Neo Nazi power struggle).
Castle arrived at Sargent’s mobile home and was immediately attacked by Sargent and one of his associates. Castle was stabbed with a 20cm kitchen knife, among other pointy instruments of stabiness. Castle died on the way to the hospital. Sargent believed that this had sent a clear message to the rest of the group, “Don’t mess with my record label or my power tools.”
However, Sargent’s warning to the other factions didn’t have the effect that he wanted. Various Combat 18 members cooperated with law enforcement and Sargent and his associate were arrested, charged and sentenced to life in prison. Afterwards, a civil war broke out between the once strong and united Combat 18, thereby permanently preventing them from being a major player in the UK’s far right scene.
NEO NAZI TRIES TO UNWIND AT A SKINHEAD CONCERT, IS INSTEAD PUMMELED BY DROP KICK MURPHY BASSIST KEN CASEY
The Best Laid Plan:
Not all White Supremacist plans are grandiose and involve the eventual domination and extermination of other races. Sometimes, they make plans that are a little more down to earth and personal. Plans to go to a racist picnic, take your best girl to a racist movie or plans to spend a night out and enjoy a nice racist musical act. Really, how can you be ready to hate everyone if you can’t spend a little time to love yourself?
In 2014, an unnamed White Supremacist and music fan decided to treat himself to a Saint Patrick’s day concert in New York. It’s unclear, for reasons you will soon see, if he knew very much about the particular band he was seeing, however it’s very likely that he at least knew their popular skinhead related song. When he arrived at the venue he was met by a large crowd who was fired up and ready to rock. The band came out and the crowd rushed the sage. Caught up in the wave, the fan suddenly found himself on stage, right next to the band. Then, as if on cue, the band started playing a likely familiar song, “Skinhead on the MBTA.”
Wow, he must have thought, they’re playing my jam. Lost in the music he began doing the only dance move he knew, the Heil Hitler salute, in tune with the music towards both the band and the crowed. In that moment, as the music overtook him, he must have thought, this was a perfect experience that he will never forget.
And then thing went horribly awry:
Turns out, he was very much correct. Many of you may know that the song “Skinhead on the MBTA” is sung by the band the Dropkick Murphys, who you may at the very least remember from their track, “Heading up to Boston” from the “The Departed” soundtrack, or alternatively, from that one episode of the Sopranos where Tony played the Departed soundtrack in his car. What you may also know, or at least have a sneaking suspicion by now, is that the Dropkick Murphys is NOT a Neo Nazi band. While they do reference Skinheads, they refer to the aspect of the subculture that relates to working class people and early punk, rather than the “Boooo Blacks and Jews! Booooo!” aspect.
If no one had noticed the fan’s dance move (which I will now only refer to as “the electric Hitler”) it would simply have been chalked up to a rookie mistake for a young White Supremacist. He probably would have felt right foolish as soon as he learned about his blunder. Except, someone did notice, and that someone was the Dropkick Murphys’ Bassist Ken Casey. At seeing the fan’s expression of bigotry and intolerance, Ken Casey took a deep breath, counted to ten….and then ran right over to him, smashed him in the face, took off his bass, hit him with it and then tackled him.
Once the chaos died down, Ken Casey strapped his bass back on, walked up to the microphone and shouted, “Nazis are not fucking welcome at a Dropkick Murphys show.” While every moment of this altercation was caught on video, what happened to the fan afterwards has been lost to time. I imagine that he returned home to write an angry letter to the venue and suggest that any such “No Nazi” disclaimers be made more apparent to ticket buyers in the future.
Don’t you wish you could have seen that? Well, don’t say I never gave you nothing.
KLU KLUX KLAN ATTEMPTS TO RECRUIT SUPPORT IN NEW LENOX ILLINOIS, ENDS UP STARTING FLAME WAR WITH RIVAL GROUP
The Best Laid Plan:
It ain’t easy being the Klan these days. Its current iterations lack even a modicum of the public support they received in the 1950s and 60s, or the financial resources and political power that had in the 1920s. In fact, the reason that all the Klans have different flowery names (White Knights of the KKK, American Knights of the KKK .etc) is that the central Klan organization was permanently destroyed by the IRS in the 1940s, making all other Klans non-centralized groups of unaffiliated offshoots. Moreover, the younger cooler racist crowd would rather dress up in some new spangled punk outfit or a nice SS inspired uniform than walk around looking like a Scooby Doo villain.
Despite the Klans going out of style, the various factions know that if they don’t keep on getting new recruits they’re organizations will eventually wither and die. In keeping with this “Klan Do” attitude, William Spears, Imperial Caltrop of the Loyal White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, decided to target New Lenox, Illinois for a large recruiting drive. During the drive they went to houses and distributed flyers and Klan literature. They also started to offer and run a neighborhood watch in order to show that the Klan had an interest in protecting the town’s citizens. While they were met with almost universal ridicule and resentment, all the Loyal White Knights heard was the “almost” qualifier and declared the recruiting effort a “great success.”
And then thing went horribly awry:
Imagine the surprise of the Loyal White Knights when they checked in with New Lenox a few months afterwards and found that they were again ridiculing the efforts of the Klan to recruit in their town. The surprise being, they weren’t the ones being ridiculed. This was some other Klan.
The interloping Klan was the Traditionalist American Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, run by the Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona. Ancona, was not well liked in other Klan circles, due to his comparatively more peaceful (i.e. maybe we shouldn’t kill everyone) attitudes towards hating everyone different from you.
During his membership drive in New Lenox, when Ancona was asked by local reporters and citizens (who were likely just ecstatic about the shift in their property values caused by a constant Klan presence), why he was having his Klan canvass the town again, he told them that the Loyal White Knights were nothing but a copy-cat group who didn’t follow the true teachings of the Klan. He added that the White Knights make it so you have to “hate everybody” and that “they’ll march with Nazis.” Ancona further championed his more modern and youth centric Klan. However, it was not reported whether Ancona, after making that last statement, put his hood on backwards, did a hip hop arms cross move and then sat backwards on a chair in order to connect with ….you know, never mind, I think I can answer this one myself.
At this throw down, the Loyal White Knights dusted off the Klan’s classic never fail chestnut response to these types of comments. That’s right, he called Alcona the J-word. Specifically, the Loyal White Knights said,
“Frank Ancona is Jewish and his wife is Jewish and he’s being exposed all through the Klan world as a fake and he ain’t even white and you can actually look his family tree up which we’ve got his family tree which we can give y’all too and you can post it.”
When asked for any sort of facts to back up this statement, he responded,
“It says that Ancona is a nonwhite name, it’s a traditional Jewish name, Italian, and his wife, the Klan is supposed to be a Christian organization and his wife actually practices the Wiccan religion, which is basically devil worshipping to me where you’re worshipping any God besides God himself,” Jones said. “I just thought I’d let y’all know that.”
Alcona responded to this slam by insisting that, “If I was a Jew, I’d admit it.” Say what you will about Alcona, but I think any Jewish person who found themselves suddenly the leader of a large racist and anti-Semitic hate group would also rather be honest than continue to live the lie. If you can’t be honest with your friends, who can you be honest with, right? I will also point out he did not deny his wife practicing devil worshipping. Not sure what to make of that, other than when he hears someone say, “you’re a Jew and your wife worships the devil” his go to response is, “What, I’m not Jewish.”
After this, Alcona went on to repeatedly refer to Jones’ Klan in New Lenox as a bunch of “drunks and druggies” and that some in that outfit had been kicked out of his organization for substance abuse and other criminal activity. He also reminded them that his group commanded approximately 5,000 Klan members nationwide (Fun Klan Fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that the combined membership of all Klu Klux Klan organizations is no more than 4,000 members).
The two Klans continued to exchange insults until they had both destroyed whatever credibility they had managed to obtain in the New Lenox area (the main article in the local New Lenox newspaper on this issue is entitled “Klan Fight!”, which is sadly 100 times funnier than anything I could have ever thought to say about the incident).
In one of Alcona parting remarks, he noted with chagrin that, “I get death threats from them [Klan Members] all the time. I don’t get death threats from..
Six months ago I attempted to introduce my daughters to the exciting world of role playing. For context, my oldest daughter, Hera, is eight years old, and my youngest, Jessica, is 4 years old (these are fake names). I wrote a blog post about that experience. In case you are too busy to read it, I’ll summarize. It did not go well and I decided that they weren’t yet ready to enter the adult world of rolling dice and pretending to swing an imaginary club at a Satyr.
A few weeks ago I was trying to think of something to do with my girls. It was a bright, warm and gorgeous Saturday morning and I wanted to pick an activity that would expose me to none of it. When I asked them what they wanted to do, Hera mentioned the roleplaying game we had played on Thanksgiving. Jessica joined in on the request and I decided to give it another go. This time, I chose to base this game on Superheroes rather than do another Greek Mythology setting to liven things up a bit.
I started by telling my girls that they would need to each pick a toy to represent their character in the game, think of a name for their character and describe what super powers they have. The following is my best account of what occurred.
Jessica immediately picks one of her many Elsa plastic figures, from Frozen.
Jessica: I’m going to be Elsa.
Jacob: I want you to create your own character.
Jessica: But…I love Elsa.
Jacob: Well it will be more fun to create your own character. Also, I hate Elsa. You know this child.
Jessica: Okay [said like I just forced her to drown a basket of puppies].
Jacob: Hera, what’s your character’s name?
Hera whips out a dancing elf figure.
Hera: My hero’s name is Misty Copeland.
Jacob: Is she an ice skater?
Hera: Daddy, Misty Copeland is a Ballerina [said like the snottiest of arrogant teenagers, so god damn happy that they know a thing].
Jacob: So you’re playing as Misty Copeland?
Hera: No, that’s just her superhero name.
Jacob: Your hero is a Ballerina?
Jacob: I do want to make it clear that you’ve picked a terrible Superhero name.
Jessica: It’s the best name Hera.
Jacob: So [pausing to give Jessica the stink eye] what is Misty Copeland’s superpower?
Hera: She’s a princess that can make ice and control winte…
Jacob: I swear to god Hera you had better be joking.
Hera: ….I’ve changed my mind.
Hera: She has every power.
Jacob: No she doesn’t.
Hera: Then, she has the power to take away other people’s powers.
Jacob: No she doesn’t.
Hera: Why!?! What was wrong with that one!?!
Jacob: Because you’re just going to use it to take away your sister’s power. Don’t think for a second I can’t see your evil plan.
Jessica: You better not take away my powers Hera! [Jessica shakes her fist]
Hera: Fine [Sulking because I ruined her plan]. She has the same powers as super girl.
Jacob: That works. Jessica have you decided on your character?
Jessica: My character’s name is Roseabell (pronounced: Rose-A-Bell)
Jacob: What kind of character is she?
Jessica: She’s going to be a princess.
Jacob: Of course she is. What are her superpowers?
Jessica: She can control winter.
Jacob: Uh huh
Jessica: She can create ice.
Jacob: Uh huh
Jessica: She can make snow men.
Jacob: Uh huh. I have to tell you Jessica, Roseabell sounds an awful lot like Elsa.
Jessica: It’s not Elsa Daddy.
Jessica: She also has a little sister.
Jacob: Is she named Ana?
Jessica: …can I call my character Elsa
Jacob: Just…just go ahead.
Jessica: Cause its Elsa.
Jacob: I know.
Jacob: Okay, final decision, who should be the bad guy?
Jessica: Donald Trump.
Jacob: Wow, excellent choice Hera! Nazis it is.
Hera: Wait, I want to change mine to Mama.
Jessica: I hate Donald Trump!
Jacob: Hera, you can’t make Mama the villain. I hate Donald Trump too Jessica, but it’s not a good villain for this story. I did like that Nazi idea that was being pitched around.
Hera: Than I pick Daddy.
Jessica: Donald Trump is the worst ever…wait…yeah Daddy’s the bad guy.
Jacob: Really girls?
Jessica: Either Daddy or Mama is the bad guy.
Jacob: …okay…what powers does Mama have.
Both girls open their mouths to respond.
Jacob: If these powers include the words “butt” and/or “fart” then this game is over and I’m going to make you sit on your beds until the heat death of the universe.
Hera closes her mouth. Jessica remains undeterred.
Jessica: What if Mama’s butt can…
Jacob: I’m just going to make the bad guy the Joker. Is the Joker okay with everyone?
Both girls nod.
Jacob: Okay, our story starts out with…
Hera: Do we get team names?
Jacob: Ugh, I guess…but you have to both agree on one.
Jessica: The Magic of Moana.
Jacob: What? Is that a song?
Jessica: No. It’s a team name.
Jacob: Oookay, Hera, what do you want.
Hera: I’m okay with that one.
Hera: Really? That’s going to be your team name?
Jessica: Yes. It’s beautiful.
Jacob: But what does it even mean? You know what, whatever, never mind, let’s just start. Our story starts at the Magic of Moana headquarters…
Hera: Do we get a pet?
Jacob: Jesus Christ girls, really? Can we just start the game already?
Jacob breathes in and remembers that it’s all supposed to be a fun experience.
Jacob: Okay, you can each pick a pet.
Jessica: I get a pet fairy named Roseabell.
Hera: I get a pet fairy and her name is Emily.
Jacob: Fairies aren’t pets. They’re tiny people.
Hera: These are our Fairies. We take care of them.
Jessica: Yeah, they have to do what we say.
Jacob: So you have fairy slaves?
Hera: No. We don’t have slaves. They’re our friends.
Jacob: You called them pets. Do you tell them what to do?
Hera: They aren’t slaves.
Jacob: Do you pay them?
Jacob: These are slaves. I’m not letting you have slaves.
Jessica: I want a slave!
Hera: They aren’t slaves. But, can we have dogs instead.
Jacob: No, you’ve lost pet privileges.
Both girls: Not fair!
Jacob: Yup. Neither is slavery.
Jessica: I’m not playing anymore! This is the worst game in the whole wide world!
Jessica storms off to their bedroom and slams the door.
Hera: Can we still play?
Jacob: I don’t know, this isn’t really working.
Hera: I want to play though.
Jacob: Okay, our story starts with..
Hera: Wait, I’m changing my character name to Elsa.
From beyond the closed bedroom door, Jessica screams.
Jessica: HERA!!! NO YOU DON’T!!!! NOT EVER!!!!
Hera: You’re not playing anymore. I’m Elsa.
Jessica kicks open the bedroom door and, wielding a Xylophone mallet, body tackles Hera. I pull her off and get a few haymakers to my knee for my troubles. Jessica is punished for assaulting her sister with a blunt object (Gross Misdemeanor Offense) and assaulting her Father (Capital Offense). While I drag Jessica back to her room, Hera takes the opportunity grab Jessica’s Elsa figure and throws it down the stairs. Hera now gets punished as well, officially for throwing her sister’s toy (Minor Infraction, because fuck Elsa), but unofficially because she demanded an imaginary pet and tried to make me the villain in my own damn game (High Treason). Also, Misty Copeland is the worst superhero name ever.
So, with both daughters exiled to their bedroom, I sit back in a chair and surf Netflix until I find a horror movie I haven’t seen already. I shudder the windows so no light can get in and enjoy the silence, punctured only be easily ignorable screams of outrage and injustice coming from the next room. This second roleplaying experiment actually turned out pretty well. I think next time I’ll try an old west setting.
Last Thanksgiving morning I was assigned the simple token job of keeping the children away from Sara while she finished preparing the various dishes she was bringing over to my parent’s house for dinner. While I ultimately failed at my job, it was no easy task to begin with given that when I asked what the girls wanted to do this morning their exact words were “bug mama.” My critical mistake was deciding to get creative.
I gathered my girls together and told them we were going to play a story adventure game (imagine a Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, with dice, but no rule books or character statistics and every chance action is based on how likely I feel it would occur). I explained the rules to them and told them they would be playing two poor peasant girls in ancient Greece fleeing their island town as stowaways in a merchant ship and heading off to an unknown Greek city.
However, before we began playing, I asked them to draw their role playing characters. Ten minutes later they presented me with two girls in long flowing robes, golden crowns and covered head to toe in jewelry. I reminded them that they were playing two poor refugees, and they looked at me like I was speaking some strange language from a country where all girls in stories weren’t magical princesses.
As we began the role playing game, I listed off the items they had with them. First, they each had 9 copper coins, which I made clear to them wasn’t very much money. Second, they each had a clay disc with the picture of one of the Olympian gods on it. This was going to be an important part of the story later on. They had to roll the dice to figure out which god was represented on their disc. Athena rolled a five, which gave her Artemis. Juliet rolled an 11, which gave her Hades.
Juliet: I DON’T WANT THAT GOD. HE’S STUPID. HE’S A BOY. I DON’T WANT STUPID BOYS. I HATE THIS GAME. THIS IS THE WORST GAME EVER. YOU ARE THE WORST DADDY EVER!!! IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!
Athena: Hades is really good, he is one of the three most powerful gods.
Juliet: Will you trade with me?
Athena: NO!!! IM KEEPING ARTEMIS. DADDY JULIET IS BEING MEAN!!!
Daddy: …dammit girls.
After much negotiating, Juliet agreed to keep Hades if she also got a cat named Snowflake who also had a Tiara. This sudden imbalance in items made Athena demand a puppy named Otto. What I took from this was that negotiations can actually be a lot more complicated when they only involve intangible imaginary items.
Although this first part should have been a sign that this experiment was not going to work, the game did start off well. Once the ship docked, the girls decided to sneak out by hiding in one of several boxes of clay pottery that were being carried off the boat by the sailors. When they got to their destination they waited until an old shop keeper opened the box and found them inside.
Athena: [Immediately] I give him all my money.
Daddy: He hasn’t asked for anything.
Athena: I want to give him all my money, so he won’t tell on us.
Daddy: He hasn’t said he is going to…do you maybe want to negotiate with him…or offer him less… you and your sister are poor orphans in a strange city.
Athena: I’ll get more money.
Daddy: This conversation makes me feel like you don’t understand that people have to work for their money and that….
Athena: IT’S MY CHARACTER AND I DECIDE!
Daddy: Okay you give him all your money.
Athena: I run out of the store.
Daddy: Don’t you want to ask him any questions. Like where you are. Maybe he’ll know something that will send you on an adventure.
Athena: I RUN OUT OF THE STORE!
Juliet: NOOOO! DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND! ATHENA DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND! ATHENA…
Daddy: Do you want to run out of the store too?
Daddy: You run out of the store.
Juliet: ATHENA, I RAN OUT OF THE STORE TOO!!!
Athena: I want to buy some food.
Daddy: You have no money.
Daddy: You gave it all to that old man…for no reason I might add.
Athena: Juliet, give me your money!
Daddy: Dammit Juliet!
Athena: I buy some grapes at a store!
Juliet: Can I have some grapes!
Juliet: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! ATHENA’S BEING MEAN!!!!!
Daddy: Dammit both of you.
After fifteen minutes of fighting over the ownership of imaginary grapes. I told my children they were now all alone in a Greek city, with no money, and that it was getting late and the stores would be closing soon. At the same time, I mentally recalibrated the story, since it very much required them to have money and be willing to talk to the old man in the store.
Daddy: It’s going to be evening soon, maybe you should talk to someone, anyone, and find out where you are.
Athena: I look for a pillow store.
Daddy: A pillow store?
Athena: I want to find a pillow.
Daddy: They didn’t have pillow stores in ancient Greece.
Athena: Then a bed store.
Daddy: They didn’t have bed stores in…well maybe they did….you remember you spent all your money on grapes.
Athena: I WANT TO FIND A BED STORE!
Daddy: Juliet, what do you want to….
Juliet: I’m going to hide under a bench.
Daddy: Sigh…Juliet hides under a bench. Athena you find a furniture store and walk inside.
Athena: I ask them what their cheapest bed is.
Juliet: The shopkeeper tells you five gold coins.
Athena: Do I have enough to…
Juliet: You have no money.
Athena: I ask them what the cheapest piece of furniture is.
Juliet: It’s a chair for, I guess, three gold coin.
Athena: Do I hav…
Juliet: You have no money.
Daddy: Juliet, do you want to…?
Juliet: I’m under the bench still.
Daddy: Of course you are.
Athena: This is so unfair.
Daddy: Athena, do you want to ask someone where you are.
Athena: We’re in Greece.
Daddy: Yes, but there are a lot of cities in Greece?
Athena: Okay…I ask the shopkeeper if she has any pillows.
Daddy: She says, no, and then says, you must be new in Athens. Suddenly, you see a young boy grab an expensive blanket and run out the door.
Juliet: I throw Snowflake at his face.
Daddy: …um…okay….you have to role over a 17 to….
Juliet: I rolled this.
Athena: It’s a 20.
Daddy: Snowflake lands on the boy’s face and bites his ears off.
Both Girls: YAAAAAAAA!!
Daddy: He drops the blanket and a small bag on the ground, before running down the alley.
Athena: I pick them both up and go back to the furniture store.
Daddy: Do you want to look in the bag?
Athena: I tell the shopkeeper she can have her blanket back if she gives me a bed.
Juliet: Two beds.
Daddy: ugh!….suddenly a group of soldiers walks into the store and says we need you girls in the Palace.
Athena: …I give them…
Daddy: You have no money.
Juliet: RUN SNOWFLAKE!!!
Athena: Okay I go with them.
Daddy: Great. They march you through the city to a white marble palace at the center of…
Athena: OH NO!!!! I LEFT OTTO ON THE BOAT!!!!
Daddy: …I’m going to take a shower now. Just…try not to bug your mother.
This is a story about a team of super heroes. Not so much a collection of armored inventors, Norse gods, and people who like bows and arrows, but more of a collection of a odd and crazy people I meet on my bus each day. In other words, slightly less imposing than two of the aforementioned Avengers.
I take the D Line bus every day to work and I cannot stress enough how much I hate interacting with other people on the ride. It’s not a fear or an aversion to human contact; I just don’t like doing it. When I get on the bus I put my earbuds on, regardless of whether there is music coming through my phone, and I wait out the trip in my own bubble of solitude. Sometimes other riders still feel the need to communicate with me and I hear comments like:
“Would you mind moving, I have a bad leg”
“Do you know what the next stop is”
“You’re standing on my dog’s head”
“That’s my baby! Why are you taking my baby!”
[Answer Key: 1. Sure; 2. Nope; 3. Why else would I be standing here; 4. Not Anymore and None of your Concern]
These interactions are unavoidable and while I hate the, I would have to be a complete narcissist to feel any sort of anger or animosity to the human beings that cause them.
However, not all of the interactions I experience fall into this category. There are a few people I am forced to interact with on my ride to work that try to draw me into far stranger tides. While I like these interactions less, the people who cause them are far more interesting characters than my regular bus riding companions and they have actually left an impression on me. Rather than faces in the crowd, they are like interesting reoccurring characters that entertain me at times and annoy me at others.
The ones relevant to this story are as follows. Their names have been changed to protect the…I don’t know their real names.
Commentary Man always sits at the very front of the bus. Why? So he can comment on everybody who gets on board. His commentary is about 85% observations and 15% insulting madness and always targets the person’s most obvious characteristic. Some examples:
Fat person. “This person looks like he could lose a pound or some. Ten pack of crayon eating mother fucker”
Person with baby carriage. “This isn’t a garage mother fucker. Not on this bus at least“
Person talking on cell phone. “This person isn’t talking to me, but we can all still hear her. Turn that phone off, but don’t you even try to talk to me mother fucker.”
My only direct interaction with Commentary Man was very brief. I got on the bus and as I passed him he said, “Nice tie…for a white mother fucker.” Equivocation aside, I liked the compliment. It had been a father’s day gift from one of my daughters.
The Negater is a skinny middle aged woman who never says a word. Her defining characteristic is her ability to negate some one’s personal space. For example, if you’re watching something on a phone, she will lean in to watch with you. If you are listening to music she will dance along with the snippets of the sound she catches from your earbuds. If she likes it she will do anything to get your attention so she can give you the thumbs up. Also, if you have a child or a dog she will be all over it, and I have seen her almost get punched in the face for trying to rustle a kid’s hair. Now, if she did try to touch my kids without my permission I think my go to response would be to hit her with a briefcase until she could no longer be considered solid matter, but I have no real issue with her. She even complimented me once on my choice of music. Of course, it was Cult of Personality by Living Color, so why wouldn’t she.
You know how the Star Wars movies will throw in a random character in the background, and all the fans go, “wow, I wonder what that guy/gal is all about” and then produce 50,000 toys, novels and comic books outlining how they are actually the most important person in the galaxy. Those fans are idiots. Not just because they are being willingly exploited by companies who have learned to treat fan devotion as a commodity, but because their time should be spent trying to figure out the back story of the Pariah. If I had a choice of receiving absolute knowledge of the purpose of the universe or a 5 minute summary of the Pariah’s back story, it wouldn’t even be a contest. I would pick the first and sell that knowledge to the highest bidder. However, there would be a hesitation, and that should say something about the Pariah. The Pariah is a man about the same age as me, a little skinnier, and slightly less ruggedly handsome. He always seems to have a burning desire to sit next to people he already knows, which includes most of the homeless people on the bus. They all know him too.
And they fucking HATE him.
He will great them with a “good morning” or a “nice to see you” and they will respond by saying “sit somewhere else” or “get the fuck away from me.” I have never seen this type of reaction before. I’ve also never never seen him do anything strange or out of the ordinary and he’s been nothing but pleasant to everyone he interacts with. However, he’s always met with such ire that there must be something about him that I don’t know. Is he just the Meg or Dr. Zoidberg of the Seattle homeless community, where experiencing this hatred is just his lot in life. Or, did he do….something. When he gets on my bus I will literally spend the entire ride imagining the possibilities of his past. Did he kill someone? Did he kill a lot of someones? Is he a rapist? Is he the Hamburgler? Did he rape the Hamburgler? Did he steal fire from the gods?
What did you do Pariah? Whatever did you do?
The Duffeller is not a very complicated fellow. He comes on the bus with no less than three giant duffle bags and uses them to take up the maximum amount of room possible. I’m not just saying he piles them on the seats next to him. I’m pretty sure you could get the country’s best mathematicians (probably me and two other guys) and if they studied his duffel bag splaying patterns, they would find that it would be physically impossible for his belongings to take up more seat space without ripping a whole in space time. Also, nobody ever asks him to move his bags, even when the bus is packed.
Dog Guy always brings his muddy dog on the bus and allows it to jump on anyone he pleases. I’ve written about him before in this article. He doesn’t bug me anymore, ever since I threatened to crush his dog’s head with my boot, but I still see him every day and I make damn sure that he sees me.
The reason I am outlining these personalities is that on Sunday, for the first time ever, they were all on the same bus at the same time. More importantly, I was on that bus too.
It all started when I was waiting for the D Line. The Negater was waiting at my stop too, trying to get peeks at the episode of Family Guy I was watching on my phone and dancing along to the image of Peter and friends singing about Tinder. When I got on the bus, the Duffeller, Commentary Man and Dog Guy were already on the bus sitting across from each other at the front. Two stops later, the Pariah got on, and after attempting to sit next to the Duffeller, took a seat next to Dog Guy, who had no opinion on the matter (Dog Guy isn’t homeless, he’s just an asshole with a dog, and therefore has no knowledge of the Pariah’s reputation). I secretly hoped the Paraih’s backstory would reveal itself to be an inclination to randomly eat people’s pets in front of their owner and then shit in their hat.
As I watched these people interact I realized that this was my street level Avengers movie. These were all the characters of my daily life coming together and interacting for the first time.
But for what purpose had this team assembled? Well, halfway through my trip my question was answered.
While many of these characters have annoyed me in the past, again, I have no real anger towards any of them. Even Dog Guy changed his behavior towards me after I threatened to kill his beloved pet. However, there is one person I haven’t mentioned who I do actively despise. She has the ability to change a bus ride from a neutral necessity of everyday life into an anger filled slog of shouting and accusations.
I haven’t given her a name, but considering the framing mechanism of this story, let’s just call her…
Thanos is a portly middle aged woman who lives in North Ballard. She’s lived there all her life with her mother who suffers from Dementia. Her Father was half Latino and half African American and her mother was white. He Father lives in Idaho and owns a small hardware store. She lives off of Government checks and has Diabetes, which is why she can’t drink regular soda and can only drink canned flavored sparkling water. She has two cats.
I know all this because as soon as she gets on the bus she immediately strikes up a conversation with the first non-homeless person she sees. If they engage, she tells them her life story in a friendly voice and asks them questions about what they are doing today. If they don’t engage, she accuses them of being racist. At the end of the story she asks the person if they can spare some money. If they refuse, she calls them racist and starts accusing them of calling her the N-Word. When the person moves away she waits for someone new to come on the bus; and then repeat. If you try to sit next to her, and don’t look like the kind of person who will give her money, she will accuse you of rubbing against her or touching her, call you a pervert, and demand that you move.
I had one direct interaction with her about a month ago. She asked what I was listening to and if she could have some cash. I said, “no, sorry.” She responded by saying that I looked like a Child Molester and that she had seen my pictures up on telephone poles in the neighborhood (which was a lie, I took those down weeks ago). Fortunately, this happened a minute before I was getting off the bus and I was able to leave the situation while also getting my highly intelligent response in:
“I hope you sleepwalk downstairs tonight and eat and eat entire package of Oreos!”
Yes, that was a Diabetes slam. I don’t care what you think about it, it was clever, even if I was the only one who understood it at the time. I did hope that later that night Thanos suddenly woke from a dream yelling, “Wait, that Mother Fucker just told me to go die of diabetic shock!” Hopefully, it would be said with white cream dripping down her face.
Thanos is the only person on the bus that causes me to change seats when I see her.
Back to the story. The bus stopped and Thanos trundled onboard. I will now do my best to recount the exchange between my D Line Avengers and Thanos.
Commentary Man: Oh Shit, what the fuck are you?
Thanos, not responding to Commentary Man, walks over to the seat partially covered by one of the Duffeller’s bags.
The Duffeller: Excuse me. let me move this out of your way.
Thanos: Get those bags away from me.
The Duffeller: That’s what I’m doing.
As the Duffeller moves one of his bags to the other side of his seat, one of them grazes Thanos’ leg.
Thanos: You just hit me with one of your bags. You did that on purpose…I probably have lice now.
Duffeller: I didn’t hit you and you don’t have lice.
The Duffeller finishes piling his bags to his side. Thanos sits down.
Thanos: Excuse me, that’s a very nice dog you have.
Dog Guy: Thank you.
I turn off my music. I don’t want anyone to district me from this interaction as Thanos begins telling Dog Guy her life story. When the conflict starts in a few minutes I really hope that she doesn’t go with her generic racism or child molestation accusations. He has a dog with him after all. I hope she at least mixes that in to her tirade.
Thanos: …I live on my own now. Its actually my Mother’s birthday so I’m going to take her out to dinner.
It’s always her Mother’s Birthday. I begin crossing my fingers for a “dog fucker” accusation. However, before she can get to the ask…
Commentary Man: None of that is true. None of what she just said is true. She’s lying.
Thanos: Excuse me Bus Driver. This man is harassing me.
Commentary Man: I’ve heard you tell this story a thousand times. None of it’s true. She’s just going to ask you for money. Then she’s going to call you a mother fucking racist.
Thanos: You’re a liar.
Dog Guy starts looking nervous.
Dog Guy: Oh I’m sorry. I don’t have any money.
Commentary Man: Now you’re the liar I saw you take out your wallet to pay for the bus. Just tell her you don’t want to give her any money.
Dog Guy: I really don’t have any money.
Dog Guy takes out his wallet and opens it to show that it is empty. The Negater, who has been quietly sitting a row down from me, walks over to look inside the wallet. She nods in the direction of
Commentary Man, signaling that it is, in fact, empty.
Commentary Man: I apologize, I was incorrect at that assumption.
Commentary Man…surprisingly humble in the face of the evidence that his commentary has been inaccurate. It makes me think that he really tries to put time into his comments and make sure they are accurate remarks about the people he meets during the day. I respect that.
The Negater also nods, in agreement, and starts rubbing the head of Dog Guy’s stupid dog.
The Duffeller: You shouldn’t walk around without money, not everything takes credit cards. I was at this…fuck you doing, go sit somewhere else!
I turn my head to see the Pariah attempting to take a seat next to the Duffeller. Upon his immediate rejection, he takes one a few seats down.
The Pariah: Sorry
Thanos: Excuse me. Bus Driver. These people are harassing me. And this guy with the dog just called me the N-word.
Dog Guy: What….what I….
Dog Guy looks like he is about to cut open his dog’s belly so he can crawl in and hide inside until the whole thing is over.
Commentary Man: He didn’t say shit.
The Duffeller: He didn’t say anything at all. She’s just mad she didn’t get any money.
Dog Guy has now entered a catatonic state. If the Pariah is going to demonstrate his penchant for eating dogs, now would be the perfect time. He wouldn’t be able to stop it. All he could do is watch. But alas, he just sits there.
Thanos: Why are you defending this racist dog fucker.
YES! Score one for proof of the divine answering the prayers of the worthy.
The Duffeller: Because he didn’t do anything. You asked him for money and he didn’t have any and you’re calling him a racist.
Those last two lines were sung by Commentary Man. Hearing the melody, the Negater stopped petting the dog and began snapping her fingers in tune.
Seeing the musical distraction as a moment to strike, the Pariah gets up and tries to sit at the other end of the bus next to Commentary Man.
Commentary Man: Don’t you even think about getting next to me mother fucker.
Bus Driver: Sir you can’t control where someone sits. Are we going to have a problem?
The Pariah sits down next to Commentary Man. Commentary Man does not look pleased and moves his belongings to the opposite side of the seat.
Seriously, what did this guy do? Did he murder his brother with a lamb bone? Is he the plastic surgeon that killed Michael Jackson? Is he Michael Jackson? Come on universe, you gave me the “dog fucker” comment, now give me this!
Things begin to die down on the bus. Thanos takes out some crackers and begins noisily eating them, while the other members of the team ignore her. Dog Guy regains some composure and takes out his cell phone and puts on the Big Bang Theory. I flip through my phone and start up my playlist again. As I’m about to select a new track, the Negater, decides that this party isn’t over yet. She leans over, putting her head almost on Dog Guy’s shoulder, to watch the show and begins laughing out loud.
Thanos sees this, but says nothing as the bus pulls into a stop. I know what’s coming. I’ve seen this tactic before. She waits until new people get on the bus and then starts making new accusations.
The bus stops and a few people get on.
Commentary Man: Theses guys look like they could lift a….
Thanos: Bus Driver! These two people are making racist jokes about me.
Dog Guy looks up and gives the impression of someone who is about to experience an imminent pants shitting. The Negater pays her comments no mind and keeps watching the show and begins doing pantomime of something that I assume is occurring on the screen, pausing only to look around and see if anyone finds what she is doing funny. They don’t. To be fair to the Negater, it’s the
Big Bang Theory so she wasn’t exactly given great material to work with.
Sympathetic Passenger: What is this person saying to you?
Thanos starts talking, but I can’t hear what she’s saying because she is immediately drowned out by Commentary Man, who is likely annoyed that his own insightful comments were interrupted.
Commentary Man: These guys didn’t say shit. They’re just watching their phone laughing at something stupid (ha, take that Big Bang Theory). They’re not laughing at this stupid shit over here.
Less Sympathetic Passenger: Oh…okay.
Thanos: You think just because….
Duffeller: If you think anyone who doesn’t give you money is racist than the whole world must be more racist than you or me combined times four.
I don’t know if the Duffeller’s math checks out, but his sentiment does. The bus stops again and more people get on. Out of left field, the Pariah gets up to great them.
The Pariah: Excuse me, don’t talk to this woman. She is just going to ask you for money and if you don’t give it to her she’s going to start calling….
Dog Guy’s dog growls at the Pariah walks past him. Concerned, he attempts to return to his original seat, but one of the new passenger has already occupied it. He takes one farther back on the bus. A few seconds later I vaguely hear what I imagine is another passenger, saying, “get away from me.”
Jesus, even animals reject the Pariah. Did he piss off a Witch? Is he a Witch? Does he have no soul? Does he have a lot of people’s souls? WHAT THE FUCK DID THIS GUY DO???
Thanos: Bus Driver if you are going to let this happen than I’m going to get off the bus now.
The Bus Driver says nothing and when the bus stops she gets off, but turns around to yell.
Thanos: I bet you fuck children too.
Bus Driver: I wouldn’t take that bet.
I get what the Bus Driver was going for with that response, but I don’t think it came off as intended. It sounded a little too close to “good luck trying to prove that.” He should leave the insightful remarks to Commentary Man.
This happened to be my stop as well so I hopped off after Thanos had cleared the exit. As I was departing I realized that Dog Guy’s stop was usually a few blocks before mine. I guess he was so uncomfortable by what was occurring that he missed hi stop, which is a little sad. But, also, fuck him and his little slacks ruining child scaring dog too.
As the bus doors began to close, Commentary Man yells out to the people sitting next to Thanos at the bus stop.
Commentary Man: All of you, don’t talk to this woman. She’ll take your money and call you a child fucker.
So there you have it. The D Line Avengers formed together to defeat a foe stronger than any one of them combined. Thanos, the bane of Seattle public transit, was forced to retreat and lick her wounds. However, she still lives to fight another day.
Until that time, they wait, for when the world will need them again.
L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz, the sequel to his Wonderful Wizard of Oz, continues the further adventures of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow. It’s also bug-fuck-nuts insane.
The story centers around Tip, an Orphan boy living in the North of Oz with the somewhat evil witch Mombi. After years of abuse, Tip decides to flee Mombi’s home after she threatens to turn him into a statue. Tip makes some new friends and decides to travel to the Emerald City and seek help from its current ruler, the Scarecrow.
Unfortunately, Tip arrives moments before the Scarecrow is overthrown by General Jinjur and her Army of Revolt. Tip and his friends decide to help the Scarecrow find a way to reclaim his throne, and along the way he also meets up with the Tin Woodman and a giant arrogant pun spewing insect called H.M. Woggle Bug T.E. Eventually the group teams up with Glinda the Good Witch and decide that instead of returning the Scarecrow to power, they will find the lost Princess Ozma, the true ruler of the Emerald City, and let her take charge.
Oh, what a delightful story it is. But, and then there’s the following:
Everyone is Guilty of Irresponsible God Playing
One of the key components of the story is the Powder of Life, which can be used to turn anything into a living creature. The powder, which originally belonged to Mombi, is first used to bring Tip’s pumpkin headed wooden scarecrow, Jack, to life. When Tip flees Mombi’s land he takes Jack with him and steal’s the powder in order to bring more random things to life.
Jack Pumpkin Head
Jack’s body consists of a giant, poorly constructed wooden frame with a carved pumpkin stabbed on a spike jutting out of his neck. He can barely walk due to the poor construction of his joints.
Look at him. Does that look like something that should be alive? Does that look like something that wants to be alive? Keep in mind that the smile on his face is permanent and can’t actually express the emotions he is feeling. Imagine if you wanted to make a Facebook post about the horrors of your own existence, but the only thing you could press was the happy face emoji.
In addition to his flimsy appearance, Jack only has a few defining character traits:
First, Jack is an idiot. This is a different kind of idiocy than the Scarecrow, who if you remember, lacked a brain but had a group of friends who never held it against him. In Jack’s case, everyone feels the need to remind him he is stupid, and will always be stupid. As soon as he opens his mouth, everyone tells him to shut the hell up because he’s a fucking moron. Even L. Frank Baum can’t help but pilling on ol’Jack, and uses the qualifier “stupidly” whenever Jack speaks. (Example: “What does that mean? enquired the Pumpkin Head, stupidly”). That’s pretty mean, but what’s worse is that while Jack views Tip as his father, Tip openly tells him that while he created him, he still takes every opportunity to curse his existence and remind him he is a moron. Jesus Christ, Jack is 3 days old, the fact that he can talk is a god damn miracle. Even Frankenstein’s monster got more respect than this.
Second, Jack is very aware of his own mortality, and is constantly terrified of the time when his pumpkin head will eventually rot away. Whenever he complains about this to the group, Tip and everyone else just tells him to stop bitching and just deal with it. I mean, sure we all have an expiration date, but that usually doesn’t involve your own head rotting away while you are still alive to see it.
So basically the first use of the powder of life created a rickety being, barely able to walk on his own, unable to learn or deeply consider anything other than his own rapidly approaching death. All of these facts fail to convince a single character to treat Jack with even a monicom of love or respect.
Unfortunately, Jack represents Tip and his friends most responsible use of their new god like magic.
The Saw Horse
At the beginning of Jack and Tip’s voyage to the Emerald City, they find a wooden saw horse left behind by a lumberjack. Tip looks at it and immediately thinks “Wow that saw horse looks kinda like a real horse, better bring that shit to life right away.”
So, he does, and we we get a better understanding of how the powder of life works. It doesn’t turn an object into some moving about cartoony version of a living thing. Pour it on a rock and you don’t get an animated rock with arms and legs running around. Instead, you get a living rock, unable to move, speak hear or see…screaming into the void without a voice and demanding to know why it was created, but receiving no response.
Tip brings the Saw Horse to life and he gets this.
It’s not so much a horse as he is a living log that sort of looks like a horse. It has no joints and has to move by rocking its body back and forth. Again, ask yourself, does that look like something that should be alive? Does that look like something that wants to be alive?
Tip names it, “the Saw Horse” because why should the soulless objects a person has ushered into existence get real names.
The Saw Horse’s purpose in life becomes to ferry around Jack (remember, his shitty wooden body is unable to properly walk for anything other than a short distance). To help Jack hold on, Tip impales a stake into its back for Jack to hold on to. The Saw Horse doesn’t feel it though…he doesn’t feel anything…ever.
That picture should either horrify you or give you an erection, which should in itself, horrify you. But, my dear friends, the horror doesn’t stop there. During the characters journey, the Saw Horse manages to break one of his wooden legs. While most horses would just be shot at this point, the Saw Horse is beyond death so that would do nothing but leave a pile of living splintered wood scraps. Strangely, their actual decision manages to be a lot more heartless. The band decides that the best course of action is to just rip off one of Jack’s legs and jam it on to the Saw horse. This makes Jack completely unable to walk so they tie Jack to the saw horse, creating some sort of Oz version of the Alien from the Thing.
Hurrah! Isn’t consciousness awesome!
The last indignity for the Saw Horse occurs towards the end of the book when Glinda, uses him to chase after Mombi who is fleeing her encampment. She says, and this one is a direct quote, “Now you shall prove that you have a right to be alive! Run—run—run!”
The Saw Horse’s response is not recorded, but we can guess it went something like “Bitch are you fucking serious. Right to be alive? I didn’t ask to be alive in the first place! You don’t think I deserve life, then please, kill me, end my torment. Run? I’m a god damn log that some kid thought looked like a horse. I don’t have fucking shoulders or knees! It’s a god damn miracle I can move at all!”
Thankfully, after Tip’s experiment with the Saw Horse, he realizes that they all need to be more responsible with the god like power in their hands.
Haha, nope. “Fuck that noise”, Tip says as he continues to desecrate the heavens with his abominations.
Later in the story, Tip and his friends need to escape the royal palace of the Emerald City, which is surrounded by the Army of Revolt. Tip gets the brilliant idea to have everyone in his band bring items from the palace to the roof so the Tinman can build a flying machine that he can bring to life and allow them to escape. Nobody thinks to mention that if the Tinman can build a flying machine there isn’t really a need to bring it to life, unless they have some need to only ride on things that can be drowned the cosmic horror of the pointlessness of their creation.
In response to Tip’s plan, everyone brings a bunch of random items to the roof. And thus, the Gump was born. The Gump is an amalgam of all the basic elements of intelligent life: Two couches, tied tougher with some clothes line, four giant palm fronds, stapled to its side for wings, a stuffed and mounted deer head, taken from the mantle of the palace fireplace, and a broom for a tale. Once it’s all tied together (they don’t even bother to use nails or glue) Tip brings it to life with the hopes that it will fly and not immediately reflect upon the horror of its existence and hurl itself from the roof. Take a second to look at this thing:
I’m not a religious person, but shit like this is probably why we got cast out of the garden of Eden.
God: “I’ve created the earth, the sky, and the life on the land and sea.”
Mankind: “I stapled a deer head to a Sofa! Can you bring this to life too?”
God: “What…holy shit! What is that? Why did you do that? Are you all…are you all a bunch of serial killers?”
Once the Gump is brought to life, Tip and his friends jump on and it’s able to fly them away from the palace and the Army of Revolt. While traveling, the Gump communicates that it can actually remember its former life as a deer and the moment of its own death, but doesn’t understand what he is now. When he further tells the group that he can’t feel his legs, Tip informs him that was because they didn’t have enough powder to bring them to life and they all decided he was created to fly and not to walk.
Think about this. Imagine a person in a wheelchair meeting their creator and being informed that he can’t walk because god ran out of his magic creator juice. But, “chin up” he’s told, he has a chair with wheels so walking wasn’t really in the cards for him anyway. Same basic concept, only the wheelchair guy isn’t held together by bits of old string.
Be advised, in describing the Gump, I am resisting the urge to make too many jokes about him praying for death. Resisting hard, because there are so so many (again, just look at him…what is that? Why is that?). The reason is that it would diminish the effect of telling you that at the end of the book, that’s exactly what happens. After the enemies of the Emerald City are defeated, princess Ozma offers to give him anything he wants for his bravery. The Gump immediately answers:
“please take me to pieces. I did not wish to be brought to life, and I am greatly ashamed of my conglomerate personality. Once I was a monarch of the forest, as my antlers fully prove; but now, in my present upholstered condition of servitude, I am compelled to fly through the air—my legs being of no use to me whatever. Therefore I beg to be dispersed.”
This is children’s book talk for “please…kill me…please”
Upon hearing this, his friends and creators go, “what evs” and take him apart. “I hope they at least do that with some dignity,” the reader hopes. Well, to answer their question, Tip and friends throw the Gump’s wings in the trash, the couches go back into the royal sitting room, the broom goes back in the janitorial closed and his head goes back on the wall. So…not so much dignity as indifference that they are killing a living thing of their own creation. Of course, the Gump isn’t even granted the sweet release of death because we are told that from time to time the mounted deer head just starts talking to visitors.
Enjoy the horror of immortality Gump!
In regards to the ending of the other creations, the Saw Horse gets off pretty well. He is given gold legs to replace his clumsy wooden ones and becomes Princess Ozma’s royal steed. The same can’t be said for Jack. The Narrator tells us that he lived longer than he expected (i.e. it took him longer for his organic head to rot from the inside out) but during that time he never got any smarter. I’m sure as he lay dying on a barn floor somewhere in the emerald city, rotting pumpkin matter slopping off his forehead, he may have had the clarity to scream towards the heavens, “What was the purpose of me? Why was I even here? Why did I exist?”
I’m sorry Jack, we don’t know. We just don’t know. And, quite frankly, nobody around you seems to care.
Random Sexist Undertones
This is an old book, and like any book that tries to get humor out of, what were then, contemporary gender and racial issues, won’t hold up with future generations. What’s strange is that this series isn’t known for being completely dismissive of women.
Dorothy was a pretty strong female character in the first book.
The land of Oz is mostly ruled by powerful women.
Glinda generally considered the most powerful person in Oz. Her army consists entirely of female soldiers adorned in heavy red armor and shields with ivory spears and swords. That’s some cool high fantasy stuff there. Even Tolkien and Lewis never had that kind of shit.
But, as if the universe needed to balance out this progressivism, this book also gives us General Jinjur and the Army of Revolt.
The Army of Revolt is a group of girls from all over Oz who have banded together to overthrow the Scarecrow and take command of the Emerald City to establish a matriarchical society. Okay, Mr. Baum, that’s not too bad I guess. What’s this female regime going to do once it seizes power? Well,
They’re going to make all the men do all the house work and cooking because that shit sucks. In exchange, the women will just get to lie around all day and smash caramels and fudge down their throat.
They’re going to remove all the pretty jewels and diamonds that decorate the Emerald City, because Emeralds are pretty and they want pretty things.
They’ll use the treasury to buy a bunch of things like dresses and jewelry.
Also, in case you thought the women were carrying swords in the above picture, they aren’t. The Army is armed entirely with giant knitting needles, because why not, that they use to poke people until they surrender or run away. Given all of this, the Army of Revolt is pretty much what you would get if you gave Al Bundy the opportunity to write a children’s fantasy novel.
When Tip and his party reenter the Emerald City after it’s overthrown by General Jinjur they find her sitting on a throne, adorned in jewelry and smashing caramels into her mouth.
I recently realized that out of the several dozen Disney movies that have been released since Snow White, there were only two I had never seen before, Tarzan and Home on the Range. I searched Tarzan Disney on Youtube (my life really is a full and meaningful endeavor and I will certainly have non regrets on my death bed) and the first video that came up was a clip of the death of the main villain. I clicked on it, and saw the villain in an old timey explorer outfit, caught in some vines with Tarzan and…
OH MY GOD, THAT DUDE JUST FELL AND ACCIDENTALLY HUNG HIMSELF ON SOME VINES, SNAPPED HIS NECK AND IS JUST DANGLING THERE. HOLY SHIT DISNEY! WHAT DID HE DO TO DESERVE THAT!?
I closed my browser and decided to watch Tiny Toon Adventure clips for the remainder of the afternoon. However, this got me thinking about the villain deaths in all the other Disney movies. Did they deserve to be punished? Did they deserve the punishment they received? Is there some sort of rhyme or reason to it all? Is there cosmic justice or mindless chaos in the Disney universe?
Thus began my quest to look back on all these movies and attempt to find a pattern or a sense of reason. What were my findings? First, as far as method of death, I found several broad categories in which most of the deaths could be placed:
Death by Gravity: Ah, Gravity. The great equalizer. It doesn’t matter how big, strong or wealthy you are, if you don’t have wings or fairy dust and you fall from high enough, you’re going to die. The ol’fall and splat has been used many times to kill off Disney villains. I believe this is because the hero can always claim, sure we were fighting, but I didn’t kill him, it was the fall and the ground.
Straight up Murdered: For some reason you rarely get villains who are simply straight up killed by the hero in Disney movies, but it does happen from time to time.
Justice: Sometimes the villain doesn’t need to die, and justice, in the official legal or coscmic sense, wins the day. Borrrrring.
Banished to the Void: Rather than killed or imprisoned, some villains are just banished into eternal nothingness forced to face the cosmic horror of non-being and the viewing audience is asked to just not think too hard about what happened.
Holy Shit Disney: Sometimes the Disney animators look at a villain, but instead of an evil witch or corrupt billionaire, they only see their ex-wife, their abusive step-father or their overbearing mother and think “you know what” fuck this guy/gal.” They then devise a grotesque combination of the above deaths so children can feel safe knowing that the righteous hand of god will smite those who interfere with his plans for peace and harmony.
Nothing: Sometimes kids, nothing happens to evil people and they get to walk away and live their lives without ever feeling a consequence for their actions. Welcome to reality.
The above didn’t really give me a sense of order in the Disney universe. So, I decided to delve a little deeper. Here is my specific analysis on each villain death, in no particular order:
Ratigan, from the Great Mouse Detective, falls from the top of Big Ben, which, if you put it in perspective, is like a human being falling from an airplane. His crimes consist of multiple counts of felony theft, burglary, racketeering and homicide. Did he deserve it. Well he was the world’s greatest criminal mind, his villain song indicates he drowned orphans and widows (its an actual lyric) and he was trying to take over the mouse world. So yeah, fuck that rat. Verdict: Just
Percival C. McLeach, from the Rescuers Down Under, falls off a huge waterfall. His crimes consist of unlawfully killing for a profit the six or seven animals in Australia that aren’t horrible and trying to kill mankind. While he was a poacher, and killed a lot of animals, the good book says, animals are not people, so this is a toss-up. But, given that this is probably the most pleasant way to die out of the 1,000,000 other possible ways to be killed in Australia, I think the scales of justice tip to the side of, this was an okay way for him to go out. Verdict: Just
Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast, fell off a castle while trying to stab the Beast in the back. His crimes consist of filing a false petition to declare someone mentally incompetent and trying to get someone to marry him under duress…and that’s it. Gaston was certainly a douchey manipulator and I’m pretty sure he was always one cup of ale away at any given time to adding rape to the above list, but did he really deserve to go out like that. Sure he led an assault on the Beast’s castle, you know, the one with the giant hairy demon monster who keeps people prisoner until they finally succumb to Stockholm Syndrome and fall in love with him. He really deserved more of a Biff from Back to the future, covered with manure, ending rather than death. Verdict: Unjust
Shan Yu, from Mulan, is shot with a rocket, which propels him into a rocket storage tower, and explodes. His crimes…none. He declared war on China and I’m not really sure anything he did could be considered a war crime, except maybe ordering the killing of an enemy messenger in the very beginning. While his death was a little extreme, he was trying to conquer all of China at the time, so live by the sword, die by the…s’plosion. Verdict: Just
Tamatoa, from Moana, was flipped over and left in the realm of monster. His crimes…none. All his items were technically salvage and Moana and Maui were both trespassing in his home/giant clam/monster dimension. Now, I know what you are thinking, “He didn’t die, he was just comically turned upside down by the heroes and left to wine and complain about why no one was helping him.” Sorry to break it to you, but if you flip a crab over and he can’t right himself, he’s going to either be eaten or starve to death. Tamatoa was left to die. In all fairness, he did refuse to return the giant magical fishhook of a guy who chopped off his leg, so….. Verdict: Unjust
Maleficient, from Sleeping Beauty, is killed by Prince Phillip. Her crimes consist of trespass and assault (with magical curses). Also, she was an evil fairy and inspired a bunch of annoying cosplay, both things that demand death by sword. No more analysis needed. Verdict: Just
Mother Gothel, from Tangled, aged a million years in a few seconds and then was pushed out a tower window. Her crimes were kidnapping and assault. Keep in mind, she is not part of the above “death by gravity” category, but the “straight up murdered” category. This is because Rapunzel’s lil’chamelion friend decided to play judge, jury and executioner. Remember, as Mother Gothel is screaming in horror at her rapidly decaying body, she backs towards the window, and that little green shit intentionally pulls the curtains out to trip her. Experiencing the ravages of age was apparently too good for Mother Gothel, she had to feel the additional terror of falling from a giant tower. While she was not a good person, kidnapping a child and all, she wasn’t exactly maniacal evil. She clearly needed the magic to stay alive. She wasn’t trying to take over the kingdom or anything. She could either let Rapunzel go, or waste away to nothing. Couldn’t Rapunzel have just agreed to let her stop by the palace and brush her hair once a month? Of course, but wait, a lizard disagrees, never mind, down you go. Verdict: Unjust
Mr. Winkie, from the Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, is arrested by the police after he tries to take over Toad Hall. His crimes were, I can’t remember, but he did have an awesome handlebar mustache. Perhaps this was fair justice, but considering the mustache and the fact that Mr. Toad was a dolt, I hope his sentence was at least relatively light. Verdict: Probably Just
Cruella De Vil, from 101 Dalmatians, was arrested, or at least it was implied she was arrested. Her crimes were multiple counts of conspiracy to commit theft and animal cruelty stemming from her plan to kill approximately 100 puppies to make a coat. This is the actual dictionary example of an evil asshole. However, she is a very wealthy socialite so I’m sure she’ll beat the charges. Then she is probably going to sue the Dalmatian owners for the whole, Cruella De Vil song that the husband released and get all the proceeds. Disney probably should have just let one of the dogs (the fat one) push her into a wheat thresher at the end. Verdict: Insufficient
Shere Khan, from the Jungle Book, is burned by the fire that is ravaging the jungle, causing him to flee. His crimes, none. I believe all of his actions were copacetic with the law of the jungle, which has original jurisdiction in this matter. However, he is forced to face, and be injured by, his one true fear, fire. Verdict: Unjust
Prince John, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham, from Robin Hood all end up working in the Rock Quarry. Prince John’s crimes, being a really shitty king. For the rest, they were only following orders trying to catch a criminal. However, these guys pretty much defied King Richard and starved or imprisoned most of the local population of Nottingham. While its comical to see them crushing stones in the end, it would probably take years to break enough to make all the tombstones necessary for the peasantry that starved to death during his reign (those Rabbit people had a lot of children). King Richard really shouldn’t have let them live. Verdict: Insufficient
Governor Ratclliffe, from Pocahontas, is imprisoned by his men and returned to London. His crimes were everything you can expect from being a wealthy white guy in North America in the 15th century. As a fun side fact, you might not realize that Governor Ratcliffe, like John (Pocahontas was actually 12, you pedophile) Smith, was a real person. He wasn’t arrested though and instead became a governor of the colony. However, his final fate was much worse’ than Disney’s version as he was captured by the Powhatan tribe, tied to a stake where women removed the skin from his entire body with mussel shells and tossed the pieces into a nearby fire as he watched. If we assume that Disney’s Pocahontas exists in an alternative, less child rapey native slaughter timeline, I guess that this end of the character was appropriate. At least the movie should have ended with the tag line, “And with the White people gone, nothing bad ever happened to the native people of North America ever again”. Verdict: Unjust, if only because we were denied seeing the animated version of his actual death.
Yzma, from the Emperor’s New Groove, was turned into Cat. Her crimes were attempted regicide. The insanely old advisor Yzma attempted to overthrow the emperor by turning him into a Lama. But the emperor was also a huge uncaring dick bag. Is a cat equal to Llama? In both cases, they can still talk and communicate? I guess this is fair. Verdict: Just…or whatever.
Alameda Slim, from Home on the Range, was arrested. His crimes were cattle rustling… but I don’t know for sure, this is the second Disney movie I’ve never seen. It says on the internet that he attempted to take over the farm using his hypnotic yodeling powers, but is later unmasked by the cows and arrested. What is this shit! Verdict: I don’t know. Was this even a real movie?
Hans, from Frozen, was sent back to his homeland in shame with the promise his brothers would deal with him. His crimes were multiple counts of attempted murder. That seems fair, he only tried to overthrow a kingdom by murdering the surviving members of the royal family. But, whatever, you get along home son to your own kingdom, your brothers will take care of you. In Frozen Fever, we see that he is being forced to shovel shit in the kingdom stables, an appropriate punishment for attempting to leave a trail of bodies on the road to usurping power. I hope he got no dessert too. Verdict: Insufficient
The Duke of Weaselton, from Frozen, was banished from the kingdom and banned from trading with them. His crimes were, nothing. A surprisingly harsh administrative response from Disney; especially considering this guy came to the kingdom for the purpose of benefiting from creating trade deals with the isolationist kingdom of Arendel, was trapped in the kingdom and almost froze to death when the Queen unleashed an eternal supernatural winter, and had the Gaul to suggest that his men help bring Elsa back to the castle or, if they can’t, to kill her. Of course, he dressed in black and had an old timey Prussian look to him so he must have been a bad guy. Verdict: Just…because old timey Prussian.
The Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland, was stuck in between the real world and never land. Her crimes were, a bunch of weird shit probably. She also liked cutting off heads. Also, she may have just been a figment of Alice’s imagination. So…yeah, I’m not going to waste my time with this one. Verdict: Who knows.
Edgar Balthazar, from the Aristocats, was locked in a trunk and sent to Timbuktu. His crimes were theft and animal cruelty. While his end is rather comical, let’s not kid ourselves, he’s dead. He’s not Nermal and this isn’t Garfield. People die when you attempt to mail them across the world. He either died of dehydration/starvation on the cargo ship, froze to death in an airplane, or suffered from heat death when his box was left at the airport in Timbuktu. All because he wanted a little money and some cats disagreed with him. Verdict: Unjust, because fuck cats.
The Horned King, from the Black Cauldron, was sucked into the magical void of the Black Cauldron. His crimes were…some real evil shit. Seriously, take a look at this guy, he is god damn evil looking, and since all books should be judged by their covers, which is why they have covers in the first place, I can assume he deserved what he got. Verdict: Just
Jafar, from Aladdin, was tricked into obtaining ultimate cosmic power, but at the price of being imprisoned in a magical lamp. His crimes were, assault, treason, attempted murder. The treason I think we can all understand; the Sultan was a simpleton who was more impressed with toys than running the country. It’s too bad we never got to see what Jafar would have been like as Sultan. He was definitely the most organized person in the kingdom. But, poor Icarus strayed too close to the sun and sought ultimate knowledge and power at a price of eternal damnation. Kind of like a kiddy version of Hellraiser. Verdict: Just
James Woods, from Hercules, was thrown into the River Styx, forcing him to suffer a 1,000 years of torment as he slowly reformed enough to crawl his way out. I know technically James Woods only voiced the character Hades, but come on, the only difference between this guy and James Woods is that James Wood’s hair burns a different color. His crimes were…none. He’s a god and therefore above the laws of man. His plan was to overthrow Olympus by releasing the Titans from Tarturus because the gods treated him like shit and forced him to live in the underworld. Sure he didn’t die at the end, but a thousand years of torment is something reserved for the victims of the Sarlaac. This might have been a little much. Verdict: Unjust
Madame Medusa, from the Rescuers, was eaten by pet crocodiles. Her crimes were…holy shit, not worth that end. I don’t think she killed the president or ate a baby. Definitely overkill Disney. Verdict: Unjust
Madam Mim, from the Sword in the Stone, is infected with Small Pox. Her crimes, can’t really remember to tell you the truth, yet I still feel I can judge this person. Oh, to be a white male in America. I do remember that her demise is a perfect example of why you should never bring magic tricks to a biological warfare fight. Merlin and Mim have a magic battle where they each change into different animals and forms and try to beat the other. Towards the end, Mim changes into a dragon, which honestly should have been her opening move, and it looks like Merlin is done for. However, Merlin throws a curve ball and turns into a virus and gets Mim so sick she can’t do magic anymore, and develops spots all over her body. I can’t remember if they actually show what happens to her later on, but if not, I say she definitely died from whatever Merlin infected her with. God damn Merlin, you don’t play around. Verdict: Possible violation of Geneva Convention.
Ursula, from the Little Mermaid, was electrocuted and then impaled on the mast of a ship after witnessing the accidental death of her beloved pet eels. Her crimes were fraud, and the general offenses that occur when turning yourself into a giant Kaiju sea god. Still, this is overkill. Either one of those deaths would be pretty violent, but both? That’s just hateful. Verdict: Unjust
Dr. Facilier (The Shadow Man), from the Princess and the Frog, was dragged into a demon dimension by a horde of undead voodoo dolls. His crimes were fraud, attempted homicide and conspiracy to manipulate the population of New Orleans into selling their souls to his voodoo gods. I love Dr. Facilier, as he is the perfect mix of good animation design and voice casting (Keith David) and has one of the best villain songs of all time. However, as horrific as his death and likely eternal torment are, plotting to capture the souls of an entire city is pretty high on the bad guy list. Verdict: Just
The Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, falls off a cliff, crushed by a bolder and pecked by vultures. Her crimes were attempted murder of those prettier than her. Wow, I did not remember how dark her death was. She was chased through the woods, terrified, as a pack of dwarves, riding deer and swinging clubs follow her, all while a massive thunderstorm builds overhead. When she reaches the top of a hill, she tries to knock a bolder down on the approaching dwarves, but a bolt of lightning decimates the ledge she is standing on and she falls to her death…and then the bolder she was trying to push falls and crushes her…and then some vultures slowly fly down the chasm to pick at the remains. Holy shit, was Snow White related to an animator. This is pretty vengeful, even for an evil queen. Verdict: Unjust
Claude Frollo, from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, falls off the Notre Dame Cathedral. His crimes were, all of them. He was one evil fucking guy. In fact, despite this not being one of the better Disney films, he may take the cake for most evil Disney Villain. Murder, attempted murder of the physically handicapped, genocide, attempted sexual assault, all in a day’s work for Minister of Justice Claude Frollo. Falling off a cathedral while witnessing a glimpse of a hellish landscape before his death is a pretty lenient way for him to go. Verdict: Really Insufficient
Stromboli, Honest John, Gideon, and the Coachman, from Pinocchio, had no punishment. Their crimes were exploitation of minors, kidnapping, and, I’m sorry to say, implied child rape (probably). Sure Pinocchio escapes from each of them, but the only penalty they receive is the fact they are no longer able to exploit Pinnochio for his entertainment value (high), carriage pulling value (average) or sex toy value (below average, splinters and everything). This is one of the earlier Disney movies, so I guess child labor abuse laws weren’t as stringent as they are today. All of this kidnapping children to force them to become donkeys might have been as common as a game of neighborhood stickball in the summer. Verdict: Insufficient
The Hunter, from Bambi, had no punishment. His crimes…none. He killed a deer. As long as he had an appropriate license, he committed no crime. Might as well punish the grass for being green. Verdict: Perfect balance.
Lady Tremaine, from Cinderella, had no punishment. Her crimes…being a crotchety old bitch, having ugly daughters and treating a step-daughter like a slave. Lady Tremaine wasn’t going to win mother of the year, but she didn’t really do anything wrong, and, rightfully so, wasn’t punished. Verdict: Perfect balance.
Scar, from the Lion King, was devoured by his own soldiers. His crimes were a mix of conspiracy to commit regicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, homicide, attempted homicide and treason. First, the politics of this movie don’t really make sense to me. The Lions are the rulers over all the animals, not just the Lions, and while they seem to be well liked (based on the opening gathering to pay respect to Simba) the Lions do tend to eat their subjects from time to time. I guess they are more in charge of maintaining the circle of life to ensure that all animals are in perfect balance…except for the Hyenas, because fuck those guys. The Hyenas are forced to live in an elephant grave yard where they are in the brink of starvation. Scar, convinces them to support his coup and murder the King and Prince in exchange for such luxuries like Food…and that’s about it. While Scar turns out to be a shitty king, its mostly due to a lack of food, since the ecosystems apparently just falls apart when the Hyenas get to eat too. Killing Mufasa was a pretty bad thing to do, but he was also just fine with forcing an entire species to starve to death, and Simba would have probably carried that same torch. Scar was literally two or three less arrogant remarks away from being the hero of this movie. But, alas, he came off as a prick, and was thus eaten by his army. In case anyone asks, when the alt right movement is eventually defeated, this is how I want it to go down. Verdict: Just
So is there order or chaos in the Disney universe? I don’t know, it’s all a cartoon. This thing is seven pages long now and I have other stuff I need to be doing. You tell me?
I recently overheard a conversation between two men at a Starbucks. One of them was talking about mixed martial arts, his proficiency in it and how he was pretty sure that in a fair fight he could win against anyone. In response, the other guy asked him to name five people that, no matter how hard he tried, he wouldn’t be able to take down. I knew the answer to this question (MechaGodzilla, Predator, Gozer, Judge Doom and Jabber-Jaw), but the first guy listed off five names I didn’t recognize. The other guy nodded in agreement and likely out of respect for his humility.
There must have been multiple answers to the question.
A few minutes later they left, probably to go…I don’t know…I don’t know what people like that do during the day.
The conversation got me thinking, how would I answer that question? I thought about all the people in my life, all the way down to my four year old daughter, and determined that each would probably win in a fair fight. I began to go down the lawyer rout, and considered the definition of the word fair (as in me getting an axe), but soon decided to go about the question a different way. I determined it would be easier to answer the opposite of that question; who are the five people I knew I could fight, and win. While answering even that took a lot of mental energy, I came up with the following:
I came up with Topher Grace in about 5 seconds. Why Topher Grace? Is it because he played a nerd on That 70s Show? Is it because even when he tries to play an imposing person (Predators, Spiderman 3) he just feels like he’s playing the nerd on That 70s Show? No, it’s because Topher Grace is the free square in the “people you can beat up” bingo game of modern life. Everyone gets to put him on their list. Even Topher Grace. He wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if I could have thought of a fifth person; but I couldn’t, so here he is.
Everyone else took a little longer.
This one’s a little more personal. I know nothing about the singer Usher Raymond (except, for some reason, his last name). I can’t name a single one of his songs. I don’t know anything about his life, both private and publicized. The only thing I know about him is the following.
I was working at Lions Gate Entertainment when they were producing the Usher star vehicle “In the Mix.” The only joy I ever experienced working at that job came every three weeks when the downstairs cafeteria served buffalo chicken wraps. This was no small thing. To this day, I believe they are the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted.
One day, towards the end of my tenure there, I was in the process of skipping my way to the cafeteria. I knew it was buffalo chicken wrap day; I charted the event with the scientific precision usually reserved for finding planets revolving around distant stars. Right before I got to the back of the lunch line a man zipped in front of me. I remained in good cheer, for how could I not, it was buffalo chicken wrap day. However, when it was my turn to order I was told that the man in front of me had purchased the last one.
In that moment, my appetite, good humor and belief in a kind and benevolent god disappeared. I sulked away to a table where a friend of mine was eating. I told him my sad story and pointed to the usurper who had stolen my beautiful wrap. My friend looked the person over and said, “hey, isn’t that Usher?”
To this day, I don’t know if it really was Usher. It’s possible. It’s also possible my friend just assumed all African American men were Usher, or maybe he was just referring to another Usher. Regardless, I now hate Usher Raymond with a fire that still burns bright over a decade later. If we ever meet, that fire will burn his world and melt his soul to ash. Would I win in a fight? You betting fucking believe I will. Vengeance is a dish best served wrapped in a flour tortilla and stuffed with zesty breaded chicken.
Peter [Last Name Unknown]
My favorite class in College was Modern American History. Sure it had about 700 people in it, but the professor made each lecture into a grand production that combined everything that was good about the old History Channel programs. Also, my small section was taught by a Grad Student, who was a flamboyantly gay ex-army ranger and, for lack of a better description, just the god damn bees knees at his job.
The only problem was Peter.
Peter was the piece of shit guy in my small section who just wouldn’t shut up. He insulted everyone else’s opinions, made terrible jokes, and always found ways to bring up unrelated subjects when we should have been talking about World War II and Nazis (this the exact opposite of my strategy to interject those subjects into every conversation). He ruined what would have otherwise been a perfect class. Does this mean that the same fury I would use to smite down Usher would also be directed at him? No, it doesn’t. As annoying as Peter was he never actually took food from my mouth. Plus, I have a lot of people who have ruined similar things I enjoy that fill me with equal, and sometimes even more, hurricanes of hate.
Why is Peter different? Well, unlike the other people on my enemies list, Peter had a degenerative disease, was about 4 feet tall, and was confined to a wheelchair.
In the end, this one was more a pragmatic choice than emotional.
“Michelle Rodriguez?” you ask, “Come now Jacob, we’ve all seen you. More importantly, you’ve seen you. You wouldn’t last 10 second against Michelle Rodriguez unless she was asleep and you had all the guns. Besides, what did Michelle Rodriguez ever do to you?”
Truthfully, I have nothing but respect for Michelle Rodriguez. I like her as an actress (that scene at the end of Girl Fight where she gets punched hard and gives the, I’m gonna kill you now look to the camera, is one of the most bad ass looks in film history) and yes, on first glance, she could probably kill me so fast that my life flashing before my eyes probably wouldn’t get beyond the second grade.
However, there is one concept you didn’t consider when making your hurtful comments. It’s the same concept that comes into play when matter and antimatter, two substances which are inversions of each other, collide. That is, total annihilation of both. I won’t go into detail with my analysis, but trust me when I say that Michelle Rodriguez is my polar opposite. We are complete inversions of each other. Where she is strong, I am weak. Where she is weak, I am ever so slightly less weak. As such, if our fists ever collided, or more likely her fist and my groin, it would send out a shock wave through space and time that would pulverize us both, and everything else. It’s true. Look it up and pray we never meet.
“But wait” you say, “the result is both of you being annihilated, doesn’t that mean it’s a tie?” Technically yes, but I’m going to count it as a win because Michelle Rodriguez would probably consider not winning in a fight against me as a loss.
All Children Four Years Old and Younger
This is more of a cognizable group than a specific person. I know I already mentioned I couldn’t beat my four year old daughter in a fight. That being said, I’m pretty sure I could beat up any other four year old kid, and probably younger ones too. At the very least I could take down the two kids in the above stock photo. I was considering upping the bar to five year olds, but the odds start getting a little iffy there, and this was about people I knew I could beat in a fight. So if you know any four year olds, just insert their name here.
A bit overly confident Jacob?
Maybe, but if any four year old wants to put this to the test, they know where to find me. Plus, they don’t even know what a fair fight is, which means Mr. Axe may finally be in play.
So there you have it. These four people and all children within that group should watch out. Everyone else, just leave me alone please.