The Black Jelly Bean Phenomenon


I can’t take it anymore. I’ve tolerated it for years and years now; for almost a decade, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, watching as all I hold dear goes down the tubes with a pathetic whimper. No more. It’s high time we had a discussion about the horrid philosophy that takes all that is good, turns it on its head, and pretends everything is okay while systematically destroying all that is decent.

We need to talk about the Black Jelly Bean Phenomenon.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about black jelly beans. I hate them. You hate them. God hates them. Little children in sub-Saharan Africa who’ve never heard of jelly beans hate them. These “candies” sit amidst all the other jelly beans, staring at you, daring you to pop them in your mouth. And at some point, all of us have been duped; we’ve all bitten into a black jelly bean and felt our tongues contemplate seppuku.

Seriously, who in the candy manufacturing business thought “Hey, let’s have pink jelly beans that taste like strawberries! And we’ll have yellow jelly beans that taste like lemons! And we’ll have black jelly beans that taste like a buffalo’s rectum!”

All of this is common knowledge to anyone over the age of four, and I won’t waste your time recounting my traumatic jelly bean experiences. Black jelly beans have always been an evil, but until recently, they were an isolated evil. I’ve become aware of a disturbing trend: the Black Jelly Bean Phenomenon is spreading. It’s already spread to other food groups and, unless stopped, will soon consume all that is good.

Remember the days when there was only one kind of chocolate? Those were happy times. Back then, if someone asked if you wanted chocolate, you always said yes. Always. Why wouldn’t you? Chocolate was an exceptional thing that filled one with feelings love, comfort, and acceptance.

Then they introduced dark chocolate. Now, if someone offers you chocolate, you have to ask “Well, what kind of chocolate is it? Is it the good kind or the kind that tastes like celery and cough syrup?” And God forbid you bite into a piece of dark chocolate thinking it’s the good chocolate. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Chocolate: once an honest, loyal friend, now a devilish deceiver.

And remember when there was just one kind of yogurt? I’m not a heavy yogurt user, but I do dabble. Once, while housesitting for my grandparents and scrounging for food, I opened the refrigerator and spied a package labeled “Greek yogurt.” I thought, “Hm. This must be different than normal yogurt, but whatever. It has pictures of fruit on it. I’m sure it’s just regular yogurt mixed with Spartan blood or something.”

So I took a bite. And for a split second, I thought a sewer rat had climbed in my mouth, died, and evacuated its bowels all over my taste buds. Once again, a rancid taste abomination has wormed its way into what was once good and wholesome. Greek yogurt is black jelly beans in yogurt form!

All over the world, black jelly beans are taking on new forms and poisoning the things we love. It isn’t just happening with food, either. Remember when there was just one DC Comics? Before that New 52 crap? Now, whenever I buy a comic book, I have to check the publication date to make sure I won’t be engrossing myself in the adventures of pissed-off, angst-y Superman or PMS-ing Wonder Woman.

Remember when there existed only good Star Wars movies?

Remember the days before low-flush toilets?

Remember when all movies were two-dimensional?

Black jelly beans are popping up all over the place. They may not look like black jelly beans, but they are black jelly beans in spirit. It’s time we put our foot down and demand that all black jelly beans be destroyed with holy fire, as they should have been since the beginning.

Or at least, we should stop buying baked potato chips.

Furby Hunters

furby hunters logo final 2 (small)

Like a dark harbinger of doom, the Furby menace stands at humanity’s door, ready to destroy our world and devour our very souls. Foolishly, I had thought their kind rendered powerless after their toy fad wore off, but after their triumphant return, I can remain silent no longer. We face two choices: either succumb to the sinister fuzziness and become the furbies’ zombified slaves or stand and fight.

Friends, now is the time to join the Furby Hunters.

The black magic of the Furby is great, but my studies have led me to believe that they are not invincible. As we did with the vampires, werewolves, and hippies of old, we can fend off the furbies with the proper tools and knowledge.

Pledge your sword to the Furby Hunters, comrades. Our cause is noble, our hearts are pure, and our logo took me a good six hours in Microsoft Paint to design.

In the coming months, this site will be the staging ground for our war against furbykind. I’ll still be writing about beards and chicken fries and cybernetic llamas, lest the furbies discover the site’s true purpose and destroy it with their dark powers. But check back often, friends, for I’ll be disclosing more details on humanity’s war against the accursed Furby race.

The first step to becoming an effective furby hunter is to gird yourself with the proper equipment. If it catches you unprepared, a furby will not hesitate to incinerate your flesh and inappropriately harass your soul. To survive against the satanic spawn of Hasbro, you must employ the following equipment and strategy:

• Like vampires and ACLU attorneys, furbies can be repulsed by the sign of the cross. The Furby’s squishy claws, furry body, and voice like a castrated Kermit the Frog are an affront to God and all that is wholesome and good. As such, a cross will cause furbies to hiss and retreat back into shadows.
• Many ancient creatures of evil are repelled by garlic, due to its purifying properties. Similarly, because it is a nutritious alternative to other sandwich spreads, Nutella can be used to keep furbies at bay. I recommend slathering yourself with a liberal coat of Nutella and making sure you have a generous supply stored in every possible orifice.
• The only way to kill a furby is by impaling its battery casing with a stake made from hardened buffalo mucus. The majestic buffalo has been the enemy of the Furby ever since the two races competed in the fearsome Texas Hold-‘Em tournaments of ancient Babylonia.
• Like sunlight to the Vampire is the sight of a mullet to the Furby. The holiest of hairstyles, a swaying mullet causes furbies a searing pain and prolonged exposure can burn off their fur. Your mullet will be most effective if you whip it around sensually like you’re in a women’s shampoo commercial.
• Because some breeds of Furby are capable of flight, a pogo stick may be in order.
• Even the sinister furby is not immune to the power of music. The melodic sounds of Louis Armstrong will immediately cause even the most savage furby to cease its attack and break into dance.
• Because they savor the terror-stricken expressions on their victim’s faces, furbies will almost never attack a foe from behind. They are also hesitant to attack anyone wearing fuzzy garments, as they feel a kinship with all things furry. This makes the snuggie the ultimate in anti-furby armor.
• Over the millennia, the furbies have made many enemies. One of these was Carmen Miranda, whose erratic dance moves confused and angered the furbies. As such, a tasteful arrangement of fruit will protect your head far better than any helmet.
• For some reason beyond even my comprehension, the most effective battle cry to use against furbies is “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”
• Because the Furby’s diet consists mainly of orphans, speaking in a cockney, Oliver Twist-esque accent is a good way to attract and entrap furbies.
• Adult diapers. They don’t have any special effect on furbies, but hey, when you’re facing an army of demonic ‘90s toys, you can’t expect to be in complete control of your body.
• The Furby, at its core, is a toy fad of the 1990s. This is a great strength, but also a weakness, as other ‘90s fads can used against them. So gather your pogs, dunkaroos, and Pokémon cards, friends, and dust off that Ninja Turtles tee shirt.

Granted, running around in a snuggle with a fruit hat and Nutella leaking from your body cavities won’t exactly impress the ladies, but if we’re going to save the human race, sacrifices must be made. Until our next discussion of the Furby menace, may your pogs fly true and may Louis Armstrong bless your buffalo snot.

Return of the Fuzzy Darkness

One of the many great lessons learned by mankind is this: in its re-emergence, evil is often far more threatening in than in its first incarnation. We thought we had defeated the Germans after World War I, the end-all be-all of warfare. Then came World War II. The people of Russia thought they had brought injustice to an end after they overthrew the Czar. Then came the Soviets. And now there is a darkness, one we’ve seen before, that has taken on a more powerful form and threatens all of existence.

I thought I had seen the last of the Furbys.

The Furby, for those of you unaware, was a dark fusion of bird and mammal with a voice like that of a sinister Mr. Rogers and eyes like a thousand screaming, tortured souls. Wielding a powerful black magic, the Furby, at the height of its power, nearly ground all of humanity under its fuzzy heel.

The foolish children of the 1990s purchased furbies in large numbers, allowing them to spread their dark cult across the face of the whole Earth. Fortunately, the fad died out and the hellish idols were left to gather dust in America’s closets, their age of darkness at last brought to a close.

I thought it was over. I held on to the hope that mankind had banished whatever foul spirits had inhabited the creatures and could at last live in peace. But I fear that, like evil, pain, and death, Furby domination may be inevitable.

Earlier this year, I was taking an innocent scroll through my Facebook news feed when I saw that a friend had posted this on my wall:

furby boom 2

“Furby Boom.” They’re back, ladies and gentlemen. And they’re more frightening than ever.

In addition to resurrecting the sick creatures, the poor fools at Hasbro actually expanded their power. With the aid of an app akin to the Necronomicon, the furbies can now interact with your smart phones, tablet computers, and other pieces of technology. That’s right: all of our communications—our phones, our computers, the Internet—all will succumb to the will of the Furby.

How did this happen?! What brain-dead ad executive actually said to themselves, “You know what’d look great on kids’ smart phones? Satan!”

You heard it here first; the future is indeed here, and the future is Furby. In a few years, I suspect we’ll be living in a world that resembles those of The Terminator, Mordor, 1984, and My Little Pony fused together into a land where the air reeks of cuteness and death.

Oh, but that’s not all. Feast your eyes on the next generation of dark dieties:


This is a “furbling.” Yes. They’re reproducing. Not only have the immortal furbies resurfaced, they’ve multiplied. There is no doubt in my mind: the furbies’ will continue to procreate until their demon spawn overrun the Earth and devour all who resist their iron-fisted rule.

Malevolent forces greater than any mankind has ever faced surround us, ready to devour our very souls. But do not despair just yet. I have long prepared for this day.

My studies in Furby lore have shown me the beasts’ weaknesses, and I plan to share my knowledge with any who will listen. After cowering in fear of the Furby’s return for over a decade, it is at last time to stand and fight.

Grab your crosses and garlic, friend, and check back next week.

Ketchup Negotiations

ketchup packet

The fast food drive-thru (spelled “thru” because words that contain more than five letters are frowned upon at many fast food establishments) is one of the many gifts bestowed on mankind by the gods of the frozen patties. It’s quick, easy, and lets you obtain food without ever having to leave your vehicle; you don’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to. But there is a dark side to the drive-thru. If you’ve been to one in the last few years, you’ve no doubt found yourself having to go through ketchup negotiations.

Ketchup is the most valuable fast food commodity. Without it, your fries are tasteless, naked, and shameful. And like gold or oil, it is a resource that you must fight tooth and nail for.

In days long ago, the drive-thru worker would include with your meal a few packets of ketchup. It was a happy time when all was right with the world. But these days, as you pull away from the second window and look inside your bag of food, you’ll no doubt be struck with a stunning realization: there is no ketchup. None. Those heartless cretins keep the red goodness to themselves and you are left ketcupless.

This happens every time you go to the drive-thru. The ketchup gluttons at McDonald’s and Wendy’s simply will not give you ketchup unless you ask for it. Having to ask for ketchup at the drive-thru is like having to ask for anesthetic before a kidney transplant; there’s no one who wouldn’t want it, so you’d think they’d just give it to you automatically.

Oh, but the ketchup debacle doesn’t stop there. If, after the employee hands you your bag of food, you do ask for ketchup, they’ll first stare at you for a moment with accusatory, anger-filled eyes. Then, grumbling, they’ll grab a huge handful of ketchup packets—usually around two hundred—and shove them into your hands, as if to say, “Here, you big crybaby, take your ketchup. In fact, take far more ketchup than you’ll ever need, just so you never need to come crying to me about your condiment problems again.”

So now you have too much ketchup. After you’ve devoured all your tasty French fries, there are still a good dozen-or-so ketchup packets at the bottom of the bag, staring at you. Some people think, “I’ll put the ketchup packets in the fridge and use them later.” But you’ll never end up using all the ketchup packets because by the time you’ve used up one batch, the sarcastic ketchup glutton over at the Burger King drive-thru overloads you again and you have a brand new mountain of packets in the fridge to work through. You’re trapped in an endless ketchup cycle!

You’d think it would end there, but no. The fast food powers-that-be have come up with something even more diabolical. A few years ago, some fast food chains introduced new, “improved” ketchup packets:

big ketchup packet

These hold more ketchup than the old packets. But how much more? No one knows.

Let’s say that, before the new packets were introduced, you needed five ketchup packets to adequately cover all your fries. How many of the new packets do you need? Two? Three? Six? You’d better get it right or your ketchup-to-fry ratio is going to be skewed. These new ketchup packets have completely screwed up the ketchup packet exchange rate.

It’s high time we stand up to these fast food fascists and put an end to the ketchup mind games. I implore you, the next time you receive a bag of burger and fry without packets, thrust it back into the drive-thru worker’s greedy hands and say “Nay! You shall not make a mockery of my taste buds this day! I say unto thee, give me sufficient ketchup or give me death!”

Or you could just go to Taco Bell, where ketchup isn’t an issue.



Few words conjure memories of pure bliss and satisfaction quite like that one. The Dorito defies definition. Is it a unique snack creation, similar to the Funion? No, it’s definitely a chip. But is it a potato chip? Heavens, no! Then is it a simple corn chip? No, good sir! You are gravely mistaken!

You can no more define the Dorito than you can define love or beauty or consciousness. The tooth-reddening cheese powder, the perfectly-triangular shape, the little black peppercorns or singe marks or whatever those are—every facet of the Dorito is a flavorful mystery of the universe.

For eons, man respected the Dorito and did not tamper with its taste-defying state. But then, foolishly, man began to meddle with the Dorito.

It started innocently enough. Frito-Lay released spicy nacho Doritos and the ever-satisfying cool ranch Doritos. Emboldened by these successes, man began further meddling with the simple pleasure that was the Dorito. And then, one day, man released this:

guacamole doritos

Guacamole. Doritos. Guacamole is not meant for Doritos! Guacamole adds flavor to normal corn chips! And Doritos are the furthest thing from—

corn doritos

No…no…they didn’t. They brought the mighty Dorito down to the level of a simple corn chip. That’s like hiring Beethoven to write a jingle for a deodorant commercial!

And the heretics at Frito-Lay didn’t stop there. They made salsa Verde-flavored Doritos, chile-and-lime-flavored Doritos, Chipotle barbecue-flavored Doritos, tapatío-flavored Doritos, spicy sweet chili-flavored Doritos, ranch-dipped chicken wing-flavored Doritos, and enchilada-flavored Doritos.

They made taco-flavored Doritos. Then they made a taco using a giant Dorito as a shell. Then they made Doritos that are supposed to taste like the tacos that use giant Doritos as shells.

taco taco doritos


Once again, mankind in its foolishness has taken something simple and good and pure and twisted it to its own perverted purposes. The noble Cheez-it, the humble Skittle, the gallant Oreo—all were once simple pleasures and are now lost in a sea of gimmick flavors and orange, Halloween-themed frosting.

So heed my words. It is not our place to tinker with such immortal foodstuffs. Are we not but mere men?

We must make our voices heard now. Before the beef jerky-flavored Cracker Jacks and kung pow chicken laffy taffy rear their ugly heads.

Ferrets, Cheese, and Human Rights


I wrote the essay below for college political science class. The assignment required that we write some sort of essay that summarized our political beliefs. So, naturally, I wrote a story about ferrets and cheese and speedos.

In the middle of a vast ocean, surrounded by huge green clouds that carried a pungent odor, there was a small island known as Stenchland. Stenchland was a vast, fruitful island populated by a multitude of ferrets and cows. No one knows quite how the animals got there. All that was known was that the ferrets had somehow attained a degree of intelligence beyond that of normal ferrets, for they wore tiny speedos in every color of the rainbow and cared for the cows on their own. The ferrets would feed them, graze them, milk them, and eat their meat. But most of all, the ferrets enjoyed making cheese.

All day long the ferrets would labor with their cows and milk buckets and butter churns and cheese-aging cellars trying to craft as much cheese as they could (rumor has it that this obsession with cheese was what led to the island’s name of Stenchland.) Sometimes, the ferrets would even work for each other in exchange for cheese or trade cheeses of different kinds with their neighbors. They knew little but cheese and speedos and, for a long time, the ferrets lived in peaceful, cheese-making bliss.

Then one day, problems began to arise on the island of Stenchland. Mean-spirited ferrets fashioned weapons for themselves, wooden spears and shields from the trees, and killed or threatened others in order to take their cheese. There were disagreements about whether the cow-owner or the cheese-maker should get to keep the cheese and about whether brie was more valuable than cheddar in cheese exchanges. Soon, all the ferrets of Stenchland had to carry weapons to protect themselves and their cheese and the stronger ferrets would often take cheese from the weaker ones.

After several years of this, a ferret named Sheila called her ferret brethren together and spoke firmly in a voice that sounded like Janet Reno after she had inhaled helium.

“My fellow ferrets,” Sheila said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of always having to defend my life and cheese from those who would take them. I’m tired to having to resolve disagreements at the tip of a spear. Let us form a government, so that we can all live in peace and prosperity.”

And so, inside a cave on the top of a tall mountain, the ferrets met to discuss how they should construct the new ferret government. The elder Dave, one whose speedo was yellowed with age and wisdom (at least, let’s hope it was age and wisdom) led the meeting.

“The purpose of this meeting,” he said, rubbing his graying whiskers in contemplation, “is to form a government that can protect all ferrets on the island from harm and be the judge in conflicts. Now, it seems to me that the wisest thing to do would be to appoint a king or elect a council. That way, the rulers can punish those who harm others or unlawfully take their cheese and decide conflicts.”

“But no ferret is with without flaw,” another ferret named Pedro chimed in, “A king or council could easily oppress the ferrets they rule over and take their lives or their cheese for themselves. Any government should promote peace and prosperity, not make the lives of its ferrets miserable. We need to put something in place to protect out rights.”

“Rights? What are rights?” asked a third ferret.

“Rights basic modes of being that every ferret is entitled to. Ferrets have rights automatically. They are not given to us by a government or any other rodent; they exist naturally,” Pedro explained, “The whole reason we would enact this government would be to stop other ferrets from intruding on our rights. For example, every ferret has a right to live. We should have a law that protects our right to be alive so that if someone, even the government, tries to kill or harm you, you can appeal to the law that protects that right.”

The assembly talked it over and it was agreed that Pedro was right and that ferrets always had the right to be alive. The government, it was decided, would be required to protect that right and would be forbidden from infringing on it. But the council was far from over.

After adjusting his speedo, a ferret named Harold said, “It seems that we have other rights than just the right to be alive. All ferrets also have a right to freedom. No ferret should be able to tell another what to do, to dominate over another without any sort of agreement between the two.”

“Can we write something in the laws about the right to freedom of speech?” Enid the ferret asked, “I like to say the phrase ‘buttery marmoset’ a lot, but Reginald doesn’t like it and he’s threatened to beat me repeatedly with a sturgeon if I don’t stop. Do I have a right to be able to say whatever I want?”

“And freedom of religion,” shouted Fred the heretic, “I do not worship the tuxedo-clad monkey god Higjjor like my neighbors do. Do I have a right to choose my own religion?”

All the ferrets agreed that they did have a right to freedom, but before they could write it in their laws, a young ferret named Stanley spoke up.

“I think we also need to put something in our laws about a right to cheese,” Stanley said, “If I make some cheese and someone else takes it from me without my permission, they have violated my right to acquire and use my cheese as I see fit.”

“Indeed, what is a ferret without his cheese?” Dave said in agreement, “but it does seem like the rights to freedom and cheese could be taken too far. One does not, it seems, have the right to kill their neighbor or to steal another’s cheese. I would say, then, that every ferret has the right to be alive, the right to be free in any area of their lives, and the right to cheese as long as they do not use these rights to infringe on anyone else’s rights. This is what we should write in our laws.”

The ferrets agreed on this and laws protecting their rights were immediately written down. Soon afterward, they elected a governing council with Dave as its leader and the island of Stenchland had order at last.

Years passed and the ferrets continued to live under the new government. As time went on, new technologies came to the island from faraway lands and some of the ferrets employed these as ways to get more cheese. One particularly ambitious ferret named Jorge used all his cheese to buy machinery and built a speedo-producing factory.

His factory produced the most comfortable and glamorous speedos around, and soon ferrets were willing to part with their finest gouda in exchange for one of Jorge’s speedos. With the extra cheese, Jorge hired workers and his factory could soon make more speedos and earn even more cheese for him. Jorge soon had more cheese than anyone else on the island and a diamond-studded speedo that made his pelvic region glimmer with the shine of his success.

While Jorge enjoyed great profit from his endeavors, others were not as fortunate. Paul was a poor ferret who lived in a small hovel made of cow dung and glue and wore a speedo made of rags. He tried to find work in exchange for cheese, but few people had ever hired him, since his only skill was being able to play the didgeridoo underwater. Dreaming of quality cheese every day, Paul had only the occasional moldy edam that someone else gave him out of pity. Every day, he would walk by Jorge’s huge factory and monumentous pile of cheese and clench his fist in anger. Why should Jorge have so much while he had so little?

One day, fed up with Jorge’s endless store of cheese, Paul went to the governing council, hoping to improve his situation. Taking a deep breath, he walked through the large metal doors of the council’s building and stood before his rulers. Their wise eyes seemed to pierce deep through his fur and into his very organs as they looked down on him from their large, leather recliners.

“What is your grievance, Paul?” Dave asked.

“I am very poor, Dave,” Paul replied, “My house is small and inadequate, I have trouble getting food, and my speedo barely stays on. Meanwhile, Jorge has far more cheese than he needs to be comfortable. Can’t you take some of his cheese and give it to me?”

“Our laws won’t allow that, Paul,” another member of the council said, the footrest of his recliner jutting forward as he pulled the chair’s wooden lever, “Taking some of Jorge’s cheese and giving it to you would be a violation of Jorge’s right to cheese.”

“But I am barely staying alive!” Paul protested, “Don’t I have a right to be alive? If taking some of Jorge’s cheese is what it takes to keep me alive, the government should do it. You need to protect my right to be alive. And anyway, isn’t Jorge’s having so much cheese keeping me from getting cheese? His right to cheese is infringing on my right to be alive!”

Dave rubbed his chin, fixing a contemplative stare on Paul. “Leave us now, Paul,” he said at last, “so that we may deliberate.”

So Paul left and the ferret council discussed his remarks. There was much disagreement, but it was eventually agreed that Paul had a point and that Jorge, as a member of ferret society, had an obligation to keep Paul alive. And so, after this decision, Jorge was forced weekly to come before the council and give them some of his cheese. Then the council would give the cheese to Paul. Still not as rich as Jorge but comfortable nonetheless, Paul ate some of the cheese he got every week and used the rest to purchase a nicer house and a respectable speedo.

The arrangement between Paul and Jorge continued this way for several more years. One dim fall morning, Dave awoke, adjusted his recliner to an upright position, stood, and walked to the window. Flinging open the glass panes he inhaled deeply to take in some of the rancid, cheese-scented air. But on this morning, a different smell filled his nostrils. A cold fear seized him. Grabbing his binoculars, Dave looked far into the distance and realized his guess was correct. The koalas were coming.

Ever since they had built ships and explored the ocean decades ago, the ferrets of Stenchland had lived in fear of the savage, fedora-wearing koalas on the island of Jellyville. These brutal marsupials had killed most of the expedition party that had been sent to the island and had sworn to someday find and ravage the ferrets’ homeland. With a shudder, Dave closed the window and walked solemnly to his closet. He firmly gripped the wooden shield and spear he had hoped never to use again and woke the other members of the council. The day of reckoning had come.

The message spread swiftly through the ferret community. All who were able to fight were to meet in front of the council building. When the ferrets’ humble army was assembled, Dave strode slowly to its head and gave his warriors final instructions. A shout of “For the speedos of our ancestors!” erupted from the crowd and the ferrets charged forth.

The ferrets of Stenchland saved their island that day, but the fighting was brutal. Paul fought well, slaying seventeen koalas, wounding ten, and saving many of his fellow rodents from destruction. After the enemy retreated, he surveyed the destruction around him. Blood-stained fur coated the ground and the air seemed lifeless. To his horror, Paul recognized the bodies of many friends, including Jorge, who lay motionless with a koala axe deep in his back.

As he stared at the carnage, Paul slowly became aware of voices around him. From what he heard, he deduced that the entire council had been slain in the battle. Until another election could be held, the ferrets were without government.

Organizing a second election turned out to be harder for the ferrets than they had at first thought, and Paul soon realized that since Jorge and the council were gone, he had no more source of cheese. He was reduced to begging once again and his speedo deteriorated. Frustrated, Paul again looked to those who had more cheese than he and decided that he would enforce his right to be alive, government or no. Girding himself with his finest speedo, Paul traveled to the home of a wealthy ferret named Fabio.

As the door to Fabio’s house creaked open, Paul was nearly overwhelmed by the scent of succulent limburger. Ignoring the smell, Paul composed himself as best he could and spoke.

“I’ve come to take some of your cheese, Fabio,” Paul said, trying to sound as confident as he could, “Give it to me, or I shall come into your house and take it for myself.”

“You can’t do that!” Fabio shouted, “That’s a violation of my right to cheese!…and my right to freedom!”

“The government is gone now, Fabio,” Paul responded, “You don’t have rights anymore.”

“My rights exist whether or not there is a government!” Fabio said, grabbing a whistle from a nearby table, “You know this as well as I do. If you come any closer, I’ll blow this whistle and my neighbors will come to my defense!”

Disheartened, Paul took a step back, the back of his speedo seeming to sag with disappointment. “But what about my right to be alive?” he cried, “What about my right to receive cheese from other ferrets when I don’t have enough?”

Fabio set his whistle down and thought for a minute. “Paul,” he said, “you did not have a right to that cheese, because you were dependent on Jorge and the council for it. Rights are things we have naturally, things we aren’t dependent on anyone else for. Any service you must depend on others for cannot be a right, Paul, because if the ones you depend on are ever unable to provide it for you, the service will be gone.”

Paul sat down on Fabio’s doorstep, the chill of the cement on his buttocks preceding the cold, hard truth that was slowly overcoming his mind. Finally, Paul removed his didgeridoo from his pocket and held it out to Fabio.

“How much mozzarella will you give me for this?” he asked.

The Easter Bunny


It’s almost Christmas. And that has me thinking about all the traditions that surround Christmas: hanging giant socks by our fireplaces, sharing passionate kisses under a poisonous weed, or the strange holiday characters. Most of these fictional people have absolutely no relevance to the holiday they represent.

But as little as a flying, bearded fat man has to do with the birth of Jesus, I’ve never really had a problem with Santa Claus. He’s a fun myth, he embodies kindness and giving, and his legend is based in history.

I just can’t bring myself to find anything wrong with ol’ Saint Nick. Not when there’s a far stranger and more disturbing holiday mascot running around: the Easter Bunny.

My first concern is the vagueness of the Easter Bunny’s exact form. Santa is easy to picture. He’s an obese, bearded, elderly man in an old-school snow suit that looks like it was died with the blood of a thousand ferrets. The Easter Bunny is usually depicted as a cartoon. So what does he look like in real life? Is he just a super-intelligent, talking rabbit wearing clothes, like something out of Babe or Homeward Bound?

Or is he a five-foot tall, biped, mutant freak with humanoid hands? When portrayed in cartoon form, the Easter Bunny is usually a human-sized rabbit with realistic arms and legs, similar to Bugs Bunny. I love Bugs Bunny, but there’s a reason he’s a cartoon. Would you want a giant, malformed rabbit in a festive vest and bow tie sneaking into your house at night? Rest assured, that image has made me wet the bed on more than one occasion.

Then there’s the legend itself. The myth of Santa Claus provides answers to all the questions you’d naturally ask the first time you hear it. Where does Santa get enough toys for all the children in the world? He has a workshop manned by a legion of elves who spend all year making toys. How does he visit all the houses in the world in one night? He rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. How does he get into kids’ houses when all the doors are locked? He goes down the chimney.

But where exactly does the Easter Bunny come from? No explanation. Where does he get all those eggs? We don’t know. How does he travel to everyone’s house in one night? We don’t have to explain! Stop asking questions! All the secrecy surrounding the Easter Bunny has me suspicious. On one particular dark, fog-laden night when I was six, I could’ve sworn I spotted the Easter Bunny standing in a dark alley with some shifty characters, exchanging unmarked bills for colorful eggs. I don’t even want to imagine what you’d have to do to a chicken to get it to lay brightly-colored eggs.

And that’s the third thing I just don’t understand about the Easter Bunny. It’s perfectly reasonable that Santa would bring kids toys. Kids love toys. Toys are one of about five topics that occupy 85% of a kids’ thought life. But eggs? Why eggs?

Nowadays, people give kids those colored, plastic eggs filled with candy, but decades ago, kids got real hard-boiled eggs. Has any kid in history ever said to his mother “Mommy, you know what I’d like more than anything in the world? Eggs. Just like the ones we eat for breakfast every morning. And scatter them all over the yard so I have to spend half the day looking for them.”

Yeah. Eggs. Way better than the Son of God rising from the dead.

Now, I know I may seem pretty cynical, but I’m not completely heartless. I do understand that the Easter Bunny is a beloved tradition in many families. The legend of a massive, bipedal rodent sneaking into their houses and leaving them objects that come out of chickens’ butts makes a lot of kids happy, and it really isn’t my place to take that away.

I guess, in the end, I have no right to complain about the Easter Bunny.

On an unrelated subject, does anyone know where I can buy some giant rabbit-sized bear traps?

They Grow Up So Fast

Over the past few years, I’ve been raising a young one. We’ve laughed, we’ve loved, and I’ve watched him grow. Saying goodbye was the most painful thing I ever had to do, but it was worth it if only just to be there for that one moment when he went out to make his way in the world.

I will never forget my sarlacc.



It all started when I was on a business trip, selling canned yams on Tatooine. Through a bizarre string of circumstances, I found myself at the annual Mos Eisley fair playing a game of bingo with some Jawas. I won and many angry shouts of “ootini!” ensued. As I was leaving the bingo table, one of the Jawas handed me my prize: a dirt-filled clay pot with a curious creature inside.

Raising a baby sarlacc had a lot of ups and downs. My food budget was through the roof, but I never had to clean up after him (after all, it takes him 1000 years to digest; it’s been decades and I still don’t think he’s pooped.) I never had any bug or rodent problems. But in those early days, my sarlacc and I had a lot of exchanges that went something like this:

Me: Baby sarlacc, have you seen Mildred’s pet parakeet? I told her I’d watch it for the weekend, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Baby sarlacc, why are there feathers around your pot?

Baby Sarlacc: [tiny, adorable burp]

Me: Naughty, baby sarclacc! Naughty! You know that, in your belly, that bird will find a new definition of pain and suffering as it is slowly digested over a thousand years.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Well, what am I supposed to tell Mildred?

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: No, you cannot eat Mildred. You can’t solve all your problems by eating them, baby sarlacc.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Well, maybe if she doesn’t pay me that five bucks she owes me.

The years went by and my sarlacc grew older. Pretty soon, I had to move him from his little pot to a pair of extra large, soot-filled bell-bottoms to a sinkhole in the backyard. He was a good boy and always played nicely with his little friends (he only ate six of them.) And he matured quickly; he was eating solid door-to-door salesmen when most sarlaccs his age were still on dachshunds.

But those innocent, childhood years couldn’t last forever and it wasn’t long before my sarlacc began noticing certain changes. He became difficult, as all kids do, and I remember one conversation in particular:

Me: Adolescent sarlacc, come here.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: Adolescent sarlacc, did you devour the entire population of Tokyo again?

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: We’ve talked about this, adolescent sarlacc. You can’t just go around eating major metropolitan cities.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: Don’t you take that tone with me! Have you been hanging out with that thing from the asteroid again? You know I think he’s a bad influence on you.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: And where were you last night? You weren’t skulking around Jabba’s Palace again, were you?

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: No, adolescent sarlacc! What you feel for the Rancor is not love!

Somehow, we got through those difficult teenage years and my sarlacc’s high school graduation day came. It felt like my heart was ready to burst with pride. He was the only one in his class to graduate, the rest of the class having mysteriously disappeared the night before. That summer, my little sarlacc decided to become a podiatrist.

I’ll never forget the day we said goodbye, that day he headed off to the Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine. He was embedded in the ground by the train platform in his best suit, a fedora on his head and a black briefcase in his tentacle. Our final goodbye went something like this:

Me: I’m sure going to miss you, adult sarlacc

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Still haven’t pooped?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Well, that will be among your many triumphs. Someday you’ll achieve great things. I’ve always believed that. You have your dorm assignment, right?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: And your change of socks?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Good. Okay. There are always plenty of tourists around the Grand Canyon, so you shouldn’t go hungry. And…I guess that’s it.

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: No, I’m fine. I just have something in my eye.

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Don’t be silly. Now, hurry up or you’ll miss your train.

And so, my sarlacc boarded the train (somehow) and it chugged away. I watched until I could no longer see his tentacle waving goodbye. He graduated from podiatry school and went on to open a private practice on Endor making orthodics for Ewoks (he tells me they taste like popcorn chicken.) It wasn’t easy raising a sarlacc, but it was by far the most rewarding and meaningful experience I’ve ever had. And that ain’t Bantha poodoo.

Batman’s Replacement

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I like Batman. I really like Batman. I’ve read Batman comic books, watched the Batman movies about forty times each, have all the cartoons and TV shows permanently burned into my brain, have Batman posters plastered all over my walls, wear my Batman tee shirt everywhere (including to weddings and funerals), practice oral hygiene with a Batman toothbrush and the limited-edition Batman dental floss, and when I’m having an off day, wear Batman adult diapers.

Batman has matched wits with and pitted his skills against innumerable supercriminals and megalomaniacs and has even taken on a few god-like entities. And won. But as undeniably awesome as the Dark Knight is, he is still mortal. Eventually, time will take its toll on Batman and he’ll have to retire.

That’s when Bruce Wayne will be forced to answer a question that’s been starting him in the face ever since he began his crusade against crime: who should he choose as his replacement? Gotham City will always need a Batman and Bruce needs to choose the right person for the job.

Of course, Batman has a litany of sidekicks with the skills and cunning to inherit his cowl, but all of them—Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl—aren’t much younger than he is. When Bruce Wayne hits 65, Dick Grayson will be 47. I just can’t picture Gotham’s criminal elite cowering in fear of a man with a beer belly and bifocals grumbling about how he can’t keep those damn kids off the Batlawn.

In the Batman Beyond series, Bruce chooses Terry McGinnis, a random teenager, to take his place. But I have a better candidate: Barbie.

Think about it. As simultaneously appalling and awesome as the idea of a pink Batmobile is, Barbie possesses all the abilities and equipment necessary to step into Batman’s boots. Bruce Wayne uses his extensive wealth to build and maintain his crime-fighting equipment. Judging by the frequency with which she goes shopping and how many houses and cars she owns, Barbie’s clearly pretty well-off.

Before he donned the cowl, Bruce Wayne became an expert mechanical engineer, criminologist, chemist, and psychologist. Barbie is a doctor, a veterinarian, an architect, a paleontologist, a surgeon, a CEO, and the president all at the same time.

Bruce Wayne is a technological mastermind. Barbie is a computer engineer, an astronaut, a pilot, and a NASCAR driver. Bruce Wayne is the best martial artist in the world. Barbie is a paratrooper, an Olympic gymnast, a policewoman, a firefighter, and a Canadian Mountie and has served in every branch of the military.

And if there’s any skill that Barbie doesn’t already have, she can always just call up Matel and have them re-release her with a new set of clothes. Bam: she’s an expert Cryptologist now.

Face it, DC. If Bruce ever needed to choose a replacement, he couldn’t do much better than Barbie. Such a choice would be the most sensible way to retire the character while continuing the series and would satisfy Batman’s fanbase while appealing to six-year-old girls at the same time. That and I really want to read a comic book where Barbie and Superman team up to fight Brainiac.